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Tour de France Cycling News Extra for July 7, 2006

Edited by John Kenny

What a difference a day makes

By John Trevorrow in Caen

Oscar Freire (Rabobank)
Photo ©: Jon Devich
(Click for larger image)

In St Quentin young Belgian lead out man Gerd Steegmans was the toast of the team as he piloted Robbie McEwen towards victory. Today he bungled the job when he hit the front way too early and left McEwen in a precarious position in the front too far from home.

McEwen could not recover and finished fifth behind triple World Road Champion Spaniard Oscar Friere holding off the current world champion Tom Boonen.

Aussie contenders Mick Rogers and Cadel Evans both avoided the crashes nearing race end and looked fairly fresh at the finish. "It was basically an easy day. Just at the end it got a bit hectic and I knocked it up a notch. You have to keep near the front in the finale even if you're not sprinting. Otherwise you can get caught in splits and crashes," Rogers said. "I kept out of trouble but it was pretty hectic at the end. It was a bit nerve wracking as the crowds are still huge and they can get a bit involved," Evans added

Stuart O'Grady must be dreading pinning on his race number 13 each morning as his run of terrible bad luck continued today when he lost more time through bad luck. "Just when you don't think it can't get much worse. I woke up a feeling a lot stiffer and even more sore. I really thought I would be in trouble, but once I got on the bike and warmed up, I felt a lot better,"O'Grady said.

About eight ks from the finish we came into this roundabout and I punctured. We were doing warp speed and the tyre rolled off the rim. I felt like Mick Doohan as the bike kicked sideways and I had to ride it like a bucking bronco. Maybe that number 13 is not so bad as I was lucky to hold it upright. Hopefully things may improve on the next stage to Vitres. It is Friday but at least not the 13th."

Stage 5 quotes

Robbie McEwen (Davitamon-Lotto), 5th:

"Steegmans was really apologising after the finish. He misread the signs and thought the 500 metre to go sign was 200 so he just took off. He put me on the front with 300 to go which was just too far out in a roaring head wind. I tried to get back on the wheels but got a bit boxed in. I finally got a bit of a run but it was disappointing. He will learn from this, we both will."

Michael Rogers (T-Mobile)

"It was basically an easy day. Just at the end it got a bit hectic and I knocked it up a notch. You have to keep near the front in the finale even if you're not sprinting. Otherwise you can get caught in splits and crashes."

Cadel Evans (Davitamon-Lotto)

"I kept out of trouble but it was pretty hectic at the end. It was a bit nerve-wracking as the crowds are still huge and they can get a bit involved."

Pre-start quotes

Robbie McEwen (Davitamon-Lotto): I slept pretty well really, despite all the French partying with the yelling and sounding of horns.

Q: Today looks like a bit more of yesterday?

RMcE: Yeah, but things are getting just a little bit tougher bringing the breaks back. You've got different blokes in the breaks, but it's the same guys chasing every day. With Boonen in the yellow jersey, Quickstep are having to defend the jersey. They rode for him the whole day yesterday. They are normally a team like us who will start riding from the halfway mark. In other years you had a team like Discovery who would ride the first 100 km at a good tempo.

When the sprinters' teams are doing all the chasing it makes it pretty tough.

Yesterday when we caught them with about 5 km, we were in control, I suppose we were playing them on a string but there will come a day when we don't get them back.

Q: You could be a chance to be in yellow today.

RMcE: If I was really serious about getting yellow I would have tried harder in Valkenberg. Going up Cauberg, I got dropped but when I came over the top I was about 15 metres from a group with Hushovd in it then I was just about to jump over to that group and I looked up and saw a big group ahead of them so I knew I couldn't win so I didn't bother. Then another group rode past me and I thought - whatever. If I had come in with Hushovd I would now be equal with Boonen.

But for the team's benefit it's better that I'm not in yellow, it just puts more pressure on everybody and they are going to need that energy later on for Cadel.

Cadel Evans (Davitamon-Lotto)

I had a good night's sleep. A couple of glasses of champagne to celebrate Robbie's win helped to settle me down. He should do it every day.

Q: How is your team-mate Chris Horner doing after his crash?

CE: He's a lot better, he's improving every day.

The interview was done in the official village before the stage start, which was a novelty for Evans.

CE: This is the first time I've been in here; it's all a bit hectic for me. I prefer to just kick back in the team bus

Evans is having a quiet week and is making sure that he stays out of trouble before Saturday's time trial, the first big test for the GC riders.

CE: Saturday's time trial is going to be the first real test of the Tour and it will be interesting to see how Kloden, Landis and Mick go. Being a long time time trial, 52 km, it will have a big influence on the Tour. I think Landis is looking very dangerous, he's obviously got good form and probably would have won the prologue but for losing time at the start with a wheel change.

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