By Gregor Brown in Briançon
Kjell Carlström of Liquigas is keeping a low profile in this year's Tour de France. His goal is to help Filippo Pozzato win stages and Manuel Beltrán to fight for the Paris podium.
"I am not sure if I would have the legs for an escape," noted the 30 year-old Finnish rider to Cyclingnews. "Wegelius will point towards escapes [in the mountain stages]. Also Albasini and Willems. Wednesday [to Marseille] will be better for me."
Even though Carlström comes from northern Europe, he enjoys the hot weather of southern France. "I would prefer something like 28, 30 degrees; I prefer warm weather over cold weather," he noted. He was happy with the temperatures for the stage to Briançon and in good spirits before the start, appearing relaxed, how a rider needs to confront the stressful days of the Tour de France.
The acid green team did not do a tremendous amount of kilometres on theirs rest day. "Monday we did one hour and 15 minutes on the bike... We just spun the legs easily. We rode from Tinges and down to Val d'Isère, and then back up to the hotel. It was okay, just to loosen the legs."
Riding in the peloton of 170 other riders, Carlström has a chance to observe the GC favourites up close. "He has a chance," he said of current maillot jaune, Michael Rasmussen. "In my opinion he needs to get a couple of minutes more on guys like Valverde and Evans.
"It depends how they go in the following stages. Also, the Pyrénées are going to be tough... although in the book they are not assigned as difficult as the Alps, in my opinion they will be tougher. The Col d'Aubisque will be really... That is the one that goes through Spain [stage 16]. In my opinion that is very hard."