Tour de France Cycling News for July 5, 2004
Edited by Chris Henry & Jeff Jones
Kirsipuu powers back
Jaan Kirsipuu (Ag2r-Prévoyance)
Photo ©: Sirotti
"I'm not a Petacchi or a McEwen, but I've got power," Jaan Kirsipuu said
of his sprinting style, which carried him to victory in the first road
stage of the Tour de France Sunday.
The 34 year old Estonian veteran, who has faithfully ridden his entire
professional career for Ag2r-Prévoyance team director Vincent Lavenu,
powered back to Tour glory with a convincing sprint win ahead of a deep
field of fast finishers. Kirsipuu got the better of Robbie McEwen and
Thor Hushovd, while heavy favourite Alessandro Petacchi found himself
caught short and out of position in the frantic finale in Charleroi.
"I didn't expect to win the sprint today," Kirsipuu admitted. "Up until
the Tour de France, I wasn't really in good condition and I did a very
bad prologue yesterday. But today at the halfway point in the stage, I
started feeling better and when I saw that I was going well in the intermediate
sprints, I got some more confidence."
Sunday's win was Kirsipuu's 116th career win. Kirsipuu will celebrate
his 35th birthday on July 17.
1 full results, report & photos
It's been a difficult start to the Tour for Brad McGee (FDJeux.com),
winner of the prologue last year and wearer of the yellow jersey. McGee
entered the Tour in excellent form this year, following his prologue victory
and breakthrough performance in the general classification in the Giro
d'Italia and overall victory in the Route du Sud in June. McGee didn't
repeat his prologue performance, citing a lack of power due in part to
his effort to drop weight and improve his climbing skills. Stage 1, however,
went much worse.
McGee finished in 186th place on the day, limping across the line after
a day of chasing with the help of his faithful teammate Matthew Wilson.
Suffering from intense back pain, McGee was dropped from the main field
on each of the climbs and following repeated accelerations before the
"My back is cut in half; I couldn't feel my legs," he explained after
the finish. "I couldn't get any power out of them. I upset it last weekend
and it's just been on and off ever since. It's complicated. Basically
my hip has just fallen out of place. It just falls in and out from where
it has to be. Today it was obviously out of place.
"Last weekend I took some time out to plant two olive trees in my garden,"
he explained. "That night I felt a little back pain and I did something
stupid: the next day, instead of taking it easy, I went out and did five
hours, doing a climb and then a series of intense intervals to lead out
Baden Cooke in the sprints. I shouldn't have done that..."
Photo ©: Olympia
Caught in an early crash along with Oscar Sevilla and Guillaume Auger,
Mario Cipollini (Domina Vacanze) didn't suffer any serious injury in Sunday's
wet, wild stage 1. Cipollini, who abandoned this year's Giro d'Italia
after a crash, hasn't spent much time racing this season and considers
himself a bit short of form in his big return to the Tour de France.
"My crash, which wasn't long after the start, shouldn't have any real
consequences," the former world champion said. "I think after the team
time trial I'll be ready to contest the sprint victories. I'll be in the
rhythm a bit better."
Sevilla and Auger also were up and riding after the crash and finished
the stage without incident.
Voigt chases yellow
Team CSC's Jens Voigt, a former stage winner in the Tour de France, is
never one to shy away from an attack. An aggressive rider by nature, Voigt
went on the offensive in stage 1 with the goal of gaining bonus seconds
in the intermediate sprints to move him closer to the top of the leader
board. Voigt finished in seventh place, just 11 seconds behind prologue
winner Fabian Cancellara on the Tour's opening day. Thanks to his breakaway
effort in stage 1 he gained four seconds the first intermediate sprint
of the day Sunday.
"I was aiming to take the maillot jaune however I could," Voigt explained
after the stage. "I started early, getting in a break almost immediately
after the start, and I tried to stay in front the whole day to contest
the bonus sprints.
"We were a bit unlucky because Bernhard Eisel from FDJeux.com fell. We
all waited a bit for him, but that perhaps lost us the few seconds we
needed to stay clear for the second bonus sprint. Things didn't work quite
as I hoped, but I tried anyway."
Voigt's reward was the first combativity prize, and a handy €2,000
payday. Both Voigt and team director Bjarne Riis have a clear intention
to get the big German as close to the yellow jersey as possible, with
the hope that a strong team time trial performance could land him in yellow
Voigt's teammate Jakob Piil carried on with the attacking ways, breaking
clear with Rabobank's Marc Wauters and putting in a strong effort that
fell just short of the finish in Charleroi.
Stage 1 - Aussie reactions
Baden Cooke (FDJeux.com, 6th)
"I felt good but it was rough as in the sprint. I saw Stuey [O'Grady]
go down next to me with four kilometres to go."
Nick Gates (Lotto-Domo, 188th)
"It was a terrible day for me. I crashed with 90 km to go and I smashed
my knee on my handlebar. I had a lot of trouble getting to the finish.
If it's like this tomorrow I won't be starting."
But Gates has no choice in the matter now, as the race jury determined
that he was five minutes outside the cutoff time for the stage and he
Stuart O'Grady (Cofidis, 153rd)
Stuart O'Grady just shook his head after he crossed the line in the back
part of the peloton, clearly very angry at the crash that took him out
with 4 km to go.
The weather for tomorrow's second stage from Charleroi to Namur should
be kinder than it was today, as it's expected to be dry for the whole
stage. The wind will be blowing at 15-20 km/h from the southwest, which
will assist the riders in the final part of the stage. The predicted temperatures
are 17-18 degrees at the start, rising to a maximum of 20-22 degrees in
Bradley McGee (FDJeux.com) suffered serious lumbar pain.
Several other riders crashed today, but none had serious injuries according
to the race doctors: Mario Cipollini (Domina Vacanze), Oscar Sevilla and
Oscar Pereiro Sio (Phonak), Guillaume Auger (RAGT), Dimitry Fofonov (Cofidis),
Bernhard Eisel (FDJeux.com), Alessandro Bertolini (Alessio-Bianchi), Nick
Gates (Lotto-Domo) and Benjamin Noval (USPS-Berry Floor), among others.
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2004)