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Tour News for July 30
It was a competition that went down to the wire: the fight for the green jersey. The favourite, Erik Zabel (Telekom) prevailed in the final stage over Australian Stuart O'Grady (Credit Agricole), beating him in both intermediate sprints and the finale to win his sixth green jersey by a margin of 8 points.
Thus, Telekom took the consolation prize, after directing most of their efforts to helping Jan Ullrich try and win the yellow jersey, willing to sacrifice an almost certain green jersey in its place. To his great credit, Zabel still kept in touch in the early stages, despite only having a couple of teammates to help him in the finishes. In the final week, Telekom once again rallied around their top gun sprinter, giving him the necessary firepower to keep O'Grady in check and to stitch up every intermediate sprint available.
Zabel couldn't believe it afterwards: "If you read the name 'Zabel' in the annals of the Tour six times, that is insanity," he said. He managed to do it without personal leadout man, Gian Matteo Fagnini (who was not included in the Telekom Tour squad), but he did have the help of two powerful mates in Alexandre Vinokourov and Jan Ullrich.
As Zabel lifted his 8 year old son onto his shoulders for the sixth time on the Champs Elysées, he said that "I will think about my sixth green jersey for a long time. That was the perfect showdown for the spectators. Next year I will try again, finally, to win on the Champs Elysées."
Telekom go home to big reception
An estimated 10,000 fans gathered in Bonn today to greet the Deutsche Telekom team, which once again had a successful Tour de France, although perhaps not quite as successful as they hoped. With over FF2 million in prize money (2nd behind USPS), three stage wins, a green jersey, and second in the GC, they didn't come out of it too badly.
After celebrations in Paris last night and a congratulatory telegram sent by Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, Ullrich and the team returned to Bonn, where the aforementioned fans had gathered in the central marketplace. In addition, 1,000 members of the Deutsche Telekom company had also celebrated the team's success in the head offices.
When the team arrived, they were greeted with: "Thanks for the most exciting 23 days of the year. Thanks, Jan! Thanks, Erik! Thanks, boys!"
Jan Ullrich thanked the fans, and had some words of praise for his superb teammate Erik Zabel. "That is a record for eternity," said Ullrich of Zabel's 6th green jersey. Erik is the world's best sprinter."
Zabel responded with similar words. "I found it incredible that Jan never gave up. That was an enormous achievement."
UCI happy with Tour drug tests
The UCI issued a press release on the final day of the Tour, expressing its satisfaction at the number of clean drug tests and the signs that the health of the riders is improving. To begin with, the third medical monitoring examination was carried out prior to the start of the race, and "The results are within the norms...The level of haematocrit and number of reticulocytes were measured at the same time and the averages of 43.7% and 1.17% are perfectly within the norms. These same tests were then repeated three times, on a no-notice basis, and the results also confirmed this trend. "
After each stage (despite the annulation of one set), an average of eight anti-doping controls per day were carried out, as well as 10 out of competition tests. So far, 122 of the 170 samples have been tested, with EPO being found on only one occasion, in the urine of Euskaltel's Txema del Olmo, who was prevented from continuing in the race by his team.
The conclusion of the UCI: "In view of this one-off case and the above findings, the UCI has reason to believe that EPO is no longer a problem in professional cycling."
This may be considered by some to be a little premature, as the urinary analysis has a 3 day detection limit, while EPO injections take several weeks to be effective. On the other hand, it does indicate that riders did not have recourse to artificial EPO during the Tour.
In addition, "Of the 122 samples already analysed, 32 revealed traces of corticosteroids."
None of these will be considered positive tests, because all these riders were authorised to use them "under certain restrictions" according to the UCI. The unfortunate Jonathan Vaughters was not one of these, and had to abandon his third Tour after not being allowed to quickly treat a wasp sting that he received on the second rest day.
The UCI emphasised that it was strictly monitoring the "therapeutic justifications" that required corticosteroids e.g. asthma, saddle sores, or treatment for abrasions after a fall. Corticosteroids are powerful anti-inflammatory agents and can give a sense of euphoria. Despite their deleterious side-effects (e.g. immune system suppression, muscle and bone breakdown), they can be (ab)used to help riders continue in spite of serious pain. For this reason, the UCI has forbidden all use of corticosteroids, subject to the following conditions:
1 It must be justified on medical grounds
Final TdF team prizemoney
And the winner is...US Postal Service, the team with the most prize money at the end of the 2001 Tour. This is not an altogether surprising statistic, as Lance Armstrong won four stages and the overall classification, collecting the best part of FF2.6 million by himself (FF2.2 million for winning the race alone).
Normally this is split amongst the team in various ways, and there is an extra FF150,000 in start money for each team that is provided by the AIGCP (professional cyclist's association) and the Sociètè du Tour de France. There is also a FF10,000/rider bonus for finishing with at least seven riders, but this is intended for the team assistants.
Tour prize money (FF). FF7.7 = US$1.00
1 US Postal Service 2,608,400 2 Telekom 2,008,450 3 ONCE-Eroski 1,463,850 4 Kelme-Costa Blanca 719,800 5 Crédit Agricole 610,700 6 CSC-Tiscali 561,950 7 Bonjour 518,700 8 Cofidis 509,900 9 Jean Delatour 343,700 10 Fassa Bortolo 310,000 11 Lampre-Daikin 291,400 12 La Française des Jeux 286,350 13 Rabobank 283,600 14 Festina 274,500 15 Lotto-Adecco 244,750 16 iBanesto.com 244,150 17 Euskaltel-Euskadi 239,700 18 Ag2r-Prevoyance 161,600 19 Mapei-Quick Step 151,450 20 Domo-Farm Frites 149,400 21 BigMat-Auber 93 130,400
By Scott Goldstein
Some more data, similar to the 'Verdun Analysis' has been sent in by Cyclingnews contributor (and number cruncher) Scott Goldstein. How good were your perceptions of the Tour?
Nation: Stage Wins/Starters
USA 50% Germany 40% Colombia 33% Others 18% Belgium 17% Russia 17% Holland 11% France 8% Spain 3% Denmark 0% Switzerland 0% Italy 0% Australia 0% Kazakhstan 0%
1. "Others" include: Czech Rep, Estonia, UK, Latvia, Norway, Poland, South Africa, Venezuela. They do well here courtesy of sprint wins by Kirsipuu and Svorada (with only 11 "other" starters). NB: The TTT win counts as a French win, because it was a French team.
2. Other than the TTT (which featured five strong non-French riders), and Laurent Jalabert (who we all agree is a fantastic rider), the French win percentage drops to an astonishingly low 2% 1 out of 50) This is pretty pitiful with 51 riders in the event.
3) Note that the Top three are identical to the "Verdun Analysis" Top 3 (USA, Germany, Columbia)
Nation: Top 30/Starters
Kazakhstan 100% Colombia 33% Spain 30% USA 25% Germany 20% Russia 17% Belgium 11% Holland 11% France 10% Others 9% Italy 8% Denmark 0% Switzerland 0% Australia 0%
1. I included Kazakhstan in the main group (only 2 riders, while Latvia, Norway and Poland also had 2 and are in the "other" group) because of the fact that both rode well.
Nation: Bottom 30/Finisher
Denmark 50% Switzerland 50% France 39% Others 29% Italy 22% Holland 17% Belgium 10% Spain 7% Kazakhstan 0% Colombia 0% USA 0% Germany 0% Russia 0% Australia 0%
Here's where we see what nations best provided "pack filler" for the Tour. When you consider that Switzerland had only 3 starting the race (and lost Sven Montgomery in the stage 16 crash when he was in the top 20), the nations that really belong at the bottom are Denmark (all five on the Wildcard CSC team) and France.
Much has been made about how the Tour 2001 has been a great tour for the French. I think this is utter nonsense. Jalabert was great, Moreau won a stage, Simon wore the yellow for three days, and the Australian, German, and American members of a French team were great. The French riders, as a group, were terrible.
*Note: The opinions of the writer do not necessarily reflect those of Cyclingnews.