"I believe we are going to see a very open Tour de France -- with a tremendous battle for second place. There's Indurain and then there's me.
"How does he always manage to be on top form for the first Tour time trial?" he asked. "He puts us all under terrible pressure. I am full of admiration for him, really.
"As I see it, Indurain is riding as well before this Tour as he has in previous years. He's not in decline as some people have been saying. "For me, Indurain remains the big favourite. Don't forget that the Tour is his only goal. If I don't win, I would like him to. He deserves to do what no-one has ever done before -- win five Tours in a row."
From Chris Boardman
*** Regarding His Rookie Year:
"I made a rod for my own back with what I did in the Tour then winning two world titles. If I win only one this season it will be seen as failure."
*** Regarding Making It To Paris:
"It's like going to hell for three weeks," he said. "I am apprehensive. I know how hard it can be, but stopping like I did last year is not an option this time. "I don't consider that just finishing the Tour is a big enough objective for me. I have got to work for something but trying to get up among the top placings will be tough. "The Tour is the big one. As an amateur it's the Olympics -- but I've done that. I've held the world hour record and I've won the world championship.
"When I didn't finish the Tour last year I went back to meet the team at the Champs-Elysees. Seeing the huge crowd and the atmosphere I realised what the Tour is. It's not just a bike race -- it's an occasion, something special. "Stopping is not an option this year, though just finishing won't be good enough. "Winning the Tour far outweighs the world championship. The Tour is the hardest race in the world. It's not been dictated that way by anybody, it just is. "Of course you have the pressure felt by snooker players, say, but there is no harder sporting event. But this is still a learning year for me."
*** Regarding A Reported New Training Technique For The Mountains:
"I rode my bike on a runner's treadmill at the local sports center, adjusting the controls to alter the gradient and the speed. An hour of this after two hours of road riding is very effective training."
*** Anticipating The Tour:
"I foresee my having good days and spectacularly bad ones this year," said Boardman. "I have to be robust mentally, especially if I suffer on one climb and there is still 10 minutes climbing left, then two more mountains, and after that another week's racing. "The heat is still a problem, and I find it difficult to climb when it is hot."
*** Looking Forward To The Start:
"I want to try to win the prologue time-trial again as a form of insurance, and our team intends to have a good go at winning the team time-trial. (GAN is TTT training today, Wednesday, at the Le Mans motor raceway.)
* Y. Berzin (Russia). Team: Gewiss-Ballan (Italy). Age 25. Tour de France record: none.
* C. Chiappucci (Italy). Team: Carrera (Italy). Age 32. Tour de France record: Second 1990, third 1991, second 1992, stage wins 3, King of the Mountains 1991, 1992.
* M. Indurain (Spain). Team: Banesto (Spain). Age 30. Tour de France record: Winner 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, stage victories 9.
* L. Jalabert (France). Team: ONCE (Spain). Age 26. Tour de France record: Green jersey as points winner 1992, stage wins 1.
* M. Pantani (Italy). Team: Carrera (Italy). Age 25. Tour de France record: Third 1994, no stage wins.
* T. Rominger(Switzerland). Team: Mapei-GB (Italy). Age 34. Tour de France record: Second 1993, stage wins 3, King of the Mountains 1993.
* R. Virenque (France). Team: Festina (Andorra). Age 25. Tour de France record: Fifth 1994, stage wins 1, King of the Mountains 1994.
* A. Zuelle (Switzerland). Team: ONCE (Spain). Age 26. Tour de France record: Eighth 1994, no stage wins.
According to the Italian Tuttosport newspaper Peter Post will return to the pro peloton next year, backed by the Korean car company Hyundai. Post was thought to have secured a deal with the Dutch post office but this would appear to have fallen through. Hyundai are apparently prepared to put in 10 million pounds sterling over the next 5 years. Riders linked to the team include Maurizio Fondriest, known to be keen to leave Lampre, Wilfred Nelissen, Johan Capiot and rising Italian star Michele Bartoli. Any new team headed by Post would be a boost to Dutch cycling which has been in decline since the PDM 'doping' affair in the 1991 Tour.
In contrast Italian cycling remains bouyant with the news that Benetton are keen to sponsor a cycling team next year, possibly taking over from Lampre. Expect riders to be kitted out in lovely, bright, primary coloured knitwear !
Fabio Baldato seems certain to quit MG-Technogym at the end of the season although where he will go is anybody's guess. It is well known that he is keen to ride with (and for?) Johan Museeuw, a close friend, at Mapei-GB but Polti are also keen to sign him.
Olaf Ludwig seems to certain to retire at the end of the season as he has been dogged with ill health since the Dortmund six-day event in November. Winner of 49 races since turning pro in 1990, Ludwig will always be thought of as a "what if.." rider whose best years were spent in the amateur ranks due to his then East German nationality.