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89th Tour de France - Grand Tour
France, July 6-28, 2002
Tour de France news for July 20, 2002
Edited by Jeff Jones and Chris Henry
Stage 12 wrap up and post race comments
Day 2 in the Pyrenees saw Maillot Jaune Lance Armstrong strengthen his grip on the jersey as he won his second stage in a row atop the Plateau de Beille, a brutally tough 18 km climb. Armstrong put 1'11 into Joseba Beloki, who fought hard but couldn't match the acceleration of the Maillot Jaune. There were good performances also from Laurent Jalabert and Roberto Heras, while Christophe Moreau was involved in an on the bike punch up with Carlos Sastre, and was penalised 2'00.
Lance Armstrong (USPS, 1st stage & Maillot Jaune)
"Once again today, the team was great. We were all together today at the foot of the Plateau de Beille. I knew the climb very well since it's only a couple of hours from my place in Girona. But the Tour isn't finished. There are still a lot of mountain stages, like Ventoux, les Deux Alpes, and I could have a bad day or a crash. "
Q: Were you surprised at the fact there were no attacks yesterday and today?
LA: I think there were no attacks yesterday or today because the team was setting a fantastic tempo. It's difficult when a strong team or a couple of climbers like Chechu or Roberto are setting a fast tempo. Again I'm lucky to have those guys, I'm lucky to have them in such good condition.
Q: What are your thoughts on Mont Ventoux, which is coming up on Sunday?
LA:I've said many times that is the hardest climb we'll do this year. It may not necessarily be the hardest stage because there's no other climbs of the day. It in of itself is very difficult I hope to be in the front. I don't know that I can win but if I'm in a position to win I won't make the same mistake as two years ago.
Q: Is there anyone left to challenge you?
LA:We have to remember that one bad day and you can lose everything. If you have a bad day on a flat stage or a medium hard stage you can survive that. But if you have a bad day on the Ventoux when it's very steep, very windy and very long then you lose a lot of time.
I understand that and I respect that. Anything can happen, I've never celebrated any victory before the final lap on the Champs Elysées and I won't this year.
Q: Who's stronger in the mountains, Roberto Heras or you?
LA: That's a good question. Yesterday, absolutely Roberto without a doubt. Much stronger. Today it's hard to say. We're teammates (laughs) so it's not important who's stronger. We both have one ambition and that's to win the Tour de France for the team. I can tell you that I was on his wheel yesterday and I was not a happy camper. So I can't speak for today really. Yesterday, he won hands down.
Q: What about having Heras on the podium?
LA: That's a dream - to have to guys on the podium in the same team. That is a real indication of an incredible team, and I would say it's one of the strongest teams in the history of cycling. Unfortunately he had to crash and suffered a couple of days after the crash, and had a bad time trial. Otherwise he would be close. But we have a lot of racing to go, a lot of big days with a lot of selection and he can still do that. For me that would be fantastic. In the short term we would like to get him a stage win.
Q: What do you think of Laurent Jalabert's performance. He commented that you gave him a kind of sad look when you passed him yesterday.
LA: Both days, yesterday and today. It's a shame that he's out all day long - he deserves to win the stage. But like I explained to him after the stage, Galdeano was dropped and we had no choice. We're here to take the yellow jersey and try to win the yellow. In these first days we have as fast as possible until the classification is really set. I think he totally understands that. <> I can't get over somebody who's going to retire but he's such a fighter still. Most people ride at the back, have parties, show up to the race - they take it easy. He has such and incredible mentality of a champion and a fighter. Every day he's going to attack. That's what made him Laurent Jalabert of the last 10 years. He's a true fighter and a true champion. He's a legend.
Joseba Beloki (ONCE, 2nd)
"It was a quite complicated stage today. But there is still a lot of racing and the Alps are ahead of us."
"Yes, Armstrong has showed that he is very strong but we (ONCE) have improved as well. The Alps are going to be different, the Mont Ventoux stage is long and it's going to be very hard so we'll have to see what happens there."Axel Merckx (Domo-Farm Frites, 11th at 2'47")
"It was a pretty good stage for me. I think compared to yesterday I did even better. I think I lose almost as much time as yesterday, but the difference is that there are ten fewer riders between me and Lance. So I lost as much time as yesterday, but for my standards it's pretty good.
"I expect a lot of suffering still, it's still a long way to Paris. I'll try to recover as well as I can, and hopefully I can hang onto that condition and hopefully win a stage before we get to Paris.
Levi Leipheimer (Rabobank, 13th at 2'47")
It was a long, hot day, and the climbs before (Plateau-de-Beille), to tell you the truth, were harder than I expected. It was really just a race of attrition. I figured if I could eat and drink as much as I could I would fare all right on the last climb. I made sure not to go over my limit at the bottom.
I found a good group and a good wheel with Axel Merckx there, and even though it's a longer and harder climb, I felt better at the finish today than I did yesterday because I didn't go over my limit too quickly and I think I lost less today on a harder climb. I can be happy with that since I recovered well and I'm learning, and it's getting better. I didn't expect to come here and win the Tour the first time, but I think I can be happy with today.
Brent Copeland (Manager, Lampre-Daikin)
"We're really happy with the way Rumsas is going, the only problem is we haven't got top class climbers to support him. It's been difficult for him to sit up front in the group where there's sixty, seventy, eighty riders, and we only have maybe one rider there to help him, so just to come back and get water bottles and things like that has been hard for him.
"With a team like ours where we have to look at three major tours and the Tour of Switzerland, it's difficult to split the climbers up. In the Giro d'Italia we took Garate and Tonkov. If we could have kept one of them for this race, it would have been better for Rumsas, but then would have missed out on a climber on that race. So it's difficult. A team like US Postal, or even ONCE have seemed to change their tactics this year, where they're just going for the Tour de France and they bring all their climbers and top class riders.
"It's difficult for Rumsas, but he's feeling good and he seems to be able to support himself up front. He lost a bit of time today, but he's going all right.
"When we started out, we said we'd be happy with top ten. He said he wanted to get onto the podium. So, his ambition is definitely to get onto the podium. I saw Galdeano was going well today. He time trials well, so does Botero, so it's going to be a difficult one for the podium, but hopefully top five.
Laurent Jalabert (CSC-Tiscali, 49th & Maillot Pois)
"I'm very satisfied with my result today. My goal today was to get in the first break to get the KOM points and I took the lead on the first col. It was a really a nice day, since this is the last time I'll race in the Pyrenees," explained Jalabert, who will retire after this season. "When you ride like this, you feel like going on for 10 years, but my decision to retire is final."
"Everything took place the way I planned. My aim was twofold, to earn points for the polka-dot jersey in the first climbs and to lose time in the last climb to have more freedom to attack in the next stages."
"The last climb was a real thrill with the ovation from the public and the riders. It was fantastic."
Miguel Martinez (Mapei, 67th at 18'10")
"The group came back to me, then Richard Virenque attacked on the last climb."
Satisfaction? "Yes, of course, to attack and know that I was ahead of the Armstrong group, and that there were several groups that were dropped behind and I was in front. Plus, I was with riders of a certain quality such as Richard Virenque, and to have dropped him on a climb, that felt good. Virenque is always a reference for me. He's always been the best climber of the Tour and for me to have been next to him in an escape... I'd only seen him on the television, so to be on a climb and in an escape, that was a pleasure."
Zabel in Green, but the Battle Continues
Erik Zabel has shown that sprinters must still be able to climb if they care to challenge for the green points jersey. Despite being nipped several times in the sprints by Robbie McEwen over the course of the last week, Zabel showed his class during the Tour's first mountain stage yesterday by staying ahead of the sprinter's gruppetto and scoring critical points at the mid-stage bonus sprint, although he did lose the first one to McEwen.
Zabel told l'Equipe, "I'm very happy and at the same time I'm surprised. I didn't think I'd get the jersey back (yesterday). I was dropped on the Aubisque, but with Fagnini and Bolts we rejoined the peloton on the descent. And, thanks to Aldag, we were able to open up gaps on the gruppetto. I knew McEwen was in that group behind, so at the sprint...voila. The battle will continue, but I'm still confident."
In the second mountain stage, McEwen took two points back from Zabel, but still trailed the German by 1 point at the end of the stage. McEwen did indicate that he wished to protest the result of the first sprint in stage 11, which saw Zabel awarded second place ahead of Stuart O'Grady.
"I saw the head shot after the finish and Stuey definitely got him. It may be only two points, but I have a sneaking suspicion that the battle for the Maillot Vert could go right down to the final sprint in Paris again and every point is vital. We are going to put a protest in," said McEwen.
Basso Wants the White Jersey
Young Italian hope Ivan Basso (Fassa Bortolo) told l'Equipe yesterday that he's dreaming of the white jersey in this year's Tour. A reasonable expectation, it seems, given his performance in yesterday's first real day of climbing. Basso finished 7th, only 1'23" behind stage winner Armstrong and took control of the white jersey for the Tour's best young rider. Nonetheless, 24 year old Basso paid a bit for his own youthful enthusiasm, and learned a few lessons on the final climb to La Mongie.
"I made a mistake, I attacked too early with 4km to go. Giancarlo Ferretti told me to go for it, but I pushed too hard. As a result, I suffered in the last kilometre. It was a good lesson and I won't make the mistake again. The white jersey is an objective for me, so I hope to do as well and keep it (today). But I can't promise anything."
Note: Today in stage 12, Basso lost time to Isidro Nozal (ONCE), who now trails him by just 10 seconds.
A chat with Victor Hugo Peña
By Jeff Jones in Lannemezan
Cyclingnews caught up with a very relaxed and happy Victor Hugo Peña before the start of the 12th stage in Lannemezan. The Colombian US Postal rider was enjoying the 30 degree conditions and the fact that his team leader Lance Armstrong was the new wearer of the Maillot Jaune.
"I'm feeling really good," said Peña. "I hope this day is important for us."
That's the way it turned out as he and the eight other members of the US Postal team rode at the front for much of the day to set up Lance Armstrong for his second consecutive stage win in the Tour, firming his grip on the Maillot Jaune.
About his team leader, Peña said that "Many people look at Lance like he's the boss, but no. He's a real friend and really friendly...he's relaxed but very focused."
For Peña, being on US Postal team is a dream come true. "I'm living my dream because for me it's the best thing in the world. They are great people and I'm really happy here. All the guys are top level - it's a very good team."
However, he admitted it was hard to be at the top of your form to be selected for the Tour. "Now there are good riders with Lance, but also there are good riders who are at home: Christian Vandevelde, Matthew White, Steffen Kjaergaard, Michael Barry and Chann McRae. They are good, 100 percent riders," said Peña, who added that "It's difficult because you have to be on the top of your form before and during the Tour."
Peña is in his second year at Postal after switching from the Vitalicio Seguros team. For the 28 year old, there is a lot more work ahead in this Tour but he is enjoying every minute of it at the moment.
UCI and WADA Differ on Galdeano Salbutamol Case
By Chris Henry, Cyclingnews correspondent
In its first year of observation of the Tour de France, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has already found a case in which it is at odds with the UCI. After tests following stage 6 of this year's Tour, former yellow jersey holder Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano returned a level of 1360 nanograms of Salbutamol per millilitre of urine. While Salbutamol is a regularly accepted asthma medication, the established legal limit for riders is 1000 nanograms per millilitre (without special dispensation from a doctor).
Responding to the case of Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano, Dr. Alain Garnier, head of WADA's Lausanne bureau, told AFP that regular use of asthma medicine does not typically return a reading as high as was recorded with the ONCE rider.
In a clear signal of dispute between the UCI and WADA, Dr. Leon Schattenberg, chief medical officer of the UCI and member of its anti-doping commission, declared that so long as a rider uses Salbutamol with a prescription there is no limit placed on the amount of the substance permitted. Accordingly, a rider without a prescription may not exceed the 1,000ng limit.
As a result, the UCI stated "upon studying all the texts and our list of banned substances, the UCI can confirm that it, and the IOC, allows the use of inhalers to prevent or treat asthma no matter the concentration of the substance found in the urine sample."
Thus, despite objections by WADA, the UCI issued a statement yesterday in La Mongie declaring the matter closed.
Sandstød still in hospital
Michael Sandstød, the Danish CSC-Tiscali rider who crashed on the Col d'Aubisque yesterday, has been confirmed as suffering a broken shoulder and several broken ribs. For now, he will stay in the hospital for further observation.
Stage 13 preview: Lavelanet-Béziers, 171 km
By Tim Maloney, European editor
Stage 13 bids the Pyrenees and Cathar country adieu, departing Lavelanet at 1 pm and heads towards the Mediterranean coast resort of Beziers, which first hosted a stage finish in 1938, and lastly in 1958, which was won by Italian Pierino Baffi, father of pistard Adriano Baffi. This transition stage starts out hilly, but finishes on the coast in Beziers after passing through the flat vineyards of the Herault region. Another sprinters battle could be on the program with Zabel and McEwen fighting tooth and nail for the Maillot Vert.
Stage 12 Official communique
Jacky Durand (FDJeux.com): Fined 200 Swiss Francs and excluded from the race for holding onto a car during a climb.
Christophe Moreau (Credit Agricole): Fined 400 Swiss Francs and 2 minutes penalization for fighting with a rider.
Carlos Sastre (CSC Tiscali): Fined 200 Swiss Francs and 10 seconds penalization for pulling on a rider's jersey. Fined 200 Swiss Francs and 10 seconds penalization for pushing a rider from another team.
George Hincapie (US Postal), Levi Leipheimer (Rabobank), Pascual Javier (iBanesto.com):
Fined 200 Swiss Francs and 20 seconds penalization for receiving food/water
within final 15km.