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89th Tour de France - Grand Tour
France, July 6-28, 2002
Tour de France news for July 6, 2002
Edited by John Stevenson
Saeco threatens legal action over Tour exclusion
In a lengthy statement issued yesterday, the Saeco team has threatened legal action against the organisers of the Tour de France over its exclusion from this year's race.
Saeco alleges that the team has not been treated fairly, saying that it was excluded because of Gilberto Simoni's two non-negative tests for cocaine earlier this year, but that, "Numerous other teams which have even been involved in proven cases of doping have been allowed to take part in the Tour de France, including the team which was called to replace the Saeco-Longoni Sport team. All these teams will start the Tour de France tomorrow in Luxembourg without caring about the ethical code of the Tour de France, clearly showing that the rules applied by organisers are not the same for everybody."
The statement goes on to say that the team "is suffering uncalculatable damages" as a result, which "can only [be] recovered from the French organisers by taking legal action either directly or through the team sponsors who have suffered serious damage due to unfair and unjust treatment."
The Tour de France organisation was quick to respond to Saeco's allegations. Tour de France deputy director Daniel Baal said, "It was normal to exclude Saeco". Baal explained that Saeco was invited to the 2002 Tour because of the presence in the team of 2001 Giro d'Italia winner Gilberto Simoni. "From the moment Simoni was confronted with a doping problem and withdrawn from the team, the value of the team was not the same," said Baal. "The sporting element was very objectively the main element in our decision." Baal added that Saeco rode the Criterium International without Simoni and "the team was then not on top form."
The Tour code of ethics states "doping, too often present on ordinary social activity, is not admissible in sport" and goes on to recommend to exclusion of those who break this rule.
Andrea Tafi spoke to Cyclingnews yesterday about the demise of the Mapei team. "Well I'm feeling a little bit disappointed about what's happened to the team. I really don't understand it. I've had a few contacts with Italian teams, but for now..."
Putting the team's problems aside, Tafi has his mind on the job at hand, the Tour de France: "My goal is to win a stage," he said.
Tour prologue live coverage
Today's Tour de France prologue time trial starts at 16:00 local time (07:00 Los Angeles, 10:00 New York, midnight Sydney), and will be covered live on Cyclingnews. Stephane Auge will be the first man out of the start hut, with Lance Armstrong off last at 19:08.
Moreau upbeat about Tour chances
Despite the June 23 training accident that caused him to miss the French championships, Christophe Moreau is upbeat about his chances in this year's Tour de France and especially in today's prologue.
Moreau told the Reuters news agency that he considered himself very lucky because the June 23 crash "happened at high speed and the Tour de France could have stopped right there."
"I had cuts and bruises all over my body and had to see the team osteopath six times, but I am recovered now."
Although he won last year's Tour prologue, Moreau said he did not feel under pressure to repeat that win. "I am not positioning myself as the previous prologue winner but as an outside chance for a Tour podium," he said.
"I tend to believe that my race will begin after the first seven kilometres, although I would be delighted to wear the yellow jersey again."
Certainly, Moreau does not think today's prologue is a straightforward one. "It is a difficult parcours," he said. "The first three kilometres are downhill, tortuous, technical. There is a sequence of turns where it will be important master the lines. Then it does not cease climbing until the finish."
"I think that the weather will play a big role and that as in 1995 in Saint-Brieuc the first starters will have the advantage. It would be a pity if that happened, though."
Once the difficulties of the prologue are over, Moreau said he liked the remainder of the 2002 Tour parcours.
"The descent toward the Pyrenees will be long, even with the two important time trials, the one for teams and the first individual time trial in Brittany.Then we go quickly from the Pyrenees to the Alps, the Ventoux stage and the time trial in Beaujolais, all in the last week. That's hard. Freshness and recovery will be the key words."
The obvious question for any rider with even an outside ambition for a Tour podium place is, can Lance Armstrong be beaten? "If he is as strong as last year, I agree, it is impossible to beat him."
"I therefore have to say that the fight for second place is very open, but there are teams like ONCE, Rabobank, Kelme and Cofidis that could help us find the crack in his armour. Today we don't have any idea if there is an answer [to Armstrong] but we should wait a little until it is obvious Lance Armstrong is in charge. We shouldn't throw in the sponge just yet."
On the whole, Moreau is looking forward to the challenge of this year's Tour. "I am not Armstrong, I don't have anything to defend, and lots to gain."
Moreau will be helped by a Credit Agricole team he describes as "very balanced."
"Stuart O'Grady will fight for the green jersey, Jens Voigt will attack because it is impossible to prevent him doing so! The team time trial is a collective goal and that may help me to be well placed in the general classification before we attack the mountains. There, I can count on the support of Jonathan Vaughters, who is very motivated to help me on the cols, and Frédéric Bessy."