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Tour de PEZ: Can Tommy Take Yellow To Paris?
Roadside St.15: Limoux to Montpellier, ‘Sprinter stage’ – but maybe it’ll split in the wind, or maybe the break will ‘stick…or maybe HTC will syphon the last drops of gas from the tank and Cav will make it four? That sounds more like it. Why don’t we get out there and ask some folks who know the score about what happened in the Pyrenees – and can Tommy really be ‘en jaune sur les Champs-Elysees?’




Tim Harris: former British professional road race champion and now a ViP driver with Skoda:

‘An interesting three days in the Pyrenees, not negative at all, more a reflection on the fact that the UCi blood passport is working; you can’t race flat out – there’s not the reserves in the tank.

But having said that, if the Schlecks were true champions they’d be attacking, not wondering about where their brother is.
There’s a lack of grinta.

Voeckler; he’s a fighter and that yellow jersey is giving him so much more – plus he has Rolland up there in the finales to help him.

What he’s doing is fantastic for the sport; I’d love to see him win – maybe Schleck second and Evans third?’



Yvon Sanquer: now a PR with Skoda, was Alberto Contador’s manager with Astana for his 2010 GC win.

‘It’s a different world for me now, there’s much less stress.

I still keep in touch with Alberto, but also Frank Schleck, he rode for me in 2001.

I think it’s still possible for Alberto to win, it will be difficult with his deficit on Evans but you have to remember that Contador is very tough mentally – he’s a real competitor.

I think he is recovering a little each day; if you look at him yesterday, he was quick to respond to the attacks by Schleck.

It’s difficult to say if Voeckler can win, it’s incredible what he’s done: yesterday he was a match for the best and I think a podium is possible for him.

Next week, in the Alps is another race, but today could be an important day, the wind and rain could have a big influence.’



Stephen Roche: former winner of the Tour de France, Giro d’Italia and world pro road race championship – now doing PR with Skoda.

‘If I was asked to organise the 2012 Tour de France I’d have the same stages but only time the last two kilometres; and I fit wing mirrors to the Schleck’s bikes – and have masseurs on hand at the finish line to give them neck massages for all that strain caused by looking behind.

Voeckler has been brilliant, but he’s riding at 110% every day and the favourites are only attacking him at the end of the stages.

I don’t think he can take yellow to Paris, but this race is impossible to analyse, no one knows what will happen.
But what I would say is that if I was riding, I wouldn’t have my team riding on the front; I’d have them attacking, stirring things up!’



David Garcia: press officer with Movistar.

‘Our big objective was to win a stage and we’ve achieved that with Rui Costa.

The team is tired now and it’s been a difficult year for us with the death of Xavier Tondo and Mauricio Soler’s crash.

But our objective is to win another stage during the third week – and of course we want to get Rojas back into the green jersey.

We feel that Tuesday will be a decisive day in the fight for green; the stage will not suit Cavendish but we hope that Rojas will be able to contest the finish.

Ventoso has been giving Rojas great support in the green jersey competition – it helps that they are good friends and room together.’



Christian Henn: Former Olympic road race medallist (bronze Seoul ’88) Telekom pro for eight years and now with Skoda Germany.

‘The Pyrenees were very interesting, we saw yesterday how strong Voeckler was – I think it will be difficult to take the yellow jersey from him.

It’s the best he’s ever been in the mountains but his difficulty will be the time trial.

The way he’s riding is good for the Tour; to have a new guy there – not just Evans, the Schlecks and Contador.

The reason that they were all looking at each other in the Pyrenees is that they’re all thinking about the Alps.

I do think it’s possible that Voeckler can win, he was stronger yesterday than at Luz Ardiden – and I believe he’s riding within his limits.’



Brian Nygaard: Manager Team Leopard Trek.

‘The race is still open and undecided, we’re in a good spot but perhaps not as comfortable as we’d like – Cadel has a little time on us.

There was only one place to attack yesterday, at the bottom of the Plateau de Beille, where it’s steepest – that’s why we drove hard in the valley.

But the attacks were negated so there was no point in persisting because the gradient eases.

I don’t think Voeckler can go all the way to Paris, I think he’ll have a bad day.

The days of hard effort accumulate in the Tour; it’s been a very hard race from the start and he’s used up a lot of effort to defend the jersey.

The other aspect of having the yellow jersey is the amount of time that’s taken up with presentations and interviews – it’s nice to get the attention but that adds up, too.

All of that said, you have to give huge credit to Voeckler.’



Wessel Van Keuk: Pro moto photographer with Cor Vos.

‘My first Tour was ’84, I was Cor’s assistant, I’d do some stages but also transporting and developing the rolls of film.

I’ve been on the motor bike at the Tour since 2000; I served my apprenticeship on the motor bike in smaller races in Holland – I used to race as an amateur so I understand the effect that the wind can have on a race and how a peloton moves.

There are 60 to 70 motor bikes on the Tour, 16 of them for the photographers – but next year that goes down to 12.

Any pro will tell you that the crashes never happen on the dangerous parts of the parcours, it’s always where you’d least expect it.

Being a race photographer isn’t like doing portraiture, you don’t have time to think, it’s instinct, being in the right place at the right time. This Tour is unlike any I’ve ever seen, it’s so different, so dangerous.

I can remember having time to stop for lunch when you did the start and finish of a stage; there would be no chance of that now, it’s just so much faster.

It’s like amateur racing, the flag drops and the first attack goes.

Voeckler should really have been out of yellow yesterday but the favourites are waiting for the Alps.

Apart from the climbs in the Alps, the time trial will be a problem for him.’



Lieuwe Westra: Vacansoleil pro.

‘I have a little knee pain due to the cold weather but I managed to avoid the crashes.

The Pyrenean stages were very hard and i’m just glad there’s no rain today!

My goal for the rest of the race is to do a good ride in the time trial at Grenoble.

Thomas De Gendt and Johny Hoogerland are both getting a little better every day; so that’s good for the team.



Matt White: ex pro and ex-Garmin DS.

Cadel’s looking good!

The Schlecks will try to isolate him but I think his biggest ally will be Basso, they’re climbing styles are similar, one pace, albeit Cadel is a little more explosive.

It’s been very cagey in the Pyrenees, Andy looks good but hasn’t really ‘thrown down’ yet.

Voeckler’s time trialling ability will let him down, but he might just hang on ’til then.

I think he’ll be top ten but it’s a really hard TT and he’s been riding with so much bravado.

What was he doing chasing down the attacks yesterday?

Let the big boys play!

But that’s just the way he is, he can’t help himself and it’s one of the reasons he’s so popular.



Fabio Baldato: ex-pro and BMC DS.

The Pyrenees were good for us, Cadel stayed well in touch with the Schlecks and Contador.

The last two mountain stages in the Alps and the time trial are where the race will be decided.

Cadel is in good shape, we still have a full team and morale is good – the guys see that Cadel is going well and that motivates them.

We’ve been involved in crashes, sure – but that’s the Tour.

We’re here for just one reason – to ride for Cadel.

Voeckler?

I think his problem will be the Galibier, it’s long and hard – one for the real climbers.

But we’ll see, he has great condition.


 

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