One day prior to this year's Tour de France's 'grand finale', the Swiss Phonak team is confident it made the right choice in letting go the yellow jersey on stage 13 to Montélimar. In the press room, this tactical move of the squad directed by John Lelangue was one of the most-discussed happenings concerning the overall classification of the race: Will Floyd Landis prove that 13 was his lucky number in the upcoming Alpine showdown, or regret the 29'57 he offered to former teammate Oscar Pereiro forever?
The risk of failure, for Phonak's team director Lelangue, is minimal. "We only decided to make a tactical choice," he told French L'Equipe. "A bit like a football coach, who sometimes makes his reserve team play. There is no real favourite for this Tour, so the race is naturally full of strategy, and unexpected events."
But giving the overall lead to another team does not mean that Lelangue thinks his is too weak. "No - we are taking this risk because we feel very sure about ourselves," he added. But this confidence concerns mainly the leader of his team, Floyd Landis.
"Lance's team was always very confident," the overall second-placed rider said. "I believe in mine, but I know we can't manage the Tour in the same way. To give the jersey away is a real choice. I had to protect my teammates, as they are not strong enough to have the weight of the race on their shoulders at that moment. Actually, I would have preferred not to take the jersey at all, and leave it to Cyril Dessel. He deserved to keep it longer, but that day on the Pla-de-Beret, I had to get some time off Klöden."
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