June 30, 2005
Inside Armstrong's physiology
PezCycling has an essay by Dr. Stephen Cheung, Ph.D., who takes a look inside numbers from the physiological study of Lance Armstrong that made the news earlier this month.
Cheung examines the tests by Dr. Ed Coyle at UT-Austin, conducted over a 7-year period, but with the same methods and equipment, from the time Armstrong turned 21 until he was 28, or from 1991-1998, bracketing Armstrong's battle with testicular cancer. The lab measured Armstrong's lactate threshold and V02max on 5 different occasions.
As Armstrong matured (and after cancer) his power at a constant oxygen uptake increased by about 30 watts, from 374 to 403, while his weight dropped by 6 kg, or about 13 pounds.
In Lance Armstrong's War, Daniel Coyle quotes Michele Ferrari that shortly before the 2004 Tour, Armstrong was 74 kgs and 493 watts (that's at lactate threshold, which the lab measured at 6.1 liters/minute in 1993). Ferrari told Coyle the “magic number” for Tour contenders is 6.7 watts per kilogram of body weight.
Cheung also speculates about Armstrong's increase in slow-twitch muscle fiber, which Ferrari confirms in the book.
NPR talks to “Lance Armstrong's War” author Daniel CoyleLance Armstrong's War. The link above takes you to a page where you can listen to the interview in RealPlayer or Windows Media Player.
Some good bits: A friend told Coyle he saw Dr. Michele Ferrari in Girona in March, long after Armstrong reportedly ended his relationship with the controversial Italian sports doctor. Styled “Dr. Evil” in Coyle's book, Ferrari had the apartment upstairs from Coyle in Girona while he researched the book.
He also talks about Armstrong's “Achilles Hip”: Coyle's book recounts how Armstrong's right hip and lower back locked up before last year's Tour, and his chiropractor snapped his hip back into place (with an audible crack!). Armstrong got up, headed out, and never again mentioned it. That was a scene that shot through my mind when I heard about Armstrong's training crash last week.
Asked whether Armstrong will win again this year, Coyle says this year's Tour “is Lance against Lance.”
Sebastian Moll also talked to Coyle:
VeloNews: So, after nearly a year trying to figure it out, maybe we should start with the central question in your book: What is it that drives Lance Armstrong?
Dan Coyle: It's the fight. He loves to fight and he loves to win. And he doesn't want to win by a small margin, he wants to dominate. It's a drive that motivates him in every aspect of his life.
All clear: no riders fail medical or doping tests
With less than 48 hours until racing begins, Tour de France organizers announced that all 189 riders from all 21 teams in this year's Tour were green-lighted after 2-hour medical and doping tests.
Last year, one rider, Euskaltel-Euskadi's Gorka Gonzalez, had a hematocrit over 50 and was not allowed to start.
Ullrich using hypobaric chamber in training
It's probably no big surprise that elite aerobic athletes use pressure chambers to simulate living at high altitudes, stimulating red blood cell production that improves their performance at normal altitudes.
I've always thought those were 'hyperbaric' chambers, but it turns out they're 'hypobaric' chambers, and that Jan Ullrich recently had one installed in his basement in Switzerland.
Earlier this season, Robbie McEwen's Davitamon-Lotto team had a portable chamber (called an Altitrainer) seized by Italian police.
Although hypoxic devices are not prohibited under UCI or WADA rules, they are illegal under Italian law 376, an arcane rule that prohibits use of any method to increase blood values for sport competition. When asked about the Alti Trainer at the post-race press conference today in Rossano Veneto, McEwen said, "I don't know anything about this...I don't use it, but some of my teammates do. It's a machine that simulates the effect of altitude."
Even elite amateurs are using these: I remember a story in Outside about a group of long-distance runners living together in Pennsylvania in a house with a pressure chamber whose use they shared.
Facci batting for Bossoni in the 8 spot
Fassa Bortolo rider Paolo Bossoni is pulling out of the Tour with gastroenteritis.
In his place, the team will send Mauro Facci.
If you had Bossoni on your fantasy team, it's all over.
Christian Vande Velde on the Tour
Christian Vande Velde, not on the CSC Tour squad, offers some insight into what this last week is like for the riders, and what he thinks about Tour handicapping:
What you have done in the spring - even at the Giro - doesn't really mean anything now. You'll see people who couldn't even finish a race in the spring now dropping the same guy who won that very race. At this point, it really doesn't matter what what happened in the Dauphiné or in Switzerland. The Tour is just a different animal. If you bet on Mayo last year after he killed everyone in the Dauphiné, you would've lost some serious dough. Where has Mayo been this year? Nowhere. But maybe we'll see him ride better a better Tour than he did last year. Who knows? That is why the Tour is so great.
June 29, 2005
Daily Peloton previews GC candidates
One of the most entertaining web Tour de France reports is The Daily Peloton's Jambon Report, where they award their Golden Hams and Ham-gazers to the riders who ruled and drooled, respectively, during the day's stage.
Today, Locutus has their GC preview up. Some highlights: he thinks Chris Horner "is the team leader, and the team just doesn't know it yet", expects Brad McGee to take the prologue-that's-not-really-a-prologue on Saturday, and thinks Ullrich will lose serious time on the first major mountain stage, as he does every year.
Posted by Frank Steele on June 29, 2005 in Alejandro Valverde, Alexandre Vinokourov, Andreas Klöden, Bradley McGee, Cadel Evans, Chris Horner, Denis Menchov, Floyd Landis, Iban Mayo, Ivan Basso, Jan Ullrich, Lance Armstrong, Levi Leipheimer, Michael Rogers, Roberto Heras, Santiago Botero | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack
Rumsas arrested in Italy on 2002 Tour doping charges
Lithuania's Raimondas Rumsas, the surprise 3rd-place finisher in the 2002 Tour, was arrested today in Tuscany on a warrant from French police.
Rumsas, who won the Lithuanian time trial championship last week, has been under investigation since his wife turned up with doping products on the last day of the 2002 Tour.
Bruyneel: Basso, Vinokourov, Ullrich Armstrong's only rivals
Discovery DS Johann Bruyneel says there are just 3 riders he thinks of as “real challengers” for this year's Tour title:
"He was the only one to stay with Lance in the mountains [in 2004]," Bruyneel said.
"Will he be able to maintain his condition for three weeks on the Tour? That's the question mark. But it's possible."
"Vinokourov takes advantage of every opportunity," said Bruyneel.
"I think he's become more resistant over the years, and stronger in the mountains."
"Vinokourov takes advantage of every opportunity," said Bruyneel.
"I think he's become more resistant over the years, and stronger in the mountains."
Bruyneel downplayed Liberty Seguros' Roberto Heras and Joseba Beloki as GC threats.
To the double-truck web press, Batman!NewsDesigner.com. Mark is a news designer with The Oregonian in Portland, which yesterday published a Tour round-up featuring the amazing infographic above.
He has graciously arranged to make it available in all its glory: graphic and design by Michael Mode and Steve Cowden, text by Bonnie DeSimone and James Yu.
I initially got a “negative” effect when I opened the PDF in Safari or Preview, but opening it in Photoshop straightened it out, and Mark says he's never seen that issue in Acrobat. Now I just have to find somewhere that can print full-color 22" x 25".
SIRIUS to offer daily Tour podcast
Welcome to new TdFBlog.com sponsor SIRIUS, who would have gotten a plug for this no matter what: They're offering a daily podcast from Lance Armstrong's regular SIRIUS co-host, Mark Higgins, every day from July 2nd through July 24th. Armstrong himself, who hosts a weekly Sunday night show on the network, will be checking in with Higgins regularly.
There's a 90-second preview available now. The content will be broadcast first over SIRIUS, then made available on the web.
On a vaguely related note, Apple rolled out a new version of iTunes today, with support for podcasts provided from the iTunes Music Store, but the SIRIUS podcast will work with older versions of iTunes or other podcast clients.
Beloki: "What I want out of this Tour is to feel good again"
One of the wildcards in this year's Tour is Joseba Beloki, 2nd in the 2002 Tour and 3rd in 2000 and 2001 before the crash (and the writer's guild says I have to call it "horrific") that took him out of the 2003 Tour on Stage 9.
Beloki did exactly nothing during 2004. He rode for Brioches La Boulangère, and just didn't seem to fit. He also complained that team doctors wouldn't let him take his asthma medication, Pulmicort, even though Beloki said he had used it since childhood.
This year, he's reunited with Manolo Saiz, the director he raced for at ONCE, at Liberty Seguros, and says he expects to ride in support of Roberto Heras:
"I have an important role to play. I think that Heras is very strong on the mountains, and I will try to be as close to him as possible," Beloki said. "If possible, I'll try to create a surprise and get as far ahead as possible, which would be good for everyone."
June 28, 2005
Horner on finally making the Tour
When Chris Horner burst on the scene in the mid-'90s, he looked certain to join the ranks of US riders competing at the elite levels of the European peloton, along with Lance Armstrong, Kevin Livingston, and Bobby Julich.
Instead, Horner was a bust in three seasons with Francaise des Jeux, then returned to the US, where he won every race in sight (except the USPro championships, which continue to elude him). In 1998, he made the FdJ Tour squad, but had to bow out when he broke a wrist.
This year, it looked like he was snakebitten again, when visa problems and an early-season injury kept him out of action for the Tour de Georgia, which he won in 2003, and the Giro d'Italia. Finally, at the Tour de Suisse, Horner took a stage win, and finished 5th overall, escalating him onto Saunier Duval-Prodir's Tour de France squad.
CyclingNews talked to Horner after he was selected to the Tour.
"I've f*&king got form comin' out of my ears right now!" he shouted at me when I saw him moments after the final [Tour de Suisse] stage in Ulrichen. "Every day, it's just getting better and better."
The interview includes sidebars with Horner's opinions on Lance Armstrong and Jan Ullrich, who Horner saw close up in the Tour de Suisse.
Sheryl Crow ditches Live 8
Sheryl Crow won't be performing at Live 8 on Saturday in Paris, as originally planned.
She's citing "substantial logistical and personal challenges" for dropping out of the concert at the Palais Versailles.
Crow was expected to perform in France before joining boyfriend Lance Armstrong, who is competing in the Tour De France for the final time.
There's a short statement at SherylCrow.com.
T-Mobile soap opera revs up
It's perhaps understandable that T-Mobile's Erik Zabel, six time winner of the Tour de France sprinter's jersey, would be unhappy about being left off the team's Tour squad this year. He's speaking out about the decision and team leader Jan Ullrich.
A little more surprising is that Andreas Klöden, who last year stormed to the German national championship and 2nd overall at the Tour, is also sniping at Ullrich.
Turns out Klöden, in worse shape than last year at this time, wanted to skip his German title defense, and resented the team's decision to rest Ullrich, but not Klödi:
"I asked to be released too. I would have loved to stay away from this championship," Klödie moaned. "Other people were allowed to".
Klöden rode the 204 km race in Mannheim with little conviction, coming home in 57th place, 38 seconds off the pace.
Adding insult to injury for Zabel, the team will be running him in the Tour of Austria starting July 4th, which means he won't be able to cover the race for German TV during the Tour's first week.
"I wouldn't have prevented him from winning," vouched six-time green jersey winner Zabel. "When I become second or third it is a loss, yet other people are celebrated for that." Ouch!
Zabel's room-mate Rolf Aldag - also not included in T-Mobile's final nine - has joined the fray, claiming: "I would have left it up to a champion like Erik to decide whether he wanted to start or not."
Provisional start list complete
We're good to go with 189 riders this year -- procycling offers a text listing of all 21 provisional start lists, so barring accidents or doping suspensions, that's who will take the start on Saturday.
Armstrong up for 3rd Espy
Lance Armstrong is not only the 6-time defending Tour de France champion, he's also the 2-time defending "Best Male Athlete" in ESPN's Espy awards.
You can vote at the link above; the awards ceremony is July 17th (the day of Stage 15, possibly the hardest of the Tour) on ESPN, of course.
I was a little surprised to NOT see Armstrong on the list for "best record-setting performance", in favor of the Patriots' winning streak, Peyton Manning's 49 TD passes, Pat Summitt's 882 career women's NCAA wins, and Ichiro Suzuki's 262 hits.
June 27, 2005
"Jan ist so dreamy"Bild.de | Sara: Jan hat ein so großes Herz (in German)
1997 Tour winner Jan Ullrich has a new girlfriend: Sara Steinhauser, the 28-year-old sister of T-Mobile teammate Tobias Steinhauser.
Ullrich is coming off an 11-year relationship with Gaby Weiss, with whom he has a daughter, Sarah.
Armstrong on crash, Tour prep, and French weather forecasts
Lance Armstrong talked with a number of American journalists yesterday about where he stands in his hunt for a 7th consecutive Tour victory.
On his spill last week:
"It's just an issue of a little road rash on the knee and hands and the cut on the eye," he said. The bike made it fine but the handlebars "were in pieces," he said.
To add insult to injury, he said he was stung by a bee near his other eye just before his crash. After he got up from the crash, he then said, "OK, time to go home."
Armstrong said he expected to do his last hard training ride today, then flying to St. Etienne to preview the Stage 20 time trial course, and will be at the start by Wednesday night for medial tests starting Thursday.
The time before the Tour is the worst period — those three of four days where you're at the location of the start, you're waiting around, you're checked from head to toe and you're poked and prodded and you do press conferences and at the end of the day it's man, maybe I can go for a bike ride and preview the prologue course and then you finally go down the start ramp and you say, "Look, thank goodness we can finally get this thing started" — because it's hectic.
He repeated that he wants his children "to see their dad in a yellow jersey one final time."
Someone asked about France having a hot July. They must have much better forecasters than we get in Atlanta -- I wouldn't trust those guys to tell me it won't snow next week.
Surprise! Simoni will miss Tour
When Lampre Tour hope Damiano Cunego was diagnosed with Epstein-Barr virus, fans could take comfort in the team's other leader, Gilberto Simoni, who won the 2003 Giro d'Italia, and was 2nd this year. Simoni is rumored to be leaving the team at the end of the year (his contract's up).
Simoni talked a great deal of trash before the 2003 Tour, and then lost time by the bucketful, salvaging his Tour with a brilliant victory in Stage 14. Today, Lampre released their Tour roster, and Simoni is nowhere to be seen:
Seems like Simoni would have had at least as good a shot at a stage win as any of these guys...
Update: This update by Juan Fuentes at BiciRace.com might help explain it: After explaining that Patxi Villa will take his slot on the Tour squad, he notes:
They want me to save energy for the Vuelta because we will have to do a great second half of the year to get some results.
They may want to save Simoni for a run at the Vuelta.
Update (6/28): BBC Sport says Simoni is suffering from "muscle fatigue."
Tour previews coming hot and heavy
The Tour previews are everywhere today, and it's only going to get better: We've got Samuel Abt on Armstrong's greatest challengers (focused on Ivan Basso of CSC) and who will assume the throne once he's gone.
James Raia, co-author of Tour de France for Dummies, will be kicking off his 9th year covering the Tour from on the scene, and e-mailing (free!) his Tour de France Times to subscribers (subscribe here).
RoadCycling.com's David Cohen says there's just no way Armstrong pulls it off: He says there are too many gunslingers looking for this particular notch in their belt; somebody is bound to find the right combination to make it happen.
And Eurosport previews two of the races within a race: The polka-dot climber's jersey, and the sprinter's green jersey.
Chris Brewer predicts Armstrong, Ullrich, Basso in the overall, but goes more out on a limb suggesting CSC's Jens Voigt as a dark horse candidate for the climber's jersey.
New national champions at the Tour
Yesterday was the day for national championships across Europe. One side effect of those races is that they provide distinctive jerseys for riders in the Tour de France; here's a rundown of who's stocking new jerseys this week:
National road race champs in the Tour:
Alexandre Vinokourov, T-Mobile: Kazakhstan
Pierrick Fedrigo, Bouyges Telecom: France
Leon Van Bon, Davitamon-Lotto: The Netherlands
Gerrit Glomser, Lampre-Caffita: Austria
Juan Manuel Garate, Saunier Duval-Prodir: Spain
Robbie McEwen won the Australian national championships back in January.
It may be more surprising what jerseys aren't going to be there: Belgium (Serge Baguet), Italy (Enrico Gasparotto), Germany (18-year-old Gerald Ciolek, breaking T-Mobile's 12-year stream of German champions), Russia (Sergei Ivanov), and Norway (Morten Christiansen).
On the Time Trial side:
Fabian Cancellara, Fassa Bortolo: Switzerland
Michael Rich, Gerolsteiner: Germany
Sylvain Chavanel, Cofidis: France
Thor Hushovd, Credit Agricole: Norway
I'm probably overlooking a couple (Luxembourg?) -- please post additional national champs.
Piil out, Roberts in on CSC Tour squad
Dane out of water:
Piil @ Brasstown Bald, 2004
Photo by Frank Steele.
Piil has had a rough year, but thought he might convince Riis with a good placing in the Danish national championships yesterday. Unfortunately, Piil crashed out of yesterday's race, as well. CSC still took the top 3 placings, with Lars Bak 1st, Lars Michaelsen 2nd, and Matti Breschel 3rd.
Roberts took 4th in the 1st stage of the Dauphiné Libéré, his best placing for the season.
CyclingNews offers a full roundup of Australian participants in this year's Tour (barring a Matthew White-style mishap):
Ag2r: Simon Gerrans (VIC)
Michael Rogers, 25 (ACT)
Cadel Evans, 28, (VIC)
Robbie McEwen, 33, (QLD)
Francaise des Jeux:
Brad McGee, 29, (NSW)
Baden Cooke, 26, (VIC)
Luke Roberts, 28, (SA)
Stuart O'Grady, 31, (SA)
Matt White, 31, (NSW)
Allan Davis, 24, (QLD)
June 26, 2005
Armstrong recovering from fall
Lance Armstrong crashed while training with his time-trial bike on Wednesday. He split his helmet in two, suffered a black eye and facial cuts, and skinned up his hands and knees.
Despite the spill, Armstrong says he's feeling "very good on the bike":
"...I would even venture to say that I feel better than I've ever felt."
Of course, with 5 days to go, that's all you can say if you're looking to win the Tour.
Even if he is feeling great, there will be some energy lost to recovering from the fall.
Update: The story is that he was attacked by a wasp. With a German accent.
Phonak unveils their nanobike
Phonak's bike supplier, BMC, makes some of the coolest looking frames on the planet. By building primarily with carbon fiber, the company is able to shape the frame members to optimize aerodynamics and function, not just as a collection of tubes.
This year, BMC is providing Phonak with its latest "carbon nanotube technology" bike, dubbed the BMC Pro Machine. RoadCycling.com has the first look at what Phonak's co-leaders, Santiago Botero and Floyd Landis, will be riding in the 2005 Tour.
The only metal in this frame is reportedly the threading for the bottom bracket.
This isn't the first use of nanotubes in sports: Wilson has three different golf clubs that use nanotubes in their shaft.
No word on pricing for the BMC Pro Machine.
“Lance Armstrong's War” reviews
Daniel Coyle's new biography of Lance Armstrong, Lance Armstrong's War, is reviewed in a few newspapers today:
Also from the blog world: this from Infectious Greed.
I've finished a quick runthrough, and liked it a lot. I would have read it no matter what, of course, but the author, Daniel Coyle, is responsible for a lot of the articles that have kept me a subscriber to Outside Magazine over the last few years. His book winds up being about the whole solar system surrounding Planet Lance; I feel like I learned more about the psychology that drives Tyler Hamilton, Floyd Landis, and Michele Ferrari than about Armstrong's mindset, but Armstrong has never exactly been an open book.
I'll try to have a full review of my own later this week.
Wall-to-wall Lance TV kicking off
Bob Simon at "60 Minutes" will be profiling Lance Armstrong on the show's Sunday episode tonight at 7 p.m. Eastern.
Then, on Monday, The Science of Lance Armstrong premieres on The Science Channel and Discovery Channel, kicking off Discovery's Lance Week, running on all of Discovery's networks. On Monday, there's also "American Chopper" building Armstrong a chopper at 9 p.m. and "Chasing Lance: 100 Days to the Tour" on FitTV.
There are already some videos up, and it looks like they'll post more as the week continues.
June 25, 2005
6 days to go: Bruyneel on Armstrong's go for 7
VeloNews talks to Discovery Channel DS Johan Bruyneel about Discovery's Tour de France prep program and Lance Armstrong's fitness as he prepares to go for Tour win number 7.
VN: There was talk that he was a little behind in his form, was that true?
JB: It has taken longer to decide the plan. Normally we were in the first of December, we knew already what the calendar would be. This year we waited until the end of January. At the beginning he was definitely behind. He was not good at Paris-Nice, but when he got to the month of May and June, that doesn't count anymore. The training that he was doing; now it seems like it's like all the other years now.
Of course, it's not like Johan could even suggest Armstrong's fitness was anything different than the last 6 years.
Bruyneel also makes a pre-(pre-pre-)selection for the Discovery Vuelta squad, which he expects to be built around Azevedo, Beltran, Rubiera, Noval, and Danielson.
Interview with Ullrich's hard men: Vino and Klödi
CyclingNews.com sat down with Andreas Klöden and Alexandre Vinokourov to talk about the 2005 Tour and the T-Mobile team. Klöden was 2nd in the 2004 Tour, while Vinokourov was 3rd in 2003.
One interesting tidbit is that neither rider has pre-ridden (or even scouted) any of this year's mountain stages:
CN to AV & AK: Have either of you spent time in the French Alps or Pyrenées, reconnoitering the important mountain stages? If not, will you do so?
AK: No, I haven't. For me, it doesn't play a role which mountains we have to pass. To climb faster than the others, that will finally decide if you are good or not. It doesn't help you to know the next curve.
AV: I haven't been there, most of the mountains we race, we have done in the past.
That means they'll have to rely on the parcours and their race directors for tactical advice.
June 22, 2005
Discovery announces final TdF team
Armstrong at Tour de Georgia.
Photo by Frank Steele.
José Luis Rubiera
"I think we have fielded our strongest team ever with this formation," said Armstrong.
"It has many consistent elements from years past, like the Spanish armada for the climbs, strong guys like George, Pavel and Benjamin, the Giro winner in Savoldelli plus a guy like Popo (Popovych) with a very bright future."
Armstrong regrets the absence of ageless wonder Viatcheslav Ekimov, injured training near Austin in April, but says he "plan[s] on riding the race with all the toughness he (Eki) has shown over the years."
Freire sitting pretty: Gluteal tumor removed
Three-time world champion Oscar Freire of Rabobank had surgery Tuesday to remove a tumor from his "gluteal area".
ProCycling quotes his doctor:
“It was superficial and not dangerous, and consequently we expect him to return to training in two weeks.”
Freire had a terrific early season before the tumor made itself known, then had to pull out of the Tour de Suisse early. He'll look to return to form in time for the world championships in Madrid in September. He'll also miss the Tour, for the second straight year.
Ullrich will skip German nats to ready for Tour
Jan Ullrich will skip the German national championships this weekend, using the time instead to train for the Tour.
Ullrich's teammate Andreas Klöden, 2nd in the 2004 Tour, will be on hand to defend his German champion's jersey.
And then Bob Roll rides it across the N. Atlantic...
Dave Aiello over at Operation Gadget, keeps an eye out for the Tour's technology every year, and he's kicking off his TdF coverage with a look at how Outdoor Life Network instantaneously bounces their raw Tour coverage up to a satellite, down to their Connecticut facilities for production, up to a satellite, down to Atlanta, then up to a satellite for distribution to your local cable provider.
Dave talked to OLN's VP of Network Operations, who told him they've actually got their key European satellite locked up for the entire month of July, so they can cover any breaking Tour news as it happens. That is one serious chunk of change.
T-Mobile finalizes Tour squad
T-Mobile has finalized their squad for the Tour de France:
This is a very experienced Tour squad, with stage wins by Ullrich (6 in all), Vinokourov (in 2003), Guerini (in 1999), and Nardello (in 1998), and the 2001 white jersey win for Sevilla. One or another of their riders has come 2nd at the Tour 6 times since 1996, with Klöden second last year, and Ullrich won the overall in 1997. Only Schreck is making his first Tour start.
Removed from the preselection were Rolf Aldag, Sergei Ivanov, Paco Lara, and Bram Schmitz. The big surprise of the preselection was that it lacked Erik Zabel, who has won the Tour's green sprinter's jersey 6 times.
June 21, 2005
Chris Horner USA Today's US Olympic Athlete of the Week
Chris Horner's win in Stage 6 of the Tour de Suisse, alongside his overall 5th-place finish in the race, prompted USA Today to name him their US Olympic Athlete of the Week.
Blah, blah, blah...
With 11 days to go, riders' training schedules are starting to taper as media interest in the Tour begins to spike, so we've got interviews. Loads and loads of interviews:
- VeloNews.com | Q & A with Levi Leipheimer
"After last year, when I finished ninth, I said to myself that I want to be in the top 5 and with a little bit of luck, I can be on the podium on the Champs Elysées. I don't want to finish eighth or ninth again. If I find myself in that position, maybe I will risk it a little more and go for a stage-win."
- cyclingnews.com | The psyche of a sprinter (Interview with Robbie McEwen) - Part I | Part II
"Every stinking day, they put those intermediate sprints in those mountain stages... like, we're going for a sprint at the bottom of a 20k climb - they don't understand you're doing an absolute full effort, nearly popping your eyeballs out of your head going for these sprints just to get another two point lead on your closest rival - then you've got to go uphill... "It's things that, the things that people don't see about that competition are the worst things. Just constant stress - you know there's only one winner of the green jersey - and you could come into Paris being two or four points behind... one guy's standing on the podium with the green shirt on, and the other guy's got nothin'."
- cyclingpost.com | Interview: Floyd Landis about the Tour de France
What will the team order be like, will you and Santiago Botero be co-leaders?
Yes, I think we both will. I don't see a reason to race all the way as Lance races, 100% for him. He deserves eight guys helping him to handle everything. For us, it is better to have a couple of options.
Cunego to miss Tour
Lampre's Damiano Cunego, the 2004 Giro d'Italia winner and the presumed future of the squad, will miss the Tour de France as he continues to battle Epstein-Barr virus.
His absence should give Gilberto Simoni a last hurrah as the leader of the squad. The two have bickered over their roles, and Simoni is rumored to be headed to a different team next year.
Magnus is in: Liquigas-Bianchi name TdF squad
Danilo Di Luca, coming off a very strong Giro d'Italia, will skip the Tour to focus on defending his ProTour leader's jersey in the later ProTour races.
That leaves Liquigas-Bianchi with a squad built toward stage wins:
Saunier Duval-Prodir announce final Tour roster
As expected, Chris Horner's Tour de Suisse stage win and demonstrated fitness got him into the Tour.
The full SD-Prodir squad:
That might be the best-climbing squad in the race, with Horner, Garate, Gomez Marchante, Piepoli, even Fritsch.
Another Britless Tour: Wiggins, Wegelius won't ride TdF
The rise of the United States and Australia, and the continuing emergence of riders from the former Soviet Union, mean that Great Britain will face a second consecutive Tour de France without a native son in the race.
Brad Wiggins heard Monday that he wouldn't be on the Credit Agricole squad, while Charley Wegelius (whose name to me sounds like a 1920s or 30s cycling name) didn't make Liquigas-Bianchi's final preselection.
It will be the first time successive Tours have been bereft of cross-Channel interest since the first Britons finished the race in 1955.
Roger Hammond at Discovery is a classics specialist, and let's not go near David Millar.
June 20, 2005
Gerolsteiner names Tour 9, CSC and Liberty Seguros close in
Levi Leipheimer will lead
Gerolsteiner's Tour squad.
Photo by Frank Steele.
Gerolsteiner has finalized its Tour de France squad:
CSC's near-final squad:
Jakob Piil or Luke Roberts
Two Americans, with Christian Vande Velde home recuperating and looking toward the Vuelta in September.
Liberty Seguros is down to 11 Tour candidates:
Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano
Luis Leon Sanchez
Posted by Frank Steele on June 20, 2005 in Alberto Contador, Bobby Julich, Christian Vande Velde, Dave Zabriskie, Fabian Wegmann, Georg Totschnig, Ivan Basso, Jens Voigt, Jorg Jaksche, Joseba Beloki, Levi Leipheimer, Roberto Heras | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack
Gerolsteiner, Phonak, CSC at Eindhoven team TT
Gerolsteiner, featuring Michael Rich, Uwe Peschel, and Markus Fothen led a big, powerful Gerolsteiner time-trial squad to the win at the ProTour Eindhoven TTT. Phonak, featuring Floyd Landis, finished 3 seconds slower than G-squad.
"This doesn't mean we're going to win the team time trial in the Tour", said team director Christian Henn.
"Our goal will be different, with good climbers we will try to take to the mountains in the best conditions. But we're all very proud of this victory", he said.
1) Gerolsteiner 53:35 (54.41kph)
2) Phonak, at :03
3) Team CSC, :24
4) Rabobank, at :51
5) Discovery Channel, at :54
6) Davitamon-Lotto, at 1:20
7) Domina Vacanze, at 1:25
8) Illes Balears, at 1:40
9) Crédit Agricole, at 1:42
10) Cofidis, at 1:46
cyclingnews.com Stage 9 photo gallery
Ullrich, Gonzalez on attack and taking the win from cyclingnews.com
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."
June 19, 2005
Tour de Suisse Stage 9 underway
Aitor Gonzalez, who animated yesterday's stage, is moving into the virtual yellow jersey at the Tour de Suisse this afternoon. With 33 kilometers to ride, climbing the hors categorie Furka Pass, Gonzalez threw off Jan Ullrich and Michael Rogers, who he trails by 36 seconds in the overall classification.
Rogers is a minute back now, riding in a group with Chris Horner, Koldo Gil, Daniel Atienza, Frank Schleck, and Leonardo Piepoli. Gonzalez, the Spanish climbing specialist, is going to have to make his time solo.
The Ullrich group is another 30 seconds behind Rogers.
At the summit, the gap is about 1:07. Rogers has 20 kms to make up 32 seconds on Gonzalez, or Aitor will take the Tour of Switzerland title. Scratch that -- there are bonus seconds to work out: 10, 6, and 4, so to be safe he needs to finish no more than 25 seconds behind.
The gap is hovering in the upper 50s, sometimes the low 1-minute range. Ullrich is now almost a minute behind Rogers, close to 2 minutes behind Gonzalez. There are only 5 kms to ride, so it looks like Gonzalez is going to make this work.
Brad McGee is 3 minutes plus back, and will lose his podium place at stage end.
Gonzalez finishes with 46 seconds in hand, to take the stage and the Tour of Switzerland!
Rogers made a show of sprinting for the bonus time, but Frank Schleck of CSC was second and Daniel Atienza third. Rogers comes third (with a time gap, no less), then Chris Horner is fourth and Leonardo Piepoli 5th. Ullrich's group came 58 seconds later, at 1:42 on Gonzalez.
Daily Peloton reports that Rogers threw a mini-tantrum at the finish, throwing his helmet down.
June 18, 2005
CSC's Gerdemann takes TdS Stage 7, Rogers holds race lead
Back-to-back surprise wins at the Tour of Switzerland, as CSC's Linus Gerdemann forged a stage win with an attack in the last 8 kms of the Friday stage. Gerdemann kept five chasers at bay, including Freddie Rodriguez, and finished 4 seconds clear of Fassa Bortolo's Lorenzo Bernucci.
There was no significant change to the overall standings, where Michael Rogers of Quick Step continues to lead Jan Ullrich by 20 seconds and Brad McGee by 22 seconds.'
Saturday the race has a long uphill finish that might be decisive in the overall classification.
1) Linus Gerdemann, Team CSC, 4:25
2) Lorenzo Bernucci, Fassa Bortolo, at :04
3) David Etxebarria, Liberty Seguros, at :14
4) Karsten Kroon, Rabobank, at :15
5) Fred Rodriguez, Davitamon-Lotto, same time
6) Martin Elmiger, Phonak, same time
7) Daniele Colli, Liquigas, at :23
8) Rene Haselbacher, Gerolsteiner, same time
9) Baden Cooke, Francaise des Jeux, same time
10) Robbie McEwen, Davitamon-Lotto, same time
Rogers to T-Mobile at season's end?
Money talks, and nobody throws more of it on the table in cycling than T-Mobile. World time trial champion Michael Rogers of Quick Step looks likely to join the string of riders who have vanished into the T-Mobile machine.
From T-Mobile's perspective, Rogers, current race leader at the Tour of Switzerland, could step into the lieutenant/heir apparent role currently filled by Alexandre Vinokourov, who may be headed to Discovery.
Mick's current DS told Het Niewsblad:
"It's a pity," said Quick.Step's manager Patrick Lefévère. "But it's a reality. He's leaving us." Although Lefévère did not say whether he knew if Rogers was signing with T-Mobile, he said, "When I heard the price from his manager Paul De Geyter, I said 'Good luck'. The problem is that boys of his level get paid for what they are expected to achieve, not on the basis of what they've achieved in the past. But he will not be substituted for another big Tour hope. We simply cannot pay for that."
Can he avoid the fate of Paolo Savoldelli, Santiago Botero, Bobby Julich, Cadel Evans, Kevin Livingston, etc.?
Update: Agence France Presse quotes Quick Step press spokesman Alessandro Tegner, who confirms both Rogers' departure and T-Mobile as his destination.
So there's a picture of QuickStep's Tom Boonen in Belgium's online editions of SportWereld magazine clad only in jeans pulled almost entirely off his hips.
I can't make out the text, but it looks like the picture may be from an alternative lifestyle magazine (in Dutch, “een magazine voor homo's en lesbiennes”). Clarifications welcome -- if you find Boonen dreamy, then this is the link for you.
June 17, 2005
cyclingnews.com TdS Stage 6 photo gallery
Ullrich's toolbox, two views of Horner from cyclingnews.com
June 16, 2005
Chris Horner takes Tour de Suisse Stage 6! Michael Rogers takes race lead
Horner and Nabili
AFP photo from VeloNews.com.
Race leader Jan Ullrich finished 1:48 back, so Australia's Michael Rogers, who finished at 1:14, takes over the race lead.
Horner rode with neopro Nibali, who snapped free of the peloton on the day's last climb, looking very strong. Apparently, Nibali wasn't quite as strong as the force of his escape made him look, and Horner couldn't get him to pull through on the climb. Eventually, harsh words were exchanged, with Horner making the universal "come on by" gesture used for wheelsuckers everywhere. When Nibali wouldn't, or couldn't, produce a strong pull, Horner dropped him hard.
Horner's victory is his first in Europe, after three unsuccessful years with Française des Jeux from 1997-1999. Over the years, he has won pretty much every US race but the USPro championships.
Horner said he was able to make his break work because he was three minutes down on the GC leaders, and couldn't see any of them spending the effort to try to pull back a rider that far back. Now that he's sitting 6th overall, at 1:31, the escapes aren't likely to come so easy.
The win will strengthen Horner's case to make Saunier Duval-Prodir's Tour de France team.
Friday looks like a final day for the sprinters before two mountain stages to close out the tour.
With a veteran's tactics and the heart of a rookie, American underdog Chris Horner (Saunier Duval - Prodir) picked up his first major European victory Thursday, crushing the competition in the mountainous sixth stage of the Tour of Switzerland.
"I'm sorry I don't know the names," Horner said when an Italian reporter asked about the several riders he had dropped on the final climb. "This is only my eighth - wait, my fifth - race in Europe."