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Tour de France Cycling News for July 8, 2005

Edited by Jeff Jones

Stage 6 wrap up: Surprise win for Bernucci

Lorenzo Bernucci (Fassa Bortolo)
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
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Lorenzo Bernucci (Fassa Bortolo) has scored his first ever professional win in a very wet and dramatic finish of the sixth stage of the Tour de France. As the peloton raced into Nancy, intent on catching lone breakaway Christophe Mengin (Francaise des Jeux), Alexandre Vinokourov (T-Mobile) set off to bridge the gap alone just before the final kilometre, taking Bernucci with him. The pair caught Mengin, who then slid out into a barrier on the final corner, almost taking Vinokourov with him, and then the front part of the peloton with most of the sprinters. Bernucci avoided the disaster and went on to win the stage, with Vino recovering well to take second, effectively gaining 16 seconds on Lance Armstrong in the general classification.

It was doubly tragic for Mengin, who is from the area and had ridden a great race to stay away from the bunch for so long. He had attacked after 24 km and was joined by Mauro Gerosa (Liquigas), Karsten Kroon (Rabobank), Jaan Kirsipuu (Credit Agricole), and Stéphane Augé (Cofidis) after 47 km. The group rode out to a maximum lead of 8'15 at halfway, before Quick.Step and Davitamon-Lotto combined to chase them down. On the Cote de Maron with 14 km to go, Mengin rode away from his breakaway companions and held a diminishing gap right until the final kilometres, when he was caught by Vinokourov and Bernucci and then ended his day in the barriers with a big black eye.

Also see:

Stage 6 full results, report & photos
Live report

Complete stage maps & profiles
Start list
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An interview with Lorenzo Bernucci

La Vita e Bella for Bernucci

Lorenzo Bernucci (Fassa Bortolo)
Photo ©: Sirotti
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The Tour de France is renowned for bringing out the best in riders, motivating those to new highs, achieving results previously thought unattainable. Today in Nancy was a case in point. 25 year-old Lorenzo Bernucci, a promising amateur but a relative unknown pro up till now, took full advantage of Christophe Mengin's misfortune and Alexandre Vinokourov's sudden reaction on the final corner to steal victory from under the sprinters' noses. It was a lucky win in some ways, but a little luck goes a long, long way, as Anthony Tan reports.

"This is my first victory as a professional today, so, of course, I'm very happy," said a tranquillo Bernucci after the finish. "As an under-23 rider, I won many races, but since turning professional, I have been more of a teammate, so I'm used to both [roles]."

Bernucci's first year as a professional for Landbouwkrediet-Colnago in 2002 was a good one. Third overall in the Etoile de Bessèges stage race in France, where, in very similar circumstances to that of today, Andrea Ferrigato and himself broke away on the second stage with 10 kilometres to go to take first and second place respectively. Then, in April of that year at his first Grand Tour, he managed to finish third on Stage 12 of the Giro d'Italia.

Click here for the full interview

Mengin's disaster

By Sabine Sunderland

Christophe Mengin (Francaise des Jeux)
Photo ©: AFP
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A very emotional Marc Madiot, directeur sportif of Francaise des Jeux, was interviewed shortly after the stage had finished. Madiot wasn't able to hold back his tears while he was expressing how sorry he felt for one of his favourite riders, Christophe Mengin, who has ridden for him for the last nine years.

Mengin, whose attack was vigorous and lasted until the crash in the last corner, had made it an exciting day for Madiot following him in the car. The unloading after the race was intense and a very moved Madiot didn't try to hide his emotions of disbelief and hurt: "We've been together in the team for so long. It's so hard for me to see this happening to him. I'm really very, very sad and disappointed. Christophe is a great rider and a fantastic guy; this was a home race for him, he really deserved to win. It's not like he will have another 50 chances like this late in his career. Christophe has known so much bad luck in his career. It's incredible. I am really deeply disappointed he again wasn't granted one bit of luck today, it's tragic."

Stéphane Augé (Cofidis) added, "I was with Christophe in the finale. We rolled in together after the crash; he really took a bad tumble. It is a real pity this happened to him because he was so helpful for everybody today. He's a local and knew the roads so well; he informed us of all the dangerous points and then he crashes so unfortunately himself. It's such a shame this happened to such a nice guy."

Post-stage comments

Reported by John Trevorrow and Sabine Sunderland

Robbie McEwen (Davitamon-Lotto) finished the stage in the company of Tom Boonen in 125th place. Naturally, he wasn't happy with the finish. "That's the way it goes. The guy who was leading out the peloton into the corner was going too quick for the conditions and went down, taking out a couple of his teammates and it was just a big domino effect. There wasn't much room around the corner anyway and anyone who tried to hit the brakes once the fall started was gone anyway.

"I saw what was coming up and I was going so slow and so gentle, but then I had two bikes slide underneath me and bring me down. There I was lying on the road - a wasted day.

"Physically I am fine, when you crash at five km an hour and you land on someone else you don't get hurt. It's just a shame for the stage. I felt great again, just ready for another win and that happens - but that's racing. It's not the first time and probably wont be the last."

Green jersey wearer Tom Boonen (Quick.Step) came in just behind McEwen. "After Mengin fell, they went down in four different spots at once. We didn't take any risks really, because I was sitting with Hushovd and we came underneath, he didn't crash, but I had make a manoeuvre to avoid the riders on the ground, I then crashed with four, five other guys. I hurt my thigh and my calf a bit, but all in all it's not too bad.

"The green is won or lost in small things. It's not because you're the fastest, or in the top three in every sprint that you can secure the green. You always have to calculate the risk of something like this happening. You can be happy if it only happens once in a Tour. I had calculated that it might go wrong somewhere. It's not going to keep me awake though. I'm happy already with what I got here. But yeh, I hope I can increase my lead again. It will depend a little bit on how much luck I have too. It's not a problem really to increase my lead on Hushovd as he can't beat me on speed; but the fight for the Green has been opened up."

Stuart O'Grady (Cofidis) also went down when the FDJ train derailed. "It was just a crook day, terrible conditions which caused havoc near the finish. The steady rain made the peloton pretty nervous and it was very quick all day."

Did you feel you were in contention? "Yeah for sure. I was kicking around at the front and we were racing pretty hard, but then they tried to take the wall on and no one got around it."

Cadel Evans (Davitamon-Lotto) finished well up in 21st place. "That was one of those stages where I was just very happy to get through. Basically it was a win just getting through it unscathed. Bad luck for Robbie, but I'm sure he will be back in the hunt tomorrow."

Simon Gerrans (Ag2r) ended 150th after being dropped on the last climb. "Yeah, it was a hectic day and very dangerous. The wind was following us all day too and it was pretty fast. But I felt good all day and lets hope the weather improves."

CSC team manager Bjarne Riis was satisfied that his boys got through unscathed, even if they couldn't figure in the finale. "We tried to attack at the beginning, but just like yesterday we weren't allowed to escape. It was a dangerous finish because of the rain and the turns towards the finish. We attempted to stay up front without taking any risks."

Jaan Kirsipuu (CA)
Photo ©: AFP
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Jaan Kirsipuu (Credit Agricole) and his teammates were featured on the post-Tour show Velo Club on France 2. Kirsipuu was one of the main players in today's five man breakaway, but was brought back on the final descent into Nancy.

"From the start of this Tour I have had a good feeling," he explained. "I know that one day or another a break has to succeed, and we came close today. Unfortunately Mengin was stronger than me on the last climb. Everybody was just waiting and then Mengin took off by himself."

Kirsipuu's teammate Thor Hushovd was fifth in the stage and moved himself up in the green jersey classification to within eight points of Tom Boonen. "I was held up slightly by that crash but luckily I didn't go down myself," he said. "I have scored some very important points today, and I'm ready for the battle for green with Boonen."

Pietro Caucchioli commented, "I am hanging out for the mountains. I have prepared well for this race and I hope to show that on the climbs."

Christophe Moreau is never far from the action. "It was a chilly and wet day today, we really needed to make sure we covered up and didn't get cold. You'd think we deserve better temperatures in July. The objective for me is to battle it out with the stronger riders in this Tour. The morale is good."

Team manager Roger Legeay (Crédit Agricole) summed up, "Our ambitions are clear. The team consists of three blocks: one for GC, one for the mountains and one for the green jersey. I think this is the most complete team I've ever had. We can play on all fields; the team can show itself in every stage."

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