July 23, 2003
Aussie Michael Rogers of QuickStep, gives an idea of Col Bargaguy's steepness: He spent almost the entire climb in a 39 x 25. That's lower than the stock gears typically installed on racing bikes, which typically have a 39 x 23 as their lowest gear. Rogers says, "It was the first time this year I have ever used that 25. "
There was a lot of speculation about QuickStep's motivation in chasing Hamilton, when they didn't have a GC competitor to help. Rogers clears up what they were thinking:
And as you may have seen, we didn't waste any time getting involved in the mix once we hit the flat. A few people were asking why we chased Hamilton when Richard Virenque was our best rider overall at 14th place (at 22 minutes).
Actually, we still felt like we could get the stage win. We wanted to get Paolo Bettini up for the win. He has ridden very strongly throughout the Tour and he said he had good legs today. So it was normal that we thought if the bunch could bring Hamilton back, we would have a good chance of seeing Paolo get up for the win today.
Okay, it didn't happen that way. Hamilton stayed away to claim a very popular win. We'll keep trying though.
As it worked out, Luca Paolini was QuickStep's highest placing rider, at 4th in the stage.