Tour de France Cycling News for July 18, 2005
Edited by Jeff Jones and Shane Stokes, with assistance from Sabine
Basso the next Tour winner?
Basso and Armstrong
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
"Two days in a row I have attacked, everywhere it was possible. Lance
was suffering, at least I like to think so, but even so he doesn't give
in. On the highest cols I can't ride away from him and Lance is a better
time-trial, so how can I win the Tour?" Ivan Basso told the press after
a weekend of hard labour.
"I gave everything today; I want to leave my mark on this Tour de France,"
said Basso on the CSC corporate website. "I attacked as hard as I could,
but Armstrong was able to follow. I didn't have another attack in me,
so we rode together to try to put time on (Jan) Ullrich and the others.
The past few years some critics were saying that I'm merely able to follow
on the high cols. But that's not right."
Ivan is certainly profiling himself more and more as a future TdF winner.
But he knows, it won't be for this year: "Lance is stronger, basta," Basso
told Belgian Newspaper HNB.
"I think I was the strongest in both stages, but in the end I come out
of this weekend with an extra 6 seconds behind Armstrong. But I'm happy
with the way I'm descending now. I took some time out Ullrich, Rasmussen
and Mancebo. I'm getting that bit closer to the podium in Paris again,
and I might even finish one step higher up than I was looking at earlier
in the race.
"But, that second place in the GC is not secure. There is still a lot
of racing to go. I would like to get more time on Ullrich (fourth at 5:58
back) before going into the final time trial. It's too bad I wasn't at
my best at Courchevel because I lost some time there that might come back
to haunt me, but otherwise I am happy with how this Tour is going.
"I want to thank my teammates. They really rode as one block and executed
our strategy to the letter. I'm also very happy that I've been able to
prove that it is not impossible to ride well in both Giro and Tour. Only
on the first day in the Alps, on Courchevel, I missed a bit of climbing
rhythm because of the break I had after the Giro d'Italia. The only disappointment
of this Tour is that we didn't get to win the team time trial because
of the unfortunate crash of Zabriskie.
"Of course, I thought of Casartelli here, but I do that almost daily.
Fabio is still riding with us in this peloton. We (Lance and I) didn't
get the time to talk about him though, the tempo was too high for that."
Rasmussen's polka-dot jersey almost secured
Michael Rasmussen (Rabobank)
Photo ©: Luc Claessen
Theoretically, five riders still have a chance of taking the polka-dot
climbers' jersey away from Michael Rasmussen (Rabobank), but it seems
very unlikely that the Rabobank rider will let the dots slip out of his
grasp during the last week of the Tour.
"Mathematically, it is almost impossible to take it away from me," he
said in his diary on www.feltet.dk/michaelrasmussen.
"At this point there is only one rider to watch [Oscar Pereiro Sio], and
that I can probably handle by myself, otherwise I have a team to back
me up. The others are almost 100 points after me, so it looks really good.
Right now it is a matter of staying on the bike,"
In yesterday's 15th stage, Rasmussen lost time to Lance Armstrong, Ivan
Basso and Jan Ullrich on the Col de Val-Louron-Azet, but managed to peg
nearly all of his deficit to Ullrich back on the final climb of Pla d'Adet,
at the same time conceding no more time to Armstrong and Basso.
"At this point I should perhaps be a little frustrated that the climb
wasn't five kilometres longer, I would then have ridden Ullrich out of
the classification. It was a really good day for me. I rode a controlled
race over Val-Louron and on the descent I didn't take big risks, while
several of the others started attacking to the right and to the left.
It was a very dangerous descent. The asphalt was melting on almost all
corners. I lost a little time there, but I rode really well today, if
I should say it myself."
Rasmussen didn't have a major crisis at Val-Louron-Azet, but still he
tried not to push him self by following when Ivan Basso made his first
attack. "I knew that we were facing a hard climb at the end. It is perhaps
the most dangerous climb of all during this year's Tour de France. That's
why I knew that I shouldn't do everything to follow Armstrong, Basso and
Ullrich at Val-Louron.
"They rode an impressive stage. Right from the start the ride was very
aggressive, and both Moreau and Botero tried to get away. But relatively
fast we managed to annul that attempt, and at the end they lost their
spirit too. We then ended up having three riders in the break." Later
he could use the help of his two team mates Erik Dekker and Karsten Kroon
as they were finally caught. "Dekker had a bottle for me five km from
Peyresourde when it was difficult for the cars to get though to us. It
was very welcome. Karsten also rode a strong race."
Rasmussen dropped to third in the general classification behind Armstrong
and Basso, but still believes he can hold off Ullrich in Paris. "I came
for a mountains jersey and a stage win. If you would also try to ride
for the overall, you could end up with nothing at all other than a seventh
place. Right now I am in a position where I can have them all (mountain's
jersey, stage win, and a spot at the podium). That's a real ‘Kinder Surprise
- all three in one'," he laughed.
If he does succeed in finishing third in Paris, he would become only
the second Dane to do so after Bjarne Riis, who won the Tour in 1996 and
finished third in 1995. He has 2'49 in hand over Jan Ullrich, which will
be hard to defend in a 55 km time trial [Ullrich won this time trial in
1997 by over 3'00 - ed]. "I would of course liked to have fifteen minutes,"
laughed Rasmussen. "But the situation is as it is, and I'll take it from
there. Tuesday is totally impossible for an attack. From d'Ausbisque there
is still 60 km to the finishing line, so that is out of the question.
The only chance to get some time is Thursday on the stage to Mendé. And
there we are talking perhaps half a minute or so.
"It takes three weeks to win the Tour, but it only takes one day to
lose it. We saw that with Basso in the Giro. Nothing is settled until
we reach the Champs Elysées."
Redant: Zubeldia was pushed
Haimar Zubeldia (Euskaltel)
Photo ©: Sirotti
Davitamon-Lotto's sports director Hendrik Redant commented about the
crazy Basque fans that graced the Pyrenean climbs over the past weekend,
adding an element of danger and excitement to the Tour, as they do every
year. Redant was quoted on Sporza radio as saying, "The Basque
really love the Pyrenees of course, there's those orange T-shirts everywhere.
It's really crazy, those last few kilometres especially. There should
be more barriers!
"At one point, Cadel Evans dropped Zubeldia. He's Basque. Suddenly he
was catching back up to Cadel's wheel riding 35km/h; he was constantly
pushed! I put myself straight on Cadel's back wheel to strike some fear
in those spectators, 'cause otherwise Zubeldia would have been able to
get away without problems.
"I think I hit five to six guys, who were jumping in front of the car.
Yesterday was bad, but today was just not on! When I see that they could
put 7km of fencing on Alpe d'Huez, then I think they should do the same
on the other climbs. This way it's just madness.
"Landis was in trouble, Klöden and Jaksche were dropped and we could
have done a really good thing for GC there, but Cadel said he couldn't
get past them because of the people on the climb. That says enough.
"I took a lot of risks today driving so close to the people, but it's
the only way to get some space. My horn stopped working during the last
two kilometres so that was even more of a problem...one of these days
something bad is going to happen."
Cyclingnews on the air in Washington, DC
Tune into WAMU 88.5 FM, the NPR Affiliate in Washington, D.C. to the
The Kojo Nnamdi Show, Monday July 18th at 13:06 EDT for a Tour de France
update. Cyclingnews' European Editor Tim Maloney will be Kojo's
Monday is the last rest day of the Tour de France before the final week-long
stretch of bicycling's greatest race. As Lance Armstrong tries for his
historic seventh straight yellow jersey, join Kojo for a discussion on
the personalities and team strategies of the world's elite cyclists the
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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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