Tour de France Cycling News for July 21, 2005
Edited by Jeff Jones, Shane Stokes & John Stevenson, assisted
by Sabine Sunderland
Stage 17 wrap up
Savoldelli revels in Tour stage win
By Shane Stokes
Paolo Savoldelli (Discovery Channel)
Photo ©: AFP
Three days after George Hincapie put the Discovery Channel jersey on
top of the stage winner's podium, double Giro d'Italia winner Paolo Savoldelli
repeated the feat on the 17th stage of this year's Tour. The Italian came
out best in a two up finish against CSC's Kurt Asle Arvesen, reeling in
a late attack by the Norwegian and clipping by with 50 metres to go.
Australian Simon Gerrans (Ag2R-Prévoyance) and Frenchman Sébastien Hinault
(Credit Agricole) were also clear and took third and fourth at the finish
in Revel. The quartet had all been part of a 17 man breakaway group which
went clear inside the first 35 kilometres of the stage, opening up a 25
minutes-plus lead over the main field.
This gap came down slightly at the finish, thanks mostly to an unexpected
acceleration by some of the biggest names in the race. Alexandre Vinokourov
and Jan Ullrich attacked on the final third category climb in an attempt
to distance Michael Rasmussen, third overall, but were latched onto by
Armstrong, Basso, Rasmussen, Hincapie, Popovych, Leipheimer, Mancebo and
Motivated perhaps by the chance to distance Floyd Landis, who Armstrong
considered had made unsavoury comments about him in L'Equipe, Discovery
floored it all the way to the line, with Armstrong himself helping to
drive the pace. The group came in 22'28 behind Savoldelli but 0'20 ahead
of the next group, containing Evans, Landis, and Moreau. The top six placings
in GC remain unchanged but Vinokourov overtook Evans and Landis in jumping
to seventh overall. The large time gap at the finish enabled the American
team to take over from T-Mobile as best squad.
Stage 17 full results,
report & photos
Complete stage maps &
Klöden suffers, pulls out of Tour
Andreas Kloden (T-Mobile)
Photo ©: AFP
As expected, T-Mobile's 2004 Tour runner-up Andreas Klöden was forced
to pull out of the race during today's 17th stage. He and team-mate Matthias
Kessler were involved in a crash yesterday, both sustaining injuries.
The latter suffered spinal pain and light concussion, but managed to get
through today's stage, finishing 151st. However Klöden was not so fortunate,
packing the race after 18 kilometres of racing.
X-rays taken yesterday showed that he had broken the navicular (scaphoid)
bone in his wrist. Klöden, 11th overall, started today's stage with a
large cast on his arm and the team hoped that this would be sufficient.
"The navicular bone has now been set in a special plaster. We have to
see, how Andreas fares today," said team doctor Stefan Vogt, before the
race. However, severe pain and difficulty in holding the handlebars made
it impossible to get to the finish in Revel.
Klöden will return to Germany and undergo further X-rays there. The
team are hoping that it will be possible to pin the bone, thus expediting
the healing process. If not, the slow healing rate of the scaphoid may
bring about an early end to his season.
Davis to keep trying
Allan Davis (Liberty Seguros)
Photo ©: Luc Claessen
Liberty Seguros rider Allan Davis says that he will continue trying
to win a stage all the way to Paris. The Australian sprinter was part
of a large breakaway group which was clear for much of today's leg of
the race, but missed out when the move split inside the final 50 kilometres.
He ended the stage 3'14 down in tenth place.
"I was unlucky today but I feel very strong, and don't want to finish
this Tour without achieving my goal of a stage win," he said.
Davis' teammate Alberto Contador had a tougher day in the saddle. He's
had a cold since the rest day and so has been unable to achieve his goal
of slipping into breaks. He was also involved in a crash today, but was
able to reach the finish as part of the main peloton.
Tomorrow is a special day for the team as the race returns to Mende,
ten years after their previous incarnation, ONCE, threw down the gauntlet
to Miguel Indurain and won the stage with Laurent Jalabert.
Gilbert not happy with Evans
Cadel Evans (Davitamon-Lotto)
Photo ©: Luc Claessen
Francaise des Jeux rider Philippe Gilbert finished fifth on yesterday's
final Pyrenean stage
of the Tour. He told Belgian media that he was pleased with his ride,
but added that he was ticked off with Cadel Evans.
"We took off after 25km, in good company, it was a nice finale," he
said in an interview with Sporza TV. "I looked at doing something on this
stage; it's nice to finish 5th again in my first Tour. It's good for the
team and myself. I've put in two solid efforts, it's surely beneficial
to my self-confidence."
"Evans is one of the best climbers; I knew I wouldn't be able to follow
him. I tried everything to get back on in the descent, but it was too
fast, I wasn't able to catch on. On the last small climb I could attack
again. Tomorrow I'll take it a bit easier, it's a long ride and I'll sit
back a bit; I don't want to get too tired and get sick," he said.
Gilbert said that he was unhappy with Cadel Evans, as he considered
that the Australian broke an agreement to keep the group together on the
Aubisque. Evans attacked on the climb, cresting the summit clear of the
other riders in the breakaway.
For his part, Cadel didn't deny making that promise. "I don't care about
what that Gilbert has to say. I'm here to race. It's true I told them
we'd climb the Aubisque in group so we could keep as much lead as possible
on the flat. After the top of the climb we still had 40km to go. But we
were losing time on the climb, so I decided to attack anyway. Something
wrong with that? If I wouldn't have, my efforts to gain time would have
been for nothing; I didn't care about winning this stage," he told Het
All for Levi
Levi Leipheimer was able to get himself into the 'fight for seconds'
on the last climb of today's stage, the longest of the Tour. Gerolsteiner's
team captain extended his lead over seventh place, after Cadel Evans'
attack with the lead group on stage 16 and subsequent move up the general
classification. Leipheimer remains in sixth overall, with a 2.03 minute
advantage over Alexandre Vinokourov, who leap-frogged Evans into seventh
and 7.35 behind race leader Lance Armstrong.
Leipheimer finished the stage 22.28 minutes behind winner Paolo Savoldelli,
with the group including Armstrong, Vinokourov, Basso and Ullrich. "That
one was a damn hard stage. I had said to Levi before the stage that he
had to pay attention", said Gerolsteiner DS Hans-Michael Holczer post-stage,
and the American captain of the German squad did so, holding firm in his
position on gc.
After 40km the first break had formed, which broke down due to constant
attacks, and although the Gerolsteiner DS would've liked to see one of
his men get into that group, he remained philosophical, saying, "I'm a
bit disappointed about the fact that we were not in the move at the right
time, but only a little. But the boys will certainly be all the stronger
for it. With this heated finale, I was very glad to see the finish come.
Perhaps it was was instinct, perhaps it a stroke of fate. But we were
able to save, in any case, some energy for the coming days. It's now all
Tour first-timer Gerrans makes the break
By John Trevorrow in Revel
A rather tired Simon Gerrans (Ag2r)
Photo ©: Sirotti
Young Australian AG2R-Prevoyance rider Simon Gerrans made his mark in
his first Tour de France yesterday when he was part of the day's great
escape, eventually finishing third behind Paolo Savoldelli (Discovery
Channel) and Kurt-Asle Arvesen (CSC)>
The 25-year-old from Jamieson, Victoria, a protégé of Phil Anderson,
was exhausted but ecstatic after the finish.
"Oh my god that is the hardest thing I've ever done," he dsaid. "At the
top of that last hill I was absolutely knackered. Then I just ran out
of legs in that last kilometer."
Nevertheless, Gerrans looked good coming into the last 10km. "That was
just good acting I think," he aid. "I gave it everything to hold on to
Arvesen but anyway I gave it all I had."
At this point we passed Michael Wilson who said 'good on you Simon.'
"Merci," said Gerrans. I had to tell him that Wilson was in fact a fellow
Aussie and had finished top 10 in the Giro. "How about that," grinned
The 17 man breakaway got to a maximum of 26 minutes before the leading
group split after a severe attack from Erik Dekker with 50 km still to
go. Australian sprinter Alan Davis (Liberty Seguros) looked the favourite
as he as easily the fastest man in the group but he missed the split and
finished 10th, 3:14 behind Savoldelli.
After the race a disappointed Davis would not speak. "Not today mate,
not today," was all that he said.
The race for green was very interesting with the sprinters lining up
to haggle over the last available points but Jan Ullrich put an end to
all that with a severe attack on the final climb, putting 20 seconds into
the peloton. Armstrong was quick to react and close the gap to his German
rival as did Basso.
"I rode well up the last climb and was only 100 metres behind Lance's
group over the final climb," Stuart O'Grady said.
Cadel Evans (Davitamon) missed the move and lost 20 seconds to drop him
one spot to eighth behind Vinokourov.
Gerrans camp celebrates
It felt like old home week with Phil Anderson there with his Tour group
(Anderson's fifth place in the 1982 Tour is still the best result by an
Australian) along with Greg Griffiths and Simon's good friend Steve Ward.
They were going ballistic.
Gerrans now lives in Mansfield when not racing the roads of Europe, but
originally comes from neighboring Jamieson where he met Phil Anderson.
"I knew him as just plain Phil the neighbor long before I found out that
he was a world class cyclist," said Gerrans.
During this Tour, Gerrans said he had been in touch with Anderson. "I've
had contact a couple of times, last week when I was seriously suffering.
He gave me support."
What advice did Anderson have for the youngster? "Just to keep plugging
away. You speak to Phil about struggling through the mountains and he
said: `I remember the mountain I had the yellow jersey through there.'
He is a classic guy to have around.
Gerrans thought his day was going well till the final climb. "I was getting
up there all right," said Gerrans. "It was just up the top I didn't really
nail it. I thought Arveson was the best wheel to follow. He might not
be the quickest up the hill but I thought he might be strong enough to
get back on."
Erik Dekker's move had been no surprise, though the timing was unexpected.
"Everyone knew Dekker was going to go. He went a lot earlier than I thought.
I thought the attacks might start 30km to go but he went 50km out."
As they cam into the last few hundred metres, "I thought I was going
to get fourth place but then saw Hinault stopping so I kept going."
They say no battle plan survives engagement with the enemy, but this
stage was on Gerrans' plan for his debut Tour de France. "I looked at
all the stages and there was maybe five days I thought, 'maybe this one',
and today was one of the ones I penciled out. It was rolling up and down
all day. I thought should get over them and I did and it nearly came off.
And next, "I have to struggle to Paris," said Gerrans. "I'm rapt. Its
beyond all expectations. I said at the start of the race I would like
to win a stage. I said that and it nearly happened."
Gerrans started on two wheels with an engine, but an injury caused him
to switch to non-motorised bikes. "I took up cycling at 17 for rehabilitation
after injuring my knee in a moto cross race. Phil Anderson lent it to
me. After a bit of rehab he said if you are interested in racing I'm happy
to coach you. That's how I got into racing."
Gerrans didn't realize at first just how good a rider his neighbour had
been. "With Phil I just knew him as Phil, the guy who had the farm up
the road," said Gerrans. "I knew him as Phil the bloke before I knew him
as Phil Anderson the cyclist. I am still realising how good he was. These
races I am doing now, he ripped them apart 20 years ago."
As for all the Australian contingent at the Tour, reeling from the news
of the death of Amy Gillett and the injuries to their AIS women's team
colleagues, this has been a tough few days for Gerrans. "This week has
been very hard," he said. "I was inspired by Cadel's ride. I thought if
I do cross the line first today, I would dedicate it to the girls and
their families and all the trauma they have been through this week. I
will dedicate my third place to them still. My heart goes out to them."
Phil Anderson was delighted at gerran's ride today. "It would have been
nice [for Gerrans] to win," said Anderson, "but geez it was great to be
in the break and to come up with a place is just awesome. I have to go
and give him a kiss!
"I never thought he would make it over here let alone make it onto a
Tour team. And to make into a Tour like this is great. Everybody will
take notice of him now.
"It's a good placing for AG2R and they will take him seriously. He is
a serious type of rider but it is results that speak for themselves.
Steve Ward, Gerrans' friend and confidant from home in Mansfield was
also in Revel for Gerrans' finish. "We watched the sprint and the feed
and saw him in the break - it is awesome!" Ward said. "I've known him
since he was just a little tacker and he was always a determined young
kid. He was a good swimmer, a top level snow-boarder and a brilliant moto
cross rider. He was racing at state level when he smashed his knee and
just got on the bike for rehab. Who would have guessed that this would
By John Trevorrow in Revel
After the finish, Robbie McEwen said it have been, "a rough day - hot
and up and down all day. Luckily once the break went it was pretty cruisy
all day. I tried to follow Stuey and Thor on the last climb but I just
couldn't hold 'em. The bunch went full gas up the last climb and the race
just split all over the joint. The classification guys were going just
flat stick up that last climb and it was too much for us sprinters."
McEwen was also pleased for his compatriot. "I hear young Simon got third.
What a great ride. It was a tough day to be out there in the third week
of the Tour de France."
O'Grady can't shake Hushovd
By John Trevorrow in Revel
Stuart O'Grady (Cofidis)
Photo ©: Luc Claessen
For Stuart O'Grady (Cofidis), currently lying second in the green jersey
contest, it was a "long, long day. 240 km over hard tiring terrain on
a hot day means a long day in the saddle.
"Once the break went then things settled down but towards the finish
it really hotted up again. My ambitions were to get the best of the points
that were left and put a gap into Thor. But he wasn't leaving my back
wheel. I rode well up the last climb and was only 100 metres behind Lance's
group over the final climb, but they were really motoring and we just
couldn't close the gap.
"It's looking more and more difficult to close the gap to Thor. We're
running out of stages and he is glued to my wheel so It is going to be
hard to gain a bag full of points.
"Tomorrow is a real rough stage and with the tough uphill finish, I can't
see any of us getting points. I am sure there will be another break tomorrow
but I know they won't let me go.
O'Grady was also impressed by Simon Gerrans' achievement today. "To finish
third in the third week of your first Tour is great, but to do it in this
Tour when it has been the fastest I've seen is just brilliant," said O'Grady.
Pre-race chat in the village depart
By John Trevorrow in Pau
Before the start of today's stage, Cadel Evans was still slightly amazed
at the events of the previous day. "I can't believe that they let me go,"
he said. "It worked out just perfect."
He wasn't expecting to get away with a repeat performance, though. "They
won't let me break away today and there certainly will be a breakaway.
I think there will be a lot of attacking, it will be hard for our team
to keep it together for Robbie. Hopefully the Discovery team will ride
on the front long enough to keep the break within reach."
Baden Cooke was also expecting a break away. "I reckon 90 percent chance
of a breakaway today," he said. "I don't think that Robbie will be able
to put his team on the front again today, so there is a fair chance that
the break will stay away. The boss has said that one of us has to be in
it and I would like to be the one, but you can never tell. If a break
goes up the road and if it is not exactly the right mix, then it doesn't
Stuart O'Grady and Mick Rogers were drinking coffee and discussing the
previous stage, and riding together over the Col D'Aubisque. O'Grady and
Rogers finished the stage at the head of a 20-rider chasing bunch that
lost over six minutes on the main peloton despite a long, hard pursuit.
O'Grady: "Thanks mate for giving me a hand there. Thought that we were
going to get back on, especially when we got back to one and a half minutes."
Rogers: "Yes, but one of the Lampre guys told me that there were four
teams on the front chopping off. Gee It felt that we were on a breakaway
going over the climb not off the back, we were going that hard, I can't
believe that we lost 4 minutes, I was full gas."
O'Grady: "I heard that the Credit [Agricole] boys that were in that chasing
group and went on the front when they heard we were coming. That's fair
enough, we would have done the same."
"I was trying to get back to the main peloton but they were going too
hard," Rogers told Cyclingnews. "We got close enough to see the helicopters
, and we didn't go below 50kmh but couldn't get there."
It has been a hard Tour so far, do you know why you haven't been able
to ride up to your expectations?
Rogers wasn't entirely sure why his condition had deteriorated so quickly
after his excellent ride in the Tour of Switzerland in June. "It's a bit
like I left the good condition in Switzerland," he said. "Sometimes after
you get into peak condition, you go into a hole and I rode into it halfway
into the Tour. I just haven't been able to come back out."
Hah he learnt anything from this? "Well you're always learning and I
suppose I had the form in Switzerland that I should have started the Tour
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(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2005)