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First Edition Cycling News for July 13, 2006

Edited by Jeff Jones

Stage 10 wrap-up

Yellow for Dessel; stage win for Mercado

Juan Miguel Mercado (Agritubel)
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Cyril Dessel (AG2R) is the new maillot jaune in the Tour de France, after placing second in today's 10th stage behind breakaway companion Juan Miguel Mercado (Agritubel). The pair had attacked a bigger break on the day's last climb, the Col de Marie-Blanque, with around 50 km to go and finished in Pau with a 56 second advantage over Ińigo Landaluze (Euskaltel-Euskadi). The peloton, containing overnight leader Serguei Gonchar (T-Mobile), finished 7'23 behind, thus Gonchar lost the lead to Dessel, with Mercado moving up to second overall.

Today's stage was very aggressive early on, with attack after attack trying to get clear. Sylvain Chavanel (Cofidis) tried on his own for a while, but it wasn't until just after the first sprint at km 37 when a 15 man group got away: Da Cruz (FDJ), Vasseur (Quick.Step), Quinziato (Liquigas), Voigt (CSC), Steegmans (Davitamon), Moreni (Cofidis), Hushovd (Credit Agricole), Landaluze, Isasi (Euskaltel), Posthuma (Rabobank), Bennati (Lampre), Dessel (AG2R), Rinero (Saunier Duval), Sprick (Bouygues), Mercado (Agritubel). The group gained a maximum of 11'00 with T-Mobile controlling things behind.

Over the Col d'Osquich (km 50) and Col du Soudet (km 101.5), the break gradually lost riders until there were only seven left up front at the foot of the Marie-Blanque with 50 km left. Mercado and Dessel attacked and dropped the rest, despite a valiant attempt by Landaluze to come back. In the final five kilometres, Dessel did all the work, and it was no surprise to see Mercado sprint past him for the stage win, while Dessel took the yellow and the polka dot jersey.

Click here to read the full wrap up.

An interview with the maillot jaune, Cyril Dessel

Taking some revenge

Cyril Dessel (AG2R)
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In only his second Tour participation, Frenchman Cyril Dessel (AG2R) managed to obtain one of the treasured jerseys of his country's national tour: the maillot jaune. Dessel finished a close second in the 10th stage behind breakaway companion Juan Miguel Mercado, but still claimed the leader's tunic as well as the polkadots of best climber. But as Brecht Decaluwé reports, he wanted more.

Q: At what moment in the race did you realize that you were heading for the yellow jersey?

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With twenty kilometres to go, my sports director said that it was possible. Still I tried to focus on the stage, because I felt I could win it. But in the end, Mercado also deserved to win something as our cooperation was good and I already had the yellow and the polkadot jerseys. He asked if we could split the prizes, but I do wanted to fight for it, as you haven't got an opportunity to win a stage in the Tour de France so often. However, I congratulate him on the victory.

Q: What was the strategy of the team for today's stage?

CD: Our strategy this morning was to be in every break that had five riders in it. My mission was to get into a bigger group of about ten riders. The start was very nervous as everybody wanted to be in the breakaway. Apparently, I chose a good moment to join a break. I was the last rider to join the group. Knowing that I was classified into the top-30 there was always a chance to get the yellow jersey.

Click here for the full interview.

An interview with Juan Miguel Mercado

"More than I expected"

Juan Miguel Mercado (Agritubel)
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The only team in the Tour de France with a wildcard, Agritubel, scored a huge win today when Spanish climber Juan Miguel Mercado outsprinted Cyril Dessel (AG2R) in Pau. The two had attacked the leading break with just under 50 km to go, and finished an impressive 7'23 ahead of the peloton. Brecht Decaluwé reports on Mercado's second Tour stage victory.

Q: Today was a great day for you, how do you feel about your victory?

JMM: It's more than I expected. I tried to keep myself in front during the stage's opening hour. It took a while and I had to be patient, but once I was in the breakaway I was in a good position to win the stage.

Q: What happened during the final kilometres? We saw that you came across to Dessel and talked a bit.

JMM: Dessel was pretty sure about the yellow and the polkadot jersey and I risked to end up without nothing. I asked Dessel if I could have the stage, but he refused this. From then on, I stopped doing turns to gain some energy on him, that way I could fulfil my objective: winning the stage.

Q: Now that you won a stage and that you're third overall, does it change your objectives for this Tour de France?

Click here for the full interview.

Klöden: "My legs will do the talking"

By Hedwig Kröner in Pau

Many have wondered about the form of T-Mobile's Andreas Klöden, the former 'de luxe' domestique of Jan Ullrich. Deprived of his leader, the man who finished second in the 2004 Tour de France could now claim the captain's position within his squad, as he is only 50 seconds behind best-placed favourite Floyd Landis (Phonak). But his lead-up to his season objective was far from perfect: On March 21, the tall German crashed heavily during training and broke his shoulder joint into several pieces. Cyclingnews caught up with Klöden at the start of Wednesday's first mountain stage - when the team still had Serguei Gonchar wearing the Yellow jersey.

"My shoulder is much better, actually," he was happy to say. "I don't have any problems anymore - except when I grab something out of the back pockets of my jersey. I feel it more when I'm off the bike; in the evening at the hotel for example."

The injury put the 31 year-old out of order for a while, and for many weeks, his Tour de France participation was even questioned. "I couldn't train for six weeks, so that definitely wasn't a perfect preparation for the Tour. But I hope that the three months that I did have after it were enough to get my form back," he said.

"I'm not at a 100 percent yet, that's for sure. I think I'm at about 90, 95 percent. I hope that I can still increase my form now, in the first mountain stages in the Pyrenees. And that I can get yet even stronger in the Alps."

So what were his chances to take over the role of the leader in the coming days? His teammates Michael Rogers and Patrik Sinkewitz were also very well-positioned on the overall classification, but Klöden had always been rumoured as potentially being the strongest of the three. "I don't think there can be said much about that," he replied enigmatically. "I'll just let my legs do the talking, and then the question of the captain's role will be resolved. I don't necessarily have to be the captain; for me, somebody else could do it, too. I just want to get well up these mountains, and stay up front in the general classification. And then, in the stages 15, 16 and 17 - when it really gets hard - I hope that I can increase my performance further."

To be continued... on the Tour's second rest day in Pau.

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