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Child hit by Tour de France car dies
A 12-year-old boy from Ginasservis died on Sunday as a result of head injuries sustained when a car from the Tour de France publicity caravan hit him on Friday. The driver of the car lost control of his vehicle on the winding roads of the race's 185.5 km stage 13 from Avignon to Draguignan in Provence. The child was flown to a hospital in the southern port city of Marseille, but fell into a coma and never recovered consciousness.
This was the first fatal accident of this type in the Tour since 1988 when a child was killed in a a car accident in Limoges. The last victim ín the Tour was Fabio Casartelli's death in 1995.
Tour director, Jean-Marie Leblanc was distressed by the incident, "The fun is over in this Tour," he said. "It must not happen that a boy or girl should die during a sporting event. But we are a little town with 3500 people travelling through France for 23 days. Then, anything can happen. We have to do everything possible to prevent accidents."
There will be one minute's silence before the start of stage 16 in Courchevel on Tuesday.
El Colombiano Botero
Kelme's Santiago Botero nearly pulled off two wins in two days, being at the head of affairs today on the final climb of the Courchevel. Despite having teammate Javier Otxoa tow him until 15 km to go, the Colombian Malliot Pois succumbed to the attack of Banesto's Jose Maria Jimenez and then Marco Pantani and Lance Armstrong's powerful bridging effort. However, he finished a valiant 5th, as well as taking 5th on the Col de la Madeleine thereby increasing his lead in the King of the Mountains competition.
After his stage 14 win, he was interviewed by El Colombiano newspaper, and he detailed how he won.
"I was told to attack near the top of the second mountain climb", he explained to El Colombiano. "The rest was to keep the rhythm of the race, increase the [time] difference and be careful on the descent."
"It was a very tough stage. It had some very difficult and steep climbs. Sometimes it felt as if they were never going to end," he said, moments before stepping on to the winners' podium. And he revealed that he "had good vibes about this stage, I felt really good before starting out. And on the descent, I must recognize that I dared like a madman. It's that I wanted to win. Thanks to the team I was able to achieve it, after attacking at the third mountain climb and keeping the necessary [time] difference."
"I had five days working as a domestique. Finally, yesterday I was able to shake loose and show my condition. Things went my way", he added as he dedicated his triumph to his country. "I had the pulse that I would win," he concluded.
Australian rider Stuart O'Grady (Credit Agricole) is resting at home and is on the mend after crashing and breaking his collarbone on stage 7 of the Tour. He was taken to hospital and had an operation in an effort to speed his recovery, as he is expected to play a key role in Australia's Olympic squad for September.
O'Grady's parents, Brian and Fay, are still watching the Tour after initially caring for their son and have been visiting the press centre and generally enjoying the Tour. This is despite the absence of their son, who was once again ready to challenge Erik Zabel for the green jersey.
Indeed, the O'Grady sense of daring appears to have been handed down by his parents, who told cyclingnews' Tim Maloney they had been enjoying themselves while abroad, which included running with the bulls in St Remy.
Wesemann as well
Telekom's Steffen Wesemann was unlucky in stage 14, falling on the final descent of the day, the Col d'Izoard. The 29 year old German did not finish the stage, as it was found that he had broken his right collarbone. He was taken home on Saturday evening, and will have the break assessed in the University of Freibourg hospital on Monday.
Olaf Ludwig, spokesman for team Telekom said that the initial examination revealed that it was a clean break, and may not need surgery. He needs to recover properly and not rush things in order to help Jan Ullrich in the latter half of the season. The fall, according to Ludwig, was caused by Wesemann scraping a pedal on a curve, and was his own error.
Wesemann has been one of Telekom's better performed riders this year, especially in the classics like Het Volk where he finished second. He also won the GP Gippingen, the Rund um Köln and a stage in the Tour Down under.
Go fast money turned down
Stage 14 from Draguignan to Briancon will certainly go down as one of the longest in recent Tour history. The 249 kilometres over three mountain passes was covered in just under eight hours. The riders were in no hurry to start, due to the prevailing headwind and the task ahead, averaging just 28.1 km/h after four hours of racing.
The low speed prompted race director, Jean-Marie Leblanc to offer a special prize of FF 3,000 ($US 420) to the first French rider to liven things up. However, it wasn't the French, but the Spaniards and Colombians who forced the pace in the end so no money changed hands.