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Tom Boonen may have spent the early years of his professional career with Lance Armstrong dominating the stage racing side of the sport, but it's Jan Ullrich the Belgian sprinter admires, writes Susanne Horsdal. In an interview with the German TV-station DSF's website www.sport1.de, the Belgian sprint star explains: "Lance is very strong, but I was always an Ullrich fan. I like powerful riders, and I think Ullrich is the most powerful. I hope he can put up some resistance to Armstrong. We'll have to wait and see till the last week of the Tour," said Boonen.
- Just like every year, the Tour organisation has released the various figures resulting from the pre-race medical tests carried out on all riders. There's no great surprise that the huge Swede Magnus Backstedt (Liquigas-Bianchi) is the heaviest rider at 95kg, but despite his oxygen-depleted 1.93-metre height, the crown of tallest rider goes to Davitamon-Lotto giant Johan Vansummeren at 1.98m. Lightest rider, on the other hand, is Saunier Duval climber Leonardo Piepoli, who weighs in at just 57kg, while the shortest rider, at 1.58m, is Samuel Dumoulin.
The titles of 'slowest heartbeat' and 'largest lung capacity' are both ties: At 35bpm, the former is shared by Saunier Duval's Chris Horner and Laurent
Lefvre (Bouygues Telecom), while Christophe Moreau (Crdit Agricole) and Mikel Astarloza (Ag2r) can breathe easy with 7.66-litre capacities. For the record, the average Tour rider this year weighs 71kg, is 1.79m tall, has a lung capacity of 5.69 litres and a resting heartbeat of 50 beats per minute.
- Given the twisting nature of the run-in to the stage two finish at Les Essarts, Robbie McEwen was most experts' selection as the likely winner of the stage given the Australian's superb bike-handling skills. Quick Step boss Patrick Lefvre predicted there would be two sprints coming into the finish, the first to get a good position going into the final corner, with 280 metres remaining, and the second one for the line.
McEwen was very well placed coming out of that corner, but then made what he admitted was a mistake when he decided to make an early charge for the line. "It's something you do in a split second, instinct takes over," McEwen explained later. "I saw that I was in a good position coming out of the bend so I thought I would try to surprise everyone, but I hadn't taken the wind into account. It was slightly in our faces, and I folded before the line as the lactic acid built up in my legs. I would have done better to remain in Boonen's wheel. The positive side of it all was that the three fastest riders in the peloton were disputing the stage win, which promises a good amount of spectacle on this Tour."
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