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94th Tour de France - Team Comments Stage 7& 8
By Staff
Date: 7/16/2007
94th Tour de France - Team Comments Stage 7& 8

94th Tour de France - Team Comments Stage 7& 8
Team reports  and rider comments on stage 7 & 8: 'Red Birds' of Saunier Duval/Prodir, Caisse de Epargne, CSC. Mark Sharon Photo Gallery "Faces at the Prologue"

Prologue Designer Paul Smith Photo ©Mark Sharon

Saunier Duval/Prodir
Red Bird's Iban Mayo Second in Alps test
Saunier Duval/Prodir's Iban Mayo showcased his talent and strength today, in the second Alpine stage of the 94th Tour de France. The red bird came in 2nd, following stage-winner and new Tour-leader Michael Rasmussen (Rabobank), who conquered Tignes attacking from an earlier escape with 18 kilometres to go. Despite his respectable ride in the "maillot jaune," overnight race leader Linus Gerdemann (T-Mobile) was unable to keep it on his shoulders. He was dropped to 2nd in the GC, but retained his "maillot blanc" -the best young rider´s jersey.

Mayo was part of the bunch of favourites in the final ascent to the Montée de Tignes, launching several attacks, the last of which -in the last kilometre up the mountain- bore fruit: he jumped clear and got 12 bonus seconds plus a 30-second gap over his chasers, Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d´Épargne) and Christophe Moreau (Ag2r Prévoyance). Juanjo Cobo´s performance was also remarkable: he came in 13th, a little over one minute behind Mayo.

Bernard Hinault Photo ©Mark Sharon

Iban Mayo,  ”To tell you the truth, I was hoping to be in the lead, because yesterday I felt fine. But the Tour is a treacherous race, and you can never be 100 percent sure. In the early kilometres I could see that I was OK, so I knew I'd be fighting for a leading position. When Rasmussen broke clear and began to open a gap, I realized that winning the stage was going to be extremely difficult. Before the final climb, his advantage was so huge that victory was no longer a possibility to me. At the foot of the mountain, Moreau launched an attack and I jumped clear behind him with Valverde. Then we were joined by Evans, Contador, Kashechkin, and Schleck, but they didn't seem to be willing to cooperate. We were running into the wind, so drafting was the most comfortable option. This balanced forces, but Moreau was riding too easily.”

“It´s a pity that we couldn't hold off the Vinokourov group. With 500 metres to the top, I launched an attack to get the bonus points and seconds, and I succeeded. After having been through such a bad patch in the last editions of the Tour, being here, safe and sound, smells like victory to me. My only clear goal is scoring a stage win, as I said before coming here. Of course, the GC is tempting; stepping onto the final podium should be very nice. But the Tour is a very difficult race, so we should take it easy, step by step, living it by the day. The important thing is keeping this feeling, the sensations I felt today. And then, if a stage win or even something bigger comes, we'll all be very glad.”

2007 Tour de France podium girls arrive. Photo ©Mark Sharon

Stage 7 Comments
Lobato pulls out due to death in his family.

In this edition of the Tour de France, Saunier Duval/Prodir have lost one rider. Spaniard Rubén Lobato did not start today because his maternal grandfather, who he was very close with, passed away yesterday night. Today at noon, Lobato took a plane from Lyon to Madrid, where his family live.

Tour Official Weight Control!
This morning, the race´s judges controlled the weight of the bicycles used by the twenty-two participating teams. Saunier Duval/Prodir's Scott bikes proved to be the lightest, so much so that weights of lead of up to 250 grams  had to be placed under the saddle and in the bottle cage of Iban Mayo and David de la Fuente´s bicycles to reach the required 6.800 kg.

David de la Fuente after finishing 3rd in stage 7 said, "I'm very happy with my performance today. I didn't expect to be up front, but I never give up without putting up a good fight, and this attitude bore fruit today. It was a real killer, this stage: I broke away with Landaluze at Km. 30, and the final stretch was taxing. During the breakaway, it was difficult to reach an understanding; in the end, he who proved to be the strongest rider took the stage. To me, it was an invigorating race. After so many flat stages, your legs feel weird, and this is why in the early kilometres I was not feeling OK. Do I want to wear the polka-dot jersey? Of course I do. The team will do their best to get it, but it's no easy task.”

Stephen Roche Photo ©Mark Sharon

Caisse d'Epargne
Great Stage for the Team in Black and Red

Alejandro Valverde, who finished the third, declared,  “One more time, the team realized a great job. As he did yesterday, Iván Gutiérrez was the first one to go with a breakaway and later David Arroyo did the same. When you know you can rely on such good team-mates, it is very important for your confidence for the next stages. Personally, I felt well but I think that my rivals are well too, first of all Moreau, but also all the other riders which made part of our small group. In the final I made the sprint so that I could be the third on the stage and also the fourth overall. Tomorrow, we will have the first rest day and we will take advantage of it to recover from the efforts we made yesterday and today.”

Oscar Pereiro, who finished the 15th at 4’13” from the stage winner and new yellow jersey Michael Rasmussen of Rabobank, commented: “I believe that many people were expecting to see what I was able to do in that difficult mountain stage and I think that I showed that I was there and feeling well. I am satisfied with my own race, and also with the effort the whole team. For us, the most important thing is that Alejandro is there with the first. Arroyo is also very well placed. As for Karpets, he lost some more time, but not that much. The general classification is more clear tonight but the gaps are not very important yet and I think that a rider like Vinokourov, who had a hard time today, remains amongst the favourites for the final win.”

David Arroyo, who went in a break together with amongst other riders Rogers, Colom and Rasmussen, crashed at km 110, on the descent of the Cormet de Roselend, “I was in Michael Rogers’ wheel when he skidded”, explained the rider of Talavera de la Reina, “I could not avoid touching his back wheel and I flew above the barrier to land in the grass between the trees. A thorn cut my hand, but I think it is nothing serious. After that I was able to come back and catch Rasmussen and Colom. I felt well but I think that Rasmussen was stronger and we will have to count with him for the final classification.”

Levi Leipheimer warms up.  Photo ©Mark Sharon

Stage 7 Comments:
The riders of the team Caisse d’Epargne did a great job during this seventh stage, in the early race with Iván Gutiérrez, who caught a fifteen-man breakaway that started in the first part of the stage and later on with David Arroyo, Oscar Pereiro, Alejandro Valverde and Vladimir Karpets, who forced the pace in the final kilometres of the Col de la Colombière, a first category climb.

Alejandro Valverde, who finished the stage at place ten, said after he finished the stage: “Everybody was expecting that first stage in the Alps. It is a fact that many riders were dropped while climbing the Colombière, but I believe that all the favourites finished in the same time, so that nothing is clearer this evening than it was yesterday. We knew that it was important to be very attentive since the first part of the stage and try to have a rider in the break in case one started very soon. Iván Gutiérrez did a great job to catch the early break, so that we had a man ahead in case we could need him later according to the circumstances of the race. Personally I feel good today. It was very hot the entire day and that made the stage harder, even if the rhythm was no really so fast. The stage of today will be a harder one and the most important thing for everybody will be to recover from the efforts made today.”

Team CSC Comments after Stage 7
Good Start in the Mountains for Sastre and Schleck

Team CSC's Carlos Sastre and Fränk Schleck both got off to a good start in the biggest mountains of this year's Tour de France, when the peloton crossed the Col de la Colombière during the seventh 197-kilometer stage from Bourg-en-Bresse to Le-Grand-Bornand.

"None of the favorites gave it their all today, which makes it very hard to determine anything from this stage. At the beginning the pace was quite fast, but after the break got away things got quiet in the peloton. My knee was ok today and I felt fine really," said Sastre.

As expected this was Fabian Cancellara's final day in yellow and he spent the day working hard to try and minimize the gap to the break ahead of the final climb.

"We tried to get one of our guys in the break and Christian Vandevelde did make it, but the group got too big so it was reeled back in and we didn't make the second attempt. I still think it went ok in the end though. We only used one rider at a time in the peloton starting with Stuart (O'Grady) and then Fabian (Cancellara), but the pace was manageable," said Kim Andersen and continued, "We were two favorite's teams, which didn't have anyone in the break and like us Predictor-Lotto were determined not to repeat last year's mistake, so we made sure they didn't get too far. But tomorrow will be a lot tougher, because there were a lot, who got dropped today."

Stage 8
"I'm satisfied. We'd agreed that Carlos and Fränk should take it fairly easy and if an opportunity came along to gain some time towards the end they should take it. As it turned out it did and they both managed to take advantage," said sports director Kim Andersen. "At the same time the team did great as a whole. We had six guys up front in the last group of 40 riders. Unfortunately Stuart O'Grady crashed and had to abandon, but Jens Voigt did well so we must have advanced in the Team's Competition," concluded Andersen.

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