Banesto team for TourWhile Banesto has a team prepared to completely help Abraham Olano at the Tour, ONCE is completely quiet. Manolo Saiz (ONCE's Director) has said that they will select their Tour team after the Tour of Switzerland on the 26th. There are two fixed names: Laurent Jalabert & Alex Zulle.
The biggest problem suffered by Olano's team has been the loss of an important climber at the Dauphine, Miguel Angel Pena. Echavarri & Unzue (Banesto's directors) have six fixed riders which are Abraham Olano, Jose Maria Jimenez, Santi Blanco, Marino Alonso, Jose Luis Arrieta & Orlando Rodrigues. From a group of four, they had to drop one, that group was composed of Angel Luis Casero, Armand de las Cuevas, Miguel Angel Pena & Manuel Beltran. Regretfully Pena won't make it, so the team is pretty much set. The reserve rider will be chosen from the group of Vicente Garcia, Prudencio Indurain & Jose Ramon Uriarte.
ONCE in Switzerland and CatalunyaIn terms of the yellow team, Manolo Saiz has not made any announcements yet. They will ride the Tour of Switzerland with Laurent Jalabert, who opted for the tougher race by advise from his director, also with Alex Zulle, Inigo Cuesta, Javier Mauleon, Luis Diaz de Otazu, David Etxebarria, Rafael Diaz Justo, Kiko Garcia & Marcelino Garcia. At Volta a Catalunya, ONCE will bring Mikel Zarrabeitia, as the team leader, accompanied by Herminio Diaz Zabala, Roberto Sierra, Josue Barrigon, David Canada, Aitor Garmendia, Alberto Leanitzbarrutia y Melcior Mauri.
Festina team for Tour
Richard Virenque (Fra) 27 years Laurent Dufaux (Sch) 28 years Laurent Brochard (Fra) 29 years Pascal Herve (Fra) 32 years Christophe Moreau (Fra) 25 years Didier Rous (Fra) 26 years Gianluca Bortolami (Ita) 28 years Joona Laukka (Fin) 24 years Neil Stephens (Aus) 33 years
Gan Team for Tour
Chris Boardman (Gbr) 28 years Frederic Moncassin (Fra) 28 years Gerard Rue (Fra) 31 years Francois Simon (Fra) 28 years Cedric Vasseur (Fra) 26 years Eros Poli (Ita) 33 years Stuart O'Grady (Aus) 29 years (first Tour) Henk Vogels (Aus) 23 years (first Tour) There are still four canditates for one place that needs to be known: Arnaud Pretot (Fra) 25 years Francois Lemarchand (Fra) 36 years Francisque Teyssier (Fra) 28 years Scott Sunderland (Aus) 30 years
Mapei have put up the following team:
Frank Vandenbroucke (Bel) 22 years (first Tour) Tom Steels (Bel) 25 years (first Tour) Johan Museeuw (Bel) 32 years Wilfried Peeters (Bel) 32 years Oskar Camenzind (Sch) 25 years Valentino Fois (Ita) 23 years Daniele Nardello (Ita) 24 years (first Tour) Carlo Bomans (Bel) 34 years Andrea Tafi (Ita) 31 years
OlanoThe day after the 'end of the world' which was lived by Olano and all of Banesto last Sunday on the last stage of the Dauphine, it was cloudy at Chambery. Limping, but smiling and animated, although visibly worried for the state of his teammate Pena, Abraham Olano and his teammates Blanco & Jimenez went to ride in the Alps. The Tour remains in the horizon and everything that happens along the way, be it good or bad, is secondary. While the Banesto trio was getting ready to check out the col de La Madeleine, in his team vehicle, a hundred kilometers away the doctors at Grenoble decided to postpone the surgery that was going to be done on Miguel Angel Pena. Hours later they changed their mind and they operated him on the head of the femur with excellent results.
Under a rain mist, for awhile, Olano, Jimenez & Blanco took some pictures at the top of La Madeleine, made the descent in car and at the base, in Moutiers, they remounted their bikes to ride the last 35km of the stage which ends on Courchevel. Blanco was impressed with the descent of La Madeleine. "I thought that after seeing Navacerrada, I had seen it all", he joked. Today they have planned to inspect the four climbs of the stage that ends in Morzine. They will start at the col de Forclaz de Montmin, then to the Croy Fry and the fearful Colombiere, to finish with the Joux Plane, where Pedro Delgado broke his clavicle in 1984. Once finished with this plans, Olano plans to once more go stay at the Pirennes for a second time, at the foot of the Tourmalet, where he will remain in training until the Spanish National Championship rave on the 29th. And on July 2nd he will travel to Rouen for the great appointment: the Tour de France.
About his Alpine experience, Abraham Olano said that "I like them better because they are longer, but not as tough. The Pirennes are steeper. But this year the Alps are going to hurt a lot. It will be a continuous up and down and the legs will end up like destroyed". Olano assured that he was in good spirits. "Taking out what happened with Pena, what's left of the Dauphine is the positive: we know that we have a competitive team for the tough coming days at the Tour. That's the conclusion that we were looking for over there, not a victory".
Abraham Olano walks with a limp, but his masseur Moises Leboso, is tranquil because there are no major injuries. "In a matter of two days the pain should be gone", said the rider himself, who yesterday still showed bruises after the imprssive crash. The training plans for the Tour have not changed.
Banesto and TelekomThe Dauphine was a useful test for everyone. Mostly it showed that a lot of riders are far from form with only 3 weeks to go for the Tour. The best example is Virenque & Dufaux from Festina. Others, on the contrary start to look fearfully good. For example, the Telekom riders that were present was their second division and the performance of some of their men (Bolts & Heppner) was impressive. But the team that came out looking the best was Banesto.
Kelme ConfidentPepe Quiles, boss of Team Kelme, has assured today that his team will be invited to the Tour de France, even though they haven't been officially invited yet. Quiles has made a very positive analysis of Kelme's participation at the Giro d'Italia and has said that he expects that the team will do well at the Tour de France.
At the press conference Quiles was accompanied by Colombians Chepe Gonzalez, who won the montain prize at the Giro & Hernan Buenahora. Gonzalez said that he's trying to recuperate to attend the Tour de France in the best of conditions, with the intention of helping his team leaders, Fernando Escartin and Buenahora. "Alvaro Pino and I decided that if the Giro came out good, then the Tour will be better", said Gonzalez, who also said that the French race would be "very tough" since the best of the international peloton will participate.
In terms of his participation in the Tour, Chepe Gonzalez has said that his intentions are to finish the Tour and then depending on his form, try to win a stage, obviously in the mountains. Hernan Buenahora, who had to abandon in the first stages of the Italian race, he has said that he was "very prepared to do something at the Giro", but I wasn't lucky. "I felt fine at the Dauphine Libere and I'm under a specific plan for the Tour" he added.
According to Buenahora, the second team leader at Kelme, Fernando Escartin is the leader. "We all have to help him. But even though he's the leader, the race will be the one that will put everyone in their place and what will determine the team's leadership", he said. In his opinion, Kelme has a more baanced team this season "and we're no longer composed of just climbers", said the Colombian, who finished by commenting on the good level that he's observed in Abraham Olano and Team Banesto, just like Team Telekom.
Reaction to the Wild CardsThis article was written by James Startt on June 17, 1997
It's official! The final wild-card teams have been selected for the '97 Tour de France, and already reactions are stirring. As expected, the Belgian Lotto team, the American U.S. Postal Service squad, Italy's Mercatone-Uno and the Spanish Kelme team were at the top of the list. But in a surprise move, the Tour de France organizers also added two second-division French teams: Aubervilliers-Big Mat and Mutuelle de Seine et Marne.
"Auber" has made steady progress in recent years, and a stage win in the 1996 Tour earned them a legitimate spot in the big leagues. But the Mutuelle de Seine et Marne team has been more or less absent from the spotlight. Their one bright spot this season came with the recent (and timely) stage win of their Canadian sprinter Gordon Fraser in the Midi-Libre.
Being picked was more a function of the team's nationality than its win list. This year's Tour de France will remain largely within the confines of its host country, and the selection of these two teams emphasizes the French accent the organizers like to give the race -- at least 40 French riders are expected to compete in the Tour each year.
"The first three teams (Lotto, U.S. Postal and Kelme) were clear choices based on each team's performances. The other choices, however, were more problematic," explained Tour de France Press Chief John Lelangue. "Last year we only had 38 French riders in our own Tour, and we try to have at least 40 -- this is, after all, the Tour de 'France.' By including Aubervilliers and Mutuelle, we can push that number up to around 48." Lelangue also points out that, although Aubervilliers may be more well known, "Mutuelle is actually ranked higher in the world ranking (Mutuelle is ranked 31 and Aubervilliers 34)."
Italians, however, are decidedly less pleased with the French emphasis. The most visible victim is Claudio Chiappucci and his Asics team (formerly Carerra), who have been a major Tour force over the past 10 years. But Chiappucci was suspended for two weeks when he failed a blood test, and did not ride the Tour of Italy. His form since then has been less-than-impressive."We don't understand," sighed Asics team director Sandro Quintarelli. "The Tour organization gave us every reason to believe that we were in. It is true our performances this year have been down, but we've had lots of bad luck. But after everything that Chiappucci and our team have given to the Tour these past years, I really don't think it is fair. It would be a real shame if Chiappucci finished out his career on such a low note."
Lelangue, however, defends, "Chiappucci was invisible in the recent Midi-Libre. And in the Alps Classic he was dropped on the very first climb. Really, he gave us very little reason to believe he would be competitive in the Tour, and the team does not have enough depth to perform well without him. It's unfortunate, and I'm sure they are disappointed, but I am convinced that the final Tour selection is well rounded."