Tour de France Cycling News for July 16, 2005
Edited by Jeff Jones and Shane Stokes
Post-stage 13 comments
By John Trevorrow in Montpellier
Robbie McEwen (Davitamon-Lotto, 1st)
Robbie McEwen (Davitamon-Lotto)
Photo ©: Sirotti
"It was more a victory for my teammates than myself. This whole Tour,
the whole season, none of my victories would have been possible without
my teammates. But more so today than ever, really was a team victory because
the work they put in was absolutely incredible.
"It's hard for anybody not in the race to appreciate just how hard they
worked today. It's day 13 of the Tour. Everybody can see in the paper
what the average speed is so far. We have been through the Vosges, we
have been through the Alps. For my guys to be able to do that today and
my last guy Freddy to deliver me to the line...I got all emotional after
the finish because such a fantastic job deserves a victory."
How do you motivate your teammates? "I said since yesterday and again
this morning: I didn't believe we would have a mass sprint today. I really
didn't believe it would happen. We have had such an aggressive Tour and
a lot of guys on the attack. My guys were very, very tired.
"How do I motivate those guys? To do what they did today, you can't
motivate someone to do that. The motivation comes from within those guys.
That's their strong point. It's really the belief of those guys. Their
belief in me and their belief in themselves, enabled them to do what they
did today. I keep saying it, but it really is incredible how they rode
the whole day.
"I only had four teammates we could use and we were very lucky we had
Lampre to help. I have to thank those riders too because they are strong.
I am still in disbelief about what my teammates did today. I can't imagine
trying do that myself."
Robbie McEwen (Davitamon-Lotto)
Photo ©: Jon Devich
Credit Agricole and Cofidis didn't chase? "Yeah I understand the tactic.
Their tactic is revolving around the green jersey competition. They both
know it's fairly tough and they both know if we come to the finish in
a bunch sprint where there's a bigger difference in points between the
places and pretty much know they are going to get beaten and lose points
to me. If I was them I would be doing the exact same thing. But my team
are not afraid to lay it on the line and race to win."
When was the exact moment you were sure of the stage win? "I thought
that underneath the kilo kite that we would sprint for the win. The speed
of the two riders in front, Horner and Chavanel, they had maybe 6-7 seconds
so I knew it would be close. But then the Liquigas went through for Bäckstedt
and the instant they did, I knew we would be sprinting for the win.
"In the last few metres I just held back and told them the moment to
go, and I knew, during the last kilo, we would catch those two riders.
I haven't spoken to Stuey...I was looking at Freddy a few meters out.
I wanted to see if there was anybody on my wheel because I was going to
let Freddy across the line first. But I saw someone there so two more
pedals and no one was coming past."
Stuart O'Grady (Cofidis, 2nd)
"Robbie did a great sprint he had a great lead out - I think he deserved
to win today. Unluckily for us Sylvain had Horner with him on his wheel
or else he could have gone all the way as well. Finish was pretty hectic
again, around 74km an hour I think.
"What were your hand signals at finish about? "Gentleman's pump. Robbie
beat me fair and square but he just threw in a little 'how's it going?'
at the finish. I was beaten, and I was going to get beaten anyway. It
"I put some points into Thor, and lost a couple to McEwen but I'm feeling
better and better every day and there's another week of hard racing to
go. I'm feeling pretty confident. 14 points? I think it's probably going
to be the last sprint day except maybe for Paris, but from now on it's
just going to be a hard grind all the way to Paris. It's going to be whoever
passes the hills the best between McEwen, myself and Hushovd.
"I think Lotto had all the pressure today - they were the only team
who wanted it to come down to a finish for the sprint and they worked
very hard. Chavanel did a good attack for us in the final, and he was
Any rivalry between you and Thor? "We're fine. We're probably better
friends than before. Yesterday we had a good race and we're both very
good competitors. Thor's a very fair rider, a very strong sprinter - so
it's going to be a good battle. It might not come down to a couple of
points, you know. If I have a good day in the mountains, anything's possible."
"We've got the monkey of the stage win off our back, and now the guys
are riding with confidence. I have got full support but we're not shutting
down the stages for me. In the (team) meeting I've been saying to the
guys if they've got a chance to go for the attack in the final, then they
should go for it."
Brad McGee (Francaise des Jeux, 159th at 5'40)
"I have been struggling since that crash and a few days after I had
a bad cramps (when Mengin won). I seem to have torn some abductors and
hammies. The crash upset it. I had the weird sensations in my legs. It's
like I am pedaling in sandshoes, not bike shoes. I can't ride through
the pedal stroke - it's like after my crash in Pyrenees and few years
ago and it happens whenever I crash.
"I know I have got something to go for these next stages. I feel really
confident in myself that if I get back to my normal pedal style and get
over this: why not one of these mountain stages? That is what is motivating
me right now. I would hate to think all the work I have done for my climbing
just goes to nothing."
Thumbs down for Ullrich, up for Rasmussen
By Hedwig Kröner in Montpellier
Jan Ullrich (T-Mobile)
Photo ©: Sirotti
The French love him: Raymond Poulidor, the arch rival of five times Tour
de France winner Jacques Anquetil back in the 60's, has become a heroic
figure ever since his days as a professional bike rider. Also referred
to as 'Poupou' or 'the eternal runner-up', the now 69 year-old has never
worn the maillot jaune, but was always considered one of the favourites
for the overall win at the Tour de France during his time, as he finished
three times in second place amongst other top ten results.
Poulidor is still part of the Tour, and Cyclingnews got hold
of him in the Village Départ of stage 13 in Miramas - but he decidedly
negated any analogy between himself and Jan Ullrich, who has been Lance
Armstrong's personal runner-up in recent years. "No, there are not a lot
of similarities," he said. "Ullrich won the Tour once, whereas I never
did. And then, Ullrich isn't a true professional, he doesn't do his job
right: in winter, he puts on weight; he rarely races, only trains... and
you can see the result: he hasn't got the legs to beat Armstrong. In the
mountains, he's really suffering!"
On another note, the legendary Frenchman also had words of praise, but
not for Ullrich. "Rasmussen, you watch out for Rasmussen," he said, raising
his eyebrows. "He's only 38 seconds away from the jersey, and what's 38
seconds in high mountains...only 300 meters!"
The old and the new king
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
Another famous former bike rider and expert in polka-dot matters agreed.
Richard Virenque, now working for French television at the Tour, believes
in his successor. "I predicted that he would be the most suited rider
to try and go for the mountains jersey. And now he's even second in general
classification as we head into the Pyrenees, so he can take the yellow.
It's possible," he told Cyclingnews on the start line in Miramas
between two interviews he was doing himself in front of the camera.
The man who scored seven polka-dot jerseys at the Tour was impressed
with Rasmussen's performance in the Alps, and thinks that there is surely
more to come as the race hits the second mountain range. "The Pyrenees,
with their steeper and shorter climbs suit him very well," he continued.
"Especially the second stage [Lézat-sur-Lčze - Saint-Lary Soulan on Sunday
- ed.] where he might be able to get the jersey for one or two days. Don't
know if he could take it to Paris, but he's definitely amazing!"
Valverde goes home
Alejandro Valverde (Illes Balears)
Photo ©: AFP
At 15.15 today, Alejandro Valverde finally admitted defeat, giving in
to the pain of a bad left knee and quitting the Tour de France. It was
rumoured before the stage that the white jersey would not start, but together
with team management the Illes Balears rider decided to continue for as
long as was possible. He had a highly successful Tour debut so far; a
stage win on the first big mountain stage of the race, the white jersey
of best young rider and a fine fifth place overall. But ever since that
win in Courchevel he had been troubled by a knee injury, most probably
as the result of banging the joint during the team time trial several
Today the pain became too much, causing the rider Lance Armstrong said
‘could be the future of cycling' to retire from the race. Third and fourth
in the Vuelta a Espańa, Valverde will bounce back from this and could
well challenge for the win in 2006. Before then, though, the Illes Balears
team will do what they can to support Paco Mancebo's bid for a podium
place. He starts tomorrow in seventh place overall, 4 minutes off the
race lead, and will be aiming for a big ride in the Pyrenees.
Liberty hope for more in the Pyrenees
Beginning tomorrow's stage to Ax-3 Domaines in 12th place overall, Jörg
Jaksche will have the total support of the Liberty team in his bid to
move up the general classification. Although not a pure climber, the German
has fared well in the Alps. "I feel very good at the moment, am strong
and expect to be able to stay with the pace set by the favourites," he
said. Jaksche plans to see how the next three days go before deciding
his strategy for the remainder of the Tour de France.
Alberto Contador, third in the best young rider classification, is another
aiming to ride well. Teammates Joseba Beloki and Roberto Heras head west
expecting better things than in the Alps, with both reporting better form.
Similarly, team sprinter Allan Davis is also on the up; he was 11th in
today's bunch sprint and seems to be recovering from the injuries sustained
earlier in the Tour.
Meanwhile Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano returns to training tomorrow after
the hard crash which forced his withdrawal from the Tour last Sunday.
The Spaniard was in severe distress after landing heavily on his back,
but MRI scans taken on Wednesday showed that he had no serious injury
to his back. Although he's still experiencing pain in the area, he has
been told that he can make a gradual return to training. Gonzalez de Galdeano
is hoping to be back racing soon.
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
Lucky 7 Sweepstakes'
Photo ©: Trek
The Tour de France is not only a reasonably popular bike race, ahem, it's also
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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
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(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2005)