By Brecht Decaluwé in Pau
After ten days of service to leaders Michael Rasmussen and Denis Menchov, domestique Bram De Groot was in a bad mood at the start of Thursday's stage, and expressed that he hoped to leave France as soon as possible. The morning after the departure of Rasmussen, Menchov started the stage, but then he too packed and went home, but De Groot wasn't quite ready to leave all the hard work.
"We were a very close team," De Groot said, "we still are a very close team and we've been working for two weeks and it looked like we would make it to Paris with the yellow jersey. We should have been partying there," De Groot reflected on the plans the Rabobank team had in mind, "but that isn't the case anymore." The Dutchman talked slowly and seemed deeply affected by the departure of Rasmussen. "These are difficult days... there will be more difficult day coming up and that will continue for a while," De Groot continued but then tried to put things in perspective.
"There are worse things than this. There are people who are told that they have only a month more to live. What is this in contrast to that? Anyway, it will take a while before I start enjoying cycling again." His team-mate Boogerd was clearly annoyed with the way Rasmussen left the Tour after all the work the team had done for him. "We didn't talk with each other. He didn't dare to come, I guess he proved to be a chicken," Boogerd said sarcastically just before the peloton rolled away from Pau.