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Tour News for July 8

Post-stage comments

Erik Zabel (Telekom, 1st stage)

"The win has come quickly, however the team was not made especially for me. This year, everything was centred on Jan, who is in great condition. But, that doesn't pose problems in the team."

"I did not start the sprint too early because of a strong head wind. I had some good help from Vinokourov and Wesemann. I avoided raising my arms across the line, because I wanted to be sure to have won. I have collected too many second places, sixteen to date."

Jimmy Casper (Francaise des Jeux, 3rd stage)

"This 3rd place does not absolutely satisfy me. I was not here for that. But the sprinters were all badly placed for the finish. I succeeded anyway in moving up but I missed something. Besides my legs, I am satisfied."

Laurent Brochard (Jean Delatour, 67th)

"It is a big disappointment. When I attacked at 2 kilometres, I thought I could hold on until the finish. I had made the gap. However, that comforts me on my current physical condition which is excellent."

Bradley McGee (Francaise des Jeux, 163rd)

"I fell when I ran into the wheel of a Lampre in front of me. But it is not serious. I have fallen five times before, but my shoulder is not not dislocated this time. They are only bruises."

"I was relaxed today; I wanted to try my chance because I realized that nobody was organized and did not want to take responsibility for the race."

David Millar (Cofidis, 166th)

"The race couldn't have been worse for me but, fortunately, I succeeded in finishing the stage. I was always suffering with my leg. The fall of Saturday was a big physical shock. Nevertheless, I intend on finishing in Paris and to win a stage."

Was two minutes enough for Dudu and Oriol?

According to Francaise des Jeux director, Marc Madiot, Jacky Durand (FdJ) and Christophe Oriol (Jean Delatour) waited three and a half minutes at a level crossing whilst they were in the lead. However, according to race regulations they were only allowed two minutes extra once the barriers were raised. It was considered an "exceptional situation" by the race jury, who don't normally allow extra time for train crossings.

During the break, the two feisty Frenchmen wasted no time in signing autographs for fans and spectators who were on hand. .

Gonzales de Galdeano feeling good

After finishing second in the prologue of the Tour de France, and maintaining that place overall after the finish in Boulogne-sur-Mer, Spaniard Igor Gonzales de Galdeano (ONCE) expressed his satisfaction of the state of affairs.

"I am here with much ambition," he told the Spanish press after the prologue. "I am content, I am feeling good."

He considered the 3 second loss (in 8.2 km) to be significant, but was confident that the ONCE team would do well in the team time trial (stage 5). At the moment, it's looking like a battle between ONCE, Festina, and US Postal for the honours on that stage. Beloki finished seventh in the prologue, while Carlos Sastre was ninth.

The official injured list

Daniel Nardello (Mapei): Deep wounds and contusions of the left elbow requiring several stitches. Contusions and multiple wounds of the hip, knee and left ankle.

Nardello fell with approximately 30 km to go along with Carlos Sastre (ONCE). Nardello painfully remounted his machine and finished the stage 12 minutes behind. He is unsure whether he will start tomorrow, despite there being no broken bones. "I'm pessimistic," he said "I'll make a final decision on Monday."

Brad McGee (Francaise des Jeux): Multiple contusions without apparent gravity.

Iker Flores (Spa): Pain in left Achilles tendon.

Fabian De Waele (Lotto): The X-rays revealed the presence of a small fracture in the region of the left hip. He will be able to return home immediately. His lesion does not require any particular treatment.

He fell on Saturday morning and had a pain in his thigh, and rode the 8.2 kilometre prologue and came last. This is bad luck for Jeroen Blijlevens as well, because he needed De Waele in the sprints.

Bottlenecks in doping controls

Prior to the Tour, it was specified that eight special EPO and corticoid controls would be taken each day, from the leaders of each classification, the stage winner and randomly selected riders. However, things haven't exactly gone to plan in the Tour circus, and riders haven't been tested to the extent that was announced.

"We decided to make an average of eight tests per day," said Jean-Marie Leblanc, after problems were experienced with the "capacity of the laboratories" as well as the cleanliness of the testing environment.

Only two labs in Europe (Chatenay Malabry in Paris and the laboratory in Lausanne) are authorised to analyse samples for EPO and corticoids.

Tour de Antwerp: 10 Tour legends meet King Albert

There will be ten 'Antwerp legends' of the Tour de France present at the finish in Antwerp tomorrow (Monday) as the Tour enters Belgium for the first time this year. The ten men will meet King Albert, who is visiting the Tour.

Eight of the ten are previous wearers of the yellow jersey, along with the last Antwerpen winner of the green jersey, Rik van Steenbergen, and the Antwerp rider with the most Tour starts, Vic van Schil.

The legends list

Rik Van Steenbergen: 2 days in the yellow jersey in 1952, 4 stage wins
Jan Adriaenssens: 7 days in the yellow jersey in 1956 and 1960
Eddy Pauwels: 4 days in the yellow jersey in 1959 and 1963, 4 stage wins
Ward Sels: 2 days in the yellow jersey in 1964, 7 stage wins
Rik Van Looy: 1 day in the yellow jersey in 1965, 7 stage wins
Jos Spruyt: 1 day in the yellow jersey in 1967, 3 stage wins
Herman Vanspringel: 7 days in the yellow jersey in 1968 and 1973, 5 stage wins
Ludo Peeters: 2 days in the yellow jersey in 1982 and 1984, 3 stage wins
Rik Van Linden: Won the green points jersey in 1975 and 4 stages
Vic Van Schil: A teammate of Eddy Merckx who rode the Tour 11 times and won one stage.

Antwerp winner gets diamond

A diamond to the value of BEF1 million (US$21,000) is on offer for the winner of tomorrow's stage 2 from Calais to Antwerp. The stone will be presented the next day to the rider who gains the honour, possibly accompanied by Vlaamse frites and Maes pils.

Vandevelde's Belgian roots

US Postal's Christian Vandevelde has a Belgian/Dutch sounding name, although he was born in the USA. However, he does have some Flemish ancestry as his grandfather was born in Gent before immigrating to Chicago, USA. Vandevelde said that the Tour's excursion into Belgian territory will give him the opportunity to meet "cousins in Beveren who I never knew."

Champion women

It its 9th year of sponsorship of the Tour, Champion Supermarkets has taken a new approach to its presence in the race. In addition to having its name on the polka dot climbing jersey, the supermarket chain has introduced a strong women's theme. Triple Olympic champion Felicia Ballanger will make several appearances on Tour, as well as Aline Caillé (cycling), Catherine Chabaud (sailing), Laétitia Tignola (judo), the Mouthon sisters (triathlon), Béatrice Hesse (swimming), Isabelle Blanc (snow-board), Christel Saoini (skiing), Valérie Nicolas (handball), Nelly Viennot (football) and Lise Vidal (windsurfing).

Road safety on Tour

The organisers of the Tour de France have made an attempt to cut down the risk of accidents and route, following the death of a 12 year old boy in Draugignan last year. This year, all drivers are given a book of road rules to obey, along with detailed instructions on how to get to the correct place near the finish.

"We can withdraw accreditation from any drivers who do not follow the rules," said Jean Marie Leblanc at a press conference.

"We have also drastically limited the number of vehicles on the stages. Only those with a clear goal will be authorised to be on the route," he added. "There is a secondary route for getting from the start to the finish. Drivers will leave the route and rejoin 15 or 20 or 25 kms before the arrival point."

There are 1500 vehicles in the Tour de France, and an enormous number of spectators. Given the way most cars are driven, and the lack of awareness of some spectators, it is very hard to prevent accidents.

The restrictions imposed on the number of following vehicles in the Tour this year has affected the Orange telecommunications company, one of the sponsors. Orange were only allowed to invite five former champions to drive their guests around, as opposed to eight last year. The five include two Tour stage winners, Pierre Le Bigault (Issoire, 1983), Philippe Leleu (Dijon, 1988), a Vuelta stage winner Patrice Esnault (Sierra Nevada, 1991), the last winner of Bordeaux-Paris, Jean-François Rault (1988) and Vuelta winner and dual French champion (1988-89), Eric Caritoux.

Roundabout record

The 40 roundabouts dotted along the parcours of the Tour de France's first stage set a new record for this type of obstacle. Altogether in the Tour, there are 284 roundabouts, 60 road narrowings, and 11 particularly dangerous points.

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