By Jan Ullrich, T-Mobile professional cycling team
It’s been quite a few days here at the Tour, hasn’t it?
To start with, we all felt for “Klödi” at the end of stage 8 on Saturday. He rode spectacularly and really earned a stage win, only to be denied by the smallest margin I’ve ever seen. To say the least, he deserves congratulations for a superb effort. The team, too, performed beautifully on Saturday. First off, our guys put in a big effort to cut the advantage of the break as we came up to the Col de la Schlucht and then you saw what happened with Vino’ and Klöden on the climb. Vino attacked, then Andreas as I stayed right on Lance’s wheel. “Klödi” really came through at the end and I am really pleased that he is coming into form at exactly the right time.
We had a nice surprise early Saturday morning, when our teammate Steffen Wesemann joined us for breakfast at our hotel, the Villa Hammerschmiede. It’s a hotel that we all know very well from the Tour of Germany and we were happy to be there and to have Steffen join us.
It was very special to have the Tour de France in Germany, even for a day. The city of Pforzheim really made a huge effort to host the start with a bit of panache, even putting down a starting line of real gold for the peloton to cross on the way out of town.
I had one very special personal moment on Saturday, too. We had arranged to have my daughter Sarah meet me in Marckolsheim with Gaby. Mario Kummer got on the radio and informed the other teams that I was not planning an attack as the peloton crossed over the French-German border. I got the go-ahead and moved off the front and there they were.
That has to be one of the most special moments of my life, holding my beautiful little daughter in my arms. I doubt I will ever forget it. It’s hard to have a private moment like that in such a public place and I sure didn’t want it to be the subject of photos or something for television. I do want to thank the television cameramen for respecting that wish, too. I appreciate that a lot.
Leaving Sarah behind was as heartbreaking as it can be, but I had to return to the peloton.
Saturday showed that the team is prepared for the mountains and that T-Mobile has a lot of resources at its disposal. No matter what, I think it will make this Tour especially exciting.
At breakfast on Sunday, a few of us speculated that “Vogte” might attack his way into the yellow jersey and that Lance would allow it. And that’s exactly how the day turned out!
“Vogte” deserves a lot of credit for the way he earned the jersey on Sunday. He is not one to wear the jersey all the way into Paris, but this is a fitting reward for his tireless habit of attacking over the years. He is a great guy and he really earned his way into the jersey. Congratulations!
For me, though, the day didn’t start out so well. Just after the start and as the peloton came around a tight turn, I was hit by a big gust of wind. I lost my balance, went over and somersaulted three or four times as I went into a ditch. I seem to be the guy on our team who is responsible for all of the falls this year.
I ended up with a few scrapes and bruises, but otherwise nothing happened to me. The team waited for me and it didn’t take long to get back to the peloton.
Overall, though, it was a good day and I feel excited to be coming back into the mountains.
We flew to Grenoble last night for the first rest day, which comes at a good time, I think. I can work out the kinks from the accidents I’ve had, do a little training with the team and rest up for the Alps.
The Tour is about to get exciting. I am looking forward to it.