Tour de France – Team News Stage 13.
T Mobile, Ullrich wants it baking hot and celebrates a birthday, CSC, strangely quiet, Liberty Seguros, Contador and Jackshe in the Pyrenees, Liquigas Bianchi, Magnus thanks his mates...T
"Pocket Rocket" Robbie McEwen made it a hat-trick of stage wins in today´s bunch sprint finish in Montpellier. In the final metres, two late breakaway riders, Sylvain Chavanel (Cof) and Chris Horner (SDV) were swept up by the oncoming peloton. The two had slowed down in a cat and mouse game seemingly oblivious to the danger behind. Yet again McEwen was the fastest, followed by a none too pleased fellow Aussie, Stuart O´Grady (Cofidis) and team mate "Fast" Freddy Rodriguez. O´Grady gestured his discontent at McEwen "crossing his line", but had few sympathisers.
The T-Mobile riders finished safely with yellow jersey holder Lance Armstrong in the main group. Armstrong, like other strong GC contenders, was keen to keep himself to the front and out of danger. "That was a super fast race and not as easy as it looked. It was the last chance for the sprinters, so we held ourselves back," said T-Mobile captain, Jan Ullrich afterwards.
Team mate and birthday boy, Stephan Schreck had similar sentiments, though a different role to play, "things were really up and down. Very hot and fast, no gift. We wanted to jump ahead from the start, but there were narrow streets, a lot of wind, a nervous field. It was very tough. The weekend (in the Pyrenees) will be very tense."
Jan Ullrich wants the hot weather to continue as the race reaches the Pyrenees….
First thing we did in the morning was to congratulate 'Schreckus' on his 27th birthday. Indeed, if he had bagged the stage yesterday, would have given himself the best possible birthday present.
Unfortunately, it didn’t work out that way. But I think, he can be content with his Tour just the same. Both as a rider and a bloke he is a very valuable part of our team.
On the way to the start today we already got a taste of the high temperatures that awaited us on the road. 'Vino', who sits opposite me in the team bus, and I looked at each other and already our thoughts turned towards tomorrow. The mercury is supposed to hit 39 degrees in the Pyrenees – something that suits both of us.
Lance seems to have experienced the most difficulties in really hot weather - like at a 2003 stage. Then the day after, it was ten degrees cooler – and he was firing in all cylinders again.
Today, it was obvious that it will either going to be a day for the breakaways or another chance for the sprinters to shine. It wasn’t that important for us to leave our mark on this stage. We will get our chance this weekend.
Of course, Valverde’s abandon made a special impact. Even though I moved up one position in the GC, what happened to him, is always sad. He was riding a strong Tour so far, and he’ll be back again.
Before concentrating on tomorrow’s stage, the team will certainly celebrate a little with Schreckus.
The Pyrenees loom, and after all the excitement they have shared since the race began the CSC site is strangely cautious tonight. For the first time since the race began CSC rode in the peloton, probably to save as much energy as possible for tomorrow’s stage. Naturally the Team expressed its sadness that Valverde had been forced to quit ….
On Friday, Alejandro Valverde of Illes Balears, who won the mountain stage to Courchevel, had to abandon the Tour de France due to knee problems. It happened during stage 13 from Miramas to Montpellier, which was won by Robbie McEwen (Davitamon-Lotto).
Before his exit hugely talented Valverde was fifth overall, lead the best young riders competition and also played an important role for Illes Balears in the teams competition, where the Spanish team is currently second, 1.30 behind Team CSC.
Just as expected today's stage ended in a bunch sprint, but the peloton did not catch up with Sylvain Chavanel (Cofidis) and Chris Horner (Saunier Duval) until the final 500 meters.
"We took it easy today. We would've liked to be part of a larger break, but it was OK not to have anyone among the five who escaped," said Bjarne Riis after the 173,5-kilometer stage.
Liberty Seguros Wurth
The transition between the Alps and Pyrenees, is over and tomorrow the race hits the mountains again with a long stage between Agde and Ax' 3 Domaines's an up hill first Cat Climb at the finish. Jörg Jaksche, thirteenth in the general classification hopes to still further improve in the Pyrenees. The German, not a true climber, has, nevertheless demonstrated great form in the Alps
" I feel very well at the moment , I feel strong and hope to be able to keep in the favorites group", says Jaksche,
Allan Davis, the team's sprinter, was today eleventh in a finish that did not favour him particularly, but he showed that he has fully recovered from his fall . After Pyrenees, in the complicated stages of the Central Massif, he will wait for his opportunity.
With the arrival of the heat, besides, the rest of the team has returned to recover the spirits, especially for what concerns Roberto Heras and Joseba Beloki. This one assures that he would like " to try to catch a break in Pyrenees, though for it I have to verify that my sensations have changed with regard to those of Alps ". Roberto Heras also wants to forget his bad role in the first mountain of the Tour and waits for the return of the mountain to try the adventure. Finally, Alberto Contador, third and better Spanish in the Young classification, 13:06 to Popovych, will go out tomorrow with renewed spirits of coming as above as possible in his first Tour de France.
Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano, back to training
Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano will be back tomorrow to training after the hard fall that forced him to abandon in 3 kilometre of nine stage, last Sunday.
Galdeano passed on Wednesday a new medical recognition, with a magnetic resonance that discarded definitively any injury, for what the doctor Mikel Sanchez recommended him to return little by little to the trainings. At the moment, Igor has not a date for his come back, waiting of how he evolves of pains that still suffers in the back, but he trusts in a fast return to the competition.
The green Celeste “train” is back ..
Magnus Backstedt is 8th. Tomorrow the Pyrenees.
Magnus Backstedt who finished 8th today is satisfied after today’s stage. In the 13th stage (Miramas – Montpellier, 173 km), won at the sprint by Australian Robbie Mc Ewen, the green-Celeste team was very active in the last kilometres in pursuing the two breakaway riders, Chavanel and Horner. It was a team work made at first by Garzelli, Cioni and Pellizotti, then in the last kilometre by Gerosa and Ljungqvist who have composed an effective “train” finalized to Swedish giant final sprint.
«Today I want to express all my gratitude to the team» affirms Backstedt. «My companions were perfect and they put me in the best conditions for the sprint. In the final I arrived very tired, due to the very hot temperature, and I didn’t want to start too soon ’cause I knew that I wouldn’t “have the legs”. So when I launched out... unfortunately it was too late!».
Now Magnus will have to wait the Champs Elysées for the winning sprint while Dario Cioni, interviewed by an Italian Radio Television’s troupe on the finishing line, longs to have another opportunity in the Pyrenees…
After this stage, tomorrow the yellow peloton will start from Agde and will arrive, after 220 km, in Ax-3 Domaines (1372 mt.).