The competitive but friendly relationship between the Garmin-Slipstream and Columbia teams turned bitter after the stage to Besançon after the Garmin team appeared to work on the front of the bunch in the last 15km to stop Columbia’s George Hincapie from taking the yellow jersey.

With a five kilometres to go, Hincapie still had a 25 second cushion and looked set to take the yellow jersey for the second time in his career. After he crossed the line everyone was convinced he would be in yellow, and he was hauled to the podium area.

But at the same time three Garmin riders were on the front and helped bring home the bunch 5-20 behind Hincapie. He had started the day 5-25 behind Rinaldo Nocentini (Ag2r) and so missed out on yellow by five seconds.

Hincapie refused to speak to the media when he returned to the Columbia bus. His family had travelled to the finish to see him and Lance Armstrong admitted that Astana rode easily on the front for much of the stage so that Hincapie could gain enough time to take yellow. However Garmin spoiled Hincapie’s big day.

Garmin team manager Jonathan Vaughters claimed that his riders were working to keep team leaders Bradley Wiggins and Christian Vande Velde out of trouble.

Not surprisingly Columbia team owner Bob Stapleton and his staff had a very different opinion.

He insisted that Garmin and Columbia have a good relationship thanks to their shared values on clean sport. However he revealed he would probably call team owner Doug Ellis, and not team manager Jonathan Vaughters, to find out why Garmin chased and stopped Hincapie pulling on the yellow jersey.  

“Having a chance at getting yellow is pretty special, is something every athlete would aspire to and I think everyone would like to see,” Stapleton said.

“We’re focused on our own success. We don’t define ourselves against any other team. We’re trying to use our resources wisely in the team. If it’s competitive on the road, if it makes sense for us to go for a win that might hurt Garmin, we’d do that, for the win. Not to try and screw up the chances of another team.”  

Stapleton denied any bad blood between the two teams but wanted an explanation. “Sure there’s been some trash talking about some pretty minor things but the fact of the matter is, that we’ve won a ton of bike races. If we were keeping score, that scoreboard would be pretty lob-sided in our favour.”

“I’ll probably give Doug (Ellis) a ring. I think that’s more a rational point of view.”  

To say what say?

“Just ‘what’s going on? What’s the story? Is there anything I should know?”

“I think it’ll be more rational to talk to Doug. He’s one step away. He’s not driving the car, not sitting in the heat of battle. I think that’s totally logical.”


Columbia team manager Rolf Aldag was not as diplomatic as his boss.

“We have a lot of different issues to deal with today: missing the yellow by a few seconds and not winning the green jersey, but that’s sport,” Aldag told Cycling Weekly.

“I can’t comment on them for their sporting decision but it was hard to understand. They started chasing when the winner was almost at the finish line, so they weren’t chasing for the stage win.”

“I thought we had a sporting rivalry but if they take it personal than that makes it a little more complicated. If they take it personal that will really destroy the sport because sport is about fair competition and not just trying to stop some else succeeding.”


Tour de France 2009 – the hub: Index to reports, photos, previews and more.


Stage 13: Haussler braves rain for victory in Colmar

Stage 12: Sorensen wins in Vittel as Cavendish goes for green

Stage 11: Cavendish takes fourth win to equal Hoban’s record

Stage 10: Cavendish spoils Bastille Day party to take third stage win

Stage nine: Third French win as contenders content with ceasefire

stage eight: Sanchez wins from break as Tour favourites cancel each other out

Stage seven: Feillu wins at Arcalis, Nocentini takes yellow, Contador leap-frogs Lance

Stage six: Millar’s brave bid denied on Barcelona hill as Hushovd triumphs

Stage five: Voeckler survives chase to win his first Tour stage

Stage four: Astana on top but Armstrong misses yellow by hundredths of a second

Live Tour de France stage four TTT coverage

Stage three: Cavendish wins second stage as Armstrong distances Contador

Stage two: Cavendish takes first sprint

Stage one: Cancellara wins opening time trial


Tour de France 2009 News Index>>

Cavendish reveals he is going for green

Tour comment: The suspense is killing us

Analysis: Why Cavendish is one of the modern greats

Radio ban over-turned for Friday’s Tour stage

Arvesen out of Tour with fractured collarbone

Tour analysis: Why the go slow did cycling no favours on Bastille Day

Cavendish’s odd stage 10 finish celebration explained

No radios today, but experiment could be a one-off

Tour audio: Mark Cavendish after stage 10

Contador brushes aside talk of Armstrong conflict

Cavendish odds-on favourite for Bastille Day victory

The Tour de France Comment: Monday, July 13

How the favourites are doing (first rest day)

Wiggins stays with leaders at Tour

Armstrong: ‘If Contador wins, I’ll be second’

Wiggins ‘on cloud nine’ at Tour de France

Armstrong says Contador attack wasn’t in the plan

Cavendish survives the first Tour mountain stage with ease

Wiggins, the Tour de France overall contender, has arrived


Garmin-Slipstream’s HQ before the Tour

David Zabriskie’s time trial bike

Mark Cavendish on the Tour’s team time trial

David Brailsford interview

Mark Cavendish on the Tour

Jonathan Vaughters on Bradley Wiggins’ chances


Stage 12 photo gallery by Graham Watson

Stage 11 photo gallery by Graham Watson

Stage 10 photo gallery by Graham Watson

Stage nine photo gallery by Graham Watson

Stage eight photo gallery by Graham Watson

Stage seven photo gallery by Graham Watson

Stage six photo gallery by Graham Watson

Stage five photo gallery by Graham Watson

Stage four TTT photo gallery by Graham Watson

Stage three photo gallery by Graham Watson

Stage two photo gallery by Graham Watson

Stage one photo gallery by Andy Jones

Stage one photo gallery by Graham Watson

Team presentation by Andy Jones

Team presentation by Graham Watson


Tour de France 2009 – the hub

Tour de France 2009: Who’s riding

Tour de France 2009: Team guide

About the Tour de France


Tour de France 2009: Who will win?

Tour de France 2009 on TV: Eurosport and ITV4 schedules

Big names missing from 2009 Tour de France

Tour de France anti-doping measures explained

Brits in the Tours: From Robinson to Cavendish

Cycling Weekly’s rider profiles


Follow the Tour on Cycling Weekly’s Twitter feed


  • 2WheelTransit

    I am so upset with Garmin and what they did to George. As an American I’m proud that we have two teams representing our country. Too bad Garmin decided to show what America is too much about and that’s screw the other guy as its all about me.

    Well when I’m at the Tour de California next year and if Garmin is riding in that tour, I will be sure to hurl my verbal dislike for this team. I hope other US Cycling fans also make it known just how upset they are with Garmin.

    George has been such a great Ambassador for US Cycling and 14 years of representing our country at the Tour de France should not get this type of treatment from a bush league team manager.

    Garmin owes George a big appology for what they did. Until they do that I hope they are viewed with great disdain from cycling fans all over the US and the rest of the world.

    George, we the fans salute you and are proud of what you did!!!!

  • James Nolan

    This is a professional bike race. I wanted to see Hincapie wear yellow but not if it comes down to some gentleman’s agreement. I want to see a proper race with the fastest rider in Yellow, Hincapie worked hard that day but he wasn’t good enough. All this nonsense blaming Garmin makes him sound like a petulant six year old. If he wants to blame anyone for him not getting yellow then blame Highroad-Columbia they’re his team and it’s their job to look out for him.