By Susan Westemeyer
Stage 3 brought Gerolsteiner's Thomas Ziegler the chance to make his break and go for the win 18 km before the end - but maybe there's a secret 'bad luck' explanation for why he didn't get the victory. "As I noticed that nobody came with me, I realized it wouldn't work out. I had no chance alone against the fast field. But you never know what might happen and sometimes things work out. But I wasn't disappointed when the peloton caught me back in at 4 km.
"What did bother me, though, was that I have lost my good-luck charm. My girlfriend gave me a ring which I always take off my finger during a race - because of the possibility of injuries in a crash - and I wear it on a chain around my neck. But the chain caught on my speedo during my breakaway and the ring flew away. Now I have to ride 18 more stages without my good luck charm!"
The Gerolsteiner "luck" continued the next morning. "We came downstairs for breakfast at 8 a.m. - no hotel personnel were anywhere to be seen, not to mention no breakfast. Our soigneur Nikolai took over the kitchen and came up with some day-old rolls and the muesli that we always have with us. The kitchen workers finally came at 8:30 and didn't seem to be so happy to see a stranger in their kitchen. But at least we had something to eat." (www.radsportnews.com)
Francaise des Jeux's Bernhard Eisel got a top ten finish Tuesday, much to his own surprise. "I was in 40th place with about 500 meters to go. Realistically I had no chance. Then a hole opened up and I went for it. I was able to make up a lot of places in the last 200 meters. Unfortunately it wasn't enough for a place on the podium. The legs just aren't as they were by the Tour de France, so therefore I'm very satisfied with the outcome."
But the action isn't over just because the riders are over the finish line, Eisel learned. "I came across the finish line on the far left side, where a Spanish cameraman stood. As a pro cyclist, I know that sometimes space is tight. But this journalist didn't move back, he moved forward another meter into the road. I was able to avoid a crash only with great difficulty. I really got upset over this." (www.eisel.com)