Tour de France Cycling News for July 1, 2004
Edited by John Stevenson
Life goes on like a song for Stuart O'Grady
By Anthony Tan
I get knocked down, but I get up
again: Life goes on for Stuart O'Grady
Photo ©: AFP
Stuart O'Grady certainly did not expect such an eventful 2004 when he
decided to join Cofidis late last year, but the French team's main man
for the upcoming Tour de France could well prove to be their shining light
amidst a barrage of doping allegations that have plagued the team almost
since the start of the year.
The song 'Tubthumping' by European anarchist band Chumbawamba
has never resounded so strongly for the freckled-faced sprinter from Adelaide,
his favourite part the lyric: 'I get knocked down, but I get up again,
you're never going to keep me down'. From his third place at the World
Cup opener Milan-San
Remo on March 20 - to breaking
a rib in a crash at the E3 Prijs Vlaanderen one week later - to the
entire Cofidis team being
suspended two days before Paris-Roubaix - to his team manager
and doctor leaving the day before the team's return to competition
at the Four Days of Dunkirk on May 5 - to his brilliant return to form
at the Dauphiné
Libéré in early June - and now, less than two weeks before the start
of the world's greatest cycling event, his team-mate David Millar is reported
to have admitted to using the sport's perennial blood-boosting agent
EPO, according to French sports newspaper L'Equipe. Will it ever
"I definitely didn't expect to see this coming, that's for sure. I still
don't believe there's a problem involved with the team itself; I believe
it's a problem with individuals," said O'Grady in an interview with Cyclingnews
from his European home in Toulouse, France. "So, yeah, I've had a pretty
tough year, but I came back well after missing the Classics, and I've
come back hungry. I've tried to keep having fun and givin' it everything
I've got... and just try not to think about all the crap that's going
Despite an interrupted season of training and racing, the former wearer
of both the yellow jersey and green jersey at the Tour de France is, somewhat
ironically, enjoying his best season to date. At his last major stage
race outing, the Critérium
du Dauphiné Libéré (somewhat of a mini-Tour de France), "Stuey"
was unstoppable, winning two stages and finishing second, third and fourth
in another three, as well as taking the overall prize in the sprints classification.
Not only that, but his prowess in the prologue already sees O'Grady's
eyes firmly focused on the 'golden fleece' in the opening week of the
Tour de France: "Obviously Brad McGee and [Fabian] Cancellara are going
to be favourites for the prologue, but I hope to finish within 10 seconds
of the winner. There's going to be three stages where we're going to go
all-out for the bonus sprints, so it's going to be a real battle for the
yellow jersey those first few days, that's for sure," he said.
A fortnight after the traditional finish of the Tour in Paris, O'Grady
will ride in Olympic Games road race in Athens, which, based on current
form and the demanding parcours offered, places him high on the list of
favourites for an Olympic gold medal.
Look out for the full interview to be posted on Cyclingnews tomorrow.
Simoni ready for a quiet start
After making lots of noise before the 2003 Tour de France but very little
in the race itself until his face-saving win of stage
14, Gilberto Simoni is taking a less gung-ho approach to this year's
race, but, he says, he still believes he's a contender.
Simoni admits that he came to last year's Tour tired, but this year feels
he has, "much more energy than last year."
"I'm still convinced I've got the right characteristics to be a contender
at the Tour," said Simoni. "Naturally the experience of last year taught
me a lot and I'm trying to use it all this year".
But instead of making a conscious effort to challenge for the overall
lead, which was the plan last year, in 2004 Simoni will take each day
as it comes. "I'm going to start the race quietly and prudently," he said.
"I'm going to wait to see what happens in the team time trial and then
day after day I'll try and understand what I can do".
The 2003 Giro left Simoni mentally tired, he says. Without the pressure
of defending the lead he finished this year's race fresher. "I think it
could be an important factor in the final part of the Tour," he said.
"In the key moments of the race, when things get really hard, I think
I'll have something left to give".
However, Simoni admits he has no real idea how his form is. "I haven't
raced since the Giro except for a few criteriums and so I can't really
know how well I'm going," he said. "However I spent 10 days in Maloia
in Switzerland with my family and I've done a very careful final build
up for the Tour."
Simoni's favourite for the Tour is the reigning champion, "Lance Armstrong.
I know people who saw him training on the Mortirolo and so I think differently.
He knows what he wants."
Simoni, for his part, wants, "to be in the action, fight on equal terms
with the best because I've got the conviction to know that I'm up to it.
I'd like to get some results just as I did last year when I won the stage
in the Pyrenees, but this year I want to do it without losing sight of
the overall classification."
Scott Sunderland: Back for another crack at the Tour
Scott Sunderland last rode the Tour de France in 1996 - more than half
of his professional cycling career ago. After his 1998 crash in the Amstel
Gold Race, he thought he would never have the opportunity to ride it again.
But things have turned around and he will take the start in Liège on July
3 with his Alessio-Bianchi teammates, all eager for success in the greatest
race of all. A few days before the Tour, Cyclingnews' Chief Online
Editor Jeff Jones caught up with Scott for a pre-race chat.
Scott Sunderland working out what
Photo ©: Sabine Sunderland
Cyclingnews: How does it feel to be coming back to the Tour after
all these years?
Scott Sunderland: It's great. The feeling of excitement
hasn't set in as yet, but I expect it to well up in my stomach once I
get to the hotel in Liège. I'm actually really relaxed with the thought
of riding another Tour. Only wondering how I'm going to get everything
in that one suitcase!
Judging from the dozens of emails coming in, it is the greatest thing
for my supporters. They're all so geed up for it! But, me riding the Tour
de France was already discussed in January, so the selection wasn't a
big surprise to be honest. One of the reasons why I signed up for Alessio-Bianchi
at the end of last season was because I wanted to ride another Tour de
Also with this being an Olympic year. The Olympics are a very important
goal for me this year and the Australian selectors consider the Tour de
France to be the ideal preparation.
Alessio-Bianchi's Team manager Bruno Cenghialta knows very well what
my exact abilities and qualities are. There wasn't much more I had to
prove to him. The fact I finished 22nd in last year's Giro d'Italia didn't
go unnoticed by the teams looking for Tour riders.
here for the full interview.
Vasseur ban upheld
A French court yesterday ruled that the ban on Cedric Vasseur's participation
in this year's Tour de France would stand, according to a report from
Reuters. As one of the riders under investigation by French police in
the doping affair involving current and former Cofidis riders and staff,
Vasseur was excluded from the Tour by Tour organizer ASO's recent decision
not to allow the inclusion of any rider involved in a doping investigation.
Vasseur had not been named as a member of Cofidis' Tour team as a result,
but says he will appeal the court's ruling.
Dean happy to have made it
Credit Agricole's Julian Dean says he is happy to have made the Tour
after a speedy recovery from a disastrous crash in May that broke both
his elbows. Dean told the Rotorua Daily Post that a Tour berth
was the main motivator during the hours of turbo-trainer time necessary
to maintain his fitness during his recovery. "I was getting to the stage
of my career where I thought it would be a shame if I didn't do a Tour
de France," he said.
Dean's role at the Tour will be as lead-out man for Credit Agricole's
big Norwegian sprinter Thor Hushovd. He'd prefer a more center-stage role,
he says. "For me it's not the ideal circumstances in which I'd dreamt
about going to the tour but I'm happy to be going," he said.
Once he's started, he is determined to finish, even though that means
battling the mountains that dominate the race's second half. "The idea
is to take it one day at a time," he said. "Whether I can finish will
be another story... if I can get through the first 10 days without any
injuries or crashes then I'll take it as it comes. I'd really like to
finish the whole race, I'm starting with that in mind but the team have
other riders you have objectives for as well," he said.
Like many others, Dean is picking Lance Armstrong as the race favourite,
calling the five-time Tour winner, "a crafty cat and a super athlete.
He's got a lot more at stake here than anyone. He's probably more motivated
than he's ever been".
LIVE! - Tour de France fantasy game 2004
Giant's new TCR Advanced
GIANT has confirmed the main prize this year - the latest Giant TCR Advanced
frameset in T-Mobile colours. With a claimed weight of 1250g for the frame,
fork and built-in seatpost, the frame uses new kinds of composite fibres
and resin; a "scientifically selected and custom made combination of several
different special aerospace grade high strength high modulus fibres" (according
to Giant) has been combined with a "new nano resin" to make the frame
both lighter and stiffer than the existing TCR Composite. Heavy influence
from riders in teams such as T-Mobile has allowed them to "increase both
the strength and rigidity of the frame whilst using less material."
Zero Gravity brake
ZERO GRAVITY will be providing its super-light Ciamillo brakes - worth
US$355 each. The CNC-machined, 7075 aluminium stoppers weigh just 96g
for a rear caliper and 98g for a front. A pair of Dura-Ace brake calipers,
for comparison, weighs 314g. Zero Gravity brakes achieve their trivial
gram count by use of a CNC-machined caliper and incorporate a cam system
that provides better stopping power than conventional designs.
full prize list includes a Giant TCR Advanced frameset, CycleOps - One
Electronic Trainer worth US$799, Bontrager Wheels, Zero Gravity brakes,
Salsa - Competidor™ six panel shorts and Rudy Project's new Tour de France
edition glasses. More prizes will be announced shortly.
All you need to do to enter is pick a team of 15 riders to race and select
9 riders each day during the tour. It's a great way to follow the Tour.
To register go to fantasy.cyclingnews.com
. Good luck!
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2004)