Lance Armstrong of the United States has taken a big step toward a record sixth Tour de France cycling crown by surging ahead of key rivals on the difficult 12th stage in the Pyrenees Mountains.
Armstrong finished just behind Friday’s stage winner Italian Ivan Basso, as both clocked 5:03:58 hours for the 198 kilometers. But fellow-American Tyler Hamilton, German Jan Ullrich and Spaniards Iban Mayo and Roberto Heras were among the pre-Tour contenders who lost time to the five-time champion.
Ullrich, the 1997 Tour winner, lost 2:30 minutes to Armstrong. Heras was 2:57 behind, and Hamilton gave up 3:27 minutes.0