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Dauphiné Libéré
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News for July 15, 2006

Edited by Jeff Jones

Stage 12 wrap-up

Popovych gives Discovery a bonus

Yaroslav Popovych (Discovery Channel)
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

Yaroslav Popovych (Discovery Channel) has won the 12th stage of the Tour de France in Carcassonne, giving his embattled team cause to celebrate after losing out on the general classification so far. Popovych was the best of a four man break that escaped after 100 km, leaving the other three behind with a strong attack at 3 km to go. Alessandro Ballan (Lampre) finished second at 27 seconds, leading home Oscar Freire (Rabobank) and Christophe Le Mevel (Credit Agricole). The bunch came in at 4'25 with Tom Boonen finally outsprinting Robbie McEwen for fifth.

The Quatorze Julliet stage was marked by a very aggressive start, with a large breakaway of 15 going clear on the Col des Ares after 25 km. The break included Bennati, Hincapie, Voigt, Hushovd, Pereiro, Moncoutié, Guerini, Millar, and Rasmussen, but was never able to get more than 1'10 due to the presence of green jersey threat Bennati. Davitamon-Lotto and FDJ combined to chase it down at km 94, and that paved the way for a classic counter move by Popovych, Freire, Ballan and Le Mevel. The break was not too dangerous to Landis and Phonak, and it gained no more than 4'45 on the fast run in to the finish.

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Popovych initiated the attacking with 8 km to go, and after Ballan did most of the chasing, he was eventually able to get clear at 3 km to go. Freire seemed too tired to close the gap, and contented himself with third.

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An interview with Yaroslav Popovych

Renewed focus

Ukrainian Yaroslav Popovych revived Discovery Channel's fortunes by winning the 12th stage into blazing hot Carcassonne. Popo got into the winning break of four after 100 km, and attacked them with three kilometres left to win the stage alone. Brecht Decaluwé reports from Carcassonne.

Yaroslav Popovych (Discovery)
Photo ©: Jon Devich
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Q: The outcome of yesterday's stage wasn't so good for your team. What are your thoughts on this?

Yaroslav Popovych: It was a hard day, but that's just something that can happen. But from now on, the whole team will try to give all they have in the stages that are left.

Q: What did Johan Bruyneel say to you and the other riders after yesterday's stage?

YP: Yesterday he didn't say anything because it was already very late. We had a meeting this morning where he said that another Tour is starting for us, from now on. We had to react, and I think we that pretty well today. At first we didn't have anybody in the first escape, but we chased to catch them. Afterwards, Hincapie was in the second break and I was in the next one.

Q: You're a bit closer in GC now, do you think you still have you chances for a podium in Paris?

YP: We'll have to see what happens in the next stages. If I'm still as bad in the Alps as I was in the Pyrenees, then of course, I don't have a chance. There's still a long way to Paris.

Click here for the full interview

Bruyneel remotivates Discovery

By Brecht Decaluwé in Carcassonne

Discovery Channel team manager Johan Bruyneel knew that his riders were disappointed after yesterday's stage. He had to come up with a different message than that he would usually give out to his boys.

"I said this morning, 'Boys, you're all good riders," said Bruyneel. "We've come to this Tour de France with different ambitions and we are used to riding in another way. But for me there's no reason to believe that a good bike rider, who's in good health and who's motivated, can't win a stage. There's a lot of other riders who won stages, who are only half as good as you.'

"The boys really understood the message and they did it today, I'm very proud about that. I'm especially happy about how they worked during the stage. Hincapie tried to get into every break until he didn't have anything left in his body. Later on, Popo got into the right escape."

Lance is visiting the Tour de France in Gap, but has been keeping an eye on the Discovery team in the meantime. "Lance is following the race and we spoke each other yesterday. Today, during the final, he sent a message saying that he was very happy. He said that the best response after a disappointment, is an attack and a victory."

It almost seems impossible to believe that there's no-one left in Bruyneel's team who can compete for the general classification. "We need to be realistic, as there are too many guys ahead of us in the GC. We don't want to fight for an eighth place in GC, so we're fighting for stage wins from now on. We don't want to leave this Tour de France in a bad mood."

No regrets for AG2R after stage 11

By Hedwig Kröner in Carcassonne

Cyril Dessel (AG2R)
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
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Leg-breaking stage 11 created a new hero of the Tour de France in Pla-de-Beret on Thursday, but also a big disappointment. After five intense mountains of racing, American Floyd Landis slipped into the Yellow jersey: in the end, eight bonus seconds brought about the desired GC lead which Frenchman Cyril Dessel had tried to defend so bravely. The AG2R rider crossed the finish line exactly 4'45 behind Landis, which would have been enough were it not for the time bonuses in the summit finishes.

Cyclingnews asked teammate Stéphane Goubert in Luchon on the next day how Dessel and his team felt after losing the jersey. "The team fought hard to defend it, so we don't regret anything," said 'Goubi'. "We lost the jersey regularly, 'ŕ la pédale', so there are no regrets. Of course, there is a little bitter aftertaste, as we would have liked to keep it a little longer... But the race decided otherwise, and you can't reproach anyone for anything."

Rather than letting their heads hang down, the squad decided to look at the bright side of life, and at their already good achievements in this Tour. "Cyril was disappointed for the team, for the work it had done for him," Goubert said. "He gave everything, just like the team. But last night, we weren't sad or anything, rather happy about our day. At least, we had one day in yellow, and that was fantastic."

Fight over the polkadot jersey: to be continued

By Hedwig Kröner in Carcassonne

The first mountain stage of this year's Tour de France not only saw the yellow jersey change possession, but also an exciting battle for the polkadotted garment. Before the overall contenders fought it out for the stage win in Pla-de-Beret, Fabian Wegmann (Gerolsteiner) and David de la Fuente (Saunier Duval) showed a very competitive spirit in the Pyrenees.

The two riders went off in the first of the five climbs of the day, the Tourmalet. And their duel continued until the penultimate ascent - sometimes to the advantage of the German, sometimes to the one of the Spaniard. Finally, De la Fuente took the best of Wegmann by placing one impressive attack on the Col du Portillon, practically sprinting.

After all of these efforts, the Gerolsteiner rider was feeling tired at the start of stage 12 in Luchon, but he was sure the battle between himself and David de la Fuente would continue. "I was a little too gullible yesterday," he said. "And he was a bit smarter. He waited a long time to attack, and always played like he was suffering a lot. And then, in the final, he showed what he was really up to... I was pretty p***ed off.

"The game between us was on; both of us really wanted that jersey," he explained the ongoing duel. "You don't give anything away like that. And I'm sure that the fight will continue - maybe not today, but one of these days."

The leader of the polkadot jersey independently shared his opinion. "Wegmann and Dessel, who is now second on the classification, will surely try to fight over the points jersey with me," he said. "But I think I will keep it until the Alps. I'm very tired today but I will have recuperated then I hope."

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