Tour de France – Team News Stage 16
T-Mobile, Klöden and Kessler injured, Team CSC - no rider in the break, Liberty Seguros, Heras back in form, Liquigas Bianchi, Backstedt out.
Best Young Rider Yaroslav Popovych on Stage 15. Photo ©
Spanish rider Oscar Pereiro (Phon) got the reward for his aggressive riding in the past few stages when he won a four man sprint in Pau today. He saw off three fellow escapees with Xabier Zandio (IllesBal), Eddy Mazzoleni (Lampre), and Cadel Evans (Lotto) arriving in that order behind him. Evans, who was strong all day, moves from eleventh to seventh overall, leapfrogging T-Mobile´s Alexander Vinokourov and Andreas Klöden. Klöden was the unlucky victim of an early crash which handicapped him for the rest of the race.
After attempting a number of attacks on the Col d´Aubisque, which failed to shake off Michael Rasmussen, Ivan Basso and Lance Armstrong, T-Mobile captain Jan Ullrich said afterwards, "I tried everything today, but Armstrong stayed in complete control. The mountains are finished, but there are a few difficult stages left and I will try again." Rasmussen showed no weaknesses, finishing with Ullrich and maintaining his third place overall, 2´49" ahead of Ullrich.
According to T-Mobile sporting director Mario Kummer, "The team rode well, we put a trio of Nardello, Kessler and Klöden into the early breaks, but Klöden´s crash disturbed our plans. However, we continued to attack but again today Armstrong was very strong."
Klöden and Kessler
T-Mobile rider Andreas Klöden broke the navicular bone in his left hand following a crash on Tuesday's 16th stage of the Tour de France. That was revealed following x-rays at a hospital in Pau. A decision on whether or not the 30-year-old can continue will be made on Wednesday.
Klöden, together with team-mate Matthias Kessler, got tangled up in mass crash at km 11 of today's stage.
Though the two T-Mobile riders made it to the finish line in Pau, Klöden was immediately rushed to hospital for x-rays on a suspected broken wrist. Matthias Kessler also suffered following his crash. On his return to the team hotel, he complained of head pain, spinal pain and light concussion.
Jan Ullrich considers the effects of bad luck tonight...
Today we were hit hard. We all made it over the high mountain stages OK, then today we suffered crashes! Right now, Klödi is with Lothar Heinrich on the way to hospital for x-rays – with a suspected broken wrist. Matze also had it bad today, suffering concussion and and spinal injuries in a spill.
It was certainly a bad omen for us, when we had the first sick-case early this morning already. It wasn't one of the riders who reported sick, however, instead it was Bert our bus driver. It takes a lot to derail Bert. You can always rely on him to ferry us to and from the stage start and finish, safe and sound, and in good time. His presence is also important for team morale and he is well liked by everyone.
Of course even with Bert missing in action, we still had to get from our hotel in Pau to the stage start. Perry, one of our best and longest serving mechanics, stepped up to the wheel. Usually it is his job to take the equipment truck on the road. Overall, though, it is a positive sign that the internal back-up is always there to keep things running smoothly – we have a really strong and efficient team, in all departments, here at the Tour.
Despite our bad luck, we were still one of the most active teams in today's stage, launching many attacks and setting the tempo for long periods. The fact that Klödi, after his crash at Kilometre 20, still made it to the finish line in our group shows a sensational effort by him, as it was by Matze. I truly hope that the two can continue riding and make it all the way to Paris!
Team CSC were disappointed not to get a rider into the break, but saw the day as one of transition, that one to launch attacks.
Phonak's Oscar Pereiro was beaten by George Hincapie just before the finish in Sunday's Queen Stage of the Tour de France, but in stage 16 Pereiro retaliated. The Spanish rider was fastest in the sprint among four riders, who kept the peloton at bay all the way to the finish in Pau after Tuesday's 180.5 kilometers.
On today's hardest climb, the Col d'Aubisque, the main contenders tried a few attacks, but once again overall leader Lance Armstrong had things under control.
"We didn't attack 100% on the climb, and we didn't intend to. However, I would have liked to put a rider in the decisive break, but when Pereiro escaped, Carlos wasn't able to follow," said Bjarne Riis.
Apart from Oscar Pereiro today's big winner was Cadel Evans (Davitamon-Lotto), who made the decisive break away and improved from 11th to seventh overall. Team CSC's Ivan Basso is still second, 2.46 behind Lance Armstrong.
Ivan Basso and Lance Armstrong on Stage 15. Photo ©
The last stage of Pyrenees saw Roberto Heras, who for the first time in this Tour was with the group of the leaders and also attacked strongly in the last great climb of this year, L'Aubisque. Marcos Serrano also was in good form attacking from behind ahd trying to catch the break, in which Liberty Seguros-Würth had missed out due to a fall involving Jaksche, Beloki and Vicioso. Still with almost a week ahead and the prospect of the hard stages of the Central Massif, Manolo Saiz's men demonstrated that they the form for a stage victory which has eluded them so far.
Óscar Pereiro was the winner, followed by Xabier Zandio, Mazzoleni and Evans, which came together to Pau's finish line. Marcos Serrano, in the second group, was eleventh, at 2:28. The general led by Armstrong, does not change. Jörg Jaksche, sixteenth, is the first Liberty Seguros-Würth rider.
Roberto Heras :
"On Marie Blanque finally I felt comfortable in the lead group and was without difficulties. It is already a bit late, but at least I have demonstrated that I can be there. Then, in L'Aubisque, I decided to attack to catch Vinokourov. I thought that together we could go away, but behind they reacted and caught us at the top. I had to try it and to try to see how the race was. Today it is a good indicator for the last week, but especially it allows me to go out of the Tour with a better spirit and not disappointed. Now I can think that the Tour has not been OK, but that I am recovered. I do not know what has happened to me in this race and I do not want to think about it.”
"I decided to attack on first climb, the Col d'Ichere, because same thing happened to us another day, that we were in all the breaks attempts less in the good one. I did not want to be a conformist and attacked alone. I have gone the whole day against the stream, but I have been well. It was a hard task, because I have gone a lot of time alone. When Pereiro and Mazzoleni caught me in L'Aubisque I tried to go with them, but I remained unhooked 2 kilometres to the summit and already I could not connect in the descent. I decided to wait to the next group, but already I was very tired. If I was 21-year-old they would say that I had done a big exhibition, but I am veteran, and it is only one more".
After yesterday quite day rest in Pau, early this morning the team received a bad news. Magnus Backstedt, protagonist of a great performance in Sunday’s stage, didn’t recover from the illness that had debilitated him: his name is in the long list of the withdrawals. He has bronchitis.
"I’m very sorry for my retirement," affirms the Swedish Liquigas-Bianchi rider. "I’ve held on to arrive to the Champs Elysées but unfortunately it wasn’t enough...."
In the 16th stage Mourenx – Pau, won by Spanish Oscar Pereiro, Liquigas-Bianchi placed 10th in the team stage ranking. The green-Celeste riders, followed also today in the team car by Eurosport’s cameras, have saved energies. Tomorrow’s stage (Pau – Revel, 239 km) doesn’t present too hard climbs, but it could suggest some interesting breakaways.
Maggie Backstedt on Stage 14. Photo ©