Tour st 9: Good day, bad day

A good weekend for the Vosges and star performers Rasmussen and Voigt, but not so good for Virenque,

A good weekend for the Vosges and star performers Rasmussen and Voigt, but not so good for Virenque,


Good day:

Alsace and the Vosges: This area and these mountains have a long history in the Tour but it had been eight years since the race had last passed through. Back in 1997, yellow jersey Jan Ullrich almost buckled but was guided through by team-mates Udo Bolts and Bjarne Riis. This weekend, the yellow jersey was imperilled again on Saturday and 'lost' on Sunday. Let's hope next year's start in Strasbourg sees a quick return to this testing ground.

Michael Rasmussen: The 31-year-old Dane now has the victories to match his four full years as a road pro. But what victories they've been: a stage in the 2002 Tour of Burgos, one on the 2003 Vuelta, a third in the 2004 Dauphin, and now yesterday's Tour epic - all of course won in the mountains. The win in Mulhouse earned him a Alsatian cow as a symbolic prize, and his Rabobank another night on the champers after Pieter Weening's win on Saturday. "If we carry on like this we'll all be alcoholics by the end of the Tour," quipped Rasmussen.

Jens Voigt: Finally the German got the information he had been hoping for all week in Sunday morning's CSC team meeting. "Bjarne Riis said I was the only rider who shouldn't concern themselves with Ivan [Basso]," said Voigt, effectively giving him the green light to follow his instincts and attack, and go for the yellow jersey. "I think that I'll be able to defend it without too much difficulty on Monday. If I sit down that should be enough," Voigt added with a smile.

Bad day:

Richard Virenque:
The Frenchman now working as a commentator for Eurosport had the accreditation removed from his car on Sunday after he had previously parked it in an area reserved for team managers. Clearly those seven mountains titles don't hold any sway with the Tour's traffic wardens.

Christian Prudhomme: Tour fans got their first real sighting of the man set to succeed Jean-Marie Leblanc in the race's top job when Prudhomme popped up out of the sun roof of the red Skoda tracking Michael Rasmussen. The former TV commentator's exhortations to the packed crowds on the Ballon d'Alsace to move back failed to elicit much response, however; perhaps because Prudhomme appeared to be imitating a great winged bird hovering behind the Dane as he flew up the mountain.

Spanish riders: Well, two of them anyway. Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano has had almost as tough a fight as Liberty team-mate Joseba Beloki to get back to his best form, which started to come this week. But he crashed out of the Tour yesterday when a French rider fell in front of him on the first descent and the Basque could only follow. He was taken to hospital in Remiremont. No bones were broken, but Gonzalez de Galdeano was so sore he couldn't make the transfer flight to Grenoble because he couldn't sit down. Jos Angel Gomez Marchante was also in hospital yesterday after he broke a collar-bone when he collided with Salvatore Commesso in the feed zone. And this after just about recovering from the effects of riding into the back of press photographer's bike that was parked on the course on Wednesday.

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