Tour de France – Team News Stage 15.
T Mobile conceded the Yelow jersey battle is over, but are still determined to fight for a podium spot. Their website tonight reporting -
New Yorker George Hincapie (Discovery) finished solo to win his first ever stage in the Tour de France today. More noted as a sprinter or classics rider, Hincapie surprised many, including himself, with his win in the Tour´s toughest mountain stage Oscar Pereiro (Pho) 6´´ back, got second place with Pietro Caucchioli (CA) third.
Hincapie´s team mate and captain Lance Armstrong, gained time on all his main rivals except Ivan Basso with whom he finished the final ascent. For his rivals, this was virtually the final chance to threaten the champion. Yet again, he has seen them all off. Jan Ullrich came in ninth with helper Oscar Sevilla, 6´28" behind Hincapie, losing a further 1´24" to Armstrong. Michael Rasmussen (Rab) trailed Ullrich for most of the climb, but made a late comeback to lose just 4" to the T-Mobile captain and maintain a 2´49" GC lead over him. This will be difficult for Ullrich to overhaul before Paris. It will be his and the team´s main goal for the final week.
Afterwards, T-Mobile team manager Walter Godefroot, who is happy about the team´s number one position in the team points competition, commented, "we must accept that in this Tour there are riders that are stronger than us. But, I´m not the type to be disappointed. We tried everything today and yesterday. And that was exactly our goal."
Andreas Klöden on today´s outcome, "our plan was to push the pace on the Peyresourde. But this proved difficult when CSC rode to the front of the field at the penultimate mountain. My position on the GC doesn’t matter to me. We want to get Jan on the podium, and we can achieve that.”
Team CSC were naturally delighted with the work of Ivan Basso. The Italian looked very strong throughout the day and was the only man capable of going head to head with Lance Armstrong . Their website reports -
After yet another splendid performance in the Pyrenées, Team CSC's Ivan Basso improved to second overall in this year's Tour de France. In Sunday's stage 15 from Lézat-sur-Leze to Saint-Lary-Soulan Basso crossed the line together with Lance Armstrong (Discovery Channel) and they were almost one and a half minute ahead of Jan Ullrich (T-Mobile) and Michael Rasmussen (Rabobank).
"Ivan was amazing today. I'm very impressed by the fact he dared to attack and he is really able to challenge Armstrong in the mountains," said Bjarne Riis.
In the overall standings, Ivan Basso is still 2.46 behind Lance Armstrong, while he has 0.23 and 3.12 on Michael Rasmussen and Jan Ullrich respectively.
Liberty Seguros Wurth
Jörg Jaksche had a bad day on the Queen stage and lost four positions in the general, where he is now fifteenth, 18:16 to Lance Armstrong, who consolidated his yellow jersey crossing the final line with Ivan Basso's only company and after getting rid of the rest of his rivals. Another day without victory for Lance Armstrong , though the victory remained in his team thanks to George Hincapie, who beat Óscar Pereiro.
Jaksche finished 33, at 14:28 and after suffering on the final climb . In spite of it, the German counts to go up again on taking advantage of his position in the general trying to catch a break and aim for a stage victory.
Allan Davis was another figure who had an excellent day for Liberty Seguros-Würth. He caught the breakaway and in spite of being a sprinter, only lost contact on the Peyresourde, from which rode alone up to the finish, where was 20th..
The king stage became equally hard for the rest of Liberty Seguros-Würth men, of which the best was Alberto Contador, while Roberto Heras could not do any more that to enter the first group of latecomers. Joseba Beloki, who was dropped on the second climb of the day, did a demonstration of determination and covered practically the whole stage alone, in spite of which got his aim and continues on race.
Tomorrow, Manolo Saiz will use the second Tour rest day to recover his men and to plan his strategy on race third week, that passes for taking advantage of the hardness of the Central Mass to look for a stage victory with riders that are in good shape , Jaksche, Davis and Contador.
" I have suffered on the last climb and had a bad patch with 7 kilometres to go , though I did manage to recover on last 2 kilometres. At first part of the stage I was feeling very well. was going comfortably in the front group, but at the end I have lacked force and I could not have continued with them.
These climbs are a bit too hard for me, I am not a climber, and also I have noticed the tiredness built up over the days. From now my aim it is to get into a break to recover positions in the general. We come to an area very hard and very difficult to control for the pack".
" I have got into the break to help my companions, though I knew that it was a very hard stage. I have done well on the first three climbs, but in the Peyresourde I have was dropped and had to continue on my own . I knew the last three climbs because I have come to train here this year, but toward the end it was very hard going .Anyway, I am satisfied because in last days I have good form and I want to take advantage of my good condition to do something in the stages from here to Paris ".