Latest Cycling News for July 8, 2006
Edited by Jeff Jones
Rogers is ready for yellow
By Brecht Decaluwé in Saint-Grégoire
Michael Rogers (T-Mobile)
Photo ©: Jon Devich
features the first long time trial, and it is expected that Tom Boonen
will not be able to keep his yellow jersey. There are several GC riders
close to the world champion, but there are also some time trial specialists
within reach of the Belgian. David Millar and Michael Rogers, for example,
might be able to grab the yellow jersey if they can pull off a great time
trial. Michael Rogers is closest to Tom Boonen on GC, and Cyclingnews
spoke with him at the finish in Vitré on Friday.
"I hope to do well tomorrow. I expect to have a good ride because I
feel quite good. I'll do the best ride I can."
Rogers has the best cards to make an attempt in grabbing the yellow
jersey. "Certainly, there is a possibility of the yellow jersey but also,
there are some other very good riders behind me like Hincapie, Landis,
Evans, Millar - heaps of guys who can take the jersey as well. Because
I'm second in GC doesn't mean I will take the jersey. I will have to ride
very quick but I'm looking forward to it."
The length of the time trial suits the Australian rider perfectly, but
at first sight, the course doesn't look that easy. "The first half is
rather up and down. The second half is very fast, open, flat and I think
that's good for me. Normally, no matter how the course is, you go well,"
No excuses from Boonen
By Jeff Jones
A wan smile
Photo ©: Sirotti
Tom Boonen has been coming under increasing pressure in the last few
days to win a stage in the Tour. Not happy with just the maillot jaune,
the world champion sprinter has been frustrated in all his attempts to
win one of the bunch sprints. Robbie McEwen has three, Jimmy Casper and
Oscar Freire one each, and Matthias Kessler also managed to sneak under
the sprinters' noses. But the closest Boonen has been able to get is second,
and that hasn't made him happy.
Before the start of stage
6 in Lisieux, Boonen wasn't talking to the press, partly because it
has been critical of his sprinting tactics. And after the stage finished
in Vitré, he also didn't offer any comments. No more excuses, Boonen just
has to win. But McEwen, so far, has proved himself to be the fastest,
while Boonen has lacked explosivity.
"Tom is really happy with the yellow," team director Wilfried Peeters
explained to AD yesterday. "Many teams would love to be in our
situation. That Tom doesn't win, is hard. But in fact, we can only lose.
Tom couldn't sprint well again today. He was boxed in."
Yesterday, it appeared to be more than that, however. The peloton was
in one line, with Quick.Step's Tosatto leading out until 500m to go, before
Alessandro Ballan took over for his captain Bennati. Boonen's last man
De Jongh was ready, but when Gert Steegmans came from behind with McEwen
on his wheel at 400m to go, Boonen wisely switched trains and tried to
jump onto McEwen's wheel. The Steegmans TGV proved to be too fast, and
when McEwen jumped past the big Belgian with 150m to go, he already had
a massive advantage. It looked like Boonen just didn't have the power
or the snap to match the two Davitamon riders.
As aggressive as ever
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
Boonen also rode an aggressive race yesterday, getting into a breakaway
after 50 km and working hard for another 25 km, before CSC and Lampre
pulled it back. Tour stages in the first week typically aren't ridden
like Belgian classics, where it's important to be up front to make the
selection. The Tour peloton normally stays together. And if he wasn't
the most marked man in the peloton with the world champion's jersey on
his back, he certainly is with the yellow jersey! But, that's how Boonen
likes to ride, and it has won him plenty of races already, including 17
One (or two) stage wins will change everything for the charismatic man
from Balen, and he will have two more chances before the first mountain
stage next Wednesday. At least after Saturday's time trial, he won't have
the pressure of the maillot jaune.
Le Lance coming to Le Tour
By Tim Maloney, European Editor
Currently preparing to host the ESPN ESPY Awards in Los Angeles, Lance
Armstrong told the Austin American Statesman's Suzanne Halliburton
that he has changed his mind and his program, and will now attend the
Tour De France later this month. Armstrong was originally planning to
visit Le Tour when Cyclingnews chatted with him at the Giro d'Italia
in May, but since then, his busy schedule was keeping him away from his
kids and Armstrong had decided to stay in Austin in July.
However, Armstrong told the Statesman's Halliburton Friday, "I'm
not gonna run and hide like some other former champs might. With all that
happened before the start (of the 2006 Tour), I feel as if the sport and
even the event needs fans and supporters right now," Armstrong declared.
"It's not the time for me to run and hide. I need to stand up and say
how great cycling and the racing is."
Armstrong will likely revert to his original plan to come to the Tour
in the last week to provide moral support and key advice to his Discovery
Channel teammates, and not to snack at the Village Depart and have
coffee with Jean-Marie Le Blanc.
Brard shows the tricolore jersey
Florent Brard (Caisse d'Epargne)
Photo ©: Sirotti
French champion Florent Brard (Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears) was one
of the three breakaway riders, together with Magnus Bäckstedt and Anthony
Geslin, in yesterday's sixth stage into Vitré. As usual, the sprinters'
teams caught them with four kilometres to go, and another breakaway was
"Of course we know it is almost impossible for a break to go to the
finish during the first week of the Tour, because the sprinters' teams
won't let you, but if you don't even try, no chance!" said Brard after
the finish. "Today's stage pleased me a lot because we entered a territory
where cycling really drives the public crazy. I will try again on July
14, because it is the national festival of my country, but I know it won't
be that simple because everybody will expect me to do so. I already looked
at the course and I like it because there is a climb a few kilometres
after the start and I will try to go there. If they left me, of course!"
MDonnelly Junior Tour
By Tommy Campbell, Irish Independent, Evening Herald, Sunday Independent
The MDonnelly Junior Tour riders will face six days of intensive competition
in one of the ancient kingdoms of Ireland whose rulers, the O'Connors
were displaced by the Anglo-Norman De Burghs in the 13th century. Not
that they'll be overawed by that information, but the event, which runs
between July 11-16, is based in Co. Mayo were tourism is a big factor,
and indeed the cycling promoters in the region have been instrumental
in making their contribution.
The 'JT' as it is known, has an excellent sponsor in MDonnelly. The
modus operandi is entirely out of Castlebar, which makes life that little
bit easier for the organisation and the competitors alike.
The route for the 29th edition of an event which in the past has brought
past winners to the fore on the world cycling stage is testing. There
is an interesting mix of terrain and next Thursday, the competitors will
visit Achill Island, which is Ireland's largest island, for a complete
stage. The island has an area of 148 square kilometres. This will be the
first time that an entire race has been run here and the stage distance
will be 72 miles.
Stage 1 - July 11: Castlebar/Time Trial, 2.8 miles (19:00 start time)
Stage 2 - July 12: Westport-Westport, 69 miles (12:00)
Stage 3 - July 13: Achill Island, 72 miles (12;00)
Stage 4 - July 14: Ballina-Ballina, 67 miles (12:00)
Stage 5 - July 15: Thurlough-Windy Gap, 66.5 miles
Stage 6 - July 16: Castlebar-Castlebar, 59 miles
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2006)