Thriller in Sallanches; Landaluze by 11 seconds, Discovery 1-2-3
This year's Dauphiné Libéré came to a thrilling conclusion in Sallanches, the same town that hosted the 1980 World Championships. In a bold and ultimately successful move, Discovery Channel's George Hincapie and Yaroslav Popovych attacked a large breakaway group on the Côte de Saint-Sigismond after 35 km, and stayed away right until the end, with Hincapie taking his second Dauphin stage win ahead of Popovych. The peloton split to pieces in pursuit, with Santiago Botero (Phonak) making a bold bid for the leader's jersey and putting 38 seconds into leader Iñigo Landaluze (Euskaltel-Euskadi). It was almost, but not quite enough for Botero to take the overall victory, and he finished 11 seconds short on GC.
In a perfect day for Discovery Channel, Lance Armstrong led the Botero group home for third place, 22 seconds behind Hincapie and Popovych. Armstrong also took the points jersey and finished fourth on GC, behind Landaluze, Botero, and Leipheimer, showing that he is on track for July's Tour de France.
"It's gone really well for me," Hincapie said in a team statement. "I would never have dreamed of winning two stages. I trained very hard for this race so to win the prologue was a really big deal for me. And today's stage, it was a really hard day, just brutal. So I'm really happy."
Lance Armstrong commented to the Associated Press that his form was not quite there. "B plus for the whole week? Maybe that's a little generous," said Armstrong. "I wasn't explosive and wasn't able to make the selection, only to follow. But I know from here I can step up another level."
On today's 1-2-3 finish, Armstrong said, "It was a great race because I could help a teammate today, that's racing. They were dream circumstances."