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Tour de France Cycling News for July 26, 2005

Edited by Jeff Jones, with assistance from Sabine Sunderland

Leipheimer disappointed at rules confusion

...but satisfied with his Tour

By Tim Maloney, European Editor in Paris

Levi Leipheimer (Gerolsteiner)
Photo ©: Tim Maloney
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Cyclingnews spoke to Gerolsteiner's Levi Leipheimer after the 2005 Tour de France, where he was ticked off to lose his 5th place on GC (effectively €19,000 in prizemoney) to crazy Kazakhi Alexandre Vinokourov, who moved ahead of Levi after gaining 0'20 from the stage win time bonus yesterday in Paris. But Leipheimer, like many riders in the peloton, was informed that because the slippery final circuits of the Champs Elysées were neutralized by the race officials, no time bonuses would be awarded at the finish. "That's what we heard from our team, that the circuits were neutralized and no time bonuses would be awarded. It was a big surprise to me," he said.

Leipheimer was able to damp his disappointment by looking at the big picture as we asked the Santa Rosa, California based pro about his third top 10 finish in the Tour De France. Leipheimer rode a smart race in this year's Tour and when Cyclingnews asked him about how he managed his efforts, he explained, "That's my style of racing. I ride that way just to achieve the highest place and hopefully the day will come when I can ride that way and even do a little bit more. Maybe even win a stage."

We asked Leipheimer what his ambitions are for the 2006 Tour, and he was optimistic. "With the big chief out of the way, the race is a bit more open, but I don't think it's going to be as chaotic as some people are saying. CSC and T-Mobile will have responsibilities and there are always teams that are willing to control the race. So there's that element and you're not going to see somebody win the next Tour because they go away on a flat stage of the Tour and gain a half-hour. That being said, there's now maybe more riders that are capable of winning the Tour. You never know, I could be in that category."

Top 10 time: Floyd makes the grade

By Tim Maloney, European Editor in Paris

After he completed his fourth Grande Boucle yesterday, Floyd Landis explained to Cyclingnews that he was happy with his race, as he ended up 9th overall at 12'44 from Lance Armstrong. "I was happy with my final time trial on Saturday, based on all the energy I spent trying to stay in the front during the Tour. And I'm pretty satisfied with where I finished. Being in the top ten was an objective before the Tour, and looking back on the way things went, I'm happy with it. I think I did everything I had to and I learned some things and I'll go from here. I had some good days and some not so good days, but no terrible days."

As for his supposed conflict with Lance Armstrong, Floyd wanted to clarify things: "I think my comments from L'Equipe [about Armstrong being more about business than friendship] were taken out of context or misunderstood...first of all, I just want to thank Lance and Johan and the team for everything they did for me. That's it."

Landis didn't take offense at Armstrong's comments that even though he would not be racing any more, his Discovery Channel team would still ride against Floyd. "It's the same feeling in the peloton. We're all impressed with what he's accomplished winning seven Tours. I was there for three of them and it seemed miraculous. How he could do it seven times is beyond me! He deserves it and congratulations to him. That's what everyone wants to say to Lance."

We asked Landis what's next for him in the 2005 season and the Phonak rider told us, "I'm going back to California for a while to rest and recover after the Tour. I'm happy about that. In September, I think I'll do the Vuelta (a España) again. I like the race a lot and it's less stressful than the Tour; not the racing part, but the rest of it."

Fast Freddy finishes fine

Rodriguez looking towards World's

By Tim Maloney, European Editor in Paris

We caught up with Fred Rodriguez, a.k.a. Fast Freddy, purveyor of fine coffee. The three-time USPRO champ told Cyclingnews about the Davitamon-Lotto team's final stage game plan: "We were going for a stage win on the Champs Elysées and if went as planned, there's a good chance we would have gotten a win for Robbie. But it didn't work out that way, and it ended up kind of weird, because (Davitamon-Lotto) thought that the bonuses were taken away on the final circuits. That's what they told us on our race radio."

Like many riders in this fastest-ever Tour De France, Rodriguez suffered from gut-rot in the last few stages, but still made it to Paris. "We still got three stage wins for Robbie and that was satisfied with that," he said.

We asked the soon father-to-be how his very pregnant wife Annie was holding up in the Bay Area. "She wishes she was here at the Tour; she loves the finish here!" Fred and Annie are expecting a baby boy next month and then Rodriguez is looking forward to the rest of the 2005 season, telling Cyclingnews, "My program is focused on the World Championship, so I'll do Hamburg (HEW Cyclassics), the Tour of Poland and then World's. It's a good course for me at the World's."

Boonen comments on the final stage

Alexandre Vinokourov (T-Mobile)
Photo ©: Sirotti
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The sidelined Quick.Step sprinter Tom Boonen spoke on Sporza's post-Tour show on Sunday evening about the final stage. "The weather made the stage today dangerous," said Boonen, who also commented on his compatriot Philippe Gilbert's pre-Champs Elysées attack, which was chased down by the Discovery Channel team. "Philippe Gilbert likes to attack and that's OK, but what he did today was quite inappropriate I think. Well, I wouldn't have done it anyway. It's violating the unwritten laws of respect in cycling. If he had attacked once they reached the Champs Elysées, no-one would have had problem with that."

Boonen paid tribute to the aggressive Kazakh national champion Alexandre Vinokourov (T-Mobile), who defied the sprinters to win the final stage. Boonen himself won this stage last year. "It was nice seeing Vino win today," said Boonen. He's one of the greatest riders in the peloton, very classy. It feels different to win that last stage on the Champs Elysées. It's special because you have gotten through three tough weeks of racing. You are happy you got to Paris to start with, and then win, that's fantastic."

As for the overall winner, Boonen, a former teammate of Lance Armstrong, said, "Lance is a complicated man. No great champion is an easy person. He's super focused and dedicated. It's true we had some heated emails going back and forth when I left the team. But it's characteristic for Lance to have forgotten about that quite quickly. Now, we chat again like we used to; just small talk, about cars and things.

Lance
Photo ©: Sirotti
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"Lance had already done so much more than what anyone did at a young age; he was World Champion in his early twenties. He's always been there before his illness. After beating cancer he just became stronger, he is now 12 kilos lighter then when he started his career!"

Unfortunately, "Tornado Tom" was unable to contest the green jersey in Paris, as he pulled out of the Tour before Stage 12. "To have to leave the Tour injured was very painful for me, in every way. I was in a foul mood the day after. I didn't think too much about the lost chance for green and stuff; it was no use anyway. I was just worrying about my knee. But once that started getting better again; I stopped being grumpy, the Tour was already far behind me at that stage.

"I'm now going to prepare for the World Championships, and I don't think that riding seven stages less than planned in the Tour will make much of a difference there."

Rabobank satisfied with Tour

Michael Rasmussen (Rabobank)
Photo ©: Sirotti
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The Rabobank team will be leaving Paris with The polka-dot jersey, two stage wins, and a top ten GC ranking. But just like all other riders, the Rabobank men are happy that the last stage of the Tour de France is over and done with.

Erik Dekker was quoted on the Rabobank website: "Especially when the fatigue starts coming into play you're happy the end is near. And you miss your wife and children. But it's been a great Tour. It was new to us to race for classement and the climbers' jersey. But I have to say it was really motivating. Especially when you're going through a rough patch, that's what keeps you going.

"The last stage was dangerous. Thank God the roads dried after a few laps. I changed wheel three times and let some air out of the tires to get more grip.

"Vino's win today was a deserved one. He went for the fifth place in GC and Leipheimer had a busy day because of him. I kept in his vicinity, but the last three kilometres it was impossible to stay on his wheel. I came as close as five metres, but then unfortunately I had to let him go."

Michael Boogerd also was happy to see his family again after the finish. "I missed my son greatly and I'm so happy to hold him in my arms again; that's only natural. I got through the Tour well and feel ok. The last few days I have been a bit under the weather, but now I'm better again."

Tour debutant Pieter Weening thought his first ride on the Champs Elysées "had something special...When you are getting close, you hear the people cheering. I suffered on those wet cobbles; they went across them in a high speed. First we took it easy because of the bad weather, then I had the time to enjoy the ride."

Team Director Erik Breukink could look back and smile: "We won the polka-dot jersey; Weening won a stage, Rasmussen won a stage...and in a very nice way, greatly deserved. The young riders were strong throughout the tour. We kept a close eye on them at the beginning of the year and saw they were ready. When you see the manner in which Weening won his stage, that's fantastic. Posthuma hasn't had any problems either.

"The first week we had to do it in the breaks. Dekker and Kroon both had the mountain jersey because of those. We wanted Rasmussen to keep the jersey so they had to sprint for the points too. The time trial yesterday was a dramatic day, and we'll try to forget it as quickly as possible. It's no use crying over spilled milk.

"The fact that Menchov got sick meant that he was out for a top GC ranking pretty quickly. Try to get back when you came to the Tour to play with the big guns in the mountains! But he worked hard for Rasmussen and made it all the way to the finish. We had three highs: two stage wins and the polka dot jersey, and that's just fine"

Cauberg in 2006 Tour

Next year's edition of the Your de France will feature a stage finish atop the legendary Cauberg in The Netherlands, according to Gazet van Antwerpen. The climb, which has also been used in World Championships and in the Amstel Gold Race, suits powerful but light riders like Davide Rebellin, Danilo Di Luca, Alexandre Vinokourov and Michael Boogerd, and will definitely not favour the sprinters.

The last time that The Netherlands hosted the Tour was in 1996, when the prologue was in Den Bosch. Next year's Tour will also visit Belgium

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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