July 21, 2004
Leblanc: Alpe d'Huez TT 'not a good idea'
Tour de France director Jean-Marie Leblanc is echoing Lance Armstrong's opinion that a TT up Alpe d'Huez is not such a great idea.
"There were lots of aggressive fans surrounding the riders," Tour de France race director Jean-Marie Leblanc said after Stage 16's finish.
"I even saw two idiots spit at Lance Armstrong."
ASO had tried to ensure rider safety by placing barricades on both sides of the top 7 kilometers of the climb, and assigning 650 policeman with 90 motorcycles to patrol the course.
Don't look for an Alpe d'Huez TT to become a regular part of the Tour:
"Until [Wednesday] morning, everybody thought this time-trial was a good idea," race director Jean-Marie Leblanc said.
"It was not a good idea."
The crowds were insane from the start of the climb all the way to the top. At times it was scary, as I didn't really know if I would make it through the crazy screaming fans. By the time we started racing the fans had finished their lunches, finished their bottles of red, cans of beer and topped it all off with shots of grappa. When people are drunk, reaction times are slow and the noise is deafening-good and bad when you're racing up a hill with sweat in your eyes.
Christian Vande Velde says the peloton is concerned about tomorrow's stage, the last mountainous stage of the Tour, and that many riders were conserving energy today to charge up for tomorrow.
Also, he wants to know who's painting all those penises on the road: "I get a little chuckle every time I roll over one."
Graham Watson Alpe d'Huez photo gallery
Ball sports guys have their predictable say
I am a cycling fan, not primarily a Lance Armstrong fan, but I've got to thank Armstrong for 2 things: Getting the Tour on OLN, and getting enough press that most local sportscasters don't make jokes about the Tour anymore.
Unfortunately, old habits die hard, and former Nasty Boys reliever Rob Dibble, now a sports radio host, has been venting the fairly typical blather about cycling not being a sport. According to Infospigot:
Dibble said that cycling isn't really a sport because "the bike does a lot of the work" and Lance can "coast on it and sit on it."
This led Infospigot to send a friendly (?) challenge for Dibble, who once possessed a 100-mph fastball:
Rob, I'm sure you doubt all this. But I think I could prove my point to you and your audience. I think a fair test would be to pit you, an elite one-time professional athlete who utterly dismisses the idea that bike racing is challenging, against a retired pro cyclist. Someone like Greg Lemond, who's been out of the game for awhile. But you know, that might be stacking the odds against you. What I'd really like to do is get you on a bike myself and do a little race. Maybe 20 miles or so. A route with some climbs and some descents. I'm 50. A run-of-the-mill cyclist. I'd love to have you show me how easy the sport is.
Italian boss: Millar can join us
Suspended Scotish cyclist David Millar might be invited to join the Italian Amore e Vita-Beretta team, which offered a job to Jesus Manzano after Manzano both admitted to, and accused his old Kelme team of, doping.
"I'm willing to help Millar -- and the Amore e Vita-Beretta team is ready to take him on -- just as I did with Spanish rider Jesus Manzano earlier this year when he confessed to a Spanish newspaper," said team manager Ivano Fanini.
The Amore e Vita team, literally "Love and Life", is very Catholic, meeting with the Pope each spring. It's very name is anti-abortion, and Fanini has been an outspoken opponent of doping. He disagrees with the current UCI policy that a doping admission is the same as a positive blood test:
"The Cofidis team has sacked him and perhaps the UCI (International Cycling Union) will take away his world time trial title but that would be unfair."
"Riders who confess what they've done should be helped and convinced to speak up, not punished."
Millar would have to either serve out, or have overturned, his temporary suspension from racing to join the squad.
Voeckler's time machine
Cyclingnews.com offers a look at the bike Thomas Voeckler rode for 10 days in the yellow jersey. It's a carbon-fiber compact-frame Time model, with an interesting mix of Time, Campy, Mavic and Stronglight components, and with some of his componentry painted red, white and blue to celebrate his French national championship, won just before the Tour.
Brioches La Boulangère is one of the teams riding Michelins, and they have used the new tubeless clinchers on the mountain stages.
More on Armstrong's Stage 16 victory
Lance flew out of the start house and hit the first 9% slope of the Alpe revving at what looked like an even higher cadence than normal. Basso looked good for a while, but it wasn’t long before he was losing time. Up [a]head on the road, Ullrich was back to his old self as he used 177.5mm cranks to turn huge gears, his teeth gritted and the sweat pouring off [h]is 6ft body. Jan set the fast times at all checks, but his destiny is second place behind Lance.
Also some good photos, including one of a black banner dedicated to Marco Pantani, whose 1997 record Lance Armstrong came 1 second from matching today.
Did Riis hand Armstrong the Tour yesterday?
T-Mobile's Jan Ullrich and team management both are think CSC manager Bjarne Riis cooperated with US Postal to stop Ullrich when they should have been trying to stop Armstrong on yesterday's Stage 15.
“I said I would give all I could and I did that,” said Ullrich at the finish. “I attacked on the hardest part of the stage but unfortunately it didn’t work out because Armstrong has a very good team and with [CSC rider] Jens Voigt it is even better.”
A T-Mobile team spokesman sad CSC was riding for 2nd place:
“It was strange, I’d say if they wanted to win the race and Basso was good, then this was the day to go with Jan and chance everything.”
Said Riis, himself a former Tour winner in 1996:
“It’s to be expected that not everyone understands our tactics, but we have a clear idea of what we are doing, which is to protect Basso” said the Dane. “Our team is quite weak now because we have got some injured riders. For that reason our strategy has to be less aggressive.
“It wasn’t worth us attacking with Ullrich because Armstrong had three team-mates with him. In those circumstances, it wasn’t a good day for us to take a risk.”
Interestingly, CSC's hold on 2nd place is now very tenuous. T-Mobile's Andreas Klöden put 42 seconds on Basso on today's short time trial, and sits 1:15 behind Basso in 3rd. Ullrich himself, who gained 1:22 on today's uphill TT, is "only" 4:07 behind Basso, with a 55-km, mostly flat time trial to ride.
If the leaders finish together on tomorrow's mountainous stage, there's nowhere left for Basso to build a gap on Klöden and Ullrich, who will put time into Basso on Stage 20, unless CSC can get some help from another, stronger team.
Also, the strong performances from T-Mobile today (including Ullrich, Klöden, and Guerini in the top 6) have moved T-Mobile into the lead in the team competition.
CSC riders Carlos Sastre and Ivan Basso both denied that a deal had been struck between US Postal and CSC. I guess we'll see tomorrow.
Armstrong takes Stage 16, concerned about fans
Armstrong reiterated the danger he sees in having a TT on Alpe d'Huez, even though riders have escort cars that provide some shielding.
I had to listen to the stage instead of watching OLN, but one person commented that there were a lot of anti-Armstrong messages painted on the roads.
Hundreds of thousands of cycling fans and partygoers had lined the 15.5km route, making it hard for most of the riders to push their way through the flags and fans, some of whom insisted on running alongside the riders.
At one point Ullrich was even given a gentle push, however it simply served to destabilise the 30-year-old German rider and he had to correct himself in order not to fall.
However despite enjoying the win, Armstrong did not have kind words for some of the fans on the road.
"I don't think it's a good idea to have a time trial on the Alpe. It was scary. There were too many people, a lot of Germans, a lot of Belgians who weren't being too nice," he told French television.
"There were a lot of Americans as well."
BBC Sport Stage 16 photo gallery
Audio Armstrong update from Andreu
NPR talked to Frankie Andreu yesterday in Villard-de-Lans about the Tour so far, today's time trial, and Armstrong's chances at Tour win number 6.
Armstrong wins Alpe d'Huez TT; 3rd stage win of the Tour
Lance Armstrong absolutely scorched the climb to L'Alpe d'Huez, putting time into every rival with a 39:41 ride up the 15.5 km course. It was Armstrong's 19th individual career Tour win (21 with team time trials), and 3rd of this Tour.
The records for the climb of L'Alpe d'Huez actually cover just 13.9km of the climb, and Armstrong's time over that section was a 37:36, 1 second slower than the late Marco Pantani's record from 1997, and about 30 seconds faster than Armstrong's previous best time (both on road stages).
Post-stage, Armstrong said he thinks it's a bad idea to run the time trial on Alpe d'Huez, because of the number of campers and drinkers who could be dangerous.
Jan Ullrich, who couldn't know what Armstrong's time would be, led the way at every intermediate check, but Armstrong smoked those numbers, and Ullrich lost more than a minute on the stage, with a 2nd-best 40:42.
Armstrong actually passed Ivan Basso, who started 2 minutes ahead of him and clocked a 42:04.
T-Mobile's Andreas Klöden made up 42 seconds on Basso, and still might knock him out of 2nd.
Stage Top 10:
1) Lance Armstrong (US Postal) 39:41
2) Jan Ullrich (T-Mobile) at 1:01
3) Andreas Klöden (T-Mobile) at 1:41
4) José Azevedo (US Postal) at 1:45
5) Santos Gonzalez (Phonak) at 2:10
6) Giuseppe Guerini (T-Mobile) at 2:11
7) Vladimir Karpets (Illes Balears-Banesto) at 2:14
8) Ivan Basso (CSC) at 2:22
9) David Moncoutié (Cofidis) at 2:22
10) Carlos Sastre (CSC) at 2:27
Two riders finished outside the time limit for the stage: Quick Step's Davide Bramati and Lotto-Domo's Aart Vierhouten, leaving 155 riders in the Tour.
Also under attack is Thomas Voeckler's white jersey. Voeckler now leads Vladimir Karpets of Illes Balears-Banesto by 3:33, and judging by their respective time-trial performances today, I doubt that will be enough in the long time-trial of Stage 19. Sandy Casar is also lurking, 4:24 back of Voeckler.
The new overall Top 10:
2) Basso at 3:48
3) Klöden at 5:03
4) Ullrich at 7:55
5) Azevedo at 9:19
6) Francisco Mancebo (Illes Balears-Banesto) at 9:20
7) Georg Totschnig (Gerolsteiner) at 11:34
8) Sastre at 13:52
9) Pietro Caucchioli at 14:08
10) Levi Leipheimer at 15:04
Alpe d'Huez time trial underway
Robbie McEwen came in at 47:22, which is unlikely to get him disqualified. He popped a wheelie over the finish line.
Lance Armstrong's bike failed the weigh-in by 180 grams. The team had to add some ballast before he took off. Coming soon, I'm sure, to a Trek commercial near you.
Mikel Astarloza of AG2R was the early leader in 43:06, but now David Moncoutié drops the time to a 42:04. Santos Gonzalez of Phonak drops the time to 41:52, matched by Giuseppe Guerini of T-Mobile, about a half-second slower. Now José Azevedo sets a new mark with a 41:26! But then, here comes Ullrich in 40:42! Look above for more on Armstrong, who wins the day with a 39:41!
Armstrong has caught Basso, his 2-minute man, and ridden by him! His last time check is 56 seconds faster than Ullrich. Looks like Armstrong will take his 3rd individual stage win of the 2004 Tour today.
Andreas Klöden: 41:23
Vladimir Karpets: 41:56
Carlos Sastre: 42:08
Michael Rogers: 42:15
Georg Totschnig: 42:56
Christophe Moreau: 43:06
Richard Virenque: 44:11
Bobby Julich: 44:23
Stuart O'Grady: 45:12
Roberto Heras: 45:19 (!!!)
Viatcheslav Ekimov: 45:56
Christian Vande Velde: 46:12
Thomas Voeckler finished with a 46:something. Vladimir Karpets will take a big chunk out of the white jersey.
Azevedo has set the top time at the 2nd time check with a 24:40, but now Jan Ullrich comes through even faster, a 24:07; Basso rode a 24:43 to the checkpoint, and Armstrong demolishes all their times with a 23:28 to the checkpoint!
Sheryl Crow is in the US Postal pace car. Take that, Robin Williams!
Posted by Frank Steele on July 21, 2004 in Andreas Klöden, Christian Vande Velde, Christophe Moreau, Ivan Basso, Jan Ullrich, Lance Armstrong 2004, Richard Virenque, Robbie McEwen, Sheryl Crow, Stuart O'Grady | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack
Armstrong coach on Alpe d'Huez TT
Over at RoadCycling.com, Chris Carmichael gives an overview of the Wednesday time trial up Alpe d'Huez, the first in Tour de France history.
I wouldn’t be surprised if the top three riders were within 30 seconds, and the top five with one minute. Since the individual climbing abilities of the top riders are somewhat similar, the most critical task on Stage 16 may be avoiding having a bad day. If the scenario from the Stage 13 individual time trial last year had occurred on Alpe d’Huez, Lance Armstrong would most likely have lost five minutes or more. He is in better condition this year, and he is not suffering from chronic dehydration either, so I expect him to finish in the top three on Stage 16 and ride faster than several of his main rivals in the process.
Carmichael details Armstrong's pre-TT eating and warmup (including a special vest developed by Nike to "pre-cool" Armstrong), then covers the tactics Armstrong will use on the ride, considering the steeper lower part of the climb and the geography of the switchbacks.