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A few quotes from the winner...
Many of the pundits were predicting a whitewash by Lance in today's 58.5 km time trial, but there was also a lot of smart money on Ullrich, who was riding on home territory and really wanted to snatch a stage win in this year's Tour de France. So did Armstrong and the battle was joined.
At the end of it, Armstrong posted the second fastest Tour time trial ever behind Greg Lemond's famous 24 kilometres into Paris 11 years ago. He accomplished what he wanted, and now has a stage victory to go with his Maillot Jaune.
"I had the same situation last year, in that it was important for the maillot jaune to show himself in the time trial - it's the race of truth and it's important to show that you are able to win it would have been easy to be conservative and not take any risks, but instead I really wanted to go out there and show that I could win," said Armstrong afterwards regarding the race.
On his rival, Jan Ullrich: "Well he's a great champion and I knew he would ride well today. We were really in his backyard and you could feel the crowds were willing him along - it was bit of a fight out there."
On his overall performance: "I really wanted to win a stage in the Tour - perhaps made a mistake on Mont Ventoux. The Tour wouldn't be complete if I didn't win a stage, so now it's complete and I did what I set out to do."
The individual time trial in Sydney is now his next big objective, and by the way he rode today and over the past three weeks, he is going to be pretty hard to top.
Rabobank's Erik Dekker has a packed program in front of him after his successful Tour de France. There will be absolutely no rest for the triple-stage winning Dutchman as he will race on Monday, July 24 in a criterium in Boxmeer. Following this he plans to ride in Stiphout, Chaam, Wateringen, Heerlen, Karlsruhe (Ger), Roosendaal, Surhuisterveen, Oostvoorne, Maarheeze, Emmen and Zwolle.
The post-Tour criteriums are a well established tradition, giving people a chance to watch the Tour stars parade around their own city. Riders are paid good sums of money to turn up, and Dekker will earn quite a few Guilders from the above program.
The racing is quite stylized with the local favourite often being given a lead for a few laps before the designated winner makes his move. Sometimes, amateur racers are invited to these shows, but if they put a foot out of line (i.e. attack from the gun), the pro's take a dim view. The race is usually decided before it actually starts, but post Tour criteriums are an enjoyable and colorful spectacle for the public.
More on Salvatore Commesso
Yesterday's stage winner, Salvatore Commesso has had few wins in his career, but they've certainly been big. The 25 year old turned professional with Saeco in 1998 after winning the European U23 road championships in 1997. His five wins include two Tour stages, and one Italian championship. The other two were in the Memorial Fabio Casartelli criterium this year and a stage in the Giro del Capo in 1998.
1997: U23 European
Few have won yellow without a stage win
Although it won't apply to this year's Tour after today's stage, in 86 Tours de France, only 5 riders have won the Tour without winning a stage:
1922 Firmin Lambot
Prize money in the Tour so far
Kelme-Costa Blanca have had the most lucrative Tour so far (as of stage 17), winning a total of FF 473,000 ($US 65,000) for their efforts in the mountains, combativity and stage wins. They are followed by Rabobank, with FF 400,000 and Mapei with 340,500. The total Tour prize money is FF 12,100,500 ($US 1.7 million), with approximately half of this being given to the GC.
The winner of the Tour gets FF 2.2 million ($US 335,000), with second overall taking half this. The KOM and points jerseys are worth FF 150,000 ($US 21,000). Even the last finisher gets about 400 US dollars.
1 Kelme-Costa Blanca FF 473,300 2 Rabobank 400,500 3 Mapei-Quick Step 340,500 4 Telekom 318,800 5 Banesto 254,000 6 Festina 231,000 7 US Postal Service 209,100 8 ONCE-Deutsche Bank 194,900 9 Mercatone Uno 181,000 10 Cofidis 174,400 11 Polti 150,700 12 Ag2r-Prevoyance 149,800 13 Saeco-Valli&Valli 143,700 14 Lotto-Adecco 137,500 15 Credit Agricole 126,500 16 Vini Caldirola 111,200 17 Francaise des Jeux 107,200 18 Bonjour 98,600 19 Farm Frites 87,600 20 Memory Card-Jack&Jones 52,900
Valkenburg for 2002
The Mayor of Valkenburg, drs. C. Nuytens, will discuss with Tour director Jean-Marie Leblanc today about the possibility of hosting a Tour stage start/finish in 2002. Valkenburg was the site of a stage finish in 1992, and was the organiser of the World Road Championships in 1998.
According to Nuytens, "We can tell Leblanc that we have the financial basis for bringing the Tour to Valkenburg."