Join Date: Feb 2003
Location: Colorado Springs, USA!
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Way to go Posties!!!
From letour.fr - sorry if it's been covered elsewhere...
A Collective Effort Delivers A Victory For Victor
There is a rich history of success for Colombian riders in the Tour de France. A total of 63 riders from this South American nation have started the race, seven of them have won 12 stages, two of them have claimed the overall climbing prize and one has finished third overall. And today Victor Hugo Pena gave the country's vocal commentators something more to scream about. He will celebrate his 29th birthday tomorrow by lining up for the fifth stage in the yellow jersey of overall leader.
It’s a fitting reward for a rider who has been a part of the US Postal Service team since the start of the 2001 season. The golden prize is the result, however, of a cooperative effort from the American-registered team which won the team time trial. They finished 30 seconds ahead of the ONCE-Eroski formation which has robbed the Posties of victory in the collective effort twice in the last three years.
Pena’s one second advantage over Lance Armstrong at the top of the overall classification also makes him the first Colombian in history to wear the Tour’s maillot jaune.
On the eve of the race’s departure from the region famous for its production of champagne – and moves into the Bourgogne – these are some reasonable excuses for the US Postal Service team to pop a few corks from the bottles of the local produce, even if there’s likely to be more to toast in the following weeks.
The blue train were patient with their effort today. At the first of three intermediate time checks they trailed six other teams. Telekom set the early standard before being overtaken by four other teams at the 44.5km mark. Leading the charge were Joseba Beloki’s ONCE-Eroski crew. They were six seconds up on the Postal formation and 11 seconds ahead of an impressive performance by iBanesto.com. Then came the Postal push. With 10km to go, Pena, Armstrong and their seven comrades – Roberto Heras, Manuel Beltran, Vjatcheslav Ekimov, George Hincapie, Floyd Landis, Pavel Padrnos and Jose Luis Rubiera – took control. They past the 59km time check 17 seconds clear of their nearest rivals. And Pena’s birthday celebrations seemed destined to turn yellow.
When all nine riders raced across the line the elation was obvious. George Hincapie threw an arm in the air to signal the joy he felt from his first stage success from eight Tour starts. Rubiera led the blue brigade over the line ahead of a beaming Pena. Armstrong, who is likely to experience more glory in the coming weeks waited at the back and grinned at the knowledge of his team’s coup. His colleagues had, after all, ridden well enough to place eight of their riders into the top 10 in the overall classification. Beloki is the nearest challenger in ninth, 33 seconds behind tomorrow’s birthday boy.
Yes, they’re back… back again. Only this time, the Posties enjoyed success as a collective train!