Stage seven - good day, bad day
Friday, July 7, 2006 11.00pm
Julich out of the race, and are Leipheimer's Tour dreams over? His team-mates fare far better, as do
PIC BY TDWSPORT.COM
Gerolsteiner (apart from Levi Leipheimer)
Leipheimer's Gerolsteiner team-mates Marcus Fothen and Sebastian Lang fared rather better than the American's shockingly bad result. The 24-year-old Fothen stormed to seventh place on the stage, putting him fifth overall, and he will now be wearing the white jersey of best young rider on Sunday's eighth stage having taken it back from Francaise des Jeux's Benoit Vaugrenard. And German time trial champion Lang held the best time for over two and a half hours before Honchar knocked him off the top spot, and Landis only beat the German by three seconds to steal second place on the stage.
It could have all gone so wrong for the German team after Jan Ullrich, Oscar Sevilla and directeur sportif Rudy Pevenage were forced to withdraw from the race the day before it started. But after Matthias Kessler's win on Tuesday's third stage, Saturday's time trial in Rennes brought them further, unexpected success. In taking the stage win, Serhiy Honchar also took the yellow jersey from Tom Boonen's shoulders, and with Michael Rogers now third overall, Patrik Sinkewitz fourth and Andreas Kloden sixth, things are looking up.
There were 36 extra minutes in bed for the roadside fans, riders and staff of the Tour on Saturday morning due to the 18 riders already out of (or non-starting) the race. The time trial start times were adjusted so that the first man off, the Tour's 'lanterne rouge', Sebastien Joly (Francaise des Jeux), started at 10.48am - a full 36 minutes later than if the race had still had a full complement of riders.
One of the favourites ahead of the race, Leipheimer plunged to 62nd place overall, 6.17 down on leader Honchar after recording what must have been one of the worst time trials of his life. Hopes of a Tour win, or even a podium place, are now surely all gone. But according to his Gerolsteiner team, nothing was wrong; he simply had an "off day", which ranks as the understatement of the year in our books. It was almost as bad as Michael Rasmussen's final time trial at last year's Tour - and Leipheimer didn't even have the excuse that he'd fallen off.
Unlucky Bobby Julich
Julich's fall just 1.5km into the day's time trial left him with a damaged wrist, which was at first thought to be broken, out of the Tour and with a night ahead of him in Rennes hospital, undergoing further examination of his injuries. The crash immediately brought to mind Julich's accident in the 1999 Tour. A favourite that year after finishing third in 1998, the American was descending in the stage eight time trial when he crashed at 90kph, fracturing his elbow and putting him out of the race. Those who have watched the CSC film 'Overcoming' will also remember Julich's low-speed crash in the 2004 Tour, which left him with a broken wrist.
Julich's CSC team-mate, David Zabriskie was also left disappointed with his 13th place, but the single highlight for the Danish team was Carlos Sastre's 18th place, with the diminutive Spanish climber limiting his losses to the favourites.
You can follow BikeRadar on Twitter at twitter.com/bikeradar and on
Facebook at facebook.com/BikeRadar.
can also improve your fitness and train with us on training.bikeradar.com.