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First Edition Cycling News for July 10, 2006

Edited by Jeff Jones, with assistance from Susan Westemeyer and Sabine Sunderland

Stage 8 wrap-up

Calzati takes second French victory on Le Tour

Sylvain Calzati (AG2R)
Photo ©: AFP
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Young AG2R rider Sylvain Calzati took out this year's second French victory of the Tour de France by winning today's stage 8 to Lorient. Part of the decisive breakaway, the 27 year-old made a beautiful solo move just at the right time with 31 kilometres to go, as the peloton loomed close. He made it through, and won ahead of Kjell Carlström (Liquigas), who battled out his second placing against Patrice Halgand (Crédit Agricole). Davitamon's Robbie McEwen won the sprint of the bunch, seconds later.

"I am completely overwhelmed," said Calzati in the finish. "This is absolutely excellent. I thought a lot about my wife and my little girl, who are my luck charms. I was able to take my chance today, and then continued on with a huge final effort. And I made it!"

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The breakaway of the day saw Dave Zabriskie (CSC), Matze Kessler (T-Mobile), Sylvain Calzati (AG2R), Mario Aerts (Davitamon), Patrice Halgand (Crédit Agricole) and Kjell Carlström (Liquigas) escape the bunch after 45 kms of racing, increasing their lead to a maximum of 7'30. But the peloton led by Phonak did not want to let them get too much advance. As the sprinters smelled their opportunity, the race was on, but the timing of Calzati's attack was perfect, and he even gained some seconds on the chasing bunch, which then let him be.

Click here Full results, brief report & photos, Live report, and Video.

An interview with Sylvain Calzati

French, but with a heart for Italy

Today's winner in Lorient couldn't have been more popular. But a few hours before the World Cup football final, there's something Sylvain Calzati needs to tell everyone. Brecht Decaluwé finds out what that is.

Q: What was going through your mind when you were doing that last kilometre?

Sylvain Calzati (AG2R)
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Sylvain Calzati: There was so much going through my mind then. I thought about everybody; my family, my trainers... also about the past year. 2006 was a terrible year for me due to my illness and a fall early on in the season [at the Etoile de Bessčges - ed.]. I'm very happy to be back at my level of 2004.

Q: What was it like to win a stage in the Tour de France?

SC: It was a dream for me and tomorrow it will be amazing to see myself on television. Then I'll probably realise more what I did. Now, I can't really say what I'm feeling, as I'm living in a dream... I'm mainly capturing the moments and thinking about my family.

Q: Can you explain why you attacked where you did?

SC: Vincent Lavenu [team manager of AG2R] told me that there was a little climb in the next village. Explaining why I attacked there is impossible, it was intuition, I think. What I did know is that when I was alone on top of that climb, I could keep on going.

Click here for the full interview

Despairing Boonen gives up green

Tom Boonen (Quick.Step)
Photo ©: Sirotti
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In the sprint for fifth, Tom Boonen (Quick.Step) again came up short, going from too far out and getting swamped by McEwen and co. to eventually finish ninth. The world champion expressed his despair to Sporza radio right after the finish of today's stage.

"I can't sprint anymore; I'm not going to sprint anymore I think! I really want to wait and see if it comes back in the coming days. I'm not going to mix in the heat of things in the coming stages. Today I was feeling ok; well, actually feeling less than what I have been up till now in the Tour. I saw a sign saying '200m' while I had already started sprinting, again a mistake! I can't believe I did that! Something's seriously wrong.

"I really think I'll have to say a few prayers, because Murphy's law is definitely at work. I know I can win a sprint, but I think the stars are wrong for me right now; I'll have to look at my horoscope I think (laughs) and hope it's better for next week!

"Right now, I really couldn't care less about the green jersey. A few days in the middle of the peloton will do me good and that's what I want to do - and lash out when I actually feel like it, do my own thing. I don't have to do anything. I've been pressured and having to do things way too much this year already. I just want to do what I feel like now."

Team director Wilfried Peeters confirmed that it looks like Boonen has been discouraged by the mistakes made by himself and the team in the sprint. Peeters also thinks that the pressure put on the team's shoulders before and during the first week of the Tour has definitely taken its toll.

"Tom has got the legs to win the Tour of Flanders, but maybe the pressure is getting too much," Peeters said during an interview with Belgian National radio. "Boonen has been wanting to show himself a worthy world champion from the start of the season - he has been riding at the highest level since January. He wants to keep on winning, and this brings a lot of pressure with it. He told me that he is not the kind of man who only sprints for fourth place, although that is needed to take green. He is a winner and when he is passed in the sprint for only a losing spot, he lets go.

"I think that we'll have to expect Boonen in a different stage than a pure sprinter's stage. It's not as silly as you think to go for some points in those. Anyway, we'll look at how things evolve in the coming days. For now, we have to take some much needed rest, enjoy the peace tomorrow and discuss what happened later."

Laurent Jalabert said on Veloclub on Franc 2 that there is no doubt that Boonen can still win the sprint in the Tour's coming stages, and advised him not to despair. "Boonen is a victim of doubt right now. I'm sure if he grounds himself and regains his confidence that he'll be winning again."

Zabriskie on the attack

David Zabriskie (CSC)
Photo ©: Jon Devich
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After a rather disappointing performance in the TT, American David Zabriskie (Team CSC) showed some good form during stage 8. He went in the decisive break during the 181-kilometre stage from Saint-Méen-le-Grand to Lorient. Along the way, he was stung by a bee, requiring some treatment from the race doctor, but he was soon back in business driving the break.

30 kilometres before finish Sylvain Calzati (AG2R) attacked and after Zabriskie's hard work during the previous kilometres, he didn't have the legs to follow Calzati's move. In the overall standings Zabriskie moved up one spot to a ninth place, thanks to 10 bonus seconds he gained in the intermediate sprints.

"We tried everything today. Jens [Voigt] took it easy in the TT yesterday so he was very active in the beginning," said team director Kim Andersen to team-csc.com. "He wasn't allowed to stay away, so Dave tried his luck and made it in the decisive break. He couldn't keep up when Calzati attacked in the end, but at least he did advance in the overall standings, and he showed he's able to do well in a break"

"It was great racing today and it was nice for us to be part of the action. It was also good to see a break lasting all the way for a change."

Ullrich's manager plays waiting game

Jan Ullrich's manager, Wolfgang Strohband, has given the T-Mobile Team an ultimatum: "We've been waiting for a week now for a written explanation from T-Mobile as to why Jan was suspended. We have now set them a date for that," he told www.sport1.de.

The team announced on Sunday that it had fired Rudy Pevenage, directeur sportif and Ullrich mentor, effective as of June 30. Rumours are racing through the German media on Sunday evening concerning Ullrich's future.

The German Spiegel magazine and Suddeutsche Zeitung newspaper will carry stories on Monday containing what they claim is further information damaging to Ullrich. It cites the transcript of a telephone call allegedly from Pevenage, citing "the third person" who unexpectedly won a time trial on that day, May 18 (the date of the Giro time trial). Another telephone call transcript from May 20 cites Pevenage as saying "the third person" wanted "to have more, even if it just the half," according to Spiegel and SZ.

The products involved had the nicknames "Vino, Nino, Ignacio and PCH", which the Spiegel and SZ translate as blood, growth hormones, insulin and (IFG1) and testosterone. The person identified only as "Jan" allegedly paid 2970 Euros for this package.

Strohband refused to comment to sport1 on the newest charges, saying "I don't know anything about it. I have to have it all in writing before I can say anything."

Gerolsteiner's team manager, Hans-Michael Holczer, told sport1, "Those are the things that the UCI showed us before the Tour. I saw the different telephone numbers on the papers. Otherwise T-Mobile would not have reacted so hard."

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