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July 8, 2005: Another hectic finish

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Another fast day today and another hectic finish. With the straight run in I thought that it would be more straight forward, but that wasn't the case.

The boys did a good job especially Matty White, who seems to be getting faster in his old age. Matty, as always, has been a strong man and a good lead out in the last 5 km. But now he has stepped up to be a fast man in the finale.

I was surprised to see Robbie up the road this morning, but I guess, like most of us, he was expecting a breakaway. A pretty good ride by Wegmann because we were going pretty quick all day and he managed to stay away for quite a while.

Once we got into Germany the whole feeling of the race changed with the enormous crowds. They were the biggest that I have ever seen. They say that about 800,000 watch the Tour each day on average. Well if that is accurate then there were 1,500,000 out today.

July 7, 2005: Russian roulette

By Matt White

It was fast and furious out there today. We had a strong tail wind for most of the day, and the combination of speed, rain and general nervousness in the bunch, created a dangerous day in the peloton.

The finish as always going to be a bit of Russian roulette and Stuey was right in the mix until the proverbial hit the fan. The three guys up front were weaving all over the road and that caused the fall. You cannot change your positions in these conditions. I was just behind Stuart and Robbie, about fifth into the corner, and as soon as one went down it was a domino effect, and riders were just going down like nine pins.

You don't get too many chances to win a stage in the Tour de France and I really thought that Stuey would go close today. But he is in great form and I am sure he will snare one soon.

Tomorrow we head into Germany and the crowds will be huge. It reckon it will be another day for the sprinters because they will be dark about missing out on a victory today.

I will be looking after Stuey again and, I guess, it will be another dramatic finale. Hopefully everyone can stay upright.

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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