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Tour de France News Extra for July 16, 2004

Edited by Jeff Jones

Voeckler hurting

Maillot jaune Thomas Voeckler (Brioches la Boulangère) faces his toughest test today in the Tour's first big mountain finish in the Pyrenees. Voeckler, who has worn the yellow jersey since finishing in the lead group in Stage 5 told L'Equipe after Stage 11 that, "I didn't have great legs. Physically I'm not feeling that great but I hope the legs will be better today because with the Col d'Aspin and the Tourmalet are both steep and you can lose a lot of time quickly."

Mayo ready

As the weather gets warmer and the climbs get higher, Iban Mayo (Euskaltel) is enjoying the race more and more. "I feel close to home now," he told L'Equipe. "I know that all the Basques will be in the mountains. I think that the difference will happen on Saturday. I'm not here to let the other people win. I'd rather win a stage than be fifth in the Tour."

Ullrich expectant

Jan Ullrich will find out what kind of form he is in in the first Pyrenean stage today to La Mongie. In past years, Ullrich's greatest weakness has been in the mountains, but leaner than ever this year, he hopes he can make a difference. "I really like the nice weather; It feels like I'm alive again," he said to L'Equipe. "I feel really happy that finally we're at the mountains. I'll see what kind of form I'm in at last."

Kessler transferred to Freiburg

T-Mobile's Matthias Kessler, who crashed heavily in Stage 10, breaking a rib and puncturing a lung, has been transferred from Saint-Flour to the hospital in Freiburg, Germany. Kessler couldn't breathe well enough to be medivaced, thus a special ambulance had to drive him from France to Germany.

Frenchman Sébastien Hinault (Credit Agricole), who also crashed during that stage, will require six weeks to recover from a broken vertebrae. During that time he will need to wear a corset to keep his back stable. The good news is that there are no neurological complications from the injury.

More SBS live Tour action

Australian free-to-air TV network SBS will be broadcasting two more Tour stages live in the coming week. Stage 14 from Carcassonne to Nimes on Sunday, July 18 will be shown live from 22:00 AEST, with Steven Hodge and Andrew Orsatti commentating. In addition, next Wednesday, July 21, the crucial Alpe d'Huez time trial (Stage 16) will be shown live starting at 23:25 AEST. SBS also has nightly 30 minute coverage of the Tour starting at 18:00 with late night repeats.

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