Tour de France News for July 25, 2003
Edited by Jeff Jones
Who will win the Centenary Tour?
By Günter Krause-Friebertshäuser
Photo: © J.Devich/CN
Everyone will certainly know the answer to this question in two days'
time in Paris, and more than likely it will be determined in tomorrow's
time trial between Pornic and Nantes. Will Lance Armstrong successfully
defend his title, or will Jan Ullrich pull off an improbable win in the
time trial to overtake the Maillot Jaune on GC? German TV channel ZDF
questioned some insiders about their opinion of who will win the Centenary
Johan Bruyneel (US Postal director)
"I expect a very hard battle, a tight race between Jan Ullrich and Lance.
We have 1.07 now and that's definitely a lot better than the 15 seconds
before. But it could turn out good for both of them."
Rudy Pevenage (Bianchi director)
With a shy smile: "Jan Ullrich."
"Ullrich will win the time trial, but 1'07 is a lot of time. This Tour
is incomparable, its suspense will last until its last meter. But I like
the risk: I bet on Ullrich."
Richard Virenque (Quick.Step)
"Armstrong! He has already won four times and Ullrich won't be strong
enough to win on his own."
Grischa Niermann (Rabobank)
"For German cycling it would be fantastic if Jan could win his second
Tour. On the other hand Armstrong is a great champion. Both of them deserve
Alexandre Vinokourov (Telekom)
Photo: © C.Henry/CN
"I would prefer Ullrich. He was great in the last time trial. But he
will have to fight heavily to gain more than one minute on Armstrong,
who will be much more motivated than in the previous time trial."
Michael Boogerd (Rabobank)
"I really like Jan and I think it would be good for him to win the Tour
again. I hope he will."
Robbie McEwen (Lotto-Domo)
"I'd like to see Jan win. He has had a hard comeback and now finds himself
in an unexpected position. It will be good for him and also for the race."
Brad McGee (FDJeux.com)
"It's gonna be very difficult for Ullrich to regain the time. But no
doubt he's very motivated. I wouldn't put money on either one or the other."
Jörg Jaksche (ONCE)
"Well, my bets are still on Ulle (nickname of Ullrich among German riders)
and I hope for him. Why? It's just my feeling."
Stuart O'Grady (Crédit Agricole)
"I think Armstrong will now probably win. The last time trial will be
flat and fast. Ullrich will still have his chance, but Armstrong might
be able to defend his advantage."
Udo Bölts (Gerolsteiner)
"I think Armstrong, because he has overcome his short period of weakness."
Christophe Moreau (Crédit Agricole)
"Now the circumstances are for Armstrong. He's in front, also physical,
he has overcome his weakness and is not exhausted."
Bjarne Riis (CSC director and former captain of Jan Ullrich)
Photo: © C.Henry/CN
"I know you Germans like to hear me say: Jan. And I surely would appreciate
it. But I think Lance looks great..."
Laurent Fignon (former TdF winner, and lost by 8 seconds
to Greg LeMond in 1989)
"It seems to be Armstrong again. He has more than a minute on Ullrich
and the heat that caused his weakness is gone. He's in front now. 70%
Erik Zabel (Telekom)
"As a friend of Jan it's not easy to say. I think we will have a finale
as with LeMond and Fignon. Who will win will be decided by the Good Lord."
Robbie McEwen relaxed but on track for green
By Gabriella Ekström in Bordeaux
Robbie McEwen started the 18th stage with a six point deficit on Baden
Cooke in the green jersey classification, but managed to erase that in
the first intermediate sprint after 50 km. The defending green jersey
champion looked relaxed as he spoke to cyclingnews at the start of Stage
"Everyone says that this green jersey thing is so exciting but I think
it's getting to be a bit too much excitement for me," McEwen joked. "I
want a boring race where I have a big lead. It will come down to Sunday,
just like last year and I'm pretty much getting used to that."
McEwen has gotten through the hardest part of the Tour now, and thinks
that he is improving his speed again. "I was sick in the Alps but I was
still close to Baden in the sprints," he said. "I lacked a bit of power
then but I feel a lot better now - the strength has come back. I took
two points in the sprint behind the break yesterday. It's not much but
in circumstances like this it's important. I think today it's going to
come down to the same scenario again where a break goes and we'll sprint
for whatever's left. I don't think I'll be in the lead after this stage,
but maybe closer."
Zabel doesn't rule out Green
By Günter Krause-Friebertshäuser
The six time winner of the points classification Erik Zabel has not
been too satisfied with his 2003 Tour. He could not win a stage yet and
didn't even wear "his Green" for a single day. Zabel (157 pts) is next
to Robbie McEwen (163 pts) and the current wearer of green Baden Cooke
(169 pts) as one of the three sprint favourites. Yesterday, Zabel said
that the green jersey no longer interested him, but he was still on the
lookout for a stage win. However, it seems that Zabel is finding himself
in a good position to challenge for the green now.
After Stage 17, where he finished 12th in Bordeaux (second in the bunch
sprint behind McEwen), Zabel told German TV, "As I said before today's
start, the chance of a breakaway group succeeding would be very probable."
About his own performance in the stage, Zabel stated, "It didn't go
too well for me since I intended to get away with a group to put some
pressure on McEwen and Cooke. But I failed. After the group escaped, we
went very fast for about 30 or 40 kilometres until the peloton made its
decision to the advantage of the guys in front. These ten riders worked
nearly as well as if they were in a team time trial. The four teams working
heavily in the peloton to catch them were not able to gain more time on
them than five seconds in 20 kilometres. It was crazy. And this will encourage
more riders in stage 18. So we will have the same situation."
If the sprinters are not able to win the 18th stage and Zabel isn't
going for Green, why did he sprint for 11th place? "Of course, your head
doesn't easily agree with sprinting for 11th place, but you must not forget
that I'm paid for it. Certainly the adrenaline flow is better when you
go for a stage win. And the Green Jersey, it doesn't leave me alone...it
seems to be my fate."
Peter Luttenberger moves up
Team CSC's Peter Luttenberger jumped a few places on the general classification
in Stage 17 yesterday, after gaining eight minutes on the peloton by being
part of the stage winning breakaway. The Austrian mountain goat now sits
in 13th on GC, at 19'03 down.
"The parcours yesterday was not really my cup of tea," Luttenberger
told L'Equipe today. "I barely weigh 60 kilos so it's hard for someone
like me to ride kilometre after kilometre at 60 km/h. But I was ready
to accept the challenge and I had discussed the tactics with Bjarne. I
couldn't win the stage but the good thing was I moved up to 13th overall
and the team kept its first place."
Who was third on Luz Ardiden?
Ullrich and Zubeldia
Photo: © Olympia
The sprint for second place behind Lance Armstrong atop Luz
Ardiden last Monday was hotly contested, with Jan Ullrich, Iban Mayo
and Haimar Zubeldia fighting it out. With 12 and 8 second bonuses for
second and third place, Ullrich was definitely interested in sprinting,
while Mayo and Zubeldia seemed to want to try and salvage some Basque
pride by sprinting for the places after sitting on Ullrich's wheel the
whole way up the climb. In the end, Mayo took second while Ullrich and
Zubeldia fought it out for a very close third place. Television images
appeared to show that Zubeldia took third, although in the end Ullrich
was awarded third place by the finish line judges, and gained a potentially
crucial eight seconds.
Cyclingnews spoke to one of the members of the jury, Mr Celeste Granziera
of Italy about the judge's decision. Granziera explained that, "Perhaps
that's the way it looked from TV. The TV camera shooting from straight
ahead has a parallax view which compresses the image. However the two
finish line judges are very experienced, having done over 20 Tours de
France each and we have the photo finish videoline system where we can
examine in slow motion, centimetre by centimetre, the finish line situation,
and even enlarge it considerably. So we're confident about the way the
call was made."
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