Ventoux win for Menchov as Levi leads
Wednesday, June 7, 2006 11.00pm
The summit finish on Mont Ventoux brings out the big names at the Dauphiné Libéré, as Vuelta champio
PIC BY TDWSPORT.COM Last year's Vuelta a Espa¤a winner Denis Menchov once again showed his climbing credentials as he edged out Christophe Moreau at the summit of Mont Ventoux on stage four of the Dauphin Libr. This pair finished 15 seconds ahead of Gerolsteiner's Levi Leipheimer, who overturned a four-minute deficit of Philippe Gilbert to take the overall lead as the race prepares to head into its decisive Alpine stages over the next three days. There is little way to establish whether you've got good climbing legs before tackling the 'Giant of Provence' which rises more than 1,900 metres out of the Rhone valley. The opening 160 kilometres or so of today's stage came down that valley, with breakaways Stphane Aug (Cofidis), Lars-Ytting Bak (CSC), Danilo Napolitano (Lampre), Joost Posthuma (Rabobank), Ronny Scholz (Gerolsteiner), Florian Stalder (Phonak), Alessandro Vanotti (Milram), Cdric Vasseur (Quick Step) and Thomas Voeckler (Bouygues Telecom) leading the way. No doubt hoping to establish a big enough gap to raise hopes of a surprise win on the Ventoux, there were never given sufficient leeway, and were overhauled on the early slopes of the 21km climb, where the road is at its steepest through the dense pine forest. All of the likely contenders came to front here, except for last year's winner here Alexandre Vinokourov. Gilbert too was quickly distanced. Discovery Channel's Jos Azevedo, perhaps the darkest of dark horses for the Tour de France title, led on his own most of the way up the climb. But after coming out into the open at Chalet Reynard with 7km left, Leipheimer, Menchov and Moreau began to chase the Portuguese, who was dropped before the summit. Leipheimer too fell away, his prize of the yellow jersey by then almost certainly guaranteed, leaving Menchov and Moreau to fight it out, with the Russian edging the veteran French rider. Tomorrow the race heads to Brianon via the massive Col de l'Izoard, where Leipheimer is sure to find himself trying to fend off the now second-placed Menchov again. Stage 4, Tain l'Hermitage-Mont Ventoux 1 Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank 186km in 4.50.37 (38.40kph) 2 Christophe Moreau (Fra) Ag2r 3 Levi Leipheimer (USA) Gerolsteiner 0.15 4 Jos Azevedo (Por) Discovery Channel 0.29 5 Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Cofidis 0.54 6 Bernhard Khl (Ger) T-Mobile 7 Francisco Mancebo (Spa) Ag2r 1.04 8 Sergio Paulinho (Por) Astana 1.15 9 Pietro Caucchioli (Ita) Crdit Agricole 1.19 10 Maxim Iglinksiy (Kaz) Milram 1.30 18 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne 3.13 20 George Hincapie (USA) Discovery Channel 50 Dave Zabriskie (USA) CSC 8.10 55 Bradley Wiggins (GB) Cofidis 9.22 56 Floyd Landis (USA) Phonak 9.30 Overall 1 Levi Leipheimer (USA) Gerolsteiner 15.47.53 2 Menchov 0.28 3 Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Franaise des Jeux 1.08 4 Azevedo 1.47 5 Moreau 1.48 6 Chavanel 2.08 7 Mancebo 2.10 8 Khl 2.25 9 Hincapie 3.02 10 Paulinho 3.20 11 Valverde 3.36
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