Tour de France Cycling News, July 8, 2008
Edited by Greg Johnson
French cycling revived with Dumoulin win
By Brecht Decaluwé in Nantes
Samuel Dumoulin (Cofidis) took
a brilliant win in Nantes
Photo ę: AFP
The third stage of the Tour de France became a glorious day for French
cycling. A stage win and a yellow jersey were the result of a well timed
attack that included Samuel Dumoulin and Romain Feillu. Dumoulin secured his first stage win in the Tour de France,
while Feillus third place on the stage was enough to give
him the overall lead, the first time since Cyril Dessel took yellow on
stage 10 in 2006. During the post race press grill the French journalists
couldn't hide their emotions with a big round of applause for the heroes
who have put France back on the map of cycling.
The two new French stars embraced stardom by successfully rounding up
a breakaway attempt that took off after just one kilometre of racing.
While some riders expressed their aversion towards the region of Brittany,
both Feillu and Dumoulin will always look back with a smile on the face
when they think about this unique French region.
we left I thought we had only 5 percent chance of making it to the finish,"
Dumoulin said. "I was a bit frustrated as I had been feeling bad
throughout the first days, and decided to have a go anyway because it's
better to ride up front in these nervous stages than in the peloton. When
there were less than 50 kilometres to cover I started to believe we would
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Dumoulins breakaway companion, Feillu was more upbeat about their
chances of success. "Right from the start! I believed in it all day
long," he declared to the delight of the Frebch press. "I knew
I had a good chance to take the jersey if we made it, as I was only trailing
Valverde by 18 seconds.
"The co-operation was good. We could [all] communicate as Frischkorn
spoke French. With Paolo we could talk in Spanish. We decided not to go
full out, in an attempt to keep control over the peloton. We knew there
was a tailwind in the final twenty kilometres that offered us a chance
to stay away," explaining the tactics during the breakaway attempt.
To read the full report, click
McEwen disappointed with day three
By John Trevorrow
Robbie McEwen (Silence-Lotto) out-sprinted
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
Australia's Robbie McEwen has put the third stage's successful breakaway
down to the composition of teams in this year's Tour de France. With no
teams built completely around a sprinter, the peloton is struggling to
take control and chase down breakaways, according to the Silence-Lotto
"I really don't know, they all just sitting there looking at each other,"
he said. "I said this to a few guys before the start of the Tour. There
aren't any teams that are completely built around a sprinter. Some teams
are split with general classification guys and a sprint train but there's
no one to do the 'shit' work if you like."
McEwen was referring to the third stage's successful breakaway, which
saw four riders go away in the first kilometre and hold their lead through
to the finish. Samuel Dumoulin (Cofidis) won the sprint out of the reduced
group, which managed to hold two minutes of its lead - which had blown
out to 15 minutes - to the finish in Nantes.
"They then have to decide who's going to do the work and who's going
t sit behind and by the time they sought all that out the break's got
15 minutes and your just nor going to catch it," added McEwen.
The Australian was disappointed with the outcome of the day. McEwen had
been hoping for a sprint finish to stretch his legs, after multiple crashes
prevented him from being a contender on the previous day's stage.
"I felt really good today, it's just a shame I wasn't sprinting for a
stage win," he said.
McEwen claimed the bunch sprint for fifth place, 2.03 minutes behind
the stage winner.
Valverde: Sprinters missed their chance
Race leader Alejandro Valverde
Photo ©: AFP
Tour de France contender Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) believes
the sprinting teams missed their chance on Stage 3 of the Tour de France.
Valverde's Caisse d'Epargne squad was happy to let the yellow jersey go
to the breakaway of riders, who won't pose a general classification threat
once the mountains arrived.
The Spaniard was however surprised that the sprinter's teams didn't work
on the front sooner to set up a sprint finish. "One more time, the stage
was hard because of the wind," he said. "We controlled the race in its
first part. In the final, we thought that the teams of the sprinters would
co-operate some more to chase behind the breakers but they did not seize
the opportunity they had to win a stage, despite the fact that the course
suited them perfectly.
Valverde expected to lose the yellow jersey on this week. As soon as
the peloton crossed the start line on the third stage a group of four
got away, and managed to stay down the road through to the stage finish.
"We knew that if it was not today we were supposed to lose the yellow
jersey [we would] tomorrow, so that does not change a lot of things for
us," he said. "For me the goal was to start later than the other big favorites
tomorrow so that I can be informed of the gaps during the race and it
will be the case."
The Spanish rider believes the time trial will be suited to his style.
Valverde has already contested the course once, in the Cholet-Pays de
Loire earlier this year.
"I think it is a good one for me," he said. "Not too long, with less
than 30 kilometers and rather technical. The kind of time trial I like."
Frischkorn: Tour not just another race
By Gregor Brown in Nantes, France
United States of America's William Frischkorn (Team Garmin-Chipotle p/b
H30) came tantalizingly close to taking a stage win in his first Grand
Tour, the third stage of the 95th Tour de France. The 27 year-old formed
part of a four-man move that went clear within the first kilometre and
managed to stay until the end, where he was bettered by Frenchman Samuel
"I think that today it felt like it was just not another race," Frischkorn
examined on the Quai de la Fosse finishing straight.
The escape - also including Paolo Longo Borghini (Barloworld) and Romain
Feillu (Agritubel) - gained nearly 15 minutes on the maillot jaune
group of Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne). The gap was pulled back
down to two minutes at the finish, but it was enough for Frenchman Feillu
to take the race leader's yellow jersey.
"I think about 50K to go, when we had eight minutes, I knew we had a
good chance," Frischkorn said of the stage that crossed the gusty Briton
landscape in northwestern France. "The directeurs said 'if you can have
three minutes with 10 kilometres to go then you have it, once you get
The harmony of the group broke down after it passed the two-kilometre
marker. Dumoulin opened the attacks by firing on Rue Sembat, at 1500 remaining.
Frischkorn bridged and the duo briefly held a lead until Feillu came across.
The new race leader Feillu took a small gap that Frischkorn tried to
close. "I had thought of attacking right when the first attack went [by
Dumoulin], but my directeur was in the ear-piece saying 'don't pull now,
careful of Dumoulin'," he added. "I led Dumoulin back on unfortunately,
I should had forced him to chase.
"So close," he smiled. "It was exiting, but very disappointing at the
He realised that he proudly represented his team, who is competing in
its second Grand Tour. Team Garmin-Chipotle p/b H30 recently contested
the Giro d'Italia, where it led the race with Christian Vande Velde after
winning the team time trail in Palermo.
"It was great for the morale and the team, but a stage win would have
been cool," he added.
Menchov loses time, as does Ricc˛
By Shane Stokes in Nantes, France
Menchov and Riccò did not
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
Last year's Vuelta a Espa˝a winner
Denis Menchov came to the Tour de France hoping to improve on his sixth
place in 2006. However the Russian lost time to the other general classification
winners when the peloton split towards the end of the stage to Nantes.
He finished 38" behind the Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) group,
which was itself 2'03" adrift of the stage winner Samuel Dumoulin (Cofidis),
Will Frischkorn (Garmin Chipotle) and the new yellow jersey, Romain Feillu
Menchov had talked briefly to journalists at the start of the stage,
and was asked then if victory in the stage four time trial was possible.
"It is important for everybody," he said. "I don't know if I can win it,
it is hard to say.
"For me, the most important thing is to do it well against the other
GC contenders, as for sure there are other riders who are specialists
in time trials," he added.
It was put to him that if he won the test, he could well find himself
in the yellow jersey. "If that happened, it would be a good sign to get
it earlyůbut there are many tough stages to come," he said.
Menchov is still in with a chance of the victory, but losing so much
time on Stage 3 makes it unlikely that he could take the maillot jaune
on Tuesday. His general classification chances are not over, by any means;
however he'll need to ride well then and in the first mountain stages
to get back on terms with the other race favourites.
Fortunately Menchov seems happy enough with his form. "I am feeling okay,"
he said. "Normally I ride well in the second Grand Tour [of a season]."
Several other big names also finished in the Menchov group, amongst them
Riccardo Ricc˛ (Saunier Duval), Philippe Gilbert (Franšaise des Jeux),
Tour de Suisse winner Roman Kreuziger (Liquigas) and AG2R La Mondiale's
general classification hope Cyril Dessel. Ricc˛ is not known for having
a particularly charismatic nature, although it's understandable why he
wasn't in the best of spirits at the end.
When asked his reaction to losing time, he played down the significance
of that. "Perhaps you journalists don't understand that I am not here
to work for the classification," he snapped. When it was pointed out that
Saunier Duval were chasing hard at the head of his group, he claimed it
was for team-mate Juan Jose Cobo.
Menchov's general classification rival Cadel Evans (Silence-Lotto) was
happy to learn of the buffer created on Stage 3. "Any seconds you can
gain in this period, or rather not lose any, is always the idea of this
first week," said Evans. "All day blowing crosswinds like crazy then finally
Quick Step took the initiative to split it. That was an advantage to Devolder
of course but also an advantage for us."
Hinault takes down French protester
By Gary Boulanger, Bikeradar.com
But the Badger quickly showed him
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
Although Bernard Hinault was the last Frenchman to win the Tour de France
in 1985, the 53-year-old from Brittany, nicknamed 'the Badger' for his
tenacity on and off the bike, hasn't lost his fire. One famous quote from
his racing days sums it up: "As long as I breathe, I attack".
Now a public relations man with Amaury Sports Organization (ASO), which
runs Paris-Roubaix and the Tour, Hinault, on the podium in Nantes while
Stage 3 winner Samuel Dumoulin was receiving his applause, once again
found himself in the position of breathing and attacking. A French protester
hopped on stage before Hinault, dressed in ASO-issued blue blazer and
khakis, adroitly shoved the man off the podium and into the arms of a
That, my friends, was a moment to remember. He's not called the Badger
According to a posting on Hinault's Wikipedia page, the five-times Tour
winner was prominent in a riders' strike at Valence d'Agen in the 1978
Tour to protest against split stages, in which the riders had to ride
a stage in the morning and another in the afternoon. He also imposed discipline
and often cooperation among riders, once decreeing that "there will
be no attacks today because tomorrow's stage will be difficult".
He was respected by riders but feared by many for his temperament. If
he felt slighted by another rider he would use his strength to humiliate
A protester tried to steal the
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
To the public, Hinault was often arrogant, remote and shy of publicity.
When an interviewer suggested he devote more attention to fans, Hinault
replied, "I race to win, not to please people".
Belgian Eddy Merckx, who retired in early 1978 after winning the Tour
five times, was so dominant that most in the peloton feared the one they
called 'the Cannibal'. But not Hinault. No, the Frenchman, making his
Tour debut that year, when asked if he feared Merckx, responded: "He
has a head, two arms, two legs, just as I."
Now the world knows why Greg LeMond, a teammate of Hinault's in the early
and mid 1980s, couldn't sleep much during the 1986 Tour. One just has
to wonder if the French protester realized who he was messing with in
Nantes Monday evening.
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