The Week That Was...
Ian Melvin comments on the happenings in the world of cycling.
race, not having to put his team to work until yesterdays stage to Morzine to control the winning break.
A win in the Team Time Trial and three days in yellow for Columbian teammate, Victor Hugo Pena will have done wonders for team morale but question marks still hang over the form of Armstrong. After the team time trial he said, ?I never had the sensations. It was going around but not supple enough.? But before any of us judge, I want to remind you of a previous event. Think back two years and the stage to L?Alpe d?Huez where TV pictures showed a struggling Armstrong hanging on to the back of the lead group before that look at Ullrich and that attack which propelled him into yellow.
As for Ullrich, the German commented, ?I?ve been feeling good at the end of stages. Everything has gone smoothly so far. My time gaps have never been so small to Armstrong. I?m ready to attack the
Joseba Beloki (ONCE) continues to talk up his chances although on past evidence that?s all it is - talk. ?I will attack on the Cols. The yellow is still within reach.?
The two big losers so far are Gilberto Simoni (Saeco) and Santiago Botero (Telekom). Both suffering disastrous first day?s in the mountains, they now find themselves several minutes down on the other race favourites.
Transfer rumors have also begun with a possible location for Iban Mayo (Euskaltel-Euskadi) being the Dutch Rabobank team. One rider almost certain to leave his present employer is David Millar following the prologue debacle, which has continued throughout the week. ?Bondue chooses the team?s equipment so he has to take responsibility,? said Millar before later admitting that, ?In the end, I?m perhaps a little Poupou (Raymond Poulidor).? Following a crisis meeting between Millar and team sponsor Francois Migraine, Alain Bondue was later demoted within the team and replaced by Francis Van Londersele as Head Director Sportif. At the end of stage one Millar said, ?Today, not yesterday, was the most painful day in my career. It really hurt not to ride in yellow today. It will take me a few more days to get over this.? Millar later admitted that he had been told by Bondue to change his chain-rings although this had been ten minutes before his prologue ride. ?I have no time to lose, but in this team at present I?m wasting my time,? said the Scot before adding that his Cofidis team were on probation for the following three weeks.
Now this was how this was going to read but having just watched the Alpe D?huez stage, I?ve got to add a bit more. What a stage; what a climb! For those of you, who haven?t watched it, let me relive it for you. US Postal hit the climb and blow the