Tour de France News for July 28, 2003
Edited by Jeff Jones & Chris Henry
Armstrong goes five out of five
By Tim Maloney, European editor in Paris
The big three
Photo: © AFP
When Lance Armstrong climbed the podium of the Centenary Tour De France
Sunday afternoon in Paris for the fifth consecutive year, the strains
of America's national anthem once again wafted across France's Main Street,
the Champs-Elysées. Adorned with the red, white and blue of France's tricoleur,
America's Stars and Stripes and the Lone Star flag of Texas, Lance's Maillot
Jaune shined brighter than ever before as he joined the elite club of
cyclists who have won five Tours de France. And Armstrong's performance
this year at the Tour finally endeared the American to the French public,
who embraced the more human dimension of a somewhat diminished but never
Armstrong said on the Champs-Elysées after that, "It's a dream, really
a dream to win my fifth Tour. Now it's difficult to think about it...this
year, the Tour was very very hard, the hardest but now I'm very happy
because it's finished and I'm really tired. But for sure, I'll be back
next year I love cycling. I love my job and next year I'll come back to
go for a sixth win. We'll change my program a little bit for next year
and we'll hope for a little good luck next year since we had some bad
luck this year."
Armstrong declared that "this was my hardest win - we dodged some bullets;
it was a rough year at the Tour and I don't plan to make the same mistakes
twice. But my win feels more satisfying; more than the others because
of that. The crashes and near crashes takes it out of you."
Armstrong explained that "during this Tour, I started with some little
physical problems; before the Tour, I had diarrhoea and stomach problems
and then tendonitis in the hips from new shoes and cleats. I wasn't feeling
normal on the bike."
Click here for the
full results, report and photos.
Ullrich very satisfied with second place
Thank you, Jan
Photo: © C.Henry/CN
Despite crashing in yesterday's rain
slicked time trial while in the lead, Jan Ullrich (Team Bianchi) has
declared himself very satisfied with his sixth Tour de France. Ullrich
came into the Tour a little underprepared, but rode better as the race
progressed to eventually finish 1'01 behind Lance Armstrong on the general
classification, by far the closest margin between the pair in their three
"The thrill of my second place in the general classification again outweighs
everything," wrote Ullrich on his website, janullrich.de. "Two months
ago I didn't think this would be possible. For that reason I'm completely
satisfied. I rode one of my best races ever. This time I was very close
to Armstrong. Next time, without the Coast chaos, I will be even better
prepared. Lance had better look out!"
Ullrich added that in the first few hours after yesterday's time trial,
where he finished fourth, "I was a little bit down. When I looked out
of the window in the morning and saw the rain, I knew I wouldn't be able
to win this Tour any more. But I did want to win the race against the
clock. I think that would have been possible."
Photo: © Jeff Tse
"I was increasing my lead over Armstrong when I crashed on the roundabout,"
Ullrich described. "It had to be a mix of oil, rubber and sand that made
the road so slippery at this point, in the first rain period after a dry
spell. Of course I took a risk - without that you don't win races. But
I didn't risk any more on this roundabout than on any other, before or
after. Luck is a part of it. I didn't break anything after my fall. That
is the most important."
Ullrich finished by saying that he's looking forward to seeing his partner
Gaby and their newborn baby Sarah Maria.
Cooke gets green on the line
Close on the line
Photo: © AFP
Baden Cooke (FDJeux.com) carried the green jersey through this year's
Tour with last year's winner Robbie McEwen nipping at his heels. Both
riders survived the mountains, and they knew it would most likely come
down to the final stage on the Champs-Elysées.
Prior to the stage, FDJeux.com director sportif Marc Madiot told his
riders that they had ridden well in the Tour and to enjoy the final stage.
The effect was to keep the team focused and relaxed, so much so that they
provided Cooke with perfect lead-outs for two of the intermediate sprints
on the final stage.
Cooke took the first but McEwen bounced back to win the second and go
back into the lead in the points competition by only two points. "I think
the spectators have been offered a really nice spectacle today," he told
French TV. "There was a bit of stress for us today but I remained calm
the whole time. I think it was a more nervous day for McEwen than it was
for me. I stayed in the wheels of my teammates. After the first intermediate
sprint I gained confidence. The team has done such nice work for me today.
In the second sprint I was not that good. I've had a super team working
for me today!"
As they barreled onto the Champs-Elysées for the last time, Cooke recalled,
"I thought he might have had me, but I stayed calm. I had a huge gear
on and I kept cranking it over, but it seemed like it took forever. After
we crossed, Robbie said 'you got it'."
Cooke felt the sprint was hard fought but fair, an opinion shared by
UCI commissaire Smijers, who analysed the images of the final sprint and
declared there was nothing wrong with it. After McEwen had asked the jury
to look at the images carefully again, Smijers told Belgian TV1. "We looked
at it seven or eight times. There is no reason to disqualify Cooke. On
top of that we saw clearly that McEwen actually went looking for Cooke."
Cooke said that his perseverance paid off during the Tour. "I think
I came into the Tour with average form, but I kept doing the work each
day, and Brad (McGee) inspired me," he said of his teammate who won the
prologue and provided numerous leadouts. "I didn't believe I would be
in this form right now," he said modestly, but then brightened, "we're
going to wild tonight".
Lotto-Domo not too happy
Koos Moerenhout summed up Lotto-Domo's performance in the Tour de France
to TV1. "Well, this Tour hasn't exactly been a success for us. I wouldn't
call it a complete disaster, but the goal we came here with wasn't reached.
No stage win, no Green jersey. Of course that is disappointing."
Serge Baguet added, "It would have been a better Tour for us if Robbie
would have taken the green, but yeah, we'll have to accept the outcome,
Team sprinter Robbie McEwen was short in his comments after the race,
visibly disappointed but accepting defeat in a sporting way. "Last year
it was the other way around and that was fantastic," he told TV1. "Now
I am the one to see the other side of the medal. I was beaten fairly by
a stronger Cooke."
Lotto director Marc Sergeant said "Robbie went and asked the jury to
review the images. When I looked at it, first all I saw was how Cooke
swerved to the left of the road a little bit, with Robbie in his wheel
and he leaned against Robbie on the line; but then when I was looking
at the images more concentrated, you can see Robbie actually went looking
for Cooke. So yeah, the results weren't altered."
O'Grady takes Centenaire classification
Photo: © C.Henry/CN
"I got another hand for it," said a happy and relieved Stuart O'Grady,
displaying his Centenaire trophy for winning this special classification
(as well as a cheque for €50,000). Despite winning this classification,
O'Grady tried to win a stage but was frustrated by either faster sprinters
in bunch finishes, or break-away companions unwilling to lead - ironically
- a proven fast-finisher to the line. "It was a frustrating Tour for me,
personally," he said.
However, O'Grady felt that team performed well, particularly Christophe
Moreau being the highest placed Frenchman at eighth on GC."The Aussies
have been flying," he said of his countrymen contesting the points competition.
O'Grady handled the mountains better than most sprinters and also ran
a creditable 11th in the second ITT on Saturday, 1.38 behind David Millar.
"I've found new strength, but I'm definitely lacking speed in the sprints,"
As he develops as a rider, O'Grady said he is likely focus on the Spring
Classics such as the Tour of Flanders (he finished third this year), as
well as Paris-Roubaix. "They will be major objectives, and (in the Tour)
I'll go for stage wins and not the points. I think winning the polka dot
jersey will be easier than the green," he added, smiling broadly.
The US Postal-Berry Floor team was fined SFR 4,500 for wearing irregular
jerseys during Sunday's final stage. Each team member was also fined SFR
200 each, after they came to the start dressed in grey jerseys, bearing
the U.S. Mail logo. The retro jerseys were a throwback to the early years
of the postal service, and were worn to reflect the whole retro theme
of the centenary Tour.
Evgeni Petrov (iBanesto.com) was fined 100 Swiss Francs for failing
to sign in at the start.
Gerrit Glomser (Saeco): Left knee pain
José Enrique Gutierrez (Kelme-Costa Blanca): Left knee pain
Julian Usano (Kelme-Costa Blanca): Left knee pain
Thor Hushovd (Crédit Agricole): Insect bite on neck
Frédéric Finot (Jean Delatour): Digestive troubles
Post Tour criteriums in Austria
After the Tour de France there are a number of criteriums held in Austria:
The first one is in Graz on July 29, where Armstrong will ride. That will
be followed by Wels (July 30), Innsbruck (July 31), and Vienna (August
1). Wels will see Gilberto Simoni and Gerrit Glomser, Alessandro Petacchi,
Pavel Padrnos, while local hero Georg Totschnig will start in Innsbruck.
Vienna will announce the riders soon.
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