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2001 Tour de France rider journals
In addition to the exclusive journals by Cyclingnews' diarists Bradley McGee and Johan Museeuw, the following list provides you with a profile on other riders who will be keeping a regular diary during their adventures in this year's Tour. Click on the hotlink below each rider profile to go straight to their diary - some have daily updates, with others updating only when they have not expended all their energy after a long day in the saddle.
Edited by Anthony Tan
A third-year professional from Bergamo, Pinotti was hired as a domestique to aid Francesco Casagrande in his quest for a prodium finish this year's Tour. Se tu possere legge Italiano (so long as you can read Italian), Marco's personal account of the Tour will be updated daily.
It appears his preparations couldn't have gone more smoothlyfor Fred Rodriguez, after successfully defending his stars and stripes jersey of USPRO champion. He has even gone to the extent of only eating 'the hard outside section of the baguette, leaving the soft centre dough for the birds' to harden himself up for his second Tour de France. Freddie's journal entries are likely to be personally updated every two stages, chronicling his experiences during the worlds largest annual sporting event.
Vandevelde's proven ability to consistently work like a Trojan will ease the pressure placed on his marked team leader along the rolling roads of France, characteristic of numerous stages in this year's Tour. Follow this talented 4th year professional through his daily journal, featuring a very personal and in-depth coverage of his experience.
Everyone's an expert, especially during Tour time. However, to add further fuel to your debates, take some commentary from the experts below, become an authority, and bask in your newly found glory and admiration amongst your peers at the local coffee shop.
Frankie's experience as a Tour Veteran and also as the team captain of USPS in the last two Tours de France have earnt him the position as Director Sportif of the U.S. division of the USPS Pro Cycling Team, and an expert commentary position during this year's Tour.
Great to get a idea of what it's like to shout out of car window for three weeks straight.
Commenting on the threat of rain on the course, and his seat slipping whilst riding flat-out at 50 km/h:
"Nobody wants to go down with less than 8 kilometers under their belt. The rain gods were on our side - the wet stuff managed to hold off while everyone was on the course. My first three kilometers were good - I was riding like I wanted to be, strong and feeling secure on the bike. But then my seat slipped. After that my cadence was off. Knowing the bolt was loose, I wound up concentrating more on balancing my weight on my pedals instead of my seat. But these things happen, and the Tour de France is a long race. So there's no use in getting upset about a day like today. You just move on, because by this time tomorrow today's prologue will be a distant memory."
On not having to defend the yellow jersey right from the start, and his personal ambitions:
"It will take the pressure off a little for the next couple of days, but we still have to be prepared for anything. The GC is the focus - we are here for one thing. Of course I would love to win a stage, but we need everybody focused for helping Lance win a third time, so that is my priority right now."
On Lances booing as a consequence of Vasseurs omission:
"Lance was really booed at the start today. This is all because Cedric Vasseur, who wasn't picked for our Tour lineup this year, is from this area of France. He's won a Tour stage, his father won a Tour stage, and Cedric is really bitter. He held a press conference the day of the presentation, and that made it worse. He didn't even wear his team uniform. I think he may live to regret that - he's gonna get whupped the wrong way. It was so unprofessional."
On his own performance, and David Millar:
"I was pretty disappointed with my ride in the Prologue today. I felt a bit blocked. Lance was third and the team as a whole was strong as usual. We don't have to defend the jersey, but that doesn't mean we get to go sit at the back and smoke Cohibas. We'll always be a presence at the front. Other than that, David Millar crashed and still averaged 30 miles per hour. Impressive."
Commenting on what happens when an early break goes, his ride in yesterday's prologue and their team tactics over the next few days:
"Everyone was pretty nervous, or at least it seemed like it. And the weather wasn't so good, which only makes things more stressful. For the rest of us (excluding Durand and Oriol-Ed) it was just trying to stay up near the front and out of the crosswinds, and our team was well-positioned for most of the day. In yesterday's Prologue I had good power but just didn't have the spin. But I definitely have good morale after today. Until we get to Belgium it's just stay low and out of the trouble, and it would be good if we could do something for Stuart O'Grady."
Commenting on the peleton's 'group bonding activities' after being neutralised to compensate for Durand and Oriol having to wait for a train, and the aura of pressure that typically surrounds the riders in their first week:
"I don't know if you've ever wished that you lived on the Tour de France route. But if you do find yourself lucky enough to do so, hope the race never gets neutralized in front of your house. Because if it does, expect to have to re-seed the lawn, replant the flower beds and transplant the shrubs. The work stoppage turned into a 2 minute nature break for nearly 200 guys. Not exactly Miracle Grow for the plant life.
"The pressure to succeed can fog the brain and before you know it guys are taking risks or making moves without giving their idea proper thought. We had all the ingredients needed for a real disaster: 200 nervous guys plowing through the skinny roadways of ancient villages in northern France in the pouring rain. Sometimes I wonder why I just don't become a fire eater. It sounds a whole lot safer than what I do for a living."
Commenting on the constant exposure to danger as a consequence of both adverse weather conditions and rider nerves, team tactics on the road, and a change in Christian's dietary regime:
'We had crosswinds, tailwinds, headwinds, you-name-it winds. Then it rained. It wasn't too dangerous, but it wasn't as safe as a Volvo ride, either. We had a very short and serious team meeting this morning. Johan got right to the point and said he hoped no one had any dreams or aspirations for themselves, that we had one objective and one only and that's to support Lance - George Hincapie and Eki did the lions' share of the work today.
I just got back from stuffing my face as usual. Actually, more than usual. The diet has been thrown out the window, and that's kind of nice.'
Commenting on his desire to win stage 3, in an area described by many as his second birth place:
"I'm already thinking about tomorrow's stage...a stage I like very much, because it ends on the same roads of the Liege-Bastogne-Liege - these roads have already given me great satisfactions and it's here that I would like to capture another win. If I was able to put on the jellow jersey for some days, the mark would be hit. Those who say that Belgium is almost my second birth place aren't wrong.
Commenting on his crash and the madness that is unique to the Tour de France:
"You hear people complaining about having one of those days. Well, I think I might be having one of those seasons. You can forget about catching the peloton after a crash like today. The proverbial train is long gone. Which is really just one more thing to think about on your way to the finish line. God, I hate days like today - I think I'm going to have to talk to my friends at Giro about some elbow pads.
"The fans were out of control today. They were crowding the road like we were on a mountain stage. The Tour de France is not a normal race. The obstacles and challenges never cease to amaze me. Probably because they never have anything to do with the racing itself. They usually come in the form of speed bumps and camera straps."
Commenting on CA's strategy to put O'Grady in yellow coupled with his feelings on his own form, and a perspective on tomorrow's stage in Belgium:
"The team had quite a ride today, but it all slipped away in the last 15 kms. For the first time in my career in the Tour, I wasn't even concerned about my number one spot on the team for GC - all we were thinking about was getting the yellow jersey for Stuart. Typical of the Tour de France - you think you have the prize in the bag but it just doesn't go your way. Still, I'm happy with my legs and the way things are going.
"For me there's no comparison to last year's Tour. Mentally and physically I was a hurting unit, but this year I'm feeling good. It should be a decisive stage - everyone's pretty nervous, and there have been splits on the flats for the past two days, so there are sure to be some breaks in the hills around Liege."
Commenting on the unusual prizes offered for stage wins and the continual apprehension within the peloton that continues to cause crashes:
"Today we raced to Antwerp, the diamond capital of the world. So they gave the winner of the stage a diamond worth $21,000. That wouldn't hurt if you were looking for a bride. Today there were probably 70,000 spectators lined up along the feed zone alone. They were standing 20 deep for about 1K. It was crazy. Between that and the wind and the fact that people were nervous and going too fast for the road conditions, it was pretty inevitable that we'd have some crashes. Tomorrow will be more of the same, with some hills, so it could get ugly."
Commenting on his disappointment in not winning in the Ardennes, his favourite 'battleground', but still maintaining a positive attitude:
"It is true I was waiting anxiously for the stage to look for the win and, perhaps, even the jellow jersey. I can't hide a little bit of disappointment. However, I'm not thinking that my Tour de France is already finished. Anyway, I know that (tomorrow-Ed) I may already find new and more valid opportunities. In brief, from now on every day will be good to look for the stage win. I will try to thread my way through the escapes thanks to the Warrior's spirit."
Commenting on his acceptance of a occupying a dual role within Credit Agricole; O'Grady's gift of the maillot jaune, possibly as a result of the home-town pressure on Wauters' shoulders, and the team's strategy for the stages ahead:
"Definitely a big day after such a disappointment yesterday. Working for someone else with everything I had like that was new for me, but it was a role that I gladly accepted because Stuart is such a big part of this team. Stuey getting in the yellow today, that was more a gift than anything because Mark Wauters got dropped on one of the first climbs. It was a big deal for him to win in Belgium and pressure like that is not easy keep on top of."
"Overall, today was definitely a difficult day. If we race like this until the end of the Tour there's going to be some body bags stacked up at the end of the race. It (tomorrow's stage-ed) will be difficult and we may have to make one choice or the other-keep the jersey or lose it but have more energy for the team time trial. I have the feeling that it could be one of those days when a break gets 15 minutes. As far as GC goes, I'm just taking each day on a day-by-day basis and feeling better. I can usually go good once the roads get rolling to uphill, so I think it'll be an interesting Tour for me."
Commenting on how his fortunes and emotions have changed overnight, ranging from bitter disappointment after a miscommunication within his team and tour organisers yesterday, to pure elation in capturing the maillot jaune:
"What a difference a day makes and Vive la difference - when Marc Wauters was dropped, knew I only had to stay with the leading bunch and I would get the chance to relive those glorious three days in Yellow in 1998 when my feet hardly touched the pedals.
"Yesterday a communication break down in the final few kilometres of the stage into Antwerp meant that I did not know that Belgian Marc Wauters was only 8 seconds behind me on the general classification. If I had have known the correct situation I would have raced the final 20 kilometres very differently. I would have taken much more notice of Wauters and I can guarantee you he would not have escaped in the finale.
"To make matters worse, I was told I had grabbed the lead in the race for the Maillot Vert (green jersey), but at the last moment as I was about to be officially presented with the jersey I was told they had made another mistake and that I was in fact in second spot.
"It's all worked out brilliantly now and was set up by my solid ride in the prologue. Realistically, I will only have a few days at most to savour the wearing of the Maillot Jaune because when we hit the Alps later in the week, but until then, I'll be doing my best to hang onto it and enjoy the expericence."
Commenting on the unexpected difficulty Christian is encountering in the supposedly "flatter" stages of the Tour, and the attention that many American riders adore, including himself: "Today was very hard. We went all-out from the get-go - there were some hard climbs toward the end and I was really hurting. I'm not 100 percent yet, but I think I'm riding my way into it. It's better to come into a three-week race a little bit undercooked than the other way around.
"Women were leaning over the barriers and kissing us. No one I'd bring home to Mom, though. The chaos doesn't bother me. There was so much noise on the road, though, that Johan couldn't hear a thing when we tried to talk on our radios. Words of one syllable are recommended. It's a little like talking to a dog."
Commenting on the Posties virtual team time-trialling before the actual team-trial, and the home comforts of roommate Steffen Kjaergaard that is starting to crack Tyler:
"It doesn't get much more difficult than a day like we had. Any way you slice it, working at the front all day at full speed is a hard day at the office. By this time tomorrow we should be feeling like we've ridden back to back team time trials.
"My roommate, Steffen Kjaergaard will be ready (for the team time trial-ed) since he has just the trick for helping him sleep at night. He brought his own down comforter to the Tour. Of course I was immediately jealous. But I try not to let it show. It's okay that I'm sleeping under my germ infested, dirt covered standard issue polyester blend bed spread while Steffen is all curled up in Norwegian goose feathers. His subtle psychological warfare isn't effecting me at all."
Commenting on the physical and psychological warfare before the team time trial; the confidence that emanates when you are part of the team of the maillot jaune, and Bobby J's perspective on the strength of Team Telekom:
"Today was interesting to say the least - you could say a certain substance hit the fan. I was riding to protect the yellow jersey for Stuart, but surprisingly the gap grew up to four, five and finally, 10 minutes. We heard that little by little, US Postal was starting to chase to keep the gap at 10 minutes. Then it was war - in France, the gloves come off.
"Tomorrow we're heading into the team time trial with the yellow jersey and best overall team. Our goal is the top five in the TTT, but I personally think we can do better with the way we've been riding. ONCE and Telekom are the teams to beat. US Postal can't match ONCE, but it's right up there. Postal has done a lot of work in the past few days--it missed a few moves and Lance whipped those guys into some serious chases. I'd say Telekom is the most-serious team on paper; in the past few days it's had nine guys at the front of the race, just laughing."
Commenting on an unexpected "day from hell", only made bearable wearing the coveted maillot jaune, and his ultimate quest to wear the maillot vert in Paris:
"It was a day from hell, but the fact that I was able to hang onto the golden fleece for at least one more day has helped eradicate the pain.
"It (the main break containing Julich-Ed) turned out an ideal situation for me because with a team-mate in the 9 man breakaway, my Credit Agricole team-mates did not have to worry about defending the Jersey. I just had to sit back and enjoy the ride. Well that's what I thought when the gap started to open, but then the pace got so hot with US Postal stomping away on the front that it was a real tough job just holding the wheel.
"The pace was so high that we pulled the leaders back in only 45 kilometres. I then managed to win one of the vital intermediate sprints that gave me six seconds bonus but more importantly six points towards the Maillot Vert (green jersey).
"Another huge bonus for me was that Eric Zabel and Jaan Kirsipuu were in the chasing group and lost more than 18 minutes. It wasn't the time that was the factor but the fact that they could not gain any points in the sprints or the stage finish. They are my main rivals for the green jersey I desperately want to wear into Paris and I am now only six points behind Zabel.
"The team time trial is going to be really tough. Us Postal, Telekom, Once and Festina will all be desperate to gain an advantage and I have only about 30 seconds advantage on Armstrong and Ullrich."
Commenting on a deceptively difficult stage that was mutually shared amongst the majority of the peleton, and the inevitable prospect of another hard day in the saddle:
"You would think people would want to conserve energy for tomorrow's team time trial, right? Think again. I got back to my room and thought, what the hell was that - every race in Europe is tough but this was phenomenally tough.
"Without the help of other teams (to chase down the break-ed), everyone else was getting a free ride. ONCE decided to put all their cards down and help us. So when we were through the feed zone, we literally attached and attacked with combined forces. Eighteen guys from both of those teams is a lot of horsepower. We split the field in five and that's the way it stayed for the next 70 or so kilometers. Sans feed also!
"One of the worst parts of today was looking ahead to tomorrow and the effort that will require. It's a ton of pressure - in short, it's the kind of stage that keeps you up worrying the two nights before. That's what is so crazy about the Tour. You can do these kinds of races once a week, no problem, but then do it every day for 21 days in a row. That's why it gets respect."