2001 Tour de France rider journals - part 2

In addition to the exclusive journals by Cyclingnews' diarists Bradley McGee and Johan Museeuw, the following are extrracts from the on-line diaries of several other riders in the Tour. See part 1 for rider details and direct links to their diaries.

Edited by Anthony Tan

Rider introductions & diaries for Prologue to Stage 7
Stage 8

Diary Extracts

Stage 8 - July 15: Colmar - Pontarlier, 222.5 km

Tyler Hamilton, USPS

Rider comments - Stage 8: [please enter stage details] Lance Armstrong None Michele Bartoli, Mapei None Tyler Hamilton, USPS

Commenting on the atrocious weather conditions, and reflecting on how the misfortunes of Team Telekom, with Vinkourov flatting whilst in the break, became Postal's blessing:

"I don't know what we did to deserve it, but mother nature is sure letting us have it. If I could have a conversation with this woman I'd beg for mercy. Enough with the wind and the rain and the unseasonable temps already. The race is enough of a challenge all by itself.

"When Vinokourov flatted and lost contact with the other escapees the peloton breathed a collective sigh of relief. Anyone who doesn't believe that luck is a factor in bicycle racing doesn't need to look any further than an example like today. Vinokourov's bad luck was our good luck, plain and simple."

Bobby Julich, Credit Agricole

Commenting on a miserable day that once again played into the hands of those tactically astute men in Credit Agricole:

"Stuart is back in yellow, the man, not the myth. Today's stage went pretty crazy right from the start, but we knew we were totally in control with Stuart or me or Jens getting in every move. When I saw Jacky Durand getting ready to go I yelled at Stuart over the radio. He went with the move and it was gone.

"Telekom's Alexandre Vinokourov also made it to the breakaway, so U.S. Postal and ONCE started chasing at the front. This was a good situation for our team. Since we had Stuart up there ready to take the yellow jersey, it was up to the other teams to chase the break. When Vinokourov flatted and ended up back in the main field, the race just shut down. I'm a little disappointed that nobody else took responsibility for the race - we don't want to mess up here and give someone like Francois Simon 35 minutes before we even get into the mountains.

"My legs felt good again today, but it was very cold and miserable--one of those days when you wonder why they can't put a tarp over the field and call it a day like they would in any other sport. I just hope that giving those guys 36 minutes doesn't come back to haunt us.

"The ball will be in my court as we head up l'Alpe d'Huez, the uphill time trial and three uphill finishes back to back. I don't think there will be much change in the top 10 overall once we come out of the Pyrenees."

Stuart O'Grady, Credit Agricole

Commenting on the unbelievable week he's had, that could only be described as surreal:

"I started the day thinking of green and dreaming of yellow. Well the dreams have come true and I am back in the Maillot Jaune again with a huge bonus as I have the Maillot Vert as well.

"And with 11 teams represented in the break there was no real urgency from the major teams. As the gap started to widen I started to think I might be able to regain the Maillot Jaune and the euphoria that accompanies it. Even more importantly I was going to gain significant points on Zabel in our battle for the Maillot Vert.

"But I was also bitterly cold. I can't remember the last time I was chilled right through to the bone like that. But I still had a job to do and the higher up I finished in the stage the more points I got towards the green jersey.

"Normally I would say I could not keep the jersey on such a difficult day but when you are wearing yellow you grow a bit taller and a touch more powerful and anything can happen."