Tour de France: Bert Grabsch tames break solo for hours
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Friday, July 9, 2010

Tour de France: Bert Grabsch tames break solo for hours

by Jered Gruber at 7:06 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France
"Today was one of the hardest days of my professional career."

Bert GrabschWhile most of the field would call today's stage one of the easiest so far this Tour and a welcome day of relaxation (more or less), there are two exceptions: of course, the break gave it a good go, but one other rider had it even harder: 2008 World Time Trial Champion, Bert Grabsch.

Grabsch, writing a diary for, starts off his post with quite the statement considering his long and successful career: "Today was one of the hardest days in my professional career."

After yesterday's triumphant victory for the team and Cavendish, the goal was the same in Friday's 227 km stage to Guegnon. For HTC-Columbia, and for all of the sprinter teams for that matter, is to utilize as few resources as possible ahead of the all important finale.

For HTC-Columbia, that means putting their gigantic diesel engine, Grabsch, on the front: all by himself.

"The breakaway got away early, and it included [countryman and solid time trialist] Sebastian Lang. When the group of three got a gap of six minutes, I started to ride. I was alone on the front for the next 30 kilometers. After that, O'Grady helped out a little bit. For the most part however, we got no help from the other teams. After 120 kilometers of riding the front by myself, I got some support from my teammate Maxime Monfort, who became a father during today's stage. At the end of the day, Maxime had double reason to celebrate."

The magnitude of Grabsch's words is immense. It was three on one for most of the stage, and Grabsch almost single-handedly kept the breakaway in check until it was time to set up for the sprint in the latter part of the stage.

"I did my work until the final mountain sprint at Km 200. I can tell you all, I was so dead, my legs were so empty. It was made all the worse, because we had a headwind the whole time."

Grabsch did his job at the head of affairs and will continue to do so, but he questions the reasoning of the other teams.

"Today I want to look back on the tactics of Lampre, Garmin, and Milram. Of course, they have very good riders for the [upcoming] mountains, but in the flat stages, they could present themselves better. Today was the last chance for a sprint [for a few days]."

Grabsch excuses Garmin and Lampre though, and saves his pointed words for the only remaining German ProTour team, Milram. The team has fared reasonably well so far, with Gerald Ciolek finishing a solid 2nd place in yesterday's stage, but continues to be a non-factor at the front of the race.

"Above all, Milram did not ride one meter at the front, and they don't have a real rider for the general classification. The team is looking for a new sponsor, and they're not really showing themselves in the race. But maybe they've already found a sponsor?"

Up next for Grabsch? Recover as best he can tonight and prepare for a foray into the Alps. The big German will go from hours upon hours of pacesetting at the front of the field to just trying to get through the next few days.

"For me, the next days are only about getting over the mountains in good shape."



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