Team Manager Johan Bruyneel of Discovery Channel moved one more step closer to taking his eighth maillot jaune with Alberto Contador when it was announced late Wednesday night in Pau that then race leader Michael Rasmussen would not start the following day in the 2007 Tour de France. Cyclingnews' Gregor Brown was in Pau before the start of stage 17 to hear the Belgian's reaction.
Team Rabobank announced that 33 year-old Dane Michael Rasmussen, who took the maillot jaune with the finish in Tignes, would not carry on as race leader of the world largest bike race. He had lied to the cycling fans, lied to the public, lied to the UCI and lied to his Dutch team. The realisation, after days of denial, had come as a shock to the Tour and to his team-mates that had worked so hard to help him hold the yellow jersey, including Dutchman Michael Boogerd who is riding in his final year and Tour de France.
Bruyneel heard the news and knew that his young charge would take over the race lead as he was in second, 3'10" back at the end of the day's stage up the Col d'Aubisque. 24 year-old Alberto 'Kid' Contador, the current leader and likely winner of the maillot blanc of best young rider, immediately entered into the race lead in only his second Tour de France.
"It is definitely a situation, one that we do not like to be in," Bruyneel stated outside the Discovery Channel bus as the riders were lining up on a hot French day in the foothills of the Pyrénées. "I was shocked yesterday when I got the news; it was very late. Moreover, it is not why we came here; we came here to try to win the Tour de France."