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Armstrong blows away rivals in first Alpine stage
Updated: 2005-07-13 08:24

Italian Ivan Basso, among the challengers dropped by Armstrong on the 22.2-kilometer (13.8-mile) final ascent, was 1:02 behind in fifth place - his overall deficit to Armstrong growing to 2:40.

Ullrich, the 1997 winner and a five-time runner-up, dropped behind about halfway up the climb, grimacing and puffing, when Armstrong's new Ukrainian teammate Yaroslav Popovych increased the already punishing pace - shaking off a tumble earlier in the stage when he collided with a car from rival Team CSC.

"He REALLY accelerated," Armstrong said. "That was a sprint. He had a serious crash and came back and didn't even think about it."

Ullrich, perhaps feeling the effects of a crash of his own in the ninth stage, struggled to the finish line in 13th place, 2:14 back, his overall deficit to Armstrong growing to 4:02. Ullrich's teammate, Andreas Kloeden, runner-up last year when Armstrong won his record sixth crown, fell to 4:16 behind overall.

The biggest surprise was the collapse of Alexandre Vinokourov, another Ullrich teammate from Kazakhstan who had been expected to seriously challenge Armstrong but who trailed Tuesday by 5:18 in 24th place. Vinokourov, third in 2003, is 6:32 back of Armstrong overall.

Armstrong said he expects them to bounce back.

"I don't think they are finished. I am going to be the last person to write them off," he said. "They are going to make life difficult and we'll continue to watch them and continue to respect them."
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