Tour de France Cycling News for July 25, 2005
Edited by Jeff Jones and Shane Stokes, with assistance from Sabine
Magnificent seven for Armstrong
By Shane Stokes in Paris
Lance Armstrong (Discovery Channel)
Photo ©: AFP
Lance Armstrong today rode into history when he emerged as the final
winner of the 2005 Tour de France, sealing a record-extending seventh
win in Paris. The Discovery Channel rider was confirmed as the race winner
a full 54 kilometres from end of the stage, due to the dicey conditions
caused by wet roads in the French capital. Although these dried up soon
after the peloton started the ten laps of the Champs Elysées finishing
circuit, the race judges had already made their decision vis-à-vis the
rules and the Tour win was his.
While the final podium placings were decided early, the peloton continued
to race in order to settle the stage honours. Fastest in the final kilometre
was the fighting Kazakhi Alexandre Vinokourov (T-Mobile), who topped off
an aggressive Tour with a superb stage win. He was clear with Brad McGee
(Francaise Des Jeux) with two kilometres remaining and came by the Australian
in the final sprint. McGee took second with Fabian Cancellara (Fassa Bortolo)
Armstrong ended the race with a clear 4'40 advantage over the Italian
Ivan Basso (Team CSC). Jan Ullrich (T-Mobile) took the seventh podium
finish of his career when he finished third, a further 1'41 behind, while
Francisco Mancebo (Illes Balears) was fourth. Vinokourov's stage win bonus
carried him clear of American rider Levi Leipheimer (Gerolsteiner), the
two swapping their fifth and sixth places overall.
"It was hard for me, hard for my team of course," said Armstrong
for the final time. "Jan has challenged us everyday. He's a special
rider, and a special person. And Basso has been a great rival. It's tough
to race against him, he's too much of a friend. He's perhaps the future
of the Tour de France. So, Ivan: next year, this is your step; or Jan:
this might be your step next year, I don't know, but I'm outta here, so..."
Points leader Thor Hushovd (Credit Agricole) placed seventh today and
so retained his maillot vert. Michael Rasmussen carried off the King of
the Mountains award, while Best Young Rider went to Discovery's Yaroslav
Popovych, and the winning team was Jan Ullrich's T-Mobile squad.
Stage 21 full results,
report & photos
Complete stage maps &
An interview with Alexandre Vinokourov
Upsetting the game plan for McEwen and co.
By Shane Stokes in Paris
Alexandre Vinokourov (T-Mobile)
Photo ©: AFP
The predicted script for today's final
stage of the Tour de France was that a bunch of riders would attack,
tear up and down the Champs Elysées, make a gallant effort to stay away
until the end, but be reeled in with one or two laps to go. Robbie McEwen,
Stuart O'Grady and Thor Hushovd would then unleash the turbos and scorch
down the cobblestoned finishing straight, settling the stage win and maillot
vert between them. That's what we expected, anyway.
The thing is, a couple of guys never read that script. One of these
was Francaise Des Jeux's Bradley McGee, a former world pursuit champion
who wanted to use that speed to salvage a disappointing, injury-hampered
The second was Alexandre Vinokourov, the swashbuckling T-Mobile rider
who has been one of the main animators of this year's race. He's had real
high points and several low ones in the Tour, bursts of speed which dynamited
the bunch in the mountains and also moments of weaknesses which saw him
slip right back. The Kazakhi's unpredictable but exciting, a born attacker
who rides on adrenaline and impulse rather than plans and logic. And it
was that same aggression that paid off today.
here for the full story
The higher you fly, the harder you fall
By Hedwig Kröner in Paris
Finally, a blond Dane stepped into Richard Virenque's footsteps: Michael
Rasmussen, the former mountain bike World Champion, will take his polka-dot
jersey home to the Northern European, dead flat country of Denmark on
Monday. He will certainly be remembered for his great performance at this
Tour de France, not only winning the mountains competition, but also taking
a stage victory.
Nevertheless, his accomplishments might make him feel bittersweet in
the end: His third placing on GC slipped, just as he did in the time trial,
down to seventh in just 55.5 kilometres. Still, in the bid to protect
his podium placing against time trial specialist 'Kaiser' Ullrich, the
31 year-old may not have been the victim of too much pressure, but more
so the victim of his own perfectionism. Accustomed to taking care of his
technical setup in every detail, the man who has been called a 'maniac'
by some wasn't able to deal with the unexpected: a sudden rhythm break
caused by a crash, and a subsequent bike change.
"I went out and did the course in the morning," the Dane said on the
'morning after', just before leaving on the traditional stage 21 parade
to the French capital. "I came back and was actually very happy about
a time trial - for the first time! I thought I could do the time trial
of my life...I certainly did," he added on a sarcastic note, denying that
the reason for his personal nightmare was a nervous one.
"Then, a lot of things went wrong. The only good thing about it was
that I'm still here today, that I didn't hurt myself more. Obviously,
it wasn't an ideal start to crash only after three kilometres, but it
wasn't because my nerves broke down or anything like that. I wasn't concerned
about Jan Ullrich - I was convinced that I could do a good time trial
and I started out in that frame of mind. Then, everything turned into
shit, to say the least."
Asked how he dealt with the disappointment, Rasmussen, replied, "I talked
to the sports directors to see what went wrong, because I had to talk
to somebody about it after the race. It was a good decision not
to talk to the press at that moment - I would have said a lot of bad things
about people who have been doing a good job," Rasmussen alluded to the
general observation that his team mechanic took too much time to help
him out when his rear wheel punctured.
Another sharp observer of the race, Laurent Jalabert, was not too convinced
as to whether the Rabo rider's wheel actually had a mechanical. "Obviously,
he thought that his rear wheel had a problem because of the crash, and
he became obsessed with it," the Frenchman told L'Equipe. "He focused
on it more and more, eventually deciding to stop. His team didn't react
badly, they just didn't understand what was happening. Rasmussen stopped
even though his wheel hadn't punctured; therefore his mechanic got him
a brand new one from the roof."
Jalabert, himself an expert on the mountains jersey, continued by saying
that Rasmussen must have forgotten about the race for all of his distractions.
"We saw Rasmussen change bikes again and again. In three hundred metres,
he must have lost about a minute. In this kind of situation, you have
to forget about the discomfort [of a different bike] and think about the
essential. For example, when you crash in the finale of a stage, you don't
go to the car to treat you injuries - you take care of it after the finish.
It's the same here: You get another bike that works and go flat out. Who
cares if it's the wrong one."
Rabobank DS Erik Breukink also spoke to the French daily paper. "There
wasn't any particular problem with the [second] bike, but he yelled that
he wanted his initial one back. He was out of it after the first crash,"
Breukink said, at least giving one possible explanation for the first
crash by adding, "In training, he took that roundabout on the right hand
side; but in the race he took the line of a motorbike in front of him,
which was left. He lost his points of reference. I yelled out to him to
keep calm, but he was a bundle of nerves."
After that disastrous experience, Rasmussen was seen riding alone on
the highway after the finish. "Yes, that's right," he confirmed. "I needed
a little time to clear my mind and to think about what happened. And about
what could have been done differently. In any case, there is no need to
blame anybody but myself for what happened," he concluded. Unfortunately,
the memory of it might continue to stain his dotted jersey for some time,
be it his own or the public's.
The following riders needed assistance from Dr. Gérard Porte on this
Tour de France, one day before travelling home from Paris.
Walter Bénéteau (Bouygues): Digestive troubles
Matthew White (Cofidis): Digestive troubles
Manuel Quinziato (Saunier Duval): Pain in right hip
José Enrique Gutierrez (Phonak): Injury on left knee
Bradley McGee (Française des Jeux): Injuries on left hip, elbow and hand
Francisco Mancebo (Illes Balears): Injury on left hip
Luke Roberts (Team CSC): Right shoulder contusion
Paolo Savoldelli (Discovery Channel): Respiratory problem
Discovery Channel has earned over half a million euro in the Tour de
France (€545,640), of which €400,000 was the prize for the overall
winner Lance Armstrong. Last year they earned a little more: €578.842.
Euskaltel only managed to collect €9.310 in prize money. If one
knows it's a common rule to give 10% of the earnings to the staff, the
riders earned a meagre 931 euro each for three weeks of hard labour.
Prizemoney breakdown (in €)
1 Discovery Channel 545,640
2 T-Mobile 258,730
3 CSC 237,520
4 Crédit Agricole 107,420
5 Illes Baléars 105,180
6 Phonak 99,360
7 Rabobank 96,120
8 Gerolsteiner 68,050
9 Davitamon-Lotto 65,210
10 Française des Jeux 58,040
11 Cofidis 57,070
12 Liberty 42,390
13 Quick.Step 33,660
14 Fassa Bortolo 32,860
15 Bouygues Telecom 27,710
16 Liquigas 25,120
17 Lampre 20,620
18 Domina Vacanze 18,020
19 AG2R 17,000
20 Saunier Duval 12,070
21 Euskaltel 9,310
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
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.
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2005)