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Dauphiné Libéré
Photo ©: Sirotti

Cycling News Extra for July 22, 2006

Edited by Jeff Jones and Shane Stokes

Evans satisfied

By Hedwig Kröner in Mâcon

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Cadel Evans (Davitamon-Lotto)
Photo ©: Jon Devich
(Click for larger image)

It's been a good Tour de France for Australian climber Cadel Evans: Just two days before the final showdown on the Champs-Elysées in Paris - and just one before the last time trial, which will set the 2006 general classification in stone - the Davitamon-Lotto rider told Cyclingnews that he was happy with his performance in the race.

"So far I'm satisfied with my Tour," Evans said just before the start line in Alpine town Morzine on Friday. "When I had an opportunity, I made the most of it. I've been regular, I've been consistent; from my capacities, I've ridden well." On Saturday, Evans may try to trade his fifth overall placing for a spot on the final podium. "It's not over yet - I hope to do a good time trial...," he continued. "The Top 5 riders in GC are the best five time triallists in the race, as well as Rogers in tenth place. So it should be an interesting one."

The Australian also added that this year's apparent disorganisation within the teams made it even harder for him in the race. "It's been a really different Tour, especially from last year," he said. "Then, you had a pretty good idea of what was going to happen, where it was going to be controlled or not, where it was going to be dangerous. Whereas this year, there were so many unpredictable factors - and that's gone against me. I don't have a team to make up for all these variables, and that cost me a lot of energy."

Dessel on cloud #7

By Hedwig Kröner in Mâcon

Cyril Dessel (AG2R)
Photo ©: Jon Devich
(Click for larger image)

The whole of France was in a frenzy. On Wednesday, July 12, a French cyclist rode himself into the overall lead of the Tour de France, and even if he could only wear the Yellow jersey for one day, AG2R's Cyril Dessel has been closely followed by the public ever since. One day prior to the all-deciding time trial in Le Creusot, the brave fighter was still placed seventh on GC. Cyclingnews asked him how he felt about his performance.

"This Tour is like a dream to me," said Dessel in Morzine, before the start of stage 18. "My popularity is growing impressively; and I hear my name shouted out everywhere. It's really great."

Before the last mountain stage, Dessel was still placed fourth on the overall classification - but then he had to concede some spots to his rivals, finishing 16th on the stage after four high mountains climbs. His teammate Christophe Moreau, who had protected him on the day before, got third. How did he feel about the fact that Moreau didn't stay with him on that last ascent, the Col de Joux-Plane?

"Christophe was the leader of our team when we started this Tour," he replied. "When I got the placing on GC, I was protected as well. Yesterday (stage 17), he had the legs to play his card and try to get up on GC, so he did. I just tried to hold on as much as I could - and in the end, I didn't miss much to stay with the groupe maillot jaune. It was a pity that I crashed in the descent. I would have ended up sixth on GC had I not..."

Now, the young Frenchman will aim at keeping his spot on the list of honour, even if he knows it will be hard. "The time trial is a question mark for me," Dessel continued. "I don't know what I'm capable of. After three weeks, it's endurance that counts, and I'm more a climber than a rouleur, too. So I'll try to limit my losses; maybe keep this seventh place or at least finish in the Top 10."

Whatever happens, Dessel will forever treasure the memory of the 2006 Tour de France. "If anyone had told me before the Tour that I would finish it like this, I would have never believed it! This was completely unexpected for me."

Calzati says French hopes increased from 20 to 99%

By Jean-François Quénet in Mâcon

Hailing from Lyon, Sylvain Calzati was racing on home soil on the way to Mâcon. He was the first rider from the 15 men breakaway to attack, going clear with 50km to go. This initiative didn't exactly make him popular. Some of the other Frenchmen away criticized him for doing it. "I didn't care who was French or not," Calzati answered. "And I don't care about what they think. The place where I attacked was the last possibility for me to create a difference, because I'm not able to break clear at 70km/h. I don't regret I did it."

Having won stage 8 to Lorient, he was probably the less frustrated of the losers in Mâcon. "I'd have liked to win again," he said. "At the beginning of the Tour, I already announced that I wanted to do well in that particular stage. At least I pleased the people who came especially for seeing me on the road side. For a while, our advantage was only between 3 minutes and 3 and half, but in the Ain valley, they let us go. I'm still disappointed that I couldn't race for the stage win at the very end."

With his AG2R team, Calzati has been a major player in the 2006 Tour de France. "The Tour has been great for us," he reckoned. "I hope it'll be even better next year. People say it's a ‘Tour à l'ancienne', a race like it used to be in the past, it means that many riders take risks, they're not afraid of losing, they don't wait for the last climb to put an attack. This Tour is hard, many riders are tired at the end, but the event is full of happiness. I believe it's a great race to watch."

He's encouraged about French riders taking more initiatives than in the past. "Before, we used to start with 20% of chances to win a stage, now it's 99%. I probably had the same good shape during my first Tour de France two years ago, but it's been fantastic to have an impact on the race this year, for GC as well as for stage wins. I hope I'll improve again. I'm younger than my current leaders Christophe Moreau and Cyril Dessel, so maybe in the future there'll be a spot for me with more responsibilities."

Post-race quotes

By Anthony Tan and Brecht Decaluwé in Mâcon

Cristian Moreni (Cofidis, 2nd)

Cristian Moreni (Cofidis)
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

Italian rider Christian Moreni (Cofidis) came as close as possible to victory in Mâcon but Tosatto proved to be quicker on the line. "I rode a great final but still I got beaten," he said after the stage. "It's sad for my team."

As soon as it former, Moreni battled to get himself into the breakaway. "Everybody was tired after such a hard Tour de France but the only way to win a stage is by riding in front. This stage makes me somewhat happy but also disappointed because I couldn't win. Actually, this morning I told the guys I would do everything I could to win the stage today. I came so close, but Tosatto has beaten me."

Mario Aerts (Davitamon-Lotto, 11th)

Belgian Mario Aerts was also in the decisive break, his third time in such an escape this Tour. It didn't prove to be three times lucky though as he couldn't follow Scholz, Tosatto and Moreni when they struck off by themselves. "I was very tired this morning," he said after the race. "So I guess it's time this Tour is over. Still, I got into the break which isn't easy at all. You've got to try many, many times, and when everybody has to recover a bit you've got to try again. I knew the break would make it to the finish this time because the group was very large."

Being in the right break is one thing, but winning the stage is something else. "Winning the stage is even more difficult. I tried to follow a few attacks, but attacking myself wasn't possible. I can't do anything about that."

Floyd Landis (Phonak, 3rd overall)

Floyd Landis (Phonak)
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

Q: Could you tell us another time about your impressive performance during yesterday's stage?

A: It was a difficult stage for everybody. But after two mountain stages, I wanted to do my best to take some time back.

Q: How do you feel going towards the time trial?

A: I'm feeling well. I'm confident in my time trialling but we'll have to see. I'm optimistic though.

Q: How did you feel today after your superhuman effort of yesterday?

A: I was fine. Today I was hopeful there would be a breakaway. It took a while but that's normal. Another team rode in front of the peloton. I don't know why they did it, but it was fine with me. In the end it was a bit of a recovery day.

Q: Tomorrow it will be the most important time trial of your life. How do you live up to that?

A: I feel good. I was strong yesterday and actually did a bit of a time trial then, so I had a good warm up (laughs).

John Lelangue (Phonak team manager)

"Tonight, we will have another look to the course of tomorrow. We will take a closer look at the most difficult passages and roundabouts. We will do that thoroughly with our two coaches this evening. Tomorrow morning, we will do it another time with Floyd Landis. We will start with confidence and I can already say that whatever happens we have had a good Tour.

"It's time to turn the six months of training efforts around into results. Those days in the [wind tunnel in the] USA are days that come up in our mind now. They give us confidence in the position, the material... we'll concentrate on that to do a good time trial.

Do you feel that the pressure is mounting now? "We don't feel pressure. Yesterday evening, we didn't talk about the time trial of tomorrow. Today, we just had a good recovery stage."

After the failure [of Landis] on the climb towards La Toussuire, you received a phone call from Eddy Merckx. The five-time winner of the Tour de France said the you should attack right from the start in the next stage. You did and it proved to be the right strategy. How does it feel to get that kind of advice?

"He called us again yesterday evening and also this morning, just like my father did. It's good to feel that those experienced guys gave us the advice that not everything was lost. They tried to keep us motivated after a disastrous stage at La Toussuire. My father and Eddy Merckx often inform me and really try hard to motivate the whole team. While having dinner in the hotel at Toussuire, we decided that we would attack the next day."

Cadel Evans (Davitamon-Lotto, 5th overall)

Q: Were you already thinking about the time trial during this stage?

A: I’ll worry about that tomorrow.

Bjarne Riis (CSC team manager)

Q: What advice will you give to Carlos Sastre right before he starts his time trial?

A: Go as fast as possible … and good luck!

Q: Today’s stage was probably focused on recovery and saving energy?

A: Carlos just sat in the wheels, he eat and drank.

Q: Did you already do a reconnaissance of the time trial course?

A: No, I know it is long and not very technical; that’s why I didn't have a look just yet.

Q: David Zabriskie was in the break today, did you ask him to be there?

A: We wanted to be in the break, but if we weren’t there it didn't matter much.

José De Cauwer

Tomorrow's time trial will likely sort out the GC of this year's Tour de France. In 1989, José De Cauwer was manager of Greg Lemond's ADR team when he won the Tour de France in 1989. The American fought out a battle in the final time trial with Laurent Fignon. The French rider had an advantage going into the stage but wasn't able to hold on to it; he was beaten by eight seconds for GC, still the smallest winning margin ever in the history of the Tour. "I was there when that famous duel was fought out between Greg Lemond and Laurent Fignon," De Cauwer said Friday. "I know that Fignon cracked during his ride because he heard the intermediate times. Every time Fignon passed the crowds people shouted that he was behind."

José De Cauwer also coached Tom Boonen during the world championships in Madrid. What advice he would give to Oscar Pereiro Sio, the current yellow jersey holder? "Pereiro will need to start really fast giving him some advance on Landis. He'll need to gain energy out of that good news. If he gets behind right from the start, accelerating later on wont be possible. If he blows up his engine by starting to quickly, that won't matter because if he doesn't try it, he wont win it either."

Gonchar goes swimming?

Hopefully Serguei Gonchar will pay more attention today riding his bike than he did Thursday evening walking around. Perhaps he was enthralled by the beautiful mountain landscape around Morzine or the landscaping in the garden of the hotel "Le Beau-Regard", or maybe he was concentrating on the telephone call he was having on his cell phone. Whatever the reason, he casually walked backwards…right in to the swimming pool.

Fortunately it was covered, so he didn't go all the way down. And there's no word as to whether he was finished his phone conversation with "good-bye" or "blub blub blub..."

Courtesy of Susan Westemeyer

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