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Telekom still in yellow
Despite the fact that yellow jersey wearer, Alberto Elli says that the team wasn't working for him today, he hung onto it nonetheless. His teammate, Giuseppe Guerini was in the front group and there was no need for the purple, black and white jerseies of Telekom to chase. "On paper, it looked like an easy stage, but there were attacks from the start. I think it will be similar tomorrow," he said.
Voskamp and Dekker
In the break today were Bart Voskamp and Erik Dekker, each from a different team but with a common bond. Voskamp was not seen to be chasing too hard when Dekker was away. Reason? They both live in Belgium, in the same town and in the same street - they are neighbours. Would you attack your neighbour?
Q&A with Salvatore Commesso
He won a stage of the Tour last year, whilst wearing the Tricolore jersey of Italian national champion. Saeco's Salvatore Commesso is one of the smallest riders of the peloton (although David Etxebarria may rival him) and he has a fairly straightforward racing philosophy. Gabriella Ekström found out exactly what that was.
CN: What kind of responsibility do you have during the Tour?
SC: To always be in the breakaways and to win at least a stage
CN: What are your personal ambitions?
SC: Attack, attack and win!
CN: Which stages are you looking forward to, where will you try to achieve those ambitions?
SC: Every stage is good for me: I'm not afraid of anything, not even of the mountains. If I start the climb with 15' advantage on the bunch!
CN: How many times have you ridden in the Tour, and what is different this time from the first time you entered the race?
SC: This is my second Tour de France. Last year I came here with the Italian Champion jersey, and you can imagine the emotion I felt when I won a stage wearing the "tricolor". Now everybody knows me here and I like how the French people are with me. Even if they fool me around after France's victory against Italy in the Euro Football final.
CN: What is your opinion on the new tests they hope to use in a soon future?
SC: Let's do it!
CN: Are you using anything new (equipment etc.) during the race?
SC: A new frame and a new gel for my hair!
CN: Who do you think will win?
Jans Koerts retires
At the start of the stage today, Farm Frites rider, Jans Koerts was left behind almost immediately by the peloton. Driving the bunch was his teammate Koos Moerenhout, but Koerts continued on, eventually finishing too far behind to make the time cut. The reason given is that he has a suspected infection in his urinary tract and will see a specialist tomorrow.
And Skibby as well
Yesterday brought sad news to all Danes. Veteran Jesper Skibby (Memorycard-Jack&Jones) had to abandon his eleventh Tour de France. He has an injury in one of his thighs. He has suffered several years from an inflammation that comes and goes, and now it came at the worst possible moment. He will have to rest for two weeks.
Tour classifications - a quick guide
For those who are bamboozled by the various classifications of the Tour de France, here is a summary of a few of them. The most important prize is the yellow jersey, awarded to the rider who has the lowest time as measured on the General Classification (GC), taking into account time bonuses and penalties. Riders are given a time each day, depending on how long they take to finish the daily stage. On the day, the rider with the lowest time i.e. first across the line, is the stage winner. After all riders are in, their respective times are added to their total accumulated time (over all stages), and the leader is determined.
This means that someone who wins a stage by 8 minutes may not necessarily displace the leader on GC, or even the 50th rider. If they started the day an hour behind on the classification due to taking a wrong turn down an alp, then they will finish 52 minutes behind on GC. The yellow jersey wearer can in fact finish several minutes behind the stage winner each day and still win overall, providing that there are a few different stage winners.
The other main classifications are the green points jersey and the polka dot mountains jersey. These are scored by awarding points for 1st, 2nd, 3rd etc. at various locations along the route, including the finish. Without going into the subtleties of these competitions, the points jersey is worked out on the basis of intermediate sprints and the final sprint. The mountains is simply the first riders over specified mountain passes or lesser climbs. Note, this can include the finishing climb.
Thus, riders will try to breakaway (like Dekker did today) rather than relying on their sprinting prowess to gain points in these categories.
The young rider's classification is a white jersey, and this is awarded to the best rider on GC at the end of the day who was born after January 1, 1975 i.e. is under 25.5 years old. The teams classification is determined by summing the three times of the top three finishers of a given team on each day's stage. Finally, the most aggressive rider classification is determined subjectively by a panel of judges each day who give points to each rider. In past years, riders such as Jacky Durand, Claudio Chiappucci, and Richard Virenque have gained this jersey.
Tour clean to date
The first series of drug controls during the Tour was taken after the third stage, testing for the usual substances (anabolics, corticoids, amphetamines etc.). The results were, according to an official UCI communiqué, negative although some glucocorticosteroids were found. These are permitted, providing the riders have a medical certificate authorising their use. If they don't, they may face the same penalty that Ludo Dierckxsens (Lampre) did last year as he was ejected from the Tour by his team.
With respect to EPO, the samples will all be re-tested after the Tour when the urine test is finally validated. The results of this are likely to be known in September at the earliest. If any rider is found to have taken EPO, they may be sanctioned and stripped of any awards they might have gained.
One more stage to go...
Until the first serious mountain stage hits on Monday. Tomorrow's stage 9 will be the last flat parcours for several days. The sprinter's teams should be trying to keep things together from Agen to Dax tomorrow, otherwise it will be lean pickings for them for a while. However, we haven't seen a 'traditional' first week of the Tour, and the absence of Mario Cipollini's Saeco train has contributed to this. Three breakaway wins, two time trials, and three bunch sprints - a balance of results at least, with the climbs to come.
The 181 kilometre stage 9 contains three intermediate sprints at Nérac (km 23.5), Parleboscq (km 68) and Saint Sever (km 132.5), and one category 4 climb, the 1.7 km Cote de Montaut (4.1 %, km 143). The finishing town of Dax is the hometown of André Darrigarde, winner of 22 stages in the Tour. It has hosted a Tour stage finale four times in the past, and this will be its fifth. Catch all the action starting from 12:58 CET on cyclingnews.com