Tour de France – Team News Stage 20
T-Mobile - cannot hold a candle to Armstrong, but lead the Team Competition and Ullrich on the podium, CSC sign Cancellara, Basso safe in second after a good day in the Time Trial...
T-Mobile, have reasons to be pleased with the Tour: they have won the Team Competition had good stage wins and Ullrich is on the podium. They have also never lost sight of the sporting aspect. They report very sympathetically on what they accurately describe as Rusmussen’s nightmare -
…behind Rasmussen was creating the story of the day, with a series of spill and team gaffes. He badly grazed his right side when his bike went from under him at an early roundabout. Shortly after, he ran into mechanical problems requiring a wheel change. With no wheel readily available, he was given a new bike, which wasn't properly set up and needed to be changed twice more, costing 'Chicken' valuable time - over 45 seconds - on the side of the road. Rhythm destroyed, nerves shot and chasing the game, he spectacularly crashed head over heels into a ditch on a later descent. To top off his living nightmare, Armstrong who had started six minutes behind, flew by him at the 35km mark.
They also acknowledge that Armstrong again proved the strongest rider...
Like so many times before, Lance Armstrong stormed to victory in the Tour´s final time trial to finish his career in characteristic style. In a strong showing by the T-Mobile Team, captain Jan Ullrich came second, 23 seconds back and Alexander Vinokourov third at 1´21. Most importantly for Ullrich, he moved up to third place in the GC after a disastrous showing from Michael Rasmussen. The hapless Dane crashed twice and required three bike changes. He plummeted from third to seventh overall, with Vino also taking advantage and moving into the sixth spot.
Afterwards, the top two T-Mobile riders were pleased with their performances, but disappointed to have been edged out by the Texan. "I´m very pleased about securing third place today, I would like to thank my team for their great support," said Ullrich afterwards. "I´m happy about us winning the team competition." Vino chipped in: "Armstrong has controlled the Tour again."
For T-Mobile sporting director Mario Kummer, it was a satisfying end to a battling Tour for the team, "today was a wonderful day for us. At the end, we´ve defended our lead in the team classification and Jan clinched third place overall. Jan and Vino rode excellently, the others fought hard." A fine magenta performance then, but there was no stopping Armstrong, who retiring at the top of his game, is set to ride off into history tomorrow.
Jan Ullrich was pleased to get on the podium again in Paris; this is what he had to say about the day -
I am going to stand on the podium in Paris! Well, barring an act of God tomorrow. Today, it went as I hoped it would. Though, of course, it was tough on Rasmussen the way things went wrong for him.
It is just a pity that I coudn't crown it with a stage win, but Lance was just too classy again today. But 'Vino' and 'Guero' had already scored stage wins for the team.
Yeah sure, we all came here on a mission to win the yellow jersey. That didn't happen, and in one sense it's disappointing. But in another sense, we can still be proud of the way that we fought as a team in this Tour.
I am also pleased with my own Tour. Just getting to Paris and standing on the podium, is something special after the crashes I suffered. Even without crashing, I still don't think I could have beaten Lance. He is simply too strong and you have to give him credit for that.
When he leaves cycling, we will be saying goodbye to one of the greatest sportsmen of all time. With his physical and mental strength, his enthusiasm and willpower, nobody - me included - was able to hold a candle to him these past seven years.
He told me that, initially, he plans to leave his bike in the corner and take some time out to reflect on what he wants to do next. I am sure, though, that we hear from him again soon.
Let's see, maybe he'll tell me a bit more about his plans tomorrow. It is pleasing that he has invited me to his victory- and farewell-party in Paris tomorrow evening. I will use this chance to say: congratulations and all the best, Lance!
There was also a little surprise for me today, when my girlfriend Sara appeared in front of me at the stage start. I wasn't expecting her around until tomorrow in Paris. But her presence gave me some extra motivation.
Tonight I am doing a live interview with Germany's top TV sports show. After that, I will just look forward to the Tour d'honneur in Paris, the crowds lining the roadside and our little team party…..
CSC have had a good day, they were outstanding in the Time Trial and have also made an important signing, the excellent Time Trialist Fabian Cancellara, and if that wasn’t enough, Allan Johansen on won stage four in the German race Sachsen Tour International. Johansen beat Leif Hoste (Discovery Channel) in the sprint, after the two riders had escaped from a break away grup, which also included Michael Blaudzun and the former Team CSC rider Frank Høj, who finished third in the stage.
Here are the latest CSC dispatches -
Team CSC put two riders in the top five in Saturday's final time trial in this year's Tour de France, which was won by Lance Armstrong (Discovery Channel) ahead of Jan Ullrich (T-Mobile). Bobby Julich finished fourth while Ivan Basso retained his overall second place with the fifth best time in the 55.5-kilometer course in and around St. Etienne.
Basso even had the best intermediate time at 17 kilometers, but towards the end the Italian ran out of strength.
"Ivan did well in this time trial and once again demonstrated, that he has improved tremendously in this discipline. In hindsight you could say he came on too strong at the beginning, but he wanted to give it his all, too see how far it would take him," said Bjarne Riis.
Carlos Sastre also did really well and finished in 12th place, and Luke Roberts made sure Team CSC had four riders in the top 20 with a 17th place.
The big loser of the day was Danish Michael Rasmussen (Rabobank), who crashed twice and had to change bikes a number of times, which resulted in him going from third to seventh in the general classification.
The extremely talented Swiss rider, Fabian Cancellara, has inked a three year deal with Team CSC, and according to Bjarne Riis, this is a major bonus for the team on many different levels.
”I have very high expectations for Fabian, because even though he's already achieved big results, he hasn't, in my opinion, yet outlived his potential to the full. He has a unique talent for time trials, but I also believe, he can develop into a classics winner. He has a mentality well suited for the team and we're all looking forward to working with him. He'll be a very important rider for us,” says Bjarne Riis about 24 year old Cancellara.
”Team CSC has always seemed special to me, and I'm very proud to be a part of it next year. I have been watching the team for some time now hoping that it would one day be possible for me to work with Bjarne Riis. Team CSC has an extremely well organized management and I'm also impressed by the riders ability and willingness to work for each other and the team. At Team CSC I'm sure, I'll get the best possible environment in which to evolve and achieve great results,” says Fabian Cancellara.