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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

Tour de France Cycling News for July 6, 2005

Edited by Jeff Jones

No yellow for Lance

Cyclingnews sources near the Discovery Channel team bus at the start of Stage 5 report that Lance Armstrong will not wear the yellow jersey today, to honour the fact that Dave Zabriskie lost the jersey because of an accident yesterday.

Discovery Channel team rider George Hincapie told Cyclingnews' Tim Maloney, "Lance and the team felt that even though we might have won by one or two seconds, it was that close, it's not right to take the yellow jersey that way. So he's not going to wear it to honour that fact."

Update: According to official reports, Armstrong didn't wear the almost sacred maillot jaune to the start of today's stage, but the commissaires forced the peloton to stop at the end of the neutral section, allowing Armstrong to don the yellow and wear it for the stage proper.

Zabriskie update

Dave Zabriskie (CSC)
Photo ©: AFP
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David Zabriskie (CSC) has been confirmed as starting today's fifth stage between Chambord and Montargis, although he won't have an easy time of it after his spectacular crash towards the end of yesterday's team time trial. Although X-rays taken on Tuesday evening showed that there was nothing broken, Zabriskie did have to have stitches in his elbow, and is nursing bruised ribs on his right side and a sore, swollen knee.

With another windy, cool day with a chance of rain predicted today, it's hard to know if Zabriskie will hang in there. At the very least, he will hope for dry weather.

Luke Roberts assesses the situation

By John Trevorrow and Gennie Sheer

Team CSC, before things went pear-shaped
Photo ©: Sirotti
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Australian Tour rookie Luke Roberts was in a good position to see what happened to maillot jaune Dave Zabriskie in yesterday's team time trial, as he was on the American's wheel. But even Luke couldn't tell exactly what caused the crash.

"It is really disappointing, we just anted to win so badly," he related after the stage. "At the last time check with six kilometres to go, we had five seconds, and we had been as much as 17 seconds up. I was right behind Dave when he crashed, not sure what happened, whether his chain slipped or his foot came out of the pedal. I had to brake to miss him and they opened a gap in front of us.

"I was lucky actually: If Dave hadn't slid away from me I would have come down too, the old track skills came in handy. Two guys fell back because of Dave and we had to get five to the finish line, so I had to try to close the gap again without having the four slow up in front. In the end they hesitated a bit too, which threw us off a bit and probably cost us the stage win in the end. So pretty disappointing to be so close to keeping yellow and winning the stage and then to not get either. Not our lucky day.

"It was all running so smoothly, we were in the lead and we knew it was coming down to the final kilometres and we were strong. I thought we would get there. When they gave us six seconds on one of the last climbs, Jens Voigt put in a couple of pearlers, we were going fast, I knew it was going to be close."

Could it have been the pressure of having Discovery breathing down your neck that caused the crash? "I don't think so, it was just one of those things. I feel really bad for him but that's bike racing. Not much you can say to Dave to make him feel any better.

"The plan was at the start that coming into the last five or ten kilometres or so that wouldn't wait for anyone but Ivan Basso even if Dave flatted. We knew we had to keep going for the time. It was the way we'd planned it from the start. We had ridden the course as recently as last Wednesday and the last few kilometres a second time. This morning we rode another 30 km. The guys at the front had it really well controlled when the crash happened. It would have been great to keep the jersey and in the stage but unfortunately we didn't get either.

"I suppose it takes the pressure off the team not having to control the race at the front, but that's not much consolation. We still have Ivan and Carlos in a good position and we will keep protecting them getting them ready for the mountains.

"Looking back I am sure we would have won. There was that moment of hesitation because it was David but over the radio they said "What are you doing, there is only one km to go." We have to put it behind us now. Bjarne Riis just said, 'bad luck, you did a good job'."

This morning before the start of Stage 5, we spoke to Roberts again, asking him how he backed up after yesterday. "I feel all right - I certainly feel better than Dave. He's lost a lot of skin but nothing's broken and he seems okay."

What was Bjarne's reaction yesterday? "Bjarne came in straight away and congratulated us on doing a good job, and made the point that we probably needed a little bit of luck as well on that stage when it just wasn't there for us."

How do you rate your own performance? I was really good along the first 40 kilometres where it was flat along the river. That suited me well and was really like one big teams pursuit, but once we hit those climbs towards the finish Jens and Bobby were really strong and that hurt me quite a bit. But I stuck in there and stuck with them and on the descent into town did what I could to hang on for last couple of kilometres.

What's the plan now for CSC? "Our job is to look after Ivan and Carlos (Luke's Tour room mate) and keep them well protected in the next few hectic bunch sprint days. But having said that, I'm 17th on GC so maybe a breakaway is an option for me. We also have Jens and Kurt who can play the breakaway card and perhaps CSC might get back the jersey but that will depend on what Discovery has in mind."

Davis and co. just off the pace

By John Trevorrow in Blois

Allan Davis was part of the Liberty Seguros challenge that came in fourth yesterday, conceding 53 seconds to Armstrong's Discovery Channel team. "It was disappointing to lose by a small amount. It's a funny course: it was a straight tail wind for three quarters, and then a bit lumpy and twisty towards the end. Today's instructions were for short progressive efforts and then to lift the pace towards the end.

Last year, Manolo Saiz held you back until the team time trial, this year you've had more of an open slather. "I have come into the race a bit fresher this year. I think as the years go along I should get a bit better, hopefully I will keep progressing in a way that I have for the past couple of years."

Inside the Gerolsteiner TTT

The rules say that five riders have to finish the team time trial, and one assumes that the teams will start with nine riders. One assumes that all nine riders will be at the start....and not left sitting at the hotel, right? Well, sometimes it doesn't work out that way. And apparently even the riders aren't sure who was where.

"In all the excitement we totally forgot three riders," notes Ronny Scholz on his website, www.ronnyscholz.de. According to him, Robert Förster, Paco Wrolich and Sebastian Lang "sat in the car in front of the hotel and waited for someone to come and drive them away. When nobody came, Frösi (Förster) got behind the wheel and drove away."

Förster remembers it differently, as he related to www.radsport-news.com: "Zberg, Fabian and I came a little later out and got in the fourth car. The first three cars drove away - we don't. Someone said, hey, who's driving us, anyway? Oh well, they won't start without us, someone will be here in a minute. Ha! They forgot us! We laughed ourselves silly. We couldn't reach anyone over the radio. I said, come, Paco, turn the navigation control on, we'll drive ourselves. We just started to program it when they called us over the radio, said they had forgotten us, could we come by ourselves?"

Förster finished 186th, over 11 minutes down. "Time trialing is just not my thing," he acknowledged, and added, "The yellow jersey is out of my reach now! My Tour victory has slipped away...." After the time trial, his adventures continued. "In the bus I laughed at Fabian (note: his roommate at the Tour), because he got this funny cramp and hopped around. I was immediately punished: I hadn't even stopped laughing when I got the same cramp...In the hotel we both lay on our beds for an hour and called for our mothers."

Wegmann wrote on www.fabianwegmann.de, "I just arrived at the hotel, can neither lie down nor sit. My whole body is totally cramped, the legs hurt - I can barely hold out. I think, team time trialing will never be my favourite discipline...What interests me most right now: How am I going to get on the bike Wednesday?"

Captain Georg Totschnig wasn't at all satisfied with his performance, as he wrote on www.step2web.at/totschnig. "I rode absolutely the worst time trial of my life. During the entire distance I never found the right rhythm and sometimes had the feeling that my teammates had to wait for me - what a disappointment!"

Courtesy of Susan Westemeyer

Ludewig not happy to wait

Jörg Ludewig, Domina Vacanze, doesn't understand the team management's decision to wait for two riders who fell back near the end of the TTT. "I think we were in about 6th or 7th place at that stage. And then we heard from the team management that we had to wait for two riders who had fallen back. You take your tempo out, lost 20 or 30 seconds, need more time to get back into your routine, to get your speed up and to find the rhythm again," he told www.radsport-news.com. "You work the whole year for the Tour. The team time trial is an absolute highlight. Everyone wants to show what he can do...Over an hour at your absolute limit. And then you have to wait."

Courtesy of Susan Westemeyer

London gets the nod for 2007

The Tour de France will start in London in 2007, reports Het Nieuwsblad. Organisers ASO will make it official next week. It will be the first time that the Grand Boucle has started in the British capital, although it has visited the British Isles several times in its history, most recently in the 1998 Tour when it started in Dublin.

The 2006 Tour is set to start in Strasbourg, the home of the European parliament.

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