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Tour de France Cycling News for July 17, 2005

Edited by Jeff Jones and Shane Stokes

Pre-stage comments

Reported by Hedwig Kröner and Anthony Tan

Horner: if the legs are good, I'll try again

Saunier Duval's Chris Horner went close to a stage win two days ago. He took things easier yesterday in order to recover, but says that if he has the legs today, he will have another shot.

"Yesterday was hard, it was real hot. With the heat and climbs it was a hard day," he told Cyclingnews this morning before Stage 15. "I was trying to use the day as a bit of recovery for the work I did the day before. You are not going to do what I did (on stage 13) and ride with the top guys on the climbs. So you just have to go as easy as you can and try to recover for today or the next stage (on Tuesday)."

His strategy today will depend on how he feels. "I don't know if I will be up the road, I will just see how the legs are. It would be an ideal day for me, though, I think...I am so far down on time and, most likely, so will everyone else in a break be, too."

Horner was asked what he thought of T-Mobile's tactics yesterday, particularly as the team ended up chasing down Vinokourov twice. "Was that a strategy?" he said, laughing. "I have no idea what they were at."

T-Mobile: Evans not sure either

Cadel Evans was similarly mystified by the strategy in the T-Mobile camp. "The move on the penultimate climb got rid of guys from 8th to 15th on GC and it put me on the limit, but I don't really know what the intention was. Are they racing for the win, or are they racing for seventh or eighth?" he wondered.

Evans was fourteenth yesterday and is now twelfth overall. He feels he would have done better had he more experience of the race. "Yesterday I was actually a bit disappointed. It was a little bit of inexperience that lost me some time, but in your first Tour that happens occasionally. I hope it doesn't happen again, but c'est la vie."

Asked if it would suit him if another long breakaway goes, he said it didn't matter either way. "For the guys on classification it doesn't change that much. Until the last kilometre you are always thinking about the GC anyway."

Kummer: We knew what we were doing

T-Mobile directeur sportif Mario Kummer has played down suggestions that the team made a mess of their tactics yesterday. When asked why Klöden and Ullrich chased Vinokourov down when he attacked, he explained what was behind the reasoning. "The situation was that nobody reacted behind so we decided to put on the tempo. That's how this situation came about."

Viewers and commentators were perplexed by the sight of his own team bringing Vino back on both the Port-de-Pailhčres and the final climb of Ax 3 Domaines. Kummer justified it by saying he was on an off day. "Vino's performances were excellent before, but he didn't have the legs like, say, at the Galibier, where he had a super day. As the others didn't react, we had to. Alexandre was out to tickle the others a bit, but unfortunately it didn't work."

Today's plan is to be aggressive again. "The riders are feeling good this morning. We'll see how it goes later on on the road. It will be crucial to attack at the right time today, as it's a long and hard stage. If you go too early, you might not have the breath to finish."

Will you wait until the final climb? "We'll see"

Hincapie: hard day ahead

George Hincapie (Discovery Channel)
Photo ©: Luc Claessen
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Lance Armstrong's right hand man George Hincapie is in little doubt that the parcours of stage 15 is the toughest of the 2005 Tour. "Today's stage is the most difficult," he told Cyclingnews this morning. "There are six big climbs whereas yesterday there were only two. So today is much more difficult, a lot harder."

When asked if Armstrong would have extra motivation today to win a stage, Hincapie said that is not the first priority. "I think his main concern is to try to win the Tour. But if a stage win comes, then we will take it."

He said that the maillot jaune's concentration on the task at hand has stopped him lingering about the fact that this is the final Pyrenean summit finish of his career. "Every day is his last one, in some ways. Be it alpine stages, Pyrenees stages, Tour stages. I think his main goal is stay focussed and not think too much about things like that."

Sprinters have it much harder, says McEwen

Robbie McEwen (Davitamon-Lotto)
Photo ©: Luc Claessen
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The former King of the Mountains winner Robert Millar was once asked what made a good climber. Was it the ability to suffer less in the mountains? No, he replied, the suffering is the same, but the climbers just do it faster.

Robbie McEwen disagrees, though. When asked by Cyclingnews this morning who had it harder, the sprinters in the peloton or the climbers, he had no doubts about who hurt the most.

"I think being a sprinter is worse, because when you're a climber and when you have an off day, you still make it to the time limit," he stated. "No problems. But if you're a sprinter and you have an off day, you're in huge trouble. We're riding full gas every day. There's no such day as an easy day in the bunch. You always have to force yourself, even on the flatter stages and the time trials to stay inside the time limit."

What's your plan for the green jersey? "I'm not telling everybody my plans! As for today, I just want to survive and not look further than that."

Ullrich's physiotherapist says Jan's on the up

Ullrich on a good day
Photo ©: Luc Claessen
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Although he lost some time to Lance Armstrong and Ivan Basso, yesterday was the first day in this year's Tour that Jan Ullrich showed something approaching his top form. His physiotherapist Birgit Krohme confirmed that the German's fitness is improving, saying that she could feel a difference in his muscles after yesterday's race to Ax 3 Domaines.

"A mountain stage is of course much harder on the whole body than a flat one is. And not only on the leg muscles. My therapy therefore is longer on mountain stages, and includes the back, the spine, and the neck area to a much greater extent. On mountain stages, the muscles are harder and you adapt the massage accordingly. You don't massage with a lot of pressure."

"When Jan has bad lags, you feel it after a stage. The muscles are then much tenser and they have irregular, harder areas. But when he's got good legs it is different; then, the legs show a regular, lower tension. That's what it felt like yesterday. So if that'll be the case again tonight, still getting better towards the end, then we'll be very satisfied."

Untitled Document

The Tour de France of give-aways and competitions

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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 ©: 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.

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