Big day for Rasmussen

Although Michael Rasmussen had a disastrous final time trial to drop to seventh overall, he can consider this year's Tour a big success. Prior to the race he pinpointed a stage win and victory in the King of the Mountains competition as his goals; he achieved the first on stage 9, then secured the latter this week.

"Of course it is very satisfactory to obtain the two things I came for, first of all to win a stage, and after that to win the mountain's jersey," he wrote on his website "It can hardly be much better."

Rasmussen said that lying third overall has been a further boost. He was however disappointed to lose 37 seconds on Thursday's stage to Mende, a loss that ultimately didn't matter for the purposes of the podium. Speaking about the stage, he said it was tough all the way. "It was an insane and hard start. We rode two mountains and still did 48 km/h. I had two fights; first of all I had to keep an eye on Pereiro [for the mountains], but at some point he didn't bother any longer. I still kept an eye on him, though. Then all of a sudden we were at the back. We were riding cross wind and 25 men had escaped. Discovery started chasing and then the whole peloton rode in the right side of the road. It may be possible that I lost some power by that. But there is not much to say about it. I wasn't strong enough when it came to it. There is no excuse for that.

"I was on Ullrich's wheel, but I just wasn't good enough. Undeniably, it would have made things a little different if the cards had been dealt the other way around, if I had taken half a minute on him instead. Now, it will be difficult, no doubt about that. It hasn't been easy at any time, but now it will be extra hard. But it won't be impossible."

Unfortunately, it proved to be too impossible for Rasmussen, who had the worst day on the bike of anyone in the stage, crashing twice, puncturing once and having three bike changes. In the end he finished 7'47 behind Lance Armstrong in 74th place,

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