RASMUSSEN FACES TOUGH QUESTIONS AFTER STAGE WIN
Michael Rasmussen virtually sealed overall victory in the Tour de France by winning the last mountain stage and extending his overall race lead on Wednesday but he again faced a grilling from the Tour de France media.
According to a survey carried by Danish television channel TV2 before the stage, only 49% of Danish cycling supporters thought Rasmussen would make it to Paris in the yellow jersey, but he did not seem bothered by the statistic.
“Maybe they’ll change their minds because now I’ve got more than three minutes on Contador which should be enough to get to Paris after the time trial,” he said.
Rasmussen admitted that he had been booed before and during the stage but claimed it was aimed at Alexandre Vinokourov.
“I suppose there’s a lot of frustration out there. People are frustrated about Vino’s positive and because he’s not here, people are taking it out on me. Now I understand what Lance Armstrong went through and my respect for him growing day by day. The only good thing about the Vino case is that it proves the system is working and I can only add that I’ve 14 negative tests during the Tour so far.”
In several French newspapers, Rasmussen was accused of lying in his rest day press conference. He said he had called the UCI and spoke to anti-doping chief Anne Gripper on April 2 2006 but Gripper only began working for the UCI in October 2006.
“I’ve since been told it’s another women I talked to. I spoke to someone and was passed onto a woman. I was convinced it was Anne Gripper. I messed up the name and also the date. It was not 2nd of April but 4th of April.”
Rasmussen was stung by a wasp during the stage and said he felt like he had a golf ball in his mouth. He explained that his constant waving was to move the motorbike clear so that Contador did not get a tow when he attacked. He revealed he changed his tactics to control the aggressive Spaniard and was pleased it worked.”
“I used a different tactic today. I decided to counter Contador by riding tempo behind him because I’d seen two days ago that I was not capable of staying with him when he accelerated. By the end of the stage I realised Contador was in more pain than me because of all the attacks, so I decided to go for it and to try and win.
“The overall classification is obviously more important than winning stages but winning in the yellow jersey is pretty difficult and so it's a big win.”
"Have I won the Tour? Well, I'm one step closer but the Tour is won in Paris. Today I only won the stage. I don't need to tell anybody what happened two years ago in the time trial and so nothing is over until Sunday,” Rasmussen concluded.