Tour de France Team News Stage 7
As the Tour headed into Germany it was expected that the two German teams in the race, T-Mobile and Gerolsteiner would be prominent, and indeed they were. It was Gerolsteiner's Fabian Wegmann who was the main protagonist of the day, attacking with McEwen before continuing on his own for 160 kilometres.
The 25-year-old from Muenster broke away on the descent of the day's first climb, the Col de la Chipotte, after 45 km. A brave effort saw the former Giro d’Italia King of the Mountains lead the race into his home country and although caught he also had the consolation of taking the polka-dot jersey as the best climber in the Tour. A jersey he may well defend with gusto.
As the Tour headed into Germany the crowds became immense. Jan Ullrich was full of praise for the fans today –
Unfortunately, today wasn’t exactly a typical summer day. All the same, the fans came out in full force, as soon as the peloton entered Germany. The welcome was really fantastic! On behalf of the team, I want to thank all of those fans, who turned up to cheer us on. These are the days, when you really know that your efforts are worthwhile.
The day was marked by numerous incidents and crashes. Towards the end, Vino was lucky to narrowly avoid a crashing. And fortunately, we were all spared. In Karlsruhe, McEwen did it again. It was obvious it wasn’t meant to be our finale, so I really would have liked to see a German rider, like Wegmann, win. But the climber’s jersey is a a good consolation for his long, though ultimately futile escape attempt.
Post-stage, many fans welcomed us at our team bus. I’m sorry I couldn't respond to all of the autograph requests. Tomorrow we’ll start in Pforzheim and hopefully, the weather will improve a little. But it’s going to be one big party, anyway. The stage is made for early attacks and with a climb coming so shortly before the finish, the favourites will have to be very vigilant.
Now the Tour really takes off and we are aching to give it our all!
Yellow Jersey hero, Team CSC's David Zabriskie, is still recovering from his Time trial crash and battles on – today he finished 1’23’’ down.
Once again CSC tried to attack early in the stage but were marked down.
“As per usual we attempted to break away a couple of times at the beginning, but when unsuccessful we preserved our strength hanging back in the peloton. Where we are right now is perfect for this weekend, when Tour de France hits the mountains, which is when it truly begins for Team CSC," said Bjarne Riis after the stage. "We tried to attack at the beginning, but just like yesterday we weren't allowed to escape. It was a dangerous finish because of the rain and the turns towards the finish. We attempted to stay up front without taking any risks," said Bjarne Riis following the stage.
Liberty Seguros Wurth
Allan Davis has obviously recovered from his fall in yesterday's stage and was very active in the final sprint into Karlsruhe. Indeed, somewhat too active! He was disqualified by the judges to the last place of his group. Davis tried to follow Kirsipuu's wheel in the last meters and changed his line, which provoked Isaac Gálvez's fall, who touched his back wheel. The Australian was concerned about his rival's health and apologised for the incident.
Davis was involved in a fall when the peloton crossed a railway, but the Australian was unharmed save for a change of a wheel. The good news is that the entire team crossed the line safely and that Roberto Heras has got through the first week, always dangerous for the climbers, unharmed. The second category climb tomorrow should do little more than filter the sprinters, and Sunday's day, with its medium mountains, is not too dangerous, which means the teams big target comes on Tuesday 12th, the day of Courchevel (first uphill finish).
How do you organize the team on flat stages to protect Roberto Heras?
Always it is the same, whether it rains or is windy. We all have to be attentive on the start to monitor breakaway attempts and not be surprised by anyone with someone dangerous, because the race goes very mad. As soon as the break is done, the order is clear: to be near to Roberto.
Do you feel the race is calmer this year having started with the long time trial?
Yes, it has been obvious especially in the intermediate sprints, because already almost nobody fights for the bonuses as in other years. The sprinters were eliminated straight away for the yellow jersey, so it has reduced the tension a little bit, but the finishes are always hectic.
How do you judge the development of this race first week?
Like always, they are fast and nervous stages. At the minute all the leaders look well, but until the mountains come you never really know. Right now a lot of riders are tired because of nerves and continuous changes of pace in the peloton.
And how are you after this first week?
Well. The first day I rode a good time trial and it demonstrates that physically I have come to the race in good condition, but also I have to wait to the mountain before being too confident. For the present time two teams, Discovery and CSC, seem stronger and have dominated the beginning of the Tour.
Another battling stage from the Celeste Team, who look forward to the mountains….
Before the Tour started, Magnus Backstedt had said: "Each day will be for me like a World championship," and he proved it today with a spectacular action. An irresistible sprint that could have given him the win… Instead, it was Robbie McEwen to take the stage, but be sure that such a great Backstedt will try again.
This morning at the hotel, the atmosphere was quite relaxed despite it was raining cats and dogs (again!) during the transfer of the Liquigas-Bianchi coach from Nancy to the starting point in Luneville. We realized that Backstedt was going to fight at the very first kilometres when the Swedish giant escaped with Rodriguez, Cancellara, Vicioso, and Rich before remaining alone with Rich at the 16 km mark. Two kilometres farther the two riders were caught and Carlström set off.
Neither of these attacks was lucky.
The attempt by Wegmann was longer - but unlucky, too. He entered in “his” Germany a solo man, but the bunch caught him with 23 km to go.
In the finale, Bianchi men were key players. Uncontrollable Magnus Backstedt was behind very fast McEwen’s wheels: "If I had had 50 meters ahead, I could have won,"
says Backstedt with disappointment.
Pellizotti reckons his chances in the first stage on the mountains (not very high ones) are “Less than 50” (not very high) for the “Delfino di Bibione” - the dolphin from Bibione. Stefano Garzelli may well fancy his chances though…