With a third place for Jan Ullrich, victory in the team classification and a final day stage victory by Alexandre Vinokourov on the Champs Elysées, T-Mobile summed up its Tour performance as satisfying. "We missed out on our goal of winning yellow, but the bottom line is that we are pleased with our Tour performance," said team manager Olaf Ludwig. "The team stayed together, showed a fighting spirit and kept a high morale. We can be proud of that."
For the seventh time, Lance Armstrong (Discovery Channel) defied T-Mobile and every other team in the peloton to win the biggest bike race in the world. "Lance was imperious again this year," said sporting director, Mario Kummer.
In the mountains, T-Mobile Team isolated Armstrong from his team on a number of occasions, but that wasn't enough to overcome the Texan. "All the favourites had bad days and let their performance drop, except for Lance," said Ludwig, who said that T-Mobile would look at its performance this year. "We got closer to Lance Armstrong than in 2004. We have made clear progress this year, now we have to carefully assess what we need to do to further advance our performances."
For the T-Mobile captain, Jan Ullrich, who went into the event with such high ambitions, the Tour started inauspiciously. One day before the start in Fromentine, the 31-old crashed through the back windscreen of a team car during a motor-pacing session. It didn't help him on the next day, when Lance Armstrong passed him on the stage one time trial.
Ullrich maintained that that incident or his second crash on stage 10 to Mulhouse get him down. "Jan picked himself up, attacked and battled to the bitter end." On stage 18 the T-Mobile rider made up 37 seconds on the third placed rider overall, Michael Rasmussen (Rabobank) of Denmark, thus paving the way for his final assault on a podium place. He realised that goal in the final time trial in St. Etienne, where he stormed to second behind Armstrong. "My third place is thanks to a team that kept on attacking and always stayed on the offensive," said Ullrich, who was perhaps at his most aggressive in this year's Tour.
With the teams classification, three stage wins, three second places and three third places, T-Mobile's Kummer assessed, "Together with Discovery, we dominated this Tour."
There was Vinokourov's failure on the stage to Courchevel, followed by his impressive stage win in Briançon. The team also lost Andreas Klöden following stage 17 to a wrist fracture. "The team showed great moral courage. Each rider performed his role perfectly," said Olaf Ludwig. "[Stephan Schreck] contributed positively to the team cause, both through his support work and his engaging personality. [The others] all contributed in their own way to a harmonious and cohesive team performance."
Finally, Ludwig said that it will be impossible Alexandre Vinokourov when he leaves the team for Liberty Seguros after this season. However, he has high hopes for Michael Rogers and Patrik Sinkewitz, who will ride for the magenta team next year. "These engagements are all about looking ahead," finished Ludwig.
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