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Bayern Rundfahrt
Photo ©: Schaaf

Cycling News Extra for July 21, 2006

Edited by Jeff Jones, with assistance from Susan Westemeyer

T-Mobile terminates Ullrich and Sevilla's contracts

T-Mobile Team has terminated its contract with Jan Ullrich, effective July 20, the rider announced today. The team's manager Olaf Ludwig comfirmed this to sid. Oscar Sevilla has also been sacked, as a result of his involvement in the Operacion Puerto affair.

Ullrich's manager, Wolfgang Strohband, said, "The termination is groundless." If the discussions that are planned for the next week do not bring an agreement, he announced that Ullrich will be represented by Dr. Ulrich Theune, an attorney who said, "The termination will not hold up."

Ullrich showed himself hurt by the process. "The termination from T-Mobile is not acceptable to me. I'm very disappointed that they didn't inform me of this decision personally, but that the T-Mobile attorneys simply sent me a fax.

"They should be ashamed of themselves - after so many years of good work together and after everything I have done for the team, they just handle me like a fax number."

Cyclingnews' recent coverage of 'Operación Puerto'

May 18, 2009 - Valverde to start Catalunya
May 15, 2009 - Valverde not welcome in Denmark
May 14, 2009 - Spanish federation wants proof in Valverde case
May 13, 2009 - Spanish Olympic Committee defends Valverde
May 12, 2009 - Valverde responds to sanction
May 11, 2009 - Italian tribunal delivers Valverde two-year suspension
May 8, 2009 - Valverde case: Italian Olympic Committee defends Torri
May 7, 2009 - Valverde to take legal action against CONI prosecutor
May 5, 2009 - WADA and Spanish federation join CONI and UCI on Valverde
May 1, 2009 - International Cycling Union joins in on Valverde's hearing in Italy

Cyclingnews' complete coverage of Operación Puerto

Historicial exploits and the Landis ride

By Shane Stokes

Floyd Landis (Phonak)
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

Floyd Landis’ ride on stage 17 will undoubtedly go down as one of the exploits of Tour de France history. The American attacked alone 72 kilometres after the start, opening up a large lead on the first category Col de Saisies and remaining out front for the remainder of the 200.5 kilometre stage. Landis’ collapse on the previous day’s summit finish to La Toussuire meant that he had started the day 8’08 off yellow, but his dominant ride saw him race right back into contention and end the day just 30 seconds down.

Although comparisons were drawn between this and other long distance, stage winning exploits such as those by Merckx in 1971 and Chiappucci in 1992, Landis’s performance and final winning margin was probably closer to that recorded by Merckx during the 1969 Tour. En route to his first Tour overall win, the Belgian attacked on the climb of the Tourmalet, a full 130 kilometres from the end of the stage and, defying instructions from his team manager to ease back, powered on alone to reach the finish in line in Mourenx-Ville-Nouvelle a full eight minutes clear of the next rider.

In terms of bouncing back from a low overall position, though, the closest may be the performance by Charly Gaul in 1958, in the Chartreuse Massif. The Luxembourger had lost ten minutes due in part to mechanical problems and conceded time elsewhere, starting the final mountain stage sixth, a massive 16’03 behind Raphaël Géminiani.

However the torrential rain and freezing conditions encountered on the road to Aix les Bains was perfect for Gaul, who thrived in such weather. He attacked on the Luitel, approximately 100 kilometres from the finish, and ended the stage 7’50 ahead of the next rider, Jean Adriaenssens. Crucially, Géminiani finished back in 7th and lost 14'35". By the start of the final time trial, Gaul was just 1’07 behind new leader Vito Favero and 39” off Géminiani, but he eclipsed both in the race against the clock to win the Tour.

If Landis does the same in tomorrow’s time trial and providing he avoids mishap on Sunday, he can complete that historical parallel from 48 years ago.

Evans frustrated

By John Trevorrow in Morzine

Cadel Evans (Davitamon-Lotto)
Photo ©: Jon Devich
(Click for larger image)

Cadel Evans was a little disappointed after yesterday's stage, as he wasn't quite able to get rid of his rivals on the Col de Joux-Plane. Cyclingnews chatted to him after the finish, along with several other TV crews. You went early on the last climb with Moreau? "I should have trusted my own judgment a bit more. People keep telling me what to do. I think I know what my own abilities are. I really had to go on the descent. I couldn't see the cars and I didn't know where the road went. I didn't want to lose it over the side of the road.

"Landis is absolutely incredible."

Landis got a long way up the road before anyone really reacted? "Well maybe you should talk to T-Mobile and CSC [for crying out loud get that TV cable away from my brake lever. I don't want to crash out on the way to my hotel]. Landis was incredibly strong on the climb. I was there and I thought I made an error trying to stay with him for too long cause it put me in the red and from then on - well it's what you really feel in the third week. He just rode everyone off the wheel, literally off the wheel and just went away.

"Phonak made a mistake early in the week giving that time back to Pereiro but the big teams made the mistake today. I haven't got a team to chase. I was really lucky that the team turned themselves inside out for me. Chris Horner did everything he could for me but I'm with one guy, T Mobile had their whole team there. I mean what can I do, it's out of my control?

"Normally when you have a team like T Mobile and CSC then you don't have worry what Landis does but what can I do. I don't run their teams, go and ask them.

Do you think you are still in reach for a podium? "I'm not sure of the time gaps but I will give it my best. I feel like I've ridden so well in the mountains and I'm still only fifth. But it's been an incredible tour and Landis, well what can you say – his legs did the talking today."

As we neared the hotel and burned off the TV crews his last words were. "Say hello to Geelong for me."

Erik Breukink: Menchov played all or nothing

By Brecht Decaluwé in Morzine

Denis Menchov (Rabobank)
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

We asked Erik Breukink, the sports director of Rabobank if Denis Menchov still believed in his chances. "[Thursday] he still could win it all, but it just didn't happen for him," said Breukink. "One moment, he was thirty seconds before Klöden, so he did try. Afterwards, Boogerd stayed with him for a while but then he was allowed to ride for himself."

When Menchov was set back, he immediately lost much time which blew up all his chances for the podium. "It was the last mountain they had to climb, so you'd better gamble and play all or nothing. If he didn't try it, then we surely wouldn't have won it."

The overall performance of the Rabobank team must have pleased him, as Boogerd and Rasmussen did well again. "We were still there with three riders in a group of thirteen. Unfortunately, we're out of the race for the podium, that's a pity," Erik Breukink finished.

Rasmussen: Menchov a little unfortunate

By Brecht Decaluwé in Morzine

Michael Rasmussen (Rabobank)
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

"It is exciting this year, it's still wide open," commented Michael Rasmussen after yesterday's stage. "He's a good time trialist but unfortunately, the last few days he cracked in the last four kilometres of the climb. That probably blew his chances to win the Tour de France. In something like ten kilometres he lost about four minutes, that's a little unfortunate. Otherwise he would've been up there as well."

Gerolsteiner chief "expected worse"

You know it's been a bad day when the team manager says, "To be honest, I expected worse." Hans-Michael Holczer tried to stay optimistic on a day that saw his team lose the white jersey, one captain announced he was sick, the other captain sank without a trace in the gruppetto, and - to add insult to injury - a car ran into the team bus.

Levi Leipheimer (Gerolsteiner)
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

Markus Fothen gave up his white jersey as best young rider to Damiano Cunego, but is only five seconds back, an amount of time he expects to easily make up in Saturday's time trial. "Even if I lost time to Cunego, my performance was good," said the youngster. "The final reckoning comes on Saturday and I think I will come out on top."

Holczer had nothing but praise for Fothen. "I don't usually like to make predictions. But after the way Markus fought and rode today, I can only say, that he is really a good one." He is also optimistic for Fothen's chances to regain the white jersey. "Markus is in a good position to wear the white jersey in Paris. He has his destiny in his own hands."

Fothen is now the best Gerolsteiner in the overall rankings, at 15th. He overtook captain Levi Leipheimer, who dropped to 18th after suffering health problems, like several of his teammates. "Levi told me before the stage that he would have difficulties today," Holczer noted. The team's other designated captain, Georg Totschnig, finished Thursday deep in the gruppetto over 50 minutes down, and is 48th overall, over an hour and half behind the leader.

Totschnig has bronchitis

Georg Totschnig has joined Gerolsteiner's sick list. He moved out of the room he shared with (sick) roommate Peter Wrolich on Sunday, but it was too late. He started feeling bad on Monday's rest day, "But you don't realize so quickly that you're sick," he told After forcing himself through the first two Alpine stages, he was diagnosed Thursday with bronchitis.

"I felt really sick this morning. The bronchitis explains why I haven't been able to do anything at all the last few days," he said. he still plans to make it through to Paris, though.

"Things went actually pretty well up until the second rest day, but I noticed on l'Alpe de Huez that I didn't have enough energy. Naturally I'm not satisfied, but I can't change it."

Watch out for those cars

It's not an easy job, fetching all those water bottles. Milram's Christian Knees discovered that Thursday, the hard way. At the end of the Col des Aravis descent, "I fell back to the team car to get a bottle," Knees wrote in his Tour diary at "One the way back up of course I had to go by all the cars. As I rode by one team car, the driver honked. He wanted to pull by and was warning the car in front of him. I just assumed that he had seen me riding next to him. Wrong! He suddenly pulled to the left and just knocked me down.

"I was really lucky: scrapes on my bottom, leg and shoulder. My helmet was broken in two. That could have been a lot worse! I got my breath back and yelled at the driver. The fans who were standing there and saw the whole thing were all shocked, too."

After getting a new helmet, Knees was able to make it back into the gruppetto and finish the stage safely within the time limit.

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