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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

Tour de France Cycling News for July 16, 2007

Edited by Bjorn Haake and Laura Weislo

Long range attack for yellow Chicken soars to race lead

By Shane Stokes and Gregor Brown

A happy Rasmussen
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Just as he did at Mulhouse in 2005, just as he did at La Toussuire last year, Danish rider Michael Rasmussen went on a blazing long range attack in Stage 8 of the 2007 Tour de France to gobble up KOM points, secure a firm grip on the mountains jersey and seize the stage victory. This time, though, things were even more impressive; the Rabobank rider ended the day firmly wrapped in the yellow jersey of race leader, taking over from T-Mobile's Linus Gerdemann.

Rasmussen attacked out of the peloton on the Roselend, the first of the three category one climbs which came in the second half of the stage. Pedalling with relentless focus, he reeled in a breakaway group containing Bernhard Kohl (Gerolsteiner), Antonio Colom (Astana), Christophe Le Mével (Crédit Agricole), David Arroyo (Caisse d'Epargne), Stéphane Goubert (Ag2r) and Michael Rogers (T-Mobile) and took maximum points at the summit.

Once onto the next climb of Hauteville, the 33 year old from Tølløse pushed on ahead with Colom and Arroyo and took the prime at the top. He then ruthlessly jettisoned his breakaway companions with 18 kilometres remaining and rode solo to victory at Tignes. His haul? The stage win, the mountains jersey, the most aggressive rider award and the first maillot jaune of his career.

You can read the full story here.

Post race quotes

By Brecht Decaluwé in Tignes

The yellow jersey Gerdemann
Photo ©: AFP Photo
(Click for larger image)

Young German ace Linus Gerdemann was unable to keep his yellow jersey in Tignes and after the finish Cyclingnews was there to listen to his reaction. "In the final kilometres it was very hard. My teammates worked unbelievably hard for me, I think I battled hard for the jersey," Gerdemann talked about his lost battle. "Anyway, having the yellow jersey was not a burden, it was a pleasure, it was priceless," Gerdemann reacted after falling 43 seconds short to keep the lead. "Concerning tactics we still have to see of course, Kim Kirchen was super strong. Tomorrow there's the rest day and then we can see further ahead. The heat is on now but I'm going to take some rest tomorrow," Gerdemann said.

Kim Kirchen worked hard to keep his young teammate Linus Gerdemann in the yellow jersey but their mission was unsuccessful. Combined with the crash of captain Rogers it was a bad day for T-Mobile. "It was very hard today. We tried with Rogers in the breakaway and he did it. The breakaway with him could've gone very far and that would have been good for us [...] if you don't try then you can't win," Kirchen looked back. The Luxembourgian also talked about his own performance. "For sure I'm happy that I could help and do my work, for me it was a good day," Kirchen said to Cyclingnews.

Robbie McEwen rolled in at Tignes more than an hour after stage winner Michael Rasmussen, thus failing to make the time cut. Pretty early on in the stage McEwen had to let go of the peloton and it was clear he wouldn't make it. Nevertheless he kept himself to the promise that he wouldn't abandon. Two days ago he reminded us that he managed to finish his nine previous Tours and he wasn't planning to climb off the bike if he didn't have to. His crash in the first stage - which he won - kept bothering him and after finishing very last in Saturday's mountains stage his crusade ended in Tignes. McEwen didn't want to complain too much after the finish. "There are many guys who make it to Paris but they haven't got a stage win under their belt, so I'm happy with that. Still, it wasn't much fun to climb a mountain at 10 km/h but I did prefer to finish the stage rather than to abandon," McEwen said.

While many riders still had to finish their stage the news reached us that T-Mobile's Patrick Sinkewitz collided with a spectator while returning to the team hotel in the valley. Sinkewitz had finished at 19'17" and he rode back on the same road as the race was using, as often happens after a mountain top finish. Sinkewitz was reported to have hurt his head, possibly breaking his nose while the spectator involved was brought over to the hospital of Grenoble with a helicopter; the man was reported to have severe injuries. As a result of that incident the evacuation away from the finish in Tignes was jammed while the T-Mobile team was dealt another blow.

Michael Rasmussen won the stage
Photo ©: AFP Photo
(Click for larger image)

Rabobank clearly is the winner of the day capturing the yellow jersey for the second time in their history, after Marc Wauters in Antwerp back in 2001. "Just before the rest day, you can't time it any better; it's going to be a great party," Erik Breukink said to Cyclingnews. It can be discussed if chicken Rasmussen was allowed to go or if the other teams weren't strong enough as Rasmussen almost didn't lose time during the final climb despite being in the attack all day long.

"I think they waited too long at the foot of the climb to set a fast pace. There was no action in the peloton so he was given some liberty. The teams who had somebody in the break gambled that their guys would save the day but that proved to be wrong. What happened with Rogers was bad luck of course. T-Mobile had the perfect tactics with their team leader in the breakaway and the yellow jersey in the peloton, the best defence for the yellow jersey," the former white jersey winner said.

Rabobank is in a perfect position now to defend the jersey as they have two team leaders who can battle for the GC now, with Denis Menchov and Rasmussen. "That's true as long as it stays like that because it's changing everyday in this Tour de France. Still, the teams won't be keen to allow breakaways 30' this year, the teams are reacting faster nowadays," Breukink said.

Alexandre Vinokourov said after the stage that "The last three kilometers were very tough. I was lucky that the team worked so hard for me and especially Andreas at the end of the stage. My muscles are tired, I didn't recover so well… For me, the essential was not to loose too much time. Because I still have the hope to win the Tour. Tomorrow is the rest day, that is the best thing that can happen to me !"

See also: Linus Gerdemann feature

A bad day at the T-Mobile office

By Brecht Decaluwé in Tignes

Rogers before the crash that ended his '07 Tour hopes
Photo ©: AFP Photo
(Click for larger image)

As expected Linus Gerdemann was unable to keep the yellow jersey but it looked as though T-Mobile could keep the jersey in their own team for a while. After Michael Rogers' crash - resulting in the Australian throwing in the towel - it turned out that T-Mobile lost the yellow jersey to Danish climbing goat Michael Rasmussen. After the finish we talked to T-Mobile's general manager Bob Stapleton. "We enjoyed the ups and downs of the sport in a twelve-hour period. Losing Rogers is a big blow but we're going to regroup and see what we can make happen now," Stapleton reacted. The team's manager was disappointed although he did express his joy about the fact that Gerdemann kept the white jersey. "Linus was able to save the white jersey, that is also a victory for us. From now it's day by day, we'll see what we can do."

Michael Rogers was enormously disappointed as he had to step off his bike after being in such a good position. Stapleton didn't know how Rogers' situation was but he did regret the U-turn the team had to take. "All we heard [about Rogers] was what the race doctor said, they didn't think anything was broken but obviously he was in too much pain to take. Everything was looking good there. We had him in a group we knew he could ride with. We had the yellow jersey in the main field. When he [Linus] attacked [yesterday] it was a great setup, then it went to hell," Stapleton sighed.

Linus Gerdemann, the new German superstar, might be happy that his glory days are over as the sudden media attention will be less intensive from now on. "I hope that people just enjoy it and don't put any pressure on him. He's a young kid, great success, really feels the potential. He's just a good young talent and has a long way to go. Anyway, he's got a battle for the white jersey ahead of him, this is going to be tough, too as guys like Contador aren't nobody's. He's going to have a chance for it though," Stapleton looked forward to see his young stars shine again after the rest day.

A few moments later the news reached us that T-Mobile's Patrick Sinkewitz collided with a spectator while returning to the team hotel in the valley. The spectator was badly injured and is reportedly in a coma, while Sinkewitz himself suffered a broken nose and concussion.

Cormet de Roselend: always causing casualties

By Brecht Decaluwé in Tignes

The descent of the Cormet de Roselend once again took its toll in the Tour de France. Stuart O'Grady, Grischa Niermann and Charles Wegelius. In the breakaway group, David Arroyo and Michael Rogers also crashed in one of the tricky corners while riding in the race's front group, smashing into the road barriers. Both could continue and get back to the leaders but a few moments later Rogers dropped back and eventually abandoned the race.

The climb isn't too steep, averaging 6 to 7 percent. The 1967-metre climb starts already at an altitude of 800 metres so the height difference is bearable. Eleven years ago on July 6, 1996 Johan Bruyneel enjoyed some scary moments on the descent of the Roselend. Back then the Belgian was part of the Rabobank team and he enjoyed one of his better days in the mountains as he was still in the front group.

Behind him the end of the Indurain era was heralded, the five times Tour de France winner couldn't follow the speed of eventual winner Luc Leblanc and the other favourites and finished more than four minutes down on the winner. The Belgian spectacularly missed his corner on the wet roads and he was ejected ten metres lower into the ravine. The involved corner is easy to find; after a few easy corners there's suddenly a sharp turn to the left. A few days ago we caught up with Johan Bruyneel, who is currently team manager of the Discovery Channel team.

"It looked very spectacular but in the end it wasn't that bad as I could crawl out of there without injuries. It was scary, though. It happened during the first mountains stage and I was very happy as I was still with the leaders, about 15 men. Suddenly I missed a corner and I tumbled over some concrete and then I was dangling out there for a fraction of a second," Bruyneel explained to Cyclingnews. "For a moment I thought that I would be dead. The next moment I was hanging in a tree and I could only think about getting out of there to get back on a bike and continue my race. It's an unbelievable story but it was something I went through but it didn't leave me with any trauma's," Bruyneel looked back on these memorable moments.

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