Roberto Heras and Joseba Beloki both had a dismal day on the road to Briançon yesterday, thus ending any chance of a high overall placing in this Tour. Beloki had put in a respectable ride on Tuesday's tenth stage, finishing 5 minutes and 36 seconds back in 26th place, but cracked early on yesterday and came home over half an hour down.
"For me the two days in the Alps have been no good, not even yesterday (Tuesday), because my place was to be near Ullrich," Beloki said. "On today's stage I got into trouble early on, on the Madeleine, and thought it was better to save my strength for the Pyrenees. Roberto was not going well and so didn't need my help. It is a pity, but only Jaksche and Contador are strong. Now that I am not a threat for the general classification, I will try to get into a break. I would like to do that in the Pyrenees but things have to change quite a bit for that to happen". Today marks the second anniversary of Beloki's terrible fall in the 2003 Tour.
As for Heras, the triple Vuelta winner initially looked good yesterday. He made it into the early break which was clear on the Col de la Madeleine, but soon got into difficulties and was dropped. He finished 17 minutes and 2 seconds behind by the end of the stage and is now back in 38th place overall.
Liberty's cloud does have a silver lining, though, with Jörg Jaksche showing good form. He leaves the Alps as the team's undisputed leader after finishing in Armstrong's group yesterday. "I am very satisfied because I had very good sensations throughout the whole day," he sad. "I felt well and I hope to feel like that for the rest of the Tour."
Jaksche is currently thirteenth overall, 5 minutes and 33 seconds back, and so will eye a possible top ten finish in the race.