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89th Tour de France - Grand Tour
France, July 6-28, 2002
Tour de France news for July 11, 2002
Edited by Jeff Jones and Chris Henry
Stage 4 wrap up and post-stage comments
The team time trial stage from Epernay - Château-Thierry (67.5 km) was an interesting one this year, although in the end the time gaps were not massive. There was only 46 seconds between the top three teams, with the super smooth ONCE squad coming out on top in front of US Postal and CSC-Tiscali. The latter may have won the stage had they not waited for Michael Sandstød when he punctured. More on that below.
After ONCE's triumph, Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano donned the Maillot Jaune as leader of the Tour, becoming the first Spaniard since Miguel Indurain in 1995 to wear the jersey. The question is: How hard will they defend it before next Monday's individual time trial?
Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano (ONCE, 1st and Maillot Jaune)
"It's a dream come true. We have responded to the challenge and we have obtained this jersey. I'm happy but it was a team effort, and the whole team deserves it."
On Lance Armstrong: "I beat him in the Midi Libre, but this is another race. This is the Tour and the Armstrong of the Tour is twice the Armstrong of the Midi Libre, if he attacks a lot of things can happen. Armstrong is still something else. We came to beat him with the whole team, but he is the unbeatable man."
"We won today, but 16 seconds is not a lot. He remains the number one favourite."
Jörg Jaksche (ONCE, 1st)
"It was very hard today. I was OK but not too good. So I was suffering a little bit. But it's great to win. That's what we wanted to do and we had a lot of pressure, so it ended up good."
Manolo Saiz (ONCE manager)
We worked hard to shake Lance Armstrong. We used a little bit of innovation in our preparation for this stage. The riders did not go on the parcours, but I went there on Wednesday morning in the company of Marino Lejarreta, who filmed the important passages of the parcours with his video camera."
"The riders viewed the film in the morning and it was the individual talent of each that made the difference. Me behind my flying squad, I was only a co-pilot."
"In last 20 kilometres, Abraham Olano was extraordinary and I was pleasantly surprised by Isidro Nozal, the new wearer of the White Jersey for best young rider."
"I hope that the sprinters teams will help us control the race. We have not much time to savour our joy because it is already necessary to think of tomorrow. Tomorrow, this is our first fight with Armstrong".
"To beat Armstrong is something we have thought about and worked on. Igor is better on the flat and Beloki better in the mountains. But Igor is a fine professional who works hard and he is still a rider for the future, who will stay with us for three or four more years.
"I tend to believe that the principal opponent of the American is himself, but we will know to take advantage of the smallest crack."
Lance Armstrong (USPS, 2nd)
"I'm very happy and I'm happy with the performance of the team. We did a great job out there. It's disappointing to lose the stage to the ONCE team by 16 seconds because we wanted to win but we know we lost it in the first 20 km of the stage. We didn't start as fast as we could have and that made the difference."
"Third at seven seconds is the perfect place to be. You can't get any better. By having the lead ONCE will have to take responsibility for controlling the racing. I will have to be careful not to let any dangerous riders gain a lot of time but so will everybody else."
George Hincapie (USPS, 2nd)
It's disappointing - we wanted to win. We didn't have any problems like last year. No accidents and there was not much difference in the levels of the riders. We wanted to win, it didn't work out."
We didn't see the course as we felt it was more important to rest and rely on the information that Johan gave us. That might have been a little different but 16 seconds over 70 kilometres is nothing. We did a good job. We've still got a long way to go but we are still going to focus on the rest of the race."
Chechu Rubiera (USPS, 2nd)
"I wasn't that strong today but in the next four or five days I'll be at the top."
Pavel Padrnos (USPS, 2nd)
"We went very fast and regular today. Our objective was to lose as little time as possible for Lance and keep him in good position for the mountains next week. Lance was very strong today. He's the big man."
Floyd Landis (USPS, 2nd)
"It was hard."
Dirk Demol (USPS director)
"We're satisfied with the team performance today. Everyone was doing his job right. In a team time trial you have to keep as many riders together as you can. We went very fast from the start. Last year we may have started a little bit too slow so it was a surprise when we were behind [ONCE] by 16 seconds at the first check."
"You can't panic at a moment like that. So we just kept going at a regular pace and the guys gave their maximum. Lance was really strong [taking double pulls at key points] and George and Eki too. But mostly it's important that we only lost 16 seconds today."
Tyler Hamilton (CSC-Tiscali, 3rd)
"Today was disappointing. We had a great ride going but Sandstød, one of our strongest guys, flatted. It's part of the sport. Alright...I'll say this: Without the flat we would have won."
"Sandstød [Danish TT champ] is such a strong guy, we would have been 30 seconds faster over that last 10 kilometres, He's an incredible horse. It was our goal to get him over the hill without him suffering too much. Keeping him fresh and it was working perfectly. When he flatted none of us were really tapped out. But it was confusing (when he flatted). We had some radio problems...we didn't realise he flatted right away. We started to wait, soft pedaled for 30 to 45 seconds, then we decided to go. But we lost our rhythm. I was thinking 'It's a bummer. Besides the flat we almost had a perfect ride'."
Laurent Jalabert (CSC-Tiscali, 3rd and very annoyed)
"He (Sandstød) was not contention for the general. We had said this morning that we wouldn't stop for a dropped rider, and we lost 40 seconds waiting for Sandstød. Half the team waited for him and the other half did not. It was a mess."
Alex Pedersen (CSC director)
"It's the third time in the tour in five days that we were so close to the jersey. First the prologue by 2 seconds, then the first stage we had it until the flamme rouge, then we lose it again now because of a stupid puncture. We don't have luck on our side at the moment."
Stuart O'Grady (Credit Agricole, 11th)
On his tachycardia [elevated heart rate] yesterday: "I was never that concerned. It was only one episode really. I wasn't concerned for my health."
"We're going to just take it day by day. Today was going to be interesting. We've given it everything we could. If we win by a minute or we lose by five, that was a 100 percent effort."
Rolf Aldag (Telekom, 12th)
"It was a good rhythm for the team and that's all we could do for today. We stayed together, everybody did his work and most importantly we didn't have any trouble. Normally everybody's yelling at each other and it's the worst day of the whole Tour."
"We weren't big favourites for today so it was quite good for us. It was quite tough but we worked together as a team and that was good. If you have somebody like Armstrong it can be difficult to keep the team together because not everybody's that strong."
Kevin Livingston (Telekom)
"It was good. I think we rode well as a team. A lot better than last year. But we'll see how the times are."
Eddy Merckx on Richard Virenque
"He's got a Formula 1 underneath him (an Eddy Merckx bike of course) but he rides it as if it were a 4x4!"
Surprise blood tests before stage 4
A total of 54 cyclists in the Tour de France were given surprise blood tests on the morning before the start of the fourth stage, between Epernay and Chateau Thierry. The teams tested were Alessio, FDJeux.com, Kelme, Rabobank, CSC-Tiscali and U.S. Postal, including Lance Armstrong. All riders were given the OK to start the stage.
De Rooij hit by motorbike
Theo De Rooij (Rabobank) was hit by a race-commissaire's motorbike on Monday. It happened when he was trying to help Bram de Groot back on his bike after a crash.
"Those things can happen" reacted De Rooij. "But what I don't understand that he didn't stop at all, he just drove on without even looking at me."
The Rabo team director came out of the accident with a big haemorrhage on his left hip; he has filed a complaint with the Sociètè Du Tour.
JaJa also part of the caravan
It's an odd thing, but Laurent Jalabert is riding both in front of and in the peloton itself!
As team captain of CSC you can see him on the bike racing, but Jaja has also a car in the publicity caravan which precedes the riders. The car is making publicity for his website and has financial backing by the team's sponsors of course. The website address is www.laurent-jalabert.com and there is a bike worth no less than 5,000 Euro to be won when you visit it...without doubt, another thing Jaja doesn't need to pay for himself.
For those interested: Jaja thinks Paul Van Hyfte is a wonderful room-mate; there's only one little hiccup: Paul snores!
Italian press thin on the ground in France
This year's Tour de France is being covered by a surprisingly few number of Italian newspapers, with most staying at home due to the lack of Italian stars in the race. Only four newspapers are accredited, compared with say Denmark which has 16.
After the non-participation of Stefano Garzelli, Gilberto Simoni, Mario Cipollini and Marco Pantani for various reasons, many editors have kept their journalists at home.
Gianfranco Josti (Corriere della Serra) commented that "In Italy, they like champions, more than the sport alone. In the eyes of the fans, there is no-one to follow Pantani."