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Tour de France Cycling News for July 13, 2005

Edited by Jeff Jones & John Stevenson

Evans finds his place

By John Trevorrow in Courchevel

Cadel Evans (Davitamon-Lotto)
Photo ©: Sirotti
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Australian former mountain bike star Cadel Evans (Davitamon-Lotto) finished a respectable eighth, in the same group as Jan Ullrich, Andreas Kloden (both T-Mobile) and Floyd Landis (Phonak), moving up to 13th from 25th on general classification. Evans said he felt good about his ride to Courchevel, though the particular style of the final climb didn't suit him.

"I have heard some people say some things in recent times that put a bit of doubt in my head over the last few years," Evans told Cyclingnews. "This will give me confidence for the future, but `piano piano` ... step by step."

Evans was in the final group of six with ten kilometers to go, but dropped off the pace as Mancebo turned the screw. At that point, Evans said, "I had been on my limit for a long time."

"I don't want to make excuses, but on this type of climb am not so good, he added. "It is more for the power guys. But when it come to power to weight ratio - seven, eight, nine and ten per cent climbs, that is more my kind of climb Now I have to rely on my consistency and regularity to see what I can do in the future."

Turning to the crew from Australian broadcaster SBS, Evans told them he was, "pretty stuffed actually. I wasted a fare amount of energy at the start of the climb. I had to fight for position.

"The pecking order hasn't been established, so for some people I am just getting in the way, for other people I am on my own and hold my own position. But if I drop back I have no one to bring me to the front In the end there, those first five or six guys rode at a level that was a bit too fast for me with nine kilometres to go."

Discovery's tempo wasn't what finally blew him out of the lead group, Evans explained, "it was more the attacks from Mancebo and Armstrong. That put me on the limit on this gradient of climb. But for the steeper climbs we will see."

Asked how much he had in reserve for the tough final two weeks of this Tour, Evans said, "In the weeks leading up to this race I always said I was probably going to struggle in the first week and things indicate that I am going to get better. But this is my first tour. So I will take it day by day and see what I can do in this Tour. For me this is the first day of the real Tour."

Nevertheless, today's was a confidence-boosting ride for Evans. "It looks like I might be able to ride into the top 10 if I am consistent and without problems," he said.

Moving up: Mick Rogers

By Hedwig Kröner in Courchevel

Michael Rogers (Quick.Step)
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On Tuesday, July 12, Quickstep's Michael Rogers went into the Alps in 37th position on general classification, 6'29 behind the race leader. But the 'Dodger' certainly had something in mind and an objective to go for before the stage to Courchevel. "Today's the first real hard stage, with two long and steep climbs so it will be the first day where the GC really opens up," he told Cyclingnews at the start in Grenoble. "I'd like to finish with the front guys as I've climbed well the last couple of days. But I've been pretty much waiting until this stage so it's the first day where I can move up on the GC I think."

Rogers was looking forward to this part of the race as he'd reconnoitred the course in training beforehand. "Between the top of the first climb and the foot of the second it's a long way," he said. "I've done it in training a few times and there's always been quite a strong headwind in the valley so I don't know what it's going to be like today."

The day went well for the world time trial champion, who predicted an early breakaway: "There's bound to be someone who's going to try [on the first climb]. I don't know how far they'll get but we'll see." Finally, all early attacks were caught by a dominating Discovery squad, and Rogers hit the final climb to Courchevel within the main bunch.

"I'd like to get to Paris in the top ten, certainly," he replied when we asked him about his overall goals at this year's Tour de France. "Unfortunately, I lost a bit of time in the team time trial. But that was expected, so I hope to make some time up in the next couple of stages. They're pretty hard."

He was right, and when Lance Armstrong took his favourite jersey the end of the day, the high tempo he imposed on the peloton was sure to leave plenty behind, including Rogers. But the Australian stayed true to his objective and moved up on GC to finish 25th - even if he was fined 50 Swiss Francs and added 20 seconds for staying behind a team car for too long today.

CSC looks to Pyrenees

Ivan Basso (CSC)
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It was a day of gains and losses for the CSC team. Its general classification candidate Ivan Basso moved up the standings to third place as riders who had been strong in the flat stages fell away on the first day in the mountains. But Basso was dropped on the climb to Courchevel, finishing the stage just over a minute behind Alejandro Valverde and Lance Armstrong, and 2'40" adrift on GC.

CSC team manager Bjarne Riis put on a brave face and echoed Basso's comments the previous day that the Pyrenees would be decisive, telling Belgian TV, "I think it's not too bad. Okay, it [would have] been better if Basso was up there with Armstrong and Valverde. I think in the end he had to drop back a little, but if he doesn't lose more than this it's fine. It's still early in the Tour. The Pyrenees will be hard. I think he's OK."

On CSC's website, Riis later added, "When [Basso] was dropped, he did the only right thing. He found his own pace and kept his cool. A lot of big riders suffered today, and I'm glad we avoided that. I think we did an OK stage, although it was a pity Basso was dropped."

Pre-stage chat in the village depart

By John Trevorrow in Brignoud

The Australian contingent at the Tour was pretty chirpy before stage 10. With a rest day behind them to calm legs and minds, the group of mostly sprinters and their helpers weren't exactly looking forward to two Cat 1 climbs, but they weren't dreading them either.

Stuart O'Grady (Cofidis)
Photo ©: Jon Devich
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Stuart O'Grady (Cofidis) was planning to conserve and survive. "Rest day was good, chilled out in the arvo and had a nice long lunch," he said. "Plenty of rest and hung out with the family. Today with the mountains it's just a matter of not trying to tap into the reserves. Do the minimum amount possible and take it day by day now. You really have to start looking into the future stages and it's definitely not flat tomorrow so every little calorie that you burn you're not going to get back."

O'Grady's friend and team-mate Matt White was also unfazed by the day's profile. "I don't mind these mountain days with a bit of flat at the start," he said. "The worst nightmare for me is when we hit a climb right from the start. It will be a big bus today." [The 'bus' or 'grupetto' is the group of sprinters and non-climers that work together to stay within the day's time limit - Ed]

The bus - aka the grupetto and the laughing group
Photo ©: Jon Devich
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"Actually we have a couple of buses," explained White. "The first one is a bit of an express and sets a faster pace. The second one stops at all stations and is a bit easier. I normally take the first one and then have the insurance of the second."

We asked Alan Davis (Liberty Seguros) if he was looking forward to the day. "Yeah I am, well not all of it," he said. "I recovered well yesterday and my leg has come good so it will just be a matter of getting in the right group and saving as much as possible. The team has good morale and hopefully today they can do all right."

For AG2R's Tour rookie Simon Gerrans, the rest day, "went too quickly. Easy ride, bit of massage, a couple of coffees and a lot of rest. Today will be a different story, it will be a day for the big boys and I am looking forward to just getting it out of the way. You won't see me jumping off the front. At least it's a beautiful day."

For the Francaise des Jeux team's Australian physiotherapist Ben the rest day was line any other. "It was no rest day for me," he said. "For the riders it's an easy day but for us it's the hardest. I saw all the team today, they all have their little niggles but you get that after nine days of hard racing."

One of his charges, sprinter Baden Cooke, said, "Yesterday I was tired. That's pretty normal for a rest day, your body just wants to shut down. Today I feel a bit more refreshed and it shouldn't be so terrible, we have a bit of flat at the start so we have a bit of time to roll along before we hit the first hill and the time delay for the grupetto will be large so it shouldn't be too much pressure in making the time cut. It will be a day of survival and saving as much as possible. But for the climbers it will be a tough day.

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