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Tour de FranceNews Extra for July 7, 2004

Edited by Kristy Scrymgeour and John Stevenson

Australian round-up

A good day for some

By John Trevorrow

McEwen in yellow

Yellow and green make McEwen smile
Photo ©: Sirotti

Robbie McEwen grabbed his first ever Maillot Jaune after a strong third place into Wasquehal. It was a matter of survival as the final fifty kilometres saw the riders take on some severe cobbles that this part of France is famous for. For other Australian riders in the peloton, the day didn't fare quite so well. Stuart O'Grady, Michael Rogers and Baden Cooke all crashed and lost valuable time or points, while Brad McGee, Matt Wilson and Allan Davis were all held up by the crashes.

"They have just told me I've taken the yellow jersey, "McEwen exclaimed. "Hey that's good. I wasn't concentrating on it this morning I just wanted to try and win the stage. But I took two seconds out on the road and put myself within striking distance just in case. As we approached the finish I thought if I finished in the first three I might take the jersey."

McEwen added that he has never really chased the leader's jersey. "I've always done my best in the prologue and then just tried to win stages. If you finish in the first three you're always taking the bonifications. I've been close a number of times to leader's jerseys in the Tour, the Giro and the Vuelta. At times I've been leader on the road but not had it. This is the first time I've actually taken a leader's jersey in a Grand Tour. Now I can take it off the list of things to do."

As much as McEwen will enjoy wearing the yellow jersey, he realises that with the team time trial on tomorrow, he will most likely only wear it for one day. "It's a bit of a pity there's the team time trial tomorrow because I'm for sure going to have to give the yellow jersey up. But I guess the thing with the yellow jersey is its great to have it but if you're not going to be wearing it in Paris then there's not that much difference between one day or wearing it for six days.

"Of course it would be nice but it also probably puts more pressure on the team. At least we don't have to ride a whole day on the front and maybe still losing it by a second. But as a team we'll just enjoy having the jersey and go out and ride the team time trial but I don't think too much should be expected of our team. We are without a big contender for the overall classification and we can only lose a maximum of 2 minutes 30 seconds in the team time trial.

"We'll just go out and try and have a good day and get on with the tour the day after tomorrow. That's where it's at for us. We're not here for a big performance in the team time trial."

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O'Grady: "Can anything else happen?"

Stuart O'Grady mentioned on the first day that he needed to get rid of some demons during the tour, but after a second fall in three days it's not looking like he is succeeding. "Can anything else happen you reckon?" was Stuey's first reaction. "I crashed on the second section of pavé, got back up quickly and chased around the corner and the train barriers were down and I had to stop. We were only about 10 seconds off the back.

"Hopefully that's the last touchdown for the tour," he added. "It can't get much worse but I'm still here, the form's fine, just need a little bit of luck on my side. I'm still in one piece, just got to soldier on."

Rogers down again

Michael Rogers also bit the dust for the second time in four days. "I crashed just before the first section of pavé," he said. "I was right up the front on seventh or eighth wheel when it happened. Someone just went down in front of me. I've hurt my left calf so we'll see what happens now. It's pretty sore. I had to chase for ages on my own but lucky I caught Mayo's group. But with him out the back the front group were going crazy."

More bad luck for McGee

Brad McGee is definitely not having the kind of tour anyone had planned. "I got caught up behind the big crash just before the first section of pavé. I then saw Cookey and I tried to help him get back on. But they were gone. We were in a big group as we hit the pavé and no way we could catch them." Cookey was a bit disheartened once he was not in the hunt but there's not much you can do about that.

When quizzed on his back problems Brad said. "All I get is pain and no power, that is the problem." Brad was asked what treatment he was having. "You can't afford to do too much because you upset other things," he said.


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