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Tour de France Cycling News for July 6, 2004

Edited by Chris Henry & Jeff Jones

McEwen finds his legs

Robbie gets the goods
Photo ©: Sirotti

Robbie McEwen emerged victorious in stage 2 of the Tour de France with a blistering sprint into Namur, beating Thor Hushovd and Jean-Patrick Nazon to the line. Hushovd took over the yellow jersey thanks to the time bonuses, while McEwen rejoiced in the confirmation that his best form has returned at last. Already the winner of a stage of the Giro d'Italia, McEwen has now opened the Tour de France with a second place and a stage win in two days.

"This isn't really revenge after the first stage," McEwen commented. "I was already the fastest, I just miscalculated."

This year McEwen has decided to focus more on stage wins than a second victory in the green jersey points competition.

"I've rediscovered my legs of 2002," he said, referring to arguably his best season as a professional. "I feel very strong in the sprints. I did a lot of specific training before the Tour, and it's worked.

"I studied the race book [for stage 2]," he added, noting the difficult finish in Namur. "I knew I had to start the sprint in the final turn, before we could see the finish line."

Stage 2 full results, report & photos
Live report
Final start list
Tour FAQ

Armstrong nervous

Lance Armstrong is nervous about the tough parcours for stage 3 of the Tour de France from Waterloo to Wasquehal, and doubtless he's not alone. The third road stage will take the peloton over 210 kilometres across Flanders and back into France... the hard way. A tip of the Tour organisation's hat to two of the toughest races, the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix, stage 3 will include elements of both. First up is the Muur van Geraardsbergen, a steep, cobbled climb from the Tour of Flanders. In the final 65 kilometres, the riders face two tough sections of pavé from Paris-Roubaix.

The Tour de France has tackled the pavé before, but the inclusion of such harsh terrain is rare in the biggest of the grand tours. Armstrong and others expect a difficult day.

"I'm nervous for [Tuesday's stage]," Armstrong told the Associated Press. "We went to check out the pavés. Most people think they have no place in the Tour de France. I understand both points of view. It's tough because I fear that the Tour will be over for some people after tomorrow, and I could be one of them. That would be a shame."

Armstrong, however, is also a man who, having won the Tour five times, holds great respect for tradition.

"At the same time, the pavés are a real part of French cycling," he added. "Paris-Roubaix is a beautiful race. If you look at it that way, you realize that the pavés should be a part of the Tour de France."

Ullrich under the weather

Jan Ullrich
Photo ©: Sirotti

Tour contender Jan Ullrich has come down with a cold in the early going of the race, something he blames on the less than perfect weather. So far the German says it hasn't affected his riding, and T-Mobile team doctor Lothar Heinrich expects full recovery in a few days.

"Jan is lucky that it's happened at the beginning of the Tour," he said on the team's website. "But the weather has to cooperate. We should have Jan in top form by Friday."

Medical communique

Photo ©: Sirotti

Gian Matteo Fagnini (Domina Vacanze): Crashed at km 156. Left shoulder trauma with a probable broken collarbone. Taken to hospital in Namur for x-rays.

Sergio Marinangeli (Domina Vacanze): Right knee pain

Stefano Zanini (Quick.Step-Davitamon) and Bram de Groot (Rabobank): Digestive problems

Andrea Peron (CSC): Crashed at km 156, injured his right shoulder and side.

Frederic Bessy (Cofidis): Crashed at km 174, contusions to right knee.

Stefano Casagranda (Saeco): Crashed at km 192, suffering various contusions.

Jimmy Casper (Cofidis) and Kurt-Asle Arvesen (CSC): Crashed near the finish line, suffering multiple contusions.

Commissaire's communique

Nicki Sorensen (Team CSC) and Angel Vicioso (Liberty Seguros) were fined 30 CHF each for pacing behind their team cars. The directeurs sportifs of Team CSC and Liberty Seguros were also fined 100 CHF each for irregular servicing (from left side of road).

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