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Bjarne Riis: Landis is the favourite now, but there is still room for surprises

By Brecht Decaluwé in Morzine

Following Floyd Landis’ jump back into contention on yesterday’s 17th stage of the Tour de France, CSC boss Bjarne Riis has said that the Phonak rider is the most logical favourite for the final yellow jersey.

Providing things don’t change on today’s stage, Sastre will have an advantage of eighteen seconds on Landis heading into Saturday’s 57 kilometre time trial . "I don't think it will be enough,” admitted Riis. “So for me, Landis is the favourite. He was strong today."

"We tried but there's nothing more we could do. That's just cycling… I'm a little bit disappointed that Landis got so much time but I'm happy that Carlos [Sastre] did so well."

This year’s Tour has been the most open and unpredictable in many, many years. The nature of the 2006 race means that Riis is not giving up all hope just yet. "The Tour is not over yet, so there's still some room for surprises," he laughed. "This is a crazy but nice Tour de France!"

The Dane also answered questions about his team’s tactics during the stage. There has been much talk that CSC and T-Mobile should have started chasing a lot earlier. But Riis said there was a reason for their caution.

"It was late of course, but otherwise we would have lost our team too early. Maybe it would cause the same result [Landis’ time gap] if we would've worked earlier on."

During the descent of the Joux-Plane, Sastre lost almost 0'30 on Landis and on most of the other riders in the pursuit. Riis commented on Sastre's style. "He was not bad, but he didn't take the risks the other guys took." Those 0'30 could prove very important knowing that there's only the long ITT left. "In the ITT we'll know how important it was."

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