July 21, 2004
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.
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The assumption behind Ullrich and T-Mobile's comments, i.e, that Ullrich was still a serious G.C. contender in stage 15, is riotously funny. Jan's minor stage 15 attack and Alpe d'huez time trial are insignificant when viewed against his collapse in the first 14 stages.
It's easy to predict how the media will give Ullrich credit for "not giving up, etc., etc." He may even get on the podium with a strong TT, but his tour has been an abysmal failure by any measure.
Posted by: Jason O. at Jul 21, 2004 4:24:26 PM
fuck the french people. if they can't even win their own race then they should be speaknig german. usa....usa....usa....usa....
Posted by: jason at Jul 21, 2004 11:49:27 PM