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Tour de France Cycling News for July 23, 2005

Edited by Jeff Jones and Shane Stokes

Arvesen tries again

Two days after being involved in a long range breakaway to Revel which netted him a frustrating second place on the stage, Team CSC's Kurt-Asle Arvesen made another attempt at a Tour stage win when he went clear as part of a medium-sized group in Stage 19. Arvesen and the other ten riders involved were trying to bridge across to four leaders: Giuseppe Guerini (T-Mobile), Sandy Casar (Francaise Des Jeux), Franco Pellizotti (Liquigas-Bianchi) and Oscar Pereiro (Phonak), but a lack of co-operation in the chase group meant that they never closed the gap.

"I felt good today and tried to go for the victory, but unfortunately the group I was in couldn't really agree on anything," said Arvesen, who ended up sixth. "It would've been great to be up front fighting for the stage win, but it wasn't possible."

"Kurt came really close to bridging up on one of the climbs, and at one point the gap was only five seconds," said a disappointed CSC directeur Kim Andersen. "The others had a fairly calm day - especially Ivan (Basso), who is very determined to do well in the time trial tomorrow."

Voeckler's second time around

By Hedwig Kröner in Mende

It just isn't the same without the maillot jaune... Frenchman Thomas Voeckler, who had worn the leader's jersey last year and defended it even in some stages of the high mountains, was expecting this Tour de France to be different, and would have liked to play a greater role in the race.

"I haven't been as active as last year - of course, everything was different when I wore the yellow jersey," he told Cyclingnews at the Powerbar stand beside the pre-start signature tribune. "I'm a little bit disappointed but that's just how it goes. I'm still happy to be here on the Tour and try to get something going when I have the legs."

The Bouygues Telecom rider is still very much in demand, especially by the French media, but not to the same extent as in 2004, of course. However, he did retain his enormous popularity amongst the spectators. "There's always a lot of people to cheer me on, but I'd really like to score a victory at this Tour - but I'm not the only one, especially during these last stages," he explained.

So, did he think the race was faster than in his first Tour de France? "Last year, my legs were better and I was wearing the jersey, so it's hard to say," Voeckler replied. "I was much more motivated. For sure I find it harder this year, but the circumstances aren't the same."

No explanation for Heras

By Hedwig Kröner in Mende

Roberto Heras (Liberty Seguros)
Photo ©: AFP
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One rider which a lot of cycling observers had definitely counted on to defy Lance Armstrong on his quest for a seventh Tour de France Yellow jersey was the former US Postal rider Roberto Heras. But the Spaniard, now riding for Liberty Seguros under the watchful eye of Manolo Saiz, lost his bid for a 2005 podium placing by far, as he hasn't shown the same abilities on the climbs as in previous years.

"I don't know, I really don't," he said, shaking his head, when Cyclingnews asked him at the start of stage 17 whether he had an explanation for his poor performance this year. "Armstrong has been as strong as ever, he continues his reign. The other GC contenders also, so what we saw this year has been the repetition of previous years."

But in the last few years, Heras had been the super-domestique for the American in the mountains, so why has he not been able to live up to his potential again? - was the next logical question, but Heras did not give an explanation. "I haven't been able to do anything in this Tour," he said. "I didn't have anything going my way. But it wasn't the overall speed either. Sure, in the first week, it was faster than usual, but in the mountains it's the same as it's been previously. So I don't know," he shrugged again.

Beloki hoping for more in 2006

Given that Joseba Beloki's participation was in doubt up until shortly before this year's race, getting to Paris will be seen as a triumph of sorts. But the rider who finished second in the 2002 Tour and third in both 2000 and 2001 will not be satisfied with his 77th place overall, a full 2 hours 19 minutes and 17 seconds behind current leader Lance Armstrong.

Of course, when you consider the catastrophic injuries he suffered in a crash on the descent of the Cote de Rochette two years ago, his current position is suddenly far less relevant. Before the race Beloki said his goal for the Tour was to "feel good again"; he's unlikely to have that sensation 19 stages into what has been a very tough race, but once he recovers from his exertions this July he should have regained much of his old strength.

Beloki sees his Tour as divided into two parts. "The first one was until the rest day in Grenoble, in that I was ahead and was in the top 20 in the general classification," he said. "After that point, tiredness and problems affected me."

"It was to be expected, I guess, after doing so badly the Giro d'Italia and the Tour of Switzerland. But until this poor showing happens, you continue to hope and believe that it will be different."

Despite that, he feels the Tour has been a positive experience. "If I think back to the terrible first week I had in the Tour of Switzerland, I would have been nearly justified to retire from the sport then and there. That said, the way things have progressed in the Tour have encouraged me to continue."

Beloki had a disappointing 2004, hardly racing at all while in the colours of the Brioches La Boulangčre squad. He returned to working with Manolo Saiz, signing for Liberty Seguros, and said that he would race as much as possible in 2005 in an attempt to catch up with the time lost. Despite the fact that he began his season back in January in the Tour de Langkawi and lined out in both the Giro d'Italia (he rode 13 stages) and the Tour de France this year, he now says he wants to take part in the Tour of Spain.

"I would like to take part in the Vuelta a Espańa, though still I have to speak with Manolo Saiz to plan the rest of the season. My idea is to go there in the best condition possible to help Roberto Heras take his fourth victory."

Further down the line, he wants to aim a little higher once more. "I've no doubt about my goal. I want to return to the Tour in 2006 because I believe that I can do something important there. Besides, without Armstrong, it will change everything. The race will be especially interesting."

"Looking at this year's race, it has been 100 % controlled by Discovery. The team dominates everything except the points classification. They have done what they liked. I liked this Tour, because it has been good race, pretty spectacular, and a lot of riders have been battling it out."

"Armstrong was strong and controlled the race tactically. There were a few rivals who tried to take him on but they couldn't really do it."

Untitled Document

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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