Tour de France Team News
T-Mobile, without Erik Zabel who is currently racing in the Tour of Austria, have no sprinter in this year's Tour de France and are looking to stay out of trouble in these sprinters stages. T-Mobile team boss Olaf Ludwig is in upbeat mood ahead of Thursday's challenge: "Vino, Jan, Klödi were all well positioned today and stayed out of trouble. We don't have any sprinters to contest these stages, so we just focus on keeping our concentration and staying out of trouble again tomorrow. The mountains are still to come."
Jan Ullrich is still on the mend after his accident on Friday and was particularly pleased with his team's effort yesterday, and also that the team remains crash free, he wrote today -
Today´s stage was another typical flat stage. I was protected by two or three helpers and kept myself towards the front. That also meant doing an amount of work, but, at least, we didn´t have to ride into a full wind. The closing stretch was again very hectic, and I´m happy that we only had to pause briefly when there was a spill in the field.
Basically, we´re still happy that we put in such a good performance yesterday and that, personally, I also felt good. I experienced great sensations in my legs. It was something completely different than in the first stage and I don´t even want to think what I could have achieved there, if I had had the legs as good as yesterday. But, that's water under the bridge now and I´m just happy that I´ve got over the effects of my crash in training. That's largely thanks to the help of my physiotherapist Birgit Krohme and our two doctors Lothar Heinrich and Stefan Voigt.
The good news for Team CSC is that an X-ray examination on Tuesday evening revealed no signs of broken bones in David Zabriskie's body. This means the American Team CSC rider is ready to continue in this year's Tour de France.
"Obviously Dave is in a lot of pain after his crash, but he's a tough guy and after the examination he was determined to continue in the race," says Team CSC's press relations manager, Brian Nygaard.
As for what exactly caused the crash, speculation and theories abound. Danish commentator and pro Rolf Søresen having watched the incident in super slow motion over and over. He thinks that Zabriskie's chain dropped so one foot moved down quickly causing unbalance and his knee hit his aerobar, causing him to crash.
Zabriskie felt better as the day went on today:
"I got thru today without too much hassle. I was still quite sore at the beginning, and it still hurts when I breathe heavily. Mentally, however, I feel much better than yesterday, when I was really down. The team has given me a lot of support on top of the crash, and I feel ready to go on," said Zabriskie.
Meanwhile Ivan Basso crashed shortly before the feed zone, but luckily the crash was not serious.
"We tried to make some of the break aways at the beginning, especially Jens Voigt, but it's apparent, that the others won't let us get away. The most important though is, that we got through the stage fairly easy and that we have been able to shake off yesterday's disappointment," said Bjarne Riis.
After 5 days of racing we saw the first rider retire from the race: Constantino Zaballa (Saunier Duval) stopped after an hour this morning. The 27-year old Spaniard climbed off his bike at km 37. He had hit his knee in yesterday's team time trial and it was too painful to continue. Meanwhile, young gun José Angel Gomez Marchante crashed into a motorbike today but was able to finish the stage. It is hoped that the exciting climber will still be able to shine in the mountains.
Liberty Seguros put the spotlight on their young gun sprinter Alan Davis. Their website reports -
Allan Davis was sixth in the sprint of fifth stage of the Tour of France and he continues to make good progress towards a podium spot, though today he was impeded by a Credit Agricole rider which made Davis lose his position and the pace. The Australian, nevertheless, crossed the line happy and confident that one day soon he will get a victory, he has just been lacking a little luck.
The rest of Liberty Seguros-Würth team finished the stage without mishaps and without no rider involved in falls, in spite of "the nerves that have existed the whole day", as Ángel Vicioso said. Thankfully for all, the weather, fresh and threatening rain, respected the pack, which did not wet along the stage. At the finish, the optimism of Manolo Saiz's men was palpable, that have recovered definitively confidence after his excellent time trial, a fact that has not passed unnoticed by anybody in the Tour of France.
"I have been enough good after the time trial effort and have done very well the last kilometre, but in the exit of the last curve, 600 meters to go, a launcher of the Credit Agricole has left a pedal and it has made me lose the pace and the position. Then I have managed to pass ahead, but already I was very far from the first ones to be able to try something more. It was a shame, because before the curve I had almost taken Tom Boonen's wheel, which was going for the left side. It was the best option today and because of it I looked for him, but then I was not lucky. I have to continue trying it".
Naturally the Team were pleased that Kjell Carlström was on the attack today, they report -
Today the yellow-green Bianchi bicycle, specially designed for the Tour de France, was ridden by brave Kjell Carlström. The Liquigas-Bianchi Finnish threw himself into in a spectacular attack with Bodrogi, Commesso, and Flecha. The four riders have led for 125 kilometres, reaching a maximum advantage of 4’10”. The chase led by Quick Step, Davitamon and Ag2r was decisive. Carlström and the other escaping men were caught with only 10 km to go.
The plan projected by Liquigas-Bianchi’s team managers in the usual meeting of the morning before the race was almost fulfilled: at first, a man should have attacked looking for an escape; then, in the event of a bunch sprint, Luciano Pagliarini should have taken his chances.
Unfortunately, the Brazilian couldn’t sprint because of a crash that slowed the green-Celeste “train” down with 3 km to go. Pagliarini was back at the beginning of the home-stretch, so he wasn’t able to stay with the fastest wheels and surrendered: he is going to try again in the next days. Robbie McEwen’s project, instead, was perfect: he beat on the finish line the favourite Tom Boonen. Lance Armstrong has kept the yellow jersey.
Tomorrow there will be the 6th stage: Troyes-Nancy, 199 kilometres. This flat stage will probably end with a bunch sprint. Let’s hope that the yellow-green Bianchi could become gold-green, like the Brazilian flag’s colours...