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89th Tour de France - Grand Tour
France, July 6-28, 2002
The teams line up - part three
With the start list more or less finalized for the 2002 Tour, Cyclingnews European editor Tim Maloney tips the chances for success of the teams and the roles of their major players.
Crédit Agricole (France)
After their huge 2001 Tour, Crédit Agricole will be hard-pressed to top it. Sure tongue waggin' fool Christophe Moreau will make a run at the podium until he cracks, but the real question is can Stuey O'Grady crack Erik Zabel's dominance of the Maillot Vert? Otherwise, chez CA, will big Thor Hushovd break out with a stage win? We already know that Jens Voigt will attack forever, and for GC, American thinker Jonathan Vaughters may be a dark horse candidate for a respectable top 10 finish.
Big-bucks credit boys Cofidis and their team boss Francois "Headache" Migraine are the only French team that was automatically selected for the TdF based on their UCI points. Smart move by Migraine and smart young team, with (only) 25 year old all rounder Scot David Millar, emerging Kazakh climber Andrei Kivilev and emerging French climber David Moncoutie. Despite their lack of a sprinter, you gotta like this team for all the classy young guns and gutsy approach to bike racing.
Can maturing Millar crack the top 10 this year? We'll see in Paris.
Without their natural leader Pavel Tonkov, who already had a good ride at the Giro, Peace Race and Tour of Lombardy winner Raimondas Rumsas has waited for his Tour de France moment and finally it may have arrived. For the talented 30 year old Lithuanian, it's now or never. Rumsas didn't fit in with the strict regimen at Fassa Bortolo but as a Tour rookie on the well directed (Saronni and P. Algeri) Lampre squad, he may manage a top 10 finish in Paris.
Watch out for 38 year old veteran Ludo Dierckxsens who never seems to stop attacking and 34 year old Czech sprinter Jan Svorada, who never seems to slow down. Plus two interesting young riders on Lampre-Daikin are 23 year old Swiss-Italian all rounder Rubens Bertogliati and a 24 year old, fast Brazilian sprinter Luciano Pagliarini.
Jaan "The Man" Kirsipuu will be looking to avenge his lost spring season due to a crash provoked injury, and the 33 year old Estonian muscle man is an eight time TdF veteran who will likely use his experience and tremendous strength to bull to a stage win.
Spanish rider Inigo Charreau, nabbed from Euskaltel after an unexpected 12th place in last year's Tour will be hard-pressed to repeat, but perhaps determined Frenchman Ludovic Turpin will provide Ag2r-Prevoyance with a rejuvenating TdF stage win this year.
Jean Delatour (France)
Oooh La La! Here is a French team that probably doesn't deserve to be in the Tour de France over, say Coast, or even a Gilberto Simoni-less Saeco. But here they are and that's pretty much all one can say... except Patrice Halgand has some talent and his win in last month's Dauphine-Libere was respectable. Laurent Lefèvre and Laurent "Mega-Mullet" Brochard can also win some stages, but Jean Delatour better get busy and get a man in every break up the road to animate the Tour rather than sit back on their non-existent laurels.
The Bad, Bad Basques... a terrorizing team, these men of Euskaltel-Euskadi. They ride hard, they take no prisoners and this year, the Orange Crush from Bilbao has a lot of ambitions for the Tour de France. Last year's magnificent stage win by 33 year old evergreen Roberto Laiseka at Luz-Ardiden in front of thousands of ikkurina waving Basques was a major Kodak moment.
For the TdF classement general, E-E has two very interesting homegrown talents; Haimar Zubeldia, fourth in last month's Dauphine and Tour rookie Iban Mayo, winner of last year's Classique des Alpes and GP Midi-Libre. And David Etxebarria, winner of two TdF stages in '99 will surely be looking for opportunist moves whenever possible.