T-Mobile's Andreas Klöden is confident that he, and not one of the other favourites, will stand on the top step of the podium when the Tour de France has its Parisian finale on July 23. "There is not a single rider here who I didn't beat in 2004," the T-Mobile rider told reporters on the Tour's rest day Monday.
Klöden is currently sixth, 1:50 behind team-mate Serguei Gonchar, who didn't ride the 2004 Tour. Of the other favourites, Phonak's Floyd Landis (whose 2004 Tour was performed in the service of eventual winner Lance Armstrong) is 50 seconds ahead of Klöden. Non-2004 Tour rider Cadel Evans (Davitamon) is two seconds behind and there is only 20 seconds between him and Discovery Channel's dark horse Paolo Savoldelli (another 2004 Tour absentee).
Nevertheless, Klöden believes T-Mobile will retain the lead. "I feel confident we can keep the yellow jersey in the team all the way to Paris," he said.
Klöden's team-mate Mick Rogers believes that the team will work for the German. "We're in a pretty good position, but tomorrow we'll have to sit down and talk about a possible strategy," he said. "The most likely scenario is that we work to protect Klöden."
However, Rogers has his eye on one team that is possibly full of Tour considers and has yet to display the strength it showed in supporting Lance Armstrong to seven Tour victories. "The Tour has still got to get to the mountains and I think that Discovery Channel are still dangerous," he said.
(Look out for a report on T-Mobile's rest day press conference later today on Cyclingnews.)