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89th Tour de France - Grand Tour
France, July 6-28, 2002
Tour de France news for July 16, 2002
Edited by Jeff Jones
Stage 9 wrap up and comments
With a rest day/transfer to Bordeaux tomorrow, today's Stage 9 time trial was a chance for the contenders in this year's Tour to go all out in the 52 km test against the clock from Lanester to Lorient. Held in beautiful sunny conditions with a light wind, the time trial was won by Colombian Santiago Botero (Kelme), beating US Postal's Lance Armstrong by 11 seconds. It was a small surprise, although Botero had beaten Armstrong in the Dauphine Libéré time trial a month ago. But it was the first full length Tour time trial that Armstrong has lost since he won the race three years ago.
It also meant that the powerful Basque Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano held on to the precious Maillot Jaune for another day, after conceding just 8 seconds to the Texan in today's time trial. As the comments below show, the race is now still wide open in time for the Pyrenees.
Santiago Botero (Kelme, 1st)
"Sure I knew (Armstrong) was strong but I'm a good rider too and I just went as hard as I could today. This year, I prepared for the Tour like I did in 2000; I was home in Colombia with my family for 7 months And trained well at 2000 meters of altitude. So I am feeling really good at this tour so far," declared Botero.
"Armstrong may not be as strong as he used to be in time trials but for me, he remains the main favourite for overall victory."
"I have not been at my very best in the mountains this season but if I handle the first stage in the Pyrenees well, then anything can happen"
Lance Armstrong (USPS, 2nd)
"I really wanted to win today; I can't say I'm not disappointed. I didn't have a super day today, but not a terrible day either - I was really suffering over the last 5 km, but Botero's no surprise. He beat me by more (time) in the Dauphiné time trial this year. We always counted (Botero) as a major threat."
"The big surprise is that Gonzalez Galdeano had a great ride to defend the yellow jersey. I thought it would be close but he had an excellent ride. But I have to accept that when you go up against the time trial specialists like Botero and Gonzalez Galdeano, you don't always win."
"But there are still two weeks to go before Paris and we haven't even hit the mountains yet. ONCE still has the jersey and they still have weight of the race on them. We're behind and the only way to get ahead is to attack."
Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano (ONCE, Maillot Jaune)
"Things are changing at the Tour - we can see that Armstrong isn't as strong in the time trial as before. Either we got better or Armstrong got worse. Perhaps the generation of riders born around 1973 is coming through. That said, Armstrong is still number one and could give us all a hiding in the Pyrenees."
"Our team is in good shape and Beloki did a good time trial so we are confident. We've had an excellent first part of the race and now we're ready to go to war and fight for the Tour de France."Tyler Hamilton (CSC-Tiscali, 12th)
"I went 100%... I would have done a little better had it not been for the flat tire. In my mind Jalabert's still the leader of the team. I'll do whatever it takes to help him out."
Levi Leipheimer (Rabobank, 19th)
"It felt windy the whole time; I never really felt the tailwind. Maybe it was just my legs."
"I didn't know what to expect, really. It's not completely bad, but it's not my best. I'm disappointed that it's not my best. Normally if I'm at my best, I will always lose in the beginning, but not 45 seconds (to Bodrogi) at the first time check. That's too much."
"It was probably just the wind, and the long flat course. I'm usually good at any time trial, but if there's one that may be physically a challenge for me, it's a long, flat one just because I'm a smaller rider."
"I always fight no matter what. Obviously if you know you're doing well, you've got that little extra percentage, but I don't let myself give up. I know that my best is better than today."
Michael Boogerd (Rabobank, 65th)
"It was tough, I'm nearly dead, I went very deep and gave everything I have. I can't go faster. The last 5 km was very bad with the wind. I hope to keep it between 5 and 5.5 minutes behind the winner."
Theo de Rooij (Rabobank DS)
"I think we didn't do too bad. Maybe Leipheimer expected more, but I saw the parcours and it's a little too flat for Levi. He is light, less than 70 kg and then with that wind... Up till now I'm satisfied, of course we have to make the balance later today, but I don't think we have too much damage."
Brad McGee (FDJeux.com, 23rd)
"It wasn't an incredible ride, but I'm happy with it. I didn't have that real freshness, that smack in the legs (after Saturday's win). "
Interview with Lance Armstrong
By Tim Maloney, European editor in Lorient
Cyclingnews had a brief and exclusive interview with Lance Armstrong this evening to discuss the next phase of the Tour de France, where Armstrong believes that the race will really start.
CN: Maillot Jaune Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano said after the stage: 'We saw that things have changed. Armstrong isn't as strong as he has been.' What's your opinion on that?
LA: Well I definitely didn't have a great day today. But I would withhold a comment like that until we see the mountains. There's still a lot of racing to come.
CN: What's the next phase of the Tour?
LA: Well the point is that we've got a lot of difficult days ahead of us. From La Mongie all the way to La Plagne. There's a lot of bike racing left to go in the TourdeFrance.
As for team tactics, we really don't know. We're going to wait and see. We'll improvise if we really have to.
CN: We'd like to ask your comments on key rivals:
Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano (ONCE)
LA: Well it's hard to say. He's really more of a TT specialist. He's going to have to climb really well to win the TourdeFrance.
Joseba Beloki (ONCE)
LA: I consider Joseba the true leader of the team. He's very experienced and he has results. He's definitely the one to watch on ONCE.
Santi Botero (Kelme)
LA: Oh he looked great today. He can really climb, contrary to what people may think. His problems has been consistency, but he's a big threat. We'll be watching Botero carefully.
Raimondas Rumsas (Lampre)
LA: He's a sleeper. Rumsas is the one who could really shake things up in this TourdeFrance.
Tyler Hamilton (CSC)
LA: He has to be another favourite. He's got the experience. He's had a good year and he's got the strength of the Giro behind him. He knows how to handle stress so he'll be tough.
Saiz vs Armstrong
The psychological war continues between ONCE and Lance Armstrong, with today's time trial turning out to be not particularly decisive. Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano lost 8 seconds to Armstrong, but kept his yellow jersey by 26 seconds. It should be noted that Armstrong lost 27 seconds in the crash the other day, meaning that we have the closest Tour de France in four years, with the tough second half looming...
Before today's time trial, ONCE manager Manolo Saiz (who was behind Beloki in the team car today), said that "This time, I'm not happy with just a good placing. My men know that. Lance Armstrong has done a lot for the Tour, but ONCE has done a lot for cycling in general too. Armstrong's results in the Midi Libre and the Dauphiné can be regarded one way: or he used them as preparation for the Tour as that seems the only race he really cares about. A big champion should give a lot more to the sport."
To which Lance responded without a blink of hesitation, "US Postal has proven that we can keep the same level for three weeks before. And I wonder why ONCE lets Beloki ride himself into destruction, to keep that Yellow Jersey in the first week. I'm not so sure that Saiz is applying the right tactics you know."
McEwen says he's the fastest
It's been a tough battle for both the yellow and green jerseys in the first week, with Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano coming out on top with the former, and Erik Zabel still wearing the latter. But close behind Zabel is Australian sprinter Robbie McEwen (Lotto), who trails the German by just two points. Zabel has been just slightly more consistent in the intermediate sprints, and it looks as though the fight for the green jersey will come down to the line.
McEwen however believes that he is the faster sprinter at the moment, as he told Het Nieuwsblad after Stage 8, where he won the bunch sprint for 8th:
"With Aart Vierhouten and Verbrugghe out, it was time to change tactics," he said. "Kirsipuu will be gone soon too. Then we only have Telekom and Lotto interested in a mass-sprint, but I will be saving my team. It might sound like I'm a braggart but it is a fact that I am the fastest man in this Tour. Last year Zabel had a hard time keeping Stuart O'Grady from the Green, but this fight will be even harder. In the final sprint I hardly feel my pedals. I want the Green Jersey already this Wednesday [NB: the final flat stage before the mountains]."
"It is no surprise to me that Bradley won on Sunday. We definitely are the four best Australian riders, myself, McGee, O'Grady and Baden. I knew that McGee had his mind set on Avranches and the Cooke would play it perfectly by making the gap. It is neither a coincidence that we are all riders who have been brought up on the track, and we master speed and sprints."
"Us Australians, we are adventurers, men who will do anything for their job."
No green for O'Grady
Stuart "The Freckle" O'Grady hasn't had an easy road to travel this year. His operation obviously took a lot out of him and the troubles with the heart palpitations and the bad luck the team has experienced so far have made it virtually impossible to keep his sights set on the Green Jersey.
"At the start of the Tour I had a bit of hope that I would be able to wear it again; but that thought has left my mind completely now. If I can win a stage my Tour will be successful already. It's going better and better as days pass though."
Stuart finished 6th twice, 8th once and 10th twice last week.
Armstrong, the 12 million dollar man
Lance Armstrong is still the highest paid cyclist in the world, due to his image as a cancer survivor as well as being an American winner of the biggest and hardest cycling race in the world. He reportedly earns US$12 million a year from sponsorship plus an extra US$200,000 from public speaking.
His agent Bill Stapleton said in an interview with Reuters that Armstrong "earns every cent...Lance has a very good image in the USA, especially after recovering from cancer. Companies are all excited to have him endorse their products."
His main sponsors include Trek, Powerfood, Nike, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Coca Cola and Oakley, all of whom pay at least US$500,000 for sponsorship rights. In addition, sales of his autobiography "It's Not About the Bike", co-written with Sally Jenkins, have topped 800,000, and he receives royalties from those.
According to Cyclingnews sources there is another book in the works with the same author Sally Jenkins, due out some time next year. And there is even a movie producer on Tour this year who is interested in making a film about Lance's career over the past four years.
One thing's for sure, LA will be popular for some time to come.
Rogge and Verbruggen will visit Tour
International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge and UCI president and IOC vice-president Hein Verbruggen will both visit the Tour de France in the Alpes. Rogge and Verbruggen will be in a following car during the Tour's 16th stage form Les Deux Alpes to La Plagne on July 24.