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Cycling: Speedy Gonzalez puts layers in clover.

Byline: BRUCE MILLINGTON

LANCE ARMSTRONG avoided disaster on yesterday's comparatively gentle 14th stage of the Tour de France, but there are still major obstacles to be overcome before those who have backed him to win the race can count their chickens.

Aitor Gonzalez, the 2002 Tour of Spain winner but a flop in the recent Pyrenees stages, jumped clear of an uncontested breakaway group to make it a good day for the bookmakers.

Armstrong finished safely in the main bunch and will be in confident mood during the rest day today.

It is difficult to envisage anyone beating the amazing American bar himself.

Thomas Voeckler's gutsy stint in the yellow jersey will probably end tomorrow, while the two remaining time trials will surely be the undoing of ace ascender Ivan Basso.

Here is a rundown of the remaining six stages of the race:

Tomorrow: Not the toughest Alpine test of all time but hard enough to prevent anyone but a top-notch climber from winning.

Wednesday: A 15.5km time trial up the cruel hairpins of l'Alpe d'Huez.

Thursday: Two huge climbs but they come early in the stage. The last chance for Armstrong to be ambushed by the mountain goats.

Friday: Hilly but nothing that is likely to alter the overall picture significantly.

Saturday: Final time trial of 55km. Slightly undulating.

Sunday: The usual pancake-flat ceremonial spin around the streets of Paris.

Robbie McEwen, now leading Erik Zabel by 13 in the points competition, says he is over his injury problems and remains confident of retaining the green jersey all the way to the capital.
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Jul 19, 2004
Words:265
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