posted on Jul, 21 2003 @ 01:12 PM
German Jan Ullrich paid a heavy price for a tremendous act of sportsmanship as American yellow jersey rival Lance Armstrong survived a dramatic late
fall to claim victory on stage 15 of the Tour de France.
The Texan, chasing a record equalling fifth tour win, was grounded when a cap or small bag held by a spectator caught on his brake lever, taking down
Iban Mayo in the process.
And he looked to be in more trouble moments later when his left foot slipped off the pedal, but he just managed to stay upright.
While Armstrong tried to get back on the road, Ullrich and the other riders in the group slowed down to allow the American to rejoin them.
But his rivals were left to rue their decision, as the fall galvanised Armstrong and he had a rush of adrenaline which saw him head and then pull away
from the group.
Cheered on by spectators lining the roadside, he soon caught long-time stage leader Sylvain Chavanel, who by then seemed to be in a state of near
collapse, before cruising away to finish 40 seconds in front of Ullrich, Mayo, Haimar Zubeldia and Christophe Morea.
Ullrich, who had earlier suffered his own, albeit minor, setback with a flat tyre, is now one minute seven seconds behind the 31-year-old American
with five stages remaining.