Tour de France News for July 12, 2003
Edited by Jeff Jones & Chris Henry
Alessandro Petacchi: "I'm surprised I won so easily"
Green jersey at last
By Gabriella Ekström in Lyon
Now in green
Photo: © Sirotti
Alessandro Petacchi has yet to say it himself, but after his fourth
stage victory today, everyone else will agree that he is indeed a
fantastic sprinter. No one in Lyon were surprised when the Italian sprinter
looked over the shoulder with twenty metres to go, and then almost too
easily lifted his arms and rolled over the line.
Petacchi himself, however, claimed to be very surprised. Today's stage
was long and hilly, and we know by now that it is not his preferred choice.
"My win today comes unexpectedly. I suffered all the way and with little
more than two kilometres to do, I told my team mate Marzio Bruseghin that
I didn't think I would be able to take part in the sprint, but as I am
always whingeing, Nicola Loda did a great job and brought me up to a top
ten position with a kilometre to go and I decided I would have a go."
here for the full interview.
McEwen crashes out of green
Photo: © Sirotti
Robbie McEwen saw his chances of a stage win today evaporate when he
crashed on a corner with around 8 kilometres to go in the stage to Lyon.
A battered but relatively unhurt McEwen told Belgian TV after the stage
that, "I don't know what happened. I just fell in the corner. Zabel fell
and I fell with him."
Lotto-Domo's manager Christophe Sercu (Lotto-Domo) later commented that
"Not surprisingly Robbie is in a dark mood. He's losing a lot of points
on the Green Jersey. We keep on supporting him though as the Tour doesn't
finish today. We are going to look at the classement tonight and see how
much Robbie has lost and where his opponents are. Petacchi, but Cooke,
Zabel and O'Grady also, because we don't know yet how Petacchi is going
to get over the mountains. It's not lost yet. The coming mountain stages
are not our specialty here."
Team director Marc Sergeant echoed Sercu's comments. "It's hard. Today
we lost Green also. I don't know if Petacchi will get over the mountains
though. I see him as the weakest opponent in the mountains for Robbie
for the Green. I saw Zabel crossing the line too, he was hurting and didn't
hurry either. Now we'll have to wait and see if our other guys can surprise
us. They have ridden hard for Robbie since the start of the Tour though,
but maybe Merckx, Verbrugghe, Baguet can still do something ."
Simoni won't give up yet
Photo: © Sirotti
Gilberto Simoni, winner of this year's Giro d'Italia, has found himself
on the defensive and at the wrong end of the general classification, before
the race has even hit the Alps. Simoni's Saeco team rode a disappointing
team time trial, knocking themselves out of the early hunt for the maillot
jaune. Indeed, Simoni commented after the first crucial test that he had
hoped to be in position to take the yellow jersey at Alpe d'Huez. Instead,
he must now find a second wind and go on the attack as the race hits the
"It was an enormous disappointment," Simoni told l'Equipe after the
team time trial. "The first important test was the team time trial, and
for us that went poorly. It's true that I had hoped for a big performance
Simoni still thinks Armstrong is beatable, but expects other riders
to be prepared to join in the attacks when the crunch time comes. He also
is ready to dig deep in this year's Tour, adding that, "I do best when
it's really tough; I like to suffer."
One of Lance Armstrong's - and Simoni's - rivals who is sitting in good
position is Jan Ullrich, whom Simoni sees as a genuine contender for a
top place in this year's Tour. "First of all, he looks very good physically,
but that's not what really impresses me," Simoni commented. "He seems
to have an enormous desire, and he could have a few surprises for us."
Simoni sits just over three minutes behind race leader Victor Hugo Peña
(US Postal), and more importantly, Lance Armstrong, who thanks to the
team time trial has moved into second place just 1" behind his teammate.
Jan Ullrich has kept himself within a minute of the yellow jersey, and
Simoni's perennial Italian rival Stefano Garzelli is two minutes off of
yellow and a further minute ahead of Simoni.
Having already declared that l'Alpe d'Huez will be the among the decisive
days of the Tour, Simoni is unlikely to let himself be content with a
hunt for stage wins. Three minutes is a sizable gap to Lance Armstrong,
but strong attacks from rival climbers could still keep the mountain stages
interesting for Simoni and company.
Special prize for Geslin
Anthony Geslin spent 190+ kilometres in front with Stuart O'Grady today,
but wasn't able to claim a big prize at the end, as he and O'Grady were
caught within sight of the finish line. However he did win a special prize
after crossing a line in Le Guidon (the hometown of Bernard Thevenet)
at kilometre 123 in the lead. Geslin will be awarded a a piece of artwork
by Town Mayor Roger Aupecle.
Basque language allowed in Pau-Bayonne stage
By Martin Hardie, Cyclingnews correspondent
The Mayor of Bayonne and the Director of the Tour have come to an agreement
to ensure the presence of the Basque language in the stage that finishes
in that city on the 23rd of July. According to the Council, the agreement
acknowledges there will be a commentator in the Basque language and bilingual
Tour signage (French-Euskera) as the stage crosses through the Basque
Country between Pau and Bayonne.
The agreement was reached yesterday by the City Council and the Tour
and will substitute it for the one made previously between the Tour, the
Basque political party, Batasuna, and the Basque language organisation,
Euskal Herrian Euskeraz (EHE). That agreement was finally annulled after
what Tour Director Jean Marie Leblanc described as the "grand commotion"
and pressure from the Spanish Government.
Following the "commotion" the Mayor of Bayonne requested that the Tour
permit the presence of the commentator and the bilingual signage to ensure
that the Basque language was not the victim of the storm raised in Madrid.
It has been reported that all involved in the agreement are very satisfied.
Whether that includes the Spanish Government is not clear.
Armstrong to race post-Tour crit in Denmark
Photo: © Sirotti
The organisers of the Grand Prix CSC Scandihealth in Hadsten, Denmark
have announced the presence of Lance Armstrong for their post-Tour criterium
that will take place on July 31, four days after the finish of the Tour
de France. The race has been organized for the last 10 years and it is
the biggest of its kind in Denmark.
"We have worked on the 'Armstrong project' for a long time and are therefore
very happy that it has succeeded," said director Jesper Tikiøb. "The US
Postal organisation and Johan Bruyneel told us Tuesday in France that
Armstrong will race."
The Grand Prix CSC Scandihealth is 60 km long and is held on a 1.4 km
circuit. All Danish professional riders are usually present at the event.
Bjarne Riis has won it four times, while CSC's Tyler Hamilton won it last
Some real Tour trivia
As heard on "Opération Tour de France" - everything about the Tour but
nothing from the race - a radio program on Radio Donna in Belgium.
Axel Merckx is tall, and being 1.92m he didn't fit in the shower of
the Lotto-Domo bus, so the ingenious soigneurs managed to alter the cabin
with a special plastic basin. Now the shower is called the "Axel box".
The bus is equipped with more luxurious items. Next to a big fridge,
the Lotto-Domo riders have a TV and VCR at their disposal. The personnel
tape all the stages, so after the finish the riders can see the race/sprint
in replay from a different angle than on the bike!
Michael Boogerd (Rabobank), Dutchman living in Flanders.
Reporter: "On July the 11th, 1302 the Flemish people beat the French,
so it's a Flemish holiday. Did you know that?"
Boogerd: "No, I didn't."
Reporter: "So, since you are living in Flanders, will you help one of
our boys win today?"
Boogerd: (laughs) "It would be nice for Belgium if they get a stage
win today with one of their riders, but, I can't promise you we'll let
a Belgian from another team win though by not chasing if he attacks, the
team has too much interest in winning a stage ourselves! But, we'll put
all our money on our Flemish rider Marc Wauters today, ok?!"
Giuseppe Guerini (Telekom): Pain in right knee
Erik Zabel (Telekom): Cuts and contusions on left elbow, right thigh and
Juan Miguel Mercado (iBanesto.com): Digestive troubles
Remmert Wielinga (Rabobank): Cuts and bruising on left hip
Jesus Manzano (Kelme): Left knee pain
Robbie McEwen did not appear to suffer any serious injuries from his
crash in the finale of stage 6.
Fabio Baldato abandoned due to injuries from his stage 1 crash. The
Alessio rider had a severe cut on his right hand which after surgical
examination required seven stitches.
Also, Ivan Parra (Kele) was fined SFR50 for incorrect comportment, as
per UCI rule 12.1.040.
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