As the Tour de France enters its 15th stage Sunday, five things to know:
1. LAGGING LEGS: At cycling's greatest race, sometimes the mind desperately seeks victory, but the legs just don't cooperate. At 41, Jens Voigt of Germany knows that more than most: The RadioShack Leopard Trek veteran was one of 18 riders — some nearly half his age — who jumped out in an early breakaway in the mostly flat Stage 14, into the southeastern city of Lyon. He's the oldest competitor this year, riding in his 16th Tour; he has two Tour stage victories in his career and wore the yellow jersey in 2001 and 2005. When asked Saturday why he couldn't hold up through to the end, Voigt cited "five years too many." Whose legs did perform as he liked Saturday? Stage winner Matteo Trentin of Italy — 18 years Voigt's junior.
2. DOPING GHOSTS: Cycling has some of the most rigorous anti-doping measures in sport. While no doping cases have been announced at this Tour, the ghosts of cycling's doping-marred past can be seen at nearly every turn. This is the first Tour after Lance Armstrong was stripped of his seven titles for doping — the biggest blemish ever at the 110-year-old race, and the most egregious case from the era of widespread use of performance enhancers from the mid-1990s to the late 2000s.
3. AND THEN SOME: There's more. Some riders of yesteryear who were caught or admitted to doping still hover at the Tour. Bjarne Riis, who more than a decade after his 1996 victory admitted to using blood-booster EPO, is manager of Contador's Saxo Bank team — he's been here on and off. Matt White, an ex-Armstrong teammate and manager of the Orica GreenEdge team, admitted to doping in his career. Memories of cycling's most tragic doping case will loom in Sunday's 15th Stage, when competitors scale the famed Mt. Ventoux: British cyclist Tom Simpson died there in the 1967 Tour — exactly 43 years ago Saturday — after using a lethal cocktail of amphetamines and alcohol.
4. VAULTING VENTOUX: Southeast France's lonesome, bald-face mountain of white cretaceous rock — and a home to rare plants also found in tundra landscapes of Greenland or Norway — will host its ninth Tour stage finish. At 242.5 kilometers (151 miles), Sunday's route is the longest ride of the 100th Tour, and will challenge the pack to save up the juice over long flats before a 21-kilometer (13-mile) ascent that's one of cycling's hardest.
5. CONTADOR'S COMEBACK? After a dazzling show of race savvy Friday to erase more than a minute of his deficit to race leader Chris Froome, Saxo Bank leader Alberto Contador was feeling better about his Tour aspirations, according to teammate Michael Rogers. The Australian said Contador got a "big morale boost yesterday. It was kind of a turn-the-page moment for the team …" For his part, the Spaniard said the early part of the Ventoux is "very, very tough" and recalled how his heart almost came out of his mouth the first time he climbed it — but found it easier as his ability improved.
Stage 14 results
1. Matteo Trentin, Italy, Omega Pharma-QuickStep, 4 hours, 15 minutes, 11 seconds.
2. Michael Albasini, Switzerland, Orice GreenEdge, same time.
3. Andrew Talansky, United States, Garmin-Sharp, same time.
4. Jose Joaquin Rojas, Spain, Movistar, same time.
5. Egoitz Garcia, Spain, Cofidis, same time.
1. Chris Froome, England, Sky Procycling, 55 hours, 22 minutes, 58 seconds.
2. Bauke Mollema, Netherlands, Belkin Pro Cycling, 2:28.
3. Alberto Contador, Spain, Team Saxo-Tinkoff, 2:45.
4. Roman Kreuziger, Czech Republic, Team Saxo-Tinkoff, 2:48.
5. Laurens ten Dam, Netherlands, Belkin Pro Cycling, 3:01.Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times