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89th Tour de France - Grand Tour
France, July 6-28, 2002
Tour de France news for July 19, 2002
Edited by Jeff Jones and Chris Henry
Stage 11 wrap up and post race comments
An interesting opening mountain stage from Pau to La Mongie saw Maillot Jaune Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano deposed by the pre-ace favourite Lance Armstrong. Armstrong and US Postal cleared away the cobwebs and showed their superiority in the mountains, although this time Armstrong did not put in one of his legendary attacks with 5 km to go. As he said later, he could not, due to the high tempo that teammate Roberto Heras was setting. It served to get rid of all his rivals save for Joseba Beloki, who climbed well but will have to have an incredible ride to overhaul the Texan in the next week.
Tomorrow's stage is even tougher, and there'll be plenty more action on the road to Plateau de Beille. As you can read below, a lot more happens on Tour than just winning the race.
Lance Armstrong (USPS, 1st and Maillot Jaune)
"I thought there might be more attacks on the Aubisque, but that didn't happen," said the newly yellow-clad Armstrong in a post race interview. "Everyone on the team was great today. We thought about winning the stage and taking the (yellow) jersey. But there was never a time a time when we said 'lets go'. But the race is way too open to say it's won. If you have a bad day, you can still lose 5 minutes in the mountains."
Did you feel you could attack? "The short answer is no, I did not have the legs to attack. The pace that Heras was doing was fast, in my opinion, fast enough. We were putting time into de Galdeano, and putting time into the others, so that was sufficient. I felt better toward the top of the climb, as opposed to the bottom.
Were you surprised at Beloki being with you at the end? "I really wasn't surprised. (Beloki) has talked a lot about how good his condition is, so I suspected in fact it was pretty good. I was curious to see how good he looked today. The pace that Roberto was doing was fast for me, and when I dropped back during the last kilometer, he also thought it was fast. Beloki's a great rider, nobody should be surprised by that. He's stated that his condition is good and he proved it today.
Did you think Heras would be that fast? "That was the plan, that George would go, Chechu would go, and finally Roberto would go. Chechu was going at a fast tempo, and he could not continue that all the way, so Roberto just took over. When he stepped on the pedals and went like he did, he was a different rider than last year. I do think he has something to prove.
"We signed Roberto Heras and asked him to come and see me because we thought he was a really special talent, and he showed the people today that he really is. Number one it was a very fast tempo, but number two he sacrificed everything for the team and for me, and we're grateful.
"We definitely thought about (offering the stage win to Heras). The problem is the time bonuses, because Beloki was still there. If you play around with something like that and Beloki wins the stage, and I get second, then he automatically gains eight seconds. So yes, it was a consideration, but Beloki's good. He's there, he's a threat, and we have to take all the time possible. You hope you can thank somebody enough...to me (Heras) was the stage winner.
"To me the biggest thing is the performance of the team. It's one thing to get the yellow jersey, but it's also another thing to defend it. To do that you have to have a great team, and I think we showed the other riders that the team is there. I can sleep well at night knowing that I have a good team - a great team - the best team in the race."
Joseba Beloki (ONCE, 2nd)
"Two years ago I rose to finish on the podium and was the happiest guy in the world, but already the time has come to win the Tour of France. This is my career, I love the Tour.
"I am very happy with this first encounter with the mountains. It was a stage in which I was close to taking a victory, but it was not to be.
"I finished very well and the speed that we were climbing it was impossible to try a change of pace. The team fought for me and today I had to fight to be there in the general classification...Armstrong did not attack because the tempo of Roberto was too strong."
Oscar Sevilla (Kelme, 6th)
"Armstrong has shown himself to be Armstrong, but he has not been as superior as in other times. He has finished first, as he always likes to do, but there remains a great deal of racing in the Tour."
For his Kelme team, the first stage "wasn't as good as we expected, but wasn't so bad. It didn't go like we wanted it to. It was hard because the legs weren't used to the gears."
On tomorrow's stage: "It suits me better because it has more climbs and it will be possible to attack from a further out."
Tyler Hamilton (CSC-Tiscali, 28th at 3'14")
"To be honest, I was a little nervous this morning. We haven't climbed big mountains in close to three weeks, and sometimes you can have a bad first day. It's OK. I minimized my losses and I didn't give up, so tomorrow's another day. Yes, I would have liked to have done better today, but it just wasn't there.
"I hope I can improve. If I don't then I'll be disappointed. For me personally, it could have been better, but for the team it was a good day. Jalabert was impressive...very impressive. He amazes me every year. He had a good day, but personally I didn't feel so great on the last climb, and I was just missing a little something. It's too bad, but it could have been worse.
Johnny Weltz (CSC Tiscali Directeur Sportif)
"It was close. When Zabel came up in the bunch behind and they had a chance to take the bonus sprint, they pulled up the speed and that probably was the reason that Laurent didn't make it all the way through. But overall I think there were a lot of guys who failed today, and I think that with four guys in the top group it was very impressive.
"I think for Tyler the first day in the mountains is always difficult, so I was fearing a bit that it could have been worse. I think now we see him coming around better every day, so I don't think we should read too much into it. There's a lot of guys who really lost everything today. There are still two or three guys who are in another galaxy, but I think the race is open.
CN: Is the polka dot jersey an objective for Jalabert?
"I think after the way he rode today he's probably going to pay for it tomorrow. But I think when he does a ride like that on a stage like today, we're not going to see the last of him in the mountains. He likes that jersey."
Levi Leipheimer (Rabobank, 24th at 2'41")
"I tried hard but just ran out of gas with about 4km to go. That's a little disappointing, but before that I felt good. I hadn't gone over my limit, it's just that I couldn't keep up any more. It was a hot day, the first day in the mountains... I just ran out. I just try to follow every day. There's only one or two guys who can really attack in the end, and everybody else just tries to follow.
George Hincapie (USPS, 62nd at 8'23")
"I was feeling good and Lance asked me to save myself and just give everything I had for the first 4km of the climb. The team did a great job today. At the bottom they let me pull and I went as hard as I could, then Chechu went as hard as he could, then Roberto went as hard as he could. It really worked out perfectly."
Robbie McEwen (160th at 27'21")
"I lost the green jersey today. Zabel took 4 points at the second intermediate sprint after the Aubisque, so he took the jersey back with a three point lead. Tomorrow I'll go out again and try to take a couple more points off him."
"I was dropped early on the Aubisque (after 5km). Erik managed to get over the top and come back into the peloton and get second place at the sprint. I was hoping there would be a breakaway most of the day and there would be no points to take, but that's the way it goes."
Armstrong: More stage wins than Indurain
With his Stage 11 victory at La Mongie today, Lance Armstrong has now won 13 stages in the Tour de France, more than his predecessor Miguel Indurain, who won five Tours de France. Armstrong won the prologue as well as Stage 13, and looks set for more.
Armstrong's win also meant that US Postal became the only team (and Armstrong the only rider) to win more than one stage in the Tour so far.
Lance goes for lightness
Lance Armstrong and his US Postal team will be riding even lighter bikes in the mountains than last year, when their Treks topped the scales at 7.25 kg. This year, the weight has been carved down to 6.8 kg, right on the limit of the UCI regulations.
"To get across those climbs with half a litre of water more or less makes a big difference," said US Postal mechanic Jean Vandenberghe in an interview with Het Nieuwsblad. "It definitely makes a difference in a Tour where a lot of climbing has to be done. When I was a pro, my bike weighed about 8.5 kg. I got one and that was that. For Lance, we brought nine bikes! He tested the material thoroughly in the Midi Libre and the Dauphiné Libéré."
"That is the difference between Lance and Jan Ullrich, who I worked for before. If you'd put nine similar bikes in a row here, and asked Jan to pick his out, I guarantee he would pick the wrong one, Lance definitely wouldn't. You see, for Jan cycling is his job, but for Lance, cycling is everything, his job and his hobby. Bjarne Riis was obsessed with his equipment but didn't have the talent Lance has. Jan, he's different again. He has got an immense class as a rider but as I said, cycling is just his job."
"Lance is a man with a nice character. He has an open character but we keep a respectable distance. He is the kind of top athlete for whom you'd bend over double. When the new bikes arrived from America during the Midi Libre, I worked on them from 6 in the morning till 1 o'clock at night. Lance appreciates that. He may ask you to go and have a pizza with him or go to a fancier restaurant in the evening. I have to admit, above all he is a family man; I don't see him staying within the cycling world after he decided to stop racing."
Hinault and Baal visit dead boy's family
Five time Tour winner Bernard Hinault and assistant Tour director Daniel Baal visited the family of Melvin Pompèle, the boy who was accidentally killed by a vehicle of the Tour Caravan yesterday. Hinault and Baal paid their respects on Thursday morning to the boy's family, while the Tour observed a minute's silence before the start of the 11th stage.
Stage 12: Lannemezan-Plateau de Beille preview
By Tim Maloney, European editor in La Mongie
More fun for the whole TDF peloton family on Stage 12; run through green valleys of the Ariege region, it's a longer and tougher day than Thursday's stage. Starting at 10:50am in Lannemezan, a small town in the Pyrenee Piedmont, Stage 12 has two Cat. 1 and two Cat. 2 climbs before the difficult final ascension to the finish at the Hors Categoire Plateau-de-Beille.
Stage 12 will be one of the most crucial stages in this year's Tour, as USPS now has to defend Lance Armstrong's lead. After 55km, the steep Cat. 1 Col de Menté (9.4km/9.0%) starts the day off, the 12th time this climb has been in te Tour De France. Then it's the short and not sweet Col de Portet d'Aspet (4.4km/9.8%) after 70km, with a twisting, technical descent to Saint Lary.
Across the Bethmale Valley and the feed zone, Stage 12 confronts the little known Col de la Core (14.3km/5.8%), a Cat. 1 ascent first climbed in the 1984 Tour. Stage 12's penultimate climb is Cat. 2 Col de Port, (12.6km/4.9%), not too long or steep, but bound to be a leg sapper after 143 km of racing.
Finally, Stage 12 climaxes with the, steep, unrelenting HC Plateau-de-Beille (15.9km/7.8%). The first slopes are the steepest here, and the last time a TDF stage finished on the 1,790m high climb in 1998, Marco Pantani rode to a memorable stage victory ahead of Jan Ullrich.
Jean Delatour works to earn its place in Tour
By Chris Henry, Cyclingnews.com correspondent
With Patrice Halgand's win yesterday in Pau, the Jean Delatour team has made strides to prove its worth in this year's Tour. As a last minute selection after the exclusion of Gilberto Simoni's Saeco squad, Jean Delatour found itself in the middle of continued criticism of the Tour organization's selection criteria. Saeco, which had initially earned one of the wildcard spots in the Tour, was dropped from the Tour by the organization in light of Simoni's two separate non-negative tests for cocaine in April and during this year's Giro d'Italia.
In addition to concerns about biased selection of French teams over more complete foreign teams, Jean Delatour's replacement of Saeco prompted questions about its own suspended rider, Laurent Roux. Roux tested non-negative for amphetamines in April's Tour de Vendée. Despite the team's sanctions against Roux, suspending him from competition (just as Saeco had suspended Simoni), Jean Delatour was nonetheless selected to race this year's Tour.
Obviously content with his victory in Pau, Halgand himself downplayed the importance of the win in the context of the team's late selection. "It was not revenge against those that did not want our team to be selected from the start. It was simply a response that signifies that Jean Delatour has earned its place in the Tour. As luck would have it, I was also the first French stage winner this year."
More reactions to the 'Affaire Gonzalez de Galdeano'
Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano's 'over the limit' test for salbutamol and the storm that blew up yesterday around it has been condemned by some sports doctors, including the head of the UCI medical commission, Dr Leon Schattenberg.
Dr Schattenberg was appalled by the way it was handled. "I think it is a disgrace to bring people in discredit in this way," he said. "A cyclist is destabilised without reason here. It is very, very clear: there is no doping case here. Whatever the concentration of Salbutamol in his urine; it doesn't matter if the cyclist has the necessary medical certificate. We have a complete medical rapport from a lung specialist in his UCI file. It was accepted by us and that's why the last word about all this should have been spoken. It is unacceptable that confidential information is thrown onto the street in this way."
Schattenberg has been opting to remove Salbutamol, in spray form, from the list of forbidden products.
According to Belgian Sports doctor Chris Goossens there is nothing wrong with Galdeano using Salbutamol. "I think all this fuss about this case is a pity. I am totally against doping; but now people are exaggerating. The journalist who made this public was definitely only looking for a sensational article. On top of that, he is violating Medical Confidentiality."
"If Galdeano has a medical certificate for the use of Salbutamol everything is OK. Salbutamol is a product that frees the lungs of riders with exercise induced asthma. Cyclists without that type of asthma have little benefit from in; on the contrary, the minimal advantage of clearer lungs is destroyed by the heightened heartrate the product causes."
Also, Goossens specified that "There is no larger proportion of athletes with this type of asthma than there is to be found with the average population. It only looks like that because this type of asthma shows itself quicker with athletes putting in bigger efforts."
Jalabert and Virenque remain popular
Laurent Jalabert and Richard Virenque remain the French public's most popular riders. At the start, the mere mentioning of their names causes the public to raise the decibels a few notches higher and the Tour postman has been kept busy with all the fan-mail arriving in the Tour Village. Jalabert got 53 postcards in his mail box. Virenque and Armstrong follow closely with 48. Sylvian Chavanel, another chouchou got 25 so far and Erik Zabel 23.
Lefevere has to leave
Domo manager Patrick Lefevre left the Tour in a hurry on Tuesday evening. He has gone home to Roeselare to rest for a few days.
"I felt bad in the afternoon and had trouble with digestion; my blood pressure was on the low side also. The team doctor Mr Toon Cruyt has advised me to go and rest a few days at home. I'll be back on Friday though."
The fastest stages in Tour history
Patrice Halgand's win in yesterday's 10th stage to Pau was the third fastest non-time trial stage in the Tour's history. The record holder remains Mario Cipollini, who averaged 50.355 km/h when he won the stage into Blois in 1999. Behind him is Johan Bruyneel, who averaged 49.417 km/h between Evreux to Amiens in 1993.
The four fastest Tour stages are:
50.355 km/h: Mario Cipollini (Ita), Laval - Blois, 194,5 km in 1999
Changes in Stage 13 parcours?
Shortly after the start of stage 13 (Lavelanet-Béziers), the parcours has been damaged by rocks. Several tonnes of rocks fell on the road on Tuesday night. The damaged area is 10 meters long, 2 meters wide and 1.5 meters deep. The reason was due to lot of rain recently. The organisers hope that the parcours will be ready on Saturday, but are not sure yet.
Stage 11 Official communique
Michael Sandstod (CSC Tiscali): Multiple injuries from crash on descent of
Jonathan Vaughters (Credit Agricole): Cuts to right shoulder, elbow, hand
Brad McGee (FDJ.com): Cuts and contusions on back and right forearm.