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89th Tour de France - Grand Tour
France, July 6-28, 2002
Tour de France news for July 15, 2002
Edited by Jeff Jones
Today's Bastille Day stage was the Tour's fastest non-time trial stage this year, averaging 47.135 km/h between St-Martin de Landelles and Plouay. The riders were helped by a light tailwind in the first two hours, averaging 49.3 km/h, just under the Tour's record average of 50.335 km/h when Mario Cipollini won the stage to Blois in 1999. At that speed, something had to give and it did as a breakaway of seven escaped at km 111, never to be seen again by the peloton.
Despite numerous attacks amongst the leaders, the break stayed together to contest the finish in Plouay on the World Championships course used in 2000. In the end it was Dutch Karsten Kroon (Rabobank) who beat Servais Knaven (Domo) and Erik Dekker (Rabobank) to take the stage.
Karsten Kroon (Rabobank, 1st)
"I was happy to win today," said an emotional Kroon post-race. "I tried to get away a few times in the last week, but I always had bad luck, and with the wind it was tough. But I had good legs today and felt sure I could win. I knew the finish because I was here during the World Championships [in 2000]."
"These are exceptional chances. Then you're very nervous. I had the idea that I could win when this group of seven arrived first at the finish. I could handle my nerves well until after the finish line."
Kroon also credited his teammate Erik Dekker for his unselfish riding: "He made the others tired today and since I could stay on the wheels, I won easily."
"I went three years without a win so winning my first race last year in Switzerland was important, but to win this on Bastille Day is so big I can hardly hold back my tears. And of course it's beautiful to win a stage in your first Tour."
Just before and after the ceremony it was tough for Karsten. "The flowers are for a friend of mine. He lost his 25 year old girlfriend four days ago after a heart attack. I promised him to try to win and that flowers should belong to him. It's unbelieveable it happened!"
Servais Knaven (Domo, 2nd)
"Second today, but a "f*** feeling", because again I couldn't win a Tour stage. Again I was close and again I was beaten by a Rabo rider. This is the 4th time in the Tour: twice 4th (behind Van Bon and Wauters), one time 3rd (winner Dekker) and now 2nd behind Karsten Kroon. It will happen once, the perseverance pays. But I think I have to be satisfied, to come 2nd in a sprint of 7 isn't so bad."
(Courtesy of Knaven's website, www.wielervrienden.nl, that he runs with former TVM friends Jeroen Blijlevens, Geert van Bondt, Andreas Klier, Tristan Hoffman, Peter van Petegem, Martin van Steen and Bart Voskamp.)
Erik Dekker (Rabobank, 3rd)
"I'm still not 100 percent, still lacking power in the legs. So I was dropped on the climbs, but you know what to do when you are with two in a group of seven."
"Belohvosciks was strong in the attacks, but he didn't attack on the hardest points. That was good for me, so it was possible to come back every time. And it's nice to be able to attack in the last kilometres. That was good for Karsten. He is a great attacker and rather strong in the sprint. Tonight champagne!"
Sébastien Hinault (Credit Agricole, 5th)
"The sprint was launched fairly far out and I was surprised in the wind. I'm disappointed. Despite everything, it was an accomplishment because I was present in the moves. But it's a defeat that hurts."
Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano (ONCE, Maillot Jaune)
"I'm a little bit nervous because tomorrow the serious business will start with the time trial. I'm going to try to have a good time trial - I'm against the best racer out there."
"It's my specialty, but it is also Armstrong's."
Lance Armstrong (USPS, 8th GC)
On yesterday's crash, as quoted in L'Equipe: "In this business, you always worry about falls or an incident, and for me, it's the first time in four years that it's happened on the Tour de France. But we avoided the worst.
"We've been lucky every day. I'm honestly not worried about the 27 seconds. The first week is always dangerous. "We start with a lot of riders and the roads are crowded with spectators, so racing gets a little nervous and dangerous and that causes crashes and incidents."
On his current GC standing: "I thought that if we were to lose the Tour, we'd lose it in the first week. But we're in a very good situation even though I'm 34 seconds behind. I thought ONCE would play the card of trying to put someone like Jose Azevedo or Marcos Serrano in a long break to gain five minutes. That would have been a serious problem for us, but they didn't and so now I'm basically on the same time as them. I consider being 34 seconds down as limited damage."
"We'll see what happens in the first individual time trial. It's the first big appointment of the race - it's the race of truth. Gonzalez de Galdeano will be good. He won the time trial in the Midi-Libre in May. He'll have the yellow jersey and he'll be very motivated."
Laurent Jalabert (CSC-Tiscali, 12th GC)
My objective is a stage win. At the moment I haven't succeeded. I've given it everything on two occasions: the prologue and the team time trial and yesterday's stage (Stage 7) was also a great opportunity. But I had the crash 3 km from the finish. For me the most important thing is to have good legs."
Wladimir Belli (Fassa Bortolo, 27th GC)
"The hardest stages are coming up in the mountains so I'll know in the first stage if I have a chance for the classifica. If I see that I'm not going to be a contender, I'll try to go for a stage win like I did last year. Last week has been really hard, not because of the climbing, but because of the high speed and the crashes."
"I'm in good condition so I'll see in the time trial how much the first week has taken out of me."
Levi Leipheimer (Rabobank, 37th GC)
How has the Tour been so far? "It feels like it's been fast. It's been aggressive, it's been five hours every day at full concentration to stay in front."
Do you have something to prove tomorrow to show your value as a rider? "No. I don't feel that I have to do that. I just want to do my best and show that I've worked hard and I can expect more in the future."
Do you think the time trial course suits you? "It doesn't look anything special to me. You don't gain or lose a lot of elevation so I don't really care. Any time trial is good for me. We'll find out."
Jakob Piil (CSC, 124th GC)
"I've been feeling OK the whole Tour so far...We have five riders high in the classement and we're feeling strong for the time trial tomorrow. For the mountains it looks good too, so our morale is good."
"In the evening after the team time trial we were of course very sad, but the next day we didn't think about it. It was a new day."
Miguel Martinez (Mapei, 84th GC)
"The first week has been very hard with a lot of crashes but for me it's going well. After one week I'm in good condition and it looks good for the mountains."
A good day for the Dutch
The Dutch and the French had three riders apiece in today's break, their main concern being to control Latvian powerhouse Raivis Belohvosciks (Lampre), who attacked at least eight times during the stage. In the end the Dutch won over the French, with Kroon, Knaven and Dekker taking the first three places in the stage. No Bastille Day stage for the French this year.
The last time that Dutch riders have finished in the top three of a Tour stage was in 1978, when Jan Raas, Gerrie Knetemann and Joop Zoetemelk finished in that order in the prologue. Also on July 21, 1977, Gerrie Knetemann won stage 19, Cees Bal was 2nd and Gerben Karstens 3rd; On June 27, 1964, Henk Nijdam won stage 6, Jo de Haan was 2nd and Jan Janssen 3rd.
Stage 9 Preview: Lanester-Lorient Individual Time Trial, 52 km
By Tim Maloney, European editor in Plouay
It's showtime in the Tour De France in Monday's time test around the grimy port city of Lorient and its hinterlands. And there's a curious situation, with seven ONCE riders sitting atop the classement general and the start list made up in reverse order, all seven ONCE men will be on the course within 21 minutes of one another. Although the Jury Of Commissaires can chose to insert other riders on GC into the start list, they have not pursued this course.
RAI-TV commentator Davide Cassani told Cyclingnews that "I don't agree with this. I've never seen it before in a Grand Tour either. The other (ONCE) riders could help each other a little bit, but on the other hand, since Beloki and Gonzalez Galdeano are three minutes apart, this won't affect them."
ONCE's Mailliot Jaune Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano said after the stage today that "tomorrow is a really important day for me and for all of the team and we hope it all goes well. Armstrong is the best rider in the world, especially in the Tour, so it will be hard to defend my leader's jersey."
Gonzalez de Galdeano has been one of the few men to beat the American in a full length time trial in the last three years. On Stage 3 of this year's Midi Libre, the ONCE rider beat Armstrong in the 19 km TT to Rodez by 6", an unpleasant surprise that the 3 time Tour champion wants to avoid. Armstrong started ahead of Gonzalez Galdeano in the Midi-Libre test and lost, but it was over a short distance.
Armstrong has never lost a TDF time trial since 1999, and although he also lost the 41 km Stage 3 TT Dauphiné Libéré by 42" to Santi Botero (Kelme-Costa Blanca), Lance has always shown himself to be at his best during the Tour De France and is unlikely to change that tomorrow.
Another scenario could see Armstrong win the TT, but not win back enough time from Gonzalez Galdeano to take the Maillot Jaune he wants to regain after his prologue win in Luxembourg. The race in the race is that the American can ride off the split times of his former team-mate Tyler Hamilton, who starts just ahead of him. Plus Armstrong has further refined his time trial position, moving his saddle back 5mm and adding special aero bars at the Dauphiné Libéré.
The key factor will be the coastal wind on the last half of the course from Guidel to Lorient. Major pressure on Americans Hamilton (CSC-Tiscali) and Levi Leipheimer (Rabobank) tomorrow as well to have excellent time trials if they want to stay in contention for the podium in Paris, as well as on ONCE's Joseba Beloki, Tacconi's Dario Frigo, Lampre's Raimondas Rumsas, David Millar of Cofidis, Telekom's Bobby Julich and Fassa Bortolo's Serguei Gontchar.
Tomorrow's weather is expected to be warm and sunny with some afternoon clouds. A fine summer Monday for a dramatic time test at the 2002 Tour De France.
Also see: Stage 9 profile
Freire out with injured back
Mapei team management this morning told Cyclingnews that Spanish sprinter Oscar Freire would not be starting stage 8 due to injuries to his back from the crash in the final kilometres of stage 7. Freire was involved in a crash yesterday only four kilometres from the finish. Another of the fallen riders was Bonjour's Didier Rous, who suffered a broken collarbone and has abandoned. Freire has been plagued with back injuries for at least two seasons but it is not known how yesterday's crash will affect the remainder of his season.
"I'm really disappointed, I was going for the win yesterday. I'm sorry to have to go home in my first Tour de France," he said.
Renier more combative than Durand
It's hard to believe, but Franck Rénier (Bonjour) has been in more breakaways this year than Jacky Durand (FDJeux.com), who missed out on today's winning seven man move. It was Rénier's third big escape, after being involved in yesterday's three man attempt with Van Bon and Morin, and last Monday's third stage with Jacky Durand to Reims. Thus in the "Most Combative" classification, Rénier is on top with 49 points, while Durand has 32. This classification is scored by a panel of judges, who award points for breaking away and staying away.
Daniel Mangeas honoured
One of the best known voices in cycling is French announcer Daniel Mangeas, who hails from the town of St-Martin de Landelles, where the eighth stage started - the first time ever that it has visited there. Mangeas, 53, has been the Tour's announcer for 27 of the 89 editions of the race, and has just been awarded the National Order of Merit. Today he received more honours in the form of signed jerseys from the teams, and a medal from the race organisers.
His knowledge of the riders is impressively deep, as he welcomes them to the sign on each day, occasionally throwing in an anecdote about them. To maintain his incredible memory, he 'trains' for two hours a day by writing down each rider's performances before going to bed. "If I do my exercises, I never have trouble sleeping," he says.
Stage 8 Official communique
Weather for Monday: Sunshine with afternoon clouds. North wind between 15 and 20 km/h. Temperatures between 19 - 24 degrees.
Damien Nazon (Bonjour): Pain in left knee
Race commissaires decisions
Nicolas Vogondy (FDJeux.com): Fined SF50, and penalised 10 points for holding
onto team car.