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Stage 5 Roundup
CSC on the rampage again! Rebellin still standing, good Hincapie day, Alexandre Vinokourov honours Kivilev, tomorrows Queen Stage …
Alexandre Vinokourov . Courtesy T-Mobile.
Alexandre Vinokourov (t-mobile) won the fifth stage on Thursday in Rasteau and dedicated the victory to his friend and compatriot Andrej Kivilev who tragically died exactly one year ago following an accident in last years edition of the race.
Jörg Jaksche (CSC) defended his leaders jersey and finished second on the day after CSC were on the offensive again and blew away many pretenders for the overall. Effectively the race has become CSC versus Davide Rebellin for the overall jersey.
Once again the CSC team used the strong “Mistral” winds of the Rhone valley to tactical advantage. Jörg Jaksche and 5 of his team mates (Bartoli, Voigt, Julich, Piil, Schleck) attacked the field with 20 kilometers to go in the 215 kilometer stage from Le Puy-en-Velay to Rasteau. Team CSC sports directors Kim Andersen and Bjarne Riis made an important decision. As the riders approached the small roads near the Ardeche river, they were met by strong crosswinds, and Team CSC once again took full advantage of the situation.
"We had a map in our hands, and knew exactly when our guys had to go on the attack," Riis explains. "We put the other teams under huge pressure, and the peloton was split immediately. We had our most important riders up front, but unfortunately Basso had to drop back, as he'd been suffering from a bad stomach all day. The team worked perfectly together, and today we did everything right."
The aggressive move saw dangerous rivals off. The Belgian Fanck Vandenbroucke (Fassa Bortolo) and the Australian Michael Rogers (Quick step) both lost nearly a half a minute. In the General Classification Jörg Jaksche finished the day increasing his lead by 4 seconds due to bonuses to 10 over Davide Rebellin. Though Jaksche will be the first to acknowledge that this was down to great team riding, especially from Voigt and Bartoli who covered the battle for bonus time against a very strong looking Davide Rebellin.
Rebellin, who regained the Green points jersey from Voigt , realises he is now fairly isolated
"Now Vandenbroucke has lost time, I am the most dangerous opponent for CSC. Jörg Jaksche has a great team. It will be very difficult, but there are still three more stages”.
6th on the day, George Hincapie, had a great day in the saddle which saw him move up from 11th to 5th on the General Classification. However such was the dominance of the CSC he actually lost 7 seconds on the overall.
Team Manager Dirk Demol commented,
“George rode very attentive today, which makes me a happy man. Especially the fact he is slowly growing towards his best condition is a good signs for the classics to come”, director sportif Dirk Demol says. “It’s a pity Ekimov had a flat tyre today on the worst possible moment, just when Team CSC started to up the pace. I left some of the guys with him to bring him back, but they had no chance whatsoever. CSC is strong, very strong, I have to admit I’m impressed by what they show here every day.”
“A second setback is the fact that Victor Hugo Peña lost time. Azevedo and Landis were in the second chase group, but he missed that group, and can forget all about a good overall classification. Anyway, we just try to make the best of it from now on and count on Hincapie and Azevedo. The main thing remains I saw Hincapie and Ekimov are ready for the coming classics, which makes me hopeful for the weeks to come.”
The day belonged however to 30 year old Vinokourov. His attack at the kilometre to go sign on the final climb was clearly made as a personal test and a general point.
"It was very difficult because I am no where near my best form. I have started the season a little differently this year because I want to hit the Tour de France, Olympics and Worlds in top form. I didn’t start the race looking for overall, but I did want to win one stage for Andrei Kivilev. It is great that I have managed to do that"
So Kivilev is rightly remembered by a great victory by a great rider and his friend Alexandre Vinokourov.
Jörg Jaksche faces a different challenge and memories.
Tomorrows sixth stage is over 173,5km between Rasteau and Gap. The Queen stage of the race crossing three, first category climbs (Macuègne, la Sentinelle, Manse) and it was on these roads in last years Tour de France that Joseba Beloki crashed with heavy injuries and Lance Armstrong gave a demonstration of cyclo cross.
The first Once rider behind Beloki was Jörg Jaksche. He stopped to help his friend and team captain. The stage winner that day was Alexandre Vinokourov.
Jörg Jaksche and the CSC face an awesome day tomorrow , a day of high drama for sure – make sure to tune into our live coverage
Stage 6: Rasteau-Gap (173,5 km)