Tour de France News Extra for July 24, 2004
Edited by Kristy Scrymgeour
Australian Round up
McEwen not resting up yet
By John Trevorrow in Lons le Saunier
The sprint for 7th
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
The big attack on the green jersey did not materialise today. What started
out as a stage with a lot of promise, fizzled into a gift to the non-contenders.
When Lance got into a break early chasing Simeoni, the stage was set for
a battle royale. But that was not to be and Armstrong and Simeoni cancelled
their private battle, sat up and went back to the peloton. Sanity returned
and the break continued on unabated.
No-one seemed to be interested in bringing it back and Robbie McEwen
now only has Thor Hushovd to worry about to finish in green on Sunday.
McEwen was somewhat relieved after the stage, but admits that it's not
"I was feeling good all day until about 10 km from the finish and then
I felt my back go out. They will have to do a bit of work on it tonight
to sort it out. The green is not in the bag yet. It is definitely not
over and anything can happen on Sunday. I have started the last day with
a two point lead, so eleven is definitely better but it is not an unbeatable
lead in the final stage in Paris.
"I wasn't too happy with the 8.30 am wake up call for a blood test. Not
when I was planning on a 10.00 am sleep-in.
Thor Hushovd beat Robbie in the stage sprint for seventh place and has
narrowed the lead by one point. Hushovd is obviously feeling the effects
of 20 tough days of racing and was coughing and spluttering after his
"It will be hard to beat Robbie for the jersey. But I won today and maybe
I can win on the Champs Elysees," he said.
Pre Race comments
In the village in Annemasse before the start
Wilson almost there
FDJeux.com's Matthew Wilson was understandably relieved just to make
it through yesterday's stage, generally acknowledged as the hardest on
the Tour. "It was a big stage for sure. I knew I had to get over the first
two climbs in a good group to make the limit so I just made that my objective
and I did it. So I'm pretty happy."
Wilson was wary of letting his guard down after the mountains, despite
being on the cusp of completing the Tour this time around. "I've still
got to get through two stages so it's still dangerous, even the time-trial
tomorrow. So I've still got a bit to get through but I'm pretty confident
now. I was almost thinking of the Champs-Elysees at the top of the last
Wilson's teammate Baden Cooke was again left to lament a mysterious condition
that has him losing power in his legs. "It happened again. It actually
happened in both legs yesterday. It's usually just in the one leg. They
weren't really feeling numb yesterday but just the power wasn't there.
So they've booked me in to see a specialist after the Tour. They're organising
me to see some guy, I think it might be the same guy Stuey [O'Grady] saw.
I think it must be a similar problem to what he had."
Despite being less than fully fit, Cooke was still hopeful of making
his tour with a win in the final stage into Paris.
"The Champs-Elysees is definitely on the agenda. On the flat, sometimes
it doesn't happen at all, so you never know."
Sunderland still chasing a stage win
Scott Sunderland seemed a little perturbed when the heavens opened up
before the start of the race. "It's bloody unbelievable mate. It wasn't
supposed to be like this at all. It's bloody wet weather stuff. There
was supposed to be a bit of wind and maybe a bit of rain at the end but
not like this."
He was happy with his effort in yesterday's stage in which he climbed
quite well considering the difficulty level. "It was good. I felt good;
I had good legs. It was the same old, just making sure Caucchioli was
okay. I actually had a pretty good day. I was actually starting to enjoy
it a bit, just as we were getting to the end of the mountains my climbing
Sunderland realised that he had one last chance of getting up the road
in his 2004 Tour de France. "Well there'll probably be a break again,
some riders will get away. I'll just have a go and see what happens I
After the stage Scott lamented on not getting in the break. "There was
just no co-operation between my head and my legs."
Davis suffering but getting there
Alan Davis is very close to finishing his first Tour de France "Pretty
tired mate. I'm not there yet but all I really want to do is finish the
Tour. I'm just suffering. I really hurt myself yesterday.
Rogers aiming for top five in the time trial
Michael Rogers put in a solid effort yesterday, but seemed to be paying
for it a little this morning. "I'm feeling okay. It was shocking how hot
it was. I reckon it was 40 degrees at one stage."
His focus has shifted to the second-last day of the Tour. "With the time-trial
tomorrow I'll just be taking it easy today. Hopefully I can save some
energy today and get in the top five tomorrow."
Rogers is generally pleased with how his Tour has gone, despite some
early difficulties causing him to re-access his goals. "I'm pretty happy
with how it's gone. After I crashed I thought I might aim for the top
20. It looks like I'll finish just outside that which isn't too bad so
that's what I'm aiming for."
There will be no sabbatical for Mick, who is Athens bound in September.
"It's straight onto the Games now. I think I'm come out of the Tour fairly
well, not dead like I was last year, so hopefully that holds me in good
Stuart O'Grady did not believe that today's quasi-climb would drop the
likes of Robbie McEwen and Thor Hushovd, boosting his chances of a stage
win and edging him closer to the green sprinter's jersey.
"I'm not too sure about that. If a stage win was there I would certainly
take it but it's going to be hard. I reckon a break will go really early
so I'll see how I go. Man, that last climb was hard yesterday."
O'Grady was glad of his achievements in the Tour thus far, the turmoil
within the team has been somewhat overshadowing "Of course I'm happy.
To win a stage and wear the green jersey makes it a good Tour. But to
be honest, with all the troubles we've had with the team I was just happy
to get to the start line."
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2004)