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July 6, 2005: An impressive victory

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It was pretty nervous out there in the bunch today. There has been a bit of friction going round in a few different circles, so the whole bunch seemed to be a bit skittish.

I felt good, and I was right in the mix again. I'm happy with my form in the sprints. It was a bit interesting when Lance tried to start without putting the yellow on - they were never going to let him get away with that, but I understand what he was on about. You don't want to take the yellow jersey through another person's misfortune. You want to earn it. It was a mark of respect for Dave Zabriskie.

I think it will be a different story tomorrow, now that Robbie has got his stage win. We're sharing the hotel with Davitamon-Lotto tonight and we have to listen to all the celebrations. He was under a lot of pressure, Robbie, so it was a pretty impressive victory.

One of Quick.Step's companies (a mattress company) ran an ad in L'Equipe using a photo of Boonen winning stage 3. Underneath Boonen was the caption "relaxed", but underneath Robbie, with his head on its side, it was "fatigued". I think Davitamon-Lotto will run an ad along similar lines in the next day or so.

The team spirit's high. They are doing a good job for me towards the finish. Matty White was strong in the leadout - you don't normally see Matty on the front in the last kilometre.

Some of these finishes are pretty hairy. It was quite dangerous and very narrow coming in towards the finish a couple of times there. We managed to avoid a big crash with 2.5 km to go. I was happy with my position in the sprint. I seem to be improving on that aspect. Hopefully something will happen over the next few days.

I really believe tomorrow it will be a breakaway that will win. I don't think Lotto will be chasing as hard now that Robbie's won his stage. Quick.Step's gotta come in behind them and Lance is not interested in defending his jersey at all, and they'd be happy to let someone else have it...Of course, not one of his main rivals.

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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