Latest News for June 14, 2004
Edited by Jeff Jones
Armstrong sweats the details
Three weeks to go before the Tour de France
Lance Armstrong is a worried man, but not because the Tour is around the corner and Iban Mayo just took almost two minutes out of him in the Dauphine's Mont Ventoux time trial. As he tells Cyclingnews European Editor Tim Maloney, he's always worried about the Tour, even in January.
With only three weeks to go before he attempts to win a sixth Tour de France, Lance Armstrong sat down with Cyclingnews to discuss his quest to complete a unique winning streak. We were brought into the exclusive confines of the USPS-Berry Floor team bus by team media manager Jogi Muller and suddenly Lance bounded in the door. Despite being tired from almost a week of hot, hard racing in the Dauphine Libéré, Armstrong was full of energy. After he offered us some liquid refreshment, we got down to business with the man they call The Boss in the Tour de France peloton.
Cyclingnews: How do you like being a Jeopardy answer?
Lance Armstrong: [Laughs]
CN: The other day on Jeopardy, the answer Alex Tribek read was "Strong enough to be Sheryl Crow's man" and the question the contestant said was...
LA: (groans) Awww... I hope that was only a hundred dollar question! I've heard over the years that there have been some cycling related questions (about me) related to the Tour, so that's not the first time that's happened. Wow! I guess I'm honoured.
CN: So if the next Jeopardy answer is "winner of six straight Tours de France", it's clear you want the question to be "Who is Lance Armstrong?" In Thursday's le Mont Ventoux time trial, you lost more time than you expected, even though you went through the first split at St. Esteve fastest to that point. What happened after that?
LA: Well... I was probably a little faster than most people because I rode with some clip-ons [aero handlebars] for that first rolling section. Maybe, perhaps I went out a little bit fast, but I felt like I was in control. The point was that I expected to go a little bit faster, I expected to feel a little bit better but I obviously didn't go fast enough.
[Editors Note: Armstrong's 2004 time of 57:49 was still his fastest ever, three seconds faster than his time in the 1999 Dauphine' Libéré' Ventoux TT.]
I'm always worried [about the Tour]) in June. Christ, I'm worried in January... that's my nature, to be worried. This is my job, to race and to win the Tour and the day that I don't show up worried about the competition, about myself, about my team, about the equipment, about the budget, about the sponsors, that's the day I have to go home. So I'm still the same person; I'm still stressed about it and nervous I that may not be ready.
But now, looking back [on Thursday's Mont Ventoux TT] and analyzing everything, analyzing the performances of [Iban] Mayo and Tyler [Hamilton] and everybody that raced as well as my own performances, I think I'm on schedule [for the Tour].
Ullrich does it his way
Unlike the other Tour de France candidates Lance Armstrong, Tyler Hamilton and Iban Mayo, Jan Ullrich has opted to race the Tour de Suisse instead of the Dauphine Libéré in preparation for July. During the early part of this season, Ullrich has often been criticised for being out of condition and overweight, but with the Tour of Germany and Tour de Suisse in his legs, he is starting to look like a real Tour contender again. After winning the first stage of the TdS in surprising fashion, Ullrich now wears the golden leader's jersey, but will face his first tough challenge to defend it in today's Stage 3 uphill finish.
Ullrich has been paying attention to the Dauphine Libéré, where Iban Mayo surprised Lance Armstrong and everyone else by winning the Mont Ventoux time trial, putting two minutes into Armstrong in just 21.6 km [incidentally, it was still Armstrong's fastest ever ride up Ventoux]. In an interview with Zeitung Sonntag , Ullrich responded to the comment that Armstrong was carrying a "couple of extra pounds" with dismissal: "Nonsense. I know the story with the kilos from personal experience. It's always overexaggerated, especially as concerns the effect. But you hear about Lance being overweight. I think when his coach says it, it's purely tactics. I don't read anything into it. At the Tour, he will be fit, I am sure of that."
Ullrich said that he was "genuinely surprised" by his form in the Tour of Germany, where he finished second in the opening time trial and was good, but not brilliant in the mountains, eventually ended as 7th overall. "I didn't expect that I would be so far ahead. With this good form I could take the victory in the opening stage of the Tour de Suisse. I am thus on the right track."
In Germany it was clear that Ullrich was not at his top level in the mountains, which are typically his weak point in the Tour. But he said it would have been wrong to be in top shape then. "My planning is aimed so that I reach the end of the second week of the Tour de France at 100 percent. Then we are in the Pyrenees. I will certainly not go for the final classification in the Tour de Suisse, despite the good result in the first stage. The tough finish on Thursday in Malbun (13 km of climbing) is probably still too hard for me at the moment. But I feel good, fit for the Tour and I also have a few reserves. And that's all that counts for me."
Ullrich described himself as "satisfied" with his season up until May, as he only had to abandon two races. He called the media's reaction "overexaggerated" but was not concerned at the time. "I had and have my own way in my head, and simply determined that my base training wasn't perfect. That was no reason to panic. It was then simply better for me to abandon two races and train again in peace to make my base stronger. My season is not kaput for long. If by October I have no successes on my account, then I have made an error. Previously that's not been the case."
Often called one of the most talented riders but without the ability to use his capabilities optimally, Ullrich commented that, "I can live with that because I know what's true. I have to go my own way, which doesn't bring me in top form until summer. Of course everything didn't go perfectly this spring, but my season really begins in July. And it's also not true that I just ride on talent, like I always hear. Iron training is also part of it, but just suited to my own type...Fundamentally, I think: If I can prepare on the basis of how I feel, I can also win the Tour."
The 30 year old said that he won't be changing his way of doing things in a hurry. "The people that are important to me, trust me and don't try to change me, which would be impossible anyway. I have to go my own way. I can't be everything, that's just how I am. Some say that us Rostockers have an elephant skin. That helps sometimes."
Ullrich doesn't think about the Tour 12 months of the year, and takes time out to celebrate with family and friends. "Discipline and ambition are important, but not for the whole year," he said.
Last year, the gap between Armstrong and Ullrich in Paris was a mere 1'01 - the smallest margin of victory by Armstrong in any Tour. When asked if Armstrong was beatable, Ullrich responded, "Yes, we saw last year that he had problems, when Beloki, Vinokourov, Mayo and I attacked him. In 2003 we saw his physical limits, which was never the case in the past. And he was a little nervous. Nevertheless, he will be the man to beat this year."
Vino out for three weeks
After his crash in the Tour de Suisse yesterday, T-Mobile's Alexandre Vinokourov will be out of action for three weeks due to his injuries. The team reported that his Tour start is in "grave danger".
Euskaltel-Euskadi ready for Catalunya
Fresh off its success in the Dauphine Libéré, the Euskaltel-Euskadi team will take part in the hors categorie ranked Volta a Catalyuna, which starts today, June 14. The team includes Euskal Bizikleta stage winner Roberto Laiseka and Alberto López de Munain, among others, although Tour candidate Haimar Zubeldia is not on the list. It will be directed by ex-Euskaltel rider Gorka Gerrikagoitia, who retired at the end of last year.
Team roster: Gorka Arrizabalaga, Koldo Fernández de Larrea, Dioni Galparsoro, Roberto Laiseka, Alberto López de Munain, Aitor Sillóniz, Joseba Zubeldia and Markel Irizar.
Former Lotto and US Postal Service rider Stive Vermaut (28) suffered a heart attack on Sunday after being out on his bike. He is currently in a coma in a critical condition in Roeselare hospital, Belgium. Vermaut was forced to end his career two years ago because of heart rhythm disturbances. Unfortunately his father, who also had heart problems, died two weeks ago of throat cancer.
Courtesy of Susan Westermeyer
Sprint stars to Edinburgh Grand Prix
The Edinburgh Grand Prix track cycling meeting will take place on the Meadowbank velodrome Edinburgh, Scotland between June 26-27. Past World Sprint Champion Jan van Eijden (Ger) is the latest rider to confirm his attendance at the Meadowbank track. Van Eijden was 7th in the World Keirin Championship in Melbourne in May, where Great Britain's Jamie Staff won gold. Van Eijden's attendance will give the opportunity to make amends for a disappointing result, when he can again face Staff.
The Netherlands are also sending sprinters in Martin Benjamin, Tim Veldt and Erik Voetman, who are ranked number 2, 3 and 4 in the country. World Sprint Champion and Dutch No. 1 Theo Bos has elected not to travel, as he is preparing for Athens later in the year.
The above riders add to the field that includes British World Champions Chris Hoy and Jamie Staff, Olympic Champion Jason Queally, British Champions Craig Maclean and Ross Edgar, World Keirin Bronze medallist Ivan Vrba and past Junior World Sprint Champion Pavel Buran (Czech Republic).
More information: www.edinburghgp.com
Moriarty likely to miss Championships
By Shane Stokes, Irishcycling.com
Eugene Moriarty is likely to miss the Irish national road race championships this month after spending ten days in hospital. The Cycleways Lee Strand rider had been below par since before the FBD Milk Rás, performing below his expectations in that race. Recently diagnosed with kidney stones, he was brought to hospital last week and underwent an operation on Saturday.
Moriarty had showed fine sprinting form in the 2003 FBD Milk Rás and the Tour de Langkawi earlier this year, but was noticeably quieter during this year's Rás. He will be hoping to return to form over the next few months.
UCI doping news
The UCI anti-doping commission has reported that the following riders have been sanctioned for doping offences:
Isaac Ramirez Rodriguez, sanctioned by the Federacion Venezolona de Ciclismo, disqualification from the Vuelta al Tachira (Ven), 21st January 2004, suspension of 6 months from 28 February 2004 to 27th August 2004.
Matthew Ellis, sanctioned by the British Cycling Federation, warning (Art. 132 AER).
Nico Clarysse, sanctioned by the Royale Ligue Vélocipédique Belge, fine of CHF 500. (art. 64 AER).
TV schedule for WCS/CapTech Classic
The broadcast schedule for the World Cycling Series (WCS) and CapTech Classic has been announced by the organisers. The CapTech Classic was the first race in the WCS and will be broadcast in the USA on Fox Sports Net in two 30 minute segments. The first segment will air on Monday, June 14 at 3:00pm, followed by the second segment on Monday, June 21 at 3:00pm. The WCS broadcast also will air regionally on Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic.
Comcast SportsNet (Mid-Atlantic)-WCS/CapTech Classic air times
Thursday, June 17, 2004: 9:00pm EST
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