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Tour News for July 9

Post-stage comments

Marc Wauters (Rabobank, 1st stage & Maillot Jaune)

"I am living a dream. It is fantastic to win in your own country in front of such a crowd, and in front of King Albert! But if I thought of winning a stage, I really did not think of getting the yellow jersey."

"Despite that, I am not surprised about my performance. For a few days now, I have felt in form. My prologue was excellent and yesterday, like today, I had very good legs."

"With Erik Dekker, we decided to try our luck in the finale. Erik was super with me. With two kilometres to the finish, as I felt good, he told me to attack. It was difficult to stay away until the end but being joined by Arnaud Prétot helped me as well."

Wauters broke is left clavicle in Milan-San Remo, and only started racing again in May during the Four Days of Dunkirk.

"It was only in the Tour de Suisse that I found my good form. I suffered there during the first five days, before feeling good again."

And tomorrow? "To cross Belgium, from Antwerp to Seraing, with the yellow jersey on my shoulders, will be very emotional. I expect a really beautiful day. Even more so, as the course passes through my village of Lummen after about sixty kilometers I hope to obtain the authorization of the peloton to ride in front in order to kiss my wife and my family."

Arnaud Prétot (Festina, 2nd stage)

"That was raced like a World cup classic!"

" We went hard. I did not want to miss the right break. I always thought I could pass him. I knew I would be beaten in the sprint, but I always gave myself a chance in an attack. This is why I went to the back of the group."

"I prepared my attack because I saw Credit Agricole were cooked. Unfortunately, Wauters seized his chance before me. I am frustrated and disappointed."

Stuart O'Grady (Credit Agricole, 5th stage)

"Everyone was going for the jersey, and I was just trying to keep the guys as geed up as possible. Roger (Legeay) was telling me not to work...but I was giving it everything. There was no way I could just sit on. I was just trying to keep the bunch together, because I knew I was best placed overall."

Was it panic stations in the bunch? "With a kilometre to go it was. You don't want to know [what I was saying to the others]."

On tomorrow's stage: "I am feeling good and strong. Hopefully the guys will be there to help me out. We have a very strong team here and I reckon we can gee this up."

Stage 2 results

No UCI controls today

As Le Tour entered Belgium for the first time, an order came from the Flemish Government (officially announced with 20 km to go in the stage) that they would take over drug testing today in Antwerp, replacing the standard UCI controls. Contrary to the UCI's practice, the winner of the stage (Marc Wauters) did not have to undergo a control. In fact, the UCI noted that no Belgian riders had to. German Jan Ullrich, Australian Stuart O'Grady, Estonian Jaan Kirsipuu, Frenchmen Jimmy Casper and Nicolas Jalabert, Dutchman Michael Boogerd and Spaniard Santos Gonzalez were among those tested.

The samples taken today were taken to Gent for analysis, rather than the French national anti-doping laboratory in Châtenay-Malabry. This means that no EPO testing can be carried out on these samples, as the Gent laboratory is not accredited to do so.

The UCI expressed its astonishment that "no Belgian riders, subject to their national law, were controlled...The specification of controls was written in the Flemish language, which is against the rules of the anti-doping commission, therefore the aforementioned controls will not be considered valid by the UCI."

The anti-doping commission noted that in three days of racing so far, four different authorities had already carried out anti-doping controls, viz the French government, the Australian anti-doping agency and the Flemish government, each one according to its own rules, as well as the UCI.

"It appears to us that the recent call by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), aiming to unify controls, is completely justified and necessary," the statement finished.

In another doping matter, UCI president Hein Verbruggen is reportedly furious as the case involving Bo "positive-negative" Hamburger. According to Danish sources at the Tour, Verbruggen says that Hamburger does have two positive tests, and there was no ambiguity.

Lance Armstrong's statement in full

Despite the recent tempest surrounding outspoken Texan Tour candidate, Lance Armstrong, the US Postal Service team remains relaxed and not worried about the current rumours surrounding him after Armstrong's recent comments to La Gazzetta dello Sport. Team manager Mark Gorski told Cyclingnews this morning that he wished that a couple of days would go by without hearing more doping allegations.

Armstrong also issued a statement through his team to clarify his words, as follows.

"For many years now, dating back to 1990, Chris Carmichael has been my coach and most important technical and training advisor. Others who work with Chris include Johan Bruyneel, my director sportif, John Cobb, in charge of aerodynamics, Dr. Luis del Moral, our team physician and Jeff Spencer my chiropractor.

Also included are my close friends, former Belgian champion Eddy Merckx and former Motorola team director Jim Ochowitz.

Chris and I met Michele Ferrari during a training camp in San Diego, California, in 1995. His primary role has always been limited. Since Chris cannot be in Europe on an ongoing basis, Michele does my physiological testing and provides Chris with that data on a regular basis. Chris has grown to trust Michele's opinion regarding my testing and my form on the bike. And lately, we have been specifically working on a run at the hour record. I do not know exactly when I will do that, only that I will in the near future.

He has also consulted with Chris and me on dieting, altitude preparation, hypoxic training and the use of altitude tents, which are all natural methods of improvements.

In the past, I have never denied my relationship with Michele Ferrari. On the other hand, I have never gone out of my way to publicize it. The reason for that is that he has had a questionable public reputation due to the irresponsible comments he made in 1994 regarding EPO.

I want to make it clear that I do not associate myself with those remarks or, for that matter, with anyone who utilizes unethical sporting procedures. However, in my personal experience I have never had occasion to question the ethics or standard of care of Michele. Specifically, he has never discussed EPO with me and I have never used it.

I have always been very clear on the necessity of cycling to be a clean sport and I have firmly stated that anyone, including me, who tests positive for banned substances should be severely punished.

As everyone knows, I am one of the very few riders who have no prescriptions in my health book. I have been repeatedly tested during my career including during the entire 1999 and 2000 Tours de France and most recently during the Tour de Suisse ten days ago.

I ask that I be allowed to address these issues publicly at a later date.

Not before Verdun

Lance Armstrong later specified when this would be: at least after the stage that finishes in Verdun, on July 11, or possibly later. For the time being, he wishes to concentrate on racing. So far, he has not been forthcoming on the record with journalists.

Indurain thinks Armstrong can win six

Five-time Four champion Miguel Indurain believes that Lance Armstrong can win six Tours de France if he wants to, bettering Indurain's own record and that of Bernard Hinault, Jacques Anquetil and Eddy Merckx. Armstrong has currently won two Tours, and will be trying to make it three this year.

Speaking in Calais today, Indurain said that "Physically, he can do it. If he stays riding, is another question."

Flores abandons

Spaniard Iker Flores (Euskaltel-Euskadi) has become the second rider to pull out of the Tour. Shortly after the start of the second stage (Calais-Antwerpen), he stepped off his bike, the pain in his left achilles being too much. After Belgian Fabien de Waele's withdrawal, there are now 187 riders left in the race.

Crash injury list

Daniel Atienza (Cofidis), Unai Etxebarria (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Laurent Roux (Jean Delatour), Laurent Desbiens (Kelme) all received "multiple wounds and contusions without apparent major gravity," according to the post-race medical report.

Tour de France media

53 TV stations will carry the race
858 journalists (618 for print and internet, 240 for radio and TV)
500 technicians and 51 drivers

Many of whom were a little put out when the power disappeared from the press tent with 500m to go in today's stage.

Felicia Ballanger popular in village

The now retired multiple French world track champion, Felicia Ballanger, showed that she could still turn her legs over, riding a 250 m sprint exhibition on a stationary bike this morning in the village. She clocked 9 seconds for the distance, showing that she can still move those legs. As a reference point, the best time by a male track rider yesterday was 10 seconds.

Poulidor's fan

Raymond "Poupou" Poulidor, who is resplendent in the yellow jersey of the Credit Lyonnais team, received a visit today from an 80 year old fan of his. Louis Debruyckere, a former mechanic of Jacques Anquetil (who was one of Poulidor's big rivals) shared the obvious jokes about how Poupou can now carry the yellow jersey.

Last place in Grobbendonk gets 100,000

There will be a special prize awarded during tomorrow's stage from Antwerp to Seraing. The stage passes through Grobbendonk (km 18), and the Belgian rider who leaves the town in last place will receive BEF100,000 (US$2100).

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