89th Tour de France - Grand Tour
France, July 6-28, 2002
2002 Tour de France rider journals
Photo: © AFP
Team: La Francaise de Jeux
Bradley McGee can ride a four kilometre individual pursuit faster than some
elite squads can ride as a quartet, averaging close to 60 clicks an hour for
four minutes, all on his own. Scary, isn't it? No surprise then the good-looking
New South Welshman has now matured to become a feared prologue and TT specialist,
recently winning the prologue of the Dauphiné Libéré from his compatriot Baden
Cooke - over a distance you might say was rather familiar to him: 3.6 kilometres.
However Brad doesn't just want to be master of the chrono; he wants that and
Prologue - Luxembourg ITT, 7km
Le Tour is underway
Crossing the line as 'meilleur temps' (virtual leaders) was not even enought
to give me hope of winning the event.
Firstly there was all the big hitters still waiting their turn and secondly
I knew I had... well missed it. I had a clean start, solid through the early
corners and descended like a mad man clipping my pedal once and rubbing the
barriers on several occasions, but wasn't able to bring it all home with a final
surge for the line over the closing, false flat, kilometers.
I had prepared the entire course in my head like a downhill skier, and was
pleased with my line, but in the end the course proved more difficult then earlier
signs suggested. Armstrong was impressive but also Jalabert in second. So the
2002 Tour is now on the way and we will slowly settle into the groove this race
demands. A race, an event, like no other and one I would not miss for the world.
Stage 1 - July 7: Luxembourg - Luxembourg, 192.5 km
Well it was like we thought it would be, a bloody hard day, and it was. Up
and down all day, and there wasn't much wind, but the nervousness of the first
stage of the Tour is always a danger. They where falling like flies today and
I reckon about five times somebody fell on my wheel, over my wheel, in front
of my wheel...just crazy. At one stage I was held up in a crash and had a foot
on some guy's head as the road was full of bodies and bikes.
Sorry mate, whoever you were.
Guys where just laying it out everywhere for what seems like no reason at
all. Nice roads, heaps of police and race marshals and a smooth flowing course.
I guess it is just standard issue - first stage of the Tour equals multiple
pile ups. Probably due to the extra large field and intense nerves running through
all contenders. The feeling is that things will not settle down until after
the Teams Time trial in three days time.
The terrain is tough here in Luxembourg, rolling up and down all day with
several climbs that really squeezed the thighs. I think all 189 guys studied
the course profile and concluded the same approach.....take it easy until the
first bonus sprint at 50km's. So amazingly the first 50 was a golden 'piano'.
As mentioned above this tranquility was soon lost and the war began.
Bertogliati took the stage with a fine last kilometre attack. The attack was
strong but the most impressive part was holding of the bunch all the way in
to the finish as it was a continuos false flat. Nice one.
I thought Jalabert and his mates would close it down but they didn't. I tried
to take Cooke here but he didn't have the legs. So I just kept it rolling myself,
but I don't know.. I was top ten somewhere. It was sort of like I wasn't sprinting
for myself, so you know it's a weird position to be in. I heard we got the mountains
jersey with Mengin after the break, and I don't think we missed a break all
day. So it's all looking good... it's rolling!
Stage 2 - Monday July 8: Luxembourg - Saarbrücken (Germany),
I would not mind betting the German stock market slumped today. There must
have been every German and his dog out lining the route today. Half a million
people must have called in sick for work and didn't they make a racket. The
noise was deafening in places.
As far as tour stages go today was not to bad. Nice and warm, rolling hills
and a good tempo from Lampre. The sprint started 25km's to go and was lead by
the big Telekom team trying to get Zabel up on home turf. Not to be as the little
ankle bitter Freire snapped past Zabel and McEwan in a fine display of speed.
Cookie was right up there in fourth and holding his own against these big time
sprinters in his first tour exposure. At 23 I know this fighter has a big Tour
Another couple of crashes but a smoother feeling in the bunch already. Tomorrow
should normally be another bunch kick and we here at FDJEUX.COM hope to bring
in our little pocket rocket, the fighting bull, Jimmy Casper. Has he the legs
to get over McEwan and Freire?
Stage 3 - Tuesday July 9: Metz - Reims, 174.5 km
We are getting closer! Baden was third today after another hectic and wild
final 15km's into the all up bunch gallop. Robbie proved to quick and Zabel
being well placed on his wheel held second. I think many have been impressed
with Baden's efforts to go for the win and ride his own sprint and not just
look to follow wheels.
A good day all round for us at FDJEUX.COM with Jacky Durand doing his thing
with another long suicide attack picking up plenty of primes and publicity but
not the stage win due to a severe block head wind (plus Zabel's Telekom boys
where keen to bring it all together to a near sure yellow jersey).
Also, Christophe Mengin has returned into the climbers jersey after taking
points in both mountain sprints today. Not a bad day in the office.
Tomorrow is teams time trialling on a nasty circuit. There will be wind and
hills, many turns through tight streets and a director going psycho in the following
car. I guess the plan will be as always - start hard - accelerate - finish fast!
Link to Brad's 2001 TDF diary
Bradley McGee: A Profile
Bradley McGee's official website - www.bradleymcgee.com
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