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A beaming Joaquin Rodriguez (Katusha) on the podium for his stage win.
A frantic journey to a brutal final climb
Joaquin Rodriguez (Team Katusha) - stage winner, eighth overall @ 4:58: "I am very pleased with this success, because the first victory in the Tour is a unique emotion. I'm in optimal condition and even today the feelings were good.
When I arrived at the GPM with Alberto Contador, I realised that I could keep his pace well and, in some instances, I felt even more brilliant than he. At that point, I gained confidence and by anticipating him, I won this fantastic victory.
Now that I've broken the ice, winning my first Tour stage, in the following staegs I'll try and race for the best overall result possible. I thank my teammates for the wonderful support and [Andrei] Tchmil for the trust that he has always shown me, giving me the opportunity to race a single event like the Tour.
Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Transitions) - abandoned during the stage: I am devastated to leave the Tour and my teammates. You never want to leave any race but especially the Tour. It's the event we work for all year.
I've been suffering since my crash on stage two and today, the pain was just too much. I couldn't push through. I wanted to get to Paris more than anything. Instead, I'll be watching my teammates from home. That's not where I want to be.
But I know they'll continue to make us proud, and I'll be cheering louder than anyone. I want to thank them again now for everything they've done for me.
Alberto Contador (Team Astana) - second on stage, second overall @ 31 seconds: It's always good to get [time] differences, although it is better to get more. They [Saxo Bank] still have the responsibility to the race and have the need to attack.
The Pyrenees are very important, because it means that the legs respond well, and that's the most important. Andy wasn't moving when I made the jump [in the finale]. He is a very ambitious rider so that could be a sign of weakness.
I tried [to put time into Schleck] and it went well. It was a pity not to win the stage, but taking back time was very important because sometimes you have a good day and sometimes a bad one.
Roman Kreuziger (Liquigas-Doimo) - 10th on stage, 10th overall @ 5:16: A stage with an explosive finale. I tried to maintain front position in the group to avoid surprises, but unfortunately it was impossible to mark Contador and Rodriguez.
In this Tour every climb becomes the ground for attacks and, on the eve of the Pyrenees, you are spending so much energy. I tried to do my best not to lose too much time and I'm glad I succeeded. Now I'll prepare to live intense days: expect new upheavals.
Damiano Cunego (Lampre-Farnese Vini) - 13th on stage, 51st overall @ 45:13: "I want to thank my teammates, especially [Danilo] Hondo and [Alessandro] Petacchi, for the support they gave me in the final kilometres.
The finish was good for my characteristics and so I tried to obtain a good result, but my opponents were very strong. Maybe I had spent too many energy in the early part of the race: these moments were frantic and I was willing to pay attention to the eventual breakaway that was beginning, but the action I took ended up being the wrong one.
Thor Hushovd (Cervélo TestTeam) - 147th on stage, 135th overall @ 1:38:16: This is the Tour de France - you must fight every day. I felt very good in the morning. I was a little angry yesterday after losing the green jersey and I wanted to try something today.
It's very important to take back the green jersey. I won it last year because I was the most consistent rider and I am showing that again. My sprint isn't going great, but I hope to be stronger as the race continues.
I think Alessandro Petacchi is my most dangerous rival right now for the green jersey - he's very strong in the sprints. The Pyrénées will be very important. There could be some points to be taken even in the mountain stages. This green jersey battle will not be decided until the final day.
Ivan Basso (Liquigas-Doimo) - 16th on stage, 11th overall @ 5:30: I knew that today was a fraction high voltage because the final climb was suitable for someone like Contador and Rodriguez - they've got attacking in their DNA.
I chose to climb with a regular tempo because I didn't have the pace [to go with the leaders]: if I forced it I would have spent too much energy and thus risked [my performance] on the forthcoming stages.
In my opinion there you will understand what the possibility is of me conquering the podium. I am convinced I can still do something good: the conditions are there, both the legs and both climbs. They are longer, like me. The emphasis is on perseverance to put the rope on my opponents.
Carlos Sastre (Cervélo TestTeam) - 18th on stage, 15th overall @ 7:34: I'm happy as I was close to the best riders on an explosive climb, which wasn't going very well for me. I felt a lot better than before though and that's spurring me on.
Today has been the first day so far in the Tour in which I felt the speed, pace and hardness of this race. It has been a very fast day without a moment's let-up.
I'm really happy about Joaquim Rodríguez's victory as he's a good friend, plus today Thor showed us his class once again. He did a great stage and was able to win back the green jersey, which is really important for our team.
Fabian Wegmann (Team Milram) - 113th on stage, 85th overall @ 1:11:55: It was an extremely fast opener with an average of 47 km/h despite the first two ranked climbs.
We tried right from the start to get into the group, but everyone wanted to do that today. The decisive attack therefore got away rather late. None of the riders who had tried earlier were in it. The stage was disappointing for us but we will try again in the coming days.