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Tour de France Cycling News for July 6, 2005

Edited by Jeff Jones

Dave Z the funniest?

By Anthony Tan in Blois

Dave Zabriskie (CSC)
Photo ©: Sirotti
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When Belgian television asked maillot jaune Dave Zabriskie whether he was indeed the funniest guy in the peloton, the 26 year-old replied: "I have a sense of humour. I don't know if I'm the funniest one in the peloton. I try."

Yesterday on the road to Tours, Dave Z said he even shared a few laughs with Lance Armstrong, who happened to pull out a funny one himself. "Oh, not really interesting - just a bit of 'ha ha' stuff," he said of his brief conversation with the six-time Tour winner. "He said: 'hope you're enjoying it [the maillot jaune]' and I said, 'Yes, I am' - and then he asked if he could have a have a turn. I said: 'Sure, why not!'"

The quizzical funny-man also had an atypical response when asked how it felt to be wearing the maillot jaune on the fourth of July, the day when America declared its independence from Britain and democracy was born in 1776.

"Yeah, it's nice to be in yellow on the fourth of July. I don't know if I'll be here again next year, but if I'm back in the States [on July 4], we can have some fireworks - or they can save some fireworks and we can do it [when I return] back home and drink the drink that everyone likes to drink."

What the...Dave?

Dave Zabriskie (CSC)
Photo ©: Sirotti
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On a more serious note, Zabriskie was looking forward to today's time trial, but he knew he and his eight other CSC team-mates would have to ride the perfect race if he were to retain his golden fleece for another day.

"Yeah, I'm looking forward to it; everybody on the team is good at that event and I think we have a good chance, so, of course, I'm excited for it. But you never know what will happen. Two seconds isn't a lot, so we'll really have to go 100 percent.

"Anything's possible, but sooner or later, it's probably going to go away from Dave Zabriskie."

Unfortunately for him, that happened sooner rather than later, but what happened today in Stage 4 was a total disaster, as a lapse of concentration saw him hurtle into the barriers at full speed with less than two kilometres to go, cruelly ending his spell in yellow. At this stage, it's not known whether he's suffered any broken bones, but an injured left thigh and bruised ribs are already on his list of injuries.

At yesterday's press conference, Zabriskie also gave plenty of credit to his team and manager Bjarne Riis for where is today. "This team is a wonderful team to be on; it's a real team-oriented team, a lot of teamwork, team values."

The face of Zabriskie
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
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But just as the press thought he had finished with his jokes for the day, Dave Z turned over a new page in his book of jokes: "That's one of the first things we learned at our camp in December when we were in the woods facing death," he said jokingly, but with a deadpan-serious facial expression.

"Some of you may not know, but I was in the hospital during that camp and didn't even finish, so I stared death right in the eye. It helped me grow as a man and become who am I today, because I almost died in those woods... and I can't wait to do it again," he said as seriously as he could, before a cheeky grin emerged.

Get well Dave - we hope you're OK!

McEwen continues to defend himself

By John Trevorrow in Tours

Davitamon-Lotto sprinter Robbie McEwen still feels that he was hard done by in the finishing sprint of Stage 3, where he was disqualified after the judges deemed him to have hindered Stuart O'Grady with his head in the run into the line. The replays, viewed by millions around the world, showed the pair clashing with 100 metres to go - a normal part of sprinting - but then McEwen seemed to deliberately head-butt O'Grady twice following that. That's how most saw it, including the commissaires, who relegated McEwen to last place in the bunch and put a serious dent in his green jersey chances.

O'Grady finished the stage in third, but believed the incident cost him second place because of the loss of speed, and there was definitely no love lost between the two Australians. McEwen claims he was merely off-balance, and his actions were not deliberate. We spoke to him this morning in Tours, and he explained his side of things:

"I didn't say anything straight off the stage, unlike Stuey. I waited to view the footage. To me, Stuey came in on me to get Boonen's wheel and he hit me very hard. I don't think he knew it was me when it first happened. But then he kept pressing me away and the only thing I could do because of the angle I was on was to move my head. It was the only thing I had to push him away. I was actually trying to stay upright. He had his whole bodyweight against me. I had Wrolich on the other side.

"I think the commissaires have overreacted to how much my head moved but that was because of how much I was angle the other way. I don't think what Stuey did deserved for him to be disqualified and I know that I should not have been disqualified. They should have just let it stand. I have been disqualified before and when I know there's something to it, I just accept it and say 'oh well, c'est la vie'. But this time I feel robbed."

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