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Tour de France Cycling News for July 5, 2005

Edited by Hedwig Kröner

More comments from Tours

Collected by John Trevorrow

The "rough and tumble" of a sprint
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
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Stuart O'Grady, involved in an incident with fellow Australian Robbie McEwen during the closing moments of yesterday's stage, and had this to say after the finish:

"I'm very upset with Robbie. He went too far. I was very happy with the sprint; Thor [Hushovd] hit the front early and I came off him at 150 to go. I saw Boonen's wheel and got onto it, and at that moment clashed with Robbie - I had McEwen's helmet sticking in my face. It was more than what was required; that was too much.

"I wouldn't have beaten Boonen, and he's showing us all a clean pair of heels at the moment. But staying on his wheel would definitely have got me second today."

Robbie McEwen, extremely disappointed to be relegated to 186th:

"It's a normal clash that happens. The commissaires have obviously never riddden a bike; what would they know of the rough and tumble of a sprint. When you look at the overhead shots you can see that Stuey was involved as well."

Green "lost cause" for McEwen

Robbie McEwen is not only angry after yesterday's relegation, but also deeply annoyed that his hopes for the Green jersey are growing dim. "That relegation is unjust, and it means a loss that can't be corrected. Even if I would win two mass sprints, than I'd still have to hope for Boonen not to take one point. It's a lost cause. Unless a miracle happens, the Green is lost for me," he said in Tours last night.

Moreover, McEwen still thinks about his stage two sprint, knowing that the finish in Tours wasn't made for him. "Last Sunday, in Les Essarts, I made the same mistake I've made more than once in my junior period. And if one finish wasn't cut out for me than it was this long straight one in Tours."

Nevertheless, McEwen will continue trying and believes that a victory against Boonen is feasible. "I'm not in despair. Boonen is strong, no discussion there. But believe me, he is to be beaten," McEwen said.

"I wish to remind people of the scenario last year though," concludes Sergeant, McEwen's team manager, in a positive frame of mind. "Even though Robbie lost a lot of points after his crash in Angers , after a spectacular come-back he still went on to win the Green Jersey. Nothing is impossible. Boonen had to sprint six times last year before he took his first win."

To keep or not to keep?

Bjarne Riis, 1996 Tour de France winner and the brain behind Team CSC, has given different media different versions of his squad's race tactics for the coming days. Right after the stage yesterday, he was asked by German television if he would give away the Yellow jersey now for Ivan Basso to get it back later, to which he replied, "We won't give it away for free but maybe we will have to. Ivan Basso proved at the Giro that he was the strongest rider there, had it not been for his illness. I think he will be great here too."

According to French paper L'Equipe though, the CSC team director will fight for the Yellow. "If Zabriskie keeps the jersey [after the time trial]," he said, "we will try to retain it as long as possible and give him two or three teammates for support. Not more, because we don't want the whole team to be tired afterwards," he explained. Just where the team director will draw the line remains thus to be seen.

Lelangue explains TTT tactics

Phonak's team manager John Lelangue has given french daily L'Equipe some clues as to how the Swiss squad will aim for victory in the upcoming team time trial. "The team's lead-out on Tuesday will be Robert Hunter," he said. "He will be in charge of the first acceleration and of finding the rhythm of the journey, not too fast. Then, we will have the real specialists Pereiro, Botero, Landis; then those who perform well in this exercise, Grabsch, Gutierrez, Jalabert; then those who are not in their element: Moos and Zampieri. The lead turns should not exceed 30 seconds for the best riders, 20 for the others."

Lelangue continued by describing the course to Blois, which starts to become hilly with about 45 kilometres to go. "Our strategy is to ride into the last 15 kilometres, which are more technical, with nine men. We will try to be complete until then, even if Zampieri and Moos have to skip some turns for it. Ideally, the team should still consist of seven riders before attacking the Côte de Molineuf with 11 kilometres to go. That's where the teams will start losing their riders. Our aim, of course, is to have our three leaders within the five at the finish!"

German press not optimistic for Ullrich's chances

By Susan Westemeyer

Jan Ullrich (T-Mobile)
Photo ©: Sirotti
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"Ullrich Threatened with Further Setback", "A Good Time to Panic", "Captain Ullrich Must Prove Himself", "Has Ullrich Already Lost the Tour?" - These headlings reflect the German media's opinion on T-Mobile's and Jan Ullrich's chances in the Tour de France this year. "He came to the Tour de France as the captain and now stands there as the loser," says Weekly Der Spiegel, citing the "disaster in the time trial" on Saturday.

Ullrich had hoped to go in to the mountains ahead of Armstrong in the standings this year, but this "wishful thinking" was destroyd by his "debacle" in the time trial, according to the Frankfurter Neue Press Online. Only the new time restrictions will prevent TMO's "time loss along the Loire from sinking like a stone," it cheerily predicts.

Germany's number one tabloid Bild lives up to its reptutation by asking if Ullrich "has already lost the Tour on its first day?" It provides grisly details of his "horror crash", which was responsible for his "merciless false start" and wonders, "How shold Ullrich overcome this shock?" Of course the paper already has a possible answer: girlfriend Sara will try to take some time off work and visit him at the Tour, "so that ULlrich doesn't remain completely unkissed."

the more serious Die Welt notes that the team's mood was dramatically low after Saturday's time trial, with with Ullrich's "unexpected breakdown." Vinokourov rode well, but "even acknowledged specialists like Andreas Klöden [...] disappointed as 51st, the rest of the team from Bonn was even worse."

Der Spiegel says that the time has already come "to discuss whether Ullrich will actually ride the entire Tour de France as captain of the T-Mobile team." It predicts that the squad is already leaning toward Vinokourov. "Team director Godefroot denies that the team is waiting to see how Ullrich does in the 8th stage (July 9) which goes into the Alps, to see if it will have to chance the team's hierarchy. However, that this stage could be the end of Ullrich's captaincy and the beginning of Vinokourov's captaincy, can be easily read into Godefroot's message: 'We must first wait until the mountains,' he said."

The Berliner Zeitung believes the time has already come. "And now he has already lost his status as No. 1 on the team. To Alexander Vinokourov!" The team may deny it, but the paper notes that yesterday Vinokourov "was protected by Guerini, Nardello and Kessler. They were planned as Jan's most important helpers," while "Ullrich himself chatted way back in the field with buddy Steinhauser. Is this the end of a great era?"

Oh, yes, and the Frankfurter Neue Press Online mentions that "the second German team" is also in France, and even notes that Gerolsteiner team director Hans-Michael Holczer "would like to see his men in cyan-blue finish ahead of those in magenta-pink today."

A good day for the Austrians

Not only the Australians, but also the Austrians made headlines in yesterday's stage: second place for Peter "Paco" Wrolich and fourth for Bernhard Eisel.

Gerolsteiner's Wrolich said, "It's a dream. Like yesterday, I was working today for my teammate Robert Förster. Then, 350 meter before the finish, I suddenly noticed a hole behind Tom Boonen. Nobody else saw it. I went in and rolled as second over the finish line. It's unbelievable!"

Two days ago FdJ's Bernhard Eisel was complaining about a lack of team support, but now things have changed. "Today they finally worked for me. It worked fine, except for Baden Cooke, the last man. Cooke got to the 500 meter mark, and then he was suddenly in my way. He simply doesn't have good form right now." He wasn't completely happy with the day, despite his fourth place finish after McEwen's relegation. "There was more in it for me. About 100 metres before the finish I was behind Paco, got squeezed from both sides and had to brake. That was the end of my chances."

Watch out who you're elbowing!

Gerolsteiner's Robert Förster learned the hard way that you'd better watch closely before you throw an elbow into a Discovery rider. In his Tour diary on radsportnews.de, he wrote about yesterday's stage to Tours, "There was a lot of shoving going on in the field. At one point, someone from Discovery (Beltran) came from behind, cut me off and forced himself by me. Oh well, it happens. Five kilometres further, another one from Discovery who also kind of pushed me aside. When shortly afterwards another Discovery rider appeared from behind, I thought, okay buddy, that's enough. I threw my elbow out to make space. Oops, of course it was Armstrong himself! He gave me a dirty look and went directly to Levi Leipheimer, to ask what his teammate's problem was..."

Courtesy of Susan Westemeyer

Lore "Boonen" at home

It's fun for Lore "Boonen", girlfriend of the "Green Tornado", to post her daily column in the Belgian newspaper Het Laatste Nieuws: "Was that super or what that super? I'm even more shook up than I was yesterday. And that power, damn!" she started Tuesday's diary from her home in Belgium.

Lore can't keep her nerves under control as well as her boyfriend Tom, and even she wonders how he does it. "How in God's name can he stay that calm and only burst loose at the very end? I don't understand. I was far from calm in front of the TV... I have to confess something to Tom later though: I had my head in a pillow when they headed for the finish line. I didn't dare to watch, for the first time since we've been together. Even when I heard my brother and aunty and uncle yell "yes! yes! yes!" I still kept my face into the pillow."

Lore, who has a heartproblem and is advised not to seek too much excitement is not sure about visiting her boyfriend while he's racing in France: "I don't know yet. I went last year and I had it tough being in the hectic atmosphere and I can't really handle the big crowds. We'll see."

Courtesy of Sabine Sunderland

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