Tour de France Cycling News for July 25, 2005
Edited by John Stevenson, with assistance from Sabine Sunderland
Basso satisfied with runner-up slot
Ivan Basso (CSC)
Photo ©: Luc Claessen
Ivan Basso was third in last year's Tour de France but made a literal
step up this time round, finishing second in the race and showing greater
all round strength. He's stronger as a climber and closer to the specialists
in the time trials, limiting his losses yesterday against riders like
Armstrong and Ullrich.
"It is very big for me to finish second in the Tour de France. It's been
an important race for us, and I'm happy, that we've lived up to the expectations,"
he said today. "I had high ambitions, but knew it would be risky business
to do both the Giro d'Italia and Tour de France in the same season. But
the team has been there for me and made it possible for me to do well
in the Tour."
"It has meant a great deal to me, that the team has had faith in me getting
this far, and I'm proud of the results we have achieved together. I'm
still a young rider with many years in which to improve. I'm happy that
this will be possible together with Bjarne and the rest of the team."
Riis pleased with CSC's Tour
Second place overall, one stage win, third in the team's ranking and
third in the list of prize money won; no wonder CSC team boss Bjarne Riis
was happy in Paris today. "It's been a fantastic Tour de France for us.
With Ivan in second place we've achieved a very important goal and at
the same time set the course towards the overall victory within the next
couple of years. It was our ambition to be one of the dominating teams,
and I definitely think that we have been. We've attacked and put pressure
on the other favourites throughout the race. We've applied an aggressive
strategy, which has paid off. With a stage win, two riders in the yellow
jersey and Ivan in second place overall, we've fulfilled our ambitions
and proven once again, that we're a team of the future."
Riis has built the team up from modest beginnings to a genuine Tour force.
He was keen to pay compliment to all those involved. "The whole team deserves
big credit. The riders and the staff around the team have all worked really
hard in order for this to come together, and they each have a share in
the brilliant results we've achieved. Our new contract with CSC gives
us the best possible foundation for building an even better team, and
I feel, we've showed everyone, that we have what it takes to win the Tour
Mixed emotions in Australian camp
By John Trevorrow in Paris
Cadel Evans (Davitamon-Lotto)
Photo ©: Luc Claessen
All of the record ten Australians who started this year's Tour made it
to Paris, an impressive achievement in a race that left 45 of its 189
starters on the roadside between Fromentine and Paris. For some it was
a three-week baptism of fire, while for others it was just one particularly
hard day in the office after another. Among the Australian contingent
there was relief, elation, disappointment and determination at the end
of the grand boucle.
The best Australian finisher was riding - at last - in his very first
Tour de France. Cadel Evans (Davitamon-Lotto)
was sidelined by injury and team politics in 2003 and 2004 and came to
the 2005 Tour very much as a man with something to prove.
For Evans the end of the Tour was, "a big relief. It will hit me in a
couple of days I suppose. Something as long as this… I've been so focused
on the process I sort of don't know what I've done yet."
"It is a lot different to any other race," he said. And it has been three
weeks of self-discovery for Evans. "I needed to know what I could and
can't do," he said. "I know I can't climb with Lance every day. But I
can climb with him sometimes, when the climb suits me."
This being his first tour it was also the first time Evans had experienced
the sheer size of the Paris finale. Getting there had been interesting,
though. "Today was ridiculously dangerous until it dried out near the
end," said Evans, who represented Australia as a mountain biker at the
1996 Olympics. "I remember walking into the opening ceremony at the Atlanta
Games and Stephen Hodge said to me that the final day in Paris was even
bigger. I thought 'oh yeah.' Well it certainly is something different.
It's because you've made it to Paris and through all you've been through
over the 3000 kms, it's kinda harder than qualifying for the Olympics
Bradley McGee (Francaise des Jeux) was second
in the final stage after chasing down Alexandre Vinokourov but not being
able to get past him on the line. Was he disappointed? "Yeah it is a bit
disappointing. Cookie [Baden Cooke] said to go so I went for it, I thought
I had him for a minute. He didn't come straight to my wheel when I did
the final attack. But once I saw him there, well with a rider like that
what do you do? I tried to force him around but the other guys were coming
so I just had to go for it. I didn't die at all, I felt good and strong
and hungry all the way, I can't believe he got off me. What do you do?"
Stuart O'Grady (Cofidis)
Photo ©: Luc Claessen
The weather and road conditions had been a big concern for Stuart
O'Grady (Cofidis). "Boy it was a rough last day," he said. "It
hasn't rained on the final day for - well I can't remember when. It was
very dangerous coming into the final laps and it was a good thing it dried
up a bit. When your on city roads and it hasn't rained for a month, then
it's like riding on an ice skating rink."
O'Grady having a dig at the green jersey contest on the last day was
always a long shot, and O'Grady was impressed at Alexandre Vinokourov's
winning style. "The team rode well for me but it just didn't work out,"
said O'Grady."Good old Vino, what a legend. He can win any type of race
Looking back over the last three weeks, O'Grady said, "I feel I've had
a pretty good Tour and I've been consistent but just couldn't break through.
It was a good ride of Thor's and it was good to see him finally break
through. I know how it feels to be knocking on the door. Maybe next year."
As for the yellow jersey winner, O'Grady was frank in his praise. "What
a performance by Lance," he said. "He really is the champion of the Tour
and there really hasn't been a rider, in the past few years, who can get
anywhere near him."
Baden Cooke (Francaise des Jeux) is one of the
contingent that hasn't performed at his best this Tour, showing none of
the snap that gained him the green jersey in 2003. "I thought Brad was
going to get it for a while," said Cooke of the finale. "He and I went
into today hoping to salvage our Tour. We were both feeling good and we
tried the same manoeuvre that worked a couple of years ago. He moved up
like he was giving me a lead out and I let him go. It didn't work out
and I'm very disappointed. But it is the biggest race in the world and
you can't just do what you want."
Matt White (Cofidis) was happy to have finally
started and finished a Tour. "Finally here hey, finally here," he said.
"It's really, really great to be here. It is huge here on the Champs Elysees.
I've done the Olympics and the other grand tours, but this is really special.
One of the best bike riders in the world just won here, Vinokourov. He
can win in the mountains, he can win on the flat and he is the most aggressive
rider in the Tour de France. For me, He and Bettini are the two most complete
bike riders on the planet.
"But Lance - wow. You can't compare eras and there is no doubt that Eddy
Merckx is the greatest bike rider ever. But Lance is definitely the greatest
Tour de France rider ever."
Allan Davis (Liberty Seguros) is already looking ahead. "Yeah glad it's
all over," he said. "I felt I had pretty good form but the breaks just
didn't fall my way. I am looking forward to a couple of days off and then
it's back into it. I hope to reach peak form again at the World championships
in Madrid in September."
Luke Roberts (CSC) almost didn't make it to
Paris, crashing on the slippery roads on the way to the French capital
and looking pained when he climbed back on his bike. So getting to Paris
was doubly special for Roberts. "Yeah it was but I didn't expect it to
be quite like this. The weather wasn't too good and I had a fall along
the way but once we the final few laps and the roads dried up a bit then
it was awesome. It was a huge buzz especially with the roar from the big
Robbie McEwen (Davitamon-Lotto) and his team
had been saying for several days that the final stage was a major target.
So was he a little disappointed at the result on the Champs Elysees? "Oh
yeah," said McEwen. "Overall it's been a fantastic Tour and I am happy
with three stage wins but I really wanted to win today. Problem was, right
at the end there was no-one to do that last 500m from the one kilo mark.
Nobody went and Hushovd told his guy to actually stop when he went to
close the gap and that baulked everybody and the group stayed away. There
was just nobody left to chase. My guys had all done a lot of work, Freddy
had done an awesome job, but we just missed somebody to do that extra
"It's disappointing because I had the speed. As it turned out Brad virtually
led out Vino but he was going for a stage win. I actually said to one
of my team-mates that he should watch out Brad as he would try and go
for it in the last kilo."
McEwen was also impressed with the total domination of the yellow jersey.
"Lance was incredible," he said. "I have said since last year. Nobody
can win the Tour until Lance decides to stop. Well that has finally happened."
Pre-race banter in the village depart
By John Trevorrow in Corbeil-Essonnes
Simon Gerrans (AG2R) has impressed in his first
Tour and was stoked to have almost made it to Paris when we caught up
with him before the start of the final stage. "Yeh, I am getting excited
about riding around the Champs-Elysees," he said. "Everyone says, that
the moment you ride onto the Champs, it is the most emotional moment and
it makes the hair stand up on the back of your head."
Robbie McEwen (Davitamon-Lotto) took a moment
to explain the rules that govern wet weather on the cobbles of the Champs
Elysees. "If it is raining they will stop the clock for a GC when we hit
the circuit or when it starts to rain on the circuit," he said. "My big
challenge today is making sure it is a bunch sprint and then worrying
about the finish. I don't think I will bother with the intermediate sprints;
I haven't even looked in the book to see where they are."
This hadn't been the Tour Brad McGee (Francaise des
Jeux) wanted to have. "For a couple of weeks now, the focus has
changed from GC, to win a stage and now, just finish," he said.
What happens after this? "I get home on Monday, I will go to bed and
whenever I wake up, I wake up. But actually, I am thinking seriously about
doing the Vuelta. I think after a week or so things will settle down,
I know I am still very hungry for some success in a big one."
For Michael Rogers (Quick.Step), the plan was
"just to finish. It is usually quite a special day, the last day. Hopefully
the rain will hold off."
Without Tom Boonen to lead out, what was Rogers' role? "We still have
Guido Trenti, he is a handy sprinter and is capable, and so we will get
him up there. It is not easy, because it is the last day and the whole
bunch thinks they can sprint. But we are going to try, that is all we
can do. It is a matter of being in the right place at the right time."
Allan Davis (Liberty Seguros) was also hoping
to be in the right place. "It is just a matter of getting a bit of luck
in the run in and getting a good break going into the last couple of hundred
metres," he said.
Matt White (Cofidis) lined up with a garish
pair of gold Elvis sunglasses. "I keep these for the final day only,"
"I will be a little bit more relieved if it stays dry. It hasn't rained
on the last day since 1977, but it is looking a bit 'iffy' now, if you
will pardon the pun [CN reporter John Trevorrow's nickname is 'Iffy' -
Ed]. It is pretty hectic on the last day, but we are going more for the
stage win than anything else. It will be a big day."
"Everyone's worse nightmare," said Stuart O'Grady (Cofidis),
"is for wet roads coming into Paris, but in some ways it maybe in my benefit.
I handle wet roads quite well and it puts a lot of pressure on the opposition.
I am just going for the stage win and whatever else happens. C'est la
The Tour de France of give-aways and competitions
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Photo ©: Trek
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