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89th Tour de France - Grand Tour

France, July 6-28, 2002

Tour de France news for July 30, 2002

Edited by Jeff Jones

Lampre riders interrogated in Lyon

Corticoids, testosterone and EPO seized from Edita Rumsiene

Police in Lyon have interrogated six staff members of the Lampre team, following the seizure of "medical products that could be considered doping" from Edita Rumsiene, the wife of Lampre's Raimondas Rumsas who finished third in the Tour de France. Mrs Rumsas was stopped and searched by French customs officials at a border control in Chamonix in the French Alps on Sunday morning, the final day of the Tour. According to Christian Lothion, a spokesman for the SRPJ in Lyon, the products included Corticoids, testosterone and EPO. That means that Edita Rumsiene could face drug trafficking charges, although Rumsas himself is not yet implicated.

The Lampre team has already suspended Rusmas, pending the outcome of an investigation. On Sunday night, six Lampre staff members, including a masseur, were questioned in Lyon by police, who stopped the team's campervan in the vicinity of Macon.

According to the Belgian press, Rumsas was subjected to two drug controls during the second rest day of the Tour in Vaucluse. Seven teams underwent blood tests, and Rumsas was later given a urine test to detect the presence of EPO. The results of this test were negative.

Leblanc "a little astonished"

Tour director Jean-Marie Leblanc has declared himself "a little astonished" by the results of Raimondas Rumsas. "Of course, he won the Tour of Lombardy but he did not have the reputation of being such a top performing rider in the big Tours, to the point of making the podium of the Tour de France. But you can always think of late revelations."

In 2000, Rumsas finished fifth in the Vuelta España and won the Tour of Lombardy. In 2001, he wasn't selected by his Fassa Bortolo team for any Grand Tours, despite finishing a very creditable second in Paris-Nice to his then captain, Dario Frigo.

He will not lose his third place in the Tour unless he fails a drug test. Up until July 24, the results of all the drug tests in the Tour have been negative for all riders.

Indurain believes Armstrong can win six

Miguel Indurain, five time consecutive winner of the Tour de France, and someone who has raced in the same era as Lance Armstrong, has said that he believes Armstrong is capable of six Tour wins.

"It is true that he is still young and, therefore, in terms of age he could win two more. But staying at the top can be very exhausting," said Indurain to Spanish newspaper Marca today.

"In December he will have to start again from scratch and what he has done before counts for nothing. From then on everything has to work perfectly...But looking at how he dominated this year it is clear that he can win more."

Indurain said that Armstrong has always been good, but was "very inconsistent" when he was young. "From the start he had something, he was very strong and very explosive. He even beat me to win the world championship in Norway when he was only 22."

The big change of course was when Armstrong overcame cancer in 1997. "It's clear that the cancer changed his mentality. It even changed his character - before he was rather reckless and now he is more measured and calm. But before, just like now, he had great quality and was a born winner."

Indurain said it was practically impossible to compare Armstrong with either himself or the other Tour legends, Eddy Merckx, Bernard Hinault and Jacques Anquetil, all of whom won five Tours de France.

"In terms of wins Merckx was the best, but times change as do the rivals, the equipment, the roads...Everything is different."

Ekimov returns to the fray, and survives

By Chris Henry, Cyclingnews Correspondent in Paris

On the occasion of the Tour's final stage, several US Postal team members emerged from the seclusion of the team bus and made their way into the Village Depart in today in Melun. Among them, living legend Viatcheslav Ekimov, who announced his retirement last year but returned to competition this year in the Dauphiné Libéré.

Sunday morning found Ekimov in a good mood under the hot sun at the morning sign in. "We're all happy, but pretty much tired. Especially me. All year without competition, this is like the second race in the year, so I don't know...just glad to be finished."

Considering the depth of the US Postal team, Ekimov's selection for the Tour team is no small feat given his lack of competition since last fall. But as he told Cyclingnews, he logged a fair amount of time in the saddle during that period to prepare for another go at racing.

"I would say last year, September 9 (in San Francisco) was the last race, and this year the Dauphiné Libéré on the 9th of June was the first race. Since September up until June I've done 12,000km."

So does Eki hope to be back next year? "Yeah, why not? I think if my form will improve enough, I would love to come back here."

2003 Centenary Tour will start in Paris

Next year will mark the 100th anniversary of the Tour de France, first run in 1903. Due to interruptions from two World Wars, the Tour has only been raced 89 times, although during the Second World War there were a number of "unofficial" Tours de France.

Next year the Tour will start in Paris with a prologue time trial around the Stade de France. The first stage will start next to the Reveil Matin cafe in Montgeron, where the Tour started in 1903. From there, the Tour will visit the towns of the 1903 Tour: Lyon, Marseille, Toulouse, Bordeaux and Nantes, as well as crossing the climbs of the Col d'Izoard and Col du Galibier in the Alps and the Col du Tourmalet in the Pyrenees.

Tour director Jean Marie Leblanc said that next year there will probably be 22 teams of nine riders, one more than this year, for a total of 198 riders. The final decision will be made on October 24, when the 2003 Tour is presented in full.

There are no plans for a "novelty" Tour, just because it's the 100th edition. Leblanc specified that "we will not modify the order of things, in that I mean it will be a classical parcours. It would be madness to change it, and the riders and the experts would not allow it."

Record percentage of finishers

Of the 189 starters in the 2002 Tour, 153 riders finished it, representing a proportion of 80.9 percent of the starters. Although more riders (158) finished in 1991, there were 198 starters that year, thus the proportion was 79.8 percent. This is despite the fourth fastest Tour on record (39.9 km/h), there were the usual number of crashes, and the race finished with a very tough second half, that was raced in baking hot July temperatures.

Luck aside, the fitness of the riders (in theory) increases each year, meaning that there should be more finishers and the margins narrower. But Lance Armstrong showed that he is still as strong as ever, winning by 7'17, more than he did in the previous two editions and also taking into account his crash in stage 7 where he lost 27 seconds.

By comparison, Indurain's biggest winning margin was 5'39 in 1994 when he beat Piotr Ugrumov. In 1995 it was 4'35 to Alex Zülle, and in 1996 he was well out of contention, when Bjarne Riis finally broke his winning run.

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