By Brecht Decaluwé in L'Alpe d'Huez
Axel Merckx (Phonak, 18th at 2'56)
"Today we proved to have the best rider of the Tour de France. I was in the break but I dropped out of the group when they accelerated on Alpe d'Huez. I tried to recover and waited until Landis arrived next to me. Then I hope you saw someone who did all he could to help his leader. The pace was set as high as I could, to win as much time on the rivals as possible. During the Alps and the Pyrenees I could help him already once, I'm already very happy with that. I don't feel like I can do the same work tomorrow, but maybe I'll feel different after an evening with my wife and children."
John Lelangue (Phonak team manager)
"For six months, everybody was confident we could win the Tour de France with Floyd Landis. There are three things we need to take care of now: first of all, protect him and bring the jersey to Paris; second, extending the gaps to his rivals; third, if there's a possibility we should win a stage.
"Axel Merckx did a remarkable job to help Landis for so long during the final climb. He set a reasonable pace and could support Landis ideally. We, in the car, were keeping an eye on Menchov. When we saw that he was coming back, Merckx dropped out and Landis accelerated. Tomorrow there's another stage, where much can happen again. We will be happy if we can keep gaining time, bit by bit."
Marc Sergeant (Davitamon-Lotto team manager)
"From now on, Cadel Evans only needs to keep one rider within eyesight and that is Floyd Landis. The American is a level better than all the others. Today was supposed to be one of the easier stages out of the three mountains stages. So I'm not confident on what the future will bring. The gaps will be even bigger tomorrow, as they remained relatively small today. There are many thing influencing a possible win in the Tour de France, but most important is having strong legs. (laughs)"
Patrick Lefevere (Quick.Step team manager)
"It was clear that [Boonen] wasn't going well during the last days. Tonight he will give a press conference to explain how he feels. In the peloton there are twenty riders with problems."