Post-stage 13 comments

By John Trevorrow in Montpellier

Robbie McEwen (Davitamon-Lotto, 1st)

"It was more a victory for my teammates than myself. This whole Tour, the whole season, none of my victories would have been possible without my teammates. But more so today than ever, really was a team victory because the work they put in was absolutely incredible.

"It's hard for anybody not in the race to appreciate just how hard they worked today. It's day 13 of the Tour. Everybody can see in the paper what the average speed is so far. We have been through the Vosges, we have been through the Alps. For my guys to be able to do that today and my last guy Freddy to deliver me to the line...I got all emotional after the finish because such a fantastic job deserves a victory."

How do you motivate your teammates? "I said since yesterday and again this morning: I didn't believe we would have a mass sprint today. I really didn't believe it would happen. We have had such an aggressive Tour and a lot of guys on the attack. My guys were very, very tired.

"How do I motivate those guys? To do what they did today, you can't motivate someone to do that. The motivation comes from within those guys. That's their strong point. It's really the belief of those guys. Their belief in me and their belief in themselves, enabled them to do what they did today. I keep saying it, but it really is incredible how they rode the whole day.

"I only had four teammates we could use and we were very lucky we had Lampre to help. I have to thank those riders too because they are strong. I am still in disbelief about what my teammates did today. I can't imagine trying do that myself."

Credit Agricole and Cofidis didn't chase? "Yeah I understand the tactic. Their tactic is revolving around the green jersey competition. They both know it's fairly tough and they both know if we come to the finish in a bunch sprint where there's a bigger difference in points between the places and pretty much know they are going to get beaten and lose points to me. If I was them I would be doing the exact same thing. But my team are not afraid to lay it on the line and race to win."

When was the exact moment you were sure of the stage win? "I thought that underneath the kilo kite that we would sprint for the win. The speed of the two riders in front, Horner and Chavanel, they had maybe 6-7 seconds so I knew it would be close. But then the Liquigas went through for Bäckstedt and the instant they did, I knew we would be sprinting for the win.

"In the last few metres I just held back and told them the moment to go, and I knew, during the last kilo, we would catch those two riders.

I haven't spoken to Stuey...I was looking at Freddy a few meters out. I wanted to see if there was anybody on my wheel because I was going to let Freddy across the line first. But I saw someone there so two more pedals and no one was coming past."

Stuart O'Grady (Cofidis, 2nd)

"Robbie did a great sprint he had a great lead out - I think he deserved to win today. Unluckily for us Sylvain had Horner with him on his wheel or else he could have gone all the way as well. Finish was pretty hectic again, around 74km an hour I think.

"What were your hand signals at finish about? "Gentleman's pump. Robbie beat me fair and square but he just threw in a little 'how's it going?' at the finish. I was beaten, and I was going to get beaten anyway. It was nothing.

"I put some points into Thor, and lost a couple to McEwen but I'm feeling better and better every day and there's another week of hard racing to go. I'm feeling pretty confident. 14 points? I think it's probably going to be the last sprint day except maybe for Paris, but from now on it's just going to be a hard grind all the way to Paris. It's going to be whoever passes the hills the best between McEwen, myself and Hushovd.

"I think Lotto had all the pressure today - they were the only team who wanted it to come down to a finish for the sprint and they worked very hard. Chavanel did a good attack for us in the final, and he was very unlucky.

Any rivalry between you and Thor? "We're fine. We're probably better friends than before. Yesterday we had a good race and we're both very good competitors. Thor's a very fair rider, a very strong sprinter - so it's going to be a good battle. It might not come down to a couple of points, you know. If I have a good day in the mountains, anything's possible."

"We've got the monkey of the stage win off our back, and now the guys are riding with confidence. I have got full support but we're not shutting down the stages for me. In the (team) meeting I've been saying to the guys if they've got a chance to go for the attack in the final, then they should go for it."

Brad McGee (Francaise des Jeux, 159th at 5'40)

"I have been struggling since that crash and a few days after I had a bad cramps (when Mengin won). I seem to have torn some abductors and hammies. The crash upset it. I had the weird sensations in my legs. It's like I am pedaling in sandshoes, not bike shoes. I can't ride through the pedal stroke - it's like after my crash in Pyrenees and few years ago and it happens whenever I crash.

"I know I have got something to go for these next stages. I feel really confident in myself that if I get back to my normal pedal style and get over this: why not one of these mountain stages? That is what is motivating me right now. I would hate to think all the work I have done for my climbing just goes to nothing."

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