What's Cool In Road Cycling

EuroTrash Monday

A Rest Day for the Tour de France, but unfortunately the real world is at work. Don’t let it get you down, it didn’t look like much fun in the Pyreness anyhow. Enjoy some EuroTrash instead: we’ve got a nice smattering of news for you this lovely Monday afternoon.

Navigators Dominating Tour of Qinghai Lake
In a race that seems to deliver champions (Tom Danielson in 2002 and Damiano Cunego in 2003), the Navigators Insurance Team is definitely working on having a member of their squad as the next overall winner of the Tour. Viktor Rapinski took the opening circuit race stage of the Tour. Yesterday, in a stage that went over 13,000 feet, Jeff Louder won in front of his Aussie teammate, David Mackenzie. In winning, Louder also took over the lead in the general classification by one second over Rapinski.

Eadie Wins Appeal
Did you really think Sean Eadie wouldn’t win the appeal? The charges levelled against him were so flimsy, and so easy to beat back, the appeal was mere formality. Now, Eadie needs to get past flexing legal muscle and on to the important matter of growing that beard out and flexing some massive quads.

Hinault Criticizes Lemond and Ullrich
Say what you will about Bernard Hinault, but two things are clear: he was without a doubt one of the greatest cyclists ever, and he says whatever the hell he wants to. If you want some candid words, just talk to Hinault, he always has an opinion, and for the most part, though sometimes a bit harsh, he speaks the truth.

In the past couple of days, Hinault has toed the line on Greg LeMond’s recent comments on Lance Armstrong, as well as the ever-popular Jan Ullrich debate.

First, on Lemond, who openly insinuated that he believes Mr. Armstrong to be, for lack of a better term, doped to the gills…

“This is something that keeps coming back, and I think that some of it may be linked to LeMond’s jealousy of Armstrong. The fact is that Armstrong has never tested positive. And as long as you don’t have evidence I don’t see how you can accuse him.”

There is indeed no love lost to this DAY between Hinault and LeMond is there?

And now for Jan Ullrich and Hinault’s take on it all…

“When Ullrich won the Tour the first time, he won it by a large margin, and was the best in the peloton. Then he did all these stupid things, and exaggerated it all in the winter. He has never achieved that same level again. Yeah, I am a bit disappointed.”

When asked whether or not he might be able to win the Tour again… “When one looks at what has happened in the past five or six years, it’s pretty hard to believe. On the day that Armstrong retires, Ullrich will have 30 young riders who will all be ready to challenge him. There is Basso, there’s Valverde and Cunego, who just won the Giro in an impressive manner at 22. These youngsters have the temperament and they won’t deliver any gifts. It will be hotly contested.”

What do you think is the cause for Ullrich’s weak performance so far this year? Hinault: “I ask myself: has he done everything that was necessary? He rode well at the Tour de Suisse, but now there’s nothing doing. With him it always has to do with the kilos. When someone is overweight, you have to do a lot more to lose that weight, and at a certain point, you lose that necessary energy. I once got a little out of hand over the winter and subsequently suffered, but after that it registered with me. After that, I never took on more than 2 or 3 extra kilos over the winter, because it was so tough to come back into good form. You just can’t let it get out of hand over the winter.”

Jan Ullrich – Ready To Roll?
Reporting in his online journal on the T-Mobile website, Jan Ullrich does not seem to be writing himself off, nor should he be. On yesterday’s stage:

“In all truth, I was quite content to plough my own furrow on the climb to Plateau de Beille. It will only make sense to enlist Klцdi’s help in the Alps if its to our mutual benefit. If I think he has the stonger legs, then he not only should, but must, go for it alone.

I am fully concentrated on the final week now. It will be one battle after another, with no respite until we roll into Paris on Sunday. I’ll need to be at 100 percent for the five stages of torture that lie ahead. That means a real break tomorrow: A two hours training spin, then rest – and no press interviews.

From now on, I want to let my performances on the bike do the talking for me.”

If Ullrich is speaking optimistically, it appears that the team managers in the Tour de France see it a bit differently. Of 21 team managers surveyed, only three see Ullrich finishing on the final podium. His own manager placed him highest at second, and two others for the lowest step.

The managers seem to have taken to this year’s German Champion though. Andreas Kloeden has been tipped by eleven managers to finish third, and by one to finish second – and it wasn’t T-Mobile’s, Godefroot.

Discounting Ullrich could be a major mistake. As it stands right now, Ullrich is 3:43 behind third place, Andreas Kloeden (that’s leaving Voeckler out of the equation though). If that doesn’t seem possible, don’t forget that there are still two big time trials to come, and Ullrich is definitely not getting weaker. Perhaps not second this year, but third is there for Ullrich with a strong Alpine showing.

French Olympic Team Named
The teams taking part in the coming Olympic Games continue to take shape, this week, France announced their riders:

Richard Virenque, Laurent Brochard, Christophe Moreau, Sylvain Chavanel, and of course, Thomas Voeckler.

Well, at least one national champion will be representing his country at the Olympics. The same can’t be said for America and Australia… Can you imagine the uproar in France if Voeckler hadn’t been picked?

The Vuelta
Ahhh, the Vuelta, if your Tour de France dreams get doused by the flames from Lance Armstrong’s Trek Madone SSSSSL, just ride the Vuelta, it’s a great way to salvage a season – see Jan Ullrich, 1999, or the many, many attempts by others – Joseba Beloki and Levi Leipheimer come to mind. Haimar Zubeldia is already targeting the Vuelta after dropping out of the Tour, and if Tyler Hamilton’s back isn’t too messed up, look for Hamilton to follow suit. The difference between Zubeldia and Hamilton – Hamilton will win the Vuelta if he rides.

Think of all of the riders getting romped on right now in the Tour… This year’s Vuelta might get quite a field.

Rudy Pevenage Has Something To Say
Probably frustrated that he’s not riding in a T-Mobile car this year because Walter Godefroot equates his company something along the lines of sitting next to someone with Ebola Zaire, Pevenage has decided to wax poetic on the current T-Mobile situation, which he has deemed to be wholly incorrect. “There was no one there for Jan. It will be hard for a miracle to happen, Lourdes is already behind us.”

He has a point. What has happened in the T-Mobile camp would never ever ever happen on USPS. If Armstrong failed, the team would probably pick him up and carry him to the finish line if need be. You don’t get that impression on T-Mobile.

It’s just a question of different philosophies though. You can’t blame T-Mobile, as they are taking a pragmatic approach – Ullrich isn’t going well, but Kloeden is, better to play another card than to go down with nothing to show for it.

(www.jeredgruber.com)

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