For a guy with bronchitis, Marco Pantani did pretty well by winning his second mountain stage in three days at the Tour de France.
Jan Ullrich continued to lead the race with six days to go and Richard Virenque stayed second. Both again battled over the final stretch Monday with Ullrich refusing to let Virenque get away.
Pantani of Italy won the 15th stage by making a late charge up the final mountain. He took off with 10.6 miles to go on the final climb up the peak of Joux Plane, 5,559 feet.
He was part of a group of 11 riders that broke away from the main pack. It included Ullrich and Virenque, second overall and winner of Sunday’s stage.
Pantani won by more than a minute. Ullrich and Virenque took off to control the distance between them and Pantani in the stage from Courchevel to Morzine, 130 miles with three major climbs.
The bald-headed Italian captured the fourth stage of his career.
Pantani said he was on the verge of giving up the night before. “I still have bronchitis. I suffered a lot yesterday,” he said. He was more than 3 minutes behind on Sunday after winning Saturday’s stage.
Subscribe to the sports newsletter
Get the day’s top sports headlines and breaking news delivered to your inbox by subscribing here.