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89th Tour de France - Grand Tour

France, July 6-28, 2002

2002 Tour de France rider journals

In addition to the exclusive journal by Cyclingnews diarists Bradley McGee, Floyd Landis, John Eustice and Mike Tomalaris, 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 rider journals link for a short profile on each rider that goes straight to their diary; or click on the stage comments link that includes a summary of all their comments on one page. Some have daily updates, while others update their diaries only when they have not expended all their energy after a hard day in the saddle.

Edited by Anthony Tan

Stage comments: Prologue - Stage 7
Stage comments: Stages 8 - 14

Rider journals page with links to riders' websites

Prologue
Stage 1
Stage 2
Stage 3
Stage 4
Stage 5
Stage 6
Stage 7

Diary Extracts

Prologue - Luxembourg ITT, 7km

Tyler Hamilton (CSC-Tiscali, 16th at 0.15.96)

Today's prologue was a physical and mental challenge for me. With the fresh memory of my rocky start at the Giro still hanging over me a bit, I wanted to put in a solid ride today. I had a small case of nerves wracking up given that the course was really technical with lots of turns, painted roads and cobblestones. The first half was down hill through lots of corners and the second half was uphill. It threatened rain on and off all morning and early on in the afternoon, but luckily it was dry while I was on the course.

Overall, I was happy with my effort considering my recent hiatus from racing. Although both Johnny Weltz and Bjarne Riis ribbed me a little after the finish by laughing about the fact that I didn't take any risks out there today. All I could do was laugh back and agree. I wasn't going to gamble at all this afternoon. I was glad to see my second split time was much faster than the first, considering the second half of the race was much more difficult.

It was great to see Laurent Jalabert put forth a successful effort today. I knew the terrain was going to suit him well. He is as strong as and ox and fearless to boot. But I have to tell you, the secret to his success today was his bike.

I had been shipped a new time trial bike for the Tour but only got to try it out for the first time this morning. I wasn't completely comfortable about making the switch to the new bike on such and important day, and ultimately decided to stick with the one I have been riding all season. Laurent picked up my new time trial bike this morning and took if for a test ride. After two kilometres he declared that my bike suited him just fine and that he was going to race on it this afternoon. At dinner tonight I jokingly told him that I was taking partial credit for his success today and that he only rode as fast as he did because he was on my bike.

I bet you would have never guessed Laurent and I were the same size.

Robert Hunter (Mapei-Quick Step, 58th at 0.28.11

My day I guess went pretty normal finishing in 58th place 26 seconds down. The only thing I found amazing today was how many climbers managed to get good times (times better than mine). Damn, these are little guys who are supposed to go good in the climb's and not prologue's. Well I think every year I manage to understand less and less of cycling. Gone are the days of climbers climbing, sprinters sprinting and time trialers time trialing. Now it seems you can transform as the day goes by. Here is a good example. Letís use Laurent Jalabert as our subject for today. He has been a classic's rider, a world TT champ, a bunch sprinter, a climber and also a prologue rider (finishing second today). Is there anything left he has to do cause I canít think of it?

Bobby Julich (Team Deutsche Telekom, 94th at 0.37.72)

"Today was kind of a bummer"

The guys who were first off were in an absolute ice rink and a few of them crashed I think. When I went a few of the turns were wet and the rest you couldn't really tell if they were bad or not, so I played it safe. It was a disappointment that I was picked by my team director to go so early. I guess it was a gamble, if it would have been dry then and rained later it could have paid off.

It was kind of a bummer for the morale to not have a better ride, but it was better to get through the prologue without a crash. To tell the truth though, I don't think I could have done what those last 20 guys were doing in the final few kilometers--I just didn't have that kind of power today, but that will come later.

Tomorrow is a tricky day and last year on the first stage we had some small climbs and the group split into two big bunches of about 80 riders each. I wouldn't be surprised if a breakaway got off tomorrow, but also everyone is fresh so no teams with sprinters can afford to let a possible stage win go. All the good sprinters are within about 20 to 26 seconds or something like that and that's within the range of getting the jersey.

US Postal may let the jersey go tomorrow or the next day, but then I think that it'll likely get it back after the team time trial. The course is not as easy as the course was last year; this year it's all rhythm change after rhythm change and Postal has a team that is super-motivated and strong all the way through. So, I think USPS is in for a long haul with the jersey.

It was a little bit of a blow to my morale to not have a better finish today, but, like I said, the goal was to make it through the Prologue and that's what I did. For the next few days we'll be focused on working for Erik and once we get to the first individual time trial I can see how that goes and make a judgment about whether I should go for a good finish on GC or whether I should try to get a stage or two.

Levi Leipheimer (Rabobank, 18th at 0.16.16)

"Pleased to have the first stage over with"

The crowds were huge around the prologue streets. This short race is really designed to look cool and exciting and fast for the spectators - they managed to pull it off with this course. The second half of the seven kilometer course was the real race. It was straight and uphill. Here is where I made up all of my time but so did the 17 guys who finished ahead of me. I had adrenaline all day long and my heart rate was abnormally high when I was warming up. I'm very pleased to have the first stage over with. I'm not very pleased with my result but at least the times were close.

Stage 1 - Luxembourg - Luxembourg, 192.5km

Robert Hunter (Mapei-Quick Step, 149th at 4.13)

For my side of things I had a pretty average day. I felt neither bad nor good. I think what got me today was that I was not mentally in the race. And when we hit the last climb with 10km to go I sat up with a few riders who were looking a lot worse than I did but I was happy to go easy to the finish.

I was surprised that we rode the first 50km easy, it normally never happens in the first hour of any stage in the Tour De France. Not that Iím complaining at all. I rather enjoyed it and would like to see it happen more often, but I doubt it will. I can dream canít I?

I think the biggest loser of the day was Jalabert. He had his men on the front all day chasing the breaks that went down the road and in the end when it came to crunch time to try and get yellow. He made a big mistake by letting Rubens take it from under his nose... oh well, you win some and you lose some.

Bobby Julich (Team Deutsche Telekom, 72nd at 0.41)

I'm not a fan of starting the Tour de France in Luxembourg. It's not that I don't like Luxembourg, but when you get 190 riders on some of these short steep climbs, it just isn't a good mix. So, it really got hairy as we hit the steep climb with about 50 kilometres to go. It was terrible as the road was really narrow and there were so many fans and cars and motorcycles everywhere. Everyone except for the first eight or 10 guys had to click out and push their way through. It was crazy and it ruined the race today.

It was an impressive win by Bertogliati though. I think a lot of guys could have attacked from one kilometre out, but not too many guys could have held it. He seemed like he was accelerating all the way to the line and that's tough to do.

Stage 2 - Luxembourg - SaarbrŁcken (Germany), 181km

Tyler Hamilton (CSC Tiscali, 66th, same time as winner)

We had a long day in the saddle yesterday. Stage one of this year's Tour de France was no promenade. It was up and down all day and the speeds kept everyone on their toes. It felt like we were riding a one day Classic, not starting a three week stage race.

We were a bit disappointed to not see Laurent Jalabert wind up with the yellow jersey yesterday. He had earned a time bonus in an intermediate sprint that made him the virtual leader on the road. Luck would have it that the guy who won the stage cashed in enough of a time bonus to take the yellow. But Laurent is still within striking distance, so we'll see if we can work some magic in what remains of this week.

Robert Hunter (Mapei-Quick Step, 144th, same time as winner)

Once again for a so called flat stage, we did 1800 meters of climbing. It was hot and hard today. Our tactics were to help Freire in the finish and get the stage. It sounds a lot easier on paper than it actually is. But I must say it does feel good when a plan comes together. I was forced to pull from the 2km banner to almost the one km but with no help around from the team I thought my spent energy was in vain, but it was great to hear that Oscar had won when I crossed the line at the back of the field like a wounded buck.

What a great day to win a stage in front of a German crowd who had been shouting for Zabel all day. I bet it burned Zabel's butt big time. Then I ask myself the question do I really care - NO AND NO AGAIN. I guess I shouldn't gloat too much at other people's misfortune, but hey; I know he would do the same.

Bobby Julich (Team Deutsche Telekom, 77th, same time as winner)

I pulled off the front at around 2kms to go and we still had five guys with Erik - his lead-out posse. There was a little crash in the last corner with two guys going down, but I donít think that distracted the sprinters, they were focused on the finish. It was a perfect set-up and all the guys did their job, I just think that Erik got out-jumped. But he didnít just get out-jumped by anyone, he got out-jumped by the world champion and Robbie McEwen! I guess you canít win them all and I also donít think it was the best type of sprint for Erik. It was a fast, tailwind sprint and a pure speed sprint like that is not ideal for his style.

Still the team time trial is a big question mark. I think we can do a good time if all the guys are motivated for that day. The TTT is just that--motivation. There are not many teams that have much to gain except the teams with big GC riders - those are the teams that have the most stress and will have to perform. Teams like USPS, ONCE and Kelme.

Levi Leipheimer (Rabobank, 62nd, same time as winner)

My teammates have been amazing help these past two days. Grischa has been keeping me at the front and out of trouble and they are always there to get us into good position for the finish. By good I mean safe and close to the front. There have been lots of crashes which is normal at the beginning of a grand tour. Everyone is fresh and anxious. The first road stage was hillier than most other first stages of the Tour so they say. I really am grateful for Grischa's help because it's so much easier in the front of the field.

Stage 3 - Metz (Moselle)-Reims (Marne), 174.5km

Robert Hunter (Mapei-Quick Step, 181st, same time as winner)

Well, after the second bunch sprint of the tour I canít say it went to well. The way Oscar won the second stage was in such spectacular style nobody could even match him. But today, he sat up in the sprint. Itís not that he has to win every stage, but he easily could have placed third because he was on Zabel's wheel when the sprint started. Well itís done now and well done to Robbie for his win. He has had an amazing season this year.

Tomorrow the team TT should be fun...NOT. I hate them. It has too much damn suffering for finishing 1st or 20th. Either way you suffer all the same. Mapei are for sure not going to be going for a victory so we will just try to limit our losses and come back strong for the day after.

Bobby Julich (Team Deutsche Telekom, 105th, same time as winner)

Mapei didnít do much to help the cause today. Itís sort of understandable because the team is in a weird situation right now - the sponsors are stopping the team at the end of the year. Plus, when a guy is world champion and wonít have trouble getting a ride for next year, itís hard to expect guys to work for him. How are you going to talk a guy into working when heís got to find his own team for next year? So itís going to be a selfish race for the Mapei guys. They donít have a team that could put it to the big teams in the mountains, but they might be able to get a stage win here or there by riding smart.

In the finale, the wind had turned into a tailwind--after weíd fought it all day - and, like yesterday, a speed sprint isnít Erikís forte. Also, McEwen has a really strong jump right now and he just went faster than Erik.

As with last year, I hope that weíll have everyone on the same page and nobody trying impress the people watching on TV.

Roger Legeay (Credit Agricole Directeur-Sportif)

These first days of race are not easy, and on Sunday we were struck with the two crashes from Christophe Moreau, conceding three minutes. Then Thor Hushovd was among the first attackers on Monday and then was overcome with cramps.

Today we had decided in advance not to do too much work before the team time trial. However Stuart O'Grady was victim of a tachycardia attack, with his heart beating at more than 220 BPM for more than one hour - the solidarity of our team who came to lend a hand and lead him in the final sprint show the strength of our team.

We made up time against the clock in 2001 and we would be very content with a place among the five first this year given the strength of the other teams; a victory would be extraordinary.

It is absolutely necessary absolutely to help Christophe not to concede more time and I remain confident that the three minutes lost in Luxembourg will not affect our objectives that we have set for him at the beginning of the Tour.

Stage 4 - Epernay (Marne)-Ch‚teau-Thierry (Aisne) TTT, 67.5km

Tyler Hamilton (CSC-Tiscali, 3rd at 0.46)

It's my belief that today, bad luck cost CSC-Tiscali the victory in the team time trial and Laurent Jalabert the yellow jersey.

We were leading the race through the first two time splits at 20 and 40 kilometers. Then fate intervened and Michael Sandstod flatted. Our team's radios weren't working well at that moment, and we didn't know what happened to him right away. So as he slowed to a stop, we powered on. And pulled away. Finally, Bjarne reached us over the radio and told us to slow down and wait for Michael. So we slowed. And waited. We were too far ahead. Finally someone made the executive decision that we should get back up to speed. But the damage was done. We were nearly a minute down to ONCE at that point.

We made up seven seconds in the final ten kilometers but it wasn't enough to undo the deficit. I hate to think of what might have been if Michael caught back on or had never flatted. He's super talented at the team time trial given his track racing and time trialing experience. I think we could have done something special today. Worse yet, it's harder to except that even if we had finished 15 seconds down to ONCE, Laurent would have been in yellow. It would have made my day to have seen him on the podium. Sometimes bike racing can be pretty frustrating.

Robert Hunter (Mapei-Quick Step, 19th at 3.47)

Iím glad the eventual winners were ONCE because now the race takes on a whole different look and its better to have a strong team controlling the race rather than some team that doesnít have the legs which just makes it a free for all.

Tomorrow with G.C. all sorted for now itís quite possible a break could get to the finish. Iíll be keeping my eyes open for the move and try to get in it. It could be a good stage for me (keep your fingers crossed).

Bobby Julich (Team Deutsche Telekom, 12th at 2.47)

Thanks to the big headwind that we had for most of the day, it was easy to recover by just sitting on a wheel and, in the end, I didnít feel like I went too deep today. The impromptu training that weíve been getting by riding on the front so much for the early part of the Tour definitely came in handy today.

I think US Postal has to be satisfied with the result. Iím sure it wanted to win, but being less than 10 seconds out of the yellow jersey--you canít ask for a better situation as you go into the heart of the Tour. The team doesnít have to defend the yellow, it doesnít have to be out in front chasing everything down or blocking the wind. ONCE is certainly happy to have won and taken the yellow jersey, but I know itíll only defend it a certain amount, with the mountains still five or six days away, the team wonít go crazy to defend it.

Levi Leipheimer (Rabobank, 8th at 2.16)

Although we only lost a lot of time to the top three teams, we did more work than them in the end. Postal finished with all nine riders which means each rider had to do less work. This is bike racing. At the end of the day in a three week stage race it's all about who conserves the most energy for the next stage. We still did ok and in the grand scheme of things in a grand tour, two minutes is not all that much time. It's just nice to lose it to less threatening riders but again, this is bike racing.

Stage 5 - Soissons (Aisne)-Rouen (Seine Maritime), 195km

Robert Hunter (Mapei-Quick Step, 14th at 0.33)

I must say, this way everybody watching gets all tensed up and excited about the racing. Most people just end up feeling sorry for the guys in the break but hey it's like gambling. You gotta be prepared to play before you can win. And there are always winners and losers. Today the gamblers won and the house came up broke.

Anyway, it was a good day on the bike for most of us. Well, I guess except for the poor sods who crashed 20km to the finish. My ex-teammate Pinotti came down the worst of all. I spoke to the manager tonight who was with him at the hospital, but he is OK.

Today was a strange day in the sense that ONCE never took charge of the race like I thought they would. The first 100km were flat out attacks and chasing. Only until the race had split did ONCE start pulling at a decent pace just to maintain the gap. In the end, 200km with a 46km average is not bad going...

Bobby Julich (Team Deutsche Telekom, 30th at 0.33)

As for our role in the chase, we decided that today just wasnít going to be our day and, after working hard in the first three stages, that we would leave it to the other teams to chase. We had done a lot of work early in this Tour and you just canít burn those matches every day or you wonít have any left for the end of the race.

Today we ended up doing 195k in 4:15 and when you factor in the headwind and the small roads, thatís cranking. But, like I said, a lot of guys know that their chance for exposure is going to be limited to this week, so theyíre trying to get something before we hit the mountains.

Stage 6 - Fourges-les-Eaux (Seine Maritime)-Alencon (Orne), 199.5km

Tyler Hamilton (CSC-Tiscali, 76th, same time as winner)

As was to be expected, we went hard all day today. Everyone figured that this would be a tough stage given that it is one of the last relatively flat races of this Tour and the sprinters would be eager to show their strength before we hit the mountains.

Yesterday, our team was bombarded with the same questions over and over regarding the team time trial. We expected as much considering we had a pretty dramatic ride given all that happened. A few of us vented out frustration through the press afterwards, which in retrospect probably wasn't a good idea. I myself let off a little steam through my journal. But once we all had the chance to get our feelings off our chests we pretty much decided to put the whole event behind us. Everything that needed to be said about the team time trial had been said Wednesday night. Yesterday was a new day, another race and a renewed opportunity for our team to show it's strength.

Bobby Julich (Team Deutsche Telekom, 44th, same time as winner)

The team has just worked great for the first week of the Tour and Erik was putting all of the responsibility on his own shoulders for not having won a stage. I think the difference today was that he went all-out with no second guessing. He went when it felt like it was right and the two guys - McEwen and Freire - just couldnít come around him.

Personally, I know that Iím not here just to throw up the white flag once we hit the mountains. Iím super-motivated to go for a good stage win. To tell you the truth, Iíd much rather have a chance at a stage win that to just ride conservatively and finish in the top 10 or 15 places. Once youíve seen the view from the podium, itís the only thing that interests you--anything less than that is not such a big deal for me. Telekom is not banking on me for a top GC place, so thereís no pressure on me to ride for one and I can be much more aggressive than if I had to ride for GC.

Levi Leipheimer (Rabobank, 42nd, same time as winner)

Zabel was still in aggressive sprint mode when a soigneur and a camera guy got to close right after the finish. He head butted the soigneur and hit the camera. This is how the crowd charms the riders. I also got hit so hard in the shoulder today by a fan that I am sure I knocked the camera out of his hands. I had no where to go and all he had to do was step back.

Stuart O'Grady (Credit Agricole, 16th, same time as winner)

I know its been a while since we kicked off over here for the TDF 02 , but theres barely enough time in day to race , eat , massage & recover before its Ground Hog day & you're whacking the jersey back on & racing again.... Time flies in this three week circus! My prologue was about as good as I expected. Since then, its been a fair few uppercuts, with bad luck for the CA outfit.

First day, all was looking good until Moreau was slapped with three blows of bad luck... two crashes and a derailleur in the back wheel meant the entire team (excluding myself) were out the back trying to bring him back for the final 60km. The heat and the speed of the race eventually got the better of them all. Next day, the team was on a mission to turn the luck around - Thor found the right break, but was hit with an atomic amount of cramps all over his body... he went down quicker than the Titanic. The next day was my turn for a slight dilemma. Just as I was cruising out of a corner thru some village, my heart skipped a beat (literally), then went beserk! I have had tachycardia before, but not for some two years... it was a terrible case of bad timing!

Normally they last for 5-10 mins then I'm fine, but an hour later I was starting to get a bit concerned - there was NO way I was stopping, I knew it would stop, but just not when - but my team mates got me through it with a few pushes. 10k to go, boof - it stopped... I had been in between 215-235BPM for an hour, then it just went straight back to 130BPM.

Since then we have raced the TTT, which went OK, but not quite the winning ways which we had last year. Although the course was always too tough for us, we weren't going to tell anyone that!

The last couple of days have just been a case of hit & miss. I had great legs the other day, finishing ahead of Zabel but behind two of my Aussie compatriots (it was like an Aussie road race title!).... But haven't been able to find that right line just yet to get right up there amongst the winners. Thats the Tour, thats racing, and I'm not getting stressed out about it. I'm just going to take it day by day... it can only get better!

Roger Legeay (Credit Agricole Directeur-Sportif)

We finished in the eleventh place in the team time trial but there is a good reason for this performance. Three strong riders were victims of various problems in the first few days - Christophe Moreau, Thor Hushovd and Stuart O'Grady were not at their best in the TTT where, in normal circumstances, they give it their all. They fought hard during the 70 kilometres and without the change of bicycle by Anthony Morin, we would have finished in the sixth place.

Today, between Fourges-les-Eaux and Alencon, Christophe Moreau and Jonathan Vaughters actively took part in the chase of the break and prepared the sprint for Stuart O'Grady.

Our strategy remains the same, with Christophe Moreau meeting his first real test on July 15 in the individual time trial. He complained about his cervical vertebrae after his crashes and was examined by the osteopath, but is now relaxed, quiet and without pressure.

The only change relates to Stuart O'Grady and the fight for the maillot vert. There is not a doubt that Stuart has less form than last year, having begun racing again in mid-May after its operation of the illiac artery. He is just behind the three or four sprinters at the moment, but I know Stuart and I know that he will be back to his best shortly. He is a warrior, he will not be satisfied without a win.

Stage 7 - Bagnoles De l'Orne (Orne)-Avranches (Manche), 176km

Robert Hunter (Mapei-Quick Step, 95th at 0.37)

Itís amazing how stupid some guys are in the group and the useless attacks they make. I can understand some guys attacking to get in a break but damn, Iíve seems some guys who think they are attacking and all they end up doing is dragging the bunch along for 500 meters. Finally they turn around and actually think they almost got away. What a joke! Guys like this should be shot I tell you. All I guess you need are some dumb asses to make us intelligent guys look clever.

Well lots of crashes in the bunch today, and plenty of guys still just donít know their position in the group. Oscar [Freire] came down hard because of Zabel's stupidity today. He lost concentration and touched the wheels of his team mate. Then he switched Oscar and took his front wheel out from under him. I was next to him and it looked rather bad at the time.

More on the crashes: I saw that Moreau crashed again. Heís a dumb ass. He honestly thinks he is the only one in the bunch some times. He goes left and right like nobody is around. I can say he carries on like this he is going to go down again. He can thank his lucky stars he has not done it to me because if he does I will send him to the ground as well. Not a nice thing to say but he has to learn sometime...

Bobby Julich (Team Deutsche Telekom, 36th, same time as winner)

The sprint today was totally out of control. Because of the climb near the end and the wind, no team could control the finish. Everyone was at his limit at the top of the climb and I was on the front for our team, right in front of Danilo Hondo. To prevent a gap, Danilo yelled for me to ease off a little and when I did I got swarmed and that was it. Itís definitely not my forte to be leading out the race in the last kilometer so I wasnít listening to myself as much as I would have in other situations.

At any rate, it was such a hard, uphill sprint right into a headwind that the guys who played it right and sat on a wheel until the latest possible moment were the ones that did well. There was a Mapei rider off the fronóI think it was Horillo--and Bradley finished with a suicide bomb in the last 200m and just got him at the line. McGee and I both live down in Nice and it was great to see a fellow Nicoise win a stage in the Tour.

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