By Susan Westemeyer
Team Gerolsteiner is enjoying its time in California, especially after Heinrich Haussler's third place finish in the first stage Monday.
At first the 23 year-old didn't think he was up to the day's sprint. "Heinrich at first had the feeling that he didn't have the best legs, and didn't want to take on the responsibility," said Directeur Sportif Michael Rich. "But fortunately he changed his mind. It's always good to get on the podium."
Team-mate Paco Wrolich set up the sprint for Haussler, but he admitted to having been very impressed by another sprinter, Mario Cipollini. "His comeback is more than perfect. Despite stars like Bettini, Boonen, Leipheimer or Hincapie, he is the absolute hero of this Tour. I take my hat off to him for his performance, that he can still ride like this at age 41. Nobody would ever have believed it! He is a star, which cycling very much needs right now."
It was that "star allure" which most impressed Austrian Bernhard Kohl. "The entrance of his Rock & Republic Racing Team was really very cool. The team arrived in Rolls Royces, and were accompanied by a lot of promotion girls. 'Super Mario' appeared at the start with four bodyguards, all in black."