By Brecht Decaluwe in Strasbourg
Jérôme Pineau (Bouygues Telecom)
A man from the region, Jérôme Pineau enjoyed the interest of the local press. But he didn't waste time talking about his own performance, as he commented on the banned riders: "We've had lots of animation behind us now, and it created a heavy atmosphere for us. But now it's time for the sport and time for real riders," he said.
Pineau commented he has always walked the straight line: "Already for a few years, I want to speak out that there are cheaters, and now it's a relief to see that this has been proved. Still, I hear people talking about the stars and the big riders who are not starting; to me they are villains and no big riders at all.
"After the Festina [scandal] in 1998, France and some other countries understood the new rules in the game. Apparently, others didn't receive the translation of the manual but now they're confronted with the result of it. There will be much talk about those guys, but we'd better ignore them and talk about the real honest riders."
Magnus Bäckstedt (Liquigas)
"You've got to give it all you got!", said Magnus Bäckstedt, still breathing heavily. "It's a nice course, technical but at the same time very fast, it's complete."
Did the heat playing an important role today? "You definitely feel it!", laughed Bäckstedt. "It's hard to breathe; but the coming three weeks won't be different, so we might as well get used to it. Better this kind of weather than rain, of course. It's good to be back after a break for me, with all my injuries this season. I'm enjoying every minute on my bike now.
"We'll have to wait and see how good I am," he continued. "I haven't been racing for a long time but I felt good training; whether that's enough for the Tour remains an unanswered question."
José Azevedo (Discovery Channel)
With all the banned riders, is the situation is better now for the riders in the Discovery team, we asked José Azevedo. "The test stays the same," he said. "There are still some strong riders in the peloton but our team has also some strong riders. I think we can do a good Tour."
David Millar (Saunier Duval)
"It's a dream for me to be here today. For 18 months, I've been thinking about this moment. It's been hard for me, but I really wanted to come back, so now I'm very happy."
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