Tour de France News for July 25, 2003
Edited by Jeff Jones
Servais Knaven: Today I'll ride to win
By Gabriella Ekström in Bordeaux
Knaven on the attack
Photo: © AFP
Before Stage 17 this
morning in Dax, Servais Knaven told Cyclingnews that he'd ride to win
today. After just one kilometre, a break went and Servais Knaven showed
that he was true to his word by sitting in it. "The other teams chased
us very hard at first, and we remained at twenty or thirty seconds for
a long time," Servais said after the stage. "We worked hard to make the
break grow to a minute, and after that it kept growing. I thought la Francaise
des Jeux would chase, but they had Christophe Mengin in the break as well,
and there are not so many pure sprinter teams in the Tour that could chase
Already before the Tour, Patrick Lefevre told Servais Knaven that the
stage to Bordeaux was made for him, and Lefevre told Cyclingnews after
the stage that he and Servais had reached an agreement this morning. "Servais
asked me 'If I win today, can I stay at home in the future?' I told him;
Sure you can! However, I know that he has been looking for this stage
win for several years, and I think that now once he's won it, he'll change
here for the full interview
150th Dutch victory
Servais Knaven's victory in Bordeaux was the 150st victory by a Dutch
rider in the Tour de France (excluding team time trials). For the Dutch
cycling fans, Bordeaux is a Dutch town. Hansje Dekkers was the first Dutch
winner there in the early 1950's, when he beat compatriots Wim van Est
and Wout Wagtmans. There followed more victories in Bordeaux in the '50's,
with Jan Nolten and Henk Faanhof (1954) and Wout Wagtmans (1955). After
that, Jo de Roo (1965), Gerben Karstens (1976), Cees Priem (1980), Bert
Oosterbosch (1983), Jan Raas (1984), Jean-Paul van Poppel (1988) and Rob
Harmeling (1992) all won in Bordeaux. 10 years later, Servais Knaven is
again taking care of the Dutch 'Bordeaux feeling'.
Rubiera still focused with three stages to go
By Tim Maloney, European editor in Bordeaux
Jose Luis Rubiera
Photo: © J.Devich/CN
With the mountain stages over in this year's Tour, Chechu Rubiera (USPS-Berry
Floor) isn't relaxing yet. "Not too far now to Paris...it's getting close,"
he told Cyclingnews this morning. "I'm feeling quite well, my job is still
to take care of Lance. My GC place isn't important. We came here to win
the Tour de France, and to support him in the mountain stages like we
did put us [Rubiera and Beltran] up on GC."
This is Chechu Rubiera's third Tour with USPS and he told us that "the
closeness of the race with Jan Ullrich until now is something different.
Saturday's time trial will be the most important day of the Tour. The
other Tours I've ridden have been easier; our team has worked well at
this Tour, but the gap we had on the second place rider was bigger in
Basso Looking at top 10 in Paris
By Tim Maloney, European Editor in Bordeaux
Photo: © Sirotti
Ivan Basso (Fassa Bortolo) told us that yesterday's Stage 16, where Tyler
Hamilton's solo ride dropped the classy Italian rider one place on GC
to seventh "wasn't a great day for me...but you have to consider that
Hamilton was close to me already on GC and in the TT, he would have passed
me anyway. This has been a hard Tour but for me, I am very happy about
how I have performed."
Rumours have been circulating in the TDF press room about a possible
move by Basso to US Postal next year, but Basso didn't think that he was
likely to move to the American squad even though he has a lot of "feeling"
Competition Director Pescheux pleased with Centenary Tour
By Tim Maloney, European Editor in Bordeaux
Cyclingnews caught up with Tour de France Competition Director Jean-Francois
Pescheux before Stage 17, where he told us that the Centenary Edition
of the Tour has been a success so far.
"Well, I would say that most people are saying that the Centenary Tour
de France is a great Tour de France. The parcours is well done and there
is so much combativity from the riders. So there are a number of factors
that have come together to make the race special. As well, Armstrong has
less superiority over his competitors then in past years; he has some
strong rivals so the race is closer. There's a lot of suspense in this
year's edition and we'll all have to await the last time trial to know
who will win the Tour. We couldn't ask for more; it's a perfect scenario
for the race."
"We've also seen all the decorations and banners throughout France celebrating
the Centenary Tour de France," added Mr. Pescheux. "That's something extra
besides the riders that has made this Tour extra-special."
Cyclingnews asked Mr. Pescheux about the possibility of the Tour de
France coming to Quebec in 2008 as part of the celebration of the 400th
Anniversary of the founding of French Canada. "Quebec City is very interested
in having us come, but you know, the problem of the Tour de France once
again is that we must, above all be very careful about the sporting aspect
of the race. Of course, the riders need to rest and recover so we have
a combative, hard-fought Tour de France. It's a problem at the beginning
of the Tour de France to impose a difficult transfer on the riders. The
Tour de France isn't a (football) World Cup or Formula One. We have 21
days of racing and we can't just do anything with the Tour."
Lefevere happy with Quick.Step-Davitamon's Tour
By Tim Maloney, European Editor in Bordeaux
Quick.Step-Davitamon manager Patrick Lefevere told Cyclingnews after
Stage 17 that "Our
goal at the Tour was to win a stage and now we've won two stages and took
the Yellow Jersey for one day and we have the mountains jersey with Virenque.
Our riders are attacking every day and we might have even won another
stage with some more luck."
"Paolo Bettini is always ready to make something good happen," continued
Lefevere. "On Stage 16, Paolo was unlucky since he had a mechanical that
kept him from getting in the break, but Paolo wants to win in Paris so
it should be very beautiful...if the best one day rider can win on the
"As for our Australian rider Michael Rogers, he's been fantastic in
this Tour. Michael has been riding on a very high level for a few months
now. I'm very pleased with him and he's surprised me with his results
since May. Here in the Tour, he's had a lot of power and I hope for the
future, he's a diamond.
"We'll have a new team next year, sponsored by Bodysol body products
which is a division of Davitamon. This will be a GS 2 squad and the goal
for us is to bring our young riders along...I have a lot of talent on
Quick.Step-Davitamon and so I don't want to lose them all. This squad
will give our talented young guys the chance to get a lot of experience
in the races just under the major world cup events."
We asked Lefevere how Frank Vandenbroucke was doing and the answer was
positive. "Frank just finished a high altitude training camp in Livigno,
Italy. He's got a little sore throat but will likely start racing next
Monday in Belgium. His goal is the Tour of Spain and I think mentally
he's very good and focused on the World Championships in Hamilton. He
will be very strong there."
Lance's biggest fan
By Monique du Bois
Benjamin and family
Photo: © Jeff Tse
During the Tour de France you encounter all types of fans, people who
sleep in their cars on the climbs the night before, crazy Basque fans
who want you to take their picture, friendly older couples who share their
TV with you, Americans wearing the flag as a cape, cyclists who ride the
course and families having picnics.
Today we waited for the peloton with 19 year-old Benjamin Messonnier,
who is quite possibly Lance Armstrong's biggest fan. We came upon Benjamin
with his family a few hours before the race. His mother was busy painting
LANCE down the road, while his father and brother erected their home made
The Messonniers had driven over 300 km this morning to get from their
home near Toulouse to just outside of Bordeaux to watch the Postal team
leader wave to them as he rides by. Benjamin's dad helps him wave back
to Lance, since he doesn't have use of his arms.
"Yes, we're tired, but we're very happy," they said, after having seen
five stages this year.
There are parallels between Benjamin's life and Lance's. They have both
overcome huge obstacles, and in doing so seem to have glimpsed the true
meaning of life. Benjamin met Lance five years ago during his first Tour
de France win and they've been friends ever since. His mother showed us
photos of a recent visit they had with Lance and told us he and the Postal
staff were "very nice".
Today Benjamin was sporting his new US Postal hat and jersey autographed
by Armstrong. While they waited, he got a visit from one of the passing
Postal cars and a France TV2/3 news car. Benjamin is becoming somewhat
of a celebrity himself as he follows the American in yellow.
Niki Sorensen (CSC): Left Knee Pain
Leon Van Bon (Lotto-Domo): Digestive troubles
Previous News Next News
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2003)