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89th Tour de France - Grand Tour

France, July 6-28, 2002

Tour de France news for July 10, 2002

Edited by Jeff Jones and Chris Henry

Stage 3 wrap up and post-stage comments

The third stage from Metz to Reims took the riders past a number of old battlegrounds from past wars, including Verdun, the site of the bloodiest battle of the First World War. By this stage, the shape of the race had been decided as Jacky Durand (FDJeux.com) and Franck Renier (Bonjour) had made good their escape, and led by nine minutes, not being seen again until 7 km to go.

Erik Zabel took enough bonus seconds to help him secure the Maillot Jaune, but was not able to win the stage as Australian champion Robbie McEwen (Lotto-Adecco) led from a long way out to win the sprint. Zabel was second, and another Australian, Baden Cooke (FDJeux.com) took third.

Full results and report
Live report
Photos

Robbie McEwen (Lotto-Adecco, 1st)
McEwen family
Photo: © CN
Click for larger image

"This is my best win of the season. I've also won in front of Cipo in the Giro, but this win was better. It was magnificent!"

"I wouldn't go as far as to say I'm the best sprinter in the world because it changes every day. But today I'm the best in the world," he laughed.

"The situation with the new Lotto-Domo team isn't really clear for anybody at the moment. I probably know less about the situation than the journalists do. There are number of riders on the Lotto team who signed contracts for next year (2003) and in some cases for two years. We have been told that those contracts will be respected if the riders want to stay, but there has to be more clarity because riders have also been hearing different messages about the actual situation."

Erik Zabel (Telekom, 2nd and Maillot Jaune)
Erik Zabel
Photo: © Sirotti
Click for larger image

"It would have been nice to beat McEwen in the sprint. The last time I had (the Maillot Jaune) was in '98, after the 2nd stage, but this time we really had to fight for it. This yellow jersey is a great morale booster for the team. I thank them all."

"Because of the sad situation with Ullrich at the start in Luxembourg, the team motivation was so so..."

On tomorrow's team time trial: "With strong teams like USPS and ONCE, it will be difficult to keep my (MJ) after tomorrow."

Baden Cooke (FDJ.com, 3rd)

"Yeah, Jacky had a big day at the front, he really loves to get out there. In the finale we had Fred Guesdon, Brad McGee, Jimmy Casper and myself trying to get something to work, but it's very difficult when there's 200 guys trying to get up to the front. We got spit out, we'd get back together, but Fred and Brad did a heap of work keeping Jimmy and I up in the sprint, out of the wind. Then in the sprint we just went with who had the best legs. Unfortunately I didn't have a wheel to follow for the last 200 meters, so I had to just peg it on my own, but it was pretty hard to pass them. Maybe if I had been on a wheel I might have been able to come up."

"Robbie's had really good form all year, and he's really stepped it up a level. I think he just jumped at the right time and he's got a really good turn of speed. He deserved it."

Stuart O'Grady (CA, 10th)

"My heart was beating at 230 beats a minute for about an hour and I was having trouble breathing," said O'Grady after the stage. "It's happened before and I knew it would pass. It's not very easy since my normal maximum (hr) is 190. But I was never going to abandon since I knew it would pass."

Brad McGee (FDJ.com, 53rd)

"We're getting closer, eh? It just keeps rolling, you know, we've been doing it for a couple of months now. With Jacky doing his thing, and then we had both Jimmy and Cookie up for the sprint, he just didn't have the legs at the end. The hill points ended up being too easy, actually. So we just continue on our way."

Jacky Durand (FDJ.com, 188th at 1'30")
Photo: © CN

"I'm well adapted to this kind of breakaway. I'm a type that gets better from day to day. We tried... I was happy to have been with Franck (Renier) up front, but unfortunately we didn't succeed. You have to fail a few times before you succeed."

Patrick Lefevre (Domo-manager)

General comment: "Cyclists are show-men. I prefer an entertainer like Virenque to someone who sits deadly quiet on his bike any day!"

Boogerd is running up the bill

Michael Boogerd
Photo: © CN
Click for larger image

Michael Boogerd (Rabobank) is going to try and limit his expenses on telephone this year. During last year's Tour he spent no less than 1,400 euro by having lengthy conversations on his mobile telephone.

"I'm calling my girlfriend, my father and my brother every single day. Every conversation lasts minimum half an hour. I know it is outrageous. I'm spending some people's monthly income just on telephone. My brother supports his family with that amount. I'm really stupid in that way really. I don't have the French sim-card most riders get while they're here. Gee, even worse, I live in Belgium and I use a Dutch number..."

Busy Day for FDJ.com

By Chris Henry, Cyclingnews.com correspondent

Although denied the glory of a stage win, the FDJ.com team took every opportunity to profit from today's race between Metz and Reims. Although it looked to be a perfect stage for the sprinters, both Jacky Durand and Christophe Mengin indicated before the start that they would be looking to seize the day.

For Durand, a master of the long breakaway, today's flatter profile provided a better opportunity for long escapes. "I'm well adapted to this kind of breakaway. I'm a type that gets better from day to day. We tried... but you have to fail a few times before you succeed." In the end the sprinters had their day, but Durand didn't come up empty handed. He now leads the way in the Prix de la Combativité, ahead of fellow French escape artist Stéphane Bergès (AG2R).

Eager to reclaim the polka dot jersey he lost to Bergès yesterday, Christophe Mengin crossed the 4th category Côte de Gravelotte ahead and easily took the five points, regaining the climber's jersey on the road. A resident of nearby Nancy, Mengin told Cyclingnews before the stage that he hoped to take advantage of the additional motivation of racing on familiar roads. "Today I'm arriving in my home region. I live in Nancy, so we're not far from my home. I know the hills well, so I'll try to retake the jersey."

Finally, it was the turn of FDJ.com's sprinters as the race stormed into Reims. Australians Baden Cooke and Bradley McGee worked hard with Frenchmen Frédéric Guesdon and Jimmy Casper to set up whoever had the best legs. In the end it was Cooke, claimed third place behind McEwen and Zabel, despite poor position in the sprint. "Unfortunately I didn't have a wheel to follow for the last 200 meters, so I had to just peg it on my own, but it was pretty hard to pass them."

Livingston looking to the mountains

Telekom's Kevin Livingston is biding his time in the early stages of the Tour, helping out with the tempo making in the middle section of the stages to prepare things for a bunch sprint, and hopefully an Erik Zabel victory. That hasn't happened yet, despite the best efforts of the team, but after one third and two second places, and the maillot jaune, a stage win can't be too far away.

When we asked how he was feeling this morning, Livingston replied "It's still early, so about normal. It's a normal start: fast, crashes, nervous. I have to see how the stages unfold and see how much work we need to do for Erik. Bobby, myself, Guerini and Udo will work from further out, and the other guys will take over at the end."

But starting from stage 11, the Tour hits the mountains, where the real race for the GC will be decided. "We'll see day to day how much I have to do," he said. "I'd definitely like to have two good days in the mountains. I'd like to be consistent."

Livingston hasn't started contract negotiations yet. "We haven't talked about my contract for next year. Obviously I am in the team for the Tour. I didn't expect to talk about it so we'll see how the Tour goes, and go from there."

Lance Armstrong Profiled In The New Yorker

The New Yorker has an in-depth profile of Lance Armstrong. Entitled "The Long Ride", Michael Specter is a long-time staff writer for the New Yorker, contributor to the New York Times Sunday Magazine and a self-professed "fetishistic devotee of the sport". Specter's piece offers a unique insiders perspective on Armstrong, as the three time Tour De France champion and his coach Chris Carmichael granted Specter unprecedented behind the scenes access.

Crédit Lyonnais continues until 2008

One of the Tour de France's biggest sponsors, Crédit Lyonnais, has signed a five year contract that will ensure its presence as top sponsor of the world's largest race until 2008. Crédit Lyonnais has been involved since 1987, thus the new contract will mark over 20 years as a sponsor. It will contribute around 4.5 million per year until 2008, with the caveat that it can withdraw its support if there is a massive doping scandal, as there was in 1998.

Ag2r mechanic sent home

Philippe Tomasina, a mechanic working for the Ag2r-Prevoyance team, has been sent home after he was placed under investigation for illegal drug dealing in Brittany. Team management confirmed this today after an article in Monday's Le Monde revealed that the Tomasina was working in the this year's Tour.

The investigation dates back the end of 2000, and Tomasina and 12 others will be judged later this year.

Medical communique

Today's stage was a relatively quiet one for the Tour's medical staff, who have the task of looking after the riders in case of illness/injury. The only concern was Credit Agricole's Stuart O'Grady, who had a bout of tachycardia (elevated heart rate) and had to be pushed by his teammates and the race doctor until it passed. It did in time for the finish, and he got up to finish 10th in the sprint.

The official injury list is as follows:

Francisco Cabello (Kelme): Back problems
Unai Etxebarria (Euskaltel): Right knee problems
Miguel Martinez (Mapei): Left foot problems
Mauro Radaelli (Tacconi): Bitten by an insect on his left arm
Christophe Agnolutto (Ag2r): Left thigh muscle pull
Stuart O'Grady (Credit Agricole): Tachycardia, but a cardiogram after the race did not reveal any abnormalities.
Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel): X-rays did not reveal any broken bones

Stage 4 preview

By Jeff Jones

The second test against the clock takes place tomorrow from Epernay to Château-Thierry, run as a team event over 67.5 kilometres. In a team time trial, the time of the fifth rider in the team across the line determine's the team's placing in the stage. Also, the time of each rider is recorded across the line for the purposes of the individual general classification. It's a short but very hard stage for some, as the weaker riders in the team will not be able to pull through at 55 km/h. If they are dropped, the team will not wait in general.

In a rarity for the Tour de France, all 21 teams still have their complete complement of nine riders, as there have been no abandons so far. That is considered a good thing, as all teams will start on equal terms, although defending champions Credit Agricole will find it tough to win, as three of their riders (Moreau, O'Grady, and Hushovd) have had a hard start to the Tour.

The favourites are US Postal, who have the best all round team for this event, with Armstrong, Hincapie, Ekimov, Rubiera, Padrnos, Landis, Joachim, Peña and Heras. We could well see Armstrong back in yellow again after stage 4.

They will be up against the Spanish ONCE team, who have a number of very strong testers against the clock (Igor and Alvaro Gonzalez de Galdeano, Beloki, Jaksche, Nozal, Olano, Pradera and Serrano). Jörg Jaksche told Cyclingnews this morning that "We will try to do our best and give everything. We haven't done any specific training, we'll just try hard and try to go fast."

Another team to watch is Danish champions CSC-Tiscali, who are currently the leading team in the race after their solid performances in the prologue. Led by Tyler Hamilton, Laurent Jalabert and Carlos Sastre, the CSC boys could cause an upset tomorrow - perhaps JaJa in yellow?

Outsiders include Tacconi Sport, which has Dario Frigo (11th on GC) to help tow them along. Frigo told Cyclingnews that the goal was "To do the best job we can. It's going to be tough because there are some really strong teams like US Postal and ONCE. They're the favourites."

How about FDJeux.com? They are hoping to follow up a good day today with a solid placing in the TTT tomorrow. Jacky Durand's legs may be a little cooked after his massive effort in the wind today though, but he sounded positive before the start of stage 3.

"Last year we made a mistake," he said. "We had never ridden as a team, we didn't know the course and it was a catastrophe. No coordination. This year, we've looked at the course and ridden together so we'll be better prepared than last year."

Team captain Brad McGee commented that "I don't think it changes our expectations. Hopefully we can just click like a team and not blow up like we did last year."

The course for stage 4 is undulating, with a 212m lump at the halfway point, which will really test the teams' strength for a good 15 kilometres. It runs westward again, meaning that the SW wind will be against the riders all day.

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