Cycling News Extra for July 16, 2006
Edited by Shane Stokes
Landis happy to wait
By Shane Stokes
Race leader Floyd Landis (Phonak)
Photo ©: Anthony Tan
The big talk at the Tour after stage
13 was whether or not Phonak had erred in allowing Oscar Pereiro to
take the race lead off the shoulders of Floyd Landis. The Swiss team rode
at the front during the stage but appeared to be riding tempo rather than
trying to bring the gap down to Pereiro and the other four leaders. Indeed,
at one point the Rabobank team came to the front to assist the chase.
While they could have been driving for their green jersey contender Oscar
Freire, it is also conceivable that they were riding to keep Landis on
top and thereby forcing Phonak to keep working in the days ahead.
Either way, Phonak came to the front again shortly afterwards and resumed
the steady tempo setting until the Lampre team took over close to the
finish. The bunch finished a full 29'57 behind Jens Voigt (CSC) and Pereiro,
with the Caisse d'Epargne – Illes Balears rider ending the day 1'29 clear
of Landis in the overall standings and a further eight seconds ahead of
AG2R's Cyril Dessel.
Pereiro finished a solid tenth in the Tour in 2004 and 2005, also taking
a stage win last year, but Landis didn't seem too worried at the finish.
"I don't think we need to keep the jersey every single day and I'm happy
to see Pereiro in yellow," he told TV reporters in Montélimar. "He is
an ex-team mate of mine and he looked happy up there [on the podium].
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"You can never assume anything, but he was 30 minutes down before the
stage today and there are still three hard mountain states to go. I think
that's no matter what happens next, we have to gamble a little bit because
we can't ride all day, every day. So there it is, that is our gamble."
Landis conceded that this is a very different tactic to that employed
by his previous team, US Postal/Discovery Channel. "Yes, they were always
confident that they could control at every day, and sometimes it works
in your favour and it is easier. But a lot of times it is more difficult
that way am I would rather be conservative."
Photo ©: AFP
"Yesterday we were hoping a breakaway would go with some guys who were
30 minutes down. We weren't so lucky, it was a hard day for everyone.
Today was better, we were lucky that it was a small group of guys and
that all of them are pretty far back. We just took it easy; whether we
caught them or not, we just wanted to ride at a certain speed. I think
that people are going to look at us to control the race no matter what
happens, whether we are in the lead or not, so for me it is better to
save our team. We still have many days left to go."
He was then asked how long he would be comfortable not to be wearing
yellow. "As long as I have it in Paris, even if I haven't won any stages,
that will be fine…. I am definitely confident."
Team directeur sportif John Lelangue echoed that sentiment. "This fine,"
he said to the same reporters. "I think we only need it on the podium
on the 23rd of July, like I said back in January. That is the big objective
for me. For this reason, we prefer to leave it now and have a good strategy
tomorrow and in the coming mountain stages. Then we will see."
"I know Pereiro well, he was in the team last year. With him, we know
what is capacities are, what his abilities are. We know what is like the
mountains, we have seen him in the Pyrenees. With this kind of gap, 1'25,
I think it is okay. Of course, we don't give him six or seven minutes,
but 1'20 to 2 minutes is for me a good strategy for us."
Lelangue was then asked if the team were playing with fire, given that
sometimes a yellow jersey gives a rider extra strength. "Yes, I know but
we play with fire every day with our strategies. That is our job," he
replied. "But if I was not confident, we would never have taken this strategy."
Robbie looking good so far
By Shane Stokes
With just over a week to go until the end of the 2006 Tour de France,
Robbie McEwen is looking in a very strong position to take his third maillot
vert. At the end of stage
13 in Montélimar his margin over second-placed rider Tom Boonen is
a comfortable 30 points, with Oscar Freire 45 in arrears.
This margin is over double that held by riders at the equivalent point
in the five previous Tours de France. At Ax-3 Domaines in 2005, eventual
winner Thor Hushovd was just 14 points clear of Stuart O'Grady, with McEwen
22 points down in third.
At Plateau de Beille in 2004, McEwen was 9 points ahead of Erik Zabel
and 15 up on Hushovd. Looking further back, 2003 winner Baden Cooke was
8 points ahead of McEwen and 24 up on Hushovd at Plateau de Bonascre,
while twelve months previously the total in Béziers saw McEwen exactly
level with Zabel and 59 clear of O'Grady.
Finally, in Saint-Lary-Soulan (Pla d'Adet) in 2001, O'Grady was himself
leading, holding a 13 point advantage over eventual winner Zabel. Lance
Armstrong was 44 points back in third place.
Interestingly, McEwen's haul after two weeks of racing is greater than
Hushovd's final total in 2005, and also either exceeds or equals the winning
total in 2003 and 2001. McEwen has racked up a considerable 252 points
this year; twelve months ago, Hushovd won with 194, while Cooke amassed
216 in 2003 and Erik Zabel finished on 252 in 2001.
McEwen previously took the green jersey in 2002 and 2004. Two years
ago he ended the race on 272 points, 25 clear of Thor Hushovd. In 2002
he racked up 280 points as compared to Zabel's 261.
By Anthony Tan and Brecht Decaluwé in Montélimar
Hushovd taking it easy
Cyclingnews caught up with Thor Hushovd at the start of the stage today
in Montélimar. The 2005 maillot vert winner was first asked about
the arm which was cut in the stage one sprint and if it was giving him
any more trouble. "No, I have no problems any more with it," was his response.
He was then asked if his Credit Agricole team might try to control the
stage in order to set things up for a bunch gallop and thus give him the
chance to take another stage win. "No, no, I am going to be taking it
easy today," he stated.
Horner trying to recover
Chris Horner is another rider hoping for a quiet day in the saddle.
Last year he rode a very aggressive Tour, going close to a stage win but
being caught along with breakaway companion Sylvain Chavanel inside the
final 300 metres of stage 13 to Montpellier.
However he told Cyclingnews this morning that he was holding back for
now. "I am not going to try anything as I haven't been feeling very well
in the last few stages. I am just going to try to recover a bit and survive."
Vansummeren determined, but frustrated
"I have tired to get into a break every day but there are 200 efforts
by guys to get into an escape so it just doesn't work," said Horner's
Davitamon-Lotto team-mate Johan Vansummeren at today's start. "But I will
keep on trying."
The tall Belgian was happy with a big photo of him in today's L'Equipe.
He said that stage 13 was a day for recovery. "Yesterday wasn't too hard,
it was quite easy."
Victor Hugo Pena cautious
Although the Phonak team said after the race that they willingly gave
away the race lead, their Colombian rider Victor Hugo Pena said this morning
that he was a little worried. "It is good for us in that we can recover
now. It is all about tactics and strategy. But I'm also a little bit worried
in case it doesn't work out in the end for Floyd."
The tour keeps on changing
A new yellow jersey and a deserved stage winner
By John Trevorrow
Jens Voigt (CSC)
Photo ©: AFP
Jens Voigt is a German with an Aussie accent and a teammate of Stuart
O'Grady. He has been the catalyst of many breakaways over the past week
and finally one stayed clear. Amazingly, this time it was by nearly 30
minutes, a winning margin which threw second placed Spaniard Oscar Pereiro
into the leader's maillot jaune.
Voigt spent a few years with the Australian Institute of Sport when
they had a professional team and speaks with a definite Aussie twang.
Race favourite American Floyd Landis has dropped back to second place
one minute 29 seconds back but is quite happy with the situation. It takes
the pressure off his Phonak team who will not have to ride on the front
to defend the jersey. That role will now fall on the new leader's team,
Caisse d Epargne-Illes Balears, who may hold it for one more day, but
will certainly lose it up the testing slopes of Alpe d'Huez.
Robbie McEwen snatched back the ascendancy in the fascinating battle
for the green jersey. He comfortably beat Boonen in the bunch sprint while
Freire was nowhere to be seen.
Before the start, rumour had it that McEwen was unhappy with the media
because of a story on the web, and consequently didn't want to speak to
the press. This turned out not to be the case. "I have done lots of interviews
and I just wanted a relaxed start," he said. "It all went well and according
to plan. I was happy to see a break get up the road with no GC guys and
no one close in the points race. It was a long hot day but in the end
I had a good sprint and had speed to burn.
"I haven't been on the internet since the tour started, but I suppose
it is time to check my emails. I'm not interested in what others are saying
about the race because I'm in it and I know what's going on. I'm also
not interested in any controversies - true or fabricated. I'm only interested
in winning the green jersey," a relaxed McEwen said.
Compatriot Stuart O'Grady had a comfortable day and was rapt with Voigt's
win. "Awesome, we really needed that," he said. "No one deserves it more
than Jens. He is an animal. He is one of the hardest working guys in the
peloton - no make that "the" hardest working guy. When the going gets
tough the tough get going," O'Grady said.
As for Cadel Evans, he looked very comfortable in the bunch and his
next big challenge will come on Tuesday up the challenging slopes of Alpe
d'Huez. The exotic dreams of a first Australian victory are very much
alive and they will be answered to some degree on that mountain. Of course
there are two more monstrous mountain days and the all important time
trial as well.
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2006)