As the Tour de France approaches its first high mountains stages beginning on Friday with the summit finish in Andorra-Arcalis, Spanish riders are especially motivated to make the most of their chances. Caisse d'Epargne leader Oscar Pereiro is one of them. The 2006 Tour de France winner is eager to see the race move into the Pyrennees, and thankful that he has reached Spanish territory without crashing.
Ever since his bad fall during last year's Tour stage 15, where he broke his leg, Pereiro has been weary of crashing. "I just want to get to the mountains without crashing," the Spaniard told Cyclingnews at the start of stage six in Gerona. "It's true that since my crash last year, I'm much more respectful. Yesterday, for example, it was a really nervous race, and I just got really scared, so the most important thing for me is to reach the mountains safe and sound."
The mountains: a territory where he hopes to shine, even though he is already more than three minutes behind Lance Armstrong on general classification. Pereiro knows his chances to beat the Astana contingent - or even other favourites - are slim, so the Spaniard has focused on a stage victory. "I know I won't win the Tour," he said. "I feel much better than at the Dauphiné, but I'm not overly well, either. I don't know. Tomorrow, the mountains start, and it will be time to try and win a stage. I will do my very best."
Asked if he thought Astana's Armstrong would win the Tour, or possibly wear the yellow jersey in Arcalis on Friday evening, Pereiro said, "We all know Lance since he started winning the Tour, and we all know that when he sets himself a goal, he achieves it. I'm convinced that his form is good enough to finish the Tour with the best."