Good day, bad day - stage 15
T-Mobile’s tactics implode, Mayo takes flight (home), camper digs in, and Alpe store keepers make me
PICTURE BY TIM DE WAELE BAD DAY: Iban Mayo: The Basque star failed to start stage 15 of the Tour, exhausted and demoralised. A month ago, after his victory in the Mont Ventoux time trial stage of the Dauphin Libr, Mayo was the favourite to win on Alpe d’Huez. How quickly things change – something Lance Armstrong knew very well back in mid-June, when he watched the Basque beat him on the ‘Giant of Provence’. Marks out of 10 – a disappointed four for Mayo’s abject failure T-Mobile: What is going on inside the German team? What are their tactics? Jan Ullrich’s attack on the road to Villard de Lans led to a select foursome contesting the finish, with Andreas Kloeden working hard for his weary team leader. But even then, neither Kloden nor Ullrich could muster the energy to attack Armstrong and Basso, and once again the Italo-American pair came out on top. Marks out of 10 – a feeble five for another confused showing Thomas Voeckler: The young Frenchman’s odyssey finally came to an end on the steep hills leading to the Vercors plateau as the front of the bunch left him far behind. Any hopes of a podium finish also went out of the window as he slid far behind the top three pace-setters in this year’s Tour. Marks out of 10 – an enthusiastic eight for keeping a smile on his face despite the disappointment. GOOD DAY: Belgian camper on hairpin 8: The early bird catches te worm so they say. One Belgian fan was watching the late-night haul of traffic from Villard de Lans to Alpe d’Huez after the finish on the Vercors plateau with some amusement. He’d been there for, ahem, no less than three weeks already. Marks out of 10 – a top 10 for being a super fan (wonder what the wife thinks though?) Alpe d’Huez restauranteurs: With almost a million people said to be converging on the Alpe for the time trial stage, it’s been a bumper week for the baguette-istes of Bourg d’Oisans. Not to mention the local boulangerie, patisserie and even creperie.. Marks out of 10 – a big entrepreneurial 10 for cranking up those prices, and fleecing a captive audience. Weighing in: If Manolo Saiz is getting hot under the collar about the UCI’s new weight rule, so it seems, if a little less volubly, are Bjarne Riis and CSC. The Danish team had their Cervelo ultra-light carbon bikes put on the UCI scales in Valras and just made it under the weight restriction bar. Lightest of the lot was Carlos Sastre’s machine, which weighed in at 6.775 kilos. Marks out of 10 – a solid six for giving the men in UCI blazers something very important to do.