Tour de France Cycling News for July 13, 2007
Edited by Bjorn Haake and Laura Weislo
Pippo as promised
By Gregor Brown in Autun
The stage winner, Pozatto
Photo ©: Sirotti
Filippo Pozzato lived up to his promise and took the 182-kilometre stage
five from Chablis to Autun. The long-haired 25 year-old Italian put the
power on high after the final right-hander at 350 metres to go to overtake
his adversaries and live up to his promise of the day before. Cyclingnews'
Gregor Brown reports on 'Pippo' Pozzato's second career stage win in the
Tour de France.
In 2004, Pozzato took his first win in the Tour de France at a mere 22
years old. The Italian from Sandrigo was riding on Giancarlo's Ferretti's
Fassa Bortolo team and put a marker down of greatness to come by winning
the 204.5-kilometre stage to Saint Brieuc. "I took a big risk to win
today and it worked out," stated Pozzato after his win three years ago.
'Pippo' steadily grew by taking one solid win a season; after switching
to Quickstep in 2005 he won the HEW-Cyclassics,
in 2006 the big one came with Milano-Sanremo
and this year he had already taken the Belgian Classic Omloop
Het Volk. (Read the Cyclingnews Het
Volk post-race feature.)
Cyclingnews had spoken with the talkative rider the day before
in Villers-Cotteręts and he had hinted
strongly of a win to come. "Tomorrow will be good for me," he predicted.
"I think it will be a stage to control because everyone will want to go
into an escape but we will try to control it so that it arrives in a sprint.
A sprint from a small group." He concluded, "I will tell you how it goes
Coming up on
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Vinokourov, Klöden injured
By Brecht Decaluwé in Autun
Alexander Vinokourov (Astana) finishes
Photo ©: Sirotti
The Astana team had a major setback on Thursday when their two GC contenders,
Alexandre Vinokourov and Andreas Klöden crashed in separate incidents.
Andreas Klöden was the first to go down, having touched a wheel of the
rider in front when the peloton slowed suddenly. He fell into a roadside
ditch, but managed to rejoin the peloton with the help of his team-mate
Daniele Navarro. Post-race he was taken to hospital in Autun where X-rays
revealed a fracture in his tail bone, which he had already broken in 2003.
He also suffered contusions on his thigh and hip.
The team had a second serious mishap when Alexandre Vinokourov crashed
after his chain jumped, and had to mount a furious chase for the last
30 kilometres of the stage. He arrived with blood pouring from both knees
and his shorts ripped open on the right side.
In a first reaction, Astana's general manager Marc Biver was disappointed
that his two leaders went down and was hopeful that things would turn
out better than feared. "We heard from [Antonio] Colom on the team radio
that Vino was on the ground, and 10" later we were there while
he was already back on his feet," Biver explained. "We gave
him another bike and he rode on, meanwhile the others didn't wait of course,"
"Everybody described us as favourites for the Tour, but I always said
that the race is three weeks long and that it's not good to forecast the
winner," Biver told Cyclingnews. "The Tour de France is three weeks
long and many things can happen. And today our two leaders crashed but
tomorrow it's Friday 13 and we'll see what happens, it's another day,"
the Luxembourgian said.
"The injuries from Vino looked like the most serious - at least
visually. Klöden has hurt his vertebra, but we'll know the medical verdict
tonight. Tomorrow morning we'll know if they could sleep and recover,"
Klöden already had to abandon the Tour twice. In the 2003 Tour, when
the team was followed by TV cameras for the outstanding documentary Höllentour
("Hell on wheels"), he suffered a fractured tailbone, while
in 2005 he broke
his navicular bone, lying 11th overall.
"It reminds us that we have to remain humble. If accidents decide that
we can't battle for the victory then that's our destiny, there's nothing
we can do about that. It's sad to lose the Tour de France like that, but
life goes on," Biver tried to put everything into perspective.
Cancellara gets a bonus day
By Brecht Decaluwé in Autun with additional reporting from
With only 33" separating Cancellara from GC-contender Andreas Klöden,
and 29" to second-placed Thor Hushovd, it seemed likely that the
time trial World Champion would finally concede his Maillot Jaune
on stage five, but fate worked in his favour and despite nearly crashing
on the final descent into Autun, the Swiss rider prevailed for another
"When the mountains come the time in yellow will be over for me,"
he told Cyclingnews. "So for sure there will come a day that
I have to give this back. Then another job starts for me as I want to
give everything back what they [the team -ed.] are giving to me these
days, I want to thank CSC, my teammates for that."
"With Fränk Schleck and Carlos Sastre we have guys with GC ambitions
and I hope that it stays with the team; we will try to keep it. For now
we'll focus on the coming days as Thursday's stage isn't too hard."
Stuart O'Grady, who has been faithfully devoting his entire Tour to the
service of the yellow jersey, despite being banged up by his crash in
the prologue, had been ready to let the jersey go Thursday morning. "Thor
Hushovd is now within striking distance of the jersey, so maybe we will
look at handing it on sooner rather than later," he said after stage
four. However, when the race unfolded, it played into the CSC team's hands.
"By this morning the team had decided that enough was enough. We'd
worked very hard and solidly and had been fortunate enough to have been
rewarded with a large slice of the cake. But we know there's a hell of
a long way to go. So we made the considered decision to let the break
go, and the yellow with it," O'Grady explained. "But as we know,
this is the Tour de France, and quite a number of teams haven't done anything
yet. We took the view that it was up to them to decide if the Tour was
to have a new leader. Or that one of them was going to try to win a stage.
"I believe that justice was done as it was Liquigas which did most
of the work all day, and thoroughly deserved the win. Full credit to them
and Filippo Pozzato. It was a tough, typical Tour stage. There were a
lot of riders really suffering on the narrow, dead and unforgiving roads
today. Now the tour is really starting."
Cancellara, for his part, has been too busy this Tour de France to truly
appreciate what he's done so far. "I think I need a few days after the
Tour de France," he confessed. "During the race you haven't
got time to really realize what you did. It's still two and a half weeks
hard work. For sure, for me it's easier as I already have a few things
in my pocket," he smiled.
Boonen out of green
By Brecht Decaluwé in Autun
Boonen gives up green jersey
Photo ©: AFP
Quickstep's Tom Boonen has had a frustrating Tour. Deprived of stage
wins first by Robbie McEwen, then by his own team-mate, then by the yellow
jersey himself, Fabian Cancellara, Boonen's lead-out again failed to deliver
the Belgian in a good position at the stage four sprint in Joigny. In
stage five, the Belgian suffered at the hands of an old enemy - gravity.
With eight climbs to cross, the last of which came 8.5 kilometres to
go, Boonen let go of the peloton and struggled in more than a minute down,
conceding the jersey to Milram's Erik Zabel. "I've gone full on every
day," the former World Champion told Sportwereld. After Thursday's
stage he said, "It was not possible for me to go any faster, and I had
to let the rest go." Boonen was lucky enough to wind up in a motivated
chase group with Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana), who crashed and was trying
to save his hopes for the overall classification. But when they came into
the finish town, Boonen was philosophical about his chances in the points
classification. "The green jersey? I'll take it day by day. Perhaps
tomorrow there will be a bunch sprint where I can gain some points."
Boonen's green jersey lead was lessened on the cobbled section of the
royal roads of Compičgne on Wednesday when the Quickstep train was surprised
by an unexpected turn with 500 metres to go. Boonen threw a protesting
arm in the air at the finish line, but assured that it was not his team
that was to blame.
The Belgian told Cyclingnews, "It wasn't the team's fault. The
last kilometres were very chaotic and riders were thrown around in every
direction. We tried to do our best to stay in front, but at one point
we couldn't move up anymore, then there was a hole we jumped in. Then
there was a little corner at 500m that wasn't in the book and that's where
it went wrong," Boonen explained.
The other riders avoided the suddenly wide open inside position, knowing
the corner was coming up, but the Quickstep train was trapped on the slowest
line. "We had to brake completely and got out of position. Where Hushovd
went for it we had to brake and that killed us," Boonen lamented.
Medical report: bloody Thursday
By Brecht Decaluwé in Autun
The stage from the small town of Chablis through the Bourgogne wine region
towards the bi-millennial city Autun caused many casualties in the peloton.
There was the young climbing talent Rémy Di Gregorio who didn't start
after yesterday's crash. The Française Des Jeux rider told Cyclingnews
yesterday, "if tomorrow brings the same pain like today there's no way
I can continue." There was no way the Marseille-born rider could continue
as a medical check-up at the hospital revealed a broken elbow for the
poor 21 year-old. Di Gregorio will be sad to realize that he can't ride
the stage to his hometown on July 18.
Milram's Australian rider Brett Lancaster, who crashed in the prologue
and wasn't spared from bad luck in the following days abandoned. His hurt
on his right side, especially his upper leg and abandoned today.
The medical report after stage five revealed minor sores like a headache
for Anthony Charteau, an insect bite for his team-mate and yesterday's
star lead-out man Julian Dean. Former Spanish champion Juan Manuel Garate
received treatment for backaches, and after 83 kilometres there was a
crash caused by Belgian Leif Hoste. "I was the first to crash in a corner,
it was my fault. It hurts everywhere," a suffering Hoste said to Cyclingnews
in Autun. Also afflicted by that crash were his team-mate Johan Vansummeren
and Iban Mayo, but all three riders are reported to have only several
bruises and superficial wounds.
Andreas Klöden crashed after 108km and was hurt near his hip and received
further treatment in Autun hospital. He did manage to finish in the first
Brave Geoffrey Lequatre earned the sympathy of all of the French press,
and indeed the viewing world, as he arrived 44'04" after the finish. Having
crashed dramatically in the feed zone, he was dripping with blood and
covered with wounds on his right knee, elbow and both hands. Just like
Klöden his was brought over to Autun hospital to suture his wounds and
to undergo further investigation.
GC-contender Alexandre Vinokourov crashed after 158km in the descent
of the Haut-Folin, and after his pursuit towards Autun - where he finished
1'20" down on the leaders - he was brought over to Dijon hospital to receive
treatment on his right knee. He was covered with scrapes on his right
hip and backside and had blood dripping from his knees when he passed
the finish line in Autun.
On the descent of the ultimate climb with no more than eight kilometres
to go, Benjamin Noval Gonzalez had an unfortunate run in with the team
car of Bouygues Telecom. He managed to reach the finish line where he
immediately received treatment in an ambulance. "Noval was distanced by
the group of Vinokourov when he crashed into the back window of Bouygues'
team car," said Discovery Channel's directeur sportif Dirk Demol.
"It doesn't look good for him. The glass has caused a deep cut in his
armpit, it has cut through his veins and muscle."
Stage five reactions
Philippe Gilbert (Française Des Jeux)
Before the stage it was expected that we would see Philippe Gilbert
in the attack and he didn't disappoint his fans. Gilbert made it into
the breakaway that left the peloton after only 19 kilometres. Despite
a maximum lead of 14'50" - after 52 kilometres - the five leaders reached
the penultimate climb with little more than 40". The Belgian could react
on the acceleration of Sylvain Chavanel on the Haut-Folin, but on the
final climb, the Côte de la Croix de la Libération, it was over for the
two French speaking men. "We attacked and build up a big lead but behind
us the speed was just too high," a worn out Gilbert said to Cyclingnews
at the finish line.
David Millar (Saunier Duval)
David Millar joined Xavier Florencio in the attack during the final
kilometres, but failed to seal the deal and they were hauled in by the
peloton with only 300 metres left. "It was better than I expected. I didn't
actually realize it was such a fast downhill to the finish. I'm happy,"
Millar said to Cyclingnews about his time trial towards the finish
"It was hairy and we were going flat out. It was time to move up, it
was good fun," Millar said, clearly having enjoyed the finale of Thursday's
stage. In contrast to the Scotsman, GC-contender Alexandre Vinokourov
probably had another opinion on the descent, Vino crashed while
descending the penultimate climb, the 'Haut-Folin'. "Poor guy," Millar
empathised, "It was a pretty big crash - we were going 70 km/h when
he went down. It was a real Tour de France stage today."
Simon Gerrans (Ag2r Prévoyance)
Christophe Moreau was one of the unlucky few to have problems on Thursday,
but his was just a minor mechanical. His Australian team-mate Simon Gerrans
described the situation for the team. "It is going well so far. We
have not have any big issues or crashes in the team. We have not have
anyone come down with anything."
"The first few days have been quiet for us. I think today will start
to heat up a bit. There will mostly likely be a breakaway. Like always
we have to watch for any dangerous moves. I have to watch Moreau and make
sure he does not have any problems," he said prophetically before
the start in Chablis. "He is looking forward to the Alps and he is
not too worried about today's stage. That is when the real shake-up on
the GC will happen. We just have to stay at the front and out of trouble.
If it splits today at the finish, which I think will happen on the technical
descent, we just have to be at the front."
Hunter on stage hunt
By Gregor Brown in Autun
Robert Hunter (Barloword),
Photo ©: Nicolas Götz
Robert Hunter has been inching his way toward a stage win in the Tour
de France after taking fourth on stage
two, fifth on stage
three, then second on stage
four. The 30 year-old South African is back in the Tour de France
after racing last year with Phonak and is proving that his Professional
Continental Team Barloworld team was a good selection for ASO.
"My sprint is coming on good enough at this moment," said Hunter to
Cyclingnews Thursday morning in Chablis. "I just missed out on
the luck. The last few days have been very close but I suppose that is
how it always is." He had finished second on Wednesday in
the sprint behind Norwegian Thor Hushovd. "It is the luck of the draw
This year's Tour de France seems to be open for every sprinter, Hunter
agreed. "I think there are a couple of guys that have really good legs
and up until now there has been a different winner everyday. So, there
is no team that is really dominating at the moment. It is good. I can't
really complain, and I am feeling good, we will have to wait and see what
happens in the future."
Hunter is using men like Kanstantsin Siutsou for his lead-out. "I think
it is a bit difficult," he said of the team's lead-out train. "We are
a slightly smaller team and we don't have... I can't expect anymore than
what they are doing. There is no one here who has huge experience in this
type of race. What they are trying to do for me is already fine; I am
trying to ride off of everyone else and it seems to be working - it is
not always the perfect situation but I can't complain."
After getting shelled on the final climb to Autun on stage
five, he will have another chance when the Tour finishes in Bourg-en-Bresse
on stage six after 199.5 kilometres of racing. "I think tomorrow will
be another day for the sprinters. Tom [Boonen] still hasn't won, Robbie
[McEwen] would like to get another one." He hopes to factor in to that
list of sprinters on Friday. "Yeah. I would like to have another big bash
tomorrow. I am sure if the other team try to get it down to a bunch sprint
tomorrow then we will be up there with one or two guys to help this and
see what happens from there."
Being back at the Grand Tour level is a special experience for the former
ProTour rider. "The last time I was here was with Phonak. Obviously it
is good to be in the Tour this year and just, basically, racing for myself."
The theory of bike racing
Today's stage five was a difficult affair from a tactical point of view.
While on paper it still belonged to the opening week with the usual breakaway
looking for glory that gets reeled in the final few kilometres by the
sprinters' teams, it practically had no flat parts in it and the final
rise was only eight kilometres form the finish.
George Hincapie, the American Champion on the Discovery Channel team,
said before the start that "we will try to send someone in an early break,
but in the end it will be up to us leaders to finish the job." For him
personally going into a break was out of the question, as he was not far
behind leader Fabian Cancellara in the overall classification, indicating
that "it would be a waste of energy." Nonetheless, with only 43 seconds
behind there was always the chance to move in GC with a late attack.
Australian Simon Gerrans on the Ag2r team also expected a break but cautioned
that its success would "depend on the composition of the break; who is
in it and how many riders there are. If it's only two or three guys then
CSC will just ride tempo and control it. But if it's bigger then CSC will
send a guy into the break."
While some riders are just happy to make a break and try to win a single
stage, the tactics are getting more interesting with all the competitons
For example, at the beginning of the day, Cofidis had just one goal in
mind, keeping the Polka-dot Jersey "in the house." Stéphane Augé (was
leading the competition with nine points and was two points ahead of teammate
and compatriot Sylvain Chavanel. The latter could have taken the jersey
yesterday, but let Knees go ahead so Augé could enjoy another day in the
maillot à pois rouges. Tactics can sometimes mean giving
presents that will be later remembered by teammates or even riders on
The competition for the green jersey also had an interesting constellation.
Thor Hushovd had moved up into fifth, only 19 points behind Tom Boonen.
While the Norwegian is not particularly build as a climber, he could stand
a chance if he could make it over the top with the front group or at least
with not too big a gap.
But to make things more complicated, second-placed Erik Zabel is one
of the best climbers of the sprinters and was certainly looking to take
some points out of his competitors, while Tom Boonen has shown in the
Flanders region that uphills don't scare him. But he is better at shorter
climbs where his power propels him to the top of the little bergs in no
time. His reputation on longer rises, such as the category two Haut-Folin,
that came after 135 kilometres, is less stellar.
Then of course there is also the team classification, which is a very
prestigious prize to win. The top three riders' time are added up for
each stage. With only twenty seconds separating the top five teams, there
are always calculations going on who to possibly send into the breaks.
The two second difference between Astana in first and CSC in second could
be wiped out with a simple first or second place in an intermediate sprint,
which credits four or six seconds in time bonuses, respectively.
But both teams, along with Discovery Channel in third and Caisse d'Epargne
in fourth, are more interested in the overall, which would open the door
for Cofidis, who is not eyeing the overall.
The overall seemed a little less complicated and CSC had to just control
the breaks and Thor Hushovd. The only question that remained was if Fabian
Cancellara would try for another crazy move at the end to win a stage
in yellow before he will have to surrender his jersey this weekend in
And in the end all tactics can be thrown out the window if a crash like
today happened. Vino's bad luck meant the team had to forget about the
team classification (dropping from one to 15 out of twenty teams) and
the overall classification has also received a damper.
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