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Tour de France Cycling News for July 13, 2007

Date published:
July 13, 2007, 1:00 BST
  • The theory of bike racing

    Article published:
    July 13, 2007, 1:00 BST
    By:
    Gregor Brown in Autun

    Today's stage five was a difficult affair from a tactical point of view. While on paper it still...

    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 going.

    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 other teams.

    The competition for the green jersey also had an interesting constellation. Thor Hushovd had moved up...

  • Hunter on stage hunt

    Robert Hunter (Barloword),
    Article published:
    July 13, 2007, 1:00 BST
    By:
    Cycling News

    By Gregor Brown in Autun Robert Hunter has been inching his way toward a stage win in the Tour de...

    By Gregor Brown in Autun

    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 sometimes."

    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...

  • Stage five reactions

    Article published:
    July 13, 2007, 1:00 BST
    By:
    Gregor Brown in Autun

    Before the stage it was expected that we would see Philippe Gilbert in the attack and he didn't...

    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 line.

    "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...

  • Medical report: bloody Thursday

    Article published:
    July 13, 2007, 1:00 BST
    By:
    Brecht Decaluwé in Autun

    By Brecht Decaluwé in Autun The stage from the small town of Chablis through the Bourgogne wine...

    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 group.

    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....

  • Boonen out of green

    Boonen gives up green jersey
    Article published:
    July 13, 2007, 1:00 BST
    By:
    Brecht Decaluwé in Autun

    By Brecht Decaluwé in Autun Quickstep's Tom Boonen has had a frustrating Tour. Deprived of stage...

    By Brecht Decaluwé in Autun

    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 Compiègne 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...

  • Cancellara gets a bonus day

    Article published:
    July 13, 2007, 1:00 BST
    By:
    Brecht Decaluwé in Autun with additional reporting from John Trevorrow

    By Brecht Decaluwé in Autun with additional reporting from John Trevorrow With only 33" separating...

    By Brecht Decaluwé in Autun with additional reporting from John Trevorrow

    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 day.

    "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...

  • Vinokourov, Klöden injured

    Alexander Vinokourov (Astana) finishes
    Article published:
    July 13, 2007, 1:00 BST
    By:
    Brecht Decaluwé in Autun

    By Brecht Decaluwé in Autun The Astana team had a major setback on Thursday when their two GC...

    By Brecht Decaluwé in Autun

    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," Biver smiled.

    "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," Biver...

  • Pippo as promised

    The stage winner, Pozatto
    Article published:
    July 13, 2007, 1:00 BST
    By:
    Gregor Brown in Autun

    By Gregor Brown in Autun Filippo Pozzato lived up to his promise and took the 182-kilometre stage...

    By Gregor Brown in Autun

    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-Cotterêts 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 tomorrow night."

    See the full story here.

    Full Stage 5...