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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

Latest News for July 21, 2003

Edited by Chris Henry & Jeff Jones

Stage 14 quotes

Andrea Peron (CSC, 4th at 3")

"I went all out on the climb of the Peyresourde, telling myself I could come back to the three leaders. I did the descent flat out as well, and when I caught them I attacked right away. I wanted to catch them by surprise, hoping they would concentrate on each other, but I was wrong. Unfortunately I only had to strength for one attack."

Iban Mayo (Euskaltel-Euskadi, 7th at 41")

"The Tour de France is a long race. There are days when you win, and others when you lose. The important thing is to keep your morale, and that's what I'm trying to do. That's how I improve. The climb of the Peyresourde, with the tide of orange [Basque supporters, Ed.], was impressive."

Haimar Zubeldia (Euskaltel-Euskadi, 9th at 1'24")

"With the exception of Vinokourov, everyone is a bit tired for the moment. For now I'm satisfied with my 4thplace overall. This is all new to me, and the key to the Tour is consistency. [Today] we'll see the decisive stage of the Tour."

Jan Ullrich (Bianchi, 12th at 1'24")

"I'm very proud of my team, which showed [Sunday] that we're not a second-tier team, as some people would like to say. I had thought about attacking, but I was worried about getting stuck in the headwind. When Vinokourov attacked, I asked Armstrong to share the work in chasing, but he refused. It was only on the descent of the Peyresourde that he started pulling."

Christophe Moreau (Crédit Agricole, 13th at 2'14")

"I saw [Saturday] that I could ride with the best. To be able to attack is great. [Yesterday] was a good opportunity for me, because just following wheels is not always the best solution. I took some time on the riders ahead of me on GC, and each day I'm progressing. I'm recovering well and the legs feel good."

Verbrugghe hits his limit

Rik Verbrugghe, who crashed at the beginning of Saturday's stage 13, found himself suffering too much to continue. The Lotto-Domo rider was forced to abandon on the Col de Menté Sunday, in tears on his bike, despite his best efforts to carry on.

"I could only breathe 60%," Verbrugghe told Belgian Radio 1. "It felt like someone was poking a knife in my back. According to me my ribs are strained. I can't take deep breaths. I wanted to try and follow a group that was riding a tempo I thought I could handle; but I didn't make it."

Lotto-Domo will carry on with its main objective, to put Robbie McEwen in the green jersey by the Tour's end in Paris.

Heras weakened

US Postal's climbing ace Roberto Heras has been handicapped by bronchitis, suffering enough that he was dropped on the Col du Portillon Sunday and was unable to force the pace for yellow jersey Lance Armstrong as he did so brilliantly in 2002. Even at the beginning of Monday's stage 15, Heras was seen at the back of the peloton, taking up some domestique duties and fetching bottles from the team car.

As directeur sportif Johan Bruyneel noted, "from this point on we're down one climber."

Future assured for Euskaltel-Euskadi

After some concern surrounding the team's fate for the coming years, primary sponsor Euskaltel has committed its support through 2006. Euskaltel's corporate director José Antonio Ardanza made the official announcement on behalf of the Basque telecommunications company, and team manager Miguel Madariaga expects to make his own announcement Tuesday during the Tour's second rest day.

Ag2R-Prévoyance extends

Some good news came to the Ag2R-Prévoyance team yesterday, though it likely did little to offset the sadness of losing team member Lauri Aus, killed while training by an intoxicated truck driver who hit him from behind. French insurance company Ag2R has signed on for sponsorship through 2005, allowing team manager Vincent Lavenu to immediately re-sign several riders including Nicolas Portal, Andy Flickinger, and Iñigo Chaurreau. Lavenu is in the midst of negotiations with his faithful sprinter Jaan Kirsipuu, as well as new recruit Laurent Brochard, each of whom have contracts ending at the end of the season.

Petacchi goes Dutch post-Tour

Alessandro Petacchi (Fassa Bortolo) will be a popular figure in the Netherlands after the Tour, having been contracted to do most of the post-Tour criteriums there, according to an ANP report. The Italian sprinter, who won four stages of the Tour before abandoning on Stage 8, will ride in Boxmeer, Stiphout, Chaam, Steenwijk, Roosendaal, Surhuisterveen, Zwolle, and quite possibly Pijnacker.

Criterium organiser Gerrie van Gerwen is hoping to sign Jan Ullrich, Alexandre Vinokourov and Baden Cooke to ride in at least some of the races, but admits that getting Ullrich's signature will be tough. "The possibilities are very limited. I think that Ullrich will ride one or a maximum of two times in the Netherlands."

Hans Dekkers turns pro

22 year old Dutchman Hans Dekkers will make the step up to Rabobank's professional team next year. Dekkers currently rides for the Rabobank U23 team, and this year won stages in the Tour of Normandie and Olympia's Tour.

05 Orbitel hoping for Vuelta start

The all-Colombian 05 Orbitel team is hoping to gain an invitation to this year's Vuelta Espaņa, when the final 22 teams are confirmed by Unipublic in the next few days. The squad had to decline an invitation to the Volta ao Portugal in order to have a better shot at the Vuelta.

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