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Tour de France News for October 27, 2006

Edited by Laura Weislo

Le Tour 2007 - first time trial comes late in the race

London Mayor Ken Livingstone and Christian Prudhomme (TDF Race Director) recognise
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
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For the second year in a row, the Tour will be missing the team time trial, much to the disappointment of teams like T-mobile and Team CSC, who have dominated the event in the past. Team CSC's operations manager Carsten Jeppesen said on the team's website, "In 2006 we won four out of four team time trials, so of course we're extremely disappointed not to be given the opportunity to win one in next year's Tour." Tour director Christian Prudhomme said the event was left out because he felt it was disadvantageous to GC leaders who lack strong teams.

After the prologue in London, the first individual time trial comes relatively late in the race on stage 13, where riders will face a 54 kilometer course. This stage comes after two extremely challenging alpine stages, and will see some tired legs pushing off down the start ramp. Former world time trial champion Michael Rogers (T-mobile) noted on the team's website, "The time trial situation is interesting, no team event again this year and the first TT doesn’t come until stage 13; by then we will already have at least 2000 kms of racing in our legs, so that will make it extra tough."

The racers won't have to wait long to hit the mountains, with the alpine stages beginning on stage 7, a 197-kilometer journey from Bourg-en-Bresse to Le-Grand-Bornand, followed by the first of three uphill finishes on stage 8. The traditional alpine stage over the Col du Télégraphe and Col du Galibier follows the first rest day, on July 17. The alpine stages are challenging, but Prudhomme predicts the key stage could be stage 16, which finishes atop the Col d'Aubisque in the Pyrenees. "It reaches a crescendo in the Pyrenees," Prudhomme said. "This is the hardest stage of the Tour. If the rider in the yellow jersey is not ready then he'll be in a lot of trouble."

Team reactions

Michael Rogers
Photo ©: Jon Devich
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Mick Rogers (T-Mobile Team)
"My first impressions are of a hard route, which will again be won and lost in the climbs and TT's: All the mountain stages are tough, but I recognise a lot of the climbs and some really stand out; the Plateau-de-Beille is one of the toughest climbs I’ve done, a real killer. Stage 16 up to Col d’Aubisque also looks really hard. Stage 15, though I need to see the profile, looks like a typical Pyrenean stage with five passes; that’ll be a tough day in the saddle."

"Even that first stage in England could be tricky if it goes over the same roads we did at the Tour of Britain. Usually the opening Tour stages go over wider roads, but there we raced on very narrow lanes, one rider at a time; it could be tricky, particularly if wind and weather plays a role."

Rolf Aldag (Director of sport management T-Mobile Team)
"The route map for the 2007 Tour de France is nothing extraordinary, but it is nice. This race is not going to be decided in one stage, it will be a battle of attrition over many days; the riders must never drop their guard. And the long stages come early in the first week; that will be demanding. Not so good from a T-Mobile perspective is that the first individual time trial is not until stage 13. That makes it difficult for our time trial specialists Michael Rogers and Sergiy Gonchar to move into yellow early in the race as happened this year.

"The short transfers are a welcome development. The riders will be able to make the most out of their rest days."

Patrik Sinkewitz (T-Mobile Team)
"I was able to get a taste of the cycling atmosphere in London at the Tour of Britain and it was fantastic. I am looking forward to more of that already. The Tour will be decided on the three summit finishes and the long time trials. Alexander Vinokourov, Andreas Klöden, Alejandro Valverde can be counted among the favourites - and us of course. We will have a soild team at the Tour."

Photo ©: Luc Claessen
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Tom Boonen (Quick Step - Innergetic)
"It seems a good and interesting route, even though I still haven’t seen full details of all of the stages. It’ll be exciting starting in London with a prologue where every second will count. The first stage arrives at Canterbury , I know this area pretty well and this type of route as I took part in the last edition of the Tour of Britain."

"Then on the Monday we’ll have the first stage on the continent, from Dunkirk to Gent. This is a stage suited to riders like myself... It is always great riding in front of a home crowd but this fact itself also gives me a certain amount of responsibility. Generally the first week of stages are quite frantic, there will be lots of riders wanting to make their mark before the men in classifications take over. I’d love to win a stage during the first week and then point towards leadership of the classifications. Last year it was just fantastic wearing the yellow jersey. "

"After this we move onto the mountain stages, six difficult stages with three very tough up-hill finishes. Then after the Alps and before the Pyrenees there will be a few occasions suited to the sprinters. The last two years I’ve not been able to finish the Tour for various reasons but this year it would great to get as far as Paris and even better still be able to fight right up until the end for the green jersey."

Markus Fothen (Team Gerolsteiner)
"The route doesn’t look bad at all, the long time trials suit me. On paper the mountain stages look easier than in 2006. I have no fear taking over the captain’s role at the Tour."

Christian Henn (Sport director Team Gerolsteiner)
"We are not just looking to Markus and the overall, we will also be looking for stage wins. Compared to the 2006 Tour, it hits the high mountain peaks sooner and the time trials come later.

Allain Gallopin (Team CSC coach)
Carlos Sastre could be among the main candidates for the final general classification, but the Danish squad could also play another card in Franck Schleck, "whose results during 2006 were magnificent". "CSC will also count on Fabian Cancellara and David Zabriskie for taking the lead after the prologue stage in London."

Carsten Jeppesen (Team CSC operations manager)
"There are some good stages at the beginning, when we reach Belgium and the North of France, where the riders have to face cobble stones as they fight their way through the countryside. The peloton also has to cross some of the 'Great Walls' we all know from the Spring Classics, which is very good news for some of our guys - like Fabian Cancellara for instance."

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