Danish mountain specialist Michael Rasmussen says that there is no rivalry between him and Rabobank team-mate Denis Menchov for the status of designated GC rider.
"Many of the journalists try to create a conflict that does not exist, because they build up some hypotheses. What if? Where should Menchov be in the general classification? Will you sacrifice yourself? And so on. That are things that we discuss in the team day by day. We can't start to discuss what should happen in the Alps, when we haven't reached the Pyrenees yet," Rasmussen said in his diary on feltek.dk.
"It's a little absurd when people start to ask questions about my dreams for the general classification when I might lose five more minutes during the last TT," he added.
Rasmussen said that he is still looking for a stage win and that he should be able to go for that goal even if the team finds itself defending Denis Menchov in yellow. "We saw that last year with both Savoldelli and Hincapie, even though Discovery Channel had Armstrong to ride for. I won't have to push Menchov up the hills," said.
With Menchov currently at 2:13 and Rasmussen 7:40, it seems unlikely that the Dane will be chasing general classification. But he has recovered from the illness that slowed him down in the first week. "I think I am doing well. I felt good yesterday and even better today," he wrote.
Like many other riders and observers, Rasmussen thinks this is now a wide-open Tour. "The riders left are all riders who have experienced crises in the Tour. None of them seems unbeatable. Last year Landis lost seven minutes during the stage to Pla d'Adet, and Menchov lost ten minutes on the first real mountain stage to Courchevel. Klöden has had downs before and Leipheimer has already lost five minutes. Cadel Evans is also a candidate and he has a reputation of having a black day losing all. It is hard to point out somebody who could last all the way."
The strongest team, Rasmussen believes, is undoubtedly T-Mobile, and unlike almost everyone else, Rasmussen is not discounting current race leader Serguei Gonchar. "The entire T-Mobile team rides as fast a hell. They have seven riders who could actually ride for the general classification at the time being. I won't be surprised if Gonchar still hold the yellow jersey when we start the stage to Alpe d'Huez. He is a durable rider and a rider who could ultimately make it to the podium. He still has the last time trial."