Starring from the second row
Oscar Pereiro's second place in the Tour came as a surprise to most, including the rider himself, despite his two previous top-ten positions. An opportunistic escape on stage 13 put him into the yellow jersey, which Pereiro fought hard to keep. If Floyd Landis is found guilty of a doping offence then Pereiro will inherit the win, a situation that does not excite the Spaniard. Hernan Alvarez Macias spoke to Pereiro about the Tour, the Landis situation and his plans for the rest of the season.
The French air agrees with Oscar Pereiro (Caisse d'Epargne - Illes Balears), even though he is Spanish and he obviously feels at home on French roads. Pereiro demonstrated that he was born to shine in the Tour de France. He finished second overall, narrowly behind the winner Floyd Landis (Phonak). He also wore the maillot jaune for six days, including the second rest day in Gap.
It is not by chance that Pereiro has appeared prominently in the last three Tour TV highlight reels. He performed strongly in the 2004 Tour, finishing tenth. In 2005 he improved, not only by finishing tenth overall in Paris but by also winning stage 16 in Pau. He also finished second on stage 15 in Saint-Lary behind the USA's George Hincapie.
If Floyd Landis's B sample proves that the American doped in the Tour, Pereiro will be crowned the 2006 Tour de France winner. Landis could be the first winner to be disqualified, handing Pereiro the win - albeit without receiving the precious dark cup on the Champs-Elysées. The Spaniard showed this year that the leader's jersey suits him. On the rest day in Gap he was still wearing it and was happy to pose for photographers.
After three exhausting weeks around France (and also the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Spain and Belgium), Pereiro got back to his home town of Mos in the northern Spanish region of Galicia. Cyclingnews caught up with him a few days after the Grande Boucle when the Landis affair was already underway.
"We, the team [Caisse d'Epargne - Illes Balears], went to the Tour very excited, but what happened to Alejandro Valverde in Valkenburg [he broke his collarbone in a crash on stage 3, ed] changed the plan a little bit," said Pereiro "My team supported me a lot." When asked about the beginning of the Tour he added, "our plan A was to support Alejandro [Valverde]. I was prepared to follow that plan."
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