'Cannibal' Lance eats another stage

If Lance does win a sixth Tour, and no one would bet against him now, he is doing it in style, takin

If Lance does win a sixth Tour, and no one would bet against him now, he is doing it in style, takin
PICTURE BY TIM DE WAELE Lance Armstrong took his third stage win in as many days at Le Grand Bornand this afternoon, catching T-Mobile's Andreas Kloeden right on the line to deny the German a first Tour win. It was Armstrong's fourth stage win of the race, and his second sprint win from a small group to follow a similar victory at Villard de Lans on Tuesday. Armstrong and Kloeden crossed the last of the day's five climbs from Bourg d'Oisans in a five-rider group that also included Kloeden's team-mate Jan Ullrich, Armstrong's team-mate Floyd Landis and second-placed Ivan Basso. There was a lot of chat and gesturing as the quintet dropped down towards the finish, with Ullrich seeming to take exception to the hot pace ace descender Landis set down the far side of the first-category Croix Fry and Armstrong shaking his head at the German's apparent complaints. The five riders came into the last two kilometres together and Landis launched the first attack from the back of the group, which Ullrich chased down. Going under the kilometre kite Kloeden came from the back in similar fashion and this time there was some hesitation before anyone responded. The German got 50 metres clear and the stage looked to be his. He came round the final bend with 250 metres left with a decent lead and Ullrich apparently covering a final, and surely vain attempt, by Armstrong. But Kloeden made the fatal mistake of looking back to see what was happening. He either decided he had enough of an advantage to not need to go full bore or simply couldn't turn the big gear he was in. As Kloeden tried to respond from the front, the fastest finish was coming from behind and Lance flashed past him. "There are no presents," he said afterwards, and this was truly a victory reminiscent of Eddy 'the cannibal' Merckx and Bernard Hinault in their pomp. Armstrong is not only going to win six Tours, he is going to do it with a huge degree of style after showing he's the best climber, time triallist and tactician, and still packs a pretty fearsome sprint as well. As Armstrong shut down almost all avenues of attack on his yellow jersey, Richard Virenque managed to do the same with the King of the Mountains title. He and Christophe Moreau chased down a first-kilometre five-man attack on the Madeleine, then pressed on with Gilberto Simoni and Rolf Aldag. Simoni beat Virenque for the KoM points on the Madeleine, but the Frenchman pretty much wrapped up his record-breaking seventh KoM title with maximum points on the Tami and Forclaz, where he punched his arms in celebration. The other two jerseys, however, are far from decided. There was no movement among the main contenders for the points title, but best young rider Thomas Voeckler lost almost three minutes to Vladimir Karpets and his lead over the Russian is now just 45 seconds.
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