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From cocaine-fueled gangster themes to tiny details on the hubs
New brand Kemo cracks into the Tour with Bretagne
The BMC Teammachine of the American GC hopeful
Hyper-aggressive position for the sprint lead-out
By Brecht Decaluwé in Montgailhard Going into Sunday's mountainous stage 14, two teams shared mutual...
By Brecht Decaluwé in Montgailhard
Going into Sunday's mountainous stage 14, two teams shared mutual interests and were well set up to lead the peloton through the Pyrenees. The two Dutch-speaking teams Rabobank and Predictor both wanted to defend the yellow jersey; Rabobank held the maillot jaune while Predictor was not far behind with Evans one minute down on the Danish captain of the Rabobank team. Evans proved that he can take at least one minute back on Rasmussen in a long time trial which made him, at least before Sunday's stage, perhaps the top candidate to wear the maillot jaune in Paris, considering that that there's a time trial scheduled for the penultimate stage of the Tour de France 2007.
Before the start of the first mountain stage in the Pyrenees, the two directeur sportifs gave their view on a possible low-countries-coalition. Erik Dekker, whose Rabobank team was leading, said things would have to change for his Dutch team. "It's obvious that we're not in the most ideal position," said Dekker. The former quadruple Tour de France stage winner explained to Cyclingnews that the team built up a lot of confidence in Rasmussen after his strong time trial in Albi.
"Riding a time trial like that proves how strong he is," said Dekker of Rasmussen's strong stage 13 time trial. "I'm not surprised that he stood tall but it's obvious that his time trial was of exceptional class." Dekker explained that Rasmussen was confused about the reference times he had asked for Alejandro Valverde. "Up until now, he still thinks that he received the split times from Boogerd from Breukink but when he spotted Valverde with 10km to go, he received an enormous boost." Approaching the big mountains, Dekker predicted that Predictor would lend them a hand and work hard at the front of the race.
Marc Sergeant, a manager for the Predictor team, confirmed that the Belgian team would support Rabobank in the...
By Gregor Brown in Montgailhard Filippo Pozzato may have the Milano-Sanremo and Het Volk on his...
By Gregor Brown in Montgailhard
Filippo Pozzato may have the Milano-Sanremo and Het Volk on his palmarès but that does not mean he stands a chance in the hot and demanding stages of the Pyrénées. The Italian from Veneto, winner of the Tour de France stage to Autun, is looking to pass the Pyrenean climbs and is focused on his last three stage possibilities.
"It was calm and very cool," Pozzato explained to Cyclingnews of the time trial around Albi. He was one of the many riders who road in the rain over the 54 kilometre test but fortunately there was no pressure on him to perform. Just like in the current mountain stages, he is looking to save himself for the flatter days to come. "I will need to save myself and I hope for the best."
His Byelorussian teammate, Aleksandr Kuschynski, tried his luck in the stage to Plateau de Beille while 'Pippo' rode in the gruppetto to finish 34 minutes back.
"After the mountains there are two nice stages and then Paris. I hope to be able to do something good," said the tall, 25 year-old. The Tour will finish with closing circuits on the Champs-Élysées as normal. "I would really enjoy winning in Paris because Paris is a grand bel arrivo but I have to arrive there first."
Pozzato had pointed toward stage 12 to Castres after his win in Autun but he was a little held up in the finale, where he ended fourth behind team-mate Murilo Fischer. "We had a problem with the round-about after the last kilometre banner and we lost a little bit. It was also a little bit of a mess in the sprint; I bumped against Ballan but it was fine, the same."
The next chance for Pozzato will come on Thursday, with the 188.5-kilometre stage to Castelsarrasin.
By Gregor Brown in Montgailhard with additional reporting by John Trevorrow "I am okay," said...
By Gregor Brown in Montgailhard with additional reporting by John Trevorrow
"I am okay," said Australian Simon Gerrans at the start of stage 14 to Plateau de Beille. The 27 year-old went down with team leader and French Champion, Christophe Moreau, in a gusty Tour de France stage to Montpellier, but he is determined to do all he can for Team Ag2r in the Pyrenean stages ahead.
The rider from the Victorian Alps was worried about the 197-kilometre stage on tap. "At the moment I am okay, but it might be a little bit different in about ten kilometres," he noted with concern to Cyclingnews.
After the stage, he said, "Tough day today. It went out of the blocks up the cat 2 which hurt. Then things settled down until the Hors Cat where the bunch split up. I ended up back in the grupetto and we finished at around 35 minutes down." Gerrans ended up with Moreau. The duo will have to focus on two remaining stages, Monday and Wednesday, the day after the rest day.
He welcomed the sunny start in Mazamet, home of Laurent Jalabert, after Saturday's rain-soaked time trial affair. "There was no point in me going flat out yesterday. I am a long way down on the GC and so there is a no use hurting myself any more than I had too. It rained on me from start to finish."
He had seen time trial World Champ Cancellara slide-out in a right-hander but he explained his day out was a lot less intense. "He went really close a couple of times. He did not back it off at all, he just kept pushing it and he eventually went down. It was the last sort of tricky corner where he went down.
"I took it really easy on the descent to avoid crashing. It was only that first descent that was tricky." Gerrans finished with a time of 9'30" down over the 54 kilometres. "So, otherwise, I just rode tempo to the finish, it was a long way."
By Gregor Brown and Brecht Decaluwé in Montgailhard with additional reporting by John Trevorrow The...
By Gregor Brown and Brecht Decaluwé in Montgailhard with additional reporting by John Trevorrow
The Predictor-Lotto team is thin on mountain domestiques to help Cadel Evans vie for the maillot jaune but Chris Horner and Dario Cioni have promised to do all they can so that their leader reaches Paris in top spot. Stage 14 to Plateau de Beille saw the Aussie come under fire from Contador and Rasmussen and lose time. He is currently in 3'04" back in the overall classification, however, the 55.5-kilometre Cognac time trial still looms.
Evans, who lost almost two minutes Sunday, realized his chances were smaller but he didn't want to give up for the overall win just yet. After the stage, Evans said, "They kept attacking, attacking, and putting me over my limit. I had to stay with them and accelerate with them to show that I wasn't weak but unfortunately, maybe, that was what cracked me, and that was their focus. I just have to stay consistent – it's not over yet. It's my first day of the Tour that hasn't gone as I wanted so I need some time to consider the next few days but every second counts."
Just like Evans, directeur sportif Hendrik Redant didn't want to panic. "Evans ran short against two pure climbers, Contador showed earlier that he is the better climber. We expected this scenario where Rasmussen would attack. He had to do that as he needs at least 2.5 minutes for the time trial," Redant referred to the penultimate stage. "For now, we didn't lose the war," Redant said. "There are still two hard stages coming up and we will see in Paris who the strongest rider is."
The team came to the Tour de France with two types of leaders, Robbie McEwen for the sprints and Evans for the overall. However, a difficult day meant that the sprinter went home and that the team has now shifted its entire focus on a GC push. "We have been protecting Cadel from the...
By Brecht Decaluwè All is well for Discovery Channel after stage 14, with brilliant performances by...
By Brecht Decaluwè
All is well for Discovery Channel after stage 14, with brilliant performances by Alberto Contador, Levi Leipheimer and Yaroslav Popovich. Cyclingnews talked with the team before the start and got first reactions after the stage.
After two weeks in the Tour de France the peloton hit the Pyrénées, the chain of mountains separating France and Spain, will likely separate the wheat from the chaff. Many Spaniards were aiming on success near their homeland but when the peloton hit the ultimate climb to the Plateau de Beille they were gasping for breath as a train of Rabobank and Discovery Channel riders maintained a high pace.
Michael Boogerd and Yaroslav Popovych were the last to take a pull and then a firework of attacks followed even though there were more than seven kilometres to cover before the summit. There was only man who could respond to an acceleration by Alberto Contador with six kilometres to go, and it was yellow jersey Michael Rasmussen from the Rabobank squad. The two worked their way to the top where the young Contador outsprinted Rasmussen and grabbed his first ever Tour de France stage win. It was the first win for Discovery Channel in this Tour de France and the first Spanish winner in this Tour.
The young Spaniard - Alberto Contador Velasco in full - was delighted with his victory. "It's a dream come true, a stage win in the Tour de France," Contador smiled. "This was so impressive," he continued, "with all those people along the side of the road. I want to thank everybody who supported me, my team and my family and everybody who was also there in the bad times," Contador said. The Spaniard had a huge clot in his brain after a crash in the Vuelta de Asturia back in 2004.
He overcame this life-threatening situation and returned to the scene in 2005 with a stage win in the Tour Down Under and he continued his recovery by also taking stages in the Tour of the...
By Shane Stokes, with additional reporting by Gregor Brown Michael Rasmussen surprised many with his...
By Shane Stokes, with additional reporting by Gregor Brown
Michael Rasmussen surprised many with his strong stage 13 time trial and, if anything, he looks more like the possible winner of this year's Tour de France after a storming stage 14 ride to Plateau de Beille.
The maillot jaune dropped all of his rivals bar the Spaniard Alberto Contador, and while the Discovery Channel climber won the sprint for the stage, Rasmussen was the day's big winner. Their ferocious pace consigned many GC contenders to the 'better luck next year' heap, with Alexandre Vinokourov, Christophe Moreau, and Iban Mayo completely collapsing on Sunday. Moreau was worst off, finishing 34'52" back, but Vino was just 6'02" quicker. He said afterwards that he 'had no legs today,' and also had a tumble on the penultimate climb. As for Mayo, he finished 9'31" behind on a stage he was aiming to win and, once again, must be wondering what he must do to have a consistent Grand Tour.
Other challengers limited their losses today, but all conceded important time. Mauricio Soler (Barloworld), Levi Leipheimer (Discovery Channel), and Carlos Sastre (CSC) all finished between 37" and 53" back. Andreas Klöden (Astana) and Cadel Evans (Predictor Lotto) lost 1'52", while Andrey Kashechkin (Astana) and Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) were 2'33" and 3'45" back respectively and can wave goodbye to their yellow jersey aspirations. It was a long, tough day and many paid a price.
Rasmussen was, as might be expected, very happy with how the stage turned out. He's now 2'23" ahead of Contador and over three minutes ahead of the rest.
"Obviously Alberto Contador and Discovery Channel were the ones making the race hard in the end," he said after the presentation. "I tried to take advantage of that. Eventually Contador and I got isolated, and we had...