Team CSC-Saxo Bank sports director Scott Sunderland says patriotism won't be getting in the way of his squad's pursuit of the Tour de France's yellow jersey. The race is currently led by fellow Australian Cadel Evans (Silence-Lotto), however Sunderland's CSC-Saxo Bank features one of the Tour's strongest teams and nothing will stop them from taking the yellow jersey when the Tour resumes today.
"Unfortunately, Cadel is in the way of us getting the yellow jersey and we have to find a way to beat him," said Sunderland. "Fränk Schleck and Carlos Sastre will do their job, I'll do mine and Cadel will do his.
"But, sorry Cadel, you'll just have to move over because we need that maillot jaune," he smiled.
Sunderland has been analysing Evans' performance and what he's saying in the media to judge how his condition is unfolding as the Tour progresses. The former rider admitted it's difficult having his team pitted against the first Australian yellow jersey since Robbie McEwen held it in 2004.
"It's pretty hard you know," he added. "The facts are, I've got to look for chinks in his armour. I read what he's saying, listen to interviews and see how he is in the race and after the race and that is part of what I have to do."
Last year's Paris-Roubaix winner Stuart O'Grady is in a similar boat to Sunderland. The Team CSC-Saxo Bank rider will be riding for his team's multiple general classification contenders in the hope of toppling Evans.
"That's just this sport," said O'Grady. "There is no rivalry personally, nothing against Cadel by any means, but we're in different team and striving for the same goal. Good luck to Cadel."
For his part Evans has no qualms about his fellow Australians fighting tooth and nail to dislodge him from the Tour's top spot. "That's bike racing - we're enemies on the road but all good friends off it," said Evans.
O'Grady believes Evans has form that would normally win him the Tour, but that his own squad is a force to be reckoned with. The Danish squad has Fränk Schleck poised a narrow one second behind Evans on general classification while mountains man Carlos Sastre is well within striking distance at 1.28 minutes, in sixth spot.
"I don't even know [about our tactics] yet, you will have to ask the big great Dane for that," laughed O'Grady, referring to team owner Bjarne Riis. "We have a fair idea; basically our team's strength is our best characteristic I guess.
"Cadel is riding superbly and showing unbelievable form, the form that should normally win him the Tour de France but we've got three guys who want to win it also," he added. "It will be a good battle and may the best man win."