Pereiro takes yellow; Voigt rewarded at last
The longest and hottest stage of the Tour was also one of the strangest, as Oscar Pereiro (Caisse d'Epargne) took over the maillot jaune from Floyd Landis despite starting the day 28'50 behind the American rider. Pereiro was second in the stage behind Jens Voigt (CSC), who rode a great final kilometre to win ahead of the Spaniard. The pair were part of a break of five that escaped after only 23 km, and were half an hour ahead of the peloton at the finish. That time gap was enough to put Pereiro in yellow.
"This totally saves my Tour de France – yeah, in fact my whole season. I'm completely ecstatic and I almost feel like I could do the stage all over again," said Voigt.
"It was a great day for us. This was just what we needed – now we can start to have fun," said Bjarne Riis after the stage. "Both Jens and the team really deserve this and it definitely does wonders for the morale.
The full composition of the break was Voigt, Pereiro, Sylvain Chavanel (Cofidis), Manuel Quinziato (Liquigas), and Andriy Grivko (Milram). Once they got clear, Phonak set tempo and no other team seemed to be concerned with chasing them. Thus, the gap kept growing. Grivko was the first to be dropped when he attacked and blew himself up on a climb with 25 km to go. Then in the last 4 km, Pereiro and Voigt got away from Chavanel and Quinziato. In the last kilometre, Voigt tried a pre-emptive attack at 800m to go, which failed, but then wound it up at 100m out to successfully hold off Pereiro. Chavanel was third at 40 seconds, while McEwen won the bunch sprint for sixth and increased his lead in the green jersey competition.
Landis and his team didn't seem too concerned about holding the maillot jaune today, as they can now hand the pressure onto Caisse d'Epargne for a few days, without really threatening Landis' chances. Pereiro only has 1'29 on Floyd, and it's unlikely that he'll hold that after the first Alpine stage.