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Tour de France Cycling News for July 9, 2005

Edited by Jeff Jones, assisted by Sabine Sunderland

More stage 7 comments

By John Trevorrow in Karlsruhe

Robbie McEwen (Davitamon-Lotto)

Robbie McEwen (Davitamon-Lotto)
Photo ©: Sirotti
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Are you happy? "What do you think! It was up to us to again today to take the initiative. I really thought that there would be a breakaway today. So I thought that I would make a few breaks of my own because you never know. I got in that break and thought that I would just see what would happen.

The whole team was incredible today. They were all over the place. I followed Freddie. Then the gap opened up to the right and I managed to squeeze in between Baden and the barrier . It was a bit early, but no one was going to beat me today.

You looked a long way aback coming into the last kilometre? "It was a strange sprint. It started really early, about seven kilometres out, so I said to the boys just hang back. It was like a big knob of riders in front. Freddy kept bringing me up, bringing me up and I followed anyway. I managed to dodge the riders coming back at 100 km/h. But they weren't easy to get by. And luckily the gap opened right on cue."

In these really rough finishes with the lead outs aren't so involved, you seem to be the fastest? "I don't know about that but I seem to excel in those type of conditions. But anyone can get boxed in and there's nothing you can really do."

Why did you end up breaking away with Wegmann? "Our Team decided before the start, that whatever breaks got away today we would go with them. A few had gone and been caught and after the first sprint, when Wegmann jumped away I joined him. Soon we were a minute up the road and I was thinking ‘what the hell am I doing here?'. So I said to him 'doesn't look like anyone else is coming' and he said that he wanted to keep going because he could get the extra points to get the polka dot jersey. So I gave him a push and dropped back to the peloton.

"Then just for a laugh, I hid behind a bush before I was caught and then jumped out and got on the back of the bunch.

The Press room broke into laughter and Robbie leaned forward and said to me, 'Iffy, you must have done that at a club race some time?' I suppose a lot of people have, but not in the Tour de France.

Pre-stage comments

Robbie McEwen (Davitamon-Lotto)

How have you come up this morning? "Yeah pretty good, dried off from yesterday, and ready to get wet again. There will be huge crowds in Germany; I think most of the population comes down to watch the Tour. You have literally millions of people on the road making it half as wide as what it would have been, but there will be a great atmosphere, but you never know it could clear up.

Do you know anything about the sprint finish today? "It's pretty much straight ahead; there is only one corner in the last 10km, after that it is a big wide road. It should be fairly safe to what we have had."

Normally with a long straight riders tend to go early? "Yeah, I have seen that happen, like a few days ago."

Brad McGee (FDJ)

What's the plan today, A, B or C? "(laughs) Probably a chance for each one to come onto play. I am still smarting about the bad luck of yesterday, but we will be up there again tonight . The team morale is good and I reckon that Baden or Bernhard will win one soon."

Chris Horner (Saunier Duval)

The American journos reckon you're a good bloke. "All right (laughs). How are you doing?"

Chris this is your first Tour de France? "Yeah it has been exciting, pretty much like everyone said it would be, basically like riding one of the big World Cup races everyday. And everyday there is a lot of stress and fighting, but it is also everything you want it to be. It's fun, its colourful, a lot of spectators and the best bike riding in the world."

In a few days you get to the mountains? "I think we get there a bit quicker than that, I think it's tomorrow, it might only be a cat. 2 but it's near the finish. It's at the end of 145 miles. It's not going to be an easy climb. The good thing about being 5 minutes down is that they will give me a bit if space and if I have good legs then I can go for a stage win and move up on some time and then go for a top ten GC."

Magnus Bäckstedt (Liquigas-Bianchi)

McEwen and Backstedt
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
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"It's been alright, I haven't done too much, I have had good legs all the way through. I am hoping to get away and get a stage win.

"My main goal for the tour this year is to go for stage win, we have three guys who are up there in contention for a stage win, and Garzelli will be a big chance for a top five, so I will be trying to get into some breakaways and get a stage win that way.

Allan Davis (Liberty Seguros)

How did you come up after yesterday's fall? "Yeah disappointing, I was on second wheel coming into the corner behind Kirsipuu and we were just going too quick, and down we went with a few behind us."

Did you get hurt? "Not badly but I would like to thank Robbie McEwen who allowed Victor to work on me last night and again this morning, I had a bit of a corked thigh and it feels a lot better today."

Baden Cooke (FDJ)

Did you come up OK after yesterday? "Yeah I felt pretty good yesterday, got over the hill pretty well and we had Christophe in front. It was a big day for him, his last Tour and racing into his home town and he is just bitterly disappointed. And to add insult to injury when he crashed his handle bar smashed into his eye and it has all blown up, plan B was with Brad and Bernhard and myself ready to go. Basically we were the only sprinters team in the front that was organised in a really good position. It was a real disappointment to a really hard day."

Mick Rogers (Quick.Step)

You escaped the carnage yesterday? "I entered in to the corner just as they were crashing, so I had time to put the brakes on and get the foot out. It was a hard day you know, the wind the rain and 185 guys all wanting to get into the top 10. Today should be much the same but the wind shouldn't be so hard."

Tomorrow should be the start of the real thing with a big climb near the finish? "Not a super hard day but if there's rain and wind, along with 230 kms, then it will be a rough day."

Simon Gerrans (Ag2R)

"Like to say happy birthday to my dad. He couldn't get here to be with me, but just like to say hope he has a good day. I should take advantage with you blokes to send him my best wishes.

"Feel pretty good this morning. It was pretty tough yesterday, strung out down the edge of the road. Got popped on the last climb, so managed to keep out of all that trouble. I reckon a break will probably get away today and I will try and in it. But you have got to be lucky."

Luke Roberts (CSC)

"Luke you managed to avoid the trouble last night? It was a pretty dangerous finish yesterday, particularly that last corner with the rain. We just thankful that none of our leaders lost any time and I didn't lose any time. I skipped up one place because David (Zabriskie) lost some time."

Heading into Germany is a bit like going home for you? "I will have a lot of friends at the finish today and hopefully I can put in a good performance."

Michael Rasmussen aiming for dots

For the Rabobank team, the first week of the Tour de France has been about the mountains jersey, that Erik Dekker won after stage 3 and Karsten Kroon took over the next day. Now Michael Rasmussen wants to have a crack at it, as he has shown in Stage 8.

"I think that the mountains jersey could ride home in a break," Michael Rasmussen wrote in his diary at www.feltet.dk/michaelrasmussen. Although he was referring to Erik Dekker at the time, the same theory applies to today.

Rasmussen has been staying near the back of the peloton to try to lose time before the mountains. "I'm sitting in a position where I can hit the brakes if necessary. At some time a gap in the peloton is hopefully going to come about. But it's going to happen naturally. It isn't fun to be the only one to be left behind."

Boonen has it all

"Tom Boonen has got all the athletic qualities to be a great cyclist," Quick.Step soigneur Dirk Nachtergaele is full of praise for his rider, and expressed just that in the Tour section of Het Nieuwsblad. "No matter how big his wins have been this year, he's still the nice guy he was before. On top of that he's very charming. The boys in the team happily work for him, the ladies are falling for him, the youth can look up to him and the older people respect him."

Nachtergaele had Tom on the massage table at 8.15pm Friday evening and it wasn't easy to treat the sprinter's battered body. "He's got grazed patches of skin all over the left side of his body," Patrick Lefevere explained. "Especially his elbow and his 'bacon' are in a bad way. His green knicks were torn and the blood was seeping through the bandages. And then there's his back..."

Team doctor Toon Cruyt comments, "Tom's back was blocked near the hip joint. Because the contracting of the muscles and the pain, has was sitting all crooked on his bike after the crash. That meant that he couldn't use his power fully. Botero offered Tom a treatment from the chiropractor from Phonak, but for now we've declined in friendly way, it might not be exactly the right treatment for him yet."

Parent and spouse watch

Robbie McEwen has been enjoying his parents' company in the Tour. Mr and Mrs McEwen had come half way around the world to support their son. As a token of his gratitude, Robbie offered his parents a short holiday in a spa-resort in Switzerland while the Tour peloton races some mountain stages. "I won the holiday package in the Tour of Switzerland and now my parents can use it to unwind," Robbie told TV1.

Mrs Angelique McEwen has seen her husband take two victories while taking a holiday on the Belgian coast. She told HLN, "I've been shopping with Ewan, with Robbie's bankcard. When the cat's away...(laughs). I'm a real stress-chicken. Robbie is the strong one, I admire him for that. I mainly have to listen to him and stay calm. If what happened to him - being DQ'd - was done to me, I would have scratched the jury's eyes out. But Robbie remains cool. He's going for the stage wins now as a lot needs to happen for Boonen to lose the green.

It was a real unloading of all the tension when Robbie took his first win. I thought it was really nice how he crossed the line: with his little fingers pointing to his chest and his fist in the air. The anger of the previous days made room for joy."

Tom Boonen's parents have been following the Tour from a few hundred kilometres away, from their home in Balen, Belgium. "I'm a representative for bike manufacturer Ridley and have to work one more week before I can take a week holiday," former pro André Boonen told Hugo Coorevits of HNB. "I have to get some bread on the table too hey (grins). That last week in the Pyrenees, Tom will be needing all the rest he can get. For now, we limit ourselves to the party for Tom here in Balen."

It's known that the people from Balen love a party, that much was clear after Tom's wins in the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix. Even though the green jersey isn't at all secured for Tom, the opportunity to celebrate the success of their boy in the Tour was considered a good reason to celebrate. Yesterday evening, a huge party was organised by the council. Everyone showing up dressed in green from top to toe - with exception of socks and shoes - enjoyed free beers the whole night. It was reported to be a huge party with thousands present.

McEwen gets a mattress

Tom Boonen had expressed his disapproval of the ad that appeared in L'Equipe last Tuesday. He thought it was fuelling the rivalry between him and McEwen in a non-sporting manner. McEwen had laughed that they should compensate him for the fact they used his image in one of their ads. Tom's sponsors, Innergetic felt that they had to answer those feelings and made a peace offering: the Australian sprinter was handed an Innergetic pillow; "the mattress will follow later," said Carol Maes, daughter of the big boss of Latexco, Luc Maes.

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