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Tour de France Cycling News for July 18, 2005

Edited by Jeff Jones and Shane Stokes

Hincapie only other Discovery/Postal winner

George Hincapie (Discovery)
Photo ©: Jon Devich
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Unlike many other teams, Discovery Channel went into this year's Tour with just one ace, a dedicated leader for whom all the other riders would work without question. Lance Armstrong insisted this was the best possible strategy to win the race when asked earlier this season if T-Mobile's three-pronged attack would put him in difficulties.

The "all for one" approach has always been employed by Armstrong, prompting the conclusion that there is no room for personal ambition when riding on his Tour team. This seems to be borne out by the fact that apart from Armstrong's 23 stage victories, George Hincapie's triumph yesterday represented the only other time that another rider from Discovery/US Postal has ever won an individual stage in the Tour.

The squad has, of course, won the team time trial for the past three years.

Jaksche slips back, but plans to fight on

Starting yesterday's 15th stage 11th overall, Liberty Seguros rider Jörg Jaksche was eyeing a possible place in the top ten of the general classification. However, he ran out of steam on the final climb up to Saint-Lary-Soulon, finishing 33rd at 14'28 behind the day's winner George Hincapie. He dropped four places in the general classification and so will start 15th overall on Tuesday.

"I blew on the last climb and felt very bad in the final seven kilometres," he said, "although I did recover a bit for the last two of those. I was strong at the start of the stage, riding comfortably in the front group, but at the end lacked strength and could not stay with them. These climbs are a bit too difficult for me as I am not a climber. I've also felt a build-up of fatigue from all the days racing."

Jaksche will try to recover as best he can on today's rest day, then plans to ride aggressively in the Massif Central. "From this point on my plan is to get into a breakaway and try to get back a few places in GC. We are heading into stages which are very hard and difficult for the peloton to control."

Allan Davis is also aiming to do something before the end of the Tour. He showed his good form when he infiltrated the breakaway on yesterday's stage, eventually crossing the line in 20th place.

"I got into the break to help my companions, though I knew that it was a very hard stage," he said. "I did well over the first three climbs, but in the Peyresourde I lost contact with the front guys and did the rest of the stage alone. I knew the last three climbs because I have come to train here this year, but the last part was very tough because I cracked a bit. Anyway, I am satisfied because in last few days I have had good sensations. I want to take advantage of my good condition to do something in the stages between here and Paris."

Best placed of the Liberty Seguros team yesterday was Alberto Contador, who finished 36th. Roberto Heras and Joseba Beloki each had another hard day, with the latter losing contact with the bunch on the second climb and riding practically the whole stage alone.

Gerolsteiner satisfied

Levi Leipheimer (Gerolsteiner)
Photo ©: Sirotti
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Gerolsteiner team boss Hans-Michael-Holczer reports himself as satisfied with his team's efforts yesterday. Best of the squad was Levi Leipheimer, 13th on the stage and now 6th overall. He heads into the final week just over a minute behind Francisco Mancebo of Illes Balears and, with a long time trial yet to come, can entertain realistic hopes of a top five finish in Paris.

"Levi is riding very well, he did what he could," said Holczer about yesterday's stage. "But he also has to recognise his limits."

Stage 14 winner Georg Totschnig had a tough day, finishing in the first autobus 36 minutes down. "Georg had to pay for his super performance on Saturday," said his team manager. "But that was to be expected."

Diary watch

Courtesy of Susan Westemeyer

A close call for Ludewig

Jörg Ludewig of Domina Vacanze finished 35th yesterday, 15 minutes behind the winner. It was a result with which he was satisfied, especially when he considers that it could have turned out much differently: "The Tour could have been over for me today," he wrote in his diary on www.radsport-news.com. We wear helmets with openings to let the air through, otherwise they would be too hot. The bad thing is that these slits also let insects in. Today I felt something under my helmet. So I took it off and ran my hands through my hair, and put it back on. I hoped everything was ok and kept going. Later, when I washed my hair in the shower after the stage, I found the wasp. That was a real scare, because I'm allergic to wasp stings, I get a shock and high fever. Thank goodness this particular insect didn't do his thing."

"Blackout" for Förster

How does a sprinter survive in the Pyrenees? With difficulty, says Gerolsteiner's Robert Förster in his diary on radsport-news.com. "The stage today - you can't imagine it. Until today, I couldn't imagine how much I could torture myself. When you see the results, you say, ok, he came in with the gruppetto. Only two riders dropped out. It wasn't that bad. But in reality it was hell. I had a blackout 100 km long, I can't remember anything about it."

Förster lost contact with the peloton on the second climb. "But (Magnus) Bäckstedt was still behind me, so I had nothing to be ashamed of. Christian (Henn) kept motivating me over the radio, "Come on, you can catch up on the descent." On the descent I did come closer, but I couldn't catch them. In the valley I rode practically the whole way alone between the cars. Five km before the next climb I caught up with the group. From then on I don't know any more."

"I ride up the mountains in a trance. Just keep on pedaling. Always going up. The fans leave only a narrow strip, they're all screaming. Everything swims before my eyes. Sometimes I hear my name out of the din. I didn't want to keep pouring water over my head today because that just makes things worse, but the temptation was too great. So more water over my head. Eventually I got the shakes. I dimly remember at some point seeing Robbie McEwen riding next to me. But otherwise we all rode alone. On the third-to-last mountain I saw the gruppetto before me. Christian kept cheering me on. I was able to ride into the group."

Just before the last climb he heard that the winner was in. What kept him going? "I suffered endlessly. Without thinking. Why, actually? If I had dropped out, nobody would have said anything. Climb off the bike and it's all over. But everybody was suffering the same. You're in the gruppetto and will do anything to stay there. It's like a herd instinct."

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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 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.

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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