February 26, 2006 — Dominique Perras (Kodakgallery.Com-Sierra Nevada) and five other riders in the peloton gave it their all yesterday in a breakaway attempt during the 144K Stage 6 from Santa Barbara to Thousand Oaks at the Tour of California. Despite their efforts, the breakaway was swallowed up by the chasing pack, and once again finished in a sprint to the line.
“Nobody from Discovery was in our pack and Ekimov started chasing us, but then two teams in the breakaway decided to let the chase group catch us,” explained Perras. As a result, the breakaway was gobbled up by the pack, lead by a hard-charging Team Discovery under the watchful eye of their former star rider. “I don’t think it helped that Lance Armstrong was there watching the race in person,” Perras added. Nevertheless, no riders from Discovery were atop the podium at the end of the day.
The stage win went to Olaf Pollack (T-Mobile), followed by Riccardo Ricco (Saunier Duval-Prodir) in second, Fred Rodriguez (Davitamon-Lotto) in third, and Canadian Gord Fraser, who finished fourth in the final sprint. Charles Dionne (Saunier-Duval Prodir) was 21st.
Once Saunier-Duval Prodir’s Team Director saw another sprint finish on the horizon, he called upon Dionne. “I had to tell him in my best beginner Spanish that I was cooked,” Dionne said sheepishly. “I had worked hard during the climbs all day long, but at least we had Riccardo Ricco on the podium.”
Perras finished 72nd in the pack with the same time as Pollack. “I’m happy with the way today turned out. I had planned to be aggressive and to make some big efforts today — and that’s exactly what I did.”
In the overall rankings, American Floyd Landis (Phonak Hearing Systems) is still holding on to the leader’s jersey, just ahead of David Zabriskie (CSC) by a meager 29 seconds. Bobby Julich (CSC) is in third place at 34 seconds.
As for the final stage, Perras has no illusions about how the last few kilometres will end, acknowledging that a sprint finish is 100% assured effectively ruling him out for any chance for a stage win. As for Dionne, there is still an outside chance that he could make a move – he’s been known to perform in the past when the stakes are high.
The last and final stage consists of ten laps of 13K route on a mainly flat circuit. A sprint finish as well as lots of speed are on the menu !