Double blow for Euskaltel-Euskadi
Euskaltel-Euskadi suffered a double blow today when David and Unai Etxebarria were both eliminated from the Tour today, having been adjudged outside the time limit.
Both riders finished the race within the cut off time, however they were sanctioned several minutes by the organisers for “drafting” during the race which put them outside the cut off time.
Basque David Etxebarria had finished in 167th and last place, 14:22 minutes down on Ullrich and within the 25% cut off time, however he was docked 2:05 minutes of time punishment, because he drafted for five kilometers. Similarly Venezuelan Unai Etxebarria, (and no relation to David) was well within the time limit at 133rd place but was docked a massive 5:51 minutes for drafting, and also was outside the cutoff after penalties.
For the Basque Euskaltel team the loss of the two riders is particularly bitter before the Pyrenees.
Before the stage this morning 42 riders underwent blood test controls. Riders from the teams of Jean Delatour, Bianchi, Gerolsteiner, Alessio, Kelme and fdjeux.com were tested between 7 and 8 o'clock in the morning.
All riders were allowed to continue.
Armstrong Likes the Weather Teport
With oven-like temperatures ("la canicule" - the hottest temperature on the Tour since it was first recorded in 1996) Lance Armstrong admitted the heat had got to him.
"Maybe it was too hot for me. I suffered, I did not feel too bad. I ran out of water before the final climb and I felt I was going backward rather than forward. It was the first time in a time trial that I was thirsty from the very beginning. Heat makes it very difficult. Nobody really excels in the heat. But I grew up in temperatures hotter than this, so I would think that I could handle it," he said.
“But in the Pyrenees the forecast is for bad weather. For me that’s very good news.”
Weather on Saturday
Sunny and hot, temperatures between 30 degrees (start) and 27 degrees (at the finish).
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Team Bianchi Went Sky-high After the Win of Ullrich
The excellent Bianchi Tour website were naturally elated after today's stunning ride by Ullrich.
This time trial win and the lead of 1’36”over the super-star Armstrong galvanized the whole team, though confidence and optimism were already high.
The team manager of Bianchi, Rudy Pevenage, strongly believed in Ullrich and he quit a very important assignment just to take part in this adventure with his protégé, an experience finalized to recover the German champion and bring him back in the limelight.
The undertaking is fulfilled and Jan Ullrich went beyond, changing the forecasts and beating the American champion Armstrong. “Ullrich was terrific. I always believed in him – pointed out Rudy Pevenage – but today he did more overcoming my sweetest hopes."
"Frankly speaking" – said Rudy – "I felt sure he could end up within the three top positions, I did not expect a win, I thought I was demanding too much.
"I was perfectly aware that he was continuously improving but I did not expect he could give me such a strong emotion. I’m happy, not only from my official technical point of view, I’m happy because I’m also his sincere friend."
"Now" – concluded the smiling Pevenage – "I hope the emotions will repeat. There is still a long way to go and the stages ahead are tough, the Pyrenees will be demanding and insidious and the hot and sticky weather will make things gruelling.
"Ullrich, anyway, is fit and above all he is a winner. I wish he can offer us and Bianchi’s management new professional achievements, because Jan Ullrich is a great champion, he only needed confidence and psychological peace of mind to find out he could still hit the mark at the Tour."
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Captain Courageous Battles on!
Bjarne Riis was satisfied with his American captain, Tyler Hamilton, after the stage: ”Tyler does a good time trial. He may not be completely satisfied himself but I think that we are in a good position before the Pyrenees. Ullrich is in a class of his own today and his performance has added a new dimension to the race. The Pyrenees will decide the race and our team is ready to support Tyler in every way. I think that we will se lots of attacks and it will be very difficult for Armstrong to control the race.”
Too hot for Millar
Having recovered from his time trial efforts which led to 7th 3'55" behind a superb Jan Ullrich, Cofidis' star time trialist David Millar spoke to the press. "I was sick throughout the rest day. After 15-20km, my glands just swelled up and I couldn't breath, I was screwed," he said nonchalantly. When a reporter asked "What about the heat?" he replied, "Well....I couldn't breath."