Tour de France Cycling News for July 26, 2005
Edited by Jeff Jones and Shane Stokes, with assistance from Sabine
Vinokourov to Liberty Seguros
Alexandre Vinokourov (T-Mobile)
Photo ©: AFP
Liberty Seguros-Würth has signed Alexandre Vinokourov for next three
seasons, the team announced today, ending a great deal of speculation
about the Kazakh champion's future. Vinokourov will also be bringing Sergei
Yakovlev with him to Liberty from T-Mobile.
Team manager Manolo Saiz was interested in Vino "...for his competitiveness
and his leadership capacity, especially in the Tour de France, but not
only that. Besides, throughout his career, he has demonstrated a mentality
that coincides perfectly with that of my team. Vinokourov, besides a leader,
will be a teacher for the youngsters in the next three years.
"Together with Roberto Heras, he will form a good tandem that will allow
us to have enough leeway not to pressure the youngest riders, who will
have to rest in future. Vinokourov does not come to substitute anybody,
but to complement and strengthen Liberty Seguros-Würth both in the grand
tours and in the classics, another area where he has demonstrated that
he is a master."
Heras weighs up Tour disappointment
Roberto Heras (Liberty Seguros)
Photo ©: Andrea Hübner
Roberto Heras was hoping for a strong ride in the Tour de France but instead
was unable to approach anything like his top form. The climbing legs which
carried him to three wins in the Vuelta a España and some fine performances
in previous Tours were absent, leaving him to struggle on to finish 45th
Although it was a big disappointment to realise that he wouldn't be
a factor in the Tour, the strong motivation within the Liberty Seguros
camp ensured he continued in the race. "My experiences in this year's
Tour were not very good in terms of my personal expectations," he said,
"But as far as the team goes, it has been great. We have been able to
maintain a good group level and that pleases me, even if I haven't been
satisfied with how I was going myself."
"Despite my being unable to ride for the general classification I finished
the race, unlike 2004. The difference this year is that we have maintained
a good team spirit and for that reason, there was no moment when I considered
pulling out. Finishing the Tour is also a good way to prepare for the
Vuelta a España, because the efforts made in this final week will serve
me well in the future. So that was a factor, and so too the fact that
I am a professional...for that reason I wanted to complete what I had
In the early days of the Tour, Heras believed he was on course for a
good ride. "Until the stage to Courchevel I felt very well and I had great
hope for the mountain stages. I was optimistic until then, but on Courchevel
things turned out badly for me. The situation didn't improve the next
day on the Madeleine, either. I was better on the Marie Blanque and the
Col d'Aubisque, but on the previous day I didn't feel good. One day things
worked, the next day they didn't."
"It disappoints me that once again I have not reached the level that
I wanted. But, looking towards the future, it won't have a lasting effect
because I am convinced that you learn a lot from bad moments in life."
In line with that philosophy, Heras is already looking towards his next
goal, turning things around for the Vuelta. He's shone there on many occasions,
most recently when he equalled Tony Rominger's record of three overall
victories in 2004. The Spanish climber now has a chance to go one better.
"The record is an incentive, all right," he states, "But the true motivation
for me is simply to be first once more."
"I think the Tour will serve as good preparation. Already I have begun
to think about the Vuelta and every day it is getting closer. My objective
now is to recover over the next few days and then to begin to my preparation.
What happened in the Tour will not affect me, because in the same way
that everything before the Tour does not count in July, I think it will
be the same with for the Vuelta. At the Tour of Spain, I will set the
counters to zero, because how things went a few weeks before is not going
to affect my performance there."
Roberto Heras (Liberty Seguros)
Photo ©: AFP
When Heras is asked how the Vuelta suits his style better, he explains
that there are several differences between the two races. "In order to
really understand the variation, it is necessary to be first a rider and
then to do both," he states. "But the two races have things about them
which are very different. The pressure, the teams that take part and the
mountains are an example. But it is necessary to experience the race from
the inside to really understand what I'm talking about."
The fact that Heras tends to be in better form in the Vuelta than in
the Tour means that next year, the team may try something different. During
the Tour de France, Manolo Saiz said that his star rider may take part
in the Giro in 2006, in the hope that he will come into top form for July.
"The thinking is based upon my experiences of the last few years, in
which I have not been able to perform well in the first big tour, but
do a very good second one," he elaborates. "I am better after making a
first big effort. At the moment nothing is decided, but we will see next
year. The Giro is a great race; I liked it very much in 1999, the year
that I took part. It is not as intense as the Tour in its first ten days,
and it has some very tough mountains that I like."
On the subject of the Tour, Heras feels that the retirement of Armstrong
does not really mark the end of an era, because the others from his generation
will continue. "But it is true that with him not racing any more, a very
important chapter has closed," he says.
"It is going to motivate people, now that he has gone, but more so those
who finished on the podium in recent years. Basso, Ullrich or Vinokourov.
I was only fifth in 2000, so it's probably going to have a bigger effect
"As regards my own desire to go back to the Tour, I will see next year.
It is necessary to think about these things with a clear head during the
winter. For now, it is too soon to say if I have a desire or not to go
back to the race...we will see."
T-Mobile team satisfied
Photo ©: Sirotti
With a third place for Jan Ullrich, victory in the team classification
and a final day stage victory by Alexandre Vinokourov on the Champs Elysées,
T-Mobile summed up its Tour performance as satisfying. "We missed out
on our goal of winning yellow, but the bottom line is that we are pleased
with our Tour performance," said team manager Olaf Ludwig. "The team stayed
together, showed a fighting spirit and kept a high morale. We can be proud
For the seventh time, Lance Armstrong (Discovery Channel) defied T-Mobile
and every other team in the peloton to win the biggest bike race in the
world. "Lance was imperious again this year," said sporting director,
In the mountains, T-Mobile Team isolated Armstrong from his team on
a number of occasions, but that wasn't enough to overcome the Texan. "All
the favourites had bad days and let their performance drop, except for
Lance," said Ludwig, who said that T-Mobile would look at its performance
this year. "We got closer to Lance Armstrong than in 2004. We have made
clear progress this year, now we have to carefully assess what we need
to do to further advance our performances."
For the T-Mobile captain, Jan Ullrich, who went into the event with
such high ambitions, the Tour started inauspiciously. One day before the
start in Fromentine, the 31-old crashed through the back windscreen of
a team car during a motor-pacing session. It didn't help him on the next
day, when Lance Armstrong passed him on the stage one time trial.
Ullrich maintained that that incident or his second crash on stage 10
to Mulhouse get him down. "Jan picked himself up, attacked and battled
to the bitter end." On stage 18 the T-Mobile rider made up 37 seconds
on the third placed rider overall, Michael Rasmussen (Rabobank) of Denmark,
thus paving the way for his final assault on a podium place. He realised
that goal in the final time trial in St. Etienne, where he stormed to
second behind Armstrong. "My third place is thanks to a team that kept
on attacking and always stayed on the offensive," said Ullrich, who was
perhaps at his most aggressive in this year's Tour.
With the teams classification, three stage wins, three second places
and three third places, T-Mobile's Kummer assessed, "Together with Discovery,
we dominated this Tour."
There was Vinokourov's failure on the stage to Courchevel, followed
by his impressive stage win in Briançon. The team also lost Andreas Klöden
following stage 17 to a wrist fracture. "The team showed great moral courage.
Each rider performed his role perfectly," said Olaf Ludwig. "[Stephan
Schreck] contributed positively to the team cause, both through his support
work and his engaging personality. [The others] all contributed in their
own way to a harmonious and cohesive team performance."
Finally, Ludwig said that it will be impossible Alexandre Vinokourov
when he leaves the team for Liberty Seguros after this season. However,
he has high hopes for Michael Rogers and Patrik Sinkewitz, who will ride
for the magenta team next year. "These engagements are all about looking
ahead," finished Ludwig.
Hushovd writes Norwegian history
Thor Hushovd (Credit Agricole)
Photo ©: Sirotti
Thor Hushovd, Crédit Agricole's strongman, wrote history by being the
first Norwegian cyclist to win the green points jersey in the Tour de
"I don't care about not getting a stage win in the Tour," said Hushovd.
"It's important to me that I'm writing some history in my own country.
Never before a Norwegian rider was on the final podium of the Tour de
France. In Norway, I've helped to make cycling popular and I'm in the
top five of most popular athletes, with, for example, rally pilot Solberg
and skier Björndalen.
"From now on, I want to win green every year!"
Father Per (55) and mum Unni (53) followed their son around France in
a camper. Mother Unni was even cooking, as Thor isn't particularly fond
of French cuisine.
"I get fed up with all that pasta," said Hushovd. "Most of the time
I'll leave the diner table still hungry. Now and then I ask mum to make
me some solid Norwegian meals. She always put a delicious cream sauce
with it. Kjöttkaker is one of my favourites. That are meatballs with potato
flower and fried onions and boiled potatoes."
That beats overcooked haricots verts and boiled chicken.
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)