Tour de France News for July 12, 2004
Edited by Jeff Jones
A successful Tour for Thor
Thor Hushovd (Credit Agricole)
Photo ©: Jon Devich
He has worn the yellow and green jerseys already in the first week of
the Tour, and now he has a stage win to his credit. Norwegian Viking Thor
Hushovd (Credit Agricole) sprinted to victory in a wet eighth stage of
the Tour that finished in Quimper, on the western tip of Brittany.
"It was raining and it was slippery for the last 200 metres but I felt
so strong. I passed McEwen in the last corner, then I had to catch Kirchen,"
said Hushovd, who easily passed the Luxembourg champion to take the win
by well over a bike length.
Today's weather conditions presented no problems to Thor. "I like this
weather", he said. "The rain, the wind, the cold...it reminds me of home.
I was happy all day. In the last few stages I had bad luck. Yesterday
I didn't do much in the sprint, two days ago I crashed.
"I was motivated today I was waiting for my day and finally I did it,"
he added, and thanked his lead out man Julian Dean for doing such a great
Finally, Hushovd does not rule out the green jersey, as he is only 11
points behind McEwen now. "For sure. I had one day in yellow and one stage
win so I'm already happy. I'm in good shape so I'd like to get the green
jersey in Paris."
8 full results, report & photos
McEwen goes early
Robbie McEwen (Lotto-Domo)
Photo ©: CN
Robbie McEwen took back the green jersey today after finishing fourth
in the bunch sprint. But the Lotto-Domo man found himself off the front
of the pack with 1 km to go when he followed an attack of Paolo Bettini.
But when Bettini saw him there, he knew that it would be pointless to
continue and sat up.
In an interview with Sporza, McEwen said that he wasn't annoyed
with Bettini. "No, definitely not. He went and I got on his wheel. I looked
back and we had a gap, But of course, Paolo would not ride with me on
his wheel. He had to wait for Boonen or he would have surely been beaten
McEwen explained that, "The legs were not good enough today. I was dying.
I'm glad to survive today's stage. I've still got pain in my knee and
back from the injuries in crash. Still to get fourth place and taken the
green jersey back was good."
Weather or not, Ullrich and Armstrong
By Chris Henry in Quimper
Jan Ullrich (T-Mobile)
Photo ©: CN
As they departed for the buses which took the riders to the Quimper airport
for the rest day transfer to Limoges, Tour favourites Lance Armstrong
and Jan Ullrich both had one thing on their mind: the weather. This year's
Tour has been run in anything but summer conditions, raining almost every
day and barely cracking 20 degrees. Spring classics specialists often
rejoice at a tough day at the Tour, but after a week all minds seem to
be in agreement that July weather is needed tout de suite.
"We're heading south now, so I'm hoping for good weather," said last
year's runner up, Jan Ullrich (T-Mobile). "Not just because I like riding
in good weather, but because it's less dangerous and more fun to ride."
Ullrich's near invisibility in the Tour thus far has prompted many to
wonder about the German's mindset and his physical condition for the coming
weeks, but his results have shown him to be in contention with the best,
and the 1997 winner is confident. Relieved to have finished the first
week generally unscathed, Ullrich set off for Limoges in 20th place in
the general classification, but only 55 seconds behind his number one
rival, Lance Armstrong.
"So far I'm happy," he said. "I haven't had any bad luck, like a lot
of other guys, so I'm ready for the race to finally get to the mountains."
Lance Armstrong (US Postal Service)
Photo ©: Sirotti
As for Armstrong, a second place in the prologue and victory in the team
time trial have bolstered his hopes of emerging victorious for a record
sixth time in the Tour. He too is ready for some sun, and despite some
tumbles in recent stages, has not suffered any major problems throughout
the first week.
"I can't complain. We're in a good position, we've got enough time on
our main rivals," Armstrong explained after stage 8.
"It could have been worse, we could have had some crashes and lost time,
there could have been splits in the final kilometre but we didn't have
that. I feel good, I feel healthy, and now we start the next part."
"Everybody's sick and tired of the rain," he said, smiling. "I'm a little
scared because we're going to Limoges, and I saw on TV that the coldest
place in France was Limoges. Anything over last year when it was 35 degrees
and you couldn't sleep at night because it was so hot."
Hamilton content with week 1
Tyler Hamilton (Phonak)
Photo ©: Sirotti
Having survived a very nervous and crash-filled first nine days, Tyler
Hamilton (Phonak) is looking forward to the second half of the Tour, which
will feature more of his type of terrain. "All things considered I'm happy
with the way it finished today," Hamilton said after stage 8 today. "A
couple of days ago we had a problem with the crash. I'm lucky we had a
couple of flat stages afterwards to recover. The team, they rode fantastic
Hamilton warned his teammates not to think about Monday's rest day.
"I reminded them this morning that the rest day starts now, not during
the stage. Sometimes when you let your guard down so to speak, if you
start thinking about the rest day ahead of time, your legs follow your
head, your brain, and it can make the stage very difficult if you start
to relax. I just reminded everybody to keep fighting until the end of
the stage and then you can relax."
Looking ahead, Hamilton commented, "Tuesday's stage is similar to today's:
Short, about 160 km, not so many big climbs. But Wednesday is really when
the second half of the Tour starts. So hopefully the team and I can recover
well. My back's bothering me a bit but I think after a nice day tomorrow
and a rest, it will be better."
Haselbacher defends himself
Rene Haselbacher (Gerolsteiner)
Photo ©: Olympia
After being accused by Robbie McEwen of causing the crash at the one
kilometre to go banner in Angers (Stage 6), Rene Haselbacher (Gerolsteiner)
has given his version of events. Haselbacher and the Gerolsteiner team
maintain that his handlebars snapped, and that's what caused him to go
down. The Austrian finished up with a broken nose and three broken ribs,
and could not continue the Tour, and many other riders were injured in
Directly after the crash, McEwen (who was also involved) accused Haselbacher
of causing it. "Haselbacher ran himself into the barrier," McEwen told
Cyclingnews. "He did the same thing last year in a stage and took
out Baden and me. I'm really pissed off. That's twice he's taken me out
But Haselbacher gave his view to Radsport-news.com: "I was passing
Bernhard Eisel on the left. As I got out of the saddle I heard this crack
and I was holding my handlebars in two pieces. Then I was thrown into
the barrier. I probably broke my ribs on the foot of one the barriers.
I was lying down, a doctor was holding my head in an upright position.
then McEwen came and yelled at me and said 'You're doing the same shit
as last year'. He shook his fist at me. Unfortunately I couldn't answer,
because I couldn't breathe."
Gerolsteiner's team manager Hans-Michael Holczer was angry at McEwen's
behaviour, which he felt was unjustified. "I informed the Lotto management
and the Tour organisation of McEwen's scandalous behaviour," he said.
"Whoever lets their base instincts run free, like McEwen, should be sent
More comments from Stage 7
Iker Flores (Euskaltel-Euskadi, 2nd)
"I knew that Pozzato was stronger than me in the sprint and it's true
that I was a little cooked at the end. A victory would have been good
for the team but since the team time trial we've rediscovered our fighting
spirit. It's a good sign for the mountains."
Francisco Mancebo (Illes Balears, 3rd)
"I needed at least a kilometre to try to make an attack because I didn't
want to arrive in a sprint with Pozzato. At least I won some seconds in
the general classification. I don't really want to do too much before
the mountains but I'm in good form and I still think I can arrive in the
top five in Paris."
Laurent Brochard (Ag2r, 4th)
"Finally I got in the right break but I was knackered. I think that
Bettini was watching me. I was missing a little bit but it was a good
fight. I don't have any regrets and I'm satisfied because you had to have
good legs to be able to go."
Sébastien Hinault (Credit Agricole, 5th)
"Mostly it's a disappointment because I was five kilometres from home
and I really wanted to win. I tried throughout the stage to do something,
particularly at the end since I saw the sprinters teams were not very
organised. I knew the finale by heart but I may have watched Bettini too
much and once the Spaniards and Pozzato went, I was not strong enough."
Iban Mayo (Euskaltel-Euskadi)
"My elbow was hurting in the first kilometres of the stage but it got
better after that. It's annoying but I hope that things will get better.
It's too bad that Iker Flores couldn't go all the way because that would
have been good for the team."
Bjarne Riis (CSC director)
"We had planned to try to cause a split there (50 km to go). There was
no secret there because it was along the ocean and there was a lot of
wind. Unfortunately it didn't last long enough and we needed a few more
kilometres to make it work.
"Since the beginning of the Tour we've always had a guy in the breaks
which was always planned. So far we haven't had a victory but our riders
are very motivated and they'll keep trying."
Stage 8 Medical communique
Samuel Dumoulin (Ag2r-Prévoyance) - Serious contusion on left
elbow, will undergo further examination
Janek Tombak (Cofidis) - Multiple contusions on left side, including left
Frédéric Finot (RAGT Semences-MG Rover) - Injured left shoulder
Sylvain Calzati (RAGT Semences-MG Rover) - Sore throat
Robbie McEwen (Lotto-Domo) - Knee pain from stage 6 crash
There was no commmissaire's communique today (rien a signaler).
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(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2004)