Bauer: Armstrong's "Drive for Five" will succeed unless...
Exclusive Tour de France interview with Tour veteran Steve Bauer.
(he finished second to Paolo Savoldelli, 1' 41" behind in spite of a spectacular crash on a downhill during Stage 5). No one was expecting that -- it was a surprise. And his form has carried over into this season."
Bauer thinks that
"He's the right age (32 )" he says. "And Bjarne Riis (CSC team director and former Tour winner in 1996) knows what it takes to win the Tour."
Bauer is enthusiastic about this year's course designed to mark the Tour's centenary.
"It sort of sums up the Tour," he says. "And it will provide the riders with a good test. It's tough."
Bauer sees two critical junctures in this year's race. The first will be Stage 8, mountain stage from Salanches to L'Alpe d'Huez.
"When the riders reach the bottom of L'Alpe d'Huez it's likely that a lot of them will have very spongy legs," he says. They will reach that point 196 kilometres into the race after three previous climbs -- none of which is a pushover.
Bauer mentions especially Col du Telegraphe, 12.1 km of climb at a nearly 7% grade, and Col du Galibier, 18.5 km at a suffering 8.7% grade.
"Stage 8 will establish who is in control," predicts Bauer. "You can get pretty demoralized after a climb like
A second key to the race will be the 42.5-km time trial in State 12, from Gaillac to Cap Decouverteat.
"It's unusual to have a time trial plunked down in between the
Stage 13, 197.5 km long, features a climb of Col de Pailheres (15. km, 7.8%) and finishes with a climb of Plateau de Bonsacre (9.1 km, 7.2%).
Bauer expects that the last time trial, Porinc to
And just before he hangs up, Bauer considers another contender, Jan Ullrich. "A very good rider with great natural ability but I don't think he has been at his best since winning the Tour (in 1997)" he opines. "But at his best he could be a real contender . . . . Let's see."
And then the name of Gilberto Simoni comes up again. After all, he won this year's Giro in convincing fashion. The Italian rider has been quoted as saying he plans to lay a "trap" for Armstrong who, he claims,