Two years ago, as the Tour’s seventh stage saw the race enter the mountains, Linus Gerdemann of T-Mobile claimed the stage with a stylish attack that also saw him take over the yellow jersey. The German couldn’t build on that last year, missing the Tour as he recovered from a broken leg, but he is back this year with a new team, Milram, and renewed optimism, even if he has so far slipped under the radar of most.
As this year’s Tour enters the mountains on Friday, the 26-year old says he is confident. And the omens are good – the first day of climbing once again comes on the seventh stage.
“I’m feeling quite confident at the moment but it’s always difficult to say before the mountain stages start,” said Gerdemann. “But I am better than two years ago, that’s for sure. I’m feeling good.”
An example of Gerdemann slipping beneath the radar came on Monday’s stage, when it was widely reported that the only team leader and overall contender to make the 27-man selection was Lance Armstrong (Astana).
But Gerdemann, who also placed a solid 19th in the opening time trial, was there too, moving him handily up the general classification until, 24 hours later, a disastrous team time trial, in which Milram lost 2.48 to finish 15th, saw him slide back down. It leaves him placed 30th place, 3.12 down, as this year’s race enters the mountains.
On stages five and six Gerdemann was visible near the front of the bunch, alert to the wind on Wednesday and the rain on Thursday, and so remains well-placed to challenge for a place in the top ten in Paris. “I’m happy with the first week,” said Gerdemann. “We had bad luck in the team time trial with the crashes but we have to forget that and move forward.
“Yes, I made time in the crosswinds, through a mixture of luck and experience, but it was only 40 seconds – the gaps will be far bigger in the mountains,” he added.
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Richard Moore is a freelance journalist and author. His first book, In Search of Robert Millar (HarperSport), won Best Biography at the 2008 British Sports Book Awards. His second book, Heroes, Villains & Velodromes (HarperSport), was long-listed for the 2008 William Hill Sports Book of the Year.
He writes on sport, specialising in cycling, and is a regular contributor to Cyclingnews, the Guardian, skyports.com, the Scotsman and Procycling magazine.
He is also a former racing cyclist who represented Scotland at the 1998 Commonwealth Games and Great Britain at the 1998 Tour de Langkawi
His next book, Slaying the Badger: LeMond, Hinault and the Greatest Ever Tour de France, will be published by Yellow Jersey in May 2011.
Another book, Sky’s the Limit: British Cycling’s Quest to Conquer the Tour de France, will also be published by HarperSport in June 2011.