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89th Tour de France - Grand Tour
France, July 6-28, 2002
Tour de France news for July 13, 2002
Edited by Jeff Jones and Chris Henry
Stage 6 wrap up and post-stage comments
Stage 6 took the riders 200 kilometres across Normandy from Fourges-les-Eaux to Alençon, with a headwind and occasional rain showers accompanying them. After non-stop attacking, six riders (Steffen Wesemann (Telekom), Jacky Durand (FDJ.com), Paul van Hyfte (CSC-Tiscali), Emmanuel Magnien (Bonjour) Massimo Apollonio (Tacconi) and Constantino Zaballa (Kelme)) escaped at km 111, but were caught by the peloton with 12 km to go.
That was enough time for Telekom to set up the sprint, and Erik Zabel obliged them to come through for the win, his 12th Tour ever stage and his 13th win this year. He kept his green jersey with a seven point margin to Robbie McEwen, who looks to be the only sprinter who can challenge Zabel for that prize this year.
Full results & report
Erik Zabel (Telekom, 1st)
"I'm really happy to win the stage and keep the green jersey. Both Oscar Freire and Robbie McEwen are very fast. In the past week in this Tour, McEwen seemed like the fastest sprinter so it was big win for me today."
"With a group like this, we can hope for more victories, even though we have got so many rivals. I am very surprised by the Australian Baden Cooke who is the revelation since the start of the Tour."
On Telekom's strategy: "We decided to get in all the breakaways, and finally Steffen Wesemann got in one for 70 km in the company of Jacky Durand, Van Hyfte, Zaballa, Magnien and Apollonio. During this time, we did not have to work and when the break was caught 12 km from Alençon, it was necessary for us to follow our plan."
"With 10 km to go, I was on the wheel of Livingston, Bölts, Guerini and Julich, I got to the front of the peloton that was entirely stretched out in the final kilometres. Hondo was very strong before the last turn then Gian-Matteo Fagnini took me very close to the finish line. The sprinters Freire and McEwen, who were on my back wheel, stayed there."
Oscar Freire (Mapei, 2nd)
"I just missed it, but Zabel was stronger today. Also his team controlled the end well and we had to start the sprint behind him. To make up that gap costs a great deal of energy."
"I was well placed, but there was a lot of danger. It was a very dangerous finish, with many corners and roundabouts at the end, and the large numbers of people everywhere."
Robbie McEwen (Lotto, 3rd)
Immediately after the finish a heavily disappointed Robbie McEwen told Belgian TV and Radio: " The sprint was very hard; my legs weren't good. I lost my position in the last 5 km, I lost Aart Vierhouten's lead; there was a lot of pushing and shoving. There a lot of guys here acting crazy; they can't do a thing in the sprint but they are still there."
"In the Tour everything has to go perfectly. I was trying to get Zabel's wheel, but Freire was in that spot. I came short in the sprint. They never should have caught that break back (McEwen was virtual leader in the points classification until Zabel confirmed supremacy in the sprint)."
Team mate Serge Baguet (77th) confirmed McEwen's eagerness to get the Green: "It's a pity of course. The team did what they had to do. But Robbie really is very disappointed. That Green Jersey is becoming an obsession for him. I myself will try again to get into a good break in the coming days."
Baden Cooke (6th)
"I'm feeling pretty good, though I had a near miss with life and death there. About a kilometre and a half out, Brad and I were moving up and a Mapei guy swung into us. Brad hit the barrier and I hit Brad and for a moment we nearly locked up, and we both thought we were dead. I pulled through and Brad stopped, so I lost Brad there. Zabel had his train going and it was single file and I was too far back at the start of the sprint, so I jumped first and got past a few of them, then got caught out of the heap and it was a headwind coming in today through the whole last 300m, so I just died at the end.
I had a really bad run today. I nearly came down about three times in the last three kilometres. I kept getting shoved back and had to use more and more energy to get back up. I didn't have a clear run at all like some of the other days. I'll keep trying in the next few days.
Lance Armstrong (USPS, 72nd)
"It was another fast day. There was a lot of wind but George (Hincapie) helped me a lot today."
David Millar (Cofidis, 123rd)
Millar was caught up in an early crash, and had to visit the race doctor for treatment during the stage.
"It hurts, yeah, but it happened after 13km so I felt really bad for about 10km...then I felt really bad for about 170km (laughs). Then I fell off again. They're only flesh wounds, it'll be all right. Well there's this big bruise, I don't know what that is."
Paul Van Hyfte (CSC, 133rd)
"Who doesn't dare, doesn't win. It might sound like a cliché but it's true. Indeed you have to be lucky too. It was a very fast race today and everybody wants to be in that right break."
Kevin Livingston (Telekom, 145th)
Another day like today would be great. I take it day by day. The stages are getting faster and faster, and more riders are trying to get away, so we'll see how it goes.
Constantino Zaballa (Kelme, 147th and part of the break)
"It was unfortunate that they caught us, but we knew that was the normal thing to happen. However, you must try because it won't happen all the time."
Ludo Dierckxsens (Lampre, 182nd)
"This morning was different to all other mornings; we had good pasta - the kitchen was good, but unfortunately we miss one teammate now. I hope Marco will be his good old self again soon. During the stage it was hard against hard again. The strongest rider was victorious today; Zabel has got his win"
Rudy Pevenage (Telekom DS)
Rudy Pevenage reacted to the criticism of some teams that Telekom hasn't been doing enough work in the preparation for the sprint.
Pevenage: "It needs to be made clear that we are not prepared to do all the work all the time, every day, during the last 80 km. If Lotto and us do all the work, the French teams always want to profit and end up with the stage win. Besides that, this win is really good for the morale in the team. The yellow jersey was great but what we were missing was this one stage win, and now we have it. If McEwen keeps the form he has been displaying for so long now, it will be a hard battle for the green during the rest of the Tour. One like we had with O'Grady last year"
Jeff Braeckevelt (Lotto-Adecco DS)
"With Rik Verbrugghe out of the picture, it's up to Mario Aerts to take charge. Mario started on the same foot as Verbrugghe. Now it's up to him to finish in the Top 10. I'm convinced he can do it, as he can handle pressure really well."
To which Mario Aerts responded: "Jeff has told me before I can do it; but we'll will see what happens; I need a bit of luck too. It would be nicer to finish top 10 than to have a stage win."
Monday's TT "not where the Tour will be won or lost" - Bruyneel
US Postal directeur sportif Johan Bruyneel does not believe that Monday's 52km individual time trial will be as crucial in this year's Tour as previous races against the clock.
"Most of the crucial mountain stages and the last time trial take place in the last week of the Tour," Bruyneel said. "As a result, our preparation was based on being strong in the last week, at the risk of sacrificing the first time trial."
Bruyneel is the strategist responsible for masterminding Lance Armstrong's three consecutive Tour de France victories, and Armstrong's strength in the time trials has been a major factor in all three wins. This year, Armstrong has been beaten twice in time trials stages, but gone on to win the race overall.
"He only did two long time trials this year, the one in the Midi Libre and the one in the Dauphine Libere," Bruyneel said. "Each time, Lance lost to the better man on the day. But he was not at his best level in either race and should be much stronger this time," he added.
Both of the "better men" are rivals for Armstrong in the Tour. Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano currently wears the yellow jersey and won the time trial stage of the GP du Midi Libre ahead of Armstrong, and Santiago Botero was the victor at the Dauphine.
"They're the two most serious rivals for Lance, of course, but this is the Tour and I'm not saying he will win, but he should not be far away," Bruyneel said.
Whatever happens on Monday, Bruyneel believes the mountains will be decisive and "neither Botero or Gonzalez Galdeano ever took a second off Lance in the mountains."
US Postal has nevertheless reconnoitred the TT course, but not with the team's usual rigor. "We checked it twice but it was a routine reconnaissance. This is not where the Tour will be won or lost."
Erik Zabel's final lead out man Gian-Matteo Fagnini was fined 200 Swiss francs today for "incorrect manoeuvres that could have dangerous consequences in the sprint" and "dangerous attitude in raising the arms in the first positions of the sprint."
When Fagnini saw that Zabel had won, he also raised his arm in triumph, as he knew the team had worked well in the final kilometres to get him there. However race rules forbid this, and he was fined but not declassified.
Shoulder problems for Hamilton
Tyler Hamilton appears to be still suffering from his left shoulder injury that he sustained in a crash during the Giro d'Italia. He told Cyclingnews before the start of stage 6 that "[My shoulder's] not bad. A little sore yesterday, but today is OK."
Although the Stage 5 medical communique reported that he crashed and hurt his shoulder, this was not the case. He had gone back the doctor's vehicle during the stage after he experienced pain in his shoulder, which he said may have been due to the time trial position he had to hold the previous day. It's going to be tough for him in the mountains again, but he is one tough rider - he finished the Giro in second place with a broken shoulder after all.
Look's Bike of the Year - the KG 381i
By Chris Henry
This morning in the Village Depart at Forges-les-Eaux, Look took a moment to present its award-winning KG 381i bicycle, named "Best Bike of the Year" by the magazine Le Cycle. On hand for the occasion were Look president Dominique Bergin, Tour director Jean-Marie Leblanc, and a host of current Look riders, including KG 381i riders Laurent Jalabert and Stuart O'Grady, Kelme's Oscar Sevilla, and a host of O'Grady's Credit Agricole teammates.
This is the third time in three years that Look has won the competition with the KG 381i. The carbon fibre bike is entirely handmade, has an integrated headset, and uses both series tube selection and variable thickness tube sections.
Lotto-Adecco on waterbeds
Everyone knows how important sleep is for day to day recovery, and the cyclists on the Tour de France need it more than most. After the stage finishes at around 5pm, there are interviews, food, massage, food, shower, and more food to get through. Some riders have trouble sleeping after all this, and have even been known to take sleeping pills to ensure a better night's rest. Hopefully the effects will have worn off by the next day.
The Lotto-Adecco team has tried a different approach, having water beds supplied by Stretch-Top installed in their hotel rooms. The idea is to help the riders have a deeper sleep, with the result that they feel fresher the next day. Also, the beds aren't too hot, which can be a problem on warm summer nights, something not really experienced on the Tour so far.
Aleksandr Shefer (Alessio): Major scratches to his face. Was taken to the
emergency of Alencon and is going to have an MRI.
Also, Marco Pinotti (Lampre) was released from hospital and has flown back to Italy. He suffered serious facial cuts needing 11 stitches, a broken nose and two broken teeth.
Rik Verbrugghe (Lotto), who broke his collarbone yesterday, has been examined by his orthopedic surgeon who said he won't need an operation.
Valkenburg to host stage finish of 2005 Tour
The well known Dutch cycling town of Valkenburg has been awarded the right to host a stage finish of the Tour de France in 2005. The stage will finish atop the notorious Cauberg, a steep climb used in the Amstel Gold Race and in the 1998 World Championships.
Next year's Tour will start in Paris, while the 2004 Tour will start in Liege, with two days in the Ardennes before it returns to Wasquehal in France.
Mail your favourite Tour De France rider!
The Tour De France is like a little village, with its own bank and post office. Dynapost will deliver mail to your favourite rider; just address it as follows and each night at his team hotel, the rider will get his mail! Most popular special deliveries are Lance Armstrong, Laurent Jalabert and Richard Virenque.