Latest Cycling News for July 2, 2004
Edited by Chris Henry & Jeff Jones
Hamilton as leader
For the first time in his career, Tyler Hamilton enters the Tour de France
as a bona-fide contender for the final yellow jersey in Paris. After what
he calls a steady progression, from faithful lieutenant to Lance Armstrong
at US Postal Service to co-leader at Team CSC to unique leader at Phonak,
Hamilton has arrived at a critical point in his career with this year's
Tour. The American is quite clear in his objective for 2004.
"I'm here to win," he said Thursday in Liège, Belgium, where the
Tour kicks off with Saturday's prologue time trial. ""At first I didn't
have the leadership skills but Phonak is 100% percent behind me and now
it all comes down to me."
Hamilton developed enormously as a rider during his two years with Bjarne
Riis' CSC team, during which he became the first American to win Liège-Bastogne-Liège,
won the Tour de Romandie (a title he successfully defended this year),
placed second in the Giro d'Italia and fourth overall in the Tour de France.
Hamilton has always spoken highly of his time with Riis, but the opportunity
to reach for his own Tour glory proved too insatiable when Phonak offered
him the role of sole leader.
"I had two great years at CSC and I wouldn't trade those years for anything,
but I'm ready to be the sole team leader and go for the Tour de France,"
"I'm very confident. This is the first time I've had a team entirely
at my service. Throughout my career I've done things in stages, and this
is the first time I've had the position of leader."
And just as his team has placed full confidence in his abilities, Hamilton
has faith that his Phonak teammates are ready for the job of riding for
victory in the Tour in this the team's first ever participation.
"The objective has been the Tour, and the closer we've gotten the better
the team has performed," he explained. "That's what you need to win the
Hamilton, who now counts as one of defending champion Lance Armstrong's
top rivals, isn't ready to offer any favours to his former leader on the
road. Nor does Armstrong expect any.
"I'm here to win. Lance and I are friends, but on the bike we're rivals.
It's every man for himself."
Despite the move to Phonak by Tyler Hamilton, fourth overall in last
year's Tour de France, Team CSC director Bjarne Riis is typically confident
heading into this year's Tour. Riis' team suffered another setback with
the last minute withdrawal of Jörg Jaksche, who broke his arm in
a training crash this week, but Riis is eager to build upon the experience
of 2003, which saw the team take three stage wins and the final team prize.
"We have a stronger team than last year and we can do well in all areas,"
Riis commented. "We have big ambitions. If everything works out, we could
have Basso and Sastre in the top ten, we can win stages, and we can challenge
for the yellow jersey. The team time trial is also a big objective."
Ivan Basso and Carlos Sastre will ride as the team's leaders for the
general classification, with the support of experienced riders including
Jens Voigt, Andrea Peron, and Bobby Julich. Michele Bartoli will return
to the Tour de France, alongside last year's stage winner Jakob Piil.
Millar gets Olympic suspension
Photo: © Steve Thomas
Following the confirmation of his admission to the use of EPO in the
chambers of judge Richard Pallain on Thursday, David Millar has been handed
a ban from British Cycling and is effectively out of the Athens Olympics.
Millar has been preparing for the road time trial and the individual pursuit
on the track at this year's Olympics. His admission to EPO use in 2001
and 2003 came as a result of a police search of his house and a lengthy
interrogation in Biarritz, France last week.
"In respect of David Millar's admission to Judge Pallain, I am greatly
saddened by this affair but I confirm that David Millar is suspended with
immediate effect pending a further investigation and a disciplinary hearing,"
British Cycling chief executive Dave Brailsford told William Fotheringham
of The Guardian.
Millar has not yet been handed a formal sanction from his Cofidis team,
but his admission to the use of a banned substance, which in the eyes
of the UCI is treated as a positive doping result, will likely be dropped
by Cofidis in the same manner as Philippe Gaumont and Médéric
Clain. It was Gaumont who implicated Millar after his own testimony and
confession of doping, while Clain confessed to having procured certain
banned substances although he denied having ever used them.
Devolder and Van den Broeck can stay
According to the Belgian press, Stijn Devolder and Jurgen van den Broeck
will be granted spots on the new Discovery Channel team (ex-US Postal
Service), and will be offered contracts soon. Regarding the team's overall
focus on the classics next year, current sponsor Berry Floor is negotiating
with the management to extend its contract, and this could well affect
the balance of the squad with regard to the classics.
Van Heeswijk courted
Dutch rider Max van Heeswijk (US Postal-Berry Floor) is very much in
demand for next season after having taken nine wins already this year.
Van Heeswijk - who is not riding the Tour de France - is being courted
by Rabobank for the spring classics. Phonak is also reportedly interested
in him. However, the Limburg sprinter would like to remain at US Postal
(Discovery Channel) and will begin negotiating with the team this weekend.
"We would gladly like to keep Max," team director Dirk Demol said, quoted
in De Telegraaf.
Crédit Agricole extends
French bank Crédit Agricole has agreed to extend its sponsorship
of the Division I team through 2006. Team manager Roger Legeay confirmed
the news Thursday in Liège, the same day the UCI included the team
among the first eleven to be accepted to the new Pro Tour which debuts
"Our budget will be increased so we can take our place in the Pro Tour
and have teams racing on several fronts," Legeay told l'Equipe.
"Crédit Agricole will continue through 2006, and possibly beyond,
proving that our philosophy is good and that our sponsor is happy."
Lampre for the weekend
As the Tour de France kicks off in Belgium, the Italian Lampre team will
keep itself busy with two races in Italy. The team will send riders to
the upcoming Criterium d'Abruzzo on Saturday and Sunday's Trofeo Matteotti.
The races are ranked UCI 1.3 and 1.2, respectively. Representing Lampre
will be Alessandro Ballan Simone Bertoletti, Gianluca Bortolami, Paolo
Bossoni, Matteo Carrara, Francesco Casagrande, Andrej Hauptman, Marco
Pinotti, Manuel Quinziato.
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2004)