The Armstrong/Popovych combination on the final Courcheval climb proved lethal to T-Mobile today,
the T-Mobile website reports:
The race finally, came to a one-on-one sprint between Armstrong and Valverde, which the champion lost narrowly, but which matters little in the overall scheme of things. Armstrong´s display was devastating and the T-Mobile Team among others will be left picking up the pieces tonight. They can only hope that tomorrow really is another day
A battling Jan Ullrich came in with Andreas Klöden 2:15 minutes behind and appeared to be suffering from more than just the effects of the climb. Ullrich: "I felt pains in my back while breathing. That was a little handicap. Big thanks to Klödi who waited for me. The Tour is still long."
Alexander Vinokourov came in 5:18 minutes behind the leaders in a disappointing performance: "It wasn´t
a good day for me. I found it difficult to find my rhythm."
Jan Ullrich relects on the day's events but promises his fans there will be no surrender…
We were all focused and determined today. Already at breakfast, you could feel how motivated everyone was. Walter Grötzinger treated us to pancake with apple sauce, his famous wheat bread and cereals of all kinds. We encouraged each other and planned to launch a first attack on the yellow jersey.
I felt very good on the first climb, up until Lance attacked. As expected, I felt some pain in my back while breathing, but I didn’t think I was weakened by it. When Popovych pushed the pace at the end and Lance subsequently launched his attack, I was burned out and couldn’t follow.
Even though it’s tough to ride a whole stage with these breathing problems, I’m not sure if I would have been faster without this handicap. I only know: I fought and gave it my all.
More than anything, however, I have to say thanks to 'Klödi'. He rode an extra strong race today - and waited for me, when I had to let go. He supported me instead of pursuing his own ambitions. All I can say is: Thanks and hats off to him! But the whole team gave their best, everybody rode at their limit.
Of course, I am disappointed, but tomorrow is a new day and I’m not willing to surrender.
With a rider moving into the top three, most Teams would be delighted with the days result. However Team CSC have set themselves high targets this year and a potential podium place and still leading the team rankings has still left them a little disappointed with the day's events – they report –
With a fifth place in Tuesday's stage 10 to Courchevel, Team CSC's Ivan Basso improved to third overall in this year's Tour de France. The 181-kilometer stage was won by Alejandro Valverde (Illes Balears) ahead of Lance Armstrong (Discovery Channel), who captured the yellow leader's jersey.
For quite a while Ivan Basso was in the lead group of five riders on the 20 kilometer final climb, but towards the end he had to let go.
"When he was dropped, he did the only right thing. He found his own pace and kept his cool. A lot of big riders suffered today, and I'm glad we avoided that. I think we did an OK stage, although it was a pity Basso was dropped," said Bjarne Riis.
Team CSC's Carlos Sastre was the first to attack on the last climb, but the Spanish rider was caught right away and finished 23rd, while Bobby Julich with a 25th place made sure Team CSC still leads the teams competition.
Just as expected, Jens Voigt lost his yellow jersey, as he finished more than half an hour behind the winner
Liberty Seguros Wurth
Disappointment too for the Liberty Seguros boys, the Spanish outfit not only had little to be pleased about on a stage that saw rivals Illes Balears rise in the ascendancy. It seems only the cast iron Manolo Saiz remains optimistic. Their website reports -
The first major mountain stage of the Tour 2005 cause havoc for the majority of the leaders in the overall, who in Courchevel suffered the consequences of Lance Armstrong's first major assault. Liberty Seguros-Würth did a good stage thanks to the work of Luis León Sanchez who got into the breakaway of the day and, later, Jorg Jaksche, who counter-attacked on the way to Courchevel to fight for victory. His work, nevertheless, was not supported by the leaders, Roberto Heras and Joseba Beloki, who today lost many of their possibilities in the overall on falling behind from the leading group.
"I did not feel good from the start today and at the end I was pretty bad. It has been a real blow for me and, the truth is, I do not know what happened to me, because until now I felt very good. For that reason I hope that it has just been a bad day, because I felt good before. My legs simply weren’t working today. In the overall I am now quite far behind, but I still have to wait and see if I recover the level that had before. I suffered a very strong blow, but I will try to recover and tomorrow we will see if it was just a bad day."
"I felt very bad the whole day, I think it was a dreadful stage for the whole team and for me too, especially on the last climb. I was expecting more, but I also admit that it has been a long time since I took part in a major race and it showed. There is still a lot of race to go and I hope to be able to do better than today."
"Now I am really, really dead! I made a tremendous effort to try to win the stage, but I knew that it would be very difficult. When they caught up with me I tried to continue and in the end I didn’t lose too much time. I am happy about that, but I would have liked to have finished ahead and that the team had had a better day".
"The team did a good stage and we played a major part in the race throughout the entire day, which was one of our aims. Beloki, after two years without being able to take part in any race, and this being the first time that he tries his hand, rode quite well. You can’t ask any more of him. As regards Roberto Heras we were expecting a bit more, but that is it and I trust that the team will continue playing a major role in the same way as we did today. I believe that we are on the right course.
Last year we did very badly in the Tour and this year we have come to do our work again and try to be a key team. If we manage to recover Beloki during this Tour we will have taken a very important step forwards. The overall classification is now very far off. Today it was made clear that Mancebo is aiming towards the podium, that Armstrong is once again the candidate for victory and Rasmussen is the great revelation of this year. We just have to wait to see the tactics of the following group, with Leipheimer, Landis, Ullrich and Kloden, to see if they can get onto the podium, because I think that Basso, after doing the Giro and failing today, will go for less and will look for a stage victory."
Today’s stage (Grenoble – Courchevel) brought the yellow peloton on Savoia’s Alps and the yellow jersey is back to Lance Armstrong. For Liquigas-Bianchi it was an interlocutory day, how often happens after the rest day. Having no overall ranking riders, the green-Celeste team saves energies for a future stage win.
But anyway, Stefano Garzelli did a good performance: 17th at 3’44’’ after Alejandro Valverde, the winner of the day.
"I tried to attack on the Cormet-de-Roseland," affirms 2000 Giro’s king, "but
Spanish riders chased down. The attacking action I tried to pursue with my
rhythm vanished and I’m satisfied. I fell better than in other years’ Tour."
Two special guests came by Liquigas-Bianchi in these mountain stages: Felice Gimondi, the standard bearer of Bianchi’s brand, arrived in Chourchevel to support the athletes of the green-Celeste team to assist at historical climbs like Madeleine and Col du Galibier.
Mauro Ribeiro, the only Brazilian who has won a Tour de France stage (in 1991), came back on the Grande Boucle roads. On Liquigas-Bianchi’s car, this time!