Stijn Vandenbergh, Katusha (125th @ 1-27):
The first two days were easy this week, the first day we rode steady because of the argument about ear pieces, then the next day, there were two guys away.
Yesterday and the day before were hard, on Thursday it was 35 degrees then yesterday it was 12 and wet.
The Heads are waiting for the mountain top finishes, so far we’ve only had one mountain top finish; the other mountain days, it’s been too far from the summit to the finish and that isn’t good for the man watching the race on TV!
We had Napolitano for the sprints, but he missed a time cut; so for the last week we’ll be trying to get Pozzato or Ivanov into breaks, they can both win sprints in that situation.
Charly Wegelius, Silence-Lotto (69th @ 36-54):
Yesterday was pretty grim in the cold and wet; if breaks go, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the Heads won’t attack but if you have six or seven Astanas sitting at the front, it doesn’t really encourage attacks.
It’s down to the time trial and the mountain top finishes, and tomorrow, on the road to Verbiers, someone might have a crisis.
Johan Van Summeren, Silence-Lotto (98th @ 57-49):
It’s been quite boring, actually! It must be bad if you are watching on TV; there has been only one uphill finish.
Tomorrow could see some action, but today AG2R will control things.
Astana haven’t had to do anything, AG2R have been doing the riding for them on the breakaway stages and on the sprint stages it’s been Columbia.
Cadel is good, still very positive for the last week.
Jerome Pineau, QuickStep (79th @ 46-58):
The last week will be very, very hard, with the Ventoux and the big mountain stages.
We raced very hard in the first week, but yesterday, the press and TV said; “no race today” – they don’t see the first two hours when the break is trying to establish and it’s very, very hard.
The day before yesterday we were going full gas for the first two hours.
The two strongest teams in the race are Columbia and Astana; yesterday on the first cat climb, Astana made it too fast to get away.
I think that Contador is the favourite; he will make one big attack and take three minutes. Our goal in Monaco was three or four stages, now we will be happy to win one.
Sylvain Chavanel has good form and good recovery – I think it is possible for him to win a stage.
Fumy Beppu, Skil-Shimano (144th @ 1-36):
For us, there is no interest in the GC. I want to try and get in breaks; but today is my last chance before the mountains, so I will try very hard. There’s nothing we can do in the mountains but maybe our sprinter, Kenny van Hummel can do something on the last stage?
Michael Rogers, Columbia (115th @ 1-14):
Don’t worry, you’ll see plenty of action before the end – there’s lots comin’ up!
The first week was spectacular but in the second week there were no mountain top finishes; so to attack was a waste of time.
I’ve had three crashes – not my best Tour de France, but that’s life!
Realistically, Cav has two more opportunities to win, today and in Paris.
We’ll be working hard for him, but I have to tell you – we have a good train, but it’s not easy, getting him into position!
Kenny Van Hummel, Skil-Shimano (164th and lantern rouge @ 2-16):
It’s a very high level for us; I’m in good shape but I’m happy just to be here, sometimes it’s a struggle with the time cuts.
On the second stage, I had good position but there was a crash, then I got a seventh place a little later in the race.
I’ve had some good wins for the team this year, but here at the Tour I don’t have my usual team. We’re here to get experience so the team we’ve brought has to have guys who can climb a little and ride in the breakaways. I have two guys riding for me; usually I have three or four in my train – that makes a big difference. But like I said, we’re here for experience.
Laurens Tens Dam, Rabobank (54th @ 25-22):
I was going well until I crashed coming off the Tourmalet; that it made it a very hard second week for me. I still feel tired; you’re body uses a lot of energy to heal the wounds.
For the last week we’re hopeful that Denis can win a stage – and I can recover!
Jose Luis Arrieta, AG2R (81st @ 48-14):
It’s been a very good Tour for us with Nocentini in yellow.
I think it will end in a sprint, today but that we’ll lose the jersey tomorrow – I’m looking forward to getting a rest!
Danny Pate, Garmin (159th @ 1-44):
I’m OK, but we had that bad weather yesterday – I’m not into rain!
It’s been quiet, but just for the GC guys – the reason that the Pyrenees didn’t separate them was that the finishes were too far from the mountains. But I’ll tell you what, it’s really hard to make it into a break; the first part of each stage is crazy ’til the break goes and it settles down – yesterday, we did something like 80 K in the first 90 minutes.
We think Tyler Farrar can win a stage before the finish and it’d be good to get into a break. And our two GC guys (Wiggins and Vandevelde) have to be helped for as long as possible in the mountains – then they’re on their own!
Maybe not so easy, then? But something has to give, tomorrow.