Tour de France – Team News Stage 8.
Today was a beautiful day of racing with as many twists and turns as the roads of the Col de Schlucht. When Voigt attacked early in the stage it was George Hincapie who marked him out, which meant that it was T Mobile who had to do the chasing . Sevilla, Guerini and Kessler all worked hard to bring Rasmussen (Rabobank), Kaschetschkin (Credite Agricole), Voigt (CSC), Hincapie (Discovery) back into the fold.
First blood to Team CSC and Discovery Channel, with T Mobile again seeming to be a sandwich short of a picnic when it comes to team tactics. However the pendulum swung back in the favour of T Mobile on the final climb, the Col de la Schlucht, just over 20km from the end.
Alexander Vinokourov made three separate early attacks on the Discovery lead peloton. His sudden bursts of speed saw the peloton in general and Discovery in particular , thin out rapidly. Suddenly Armstrong was isolated and when Andreas Klöden attacked Armstrong had to let him go.
T Mobile were denied victory by the narrowest of margins by the excellent Pieter Weening but naturally, the team and its management were very satisfied afterwards. According to team captain Jan Ullrich, "Andreas raced superbly today. We put our tactics into practice. My job was to stay with Lance and to guard him. Andreas tried and immediately broke away. I am glad for him. It´s fun, we´re in the mountains at last." Sporting director Mario Kummer: "We planned to attack at the end. At first it was Vino´s turn, than Andreas tried his luck and managed to escape. It was impressive to see how he performed his attack. This was a great morale boost for the days ahead." For a rider that has had such a huge season-long struggle with his form, Andreas Klöden will be the most encouraged of anyone, "I hope that I´ve finally climbed out of the rut, and will be a good helper to the team in the mountains."
The pendulum of fate has been swinging wildly for former holder of the yellow jersey, David Zabriskie. The battling rider still troubled by his injuries finished dead last today amost an hour back and avoided the Time elimination by less than 1 minute.
Bjarne Riis had promised attacks during Saturday's hilly stage eight of the Tour de France from Pforzheim to Gérardmer. And Team CSC lived up to the promise, first Jens Voigt escaped with four others among them Michael Rasmussen (Rabobank) and George Hincapie (Discovery Channel).
When they were caught, Kurt-Asle Arvesen tried his luck and when he didn't succeed, Nicki Sřrensen escaped with Fabian Cancellara (Fassa Bortolo) and two other riders. A four-man break was established, and when they were caught during the second intermediate sprint, Sřrensen attacked again and was later joined by six others.
They built a lead of almost seven minutes, but on the last climb they were caught by a smaller group with all the favorites. Pieter Weening (Rabobank) from the lead group just managed to escape before Andreas Klöden (T-Mobile) attacked in the favorites group, and the two of them approached the finish line together and ended up sprinting for the victory about 30 seconds ahead of the peloton.
"I had the opportunity to get the yellow jersey, when we had a big lead, so of course I'm a bit disappointed. On the other hand I did good out there and once again proved, that the form is just as it should be," said Nicki Sřrensen after the 231.5-kilometer stage.
It took a photo finish to determine Weening winner of the stage, while Team CSC's Jens Voigt sprinted to fifth. Unusually Lance Armstrong did not have any team mates with him in the favorite group, while Team CSC and T-Mobile were well represented.
This means, Team CSC now has four riders in the top 10 overall (Voigt, Basso, Sastre and Julich), while T-Mobile has three (Vinokourov, Klöden and Ullrich). Team CSC now leads the teams competition, 1.50 ahead of T-Mobile with Discovery Channel a further eight seconds back.
Liberty Seguros Wurth
The first Tour stage with a demanding finish gave the first indication of the race when the Alps come. The best news for Liberty Seguros-Würth was to see four of their men on first group, with Roberto Heras in front. Together with him there was Joseba Beloki, which for the first time in the year comes in front after a hard stage and seems to be definitively recovered as rider, completing the group Jorg Jaksche and Marcos Serrano.
With only 32 riders in the first group, the Liberty Seguros-Würth percentage is excellent and announces that the team can be protagonist when the high mountain comes. On the contrary, was interesting that Lance Armstrong loses all his men in a relatively easy climb, though it was done very fast. T-Mobile, on the other hand, demonstrated an enormous fortress with Vinokourov and Ullrich to the assault, as well as Kloden, whom nobody could control.
Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano put the negative note of the day, on having suffered from a tendinitis in the straight knee that made him lose a lot of time after having passed a good part of the stage in the second group. Manolo Saiz's hope is that his rider could recover between tomorrow stage and Monday, fortunatley the first rest day before confronting the Alps.
Joseba Beloki interview:
How was the stage for you?
The first kilometres were very hard because it was so fast , but I felt better as the stage went on.
Are you happy to be in the front group on last climb?
Yes, I have done the whole climb behind Roberto Heras if he need me to lend a hand, but I didn’t have the gas to go with Vinokourov and others. I preferred remaining with Robertoin case he needed my help.
What did you think of Armstrong being alone ?
Yes I saw that and I I believe that for the first time we have seen him alone in the Tour, though he solved the problem perfectly with strong riding.
What stage's summary do you do?
Simply we have saved the day after an explosive start and a complicated finish. For me it is a satisfaction, because if we want to be ahead in the Alps, first it's indispensable to overcome climbs like this.
" With Beloki back it means that we have recovered for cycling an extraordinary rider. It was a difficult climb, it needed experience and strength and for that Alberto Contador was dropped , he still lacks little power. The team has been good, with four riders ahead, and it makes us to have hopes on the Alps. It's a pity that we have Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano injured, but we wait to recover him beetwen tomorrow and rest day. For me the best thing has been the image that has offered T-Mobile and Ullrich, whereas that happened to Armstrong it's an anecdote. Discovery team has had just a bad day, because they have been always ahead ".
Allan Davis has obviously recovered from his fall in yesterdays stage and was very active in the final sprint into Karlsruhe. Indeed, some what 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 rivals 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 Sundays 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, though it rains or is windy. We all have to be attentive on the start to monitor breakaways attempts and not be surprised by any one 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
,P>Yes, it has been obvious especially in the intermediate sprints, because already almost nobody fight for the bonuses as 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. At the minute 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 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
«Today was very tough. The race was immediately very fast but Liquigas-Bianchi’s team has done a good work: on the climb Garzelli and Pellizotti were with the best riders». This is team manager Roberto Damiani’s commentary of the 8th stage (Pforzheim – Gérardmer, 231,5 km) caracterized by the first hard côtes and by many breakways. The winning action was signed by the Dutch Weening who beat in the final sprint the German Klöden. Nevertheless the green-Celeste athletes didn’t betray the expectations always remaining in the bunch of the best riders. Garzelli and Pellizotti crossed the finish line in the yellow jersey group, 27’’ after the pacesetters, and gained almost thirty positions in the overall ranking. Now they are respectively 36th and 35th.
Only some cramps prevented the two Liquigas-Bianchi riders from trying the winning attack. «Nothing serious» assures Stefano Garzelli. «It was just the first climb stage. The condition is the good one». It is true! The team led by Roberto Amadio goes very well. The attention of the media confirms it: today France 2’s cameras and Eurosport’s ones were on the bus and on the green-Celeste team car to capture the atmosphere of the race in the squad. But above all the great form of the team is confirmed by Lance Armstrong’s words, “ I consider Garzelli and Pellizotti to be two major opponents” .