Latest TdF Cycling News for June 28, 2005
Edited by Anthony Tan
Ullrich: "A change of guard long overdue"
"A change of guard is long overdue," Ullrich told Germany's Men's
Health magazine when asked about the odds of beating six-time Tour
de France winner Lance Armstrong.
"If I look at the past, I think I could have often had a better result
than I ended up having. I can't afford to squander any more chances. I
don't want to look back in 10 years and see that I beat myself in the
Tour de France in my best years because I did something wrong."
So far this year, it appears the 31 year-old has done everything right,
watching what he ate in the off-season, riding a select handful of races
up till now, and only exerting himself when the situation demanded it.
However, in his last race at the Tour
de Suisse, Ullrich's form was still a little off, even though he won
a time trial stage and finished third overall.
"Lance has dominated the Tour for the last six years and whoever beats
him is going to be the greatest," Ullrich said. "A true sportsman always
wants to beat the best. This year's duel will be the most exciting because
this is his last Tour.
"He's dominated the race for the last six years and broken the records
of the century," he told German newspaper Welt am Sonntag. "I want
to beat the best to be the best of the best. That's my motivation - this
is the last chance."
While local headlines on Ullrich this week have been dominated by his
recently announced relationship with new girlfriend, Sara Steinhauser,
who he says is "head over heels in love" with, the 1997 Tour winner also
admitted to making some mistakes in the past.
"I didn't know any better, I didn't have the experience," he said. "I've
grown up. Only now do I see the mistakes that I made earlier. I was young
and foolish - just not a 100 percent professional as [I am] now."
Vino more or less 100 percent
Soloing across the line to take his first
elite national road championship victory in Almaty last Sunday, Alexandre
Vinokourov's quick trip back home to Kazakhstan proved very useful indeed.
Like numerous other national champions, Sunday, July 3 - the first road
stage of the Tour de France from Challans to Les Essarts - will be the
first opportunity for him to show off his newfound champion's jersey.
After a very solid Critérium
du Dauphiné Libéré, the 31 year-old said he wanted to ride the Kazakhstan
national championships as his final warm-up before the Tour, where he
and Andreas Klöden will arguably be Jan Ullrich's most valuable team-mates
in the German's quest for a second overall title.
"I am satisfied with how things have turned out," Vinokourov said on
the team's website, t-mobile-team.com, about his season to date.
"My form is as good as it was in 2003 [Tour de France] when I finished
third in Paris. It is more or less 100 percent. Missing out last year
through injury was a bitter blow for me; I have really prepared hard and
made improvements recently to my time trialling. I did a lot of tests
on the track and in the wind tunnel recently to tweak my position on the
bike, improve my aerodynamics and hopefully save seconds in the Tour's
key TT stages."
Although these last words sound like he is thinking about the possibility
of victory himself, Vinokourov denied any thoughts of personal ambitions
- "I don't have individual objectives" - and said he won't be there to
ride his own race, but to ride for the team. However, he added when team
tactics allows it, he will take his chances to go for a stage win, slightly
contradicting his earlier statement.
The winner of this year's Liège-Bastogne-Liège also mentioned he's worked
extremely hard on improving his ability in the mountains, evidenced on
the fourth stage of the Dauphiné Libéré to Le Mont Ventoux, which he won
in brilliant fashion. "I've worked a lot more on [climbing] this year
than in previous years. I did a training camp at 2000 metres altitude
in Kazakhstan for 10 days, then I spent some time in Tenerife in the Canary
So then, is the T-Mobile team for the 2005 Tour de France one that can
beat Armstrong? Vino gave a yes and no answer, but the response leans
more towards the latter.
"We are going there with the intention of turning the heat on Armstrong
and hopefully force him to crack. But the guy is exceptionally strong
and motivated; it is hard to imagine him cracking - he will be in top
form. The key is to attack Armstrong, but that is easier said than done.
Nevertheless, that is what we will try to do."
Regarding the other contenders vying for the title, Vinokourov names
Ivan Basso (Team CSC) and Floyd Landis (Phonak) as riders to watch, with
Iban Mayo (Euskaltel-Euskadi) his outside pick - "maybe he will be up
there when push comes to shove," he said.
Although admitting to have a number of offers on the table for the 2006
season, where it was most recently reported that French squad Cofidis
appears a likely destination, Vinokourov chose not to elaborate too much
on his immediate future, but did say he will make a decision after the
Tour de France. "The truth is that I am happy to ride for T-Mobile. It
has worked well for me, but after the Tour I will sit down and consider
Aldag turns TV journo in July
Breaking his arm in a crash at Flèche Wallonne on April 20, T-Mobile's
Rolf Aldag made his return to racing at the recent Tour de Suisse, his
first race back after almost two months out of competition. The 36 year-old
cycling veteran picked one of the most difficult events to get back into
the swing of things, but stuck it out all the way to the finish in Ulrichen
to be one of only 92 finishers, although describing the stage as "a real
"I felt all along that if I could get over the first easier climbs, then
I would also make it over the tougher Alpine climbs," said Aldag on t-mobile-team.com.
A hardened professional of 14 years in the peloton, the last 12 seasons
spent with his current team and 10 Tours de France under his belt, Aldag
won't be part of the T-Mobile roster for this year's Tour. Instead, he
will use his experience in a different capacity at La Grand Boucle, where
he will be German public TV station ZDF's resident expert cycling analyst,
providing live commentary each day.
"I am looking forward to this. I have ridden ten Tours as a professional
cyclist, now I will be looking at the Tour from a completely different
perspective," said Aldag.
However, being on television isn't something altogether foreign for the
German, besides having being filmed as a rider; he was one of the stars
in the recently released cycling film Höllentour
(Hell on Wheels), produced by German film-maker and Academy Award-winner,
On July 24, as Lance Armstrong rolls across the Champs Elysées one final
time as a professional cyclist, the 33 year-old American will leave a
number of legacies behind him, and will no doubt continue to pursue new
Back home in the States, effects of his popularity have undoubtedly made
a significant impact on the number of cyclists taking up the sport, or
launching themselves into road racing. USA Cycling reports the number
of registered road racers has increased from 28,300 in 1999 - Armstrong's
first Tour win - to 31,300 in 2005.
"Greg LeMond opened the door for American cyclists in Europe in the '80s,"
said USA Cycling spokesperson Andy Lee to Reuters. "Since LeMond
opened that door, Lance has blown it off its hinges and everyone else
is going through now."
Likewise, Armstrong's legacy for cancer patients will continue to be
felt long after his retirement, with the foundation he set up in 1997
(the Lance Armstrong Foundation or LAF) likely to gain even greater momentum
after he hangs up the race wheels, as he will have more time to devote
to his cancer-related projects. The yellow Livestrong wristbands, intended
to raise $6,000,000 for the Lance Armstrong Foundation in 2004, have exceeded
initial expectations ten-fold, with more than 50 million sold to date.
Said Harmon Eyre, chief medical officer at the American Cancer Society:
"Lance has become a national, and an international, rallying point around
"He has even begun to impact the U.S. government. He has the government
looking at survivorship. When a cancer patient sees someone like Lance
Armstrong, I personally believe it sends a real signal of hope to the
cancer patient and tends to diminish the fear... that the cancer might
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2005)