By Brecht Decaluwé in Super Besse
After the Caisse d'Epargne team engaged in a 50-kilometre chase to bring back the day-long breakaway on stage six, and then reeled in late attackers on the final climb, Oscar Pereiro was the final man to deliver Alejandro Valverde to the front with 300 metres to go. Although Valverde lost the stage win to Italian Riccardo Riccó, the 2006 Tour de France champion, Pereiro, was not disappointed in his captain.
"I was pulling from 500 metres to go and went to the limit, but the wind was very hard," Pereiro said. That effort was actually his second, as he put in a strong pull with one kilometre to go, recovered, then went back to the front to lead out the sprint. "In the sprint the strongest rider normally wins the stage, and today Riccó proved to be stronger.
"I'm not mad, but we like to win races. Clearly we're not the only team with good riders here. The most important thing was that Valverde wasn't bothered too much by his crash from yesterday," Pereiro said and concluded. "The whole team did a great job by being in front for the last 50 kilometres, but the problem in the finale was that there was a headwind."
A contender himself, Pereiro is not discounting trying for a repeat Tour win. He is now in tenth place overall, but is still committed to working for Valverde. "For me the most important thing today is the fact that Alejandro recovered from the crash of yesterday. Personally I confirmed that I am very well with excellent form. Nevertheless I want to go on with my philosophy and see what happens day after day, but I think that after what I did today my name will no longer be associated with the word 'surprise'."