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Mixed fortunes in Avenir

With an eighth place in Tuesday's stage six of Tour de l'Avenir, Team CSC's Lars Bak retained his overall lead. Jesus del Nero (Orbea) won the stage, showing he was the fastest rider in a break of five riders that got clear of the main field and stayed away until the finish.

After the stage to Guéret CSC sports director Scott Sunderland was pleased. "[It was] A more or less perfect stage for us," said Sunderland. "At the beginning there were attacks left right and centre, but after 80 kilometres a group, with no riders who would be a threat to the GC got away. We set a reasonable pace in the peloton and again our young riders worked really well together. The morale is high and the communication good between them, and regardless of how the rest of this race turns out, they can really use this experience in the future" said the Australian.

A team that has rather less success than CSC this year is French outfit RAGT Semences. The struggling French squad's highest-placed rider at Avenir is Eric Berthou, who took sixth on the stage and sits eighth overall. Nevertheless, RAGT Semences' directeur sportif, Julien Jurdie, remains relentlessly optimistic. "I'm satisfied," said Jurdie in a team statement. "The lads are working hard. Final victory is possible even if CSC are top of the list. Eric Berthou may well make it onto the podium. He needs convincing. He was determined before he even arrived on the Tour. You can tell he's ambitious."

Jurdie is also positive about his young team's chances overall, despite some setbacks. "After [Monday's] time trial, we finish third overall, which is not that bad. We've still got what it takes to gives some guys a hard time. The others are going to have to watch out." he said.