Tour de France Cycling News for July 6, 2005
Edited by John Stevenson, assisted by Sabine Sunderland
After the fall: post-stage comments
The team time trial is always a dramatic stage of the Tour de France
as teams battle the clock and fight to surf the ragged edge of nine riders'
lactate thresholds. The objective is to stay together to the finish, or
at the very least to lose as few riders as possible. But it's a long,
extraordinarily hard test and as fatigue accumulates, crashes in the closing
kilometres are not unusual. Dave Zabriskie's crash almost within sight
of the finish line when his CSC team was on course to win the stage and
successfully defend his yellow jersey is nevertheless one of the unluckiest
in Tour team time trial history.
Photo ©: Jon Devich
Zabriskie's management and team-mates now have to try and recover from
this setback. "We were extremely unlucky and of course we lost everything
in that crash," said CSC team manager Bjarne Riis.
"With three kilometres to go we had six seconds on Discovery Channel,
so it's obviously a hard blow to lose both the jersey and the stage win
"On the other hand, it's in tough situations like these we have to stick
together as a team and show people what we're made of," added Riis.
As he helped Zabriskie to the team bus, Riis said, "It definitely wasn't
our day. Armstrong once again got lucky; and we once again unlucky. The
fraction of doubt generated by the crash has cost us the victory."
Zabriskie's team-mate Jens Voigt put Zabriskie's
crash down to fatigue after the long, hard effort. "You're exhausted in
the end and you assess situations differently than when you've just departed
on the course and you're still fresh. Maybe he underestimated that curve
or his speed or just wasn't concentrating enough. The finale was very
tight, too, as we heard through the radio that we had to give it all because
it was so tight. And without the crash maybe we would have won by one
or two seconds. But life doesn't work on 'maybe'."
It was upsetting for Voigt to have the team lose in this manner. "What
can you say?" he asked. "We prepared perfectly for this, we were first
through the whole race and still lost in the end. Then, our yellow jersey
crashed badly too, and the doctor has already said that he has to get
a couple of stitches, and that maybe some ribs got affected. It's really
shitty to lose the jersey in this way."
But the ever-optimistic German has a plan. Asked how the team would get
morale back up, he said, "Easy: by going for a kamikaze tomorrow and attack
as of kilometre zero! No... we're a little down because we lost. But we
were almost there so we can't be that down. The way we lost was stupid,
but our performance was right there, so the morale is not that bad."
Before the stage, Voigt had waxed lyrical on the importance of the team
time trial as an event that brought together everyone involved in the
team. "Winning this time-trial is so important to us," he had said, "because
it is the team that wins; and the whole team that is, all the riders,
the bus driver, the mechanics, the soigneurs. It's not just one rider
that wins, it's all of us. It's something you work together for, you suffer
through it together. To win a TTT is so beneficial to the atmosphere in
any team. In this team we really make sacrifices for one another. You
often hear guys saying 'we're a great team', but here with Team CSC we
T-Mobile happy with third
Photo ©: AFP
T-Mobile's third place was the team's best result since finishing in
the same place but further behind on time in 2000. Jan
Ullrich knew the team had gone well. "We gave everything today,"
he said after crossing the line. "Each one of us gave his best and I thought
it was a great team time trial. Now, I have to look at the result."
T-Mobile manager Olaf Ludwig applauded his riders.
"That was a great performance from the team," he said. "I think nobody
believed us capable of this especially after Saturday.
"We gained more than 20 seconds on Liberty from km 25 to 47, so that
was a very strong period of time for the team and Steinhauser had to let
go. That doesn't mean he rode badly, neither did the others who came in
Liberty Seguros waits for mountains
Roberto Heras (Liberty Seguros)
Photo ©: Jon Devich
Liberty Seguros' fourth place wasn't quite up to the standard the team
set as ONCE, when it dominated this event, but manager
Manolo Saiz said he was nevertheless pleased with his riders. "We
did a good time trial," said Saiz in a team statement. "It was very long
and very unequal for us, we had the risk losing some climbers if we went
too fast on th efirst part, but that was the only way and they rode very
well. Finally, all of them have done a great race and I am very satisfied
with my men."
Saiz believes that at three minutes down team leader Roberto Heras is
in a good position to challenge for the general classification in the
mountains. "Roberto Heras goes out of here in a good position," said Saiz.
"Now the aim is to support him there until the mountains come."
Fastest. TTT. Ever.
With the wind at their backs, riders in this year's Tour de France team
time trial smashed all previous speed records. As mentioned above, the
Italian Gewiss team held the record with a 54.93 km/h team TT in 1995,
but Discovery's 57.32 km/h doesn't just break the record, it smashes it
into little pieces and recycles it as aerodynamic
In fact all but eight teams in yesterday's time trial broke the previous
speed record. For Tour trivia buffs, here are the average speeds for all
1 Discovery Channel Team 57.325 km/h
2 Team CSC 57.298 km/h
3 T-Mobile Team 56.855 km/h
4 Liberty Seguros - Würth Team 56.617 km/h
5 Phonak Hearing Systems 56.120 km/h
6 Credit Agricole 55.991 km/h
7 Illes Balears-Caisse D Epargne 55.683 km/h
7 Gerolsteiner 55.683 km/h
9 Fassa Bortolo 55.505 km/h
10 Liquigas - Bianchi 55.416 km/h
11 Davitamon - Lotto 55.340 km/h
12 Rabobank 55.140 km/h
13 Domina Vacanze 54.940 km/h
------ previous speed record ----------- 54.930 km/h
14 Quick Step - Innergetic 54.928 km/h
15 Bouygues Telecom 54.890 km/h
16 Euskaltel - Euskadi 54.265 km/h
17 Lampre - Caffita 54.144 km/h
18 Cofidis Credit Par Telephone 53.916 km/h
19 Francaise Des Jeux 53.702 km/h
20 Saunier Duval - Prodir 53.465 km/h
21 AG2R Prevoyance 53.266 km/h
Hinault's jersey tally in sight
While Lance Armstrong has won more Tours de France than any other rider,
he has not come close to the record number of stages wearing the yellow
jersey, but if Armstrong does choose to defend the maillot jaune all the
way to Paris he will pass Bernard Hinault's record of 79 days in yellow.
Five-time Tour winner Eddy Merckx collected 96 Tour leader jerseys during
his career. Merckx made a habit of taking the lead early and defending
it all the way to Paris, while Armstrong has been happy to loan it out
for a few days before regaining it in the mountains. During Merckx' era
the Tour also still had double stages, with two races in one day, increasing
the number of yellow jerseys up for grabs.
Tankink finishes saddleless
Somewhere in France there's a Quick.Step mechanic hiding from team rider
Bram Tankink. Tankink fell off the pace in the last three kilometres of
the team time trial because his saddle came loose, and he rode the last
two kilometres without it. "It didn't make sense to change bike," said
Tankink after the stage. He finished 22 seconds behind his team-mates.
All clear in blood tests
The UCI conducted blood tests on 45 riders before stage four, sampling
all riders from Cofidis, Illes Balears, Liquigas, Saunier Duval and T-Mobile.
No anomalies were found, according to the UCI.
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2005)