Tour de France News Extra for July 22, 2004
Edited by Jeff Jones
Bruyneel argues against relegation
By Tim Maloney, European editor in Bourg d'Oisans
As a result of an "dangerous driving" in yesterday's l'Alpe
d'Huez time trial, US Postal director Johan Bruyneel's car was relegated
to the back of the caravan for today's stage 17. The race jury ruled that
Bruyneel hindered a TV cameraman that was filming Armstrong near the start
of the climb. But Bruyneel argued that he had a prior agreement to be
there, and reinstated himself at the front of the caravan during the stage
"There was an agreement before the race with Jean-Marie Leblanc and
John Lelangue that for security reasons, I would go directly behind Lance
until the barriers," Bruyneel explained to Cyclingnews today. When
the car is directly behind the rider, it opens the road a lot more than
when there's a motorcycle behind.
"France TV knew of that agreement. It was reconfirmed right before the
start. But 300m into the race, France TV put its motorbike between me
and Lance. I tried to get around, but he wouldn't let me pass. And at
one point I came alongside the motorcycle and took my place. The commissaire
and president of the jury (Mirco Monti) didn't agree with that manoeuvre
and probably French TV made a complaint to the jury about dangerous driving.
"So I went yesterday to the race HQ to explain the situation, and the
commissaire didn't know about the agreement. I went together with Jean
Marie and John Lelangue and explained that there was a deal in place but
they didn't accept me. Three of the commissaires agreed, but only the
president of the jury said that it was his decision. So I just have to
conclude that he is a dictator."
Bruyneel added his voice to the issues about the security of the stage
yesterday, which was run through the usual hordes of crazy spectators
who at times bumped the riders. Armstrong and McEwen were the victims
of some unsporting behaviour form the fans, who booed, spat and yelled
abuse at them.
"It was dangerous and we were concerned about that," said Bruyneel.
"That's why we have taken these precautions, to have me directly on Lance's
wheel at least until the barriers. If the importance of having images
on TV or photographers is more important to the president of the jury
than the security of the riders, then I don't understand it any more.
I think it's first priority to the riders, priority to the directors,
then the press."
Another one bites the dust as Heras pulls out
Roberto Heras (Liberty Seguros) was one of three riders who didn't take
the start of Stage 17 from Bourg d'Oisans to Le Grand-Bornand. The Liberty
team captain has had an extremely poor Tour so far and decided that there
wasn't much point in continuing in less than perfect condition.
"He won't start. We haven't been able to get him back to full condition,"
said Liberty's team manager Manolo Saiz to Radio Marca. "We've had to
take a decision that isn't to our liking but we're professionals and life
must go on."
Heras came into the Tour with expectations that he would finish among
the top riders on GC, as in the past he has shown himself to be a brilliant
climber, winning the Vuelta España twice and riding for several years
as Lance Armstrong's climbing domestique. But after yesterday's 16th stage,
Heras sat in 45th place on GC, nearly an hour behind Armstrong, and the
team decided that it was best to cut his losses.
Other riders not to take the start of Stage 17 were Alessandro Bertolini
(Alessio) and Ludovic Martin (Brioches).
An early casualty of stage 17 was Cofidis rider Janek Tombak, who was
attempting to adjust the sensor on his front wheel when his right hand
slipped into the spokes and he cut his fingers up. He dropped back to
the race doctor for treatment, but the injuries were too bad to continue
and he abandoned.
Voigt defends himself
After being called "Judas" and other names by German fans on Alpe d'Huez
yesterday, CSC's super workhorse Jens Voigt has defended himself strongly.
Voigt was heavily criticised by the Germans after he played a key role
in chasing down T-Mobile's Jan Ullrich during stage 15, following the
orders of his team director Bjarne Riis who wanted to protect Ivan Basso's
second place. Despite the fact that Voigt and Ullrich ride for different
teams and Voigt was merely obeying instructions, the partisan German fans
did not see it that way and hurled abuse at him yesterday.
"I was sworn at on the road for being a traitor," said Voigt to DPA.
"That was open hostility. I would have got off and yelled at them. National
politics or war have no place here. It should only be about sport. I've
always tried to simply live my life. The uncalled for criticism really
hurt me. "
Voigt said that his riding in Stage 15 was purely for his captain Ivan
Basso. "Of course it broke my heart to ride behind Jan. I would rather
see Jan win the Tour than Lance. But that is my job. If I didn't ride
behind, the Tour would already be finished for me and I would be sitting
on an aeroplane on the way back home, because I hadn't fulfilled my contract."
Voigt also criticised the commentators on German TV channel ARD, who
he believed prompted the outcry. "That was certainly the trigger for the
witch hunt," he said. "ARD and T-Mobile, that's a little narrow. It's
the first time that I have been sworn at by fans. That's why I'm so sour."
The German also explained that he gave Andreas Klöden water with 7 km
to go in Stage 15, and noted that he had worked completely for Ullrich
in the Olympics in 2000. "And I will also die in Athens for him," he noted.
Armstrong tops TT count
Lance Armstrong's win on Alpe
d'Huez yesterday was his 9th individual time trial victory in the
Tour de France and his 19th Tour stage win all together. The American,
who has dominated the Tour for the past six years, began his winning run
in 1999 when he won the prologue in Puy du Fou, going on to win in Metz
and Futuroscope that same year. In 2000 he won the time trial in Mulhouse;
in 2001 he won the climbing TT to Chamrousse as well as the flat one in
Saint-Amand-Montrond. In 2002 he won the prologue in Luxembourg and the
50 km time trial in Macon; in 2003 he didn't win any time trials, and
in 2004 he has the Alpe d'Huez stage to his credit.
A 10th Tour TT victory in Besançon is on the cards, which would give
him an incredible 20 Tour stage wins, an average of one every six stages.
At 32 years old, Armstrong hasn't shown many signs of slowing down, and
there could be more Tour victories in future.
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2004)