Confidence boosted by his strong third place yesterday and excellent riding thus far, Danish rider Michael Rasmussen is aiming high in the Tour. His goals are to defend his mountains jersey and also target a place on the final podium of this year's race.
"Now we go for it. I've seen that I am one of the strongest in the peloton today," he wrote in his diary on www.feltet.dk/michaelrasmussen. "At the same time I'm the only rider in the team for the overall, since Menchov lost more than ten minutes today. I'll take it one day at a time. But it's clear that we have seen, that there are a lot of goals ahead that are within reach all of a sudden. Hopefully, I haven't reached the ceiling yet."
Rasmussen is banking on his freshness to make a difference as the race progresses. "I'm hoping that the others are not going to be getting much better," he states, explaining that his sparse early-season racing program should help. "A lot of the others, who had races up till the Tour, are presumably not going to get much better. I've had to get my sharpness during the first week, whereas the others started at 100%. They were at their peak. Nothing is certain, but I think I can take more time to several of the favourites. Not necessarily to Armstrong but to those who are aiming for the podium."
Rasmussen's aim to add a high GC place to his KOH aspirations will lead to a necessary change in tactics. He accumulated those mountains points by riding aggressively, taking out a considerable 70 point lead over second-placed Christophe Moreau. But his aggression will be more metered from this point on.
"You have to choose your battles carefully. The bills have to be paid later on," he reasons. "I'll take it one day at a time. Tour de France is a long race and a hard one; it takes only few bad minutes on a single mountain to ruin the chances in the overall classification."
T-Mobile is a case in point. "They had, for sure, a crisis today. Even though they ride well in the rest of the Tour, they are still four minutes behind. It's easy to lose four minutes, but they are damn hard to win."
Rasmussen will be relying on his Rabobank teammates to help him keep an eye on his challengers for the mountains title. "Right now, I'm in a position, where I can control it. The team is strong. We had quite a few riders present late in the stage today. We can decide who will be allowed to go. If we will not allow somebody to go, because they are a threat, well, then they just will not succeed getting away."