June 20, 2005
Gonzalez takes stage and Tour de Suisse
Euskaltel-Euskadi were having an atrocious season. Now, after Inigo Landaluze grabbed victory at the Dauphiné Libéré and Aitor Gonzalez turned up the heat on the hardest stage of the race to win the Tour of Switzerland, the Basque team looks like a team to watch in the mountains at the Tour de France.
Gonzalez drove the train on Saturday, when Pablo Lastras took the stage win, but on Sunday, he was riding with the overall in sight.
Gonzalez escaped on the Ulrichen-Ulrichen stage (no relation), attacking about 1 km into the climb of the Furka Pass, and quickly put Jan Ullrich in difficulty. Michael Rogers was able to hang with Jens Voigt and Frank Schleck, who together dropped Ullrich, who rode his own pace for the rest of the stage.
Rogers never closed down Gonzalez, despite Schleck, Atienza, Chris Horner, and Leonardo Piepoli riding alongside for the last part of the climb, and most of the descent, so Rogers dropped to 2nd on GC. Schleck had a chance to kick Ullrich off the podium, while Horner stood to climb well up the standings. Schleck didn't get the time he needed, finishing 4th, 5 seconds behind Ullrich, but Horner did move up to a 5th place overall, at 2:02 behind Gonzalez.
1) Aitor Gonzalez, Euskaltel-Euskadi, 3:03:52
2) Frank Schleck, CSC, at :46
3) Daniel Atienza, Cofidis, at :58
4) Michael Rogers, Quick Step, same time
5) Chris Horner, Saunier Duval-Prodir, same time
6) Leonardo Piepoli, Saunier Duval-Prodir, same time
7) Beat Zberg, Gerolsteiner, at 1:42
8) Alexandre Moos, Phonak, same time
9) Tadej Valjavec, Phonak, same time
10) Koldo Gil Perez, Liberty Seguros, same time
11) Jan Ullrich, T-Mobile, same time
Ullrich on the TdS:
"I'm happy with my Tour de Suisse," said Ullrich in a brief statement before disappearing into his team's bus. "It was a beautiful race, and it was good preparation for the Tour de France, which was what I intended."
Cyclingnews spoke to a bitter Michael Rogers after the finish, and asked whether he was satisfied with the fact that he did everything he could today. "Yeah, but really disappointed," said Rogers.
It seemed only Horner was helping you? "Yeah, well, Horner had his own objectives."
Understandable that Rogers would be gutted at being pipped by Gonzalez, but his comments about Horner seem unfair. Given that Horner and Schleck were each within a few seconds of a podium finish, why would they have any incentive to not cooperate on the final climb and descent, once they managed to drop Ullrich? C'mon, Michael, give credit where credit is due - Gonzalez deserved the win after an awesome climb, risking life and limb on the ensuing solo descent, and riding his *ass* off on the final few flat kilometers to hold off Rogers and the other chasers. It was an awesome display of panache and guts. Rogers' childish whining is completely inappropriate and unsportsmanlike.
Posted by: EWM at Jun 20, 2005 6:01:53 PM