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Ford Tour de Georgia 2006: Interview with DS Rene Savary
By Cathy Mehl
Date: 4/23/2006
Ford Tour de Georgia 2006: Interview with DS Rene Savary

Prior to today's start I was able to catch up with Directeur Sportif Rene Savary as he waited for the stage to start. I had run into Rene all week and had been impressed with the calm demeanor of this man as his team stepped up to the plate and delivered the goods for team leader Floyd Landis.

DS Rene Savary rides with his team

Daily Peloton: Congratulations, Rene. I can't believe how strong Floyd was yesterday on Brasstown Bald. He was facing attacks from everywhere and he still hung on to the jersey.

Rene: Yeah. He did his job. The team was so motivated to help Floyd because they could see he could get it. And at the end he did it. It's just so great for the team, and the team is so excited. The team has risen up with Floyd's spirit. They are all so motivated now. It's so good to work with him because everybody knows what he has to do and you can also see they want to do it. It's so impressive. And they can do much more than they usually can do just because they can see that Floyd will deliver at the end.

But I always say, even the last day on a normal day, we still have to cross the finish line, but I think we can really do it. This will be a great success for the team and for Floyd. This will already be the third stage race win for him this year, and not many riders can say they have won three stage races one after another. And I see how much he has grown since last year. He just made a step forward like he had to in order to be a big champion and a real leader.

He's stepped into the role, hasn't he?

Yeah, yeah, we're so happy with Floyd.

How pleased were you with your team's performance yesterday? I know you still had some teammates there with Floyd at the bottom of the climb.

I am extremely pleased. We were much stronger than last year. We had a little bit of a confused team that wasn't able to assist Floyd as was necessary. But this year we had the perfect team and we did perfect team work. We didn't have any trouble defending after Floyd took the jersey in the Time Trial. And just everything went well. We had no accidents and everything went well.

We have such a good opportunity now to say thanks to the ones who put on this race. They have done a good job. We never had trouble with security or traffic on the race course, or whatever. You know, anything can happen. Everything was well organized so it's been a pleasure to ride here.

How did you feel your younger riders handled the race? At the beginning of the race you told me some of them were young and still gaining experience, so how do you think they did and how did they hold up on the grueling stage to Brasstown Bald?

Absolutely. Johann Tschopp is a very young hopeful rider. He is also a very good climber and he showed it yesterday. He was always present on the side of Floyd. Also Florian Stalder, a Swiss rider. He did a great job as well. They gained invaluable experience in how to ride with a real race leader. It's something else to do a race and just ride for yourself or your team. It's a different thing to do it for the race leader. This is an experience they will never forget.

The Gutierrez Brothers: I've got your back, bro!

And the Gutierrez brothers were amazing!

Oh, yes, about those two riders, you can say they are no longer the young ones but they are the riders that are the solid rocks on the team with big experience. Enrique was already a champion. He has won a lot of stages in races and has had a big name. It's a good thing to have him here. Also Robbie Hunter. He has huge experience about how to ride a race and how to read a race. He knows exactly what is going on. He's our captain on the road. He takes the responsibilities so Floyd can just ride the race.

Robbie Hunter, the captain on the road

Any ambitions for Robbie today, or is the plan just to deliver Floyd safely to the line?

We'll see. We think it will be a bunch sprint at the end, and if it's not too much work we might try for something. But a lot of teams have not gotten a stage win and I think we have many ambitions from those teams today.

How was your phone call to Andy Rihs last night to tell him how Floyd and the team were doing? I bet he wishes he were here.

Oh, it was just great. And he was so happy. Also John Lelangue is so happy. It's just a great thing. The riders say they missed having Andy here. He's such a good soul, and a very positive person. To have a chief like him behind you is just really helpful and makes our job much easier.

Please tell him we missed him this year. And Rene, fabulous job here at the Tour de Georgia. Congratulations!

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