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'What a difference a day makes' might well have been the ringtone on Alexandre Vinokourov's T-Mobile phone after the Kazakh national champion's epic adventure through the Alpine climbs of the Haute Savoie today.
Vino's attack on the Col de la Madeleine initially looked foolhardy, and when the hapless Oscar Pereiro found himself in the middle of a field after one rapid turn, Vinokourov and Santiago Botero launched themselves into an epic two-up display of climbing and descending.
With Discovery Channel happy to let the pair lead through the Maurienne valley and on the Tlgraphe, the pursuit began in earnest on the seemingly endless Col du Galibier. But afterwards Vino' looked a little irked to be asked if he thought that Discovery Channel had 'let' him win the stage. "You better ask Lance," he replied tersely.
Was he disappointed to have gained only 1-15 on race leader Armstrong after such a big attack? "If you stay in the wheels, it's impossible to win the Tour," he said. "So you have to take a risk and that's what I did today. It was a good win for me and it's a good motivation for the whole team, to keep on attacking in the Pyrenees."
And Vino, stage winner in June on Mont Ventoux, admitted that his performance on the road to Courchevel had been a huge disappointment to him. "It was, but even last night I was saying that I had to attack today. That's what I did on the Madeleine.
"I explained this morning that I think my loss of power at Courchevel was because of the rest day. It really broke my rhythm after a week of 50 kilometres an hour racing in wind and rain. Also I only trained for two and a half hours and on reflection I think that wasn't enough."
T-Mobile's co-leader was relatively cagey over what he expected to achieve in the rest of the race. "I've already won a stage," he said. "I think we have to be optimistic because it's such a long race and you never know what can happen. Lance can have a bad day. A lot could happen in the Pyrenees, so it's sure that I will try attacking again.
"It's impossible to win the Tour without attacking. If you always wait for the last climb it won't work, because Lance and his team are too strong in the finale. Today it was my turn to attack, but we are a team of three leaders and maybe in the Pyrenees it will be Jan (Ullrich) or (Andreas) Kloeden who attacks."
PIC BY TDWSPORT.COM