Latest TdF Cycling News for June 22, 2005
Edited by Hedwig Kröner
Mayo "without pressure"
By Hedwig Kröner
Iban Mayo (Euskaltel)
Photo ©: Christine Grein
The Basque team Euskaltel-Euskadi has been impressive in recent ProTour
stage races throughout June. At the Dauphiné Libéré, 28 year-old Iñigo
Landaluze would not let the overall win slip away even if he was under
a lot of pressure by Phonak and Gerolsteiner; and at the Tour de Suisse,
the Orange squad again produced a surprise GC winner with Aitor González
taking the yellow jersey on the very last day from Quick.Step's Michael
Although its Tour de France roster has not yet been announced, Euskaltel-Euskadi
is determined to play a major part in the outcome of this year's Grand
Tour in France - with one man already appointed to be leading the squad:
Iban Mayo, 6th on GC in 2003 and winner in L'Alpe-d'Huez that very same
year. The strength he showed two year's ago failed him in 2004, when his
self-confidence was broken on the pavés of Northern France, losing almost
four minutes on his major rivals, before abandoning the race after stage
14 to Nîmes.
So where does he stand this year? Although the Basque hasn't showed
any of his capacities yet, placing 30 minutes down of his teammate González
in the Tour de Suisse, there could still be some of that climbing firepower
in him for the Alpine and Pyrenean stages of the Tour, as his team has
changed its tactics. "We've changed our preparation this year," Mayo told
Spanish media. "We've sacrificed a lot of things and there have been times
where I've had to restrain myself, because we all like to win! I went
more unnoticed, but that was the risk we took - what is important is to
get to the Tour in good shape. Last year I was very strong at the start
and then my form just went down..."
Although there has been no word on General Classification aspirations
from the Orange team, even Mayo's climbing is currently far away from
what he has shown in his best moments, for example during the Dauphiné
2004. So can Mayo's apparently mediocre performances in Switzerland last
week still be switched into high class for the Tour? The Basque himself
thinks so ("I think I'm in good shape, I only have to perfect it now.
There are still two weeks before the Tour and three before the important
stages"), and his team director Julián Gorospe as well. "In the first
week, we just have to cross our fingers and hope that nothing bad happens,"
he said. "I just want Mayo to get to the mountains in the same condition
as two years ago - then, he will be with the best."
Recent Euskaltel victories also have taken the pressure off the team's
Tour leader, but Mayo himself does not see this as further indication
for success. "Now, we don't need a victory at any cost; all seems more
relaxed. But last year we also won a lot before the Tour and then [those
victories] weren't valued," he continued. "I am more calm, with less pressure
because I know that my best moments are yet to come. I like winning and
being competitive, but this year I've put that aside for the Tour. It's
make-or-break now, impossible to foresee if it'll work. We'll assess it
T-Mobile announces nine
In a fancy presentation at the company's headquarters in Bonn, Germany,
T-Mobile has announced its nine riders for the upcoming Tour de France.
Besides the obvious Jan Ullrich, reaching out for a second Tour de France
victory in his last chance to beat Lance Armstrong, the following men
will engage on the 3,607 km-long loop to Paris for T-Mobile: Alexandre
Vinokourov (Kazakhstan), Andreas Klöden (Germany), Stephan Schreck (Germany),
Daniele Nardello (Italy), Oscar Sevilla (Spain), Matthias Kessler (Germany),
Tobias Steinhauser (Germany) and Giuseppe Guerini (Italy).
Ullrich is looking forward to stage one on July 2 in Fromentine. "I
have always said that a Tour victory is more valuable if Lance Armstrong
is participating. I will do everything I can to beat him in his last appearance
at the Tour," said the 31 year-old, for whom the American's announced
retirement provides "additional motivation."
In his quest for the yellow jersey, the German has a top-class partner
at his side: Alexander Vinokourov. The Kazakh was forced to skip the Tour
last year after a heavy crash during the Tour de Suisse, but is now also
in excellent shape: recently at the Dauphiné Libéré, he soloed to an impressive
stage win atop the mythical Mont Ventoux.
"We'll be at the starting line in France with a strong, motivated team
in which everyone contributes their strengths," sports director Mario
Kummer said, keeping in mind Lance Armstrong and his Discovery Channel
team as T-Mobile's major rivals. "It won't be any easier for the other
teams. Armstrong will again be particularly motivated. Lately, his form
has been improving sharply."
Watch out for a complete report of the T-Mobile roster announcement
in the next edition of TdF Cycling News.
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