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Photo ©: Schaaf

Tour de France Cycling News Extra for July 10, 2006

Edited by Jeff Jones, with assistance from Sabine Sunderland

At last, a break goes all the way

By John Trevorrow in Lorient

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

Finally a breakaway succeeded in this Tour de France. AG2R-Prevoyance rider Sylvain Calzati, a Frenchman with an Italian name (an unusual combination on the eve of the World Cup final) rode clear of a six man breakaway with 32 kilometres to go.

Riding into strong, gusty winds, Calzati refused to be dragged back, as all other breaks have been this Tour. Finn Kjell Carlström (Liquigas) and Frenchman Patrice Halgand (Crédit Agricole) managed to just hold off the flying peloton to take second and third.

At the post race press conference, Calzati stunned the French media when he was asked how important a French win was on the eve of the French hopes in the World Cup "I'm sorry to disappoint you but I'm barracking for Italy," Calzati said.

Robbie McEwen stormed across the line in fourth spot and increased his lead in the battle for green to 17 points, as nearest rival Boonen could only manage ninth. "We decided not to chase the break as we had Mario Aerts up there and it was really up to Quickstep to do it," McEwen said. "I was happy to increase my lead over Boonen."

The two Australian GC contenders, Michael Rogers and Cadel Evans, finished comfortably in the main bunch. "We didn't have to work too hard, we put some pressure on the guys from Phonak. It was a bit nervous early with the wind, a lot of crosswinds and a bit dangerous. It was a solid day all-round and it's good to get the first part of the tour out of the way. Kessler took the pressure off T Mobile by getting up there early. It was a hard day but we got away pretty much unscathed," Rogers said.

Evans was also relaxed after the finish. "I won't be doing much on the rest day. In fact I'll be doing as little as possible. I may go for a short ride and I'll be sleeping and keeping away from the media. The race really starts in a couple of days and I'm not going to spend a rest day worrying about what might happen," Evans said.

Stuart O'Grady and Simon Gerrans, Australia's other two riders, also finished in the main group. O'Grady is starting to look more comfortable and now and believes he can make it to Paris. "There was another big improvement again today with my back. It has really loosened up and I'm now starting to think it could be possible to get to Paris, something I would not have thought four days ago," O'Grady said.

Gerrans was his usual exuberant self after the finish but looked a little tired. "Actually I suffered a bit today; I thought I was stuck to the road. But it was great to get a teammate in the break; it took the pressure off us and even better with Sylvain Calzati getting the win. I will enjoy the champagne tonight," Gerrans quipped.

Post-race comments

Robbie McEwen (Davitamon-Lotto, 4th)

Robbie McEwen (Davitamon-Lotto)
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

"Dean and Hushovd boxed in Steegmans but they were going full gas so I waited and waited and I chucked on the turbo about 100 out and that was it. It was all good, a hard day but good.

"It really wasn't up to us to chase today we had Mario Aerts in the break and Credit had someone in the break so it was really up to Quickstep to chase, and T Mobile wasn't too interested so that's why we didn't catch them.

"The most important thing was for me to win the bunch sprint and I gained some good points today."

Cadel Evans (Davitamon-Lotto, 60th)

Q. Looking forward to the rest day?

CE: I won't be doing much, in fact I'll be doing as little as possible. I may go for a short ride and I'll be sleeping and keeping away from the media. I've been doing this for 13 years so there is no pressure on me.

Chris Horner is my man and he's getting over his injuries from that fall in the stage a couple of days ago. The race really starts in a couple of days and I'm not going to spend a rest day worrying about what might happen.

Chris Horner (Davitamon-Lotto, 81st)

"Yeah, the Tour has been going well other than the crashes. I'm getting over that alright and I'll have some hard work to do with Cadel in a few days' time. My form was really good before the start and I was looking forward to getting amongst it until the crash set me back, but I've started to come back now. The rest day is just in time and I should be right for the mountains."

You've got a few hard days coming up riding for Cadel? "You're not wrong; I better go and get that shower."

Michael Rogers (T-Mobile, 52nd)

"No probs mate, a good day for us. We didn't have to work too hard, we put some pressure on the guys from Phonak.

"It was a bit nervous early with the wind, a lot of crosswinds and a bit dangerous. It was a solid day all-round and it's good to get the first part of the tour out of the way. Kessler took the pressure off T Mobile by getting up there early. It was a hard day but we got away pretty much unscathed."

Looking forward to the rest day? "Oh, yeah."

Simon Gerrans (AG2R, 103rd)

Q. Tough day in the office today?

SG: Actually I suffered a bit today; I thought I was stuck to the road. But it was great to get a teammate in the break; it took the pressure off us and even better with Sylvain Calzati getting the win. With the rest day tomorrow, I'm really going to enjoy that champagne taste.

It was really good for Sylvain, he has done a lot of work and he will be over the moon with that. I'm just really looking forward to the rest day.

Axel Merckx (Phonak, 65th)

"If you look at Landis' time-trial yesterday it's pretty clear that he's ready for the challenge. He's sure of his abilities and goes for it 100 percent. We came to win this Tour with Floyd and that's what the whole team works for. Of course, because of that, it will be hard for me to go for a stage win myself but that doesn't worry me. We'll see what opportunities present themselves.

"I can understand Boonen's reaction after the stage today very well. Actually I noticed Tom's nervousness when we were in that break together a few days ago. He's put so much stress on himself. I often talk to him during the race, just friendly conversation, but I can't go and tell him to chill; that's not up to me."

De Clercq tips Evans

Hans De Clercq (former team-mate of Robbie McEwen at Lotto/ now commentator for Belgian Sporza TV) had this to say on what's to come in this 2006 edition of the Tour de France:

"I've got the feeling Tuesday's stage will end in a sprint again. Really, a flatter stage is not possible, it is definitely ideal for a sprint finish.

" I'm convinced that defending that yellow jersey has proven too much for Tom. Ok, people said Tom can handle it; that he's used to some pressure on his shoulders. But he's not used to have this kind of stress day after day. It is very demanding. The second day Tom was already going all out in the intermediate sprints, that is lethal. But, I'm sure that he'll sprint for the victory again though, with success."

"Since Basso and Ullrich were eliminated from the Tour, I'm betting on Evans for the overall win. He's ridden a decent time-trial yesterday and I consider him to be one of the best candidates."

"Boonen, Aerts, Gilbert are the Belgian riders we'll see in the coming stages... I do expect to see a Belgian victory in the coming weeks!"

"Robbie McEwen has got a very big lead in the points classification; 17 points is a hell of a lot. The game will get very tactical now. In the first break today, they had Vansevenant and then told Aerts to go with the second. I think Davitamon-Lotto might actually sacrifice the chance to sprint for another win to keep that green jersey safe. You'll see that they'll send someone up the road themselves, or let a break go so that those riders take the points."

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