Serrano triumphs and Ullrich battles

News & Results

07/22/2005| 0 comments
by David Cohen

Serrano triumphs and Ullrich battles

Spaniard Marcos Serrano (Liberty Seguros-Wurth) used the nasty little (only 3.1km long, but with an average grade of 10.1%) Cote de la Croix-Neuve to take off to victory on Stage 18 of the 2005 Tour de France. <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" /?>

Spaniard Marcos Serrano (Liberty Seguros-Wurth) used the nasty little (only 3.1km long, but with an average grade of 10.1%) Cote de la Croix-Neuve to take off to victory on Stage 18 of the 2005 Tour de France. <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" /?>

 

Serrano began the climb in a struggle with Axel Merckx (Davitamon-Lotto) and Cedric Vasseur (Cofidis).   Merckx tried a couple of escapes but his mates quickly covered them.   However, when Serrano went, he went, quickly building up a 15-20 second lead.   Perfect timing, gutsy execution.

 

Yet Serrano must share the glory of Stage 18 with Jan Ullrich.

 

A group that included Lance Armstrong and Ivan Basso dropped Ullrich going up Cote de la Croix-Neuve.   On a climb such as this, being dropped can be devastating.

 

Ullrich did not give up.   He kept pedalling, recovered, and was able to rejoin the Armstrong group.

 

Ullrich had an incentive.   He must have been told that Mickael Rasmussen was about 25 seconds behind him.   Rasmussen, now the King of the Mountains, was not enjoying himself on Cote de la Croix-Neuve.

 

Those are 25 precious seconds and Ullrich was intent on preserving them.   Now, a margin of <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" /?> separates him from a podium spot.

 

That margin now seems doable for Ullrich.   Saturday?s 20 th Stage at St.-Etienne will be his opportunity to exploit his time-trialling superiority over Rasmussen.  

 

Rasmussen, if he still cares about finishing on the podium, can try to rebuild his margin over Ullrich on tomorrow?s 19 th Stage from Issoire to Le Puy-en-Velay.   This stage?s climbs and narrow roads are said to favour a breakaway.   And Rasmussen has already demonstrated his breakaway abilities.

 

However, Ullrich will certainly be on his guard and, going by what he did today, will certainly put up a fight should Rasmussen try anything.

Meanwhile, Lance Armstrong?s kids are expected tomorrow.   An air of celebration already surrounds him.   His challengers are vanquished.   Those among them who may succeed Armstrong as the Tour?s next Big Man remain in his shadow, for now.

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