CSC's Fränk Schleck was one of the GC riders who finished in the first group. His teammate Karsten Kroon finished
fifth and is now third overall. Kroon said: "I feel in quite good shape right now. It was a perfect stage for me both with
the weather and the route – it was a true classics sage," said Kroon, who was satisfied with the outcome, but whose
main role is as a domestique.
"I'm gonna try and give Fränk as much help as I possibly can towards a good overall result,
so it's not like I'm going for the overall win myself now or anything like that, even though I'm in a good position. My main
goals are the big Northern European races in April, but I definitely wanna try and help Fränk as much as I can on the Mont
Ventoux stage," determined Kroon.
US team Slipstream hopes for General Classification were preserved but it wasn't easy. Team manager
Jonathan Vaughters said: "With 4 km to go, Millar crashed hard on a slippery right hand corner. With the last kilometer an
uphill, he had only 3 km to make it back to a fast charging group. But make it he did! Catching the group just 1.5 km before
the finish, Millar recovered just enough to stay with the front group for the uphill finish."
Vaughters concled with: "Trent Lowe also pulled out an amazing ride for a guy that weighs just 120 lbs. Staying
with the hard charging Quick-Step and Rabobank riders, little Trent showed today that he will contend for the overall victory."
Some of the overall favourites lost a lot of time. Damiano Cunego (Lampre) finished at 6' 32" in 113th position
and Cadel Evans (Silence - Lotto) lost nearly three minutes. White jersey holder Andrey Grivko (Milram) came in 21th, the
Ukranian rider finished in the first group and defended his lead in the young riders classification. Milram coloured yesterdays
stage with two riders in a long breakaway of three riders. The third rider was High Road's Bernhard Eisel.
"Under these conditions it was clear that without a real sprinter, our only chance was in a breakaway," said
Milram's sports director Raoul Liegbregts. "Our team did really well. Peter and Niki stayed in the lead for a long time despite
the wind, rain and cold. The fact that Andrey was able to defend his white jersey just topped the day off."
Rabobank's Robert Gesink also finished in the first group. The winner of the young riders classification in the
last two editions of the Tour of California is one of the remaining favourites for the overall win. But Rabobank also
Just 3.5 kilometers from the finish there was a crash in which Bram Tankink (Rabobank) fell from his bike. Just
when he managed to rejoin the leading group, he fell again. This time it happened because his derailleur got stuck between
his spokes, a result from his first crash. Because of this, the Rabo ProTeam was only represented by three riders in the first
group. Gesink had to make a stop at 3.5 kilometers from the finish, but Marc De Maar (rabobank) , who earlier on was involved
in an attack, helped him come back. Tankink came in about two minutes later, but this arrears was remitted.
Rabobank's sports director Erik Dekker was very relieved when Gesink, together with amongst others Gilbert, rejoined
the front group. "Before that, I had no overview whatsoever, I didn't know where Robert was. Now, it has become a super day.
If he didn't end up in the front group, we could've said goodbye to good classifications. Now, the opposite is going on, he
has been granted several bonus minutes in comparison to the others."
Dekker wasn't unhappy with the heavily shortened
stage. "The boys had already rubbed in their legs and were packed and ready to go when the announcement reached us. On the
way, I haven't seen why they have decided this, but I didn't mind at all." During the first part, Dekker had not only
seen Tankink fall, Koos Moerenhout also crashed. "He has many scrapes, but I predict, that Koos will start as planned tomorrow.
Of course this isn't certain yet, because you never know what happens during the night."
With Steegmans winning the stage, the Quickstep team almost a perfect day. Almost: 20 kilometres into the race
Belgian athlete Kevin Hulsmans fell grazing his left arm and leg. But Hulsmans will be able to start today. Hulsmans said:
"I've got a few bumps and bruises but I’ll definitely be on the start line tomorrow."