Tour de France – Team News Stage 17
T-Mobile a difficult day, Ullrich, Klödi and Vino, CSC, Arveson close, Liberty Seguros, Davis out on his own, Contador poorly, Liquigas Bianchi back Pellizotti for Stage 18
T-Mobile report on a difficult day for them, Klöden was forced to abandon, and with injuries to both Matthias Kessler and Tobias Steinhauser, the T-Mobile options were limited -
Another stage win for Discovery, as this year´s Giro champion Paolo Savoldelli outsprinted Kurt-Asle Arvesen (Team CSC) in a dramatic finale duel in break that had stayed away all day. In the last kilometre they left behind Simon Gerrans (Ag2r) and Sébastien Hinault (CA) in an explosive burst of pace. Salvodelli took shelter behind Arvesen for most of the finishing stretch before taking him in the final metres.
A crash in the peloton caused two top ten GC riders, Evans and Landis, to miss the split and they were absent from the Ullrich group. This presented Vino with a chance to jump up the leader board. He duly attacked at the foot of the last climb. Combined with the hotter pace, the peloton got split to pieces with a leading group of Armstrong, Hincapie, Popovych, Ullrich, Vinokourov, Basso, Mancebo, Rasmussen, Brochard, Mazzoleni, Leipheimer forging ahead.
Jan Ullrich, as good as his word, attacked hard - mainly in an effort to shake off GC number three, Michael Rasmussen. It was in vain though, as the Dane managed to tail him all the way. Behind, Evans led the chase with Landis to try to minimise the damage to their GC placings. They eventually finished 20" behind. The damage was done though as they both moved down one place in the GC with Vino moving to seventh.
That was where the good news ended for the T-Mobile team as a strong finish and a Discovery stage win put Lance Arsmstong' team into the number one position in the team classification. With injuries and an abandon it was a difficult day for the team. T-Mobile sporting director, Mario Kummer: "Our clear priority was the team standings. But, without Klöden and with injuries to both Matthias Kessler and Tobias Steinhauser, we didn´t really have anyone to set the tempo. We had to spare our strength a bit." The team will be hoping for a rapid change in fortunes in the few days that remain.
Jan Ullrich talks about two great personal friends, Kloden, who was forced to abandon, and Vinokourov, who will be leaving the T-Mobile Team.
We feared it would happen. A day after his crash, Klödi was forced to abandon the Tour. It is a tough blow for him. This morning the two team doctors, Stefan Vogt and Lothar Heinrich, fitted Klödi with an arm cast, so that he might be able to keep his usual position on the bike while braking and switching gears.
But he quickly realised that he wouldn't be able to continue - the pain was simply too big. I hope, for Klödi's sake, that the wrist heals quickly and he can return soon to racing.
The other big news of the day is, of course, Vino's decision to switch to another team next season. We knew that a team change was on his mind. And in the end his decision came as a disappointment, because in Vino, it is not just a great bike rider, but also a great personal friend who will be leaving the team. He wants a chance to contest a Tour as a team captain, so I can fully understand his motives for leaving. And even when it is bad news for our team, I wish him all the best in the future.
It's not good news, but as professionals we just have to live with it.
Team CSC were again in the thick of the action with Kurt-Asle Arveson being one of the main animators of the day. Their website reports –
On Wednesday Team CSC's Kurt-Asle Arvesen came extremely close to winning stage 17 of this year's Tour de France, but he was beaten by Paolo Savoldelli (Discovery Channel) on the finish line.
Both Arvesen and Savoldelli were in the decisive break of 17 riders, who crossed the finish line more than 20 minutes ahead of the peloton. After the final descent there were only four riders left in the front group.
"I tried to escape just before the finish, as it often pays off to take the initiative when you're in a small group. But when Savoldelli caught me I completely blew up," said a clearly disappointed Kurt-Asle Arvesen after the Tour's longest stage of 239,5 kilometers.
"I'd probably hoped that Kurt would've waited, because out of the four of them he's the strongest in a sprint. But when he chose to go for it we backed him 100% of course, and he did come really close to making it," said sports director Kim Andersen.
Jan Ullrich (T-Mobile) attacked in the peloton during the last climb, but it did not make much difference in the general classification, where there are no changes in the top-five.
Allan Davis was again in the break of the day and this time on a more favourable parcours for him, but missed the vital move - "It was my mistake", said the Australian at the finish line, where he showed his displeasure for not having managed win. Nevertheless, Allan Davis is the quickest finisher, together with Dekker, of the 17 riders break and, therefore, he was most controlled of all and nobody wanted to have him remaining at the finish. "I have not been lucky, but I feel very well and do not want to leave of this Tour without obtaining my aim, wining a stage", said Allan Davis, who promised to continue trying it up to Paris.
The victory was for Paolo Savoldelli, who achieved the second individual victory of the Discovery, besides the team time trial, whereas in the general Lance Armstrong continues unremovable in the leadership. The Liberty Seguros-Würth returns tomorrow to a mythical stage for the team, because already ten years ago, in this same Mende's finish line, Laurent Jalabert's ONCE achieved a victory that will be remembered always by the struggle against Miguel Indurain. Circumstances are now very different, but Manolo Saiz's men have this stage marked as one they would like to win.
Alberto Contador, who today finished the stage in the third group of the pack, which was cut in last kilometres by a fall, suffers from the rest day a cold with fever, which is making to him furthermore the end of the Tour harder and for the present time stoping him from being in the breaks.
The longest stage of this Tour de France (Albi – Revel, 239 km) has been won by an Italian. He is Paolo Savoldelli and he comes from Bergamo, like Bianchi’s bicycles today highlighted thanks to Dario David Cioni’s action. The Liquigas-Bianchi rider looking for those results that are not coming in this season was in a very big group of chasers. When nine of them broke away he couldn’t maintain their pace.
"With 50 km to go I tried to follow Dekker," affirms disappointed Dario Cioni. "But I didn’t have so much energy in my legs."
Tomorrow, another difficult stage scattered of not very steep climbs: 189 km from Albi to Mende. After Cioni’s attempt, tomorrow Liquigas-Bianchi are backing Pellizotti!