By Anthony Tan in Digne-les-Bains
When Cyclingnews spoke with Team CSC's Australian Luke Roberts a couple of days ago in Grenoble, he said his team wasn't going to defend Jens Voigt's maillot jaune, but instead stick to the plan of keeping their leaders Ivan Basso and Carlos Sastre out of trouble.
"We'll stick to the same plan as to what we doing before - we're not going to change anything," Roberts said. "Ivan and Carlos are still our best bet for the podium finish in Paris, so we'll just ride to protect those guys still. It's nice to have the yellow jersey, but Jens is the first to admit that realistically, he can't hold it for too long in the Alps. We can't waste energy on trying to protect it when there's a very slim chance of him keeping it."
He was right. That day, his German teammate lost more half an hour to stage winner Alejandro Valverde, and the day after, on Stage 11, Voigt was forced out of the race after missing the time cut, leaving just seven riders left in the CSC camp. As the first two mountain stages have shown, though, Basso and Sastre are coping just fine, and appear poised to launch a serious assault in the Pyrenées.
However, losing two of your best riders no doubt has an impact on the strength of a team, and as a consequence, 28 year-old Roberts will have his work cut out for him over the coming days. But the good thing is that he's up for it. "I still feel pretty good," he said.
"The first week was a big goal for me, and there was a lot of work for me to do in that first week. But now that's behind me; I'm ready for the next challenge and the next stage of the race, and I'll give it my best shot."