You know it's been a bad day when the team manager says, "To be honest, I expected worse." Hans-Michael Holczer tried to stay optimistic on a day that saw his team lose the white jersey, one captain announced he was sick, the other captain sank without a trace in the gruppetto, and - to add insult to injury - a car ran into the team bus.
Markus Fothen gave up his white jersey as best young rider to Damiano Cunego, but is only five seconds back, an amount of time he expects to easily make up in Saturday's time trial. "Even if I lost time to Cunego, my performance was good," said the youngster. "The final reckoning comes on Saturday and I think I will come out on top."
Holczer had nothing but praise for Fothen. "I don't usually like to make predictions. But after the way Markus fought and rode today, I can only say, that he is really a good one." He is also optimistic for Fothen's chances to regain the white jersey. "Markus is in a good position to wear the white jersey in Paris. He has his destiny in his own hands."
Fothen is now the best Gerolsteiner in the overall rankings, at 15th. He overtook captain Levi Leipheimer, who dropped to 18th after suffering health problems, like several of his teammates. "Levi told me before the stage that he would have difficulties today," Holczer noted. The team's other designated captain, Georg Totschnig, finished Thursday deep in the gruppetto over 50 minutes down, and is 48th overall, over an hour and half behind the leader.