BEZIERS, France, AP
Britain’s David Millar sprinted to victory in Saturday’s 13th stage of the Tour de France, taking his first stage win in two years.
Lance Armstrong finished with the main pack, nearly 10 minutes behind Millar in the mostly flat stretch.
Armstrong’s lead in the overall standings was unchanged, as his main rivals finished in the same time, and he remained on course for a fourth straight title.
Millar hadn’t won a Tour stage since 2000, when he beat Armstrong by 2 seconds in the prologue. His training for this year’s Tour was delayed several months by illness.
“When I found out I had glandular fever in January-February, I thought my season was over,” Millar said. “But the team encouraged me to get fit again.”
He said it would be a few more years before he makes his mark on the Tour.
“I’m waiting for Armstrong to retire.”
Millar clocked 4 hours, 8 minutes and 18 seconds in the 171-kilometer (106-mile) stretch from Lavelanet at the foot of the Pyrenees to this town near the Mediterranean, where temperatures hit 30 C (86 F).
He finished just ahead of Spain’s David Etxebarria and Michael Boogerd of the Netherlands, who had the same time as Millar.
Armstrong, wearing the bright yellow jersey of the overall leader, was 30th, 906 off the Scotsman’s pace. He led Spain’s Joseba Beloki by 208 in the overall standings.
Millar fell in the prologue of last year’s Tour and finished the leg in 110th place. He was 5th in this year’s prologue in Luxembourg. After Saturday’s stage, he was 59th in the overall standings.
The leg was quieter than Friday’s, which saw unsportsmanslike antics from several riders. France’s Jacky Durand held on to a car during a difficult climb, and was thrown out of the Tour as a result. Another French rider, Christophe Moreau punched Spain’s Carlos Sastre after Sastre’s bike pushed against his. The Spaniard retaliated by yanking Moreau’s jersey. Moreau drew a 2-minute penalty and Sastre had 20 seconds added to his overall time.
Coming off two wins in the Pyrenees, Armstrong enjoyed a relaxed ride before Sunday’s 221 kilometer (137.02-mile) stretch, which ends with a grueling climb to the top of Mont Ventoux. He was also saving energy for the three mountain stages in the Alps that follow Monday’s rest day.
The Tour finishes July 28 in Paris.