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The Palais des Congrès was the home to many of cycling's dignitaries Wednesday in Paris for the Tour...
The Palais des Congrès was the home to many of cycling's dignitaries Wednesday in Paris for the Tour de France presentation. Cyclingnews spoke with them to hear their reaction on what is a challenging 96th edition of the Tour de France.
David Millar (Garmin Chipotle - H30): "You can definitely say that it's a lot different to previous years. To me it looks very spectacular and you could envisage the overall changing all the time. The race certainly won't be boring from a spectator's point of view.
"The course also suits my leader Christian Vande Velde down to the ground. The first time trial will be good for him and he's better than all the climbers on a course like that. They'll be the ones chasing him up the overall perhaps.
"On a personal level though, it's all about the Monaco time trial and then the team time trial later on. But overall, it's going to be about Christian and working for him. The whole team will be geared towards this."
Andy Schleck (CSC Saxo Bank), winner of the young rider's maillot blanc: "The route isn't too bad for me as there isn't too much time trialling. I know the climbs and everyone knows that I like climbing so I should go well. But of course we'll be riding without Carlos next year. We have good young riders coming through and it's a team for the future and a team that can do well at the Tour.
"Both Fränk and I will lead, but we'll have to see how things turn out on the road as nothing is certain. The stories about my brother really affected me but what's important is to have a clean mind for the future. We're both looking forward to the race next year."
Patrick Lefevere, Quick Step Team Manager: "It's a strange Tour. We'll be going to new places that we've never been to before. The organisers are saying that there are ten flat stages but I don't agree with them. I think the stages they're talking about will be a lot harder and better suited to Tom Boonen than Mark Cavendish.
"We'll also look forward to the time trials. We have riders that will be able to compete in [Stijn] Devolder and [Sylvain] Chavanel. Last year, Devolder was sick before the Tour even began and that really affected his form. We had to right off the Tour for him right there and then but we learnt a lot and next year he'll be doing less in him preparation. He'll be aiming to win, but he'll be doing a lot less riding to get there."
Johan Bruyneel, Astana Team Manager: "It's for a strong rider, it's that simple. All the typical ingredients are there, with the mountains, the time trials and the addition of Ventoux. The strongest rider wins every Tour and I can't see this being any different.
"With regards to our invitation, I've not had any indication that we won't be allowed to race next year. In fact we signed an agreement with the teams that promises we'll be at the start.
"Alberto comes for sure, but we're not sure about Lance [Armstrong] yet. But you have to know that the reason he's coming back is due to his mission on cancer. We can't say for sure about the Tour until we see how he goes in his first races at the Tour Down Under and the Tour of California. At this moment we'll design a programme to get him ready for the Giro d'Italia."