CSC eyes final alpine battle
L’ALPE D’HUEZ, France – Glenwood Springs’ Bobby Julich, nursing an injured wrist, performed surprisingly well Wednesday, completing the timed climb up cycling’s most famous mountain in a respectable time of 44 minutes, 23 seconds for 42nd place.It was a respectable effort, about two minutes slower than some of the very best on the stage – except for Lance Armstrong, of course, whose time of 39:41 was untouchable even by the likes of former world time trial champion and Tour winner Jan Ullrich.It’s a sign, too, that Team CSC rider Julich has recovered substantially from his freak accident on Sunday. Much of the swelling in his wrist is gone now, he says, and control of his bike has visibly improved.”It’s still so painful. But it’s a lot better than it was. I can move my fingers; I can squeeze the brake,” he told a reporter before Wednesday’s time trial.Now the Glenwood Springs High School graduate is looking forward to riding all-out again in support of his leader, Italian Ivan Basso, on the tour’s final alpine stage today. And he’d like to help CSC regain the lead in the team classification, now held by Ullrich’s T-Mobile squad.”I need to be strong for those two days in the Alps to support Ivan,” said Julich. “By that time, hopefully, my arm will be better and I’ll go for the time trial at the end.”Basso, meanwhile, visibly struggled Wednesday up the famous climb to l’Alpe d’Huez, ultimately losing more than two minutes to Armstrong. While Basso hung on to second place overall, currently at 3:48 back, the young Italian now has Ullrich’s teammate, German national champion Andreas Kloden, breathing down his neck from third place, just 1:15 back.”I normally ride better, but for some reason I didn’t feel good,” said Basso. “But the Ivan Basso the world saw a few days ago will be back tomorrow.”Today’s 204.5km stage from Le Bourg-d’Oisans north through the heart of the Alps to Le Grand-Bornand takes the riders over some of the most famous cols in cycling history. Expect T-Mobile’s Ullrich and Kloden to go ballistic in a last-ditch effort to distance Basso.”I continue to believe we have reason for optimism regarding tomorrow’s stage, which looks like it might be the toughest in the Tour so far,” said Bjarne Riis, Team CSC’s Director Sportif.
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In some ways, it’s hard to believe it’s been five years since Beaver Creek and Birds of Prey hosted the 2015 FIS Alpine World Championships. It feels like it’s been five years since March and the outbreak of COVID-19.