Tour de France Cycling News for July 11, 2005
Edited by Jeff Jones
An interview with Jens Voigt
A training ride in yellow?
I'm the new maillot jaune!
Photo ©: Sirotti
In Stage 9 yesterday,
Jens Voigt (CSC) took the treasured maillot jaune away from Lance
Armstrong and the Discovery Channel team, after two days of relentless
attacking in the Vosges mountains. Voigt finished third in the stage behind
Michael Rasmussen and Christophe Moreau, but had more than enough time
in hand at the finish to take the overall lead. As Hedwig Kröner reports,
he doesn't expect to have it for long, but he is more than happy to wear
Picture German Jens Voigt, a tall, lean and focused adult, grinning like
a school boy: that's the image the enthusiastic crowd in front of the
podium in Mulhouse took home from their Tour de France experience. The
33 year-old offered himself the maillot jaune on what was, according
to him, the last day this would have been possible at this year's Tour.
Voigt was very happy about this achievement, for which the otherwise relentless
character had to hold his horses and actually show some patience.
"I'm very happy that I succeeded, because some people were starting
to question me - and now I've shown that the old wolf still has teeth...,"
he said after the stage. "This morning in the team bus Bjarne allowed
me to attack, and I was really pleased with that decision because I had
asked him every morning: ' Can I go?' and Bjarne said: 'No.', and then
again: 'Can I go?' - Bjarne: 'No.', and again... That went on for a week.
And today finally, he set me free to do what I wanted to do and that worked
here for the full interview
Rasmussen: culmination of a dream
Michael Rasmussen (Rabobank)
Photo ©: Sirotti
Michael Rasmussen's big dream came through on Stage
9 of the Tour, as he crossed the finish line alone as stage winner
wearing the polka-dot jersey after a 168 km breakaway. In that way he
marked the 100th anniversary of the implementation of mountain climbs
in the Tour de France. Today's last climb was in fact Ballon d'Alsace,
the first mountain that was included in the Tour in 1905.
For Michael Rasmussen himself it was the culmination of a life long
dream, not to mention a culmination of a year totally dedicated to peaking
at the Tour. "It is totally beyond description," he wrote in his diary
"I've been riding a bike for 23 years, and since I was six years old I
have dreamed about winning a stage in the Tour. And when it happens wearing
the polka-dot jersey is absolutely fantastic."
After the stage Michael Rasmussen couldn't help shedding a tear, a thing
he hasn't done since he won the 1999 mountain bike World Championship.
"This is even bigger, definitely," he added.
Not only did he win the stage, but he also increased his lead in the
mountain competition now having 88 points, while Christophe Moreau and
Jens Voigt who chased him all day have 40 and 37 points. In addition to
that he is now placed fourth in the overall classification, and that has
lead to questions as to a possible focus on this as well
"Is it wisest to go after the polka-dot jersey and perhaps win another
stage or should I try to see how far I can make it in the overall? That's
some of the things I will now have to get a good night's sleep to consider,
as well as having a discussion with the team management to hear what they
Jan Ullrich, who crashed at 60 km/h at the start of yesterday's ninth
stage, is OK after X-rays taken on Monday morning in Grenoble revealed
no broken bones. Ullrich does have bruises and abrasions on his head,
shoulder, back, and ribs, but nothing that will prevent him from starting
tomorrow's 10th stage.
O'Grady looking to fire in final weeks
By Anthony Tan in Grenoble
Photo ©: Sirotti
Stuart O'Grady didn't plan on being there at the finish of the ninth
stage to Mulhouse. Compared to the previous year, where he came into the
Tour de France absolutely flying, the 31 year-old tough-as-nails Aussie
isn't planning on being at his best until the second and third weeks of
But on the previous stage to Gérardmer, O'Grady began to find his legs,
and was still in the front group on the final climb until four kilometres
to the summit, at which point he let go and eventually finished three
minutes behind Pieter Weening. The next day, behind breakaway riders Rasmussen,
Moreau and Voigt, he held his position up the last climb of the Ballon
d'Alsace, and then marshaled his troops to set him up for the sprint finish,
where he won the bunch kick for fourth place.
"I'm just feeling better and better each day, and obviously, the longer,
tougher stages suit me better," he said to Cyclingnews. "My sprinting
has been consistent, but not on the same level as McEwen and Boonen; obviously,
I've shown I'm a bit stronger than them in the harder stages, so we'll
just see how we go."
Asked if there were any concerns about his form coming into the race,
Stuey said he wasn't worried at all. "I did a very different program this
year. I've done a lot more racing. I've done about 50-odd days before
the Tour this year - last year I did about 30 - and basically every race
has been a ProTour event - they're big and hard races.
"This year, I came into [the Tour] probably not as well as I was going
last year; last year, I was really flying after the Dauphiné. But maybe
it's better this way - maybe it's better to come into the Tour and actually
ride into it instead of coming out all guns blazing; hopefully, they'll
be firing in the last week as well."
With talk still centred on Discovery's wake-up call on Stage 8, how
did O'Grady feel they fared on Stage 9? "There wasn't the panic compared
to the day before; I mean, Rasmussen was absolutely piloting out there
- that was just amazing - and it was up to Discovery as to what they wanted
to do - they choose who stays away and who doesn't. They controlled it...but
I think there's a few cracks in the paint."
The young one in white
A preview of the best young rider competition
Vladimir Karpets (Illes Balears)
Photo ©: Sirotti
Of all the jerseys available during the Tour de France, the white jersey
of best young rider is perhaps the least-known amongst the prizes available
overall at the Tour. Riders such as Ivan Basso, Vladimir Karpets and Denis
Menchov have won this jersey in recent years, and most go on to become
riders that perform in the 'senior' classifications. Les Clarke
looks at the riders to watch in 2005.
The basic premise of the best young rider classification is that the
rider under the age of 25 with the lowest cumulative time (like general
classification) is declared the best young rider and wears the white jersey.
It's an opportunity to showcase youthful talent in a separate competition
that retains prestige in its own right.
Some riders, such as Thomas Voeckler in 2004, can lead the best young
rider classification while leading on general classification - this is
unusual and it's normally the more senior riders that are able to tough
it out for the full three weeks in order to remain high on the GC leaderboard.
Two teams field most of the contenders for this year's competition -
Liberty Seguros-Wurth and Francaise des Jeux. They have young squads with
plenty of talent, and both directeur sportifs (Manolo Saiz and Marc Madiot)
have said in the past they are always looking to develop young talented
riders. What better way to blood these riders than to race them in the
Tour de France? And this competition encourages more participation by
for the full feature
Pre-stage 9 quotes
By John Trevorrow in Gérardmer
Allan Davis (Liberty Seguros)
How is the corked leg feeling today? "It's a bit sore but it's alright.
It gave me hell yesterday, but I just have to get through today and there
is the rest day tomorrow."
Simon Gerrans (Ag2r)
"Yesterday, it was very hard. The stage was just flat out right from
the start. I managed to stay there for 150km, but with the last climb
they sprinted into it, and I just found my group, and just did what I
had to do to get in without going too far into the red zone. Today is
going to be much the same. It is a matter of finding the right level and
getting in within the time limit."
Robbie McEwen (Davitamon-Lotto)
"I have got some pain in my knee; some 'fat pads' and I went through
100km of pain yesterday. I got myself into a good group and that wasn't
too bad. I felt fine in every other way."
Thor Hushovd (Credit Agricole)
How is the Tour panning out for you? "Yes, okay, my goal was to win
a stage, or at least one stage win, which I haven't done yet. I am only
5 points behind Boonen for the green jersey and of course this is a big
Is Robbie McEwen out of the race for the green jersey? "Oh no, Robbie
is too fast a sprinter to count out, but he will need Boonen or myself
to have some bad luck. At this stage I am racing Boonen for the green
Tom Boonen (Quick.Step)
How are you feeling after your crash? "Yesterday was one of the worst
days of my life. I was in a lot pain and I could only ride at 20 percent
of my ability. I have had to bring my chiropractor over from Belgium and
he worked on me last night and this morning. Now it's supposed to get
better and I just hope I can get in on time today and not suffer too much,
then after the rest day I can resume the battle for the maillot vert."
Matt White (Cofidis)
"Gee, I nearly started in the wrong shirt today. In the Giro d'Italia
our shirts were the same design, but with some Italian writing and an
Italian phone number. I must have had one sitting in the bottom of my
bag and I put it on. Just before the start, one of the team officials
noticed...a good thing. I would have got disqualified for that!"
As Matthew rode away to join the bunch on the start line, the crowd
broke into a loud roar and Mattie gave them all a wave, knowing full well
that the commotion was all for Lance, who was signing on behind him.
By Tim Maloney, European Editor in Mulhouse
Freds in arms
Photo ©: Tim Maloney
With the reorganization of its team earlier this year, Team Phonak gained
a few new faces in the staff. Long time pro mechanic Fred Bessy came over
from CSC, while super-experienced soigneur Freddy Viane (Motorola, Cofidis,
USPS) made the move from US Postal. For Bessy, it was his first time working
with American Floyd Landis and he found a good vibe with Landis. "Floyd
an excellent guy. He's usually really calm and professional and has a
good sense of humour."
As for his material choice, Bessy says that Landis likes light material.
"Floyd has one of our new BMC carbon fibre bikes and he loves it...he's
easy on material."
Viane made the move to Phonak with Floyd and told Cyclingnews,
"Phonak has a good structure with the new management and this year, I
see Floyd very relaxed. Plus he is in the best form of his life!"
For his part, Landis echoes the affection from his wrench and go-to
guy Viane. "Ha! Those guys are great", chortled Floyd.
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2005)