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Tour Tidbits: Sen. Kerry in the house; Kummer content; Armstrong the marathoner?; and quotes, quotes, quotes

Kerry chums it up with Discovery crewSen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) was hanging out at the Discovery Channel bus before the start of the 20th stage of the Tour de France. Dressed in a button-down sports shirt, chinos and penny-loafers, the cyclist and former presidential candidate looked on as Lance Armstrong warmed up for the race on his stationary bike. With hundreds of fans looking on, and scores of photographers snapping pictures of the scene, Kerry chatted with George Hincapie, Chris Carmichael and Sheryl Crow. “I wished him well and congratulated him on an extraordinary accomplishment,

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By Nathaniel Vinton, VeloNews staff writer

Kerry chums it up with Discovery crew
Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) was hanging out at the Discovery Channel bus before the start of the 20th stage of the Tour de France. Dressed in a button-down sports shirt, chinos and penny-loafers, the cyclist and former presidential candidate looked on as Lance Armstrong warmed up for the race on his stationary bike.

With hundreds of fans looking on, and scores of photographers snapping pictures of the scene, Kerry chatted with George Hincapie, Chris Carmichael and Sheryl Crow.

“I wished him well and congratulated him on an extraordinary accomplishment, which, you know, he’s got to finish off,” said Kerry, about 20 minutes before Armstrong started the day’s time trial. “I gave him what encouragement I could.”

Kummer satisfied with T-Mobile’s race
T-Mobile sport director Mario Kummer is happy with how his team has fared in the Tour de France. “We can look optimistically on the whole race,” he said following Saturday’s time trial. “We won two stages and many individual places.”

He is particularly pleased with T-Mobile’s first-place position in the team standings, which they lead by 14 minutes, 57 seconds, over Discovery Channel. That will net them 100 points in the UCI Pro Tour team standings.

“We wanted to fight for the yellow jersey in the beginning, and we did it, with Jan and with the team,” said Kummer. “In the end, Jan is on the podium. We saw Armstrong very, very strong. Maybe stronger than in the other years.”

Kummer won’t have Alexandre Vinokourov in his stable next year, but he’s picking up Australian Michael Rogers from Quick Step (currently dead last in the team standings), and that will come in handy for days like today.

“He can give us much more power,” said Kummer. “I expect also from him that he can take the responsibility in some individual stage races, and also maybe in the Tour.”

Armstrong lowers the bar, then raises it again
At his final press conference here at the end of his final Tour de France, Lance Armstrong cracked a couple jokes. At one point he lightly poked fun at a German reporter for a predictable Jan Ullrich question. At another moment he speculated about how much more manageable his media commitments would be if he were a ping-pong champion.

The most applause came when Armstrong answered a question about how he would spend his energy following his retirement. “I can’t promise that I won’t show up at a few cyclo-cross races and a few mountain bike races and a few triathlons and a few 10K runs,” said Armstrong. “It’s not as if I can sit around and be a fat slob. I have to do something.”

Then Armstrong talked about how setting goals enhances the satisfaction of exercise.

“Why couldn’t I take a couple years and then say, ‘Okay, let’s do a marathon? Let’s just see how fast you can run a marathon.’”

Not because he wanted to win, Armstrong added quickly.

“But say you wanted to run 2:30.”

Armstrong paused, microphone in hand.

“Or three hours, I don’t know.”

Journalists laughed.

“Okay, 2:15.”

Quotes, quotes, quotes…
Erik Breukink, Rabobank sport director/team manager: “A lot went wrong for Mikael Rassmussen today. He crashed the first time at the beginning of the day because he took the corner and it got away. It was not a dangerous corner. After there were a little mechanical problems, and he had to change bikes. Then he crashed on the downhill. He was very unsure after the first problems. He didn’t want to continue on the spare bike, so he wanted to fix his good bike, and then he continued on his good bike. He is a little bit disappointed. Not a little bit – a lot. He went back to his hotel and tomorrow he will be at the start.”

Cadel Evans: “I didn’t go out there and soft pedal. This is the best I could do on the day. I’m pretty happy with how I came out. It’s a good course for a Tour, because sometimes there are downhills that someone can take risks on and make time, and it puts the riders in danger. I’ll have to look at the results. I was flat-out concentrating just to stay on the bike.”

Levi Leipheimer: “I suffered. I didn’t have any information, so I didn’t know how I was doing. I just saw the clock. I lost too much at the beginning…It was a hard time trial, and I figured you can’t start too hard. It’s always nice to get it over with. You’re always looking forward to it to end, but then when it ends it’s a little bit of sadness as well, but it’s been a great tour so I’m happy. I wanted top five, and I have a feeling that’s not going to happen, but we’ll see. You never know. … I think there was a lot of crosswinds on top.”

Mario Kummer, T-Mobile sport director, on watching Rasmussen’s crashes: “It’s every time hard. I feel pain in my body when I saw him crashing. It’s very hard for a good cyclist like him. For me he was the biggest surprise in the Tour this year. Then I saw him crashing two times, it was hard, too.”

Manolo Saiz, Liberty Seguros director, on who will fill Armstrong’s shoes: “For me the best thing has been the aptitude demonstrated by the young men with a view to the future for doing well in the Tour…. It is not possible to venture yet. In any case they are not those who are now in the podium. Those people will only fill the transitional era. To see the inheritors of Armstrong, look at Valverde, Cunego, Contador, Rogers … they will be the ones who will be here for more years, but still need a couple of seasons to reach maturity.”

Fred Rodriguez, satisfied but sick: “I’ve been sick the past few days, so my energy is low. Hopefully today wasn’t so hard, okay, 55km is never easy, but nothing like the couple of weeks hard. The doctor said it’s been such fatigue and I’ve had weak stomachs before, all it takes it just comes on and your stomach can’t digest calories, so I have to limit my digestion of calories, which means I have less energy for the legs. …We’re a pretty cohesive little group. Robbie knows how to follow me and I know where to be. As long as I don’t waste too much energy, I can still lead him out and he can win. Winning is that much nicer and it shows we have two big sprinters. Robbie delivers, so it’s been very rewarding.”