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Maignan remains Tour chief Prudhomme's driver

Gilles Maignen

Gilles Maignen (Image credit: Tim Maloney)

By Tim Maloney in London, England

Stage 1 of the 2007 Tour De France marked the official Tour de France debut of Christian Prudhomme as race director. Last year was the Jean Marie Le Blanc's final year as race director, so Prudhomme and French time trial champion Gilles Maignan, who drove Prudhomme last year, have moved up to car number one - the top voiture at Le Tour.

When cornered by Cyclingnews at The Mall Sunday morning, Maignan revealed what its like to work with Prudhomme. "Exceptional! Well, today is the real start of the Tour and it's really magnificent here in London, with beautiful weather and [it is] something special," he said. "To work for Christian is something special too; he's someone who really deeply loves sport in general and especially cycling and the Tour De France above all."

"[He's] very attentive to the traffic in the caravan during the Tour, he's very calm and gives people confidence about what is going on during the race," revealed Magnien of Prudhomme's secret. "He knows what he is doing out there!"

Maignan gave us a rare look at the control panel on the Tour de France race director's car with its elaborate radio system. "There are four channels; one for the key Tour De France only, then Radio Course, a channel for the Race Caravan and another channel for the Police. He checks these constantly, in addition to his mobile phone contacts."

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