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Captain America Goes To France
Cyclingnews caught up with US champ Fred Rodriguez (Mapei-Quick Step), clad in his Captain America stars and stripes jersey for a quick interview yesterday after Stage 2.
CN: So Fred, was the stage today?
FR: Well, I didn't feel so good; I had stomach trouble. Probably something rotten in my bottle...but I'm feeling better now. Today was weird; the stage wasn't fast, like 45-50 km per hour, but you couldn't move! If you were 50th, you stayed 50th.
CN: what are your impressions of your first TDF?
FR: It's really amazing. So exciting and nerve wracking...you are always mobbed by people and it's so complicated to get around. I've been riding since I was 11 and always dreamed of riding the Tour. But you don't know what to expect! Yesterday when I was warming up (for the prologue) I really had to concentrate!
CN: What is your role at Le Tour?
FR: I'm here to help Tom Steels and happy to do it...we won today and even though I didn't feel great I tried to do as much as I could. Tom has the right to go for any stage he wants, but later on, if things go well, the team management has told me that I can go for a stage if I feel good...
CN: How are you and your roommate Chann McRae getting along ?
FR: Great ! I'm glad he's here....yesterday, team management told Chann that he was open to ride in the last two weeks like Nardello and Beltran. He's a good climber and so he'll go for GC.
CN: Anything funny happen so far?
FR: Yesterday before the stage (1), my teammate Zaza (Stefano Zanini) was getting ready for the official team presentation at the start and he couldn't find his sunglasses! He looked all over and had to go back to the team car to get them from the soigneur, so he kind of missed the presentation. Then when he put on his helmet, he noticed it didn't fit right, so he took it off and his glasses were on top of his head!
CN: Thanks Fred
Cyclingnews reader and father of David, Gordon Millar wrote to us to clarify some details of both him and his son's life. Millar the younger was born in 1977 in Malta, but has Scottish nationality and grew up in Hong Kong. The reason for this is that his father, Gordon, was a pilot; firstly in the Royal Air Force, but then with Cathay Pacific Airlines after 1990 (hence the Hong Kong connection).
In further news, David Millar's victory in the opening TT wasn't a total surprise for his mother, who it seems has more than a little confidence in her son. Avril Millar went to the bookies three years ago, when David signed his first contract as a pro. She staked 100 pounds ($US 160) and bet that her son would win the Tour within 5 years. That would give her 10,000 pounds, but of course there is a fair way to go before she realises this payment.
She has two years left for David to win Le Tour. Avril said that "I should have taken 10 years. Anyway, the stake was limited to 100 pounds and the odds were 100 to 1. Otherwise I would have put in more money."
Frankie Andreu talks with Gabriella Ekström
Today for cyclingnews, Gabbi caught up with Frankie Andreu, who is one of the US Postal team's veterans of the Tour, and a valued domestique and rouleur for Lance Armstrong.
CN: What kind of responsibility do you have during the Tour?
FA: My job is to protect Lance and chase down everything we deem unacceptable to go up the road
CN: What are your personal ambitions?
FA: To see Lance in yellow in Paris, if a stage win comes along the way, then all the better
CN: Which stages are you looking forward to, where will you try to achieve those ambitions?
FA: I look forward to the last two days, once the mountains are over then it's home free
CN: How many times have you ridden the Tour de France, and what is different this time from the first time you entered the race?
FA: This is my 9th Tour, every year the Tour gets bigger and bigger. More spectators, press, cars, etc.
CN: Have you changed as a rider since the first time?
FA: I've gotten stronger
CN: Do you feel that the race is growing more popular or do you think all the scandals have put a shadow over it?
FA: I believe it's more popular but we jeopardize ourselves every time there is a positive. If it does not stop we, our sport, will crash!
CN: What is your opinion on the new tests they hope to use in a soon future?
FA: If they prove trustworthy then great. They have to be 100 per cent accurate, you can't take a chance in wrecking someone's life, job and reputation on probablity.
CN: Are you using anything new (equipment etc) during the race?
FA: The usual great TREK bikes and Mavic wheels
CN: Who do you think will win?
Ivanov on the outer
Jacques Hanegraaf, Farm Frites' sports director, has said that the team has no trust in Serguei Ivanov, who recorded a high haematocrit level right before the start of the Tour de France.
"He has to come to Nieuwegein (Farm Frites' HQ) for a medical test on Monday, but we'll investigate the possibility to cancel the contract immediately," he told Dutch media on Sunday. This decision was made after Hanegraaf talked with the head sponsor, Farm Frites.
The lone riders
Only 36 of the 180 riders, one of five, in the Tour are French.
"It is not enough when you compare with the Giro or the Vuelta, in which you have a majority of Italians or Spaniards at the start,'' said Xavier Jan, the French riders' association spokesman to Reuters news agency today. He is worried about the shrinking number of French riders in the Tour peloton.
Most of the criticism toward the organizer though has been pointed at the wild card invitations for foreign teams, like the Danish squad Memorycard-Jack&Jones. But what about the French teams who were actually invited?
Ag2R has five French riders with Benoit Salmon as the man for the general classification, while Estonian sprinter Jaan Kirsipuu bears the captain's number 81.
Festina has Christophe Moreau as captain but six of the riders are Spanish and the team sprinter, Marcel Wust, currently wearing the polka-dotted climber's jersey is German.
Cofidis has a Belgian captain, Franck Vandenbroucke, and holds the yellow leader's jersey with a British rider, David Millar. Three riders are French.
La Francaise des Jeux has Stephane Heulot as captain and four other French riders on the team, among them the riders' association spokesman Xavier Jan.
Crédit Agricole has four French riders but overall hopes are on American captain Bobby Julich and his compatriot Jonathan Vaughters while Australian Stuart O'Grady aims for the green points jersey.
Bonjour finally is the only all French team, but it is on the other hand the far lowest ranked team of all in this year's Tour.
Escartin looking forward to the TTT
Last year's third, Spaniard Fernando Escartin is confident in prospect of the team time trial stage on Tuesday. The stage this year replaces on of the long time trial stages that usually are held:
"This is much better for the climbers. We are not likely to lose too much in a TTT as we would on an individual stage," he told to newsagency European Press. His main job right now is to avoid accidents and he is quite content with the fact that Cofidis has to do the job in the peloton.
"Also a climber can win"
"So much better if I'm not among the favourites", says Polti's French climber Richard Virenque, five times King of the Mountains in the race. He lost one and a half minute on the first stage to David Millar, and for that matter Lance Armstrong, but is still confident. When asked about the dotted jersey once again he replied: "I have other things in my head"
"This year it is an open Tour with something for everyone, for sprinters, climbers, rouleurs. Also a climber can win." The lesser amount of attention this year, compared to last when he started against the organizers wish, suits him fine, he says: "I value the moments of peace and so much better if I am not one of the favourites. That suits me fine and I will get more opportunities to do things", he told a press conference with far less journalists present that those of his opponents. But he also said that there will be no offensives until the race reaches the high mountains.
Disappointed Sandstød in TV attack
The first stage TT was a disappointment for the Danish team Memorycard-Jack&Jones. Michael Sandstød ended as 47th on a borrowed bike since his own brand new Look, delivered the day before the race, was completely out of measure. Instead of resting and loading for the race the Dane spent the morning adjusting Matt Gilmore's TT-bike flown in from Denmark.
Today he sought revenge with an attack trying to bridge up to solo rider Jacky Durand but after a couple of minutes in the headwind, and some seconds on the TV screen, he gave it up. After the TT stage there was a bit of funeral mode at the Danish supper table in the evening. And the first road stage wasn't too amusing either: "I had forgotten how fast they actually ride", said veteran Jesper Skibby who has won stages in all three major tours. This is his eleventh Tour de France. Also Michael Blaudzun felt uneasy with the speed but also had a fall: "We were some six or seven riders that fell, among them Tyler Hamilton (USP). I hurt my groin a little but I came out of it OK anyway", he said