By Jean-François Quénet in L'Alpe d'Huez
Former yellow jersey Cyril Dessel is still third on GC after L'Alpe d'Huez. With more than four minutes lead over his nominal team captain Christophe Moreau and almost eight minutes over Sylvain Chavanel, the AG2R rider is likely to be the best Frenchman in Paris this year, a position that usually brings a lot of popularity and lucrative post-Tour crit contracts. "But being the best Frenchman doesn't mean much in my mind," he stated after the finish. "On the other hand, making the top 10 would be a fantastic result. We're not there yet. There is a 57-km time trial and I'm not a super specialist.
"What I'm doing is a nice surprise for myself and for French cycling. I'm living a kind of a dream. Today the crowd was pushing me with their encouragements." He reached L'Alpe d'Huez two minutes after Floyd Landis, although with an hint of frustration.
"I gave it all," he said. "I had very good legs in the Col de Lautaret. I put myself in a good position at the bottom of L'Alpe d'Huez but my chain came off. I had to stop. I lost 20 to 30 seconds and I had to overtake 70 riders on the climb. My teammate Mikel did an enormous job dragging me up there. It was such a violent effort, when we caught the yellow jersey group, [Oscar Pereiro's team-mate] David Arroyo accelerated because [Floyd] Landis' group was just ahead. I missed just a little bit of something to stay on the wheels. But I believe I can be happy with the way I climbed. It confirms what I did last week."
The Frenchman knows about tomorrow's stage. "We've done it at the Dauphiné and during a training camp as well. It's much harder than today's. I'll give it all again because it doesn't often happen to be in such a great shape in the mountains of the Tour de France."