CSC boss Bjarne Riis bemoans the TTT rule which meant one of his riders lost a minute by finishing t
Following the powerful performance of Lance Armstrong and his fellow Postals in Wednesday’s team time trial, most of the other contenders for the overall actually ended up benefiting from the new rules which meant that they could lose only a limited amount of time. But a few of the more prominent names also paid a price, writes Susanne Horsdal. Two of them were Team CSC’s Carlos Sastre and Saeco’s Gilberto Simoni. When the Saeco captain went down on the slippery cobblestones in the last corner, his team-mates didn’t realise in the clamour what had happened and did not wait for him. Saeco as a team finished ninth, which meant that they lost 1-30 on Armstrong, but Simoni, who subsequently didn’t finish together with his team, was ascribed an actual time loss of 2-42. A similar scenario applied to Sastre, who didn’t even go down. The Spaniard just finished with a gap of three seconds to the fifth and counting CSC rider, which meant that his actual time loss became 1-49 instead of CSC’s fixed loss of 50 seconds for finishing in fifth place. “Because of the cobblestones Sastre lost three seconds. It’s a disaster but there’s nothing we can do about it,” admitted a frustrated CSC team manager Bjarne Riis to Danish television. Riis added: “I think there are too many rules.” The time loss for Sastre, who is one of the riders CSC is pinning its hopes on for the overall, added insult to injury after a very unfortunate day for the Danish team. Riis, a true lover of team time trials, has put a lot of effort over the season into preparing his team for just this discipline, but the hopes of victory were dashed with two mechanical problems and a crash along the 64.5-kilometre ride from Cambrai to Arras. Despite the costly misfortunes, Riis was proud of his team. “I’ve never seen anything like it. We rode elegantly and steadily, but we weren’t supposed to win. It was a real shame. We lost one and a half minute because of bad luck, but otherwise I think we showed that we were clearly the best team.” Others might debate that last remark. Not only was Team CSC far from the only team who suffered with bad luck, but US Postal were clearly in a class of their own.