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TOUR DE FRANCE

Serguei Ivanov hangs on to win 14th stage

Italian rider Rinaldo Nocentini maintains the overall lead by five seconds, but American George Hincapie storms into second place. Armstrong falls to fourth.

July 19, 2009|Lauren Goldman | ; Associated Press

Lance Armstrong dropped one spot to fourth place Saturday at the Tour de France.

Serguei Ivanov of Russia won the 14th stage and George Hincapie, Armstrong's former teammate, rose to second. Hincapie arrived 16 seconds after Ivanov in a small breakaway group.

Hincapie is five seconds behind overall leader Rinaldo Nocentini of Italy. Nocentini was 5 minutes 36 seconds behind the breakaway group but kept the yellow jersey for the eighth consecutive day.

Alberto Contador of Spain dropped from second to third. Contador, Armstrong's Astana teammate and the 2007 champion, is six seconds behind Nocentini. Armstrong is another two seconds back.

Hincapie is the only rider to be a teammate of Armstrong's as he won seven straight Tour titles from 1999 to 2005. Hincapie wore the leader's shirt for a day in 2006 -- the year after Armstrong retired.

"George is a good friend," Armstrong said. "We wanted him to have the jersey -- it would have been great for him."

Hincapie, a 36-year-old American who rides for the Columbia team, entered the stage 5:25 behind Nocentini in 28th place. Through the final miles, Hincapie's breakaway group was more than six minutes ahead of the Italian, fanning suspense about the yellow shirt.

Nocentini's AG2R-La Mondiale team, then American team Garmin both accelerated the pace, trimming the gap by the finish. Hincapie missed the yellow jersey by seconds.

TV cameras showed a frustrated Hincapie as he watched Nocentini's pack cross the finish line. He did not speak to reporters before entering the team bus.

Ivanov made a sign of the cross as he finished the stage in 4:37:46 after escaping the breakaway group with about seven miles left.

Quote of the day: "Hincapie deserves to be yellow tonight. He deserves more than that. Look to who pulled the last 50K to see who to blame. . . . " -- Armstrong, criticizing the Garmin team's strategy that prevented his old friend from taking the leader's yellow jersey.

*--* STAGE 14 RESULTS 1. Serguei Ivanov, Russia 4:37:46 2. Nicolas Roche, Ireland :16 behind 3. Hayden Roulston, New Zealand same time 4. Martijn Maaskant, Netherlands same time 5. Sebastien Minard, France same time *--*

*--* OVERALL STANDINGS 1. Rinaldo Nocentini, Italy 58:13:52 2. George Hincapie, United States :05 behind 3. Alberto Contador, Spain :06 behind 4. Lance Armstrong, United States :08 behind 5. Christophe Le Mevel, France :43 behind *--*

Today's stage: The 15th stage is a 128.9-mile trek in the Alps between Pontarlier and Verbier, Switzerland. The stage features six climbs, including a demanding 5.5-mile last ascent to the ski resort.

Destination Verbier: This ski resort in the Swiss Alps is part of the "Four Valleys" ski area, the largest ski area in Switzerland, with 410 kilometers of ski runs. With its range of winter sports, activity in Verbier is a skier's paradise. U.S. riders Danny Pate from Colorado Springs, Colorado; Christian Vandevelde from Lemont, Illinois, and David Zabriskie from Salt Lake City might recognize this type of climate and ski atmosphere. Such celebrities as Diana Ross, James Blunt, and the Swedish royals have been known to visit Verbier. During the summer, many partake in hiking through the valleys that are used for skiing in the winter and the Verbier Festival, a music concert, takes place July 17 to Aug. 2. Amazingly, the Tour is not the only bike race that will make its mark on Verbier this summer. On Aug. 22, the Grand Raid, Switzerland's most important cycling race, will begin in Verbier and continue through the Valais Alps.

-- Lauren Goldman

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