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Photo ©: Bettini

Tour de France Cycling News for July 14, 2005

Edited by Jeff Jones and Shane Stokes

No start for Boonen

Tom Boonen (Quick.Step)
Photo ©: Luc Claessen
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Points leader Tom Boonen (Quick Step) was forced to withdraw from the Tour de France before today's start due to a knee injury sustained on yesterday's 11th stage to Brianšon. The 24 year-old fell on the descent after the start in Courchevel, hitting the deck for the third time in five days.

Boonen limped in to finish as part of the autobus, 39 minutes and 46 seconds after stage winner Alexandre Vinokourov.

"I don't know how I got to Brianšon with the bike," he told sportwereld.be. "I rate this performance higher than both of my wins in the Ronde van Vlaanderen and Paris-Roubaix. After eleven kilometres, I crashed full on my face during the descent from Courchevel. Hushovd tried to ride away, I sat five metres behind and wanted to take the corner on the left, but the Spanish champion Garate went through the middle and bumped me. I couldn't stand up for the first two minutes. It was as if there was something broken behind my right knee. I couldn't stay in the saddle because of the pain."

This morning, Boonen tried to ride on the rollers, but realised that it wasn't going to happen and opted not to start.

Quick.Step also lost Stefano Zanini (abandon) and Kevin Hulsmans, who finished two and a half minutes outside the time limit, while Servais Knaven (diarrhoea) and Bram Tankink (general fatigue) have been under pressure.

Boonen had been favourite to take the green jersey to Paris due to the strong sprinting form displayed when winning stages two and three, in Essarts and Tours respectively. However, his speed had been blunted somewhat by falls, with Credit Agricole rider Thor Hushovd closing the gap to just five points.

The Belgian's withdrawal means that Hushovd takes over at the helm of the classification this morning. He is 19 points clear of Stuart O'Grady (Cofidis), with double green jersey winner Robbie McEwen (Davitamon-Lotto) 32 points adrift.

Riis looks on bright side

Although they lost an ill Jens Voigt yesterday when the German finished 39 seconds outside the time cut, Bjarne Riis was able to see something positive at the finish in Brianšon. "Bobby and Carlos had some problems on Galibier, but I think they all did very well today," he was quoted on the team's website www.team-csc.com.

"Ivan felt better than yesterday, but we didn't consider attacking with such a long distance from the last summit to the finish," he said.

Losing Voigt is a blow to the team, particularly as they had already lost fellow maillot jaune wearer David Zabriskie. Voigt had been ill with fever for the past few days.

"When I started in today's stage, I knew it was against all odds, but I still wanted to do everything I possibly could to continue," said Voigt. "Kim Andersen gave me a lot of motivation during the stage, but in the end it just wasn't enough."

Customs officials keep searching

Following the arrest yesterday of Dario Frigo after doping products were uncovered in his wife's car, customs officials have searched two more vehicles connected to the race. A truck belonging to the Phonak team and an unmarked yellow car containing Liberty Seguros staff were stopped this morning at Talard, about fifteen kilometres south of Gap.

There are no reports that anything suspicious has been found.

Liberty reshuffles after stage 11

Roberto Heras and Joseba Beloki both had a dismal day on the road to Brianšon yesterday, thus ending any chance of a high overall placing in this Tour. Beloki had put in a respectable ride on Tuesday's tenth stage, finishing 5 minutes and 36 seconds back in 26th place, but cracked early on yesterday and came home over half an hour down.

"For me the two days in the Alps have been no good, not even yesterday (Tuesday), because my place was to be near Ullrich," Beloki said. "On today's stage I got into trouble early on, on the Madeleine, and thought it was better to save my strength for the Pyrenees. Roberto was not going well and so didn't need my help. It is a pity, but only Jaksche and Contador are strong. Now that I am not a threat for the general classification, I will try to get into a break. I would like to do that in the Pyrenees but things have to change quite a bit for that to happen". Today marks the second anniversary of Beloki's terrible fall in the 2003 Tour.

As for Heras, the triple Vuelta winner initially looked good yesterday. He made it into the early break which was clear on the Col de la Madeleine, but soon got into difficulties and was dropped. He finished 17 minutes and 2 seconds behind by the end of the stage and is now back in 38th place overall.

Liberty's cloud does have a silver lining, though, with J÷rg Jaksche showing good form. He leaves the Alps as the team's undisputed leader after finishing in Armstrong's group yesterday. "I am very satisfied because I had very good sensations throughout the whole day," he sad. "I felt well and I hope to feel like that for the rest of the Tour."

Jaksche is currently thirteenth overall, 5 minutes and 33 seconds back, and so will eye a possible top ten finish in the race.

Vino's big day out

Vinokourov
Photo ©: Luc Claessen
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Alexandre Vinokourov's long breakaway to win stage 11 has netted him and T-Mobile more than €13,000 in prize money. Vino took out the €5,000 prize for being first over the Tour's highest climb, the Col du Galibier, then another €8,000 for being first across the finish line in Brianšon. He also won extra cash in the two intermediate sprints and on the climbs of the Madeleine and Telegraphe.

F÷rster: My worst day so far

"That was my worst day so far," wrote Gerolsteiner's Robert F÷rster in his diary on www.radsportnews.com . He is a sprinter and not a mountain specialist, so he suffered accordingly on Wednesday's stage. He finally made it into the gruppetto on the way down Col Madeleine. "I hung unto the end of the group and prayed, Dear God, let it be over soon. On the climb up Telegraph, "I suffered like a dog. I was so hot, I must have dumped 40 litres of water over my head. I took every bottle that was offered to me, from fans, from other teams."

Unfortunately, there was still another mountain on the agenda. "Then came Galibier. We were knocking on heaven's door. My lights went out with 500 meters left to go. I hadn't eaten enough. Somehow I made it over the pass. On the top I grabbed a jacket from a team worker. Couldn't stop, so rode no-hands at 70 kmh and put it on. Hara kiri."

As if that wasn't enough, "The hotel where we and T-Mobile are staying is falling apart, with miserable rooms. In three weeks it will be torn down, says the hotel boss. Fabian (Wegmann) and I almost burned the place down. We hung our clothes under the lamps to dry out. When we came back from dinner, smoke was coming out from under the door..."

Courtesy of Susan Westemeyer

Untitled Document

The Tour de France of give-aways and competitions

Don't miss out at Tour time!

Resident freebies expert, Rufus Staffordshire, sniffs out some competitions where up to $1 million in prizes are on offer as manufacturers clamber for your eyeballs. Woof!

Lucky 7 Sweepstakes'
Photo ę: Trek
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The Tour de France is not only a reasonably popular bike race, ahem, it's also a great opportunity to win an incredible range of prizes and competitions on offer from manufacturers, publishers and distributors.

Many of our sponsors are offering Cyclingnews readers a schwag-fest of give-aways during the lap-around-France. The prizes on offer range from Volkswagens and vaccuum cleaners through to trips to Paris for the 2006 TdF, as well as actual kit being ridden by top pros in the Tour - including top bikes from Trek, Cervelo, and Avanti.

So that you don't have to go hunting around the Internet for all these goodies, we've assembled the Cyclingnews complete guide to Tour freebies and competitions.

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