February 27, 2006 – Charles Dionne (Saunier-Duval Prodir) and Dominique Perras (Kodakgallery.Com-Sierra Nevada) were well-placed in a breakaway when a spectacular crash took place yesterday during the final stage of the Tour of California. The crash occurred one lap into the fast and furious 123K stage, which saw Dionne finish in 19th, and Perras in 80th.
“I was lucky to have avoided that crash – there were about ten or fifteen riders just ahead of me who were in it,” began Dionne. “We were descending – about 60km/h, then suddenly everything just fell apart. I saw a German rider do a complete somersault in the air before hitting the ground. His bike literally exploded into little pieces. I feel extremely lucky to have been able to avoid all that. I would have liked to have really been a factor in the sprint, but it just wasn’t going to happen for me today. I did my best, but my best isn’t exceptional right now. With my current fatigue I really couldn’t do a whole lot.’
Stage 7 was won by German rider Olaf Pollack (T-Mobile) in 2:50:27. American Floyd Landis (Phonak) won the inaugural Tour with a total time of 22:46:46 for all seven stages. Dionne and Perras finished Stage 7 with the same time as stage winner Pollack. In the overall rankings Perras finished 48th at 16:35, while Dionne took 85th at 28:16.
Dionne was full of praise about the new American race. “The organizers really did a great job; it’s a race that can hold its own among the best races in the world. They had teams and riders of exceptional quality, the organizational aspect was fantastic. There is nothing negative to say at all.” Dionne will be adjusting his plans for the upcoming weeks; originally scheduled to take part in the spring classic the Paris-Nice next week, he’ll instead have a rendezvous with the Saunier-Duval Prodir Team doctor. “My leg has been bugging me all week, so I’ll be undergoing some tests to figure out what exactly is going on.”
As for Dominique Perras, he will be preparing himself for the upcoming Commonwealth Games, scheduled to take place at the end of March in Melbourne, Australia.