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First Edition TdF Cycling News for June 25, 2005

Edited by Jeff Jones & Hedwig Kröner

An interview with Alexandre Vinokourov and Andreas Klöden

The point men

Andreas Klöden
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Alexandre Vinokourov
Photo ©: Mani Wollner
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With the Tour's two biggest favourites seemingly neck and neck coming out of the Dauphiné Libéré and Tour de Suisse respectively, will it come down to the strength of the team that decides the ultimate winner of the 2005 Tour de France?

We know a lot about Discovery and their riders, but what about T-Mobile, and can they unite to derail the inexorably successful Blue Train who have made it six out of six so far? Anthony Tan gets the low-down from Jan Ullrich's point men, Andreas Klöden and Alexandre Vinokourov.

It's hard to say which team is strongest on paper - T-Mobile or Discovery Channel. However, both have a former Tour winner leading their team, and eight other men willing to sacrifice all personal ambitions for one objective and one objective only: to win the Tour de France.

In T-Mobile, as well as 1997 champion Jan Ullrich, the Bonn-based team boasts two riders who have finished on the podium in Paris: last year's runner-up, Andreas Klöden, and third place overall in 2003, Alexandre Vinokourov. This trio alone makes a formidable team in itself, and with each one approaching their best form, it's becomes apparent that this could well be the toughest title defence Lance Armstrong will ever undertake.

Just before the team's Tour launch on Wednesday, we managed to find out a little more about Ullrich's two most valuable lieutenants, whose personality and style are often in complete contrast with one another - but will hopefully lead to a recipe for success as 'Der Kaiser' embarks on what will be his eighth Tour de France campaign.

Click here for the full interview.

More Prizes - Fantasy Tour de France

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This year's Fantasy Tour de France is under way, and you can begin building your teams now! Be a professional team manager for the 2005 Tour de France, with over 25 opportunities to win prizes in this year's game. Based on the live racing action, you will take up the challenge of using your knowledge and tactical skill as a race team manager to compete with managers from around the world. For more info go to fantasy.cyclingnews.com. Prize Update

The prize sponsors are being finalised.

First prize: a TREK Madone Discovery Team bike.

Stage by stage prizes: Specialized 21 pairs of sunglasses

Runnerup prizes:

- Bontrager - 2 pairs Bontrager Race X-Lite Aero wheels, 1 Race X Lite OS handlebars, 1 Race XXX Lite OS carbon stem, and 1 Race X Lite Pro saddle.
- DMT - 3 pairs of Flash shoes
- Speedplay - 4 pairs of CSC pedals
- CTS - Signature coaching package

More prizes will be confirmed shortly.

New Rules

In conjunction with feedback and suggestions from players of the game over three years, we have developed a new points system for the Tour games. We've awarded more points to a greater number of riders and given back more emphasis to GC placings. Thanks to all of you who helped us develop the new points system. Have a look for yourself in the points section.

How To Play

You can begin creating your team/s now. You can play the first 8 stages for FREE! We will be adding additions to the startlist on a daily basis. The Tour games are easy to play, all you need to do to manage your own team is select 15 riders from the live start list then select 9 of these riders to race each day throughout the Tour. You score points according to how well each of the riders place each day in the Tour. So try your team today and see if it's for you. It's a great way to follow the Tour. Create your teams now at fantasy.cyclingnews.com

Good luck!

The Fantasy Cyclingnews Team

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