Tour de France News for July 24, 2003
Edited by Jeff Jones & Chris Henry
Disbelief at Hamilton's ride
Well, Hamilton couldn't believe
Photo: © Sirotti
Tyler Hamilton's incredible performance in Stage
16 to hold off the peloton by nearly two minutes in Bayonne after
a 100 km solo breakaway will go down as one of the great rides in this
Tour de France, which has seen several outstanding performances so far.
But still, some of his colleagues cannot believe that he did it, given
that he still has a cracked collarbone.
Michael Boogerd commented to the press that, "It's incredible that the
American can do this. Today, the race was so hard again. Two times we
managed to create a gap. After the last climb I had the feeling that out
tempo was not high enough to avoid a mass-sprint. But he just kept hammering
at the front." Telekom director Walter Godefroot still has his doubts
about Hamilton's fracture, but defended himself in the VUM newspapers
today. "I have never said that Tyler is lying!" said the Belgian. "But
my doubts remain. I have seen many collarbone fractures in my team. It
was unimaginable that those guys would race. I broke the same bone myself;
I know what I'm talking about. Maybe the doctors now have found the way
to tape that bone better, miracles can still happen." Tour doctor Gerard
Porte explained it as follows. "Because the line of the fracture is not
complete, in medical terms, we speak of a cracked bone, not a broken one.
Hamilton was just very lucky that it is an undisplaced fracture. But there's
no doubt that he has conquered pain in this Tour."
More stage 16 comments
Alexandre Vinokourov (Telekom, 3rd GC)
Photo: © C.Henry/CN
"The legs were good but the conditions were not great for attacking,"
Telekom's Alexandre Vinokourov (3rd on GC) told L'Equipe. "When the gap
to Hamilton reached five minutes we started chasing and when the gap was
down to four minutes there was no longer any danger and we rode to win
the stage with Zabel."
"I'm concentrating on the time trial to try to do something. I'm not
saying I'm capable of taking three minutes from Armstrong but I will fight
to conserve my third place."
Haimar Zubeldia (Euskaltel-Euskadi, 4th GC)
"Hamilton did a great ride and it's true that our plans were a bit disrupted,"
said Zubeldia, who will have to ride well on Saturday to prevent Hamilton
from taking 1'20 back from him. "What's more, at the moment the attack
started, Iban Mayo had a mechanical problem. The stage really didn't go
as we had hoped. It's too bad, but I still have the time trial in Nantes
to try for the podium."
Sandy Casar (FDJeux.com, 8th stage)
Photo: © C.Henry/CN
"It's always a pleasure to be in front and to animate the race," said
Casar of his ride in the breakaway in stage 16. "It's good for the morale.
I recovered well during the rest day and in the final road stages I will
try to do something."
Ludovic Turpin (Ag2r, 80th stage)
"I went after 20 kilometres even though I wasn't feeling fantastic.
When Hamilton joined us I told myself 'that's going to complicate things'.
It's too bad for me because each time I find myself ahead, the break doesn't
last until the end."
David Millar (Cofidis, 145th stage)
"I'm completely exhausted and very upset but to attack from the start
was the only card I had to play," said Millar, who was active from kilometre
13. "I know that I rode hard when Bettini sat up but it was a risk I had
to take. I hoped that behind it would have broken up and afterwards I
found myself in the right break but Hamilton was too strong and he demolished
the peloton. I finished in the grupetto and mentally that's very hard.
I'm a bit demoralised that this has not been the Tour de France of my
The battle for green
With just three stages left in the Tour for the sprinters, the battle
for the green points jersey is likely to come down to the final sprint
on the Champs Elysées again. Green jersey wearer Baden Cooke (156 points)
believes that he has a good chance of holding onto it until Paris, as
his main rival Robbie McEwen is not quite at top form.
"McEwen is not as good as last year," Cooke told Het Laatste Nieuws.
"Robbie has been racing for one year and a half at 100 percent. You can't
hold that. Now he's only at 95 percent and that makes him vulnerable.
But the green jersey is not done yet: there's still three more days of
fighting for the bonifications."
Robbie McEwen (148 points) said that, "I survived the Pyrenees without
problems, physically I'm still very good. I still have three big chances,
and the victory in Paris can make everything good. A stage victory and
green, that's still the ultimate dream."
Erik Zabel (143 points) moved up to third in the classification after
taking second in the stage yesterday. But he says he only has one thing
on his mind. "Sorry, I'm not interested any more in the green jersey but
the stage victory still interests me. I have accepted I'm not among the
very fastest of the peloton anymore. Other guys are establishing themselves.
Since the day I accepted this I feel much happier."
Ullrich given Fair Play prize
Ullrich avoided the crash, but
Photo: © AFP
Jan Ullrich has been awarded a prize for Fair Play by the Deutsche Olympische
Gesellschaft (German Olympic Committee) for his actions during the 15th
stage of the Tour de France. The stage that finished on Luz Ardiden saw
race leader Lance Armstrong crash when he tangled his brakes with a spectator's
musette. Iban Mayo was right behind him and crashed as well, while Ullrich
managed to avoid it and suddenly found himself in the lead. Instead of
taking advantage of the situation, Ullrich slowed while Armstrong regained
contact, and eventually finished 40 seconds behind the Texan who attacked
shortly after catching the group.
"In the hard battle for the overall victory in the Tour, Ullrich did
not want to profit from the bad luck of his rival," said GOC chairman
Hans-Joachim Klein. "In doing that he followed an important sporting principle:
fight each other on an equal basis."
Lotto-Domo: and then there were six
Nick Gates abandoned the Tour yesterday after around 50 km, reducing
the Lotto-Domo team to six riders from the original nine. Gates, who is
riding in his first Tour, told AFP a few days ago he would probably have
fared a little better physically if he had not had to contest the Tours
of Italy and Switzerland in order to prove his worth to Lotto.
"The Tour is totally different from the Giro or the Tour of Switzerland,
but I think that on top of what I've already done, I'm at my end. I feel
physically empty," he said. "I've never ridden a big Tour before and now
I've done two in one year, and the Tour of Switzerland in between and,
physically, it's just impossible."
Even though he didn't finish those two stage races he feels it has been
too much for him to handle. "This is damn hard" Gates said to the Belgian
Not making it to Paris is a big disappointment for the Australian, who
had to hold back the tears and disappeared into the team bus, watched
by his parents. In addition, after battling through the Alps and the Pyrenees,
his teammates now miss out on a €10,500 prize bonus, as teams that
get to Paris with seven or more riders get a premium of €1,500 per
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