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Tour de France Cycling News for July 5, 2004

Edited by Chris Henry

Wilson the worker

Cyclingnews spoke with Matt Wilson (FDJeux.com) before the start today, and the Australian champion was expecting to have another hard day in the service of his teammates. Yesterday he had to nurse the injured Brad McGee to the finish, after McGee suffered from lower back problems throughout the stage. "Brad wasn't feeling too good so I had to look after him and just got him to the finish."

How is Brad feeling today? "Much the same I think, but you never really know until you get on the bike." Matt's role will be to look after Brad "if he's in the same sort of position; If not, I'll look after Baden. "

The finish today could be interesting with the roundabout in the final kilometre, but that should suit Baden Cooke. "Oh for sure. He loves the rough sprints and there's a few corners so it will be good for him."

Sunderland content

The Belgian based Scott Sunderland (Alessio-Bianchi) is enjoying the first part of the Tour, which is being run on many familiar roads. When asked about yesterday's stage, Sunderland was very positive. "I was comfortable," he said. "I was comfortable at the start, I was jumping around a bit there. I thought my teammate Marcus [Ljungqvist] was going to be there with Bettini. I thought if I could get a jump away yesterday I'd see how I go for the mountain jersey but I saw Bettini was pretty hot for it and a few other guys as well. It was OK. I had a comfortable day, I kept myself upright with the falls left, right and centre. It was pretty good."

"It's prudence," Sunderland said about the necessity of avoiding crashes in the first week. "That's all it comes down to - not forcing it, leaving a little bit more room. You just have to be switched on the whole day. I mean I had nothing to gain by trying to get up and do the sprint. Not now anyway. It's not worthwhile to take risks in the first couple of days. Let things settle down and everybody find their place."

As for Monday's stage 2, Scott expected it would be similar to Sunday's first road stage.

"Attacks at the start, a group will go away and Fassa will ride on the front," he said. "They have a two pronged defense really - they have the yellow jersey and yesterday they had to do a lot of work so they were left short for Petacchi.

"The idea here is four of us try to go away with the attacks in the beginning and if successful, great, if not then we just put it on the back burner for tomorrow."

Check out Scott's Tour diary here.

Julich confident

One of Team CSC's GC riders, Bobby Julich, is trying to stay out of trouble during the first week of the Tour while his teammates stir it up in front. Yesterday, both Jens Voigt and Jakob Piil were involved in key breakaways, and the team was competitive right to the finish.

Julich commented before the stage 2 start that, "Yesterday my teammates had the whole peloton under pressure and then Piil countered so we were in the breakaway all day long. Arvesen did a good sprint so it was good. I think the first week of the Tour is going to be very selective. Fassa has to realise now that this isn't the Giro d'Italia and they can't ride on the front the all day and expect to win the stage. Yesterday they had to make a choice between one or the other - keep the yellow or go for the stage win and they decided to keep the yellow."

Julich added that he wasn't bothered by the rain yesterday, even though it claimed a few victims. "We ride and train in rain all year so it's not that big of a deal. But it's always tricky."

"I feel good and I've had no problems. Stay out of trouble is my number one priority."

When asked whether he would be going in the attacks like Jens Voigt, Julich said simply, "No I'm not that kind of a rider."

Beppe Turbo ready

Jan Ullrich's key man on T-Mobile for the mountains to challenge Lance Armstrong this year at the Tour de France will Giuseppe "Turbo" Guerini. The experienced Italian told Cyclingnews yesterday that "It's just the beginning of the Tour…we had hoped for something better (from Ullrich) in the prologue, but anyway, there are still 20 days to go in this Tour. Ullrich is very motivated and he feels good and wants to do well. He wants to try to win this Tour. You should see some more already from our team in the team time trial on Wednesday."

Vandevelde back in le Tour

Clad in his Liberty Seguros jersey, Christian Vandevelde is back at the Tour for the first time since 2001. After not having his contract renewed by US Postal Service at the end of 2003, Vandevelde was signed by Manolo Saiz's Liberty Seguros team, which took the place of ONCE-Eroski late last season. Liberty Seguros is a division of American insurance giant Liberty Mutual Insurance, thus the outline of the Statue Of Liberty on the jersey.

The likeable Vandevelde, who's from the Chicago suburbs, told Cyclingnews that "I got here in Liègege at the last minute and I'm feeling excited and nervous at the same time. My role here at the Tour de France is to look out for Roberto (Heras) and just being a support rider as I've been in the past. Hopefully I'll be a great asset in the team time trial as well. I'm happy and excited to be here and just want to get these first few days out of the way so I can relax a little bit."

O'Grady down, not out

With Sydneysider Matt White a non-starter at this year's Tour, Stuart O'Grady has lost his best mate. "I'm devastated…really devastated", O'Grady told Cyclingnews prior to Stage One in Liege. "It's terrible when you see someone (White) work so hard for something and then have it all disappear like that. I've lost the support of one of the worlds best domestiques, plus I've lost my roommate for the next three weeks."

White has reportedly cheered up somewhat after his initial massive disappointment and will be looking towards maintaining his form and healing his broken collarbone over the next month as he will be one of five riders selected to represent Australia in the Olympic Games road race in mid-August in Athens, Greece.

O'Grady also remains optimisitic about his chances to obtain the Maillot Vert this year. "Yeah, losing Whitey is certainly a big blow but we'll carry on and do the best with what we've got."

Ernesto speaks

Three Colnagos
Photo ©: Cyclingnews

Cyclingnews caught up with Ernesto Colnago at the Tour de France in Liège, where he had come for a quick visit and to check the special bikes that Colnago has created for Rabobank riders Leipheimer, Boogerd and Raasmussen at this year's Tour.

"We've made some very light climbing bikes just for l'Alpe d'Huez and I wanted to discuss everything with the Rabobank mechanics before the Tour got underway."

Colnago told Cyclingnews that "This Rabobank team is very motivated; the American rider Leiphemier looks very strong for the general classification and both Boogerd and the Danish rider Rassmussen want stage wins. This Rassmussen is an excellent climber and he just won a stage at the Dauphiné Libéré."


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