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Tour de France Cycling News for July 11, 2007

Edited by Bjorn Haake and Laura Weislo

More champagne for CSC

Cancellara swoops with stunning attack

By Shane Stokes in Compiegne, France

Fabian Cancellara
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

It's often said that wearing a maillot jaune adds strength to a rider, and this certainly seems to be the case with Fabian Cancellara. Last month he won the opening prologue of the Tour de Suisse and rode out of his skin the following two days in defence of his lead. He finished third in a bunch gallop on stage two and then climbed very strongly the next afternoon to remain at the head of affairs.

Cancellara may have taken many of his career wins in the time trial, but put a yellow jersey on his back and he considerably raises his game. Today's race to Compiegne underlined that perfectly. Inspired by his hold on the general classification and also, perhaps, by the fact that he won a Paris-Roubaix which departed from this town, the big Swiss rider thundered over the cobbles just before the final kilometre, shot out of the main bunch shortly afterwards to bridge to the four breakaway riders, then continued on past them to scoop the win.

Erik Zabel (Milram), Danilo Napolitano (Lampre) and Tom Boonen (QuickStep - Innergetic) were closest to him but couldn't get by before the line.

"I didn't think that I could win this stage today," he said afterwards, delighted with his third ever Tour stage victory. "I only wanted to get to the finish and not crash. It was a very long day, seven hours on the bicycle. The wind made it very difficult, we couldn't go any faster. We are not machines.

To read the full interview with Fabian Cancellara, click here.

Full Stage 3 coverage: Stage details, Full results, report & photos, Live report, Video

Augé emulates Jacky Durand

By Jean-François Quénet in Compiègne

Stéphane Augé (Fra) Cofidis
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

Every Tour de France has one rider who is destined to spend hundreds of kilometres in futile breakaways. In the past, that honour belonged to a rider by the name of Jacky Durand, but this year is has been inherited by another Frenchman, Stéphane Augé. Ever since Durand soloed to victory over 217 kilometres in the 1992 Tour of Flanders, few have dared to dream as big. Now, the mantle has been passed to Cofidis' Augé, and he has taken the mountain leader's jersey along with his breakaway reputation after a valiant bridge to the break on stage three.

"Now I've even realized that it can work," said Augé, who has a stage of the Tour of Poland, of the Tour of Germany and of the Tour du Limousin on his record book. He also won Cholet-Pays de Loire this year, although he was the only Cofidis rider in a large breakaway. Already named most aggressive rider after stage one, his successful bridge to the stage three breakaway on the way into Compiègne, Augé finds a higher purpose by riding in front of the peloton.

When he turned pro with Festina in 2000 at the late age of 26, Stéphane Augé had no idea whether or not he would have a long career. He was talking about taking over the family farm in Poey-de-Lescar, near Pau, but now he has found his place in cycling. After moving to Jean Delatour, then Crédit Agricole and now Cofidis, Augé has become a rider that the younger professionals can look up to and get advice from.

Augé reckons the best way to teach is to lead by example by going for the breakaways. When he rode away for 175 kilometres on stage one, he said he didn't worry. "I do about 3000 kilometres of breakaway yearly anyway," he said. "And believe me: I'll break clear again because I want to be awarded as the most aggressive rider of the Tour de France." That title used to be Jacky Durand's speciality.

"With the experience, I get to know how to win," he commented after the stage one finish in Canterbury. He was frustrated because his realistic goal for that day was to put on the polka dot jersey. He was equal on points with David Millar at the end, but the Scot got the jersey because of his higher ranking on the general classification.

Inspired to experience the adulation of the crowd from one Tour podium, Augé went for the single climb on stage three as his last chance for glory. "At least I'll have this jersey for one day," he said.

Aged 33, Augé knows how to make himself popular. We'll see more of him during the 2007 Tour de France because he seriously intends to succeed David De La Fuente and Oscar Pereiro, the last two winners of the "Prix de la Combativité" – the most aggressive rider competition – for which journalists, former champions and members of the organization vote every day."

Pre-race chatter

The talk of the town was of course the big crash at the end of stage two into Gent. After their losses were counted several riders commented on the previous day's activities before they were heading off to stage three.

Cadel Evans, who's main interest is to contend for the top spots in Paris, told Cyclingnews' John Trevorrow that it is important to "stay out of trouble, same [like] every year. The Tour's first week - that is how it goes." In those dangerous conditions Evans just hopes that "there is no crash." His main focus is on "staying out of trouble and staying safe; not expending energy."

Evans relies on his teammates for comfort. "I got my guys, Dario [Cioni], Mario [Aerts], Fred [Rodriguez]. They stay all around me and make sure I am all right and keep me in good position near the front."

Asked if he worries about any stages before the Alps, when the race really begins for him, the Australian reveals that "no, for me it's the same every year. The big mountain stages and the time trials, that's always where the classification is made. The rest is all right, well, as long as you don't lose any time."

Michael Rodgers of T-Mobile found that yesterday was "a pretty calm stage really. I was a bit nervous before the start, but for me personally, compared to previous years, these [early stages] haven’t been hard for me." He wasn't quite sure about his knee yet, acknowledging that "It's hard to tell, really. There are no problems at the moment, it's when we get to the hard stages that we will find out."

Simon Gerrans reckons that "every guy had instructions from his team boss to get up the front. It's like a washing machine in there. As quick as you get yourself to the front you get shuffled down the back and have to do it all again."

Reactions to the stage into Compiègne

Fabian Cancellara (Team CSC) - First:

Fabian Cancellara (Team CSC)
Photo ©: Cyclingnews.com
(Click for larger image)

Fabian Cancellara commented on his victory, even though immediately after the stage finish he declared "I am almost speechless. To win in France with the yellow jersey, that is just fantastic." He later elaborated that "it was absolutely fantastic to win in the yellow jersey. I was afraid I'd loose it during those final 30 kilometres and now in stead I'm standing here with a victory, which I'll remember for a very long time."

Erik Zabel (Milram) - Second:

Photo ©: Sirotti
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Erik Zabel beat all the sprinters, but made his calculations without the bold move of Fabian Cancellara from CSC. So instead of a stage win, the German added another second place to his palmarès. Describing the day he confirmed that there "was a cross wind that hit us slightly from the front, so it was normal that CSC would only ride as fast as the break.

"There are so many good riders here, and it would be unjust to Fabian to not take him into account for the stage win, but I would have bet more on Tom Boonen, Daniele Bennati or Robbie McEwen. That the yellow jersey, Fabian Cancellara, could get so much advantage over us on the cobbles that it was enough to beat us, well, we just have to say without envy that that was 'extraordinaire'.

"For me it was a normal stage. Headwind, very long [distance]. When it starts out slowly then the finale is even faster. It was of course ideal for Fabian to attack on the cobbles. And for me it was a very long sprint. So overall it is ok. [Second place] is not bad for my age [smiles]."

Sébastien Hinault (Crédit Agricole):

Sébastien Hinault, who was working for his Crédit Agricole teammate Thor Hushovd, revealed that "the break was playing with our nerves. They decided to save energy so they would have some strength for the finale, knowing that the peloton would be content to leave the gap at around five minutes.

"They didn't lack much to be successful. That could have been last laugh, with the arrival of two fresh guys."

Thor Hushovd (Crédit Agricole):

Hinault's captain, Thor Hushovd, told Cyclingnews' Jean-François Quénet that "Today I was suffering a little bit from the injuries but only at the beginning of the stage. It was a very bizarre stage today. It went really fast at the end. I got boxed in with 200 meters to go. I should have opened my sprint earlier."

Danilo Napolitano (Lampre-Fondital):

Danilo Napolitano of Lampre-Fondital has reached the podium of a Tour stage for the first in his career. The fast man of the Italian squad said that "I'm happy with the podium, even if the victory is always my target. Today's stage was very strange, with a low average. It's difficult to do a sprint when the speed has been low all day. I saw Cancellara attacking with a lot of speed; I waited for the right moment to start my sprint, but I was closed in on the left." After he freed himself, he "pedaled with full strength, but Cancellara was very fast.

Daniele Bennati (Lampre-Fondital):

Teammate Daniele Bennati was relieved about the low speed, indicating "it helped me after yesterday's fall. My ribs ached only in the final part of the stage, when the speed increased. I hope to get better and better in the next days.

Fran Ventoso (Saunier Duval):

Fran Ventoso of Saunier Duval said that "after the crash yesterday, I managed to do a good job today. The slow pace was OK for me. It was an easy race up to the final stretch. I'm a bit worried about my leg: when I'm riding it doesn't hurt but as soon as I stand up or move it, a sharp pain appears. I hope it isn't anything severe. I believe if I was able to ride for 230 kilometres it can't be any major injury. I tried to be part of the sprint but it wasn't easy to do [being] all on my own and amongst whole teams. Before reaching the pavé I was 40th and when it was over I had already passed ten or twelve riders. Unfortunately, that was the best I could do."

Joxean Fernández Matxin (Saunier Duval):

Joxean Fernández Matxingave gave a deeper insight on why Scot David Millar was not sprinting for the mountain points to keep the jersey for at least another day. "I´m not worried about [the team] having lost the polka-dot jersey. We wore it for two days, and that's great. Tomorrow, the riders will have to face four climbing challenges and Millar is not supposed to fight for the KOM classification. Today, he didn't feel confident about beating Augé on the summit, and when the Frenchman attacked, we just couldn't have the whole team push over 40 kilometres. We had done this on day one. The good thing is that Ventoso was able to ride despite yesterday´s accident”.

Sébastien Joly diagnosed with cancer

By Jean-François Quénet in Compiègne

Sébastien Joly (centre)
Photo ©: Régis Garnier
(Click for larger image)

Late last month, French rider Sébastien Joly announced that he would stop riding after a tumour was discovered at an undisclosed location in his body, and the Française des Jeux rider found out yesterday that the growth was cancerous. "I expected it," he said from his home in the Rhône valley. "I'll undergo several months of radiotherapy and chemotherapy. I'm hopeful because I was told the treatment is pretty efficient for this kind of cancer."

Joly was full of praise for the members of the cycling community who have leant him much support. "I have received a lot of supportive messages and I thank all the people who did it," he said. "I'm prepared to put a lot of effort into my recovery. I have come to terms with my sickness now. I watch the Tour de France every day and I aim at having a quiet time."

Joly, 28, was in the peak of form when his diagnosis came, having won the Paris-Camembert earlier this year.

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