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Tour de France Cycling News Extra for July 16, 2006

Edited by Jeff Jones

Record to be set in 2006 Tour?

By Shane Stokes

Happy Oscar
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

Oscar Pereiro’s new leadership of the Tour de France brings the total number of different yellow jersey wearers to seven this year, and makes the setting of a new record more than possible.

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Cyclingnews will cover the 60th edition of the Dauphiné Libéré live as of stage 4 on Wednesday, June 10, at approximately 15:00 local Europe time (CEST)/ 23:00 Australian time (CDT)/ 9:00 (USA East).

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So far Thor Hushovd, George Hincapie, Tom Boonen, Serguei Gonchar, Cyril Dessel, Floyd Landis and Pereiro have all worn the maillot jaune. Only at the Tours of 1958 and 1987 have there been more overall leaders, with eight.

The more recent of these editions saw Jelle Nijdam, Lech Piasecki, Erich Mächler, Charly Mottet, Martial Gayant, Jean-François Bernard and Pedro Delgado all enjoy stints in the yellow jersey before Stephen Roche reclaimed it in the final time trial.

Pereiro isn’t regarded as a likely winner of the Tour, although if he climbs better in the Alps than in the Pyrenees, he could well improve on his best overall placing of tenth, achieved in both 2004 and 2005. It is likely that the maillot jaune will once again change hands sometime between now and Paris.

A total of seven stages remain in the race. Should someone other than Landis be the next to wear yellow, that will equal the previous records. Another change will then total nine different maillots jaune, setting a new mark.

Hinault: "Landis still needs to finish it"

By Brecht Decaluwé in Montélimar

Coming up on

Cyclingnews will cover the 60th edition of the Dauphiné Libéré live as of stage 4 on Wednesday, June 10, at approximately 15:00 local Europe time (CEST)/ 23:00 Australian time (CDT)/ 9:00 (USA East).

WAP-enabled mobile devices: http://live.cyclingnews.com/wap/

For tactical reasons, Floyd Landis gave away his yellow jersey to Oscar Pereiro Sio in stage 13. The Spanish rider already finished twice as tenth in the previous editions of the Tour de France. Cyclingnews asked five time Tour de France winner Bernard Hinault what he thought about Landis giving away the yellow jersey.

"Landis decides on that, but it's not bad. We don't care as we see real attackers like Jens Voigt winning stages. But still, Landis needs to finish it in the end."

The monument of French cycling understood the tactics of Floyd Landis, but he questioned them at the same time. "Every time Landis allows riders to come back in GC who might be dangerous tomorrow. Yesterday he allowed Popovych to come back to about five minutes. Today he allows another rider to take the yellow jersey. It's no problem for me of course, but it might be a dangerous gamble to give those guys a second chance in this Tour de France."

Chavanel: "Why not again tomorrow?"

By Brecht Decaluwé in Montélimar

Sylvain Chavanel (Cofidis)
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

Sylvain Chavanel is known for his attacks, this year we had to wait until stage 13 before he got into a successful escape. Unfortunately, the French rider couldn't finish the work in Montélimar. "There are still some chances to come, so why not try again tomorrow? That should be possible as we didn't ride that fast today, so I must have enough energy left."

The advantage of almost thirty minutes must have felt quite exceptional. "We also had such an advantage a few years ago but that was with a big group. With the five of us, it felt different."

The big time gap between the escape and the peloton also lifted Chavanel towards a top-20 spot in the GC. "I really didn't think about my GC (laughs), I was only focused on the stage win today. I don't know what to say; I'm really very disappointed. I'll try again... but [my new placing on GC] will prevent me from being able to escape again. I've been trying and trying for years now... I always enjoy hearing my name on the roadside. These fans aren't only there in my hours of glory, but also in difficult moments. I hope that my son, who is one and a half years old, saw me on television and cheered me on!

In the finale, he said, "I didn't want to be the first to attack. Grivko tried as first and he lost it." Afterwards the French rider tried himself but was caught by Quinziato. The Italian rider brought everybody, except for Grivko, back together. With ten kilometres to go, the Lampre rider tried it again. "When Quinziato attacked I still didn't panic and let him ride."

Pereiro attacked for the first time with five kilometres to go, followed by Voigt. Chavanel couldn't react to that acceleration, and accepted it. "Voigt and Pereiro Sio managed to get away in the end, so they must have been the strongest riders in the group."

"Oscar is a Hollywood star," French champion says

By Jean-François Quénet in Montélimar

Now with French bank Caisse d'Épargne as a title sponsor, the former Illes Balears team came to the Tour de France with the intention of taking the yellow jersey, just as in Banesto's good old days with Miguel Indurain. Their historical team manager, José Miguel Echevarri, was almost in tears in the media bus when he realized that Oscar Pereiro would become the new leader of the Tour de France.

Their two French riders Florent Brard and Nicolas Portal didn't believe their eyes when they crossed the line half an hour after their captain. "I never rode for a big leader before and I came to the Tour with the dream of racing with the yellow jersey on my wheel," Portal had declared in Valkenburg when he was sad because of Alejandro Valverde's crash. That day, Echevarri stated, "Our building is down but we still have the support beams and other GC riders to work for." He didn't state any name but he was clearly referring to Pereiro who came 10th in the Tour last year.

"I'm very proud of what Oscar did today, Portal said after the finish. It's a relief for us. After Valverde's crash, we put our hopes onto Oscar (Pereiro) and Vladimir (Karpets)." Brard added. "Oscar was known for having one bad day in a three-weeks race. He had it in the col de Portillon, but after that stage to Pla de Beret, he told us, "Now there will not be a breakaway without me." He almost made it yesterday. Today, he was so up for it that he started the stage on the first row. He deserves what's happening. He's a hard worker.

"Oscar always smiles and jokes, he's happy to do this job, he's a real Spaniard," Portal reckoned. Brard didn't fully agree with that comment: "Oscar is the only Spanish rider I meet at breakfast, everyone else wakes up too late. I'm happy for him to be in yellow now. It's a big surprise, just as big as our disappointment when we lost Valverde. He's a Hollywood star. He's the guy who struts. He's highly motivated. Now it'll be interesting to see what happens in the Alps. There's no longer Lance Armstrong to rule the race. It's better for the spectacle."

Another Eisel top 10

Bernhard Eisel of Française des Jeux finished second in the group sprint in stage 13, 30 minutes behind the winner, his seventh top ten finish in the Tour. "It was another quiet stage. At the beginning I wanted to get in an escape group, but I just didn't have the legs for it," he said. "With these oven-like temperatures averaging 36 degrees and a high of 41 degrees Celsius, everybody had heavy legs today. It went well in the sprint, but I couldn't get past McEwen. But I'm still very satisfied with my performance."

New jersey for Fothen

"That was a damned long and hot day," said best young rider Marcus Fothen (Gerolsteiner) at the finish. "My white jersey is totally soaked through. But at the awards ceremony I'll get a new one and can wear it again tomorrow."

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