Tour de France Cycling News for July 2, 2006
Edited by Hedwig Kröner and Jeff Jones
Big Thor takes Tour prologue
Thor Hushovd (CA)
Photo ©: AFP
Crédit Agricole's Thor Hushovd has delivered a brilliant performance
in the first day of this year's Tour de France, taking the prologue victory
in Strasbourg in front of George Hincapie (Discovery Channel) and CSC's
Dave Zabriskie. The Norwegian sprinter was the fastest on the technical
course of the 'Grand Départ', which was long dominated by German time
trial champion Sebastian Lang (Gerolsteiner).
"I'm over the moon, of course," said Hushovd in the finish. "I had already
done a good prologue in 2004, and now I've progressed. I'm better now,
and I have more self-confidence. Still, I hadn't even dreamed about winning
this prologue!" The 28 year-old gave the flowers to his mother, who was
celebrating by the podium.
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"My parents follow the Tour for the sixth time, and they are always
beside me," he explained. "It's good for me because it makes me more relaxed."
Rabobank talent Joost Posthuma received the white jersey of best young
Click here for full results,
report and photos and the live
report from the prologue.
An interview with Thor Hushovd
The bear tears the Tour apart
The prologue at the 93rd Tour de France brought a surprise winner. "But
I knew I could win," said 'The Bear from Grimstad', Thor Hushovd. Brecht
Decaluwé was on hand at the finish and at the post-race press conference.
Thor Hushovd (CA)
Photo ©: Sirotti
When Thor Hushovd was the first rider to go faster than the provisional
best time Sebastian Lang, he said: "You never know if this time is going
to be enough, we'll have to wait and see! I was well prepared and had
a good rhythm. Maybe, I won't win, but I'm already very happy with my
As it turned out, he had every reason to be happy with his performance,
because none of the favourites couldn't beat his time. "My main objective
is to wear the green jersey in Paris, win one or more stages and to wear
the yellow jersey one day... what can I say, this Tour has started off
very well for me!" Hushovd exclaimed.
While Hushovd was waiting for the last riders, he talked about his time
trial capabilities, and how he believed he gained time on his rivals.
"I was already fifth in the Tour prologue in the past, so I know I can
do well. I also did some extra training with the time trial bike. I think
I went into those [technical] corners very well, probably I gained some
Q: The prologue was quite demanding, how did you see it?
Thor Hushovd: I always gave everything I had, but
in the beginning I wasn't the fastest. I think I gained some time in the
corners and in the end it proved to be enough. It was impossible for me
to be a single second faster. During the training rides of last week,
I felt that the form was alright. Naturally, you can't win a prologue
in the Tour de France without a super form.
here for the full interview.
By Brecht Decaluwe in Strasbourg
Jérôme Pineau (Bouygues Telecom)
A man from the region, Jérôme Pineau enjoyed the interest of the local
press. But he didn't waste time talking about his own performance, as
he commented on the banned riders: "We've had lots of animation behind
us now, and it created a heavy atmosphere for us. But now it's time for
the sport and time for real riders," he said.
Pineau commented he has always walked the straight line: "Already for
a few years, I want to speak out that there are cheaters, and now it's
a relief to see that this has been proved. Still, I hear people talking
about the stars and the big riders who are not starting; to me they are
villains and no big riders at all.
"After the Festina [scandal] in 1998, France and some other countries
understood the new rules in the game. Apparently, others didn't receive
the translation of the manual but now they're confronted with the result
of it. There will be much talk about those guys, but we'd better ignore
them and talk about the real honest riders."
Magnus Bäckstedt (Liquigas)
"You've got to give it all you got!", said Magnus Bäckstedt, still breathing
heavily. "It's a nice course, technical but at the same time very fast,
Did the heat playing an important role today? "You definitely feel it!",
laughed Bäckstedt. "It's hard to breathe; but the coming three weeks won't
be different, so we might as well get used to it. Better this kind of
weather than rain, of course. It's good to be back after a break for me,
with all my injuries this season. I'm enjoying every minute on my bike
"We'll have to wait and see how good I am," he continued. "I haven't
been racing for a long time but I felt good training; whether that's enough
for the Tour remains an unanswered question."
José Azevedo (Discovery Channel)
With all the banned riders, is the situation is better now for the riders
in the Discovery team, we asked José Azevedo. "The test stays the same,"
he said. "There are still some strong riders in the peloton but our team
has also some strong riders. I think we can do a good Tour."
David Millar (Saunier Duval)
"It's a dream for me to be here today. For 18 months, I've been thinking
about this moment. It's been hard for me, but I really wanted to come
back, so now I'm very happy."
George Hincapie (Discovery)
Photo ©: Jon Devich
American George Hincapie, who missed out on the Tour de France prologue
victory by a hair, was disappointed he did not take the Yellow Jersey.
"I wanted to win, I have been training a lot for this, so I am disappointed,"
the Discovery rider told Reuters news agency.
The New Yorker, who has lived in the shadow of seven-times Tour winner
Lance Armstrong, also admitted he was still not comfortable with leader
status in his team. "I am going to live this Tour day by day because this
leader status is new to me," the 33 year-old added.
Hincapie thinks compatriots Floyd Landis (Phonak) and Levi Leipheimer
(Gerolsteiner), now Tour favourites in the absence of Jan Ullrich and
Ivan Basso, are more used to their roles.
"I have prepared for this but I still don't know how far I can go,"
he said. Still, Discovery team director Johan Bruyneel has several options
for the general classification: there are also Yaroslav Popovych and José
Azevedo, possibly waiting for their chances to make the limelight.
Unfortunate start for Landis
Floyd Landis (Phonak)
Photo ©: Jon Devich
Phonak team leader Floyd Landis started out this year's Tour de France
with a small misfortune: Just minutes before his scheduled start at the
prologue, a cut in his tyre was found, which meant that the team mechanics
had to quickly change Landis' wheel. As a result of this, the American
Tour de France overall contender arrived six seconds late on the start
"If I had been aware that it was that close to the start, I'd have taken
the risk of not changing the tyre," Landis said after the race. Moreover,
because of this confusion, he hadn't put on the right gear to start. "I
was completely out of focus because of all of that."
In the end, the winner of 2006 Paris-Nice got into the finish placed
ninth, nine seconds down of winner Thor Hushovd, which is not a bad result
at all considering the circumstances.
Lang thrilled with fourth
Sebastian Lang (Gerolsteiner)
Photo ©: Jon Devich
Sebastian Lang, German time-trial champion, finished fourth in the Tour's
opening prologue, after a long spell in first place. "Fourth place is
a super result," said the Gerolsteiner rider. "My goal was actually a
place in the top ten, and I got that. Too bad that I was beaten so narrowly."
His time was only five seconds behind the eventual winner Thor Hushovd.
Lang's boss, team manager Han-Michael Holczer, was happy to see the
sporting aspects in the foreground. "After everything we went through
yesterday, it was a great start. Sebastian led for a long time and placed
us well in the scene."
Courtesy of Susan Westemeyer
Eisel satisfied but looking to Sunday's sprint
Many riders might be unsatisfied with a 60th place finish in the Tour
prologue, but not Francaise des Jeux's Bernhard Eisel. "It didn't' go
bad, I'm very satisfied with the result," he said. "Maybe I could have
ridden five seconds faster, but that doesn't really mean anything." It
could have been worse for the Austrian, as he narrowly avoided a crash.
"I was totally concentrated and had my head down. I oriented myself on
the barricade. Then suddenly the barricade had a bend in it, and I went
around it on the straight street. Fortunately I was able to quickly correct
Eisel is not a time-trial specialist, but a sprinter, and therefore
looking forward to Sunday's stage. "I want to be in the sprint in the
finale. But I won't know how good my form really is until then," he said.
His fellow countryman Peter Wrolich of Gerolsteiner was happier with
an even lower place, as he finished 169th. "I am absolutely not a prologue
specialist, so today I didn't try all that hard," he said. "The Tour begins
tomorrow for me. And I'm more than happy that it is finally under way.
Now we can finally ride again."
Courtesy of Susan Westemeyer
Still time to join Fantasy le Tour game
Giant TCR Advanced
Photo ©: Santini
BBB's BSG-23 Winner Quick-Step
World Champion glasses
Speedplay Zero pedals
Deda Alanera handlebars
DedaTre RS Corsa clincher
Reynolds SV KOM carbon wheels
With the Tour now under way, you can register
your teams and win some amazing prizes!
With all the drama of the last 24 hours surrounding the suspended riders
it looks set to be a very interesting game indeed this year. With many
of the expensive highly seeded riders like Basso and Ullrich removed from
the line up, this year's players of the game will have to use their knowledge
and insight to cherry pick the best of the lesser known riders to score
highly in the game. There could be some easy points to score in the Prologue
today. You could be the first to win the daily
stage prize of a pair of BSG-23 Winner Quickstep World Champion glasses
The Fantasy game is a great way to get to know the Tour in more detail,
as you take on the role of being a team manager during each day of the
Tour, making the best of your team selections as the Tour unfolds stage
by stage. Depending on how the riders finish each stage in real life you
will score points for your Fantasy team to win some great prizes. You'll
get a much more intimate knowledge of the lesser seeded riders as you
watch their progress in your own teams and in other Fantasy manager's
teams each day. You'll also get a much more in depth insight into how
the riders perform over the coming weeks through the sprints and the mountains.
You can join
until stage 6 begins and there is plenty time to learn how the game
works. There is
no disadvantage in joining the game once the Tour has started so try
the game out for FREE until stage 6 begins. Experiment with different
team selections and see how they fare everyday live here at Cyclingnews.
Remember you can change your 15 riders right up until stage 6 begins
so there is no need to worry about the recent changes to the start list.
There is plenty time to get your team right before the game closes to
The full Le Tour Fantasy Game Prize List
Grand Prize from Giant
TCR Advanced T-Mobile Team bike.
Daily Prize from BBB
Parts - 21 pairs of BSG-23 Winner Quick-Step World Champion glasses
designed for Tom Boonen.
Runner-up Prizes - Set of wheels from Reynolds.
- Cirro SV KOM carbon wheels
Runner-up Prizes - Ten pairs of tyres from DedaTre.
Runner-up Prizes - Handlebars from Deda
Runner-up Prizes - Three Giro
Runner-up Prizes - Three sets of Speedplay's
Runner-up Prizes - Three fi'zi:k
Play for FREE in the Fantasy Le Tour 2006 game
Remember you can play
for free for the first 5 stages! Try the game out and see how best
to play. It's easy to play the Tour games - all you need to do is pick
your dream team of 15 from the riders racing in this year's Le Tour start
list. Then each day pick 9 riders to race for your fantasy team from these
15. You'll need a good combination of climbers, sprinters and general
For more details go to the rules
section of the site. There's also some great tips and tricks in the
sections of the site. It's a great way to follow Le Tour 2006.
The Fantasy Cyclingnews Team
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2006)