Tour de France News Extra for July 13, 2004
Edited by Jeff Jones
Tour restarts in Poulidor country
Today's ninth stage of the Tour de France will set off from Saint-Leonard-de-Noblat,
better known to cycling fans as the hometown of the "eternal second" Raymond
Poulidor. "Poupou" was a professional in the 60's and 70's and achieved
some excellent results in the Tour without ever winning it: three second
places and five third places.
68 year old Poulidor is now employed by the Tour as a PR man for main
sponsor Credit Lyonnais.
Health checks on rest day
42 riders were blood tested by the UCI on the Tour's first rest day
in Limoges. The riders were from the following teams: Credit Agricole,
Illes Balears, Liberty Seguros, Brioches la Boulangère and Rabobank. All
were declared fit to start.
In addition, 33 riders from the US Postal-Berry Floor, CSC, Quick.Step
and Ag2r teams were tested on Tuesday morning before the start of Stage
9, and no rider was declared inapt to start.
Hamilton still in the hunt
Tyler Hamilton (Phonak) spent the rest day in Limoges getting acupuncture
treatment for his back and riding steadily for two and a half hours. Hamilton's
back was injured in the mass pileup at the end of Stage 6, and although
nothing was broken, it has given the tough rider from New England, Massachusetts
a fair degree of pain in the last few days. That combined with a lot of
punctures and equipment problems has made the Phonak team work harder
in the first week than it would have liked.
"If I had to grade this past week, I'd grade it A-plus for teamwork,
and C for luck," Hamilton was quoted by the Associated Press as
saying. "In the team time trial we had four flat tires and a broken handlebar.
Something like that almost never happens and to finish second is almost
Hamilton sits in 11th place on GC, 10'11 behind Voeckler and 36 seconds
behind Lance Armstrong. "Right now, the time differences are really close
between the contenders," he said. "I believe the upcoming stages will
really show who is here to win the Tour de France."
Without giving too much away, Hamilton hinted towards a Phonak offensive
in the coming mountain stages. "I'm the leader, but I have a guy to the
right of me, Oscar Sevilla, who is riding incredibly well right now,"
he said. "He's dangerous for all the contenders. If he goes up there early
it's going to force the other teams to chase."
Leipheimer on target
Last year, Levi Leipheimer (Rabobank) was out of the Tour almost before
it started when he broke his hip in a crash during the first road stage.
This time around the American is faring better, having survived the first
week without any major crashes or time losses, and currently sitting 24th
on the general classification, 10'43 behind Voeckler and 1'08 behind Lance
Despite this, Leipheimer doesn't consider himself lucky, as he told
ANP yesterday in Limoges that, "I've lain on the ground three times,
I don't call that lucky. This race is full of stress, two years ago it
was nicer weather, there were less crashes and the race was much safer."
Like the rest of the GC riders, Leipheimer is looking forward to the
mountains where he can show his talents and try to achieve a lifelong
dream: to win a stage in the Tour.
As for his whereabouts next year, Leipheimer denied the possibility
that he will return to Lance Armstrong's team. "I will not go to a team
that only wants to put me in the Giro and the Vuelta. I would like to
ride the Giro at least once, but the Tour is my race."
Voeckler to Athens?
French champion and current Tour de France maillot jaune Thomas
Voeckler (Brioches la Boulangère) is a likely candidate for the French
Olympic team, which will be announced next Monday. According to L'Equipe,
the French selected has met with Voeckler, Laurent Brochard and Christophe
Moreau, and these riders are considered to be on the short list for the
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2004)