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97th Tour de France - Stage 7 Reactions
By Giles Belbin
Date: 7/10/2010
97th Tour de France - Stage 7 Reactions

97th Tour de France - Stage 7 Reactions
Rider comments and reactions to Sylvain Chavenel's win at Station des Rousses and his return to the Yellow Jersey. Updated with Photos and more team & rider comments...

Saturday  10th July
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Team Quick Step's Sylvain Chavanel won his second stage of the 2010 Tour de France today in the ski resort of Station des Rousses in the Jura Mountains. Chavanel launched his attack on the final climb of the day, the Cote de Lamoura, to win the stage by a little under a minute. Chavanel's win also propelled him back into the Maillot Jaune for the second time in the opening week. His team-mate, Jerome Pineau, managed to pick up maximum King of the Mountain points on five of the six classified climbs to defend his hold ion the Polka Dot jersey, rounding off a fantastic day for the Belgian team. Here are a selection of post stage comments and reactions.

Team Quick Step's Sylvain Chavanel
On his win and regaining of the Yellow Jersey:

“At first I was afraid to attack, because I did not want to take any riders up to Jérôme [Quick Step team-mate Jerome Pineau]. And when I did eventually catch him, he told me: ‘Go ahead!’ He was exhausted"

Sylvain Chavanel  Photo © 2010 Fotoreporter Sirotti 

“We are in a spiral on this incredible Tour 2010. We started with the whole team, and it goes perfectly. What we did in the stage to Spa was extremely rare. But to do it twice… oh, it’s wonderful. Now we will try to win a third! I began to think of the yellow jersey on the last climb, and I told myself that after having lost, it was quite a coup to take it back again. Tomorrow I will do everything to defend it, but I know that the battle will mainly concern Contador, Schleck and Evans. In the midst of it, I’ll always give everything but if I lose it does not matter. Right now I’m on my little cloud, I’m floating and I don’t know how else to describe it. But I see that I have great support on the road and everywhere. It warms my heart.”

"This is the best day in my career. The other day I won the stage and the jersey, but everyone said I wouldn’t have won. Today I wanted to prove I can win a stage in this Tour without any questions. I saw an opportunity and the legs felt great. I am very content.”

Team Quick Step's Jerome Pineau
On his defending of the KoM Polka Dot Jersey:

"“The work of a team has been fully rewarded. It was a beautiful sight, and is also the victory of friendship, of complicity. When Sylvain caught up with me, I already knew he did it because he felt strong. And when he was next to me, I saw in his eyes that no one would be able to take him back.I am happy for this team, because many people said we can do nothing without Tom [Boonen]. Of course he’s a great champion, but we also proved that there are other riders. At the Giro d’Italia, many doubted us, and we won two stages. At this Tour de France, they still doubted us and we have won two stages, and taken the yellow jersey twice."

Quick Steps Jerome Pineu celebrates Chavanel's victory and his successful day collecting climbing points to keep his polka dot jersey. Photo © 2010 Fotoreporter Sirotti 

“I like this polka-dot shirt and I have good legs, so we do not set limits. And if ever Sylvain must take a chance, he will do so without any problem and with our support because he will only do so if he feels strong."

Team Saxo Bank
Andy Schleck on his tactics during the stage:

"It was a very tough day and maybe even tougher than I and the team expected. I decided to stay with Contador (Alberto) and Armstrong (Lance) to study how they were doing and honestly, they looked like they were suffering a bit. I am obviously looking forward to fighting them in the higher mountains.”

Director Bjarne Riis on his team leader
"I'm happy to see how easy and relaxed Andy (Schleck) is keeping to the front. The first day in the mountains is always difficult and the legs need to readjust the conditions and combined with the inhuman heat a lot of riders paid a huge price. I'm confident all our riders are ready for the big battle on tomorrow's stage."

Footon/Servetto/Fuji Team
23 year old Spaniard Rafael Valls 2nd

Rafael Valls fell short for the stage victory that everyone in the team was dreaming of at the start of the 97th Tour de France. The brave rider from Cocentaina in Alicante finished in 2nd place on the eighth day of competition.  Sylvain Chavanel (QST) was the only rider overcoming the Golds' rising star/ After frustrated attempts by Italian Eros Capecchi to enter the day's early break, Valls tried to bridge to the front in the first five kilometers into the  penultimate ascent.

Rafael Valls finishes with the escort of race motos
Photo courtesy of Team Footon/Servetto/Fuji

Valls attacked in a select gruppo, featuring big nameslike:Cunego,Gárate, French Champion Voeckler. The Gold Generation's young reference, just turning 23 before the Tour, bridged the gap fast to he leading duo, formed of Danilo Hondo (LAM) and Jerome Pineau (QST), the last survivors on the slopes of the decisive Côte de Lamour. Valls couldn't get into Chavanel's pace as he attacked, but recovered with fighting spirit and overtook the rest of his group with 10 km to go and started a furious pursuit that ended in being rewarded with second place. Meanwhile, Capecchi closed down a sensational outing from Matxin and Angoitia's roster in 10th place inthe group sprint. Sunday will be a day where the youngster from Footon/Servetto will for sure continue their attacking manners in the Queen stage of the Alpine trio.

Rafael Valls gaining confidence...
"Even though I came runner-up, I'm very happy with this achievement. It isn't by any means easy to get into a breakaway in the Tour de France and also contest a victory against such good riders. Actually, I didn't even think this was going to be my day to try it in the mountains: when the group of five went away, we understood that was the definitive escape, but the boost given by several teams in the bunch to shorten the gaps gave us some chance on the climbs to try it. I felt good on the penultimate climb, the margin towards the leading group was reachable and Matxin told me to attack".

Rafael Valls chases Chavanel
Photo courtesy of Team Footon/Servetto/Fuji

"I didn't think in any moment during the race I was competing alongside those big characters in such big race, that only comes to you when you cross the finish line. Chavanel went for his teammate in the descent and we tried to attack in the last climb to reach as far as possible. What I did today gives me confidence so I can be an important rider in pro cycling: after all my knee problems in Langkawi and the crash in Romandie, I recovered the feelings from my early season in Switzerland and came in really good form here. Now we'll be going step-by-step: as I said, getting into a Tour breakaway is so hard against those riders, and even more difficult to crown it, but I'm sure we will get other chances to chase a win."

Directeur Sportif, Joxean Fernández Matxin...
"I feel truly proud and satisfied of what all our Golds did today, as well Valls on the front as much for Capecchi in the chase, but you always get some bitter taste because the victory is what counts, and we didn't match it today. However, I think we reacted well to the fact we didn't get into the first break, and obviously I have to give compliments to all of our squad. We knew there were too few riders on front and that the pace in the peloton was making things hard for them. Those attacks on the penulimate climb made us tell Valls to attack and give the team some presence."

"We were always searching for Cunego's wheel in the group, because he was theoretically the strongest rider for such finishes, but in the end Chavanel broke away. Now it's easy to say we were wrong, but talking after things happen is a certain shoot on taget and races are unpredictable. Now we have to be cautious: we know getting these results is very hard and that we got also bad moments during the race, just like others  that maycome, but we're going to keep our spirit and continue to seek for a victory, no matter if it's Valls, Capecchi or even Durán and Eibegger, who were not able to be up in the spotlight today, but I'm sure they'll recover and keep fighting."

3rd on G.C. - Ryder Hesjedal

Today was great. The team took care of me really well all day and it was perfect to have Johan there in the final. I am really pleased with my Tour so far and we will see what tomorrow brings. For everything we’ve gone through as a team at this Tour, I’m really proud of what we’ve done so far. We’ll just keep taking it day by day. 

Director Sportif Matt White
Another good day for the team...

It was another good day for the team.  Ryder looked strong and produced another good ride, and the rider of the day was Johan van Summeren. He looked after Ryder all day and was there for him in the final. What these boys have done at this Tour continues to impress me. Tomorrow’s a tough day and will be a real test. We’ll see how it goes but whatever happens, we’ll be part of the action.

Caisse d'Epargne
Olympic Road Champion Luis León Sánchez, 'a difficult hot stage'

“This was our first contact with the mountains and it was not an easy one; not so much for the difficulty of the route but principally because of the hot weather”, explained Luis León Sánchez after he took 19th in the seventh stage of the Tour de France.

“Even if I am used to such high temperatures in Murcia and as a consequence use to pedal in similar conditions I suffered  from the heat like everybody else. Today we went the whole day up and down and even if nothing important happened for the final classification many riders were really tired when they crossed the line.”

“The first week has been a very difficult one. Because of the heath of course but also due to the crashes and the cobblestones stage. I believe that a surprise is possible tomorrow. Anything can happen.”

“As for me I shall try not to lose too much time while climbing to Morzine. I want to keep on seeing what happens day after day in this Tour”, explained also the rider from Murcia.

Cervelo Test Team
Thor Hushovd on defending his Green Jersey in the mountains:

"I was struggling today on the climbs, but that's normal. It was the first day in the mountains and it was very hot once again. I got into the gruppetto and just finished as best I could. I kept the green jersey, and that's the most important thing. None of my rivals took points. On days like this, you just need to conserve your energy and get through it. I know it's going to be hard to win the green jersey. It's a long way to go. I just have to keep fighting."

Thor Hushovd grinding out the climb would lose 22 minutes to drop out of the top ten to 94th place. Photo © 2010 Fotoreporter Sirotti 

Carlos Sastre on feeling good on a tough day:
"I felt good. It was a hard day, but I was able to overcome it without any problem and I am happy with the final result. This first mountain stage, or medium mountain stage, was hard. We went over leg-breaking terrain, with rough roads, with chunks of asphalt that got stuck to the tires. There was a lot of heat once again, so in that regard, the stage was difficult. After the last two stages, with intense heat and very fast speeds, I believe people were starting to get tired today. I really saw that on the last climb, but the top favorites didn't try anything, and the final climb was more or less steady."

BMC Racing's Cadel Evans 2nf on G.C.
On the tomorrow's difficult stage to Morzine-Avoriaz:

"Tomorrow is going to be more of a real shake-up. You saw the GC guys all looking at each other today. I think it'll be another day where the main GC contenders are looking at themselves, testing themselves. We'll see if someone really wants to lay it on the line and try and blow it apart. Someone like Alberto (Contador) or Lance (Armstrong), it's probably in their best interest to do that. It's not like they've got that much to lose. For me, I'll see how they go and how I go."

Damiano Cunego on the attack today 

Lampre-Farnese Vini
Damiano Cunego On trying to attack and tomorrow's stage...

“I knew that this stage was a good chance for me to trying to get a good result, so when (Thomas) Voeckler attacked I understand that it was the good moment for escape from the bunch. Then, I tried to attack but every time my opponents rejoined me and then, when Chavanel started his action, I was not so fresh at that moment. Tomorrow the stage with Morzine arrival will be very tough, also because the top riders will battle for the yellow jersey: if it isn't possible to perform some attack there, I’ll try again in the next stages knowing that my fitness will improve. I need to remove the disappointment from today's stage with a good performance.”

Lampre Directeur Sportif Piovani
Danilo Hondo in the break to help Cunego

“This morning Hondo told me that Pineau would have attack and so he did: Hondo was paying attention to him and he could get into the breakaway. Danilo’s target was going on as long as possible in order to help Cunego later on the last climb: when he was joined by Damiano, Hondo supported him for two kilometres, but Chavanel was no longer reachable

Team Milram
Linus Gerdemann 12th in  first mountaintop finish of the Tour 

Miram, allrounder Christian Knees helped shape much of the race in an escape group. Best rider of Milram  is Linus Gerdemann, who moved up to 33rd place.

Captain Linus Gerdemann
"Right after the penultimate climb I heard over radio that Christian Knees was having trouble in the escape group. I immediately picked up the pace of the favorites' group with an attack. They reacted immediately and the peloton split. On the final climb I felt quite good. I am satisfied with my placing."

Christian Knees, German national champion on the day...
Gerdemann animated the day in the break which gained a maximum of 9 minutes and for much of the day rode as virtual leader of the tour, but it all came to an end with 35 km to go when the Milram rider was dropped... "Our goal today was to be in the group. We had speculated that the peloton would not work together on the day before the first hard mountain stage on Sunday, but unfortunately, Bbox, which probably was planning something, took the initiative."

Team SKY Sports Director Sean Yates
On his team's performance and the tests to come:

"We didn't lose any time with Bradley [Wiggins], which was the main objective, We did everything right, we didn't expend any more energy than we needed to, which was the plan. The combination of the heat and the stress of the first week, took its toll. You could see by the size of the bunch at the finish that there were a few guys in the same boat."

"Tomorrow's an important day. A few more guys in front of him [Wiggins] will be eliminated tomorrow. If he's feeling super and Alberto (Contador) attacks and he goes with him, he won't throw away an opportunity to gain time on rivals. [But] it's a three-week long Tour and we take it day by day."

Best Young RiderGeraint Thomas fought brilliantly to limit his losses; but the young rider lost 5 minutes  dropping from second to 34th on the G.C. and to sixth in the race of the young guns.... still a good showing in his debut tour; and with 13 more days of racing ahead plenty of opportunities to improve. Photo © 2010 Fotoreporter Sirotti 

Team Sky's Geraint Thomas
On puncturing and then losing time to drop form second overall to 31st:

"I felt pretty good but then late on my legs just went with 10km to go (after he punctured)  I never expected to be in the position I was in - it was good to have a go but I just didn't quite have it today."

And finally, from Levi Leipheimer's Twitter feed....
"I think that was harder than everyone expected. Has anyone noticed my shoes? Equipment tech experts? ."

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