Tour de France News for July 14, 2004
Edited by Jeff Jones
A delighted winner
Robbie McEwen (Lotto-Domo)
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
The ninth stage of the Tour finished in a bunch sprint, but it was looking
unlikely with 1 km to go when breakaways Filippo Simeoni and Iñigo Landaluze
still had 15 seconds of their once great lead of 10 minutes over the charging
peloton. In the end, it seemed that Landaluze hesitated for 100 metres
too long and the peloton was almost on his wheel when he jumped past Simeoni,
eventually finishing 10th. Instead it was green jersey of Robbie McEwen
(Lotto-Domo) that got through on the right hand side to win the stage
with a well timed bike throw ahead of Thor Hushovd and Stuart O'Grady.
McEwen was justifiably delighted with his second stage win. "What a
fantastic feeling to win in the green jersey," he told French TV afterwards.
"After my crash a few days ago I'm still suffering a lot with my injuries
and to still win the stage is fantastic. It was lucky we caught the two
guys in the last 60 metres - it was unfortunate for them. I saw two riders
coming from left and right and kept going to the line. I didn't want to
throw too early. I had a lot idea that I'd won and it's a really good
McEwen admitted that today's stage "could be the last chance until the
Champs Elysées" but that he is happy to have tightened his grip on the
green jersey. "I've extended my lead today by seven points," he said.
"All my main rivals are a little bit further behind, but the next days
are hard for me."
9 full results, report & photos
Brandt's counter analysis positive
Lotto-Domo rider maintains innocence
It wasn't all rejoicing in the Lotto-Domo camp today after Christophe
Brandt's second urine sample returned the same result as the first one
did on July 5: positive for methadone, a banned drug under UCI rules.
Brandt, who was withdrawn from the Tour last Saturday, now faces disciplinary
action from both the Belgian cycling federation and his Lotto-Domo team,
with a possible sanction of six months hanging over his head.
"I am not stupid, I have not taken methadone," Brandt told Belgian television.
"It doesn't do anything. It sounds laughable, but once again: I have not
Brandt is mystified as to how the methadone came to be in his body.
The drug is typically used to treat heroin addiction and withdrawal, and
is itself highly addictive. Like other opioids, it also can provide relief
from pain and a feeling of well being, but it is not considered a common
drug of abuse for sportspeople.
As to the possibility that he was set up, the Belgian said that he "did
not want to falsely accuse anyone or say anything that I would be sorry
for. If you are thrown out of the Tour as a cheat and you see your photo
everywhere, you only want the truth to come out."
Lotto-Domo has not yet sacked Brandt, as team manager Christophe Sercu
wants to listen to his explanation after the positive test is confirmed
by the UCI on Wednesday. "We will give the rider a chance to give his
version of the facts," said Sercu. "We want to collect all the information
first and then decide."
Sunderland on Hvastija's exclusion
Cyclingnews diarist Scott Sunderland has questioned the reasons
for his teammate Martin Hvastija's exclusion from Tour de France, due
to the fact that he is part of a doping investigation in Italy. The organisers
of the Tour made it clear at the start in Liege that any rider under investigation
would not be welcome at the Tour, regardless of innocence or guilt.
"There are questions," Sunderland wrote to Cyclingnews. "Why
is Hvastija out when there's no evidence to show that he's guilty of anything
and he's not even on the investigator's list until November 7? When people
start making accusations, then it affects all of the peloton, especially
Martin and Stefano, who right now are copping the brunt of all this. What's
going on? Whatever happened to being presumed innocent until proven guilty?"
With Liberty for all
By Tim Maloney, European Editor in Gueret
Liberty Seguros have ridden very well so far this Tour De France, with
leader Roberto Heras very well placed in 34th, and team director Manolo
Saiz was cautiously optimistic, "Up until now, we've done well, except
in the team time trial, which isn't normal for our team. And we've been
working well to get to the mountains in good position. At this point,
the time we've lost is acceptable. We got through the pavé and all the
other things so far and we hope that's going to continue until the mountains.
Up until this point, whenever there has been some problems or difficult
parts, Heras has always been there. Our team has worked well for him every
day to protect him and keep him in the best position and I think we can
continue to ride this way. But the Tour really hasn't started. The mountains
haven't started yet and we don't know yet how the real climbers are riding.
The second half of the Tour is going to be very, very, very hard."
We asked Saiz about his new American sponsor, Liberty Seguros, a division
of global insurance giant Liberty Mutual Insurance, and American rider
Christian Vandevelde, and he replied, "We're happy to have Christian on
the team. He's riding well and of course we are very happy with our American
sponsor. We knew Christian when he rode for US Postal and although he
had some problems earlier this year with his work permit in Spain, he's
on the team and doing well."
Kurt-Asle Arvesen (Team CSC) - Multiple contusions from crash at kilometre
Paolo Bettini (Quick.Step-Davitamon) - Pain in left hand
Yuriy Krivtsov (Ag2r-Prévoyance) - Digestive troubles
Michael Rasmussen (Rabobank) - Fined 100 CHF for hidden race number
33 health checks were performed Tuesday morning before stage 9. Riders
from Ag2r-Prévoyance, Quick.Step-Davitamon, Team CSC, and US Postal
Service-Berry Floor were tested. No riders were declared unfit.
Stage 10 weather
The morning temperatures will be cool, with clouds early on before clearing
in the afternoon. Temperatures will rise throughout the day, with cooler
air greeting the riders at the summits of the climbs in the second half
of the course. The maximum temperature expected at the top of the Col
du Pas de Peyrol (Le Puy Mary) will be 18 degrees. Wind will be mild,
from the north.
Stage 10 Preview
Lance Armstrong (US Postal Service)
Photo ©: Sirotti
A massive stage across the Massif Central is on the menu for Quatorze
Juillet with not a meter of flat all day. This stage was used for
L'Etape du Tour a few days ago and the most optimistic time schedule for
Stage Ten calls for six and a half hours of racing across the unrelenting
climbs of Cantal. One Cat 1, two Cat 2 and five Cat. 3 ascents are on
Wednesday's program, which is expected to be run as Quatorze Juillet stages
always are, in front of huge crowds out to celebrate France's national
fête du velo on France's national holiday.
With the absence of the extreme heat of last July, the difficult parcours
should cause less selection than usual, but the double barreled ascent
of the steep, narrow road up the Col du Pas de Peyrol-Le Puy Mary (8.3km/5.5%
avg. grade) after 173km, then the final Cat 3 climb of the day after 189
km, followed by the Col du Prat du Bouc-Le Plomb du Cantal (8.2km/6% avg.
grade) after 205.5 km will surely do some damage.
The last 31km of Stage 10 are all rolling downhill towards Saint Flour,
which may cause some regrouping on the run-in. Can maillot jaune
Thomas Voeckler and his well baked Brioches la Boulangère squad withstand
the onslaught of attacks that are sure to come from teams like Phonak,
Illes Balears and Liberty Seguros, who are looking to put the first pressure
on Lance Armstrong and Jan Ullrich in this year's Tour De France? Although
the Quatorze Julliet will start with a Frenchman in the maillot jaune,
Wednesday evening may see Jose Gutierrez of Phonak or his teammate Santos
Gonzalez changing jerseys.
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2004)