Stage 13: Garcia-Acosta denies French Bastille Day victory

The peloton rides through the village of Lacoste during Stage 13. Spanish rider Vicente Garcia-Acosta won the stage  Credit: Tom Able-Green/Allsport

DRAGUIGNAN, France, July 14 (AFP) Vicente Garcia-Acosta of Spain, riding for Banesto, won the 13th stage of the Tour de France here on Friday, a 185.5-kilometer ride from Avignon to Draguignan.

Garcia-Acosta, 27, celebrated his first career stage win on the Tour after crossing the line in four hours, three minutes, two seconds ahead of French duo Nicolas Jalabert and Pascal Herve, both deprived of a home win on Bastille Day.

Overall race leader and defending champion Lance Armstrong retained the yellow jersey he leads 1997 winner Jan Ullrich by four minutes, 55 seconds after coming in 10 minutes behind the leaders.

Jalabert, of the ONCE team and brother of former world number one Laurent Jalabert, finished 25 seconds behind Garcia-Acosta after sprinting away from Polti's Herve over the final 500 meters.

Garcia-Acosta, whose previous claim to fame was winning a stage of the 1997 Tour of Spain, gave Spain their second stage win this year after Javier Otxoa's win at Hautacam in Stage 10.

"It's a great win for me after a couple of second places in 1998. I've been waiting a long time years for this. It was very difficult but I got into the leading trio after we attacked and held on for the win," Garcia-Acosta said.

Fourth place on the day went to Guido Trentin of Vini Caldirola with Stephane Heulot of Francaise des Jeux at his wheel, 57 seconds off the pace.

Belgium's Marc Wauters of Rabobank was the big winner on the day, jumping from 17th to fourth overall after he came in with the second group.

Going into the final climb some 25 kilometers out from the line, the leading trio were already eight minutes clear of the pack.

Jalabert then launched a late attack with 16 kilometers remaining but Acosta reacted and strode into the lead.

"I made a tactical error," said Jalabert. "I went for a water bottle some 15 kilometer out and he took his chance to move ahead."

The Spaniard's reward tor getting his nose in front was a five-point bonus on the Cote de l'Esparrus climb before he rejoined the front two.

But Garcia-Acosta held on and then finished off with a stylish solo sweep to the line.

On Bastille Day, the host nation was keen to score a stage win to go with the seventh stage triumph by Christophe Agnolotto a week ago, especially given last year's shutout of the French riders.

Agnolotto, of the AG2R team, was ensconced in a 13-strong group which made the early running and which included seven Frenchmen. Others in the group included Robbie McEwen of Farm Frites as well as Bonjour riders Didier Rous and Francois Simon.

There were seven Frenchmen in the leading group of 13, who had stacked up a lead of six minutes, 30 seconds on the U.S. Postal-led peloton.

But Garcia-Acosta, Jalabert and Herve soon made a concerted push and broke through to take the lead.

Herve, 36, was a stage winner in 1997 but was on the Festina team expelled in the 1998 doping scandal.

With some 30 kilometers to go they had carved out a lead of almost 2 1/2 minutes over the now seven-strong chasing group led by Heulot and Trentin.

As the front three passed the 147-kilometer mark, the trio was almost eight minutes clear of the peloton, taking advantage of conditions favorable to riders prepared to risk an attacking strategy before the killer mountain stages arrive over the weekend.

Earlier, Frenchman Laurent Dufaux of Seiko, fourth in the 1996 and 1999 Tours and a member of the Festina team that was thrown out two years ago, had to abandon with some 50 kilometers to go.

Some 40 kilometers out from the finish, a camera motorcycle rider accompanying the riders was knocked off and was sprawled in the road receiving attention.

The rider crashed trying to avoid Francois Simon, who fell off but swiftly managed to remount.

There was a further accident when a car traveling with the Tour caravan ran into a child, who suffered a thigh injury at Ginasservis, 117 kilometers out from the start.

Fire brigade officials said the child, aged around 12, had been knocked unconscious while his mother fainted in shock the child was taken to hospital.

Earlier, Italian champion Michele Bartoli became the latest casualty of the Tour de France on Friday when he retired 100 kilometers out from Avignon.

The 30-year-old was suffering from a stomach complaint that clearly affected him in Thursday's stage as he came in 97th.

Bartoli's retirement was the second from the elite Mapei team on the stage. Paolo Bettini, winner of the ninth stage and this year's Liege-Bastogne-Liege winner, failed to start as he was suffering from stomach problems. Bettini was 84th overall.

The next stage is Saturday's 249.5-kilometer mountainous ride from Draguignan to Briancon.


More on Stage 13:

Map of Stage 13
Complete results of Stage 13
General classification after Stage 13
Tour de France category standings after Stage 13

Stage 13 results:
1. Vicente Garcia-Acosta (ESP) 4:03:02
2. Nicolas Jalabert (FRA) at + :25
3. Pascal Herve (FRA) +:27
4. Guido Trentin (ITA) +:57
5. Stephane Heulot (FRA) same time
6. Robbie McEwen (AUS) + 4:00
7. Francois Simon (FRA) s.t.
8. Anthony Morin (FRA) s.t.
9. Christophe Agnolutto (FRA) s.t.
10. Marc Wauters (BEL) s.t.

Notables:
22. Jan Ullrich (GER) at + 10:06
27. Lance Armstrong (USA) same time
29. Marco Pantani (ITA) s.t.
33. Laurent Jalabert (FRA) s.t.
52. Bobby Julich (USA) s.t.
55. Kevin Livingston (USA) s.t.
65. Tyler Hamilton (USA) s.t.
105. Bo Hamburger (DEN) s.t.

General Classification after Stage 13:
1 Lance Armstrong (USA) 53:03:29
2 Jan Ullrich (GER) at +4:55
3 Joseba Beloki (SPA) +5:52
4. Marc Wauters (BEL) +6:03
5. Christophe Moreau (FRA) +6:53
6. Manuel Beltran (SPA) +7:25
7. Richard Virenque (FRA) +8:28
8. Roberto Heras (SPA) +8:33
9. Francisco Mancebo (SPA) +9:42
10. Javier Otxoa (SPA) +9:46

Notables:
12. Laurent Jalabert (FRA) +10:14
14. Alex Zulle (SUI) at +10:46
15. Fernando Escartin (SPA) +10:58
31. Tyler Hamilton (USA) +20:16
33. Bobby Julich (USA) +21:08
43. Bo Hamburger (DEN) +27:53
52. Kevin Livingston (USA) +36:37
69. George Hincapie (USA) +49:08
86. Fred Rodriguez (USA) +57:01
118. Frankie Andreu (USA) +1:06:52


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