What they said at La MongieClose
Lance, Bruyneel, Hamilton, Sevilla, Riis and Rogers give their opinions on today's stage to La MongiPICTURE BY TIM DE WAELE Lance Armstrong (2nd on stage, same time as winner, 2nd at 5-24 on GC): "Ivan is a helluva good guy. He deserved to win. We have been friends for long a time. It's a long story but we have been working to try to help his mum, who is sick with cancer. I was pretty surprised by Jan and Tyler's performances. I don't think of them in the same terms as the others. I've never liked this mountain but I can't complain. We showed again today that we had the best team: we dominated the race from the start. The Tour will not be over until Besanon and the final time trial. Ullrich will fight back, I expect that of him." Johan Bruyneel (US Postal Service directeur sportif): "I am really surprised at Ullrich, Heras and Tyler [Hamilton]. I thought they would be better. But, for me, Ivan Basso wasn't a real surprise because I picked him out as a favourite before the Tour started. The real favourites failed today, which meant that it was a good race for us." Tyler Hamilton (26th on stage at 5-26, 20th at 9-46 on GC): "I have no excuses today, I simply didn't have any power in my legs. With the rain, cold and pain in my legs, I felt empty. Since my crash in the first week my legs and back have been hurting and I find it difficult to get out of the saddle. Naturally, I'm disappointed tonight. It's a big disappointment for the team." Oscar Sevilla (35th on stage at 2-30, 14th at 8-57 on GC): "I saw that Tyler was in a bad way on the Aspin. US Postal were setting a brutal pace, by the time La Mongie came we were cooked. Today we saw many great riders fall back. Armstrong is so strong that it saps your morale: all you can do is keep fighting. You can't say that the Tour is over yet, there's still a lot of racing to be done. We hope to get back into the fight." Bjarne Riis (CSC team manager): "With Basso and Sastre we are aiming for the podium. We are much better prepared than all of the other teams. Hamilton and Mayo spent much too much energy in June at the Dauphin Libr. Sastre and Basso, on the other hand, just relaxed and trained well. I have had doubts about Ullrich all season, so I am not totally surprised by his performance. Can Basso win the Tour? Tonight I would say yes, but we have to see how things pan out in the days to come." Michael Rogers (22nd on stage at 2-30, 39th at 14-29 on GC): "At the bottom of the climb, I couldn't quite go with the top men. Nevertheless, I'm pretty satisfied with my race. US Postal are so strong: you can see them all falling into place before climb, then they hit the gas. I saw Ullrich struggling, obviously Lance saw it too. He seized the opportunity. This was a serious mountain stage, and tomorrow is another big day."