2005 Le Tour de France
By: Michael Crowder
The 2005 Le Tour De France opened with a one/two combination punch by two Americans. The relatively unknown David Zabriske of Team CSC and the cycling legend Lance Armstrong of the Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team blew the field away in the opening prologue and set the stage for this year’s Le Tour. David finished a mere two seconds ahead of Lance for a slim opening day race lead.
Zabriske was able to keep the yellow leaders jersey for three days until he was involved in a nasty crash during the stage 4 team time trial. A CSC team official stated that “David was injured very badly” in the crash and it took “a lot of effort for him to continue the race.”
Armstrong’s Discovery Team won this important stage of the Tour and Lance took over possession of the coveted mayo jean (yellow leader’s jersey). The impressive ride that the Discovery Team turned in for this stage combined with Lances opening prologue results put them in control of the race very early.
Team Discovery kept the leaders jersey on Lance’s shoulders until the stage 9 where they let a breakaway go in order to conserve some energy for the remainder of the race. Professional bicycle racing is a game of tactics and strength where it is sometimes better for the team to let a competitor who is not a real contender for the overall race win to take a stage win and even the overall lead for a short time. This allows the team to take a “breather” and relax to a small degree for a few days.
Before the start of stage10 I was able to get a few words in with Lance’s personal trainer Chris Carmichael. Chris said “all of the training is done and Lance is feeling very good” along with “the team is stronger than we have ever been.” He finished with “the next six days are the most decisive stages of the race.” He could not have been more correct.
Stage 10 from Grenoble to Courchevel was the first stage in the Alps and the first real test of the riders’ ability to climb. Lance managed to put all of his real competition into distress on these difficult climbs and take leaders jersey back for the duration of the race.
From this point on Team Discovery played a close hand with Lance and kept him out of trouble while controlling all of the general classification contenders. The team has been so strong that they have even been able to launch other riders with the breaks and control them for stage wins.
One of the true highlights of the race was Greenville, South Carolinas George Hincapie’s win of stage 15 in the Pyrenees. During this stage from Lezat-sur-Leze to Saint-lary-Soulan a 10 man break got away and George was sent up to control them. He was able to stay with the break until the end and bring home another stage win for Discovery.
On stage 17 another Discovery rider was able to capture a stage win for the American based team. This stage from Pau to Revel had no major climbs and was touted to be a stage for the sprinters to shine. Paolo Savoldeli got away at the line and showed just how deep this team really is.
Lance Armstrong was able to deliver the final coup de grace during the stage 20 individual time trial. His win of this "race again the clock" not only put his main competition even farther behind but showed the world that his win was not just delivered by his teammates. He went out and demolished the field in traditional Lance style. The time trial shows a riders strength more than any other stage.
The final stage into Paris is traditionally a celebratory stage in which there are no challenges made for the leader’s jersey. The first lap on the Champs-Ellesay is lead by the overall race leader’s team and then the other teams send out the sprinters for a last chance at a stage win.
As the reign of Lance comes to a close the future looks bright for the United States based Discovery Pro Cycling team. George Hincapie has been developed from a one day classics racer to a true stage contender. His ability to support his team captain from the flats to the mountains has been perfected. Paolo Savoldeli has shown that he is quite capable of winning stages and is being groomed for stardom in the Peloton. Yaroslav Popovich, this years “best young rider”, is touted to be the next team captain for Discovery and has the strongest team in international cycling to put him on top of the podium. Although young Tom Danielson was not on this years Le Tour squad, his win at the Tour de Georgia and his commitment to the team bodes well for the future of the Discovery. Look for Discovery to develop Tom into a team captain in a few years.
After years of being the stepchildren of the international cycling circuit, Americans are now taking center stage in the Tour de France Peloton and many of the other important races. To top off Lance’s win, Americans Levi Leipheimer of Team Gerolsteiner and Floyd Landis of Phonak managed very respectable top 10 finishes in this years Le Tour. Our U.S. Under 23 National Team is developing several riders with strong hopes to keep the United States represented well in the international cycling scene into the foreseeable future. Avouir Lance and Bonjour to the future of American cycling.
Lance Armstrong (Discovery): Yellow Jersey (Overall race winner)
Michael Rasmussen (Rabobank): Polka dot Jersey (Best Climber)
Thor Hushovd (Credit Agricole): Green Jersey (Best Sprinter)
Yaroslov Popovych (Discovery): White Jersey (Best Young Rider)
for the times folks,
this is a straight sports story and recount of le tour. i have another article with photos for the get out section. i am sure this is much cheaper than pulling something off of ap or aother service.. just do a control copy on the text and your ready to go. click on the thumbnails to get the full resolution photos. i'll amend this as soon as tomorrows time trial is over which should be about 10:00 am eastern time. that will make it as timely as possible and still be able to get into sundays paper. if you decide you want to use this and run it monday let me know and i'll rework the ending sunday as soon as the race is over and try to get a final podium shot from paris included. the one that i have at the bottom of the page is from last year. if you need me to change or add anything leave me a voice mail on my cell at 770-533-2801.