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July 5, 2005: A fantastic château

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The big objective today was to get through unscathed. The way the rules are now you can't lose any more than three minutes, so it was just a matter of keeping it steady and not doing anything drastic. Stuart has a lot of confidence now and is sprinting the best he ever has. My main aim now is to help Stuey get that stage win. The green jersey is going to be difficult with Boonen going so well, but we are definitely not giving up.

It was really disappointing for Dave. He lives near me and is real good bloke. I don't know what happened but they were doing a real good ride and it looks like he would still be in yellow if not for the crash.

The next four to five days will be open slather with breaks going down the road. Discovery wants to win the tour, not defend the yellow at this early stage. So, unless there is a challenger to Lance in the break, Discovery won't chase too hard. Plus Lotto and Quick.Step can't control all the breaks.

It's going to be real aggressive until we get to the Alps and tomorrow is going to be a ripper. It will be on from the gun.

The big boss of Cofidis was here today and we stayed in fantastic château - just awesome. One minute you're in the Campanile and you have to go outside to change your mind, and the next minute there are people fluffing your pillow and space outside for chasing foxes. I hope the boss comes more often.

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During the Tour de France Cofidis team-mates Stuart O'Grady and Matt White will be taking turns to give us an inside look at the daily goings-on in the peloton and the team hotel. An Olympic gold medalist on the track, O'Grady is a rider to watch in the sprints and long breakaways, while White is an experienced grand tour rider who has been kept out of the Tour de France by a run of lousy luck that's finally ended this year. O'Grady has had a rollercoaster ride at the last few Tours, wearing the yellow jersey in 2001 and green in 2002, but never quite managing to hang on to green all the way to Paris. In the last couple of years he's shifted his emphasis away from sprint speed and remodelled himself as a Classics and long breakaway expert. White is finally riding the Tour after breaking his collarbone just before the start of last year's Tour. In 2001 he was expected to ride the Tour but did not make his US Postal's final selection and in 1999 his Vini Caldirola team had its Tour invitation withdrawn when Sergei Gontchar failed a haematocrit test at the Tour of Switzerland. After that, he's due some good luck in 2005! Australia UK USA