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By Jan Ullrich, T-Mobile professional cycling team
Well, I think you saw that as a team we pushed it all the way to the limit, today. To his credit, Lance fended off every single one of the attacks in the manner of a true patron of the peloton. For that, all I can say is congratulations to him and that he has my respect.
This morning, the mood at the breakfast table was not quite as relaxed as was the case in the Alps. Hardly anyone said a word… and if they did, the answers were short. It wasn’t a bad sign. More accurately, it was just an indication that everyone was just very, very focused on the task at hand. The one thing we didn’t want to see again, is the way the team was so easily dropped on the way to Courchevel. No, this time we wanted to inflict some damage.
I think the team did beautifully. The only “chess move” on our part was to put Nardo’ into the early break in hopes that he would be able to lend a hand to us as we hit the big climb up the Port de Pailhères.
It was there where the team really lived up to expectations and blew the race apart early in the climb. When Vino’ attacked to further isolate Lance, it all developed beautifully. At the start of the final climb, there were three of us and Lance was there on his own.
After Vino’ dropped back, I continued on, first with Klödi pacing me and then on my own… on my own with Basso and Lance. At the end, in the last kilometer, I finally couldn’t stay on anymore. He was clearly the stronger, but it was a great battle today and I am content with my effort.
So after the stage, we’re faced with another 130-kilometer transfer, nearly to Toulouse tonight. That’s not such a great thing after a day like this, so I grabbed a quiet little corner of the bus and put my legs up to recover a little… because we have another big day tomorrow.
Naturally, I want to turn in a big effort again tomorrow.