REVEL, France — Returning to
the Tour de France after a doping ban, Alexandre Vinokourov of
Kazakhstan won the 13th stage Saturday while Andy Schleck of Luxembourg
kept the yellow jersey.
Vinokourov led a bold solo
breakaway at the end and was followed in a mass sprint by Mark Cavendish
of Britain and Alessandro Petacchi of Italy. They finished 13 seconds
"It was a beautiful victory, a
beautiful reward," Vinokourov said after winning a Tour stage for the
fourth time in his career.
The 36-year-old rider won the
Tour of Spain in 2006. He was kicked out of the 2007 Tour de France for
blood doping in one of the biggest scandals of the doping-marred race
Schleck kept pace with his
closest challenger, two-time Tour champion Alberto Contador. The
Spaniard trails the leader by 31 seconds.
Vinokourov looked back at the
trailing pack and thrust his arms skyward at the end of the 122-mile
course from Rodez to Revel over five low-level climbs in 4 hours, 26
minutes, 26 seconds. He hugged Contador, an Astana teammate, after the
Vinokourov moved from the pack
within the last 6 miles, overtaking an earlier breakaway rider, Italy's
Alessandro Ballan. He then held off the pack on a late descent.
The top standings didn't change
because the main contenders crossed in the same pack.
"It was a good day for my team,"
said Schleck, the Saxo Bank leader. "We didn't have to work. … Today
was calm – tomorrow is the battle. We're going to have a nice stage
Samuel Sanchez of Spain is
third, 2:45 back.
Seven-time Tour champion Lance
Armstrong cruised in a late-arriving bunch. He finished 4:35 back in
100th place, the fourth straight day he's lost time to the leader. The
38-year-old American has said his victory hopes are finished. He's 36th
overall, 25:38 back.
The race enters the Pyrenees on
Sunday — the first of four days of punishing climbs in the mountains
that will play a key role in who wins the three-week race at the July 25
finish in Paris.
The 115-mile ride from Revel to
the ski station of Ax-3 Domaines will lead riders up two extreme climbs,
first the Port de Pailheres — one of the toughest ascents in cycling –
and an uphill finish.