Tour de France News for June 6, 2004
Edited by Jeff Jones
Pre-Tour showdown at the Dauphiné-Libéré
By Jeff Jones and Tim Maloney
All eyes will be on southern France this week as Lance Armstrong, Tyler
Hamilton, Iban Mayo, Christophe Moreau, Ivan Basso and others do battle
in the 56th Critérium du Dauphiné-Libéré, considered one of the most important
pre-Tour de France tests as well as being a very prestigious race in its
own right to win. It will be Armstrong's last race before the Tour, and
the two-time winner of the Dauphiné will line up as the top favourite.
"This is a super race", said Lance Armstrong (USPS-Berry Floor), who
is ready to defend his title in Megève. "I've always said it's a beautiful
race and with the uphill time trial on le Mont Ventoux (Thursday), it
will be a great test for me before the Tour de France. For me, after the
Tour, the Dauphiné-Libéré is the best race on the calendar. The peloton
isn't too big, the roads are nice, the hotels are nice and it's well organised."
Armstrong and the other 117 riders in this year's 56th running of the
Criterium le Dauphiné-Libéré will test their legs Sunday in a 5.4km Prologue
TT in Megeve up and down the Cote de Choseaux, where Lance, Credit Agricole's
Christophe Moreau, Phonak's Ty Hamilton, World TT champ David Millar (Cofidis),
CSC's Jorg Jaksche and Rabobank's Levi Leipheimer will be favorites for
the Dauphine' Libere's Maillot Jaune / Bleu of race leader.
The eight day race begins on Sunday, June 6 with a 5.4 km prologue time
trial Megève which includes the small Cat. 4 climb of the Cote des Choseaux
at 3.1 km. Lance Armstrong, Credit Agricole's Christophe Moreau, Phonak's
Tyler Hamilton, World TT champ David Millar (Cofidis), CSC's Jorg Jaksche
and Rabobank's Levi Leipheimer will be favorites for the Dauphiné-Libéré's
Maillot Jaune/Bleu of race leader.
The riders will then face the longest stage on Monday, June 7, as Stage
1 takes them 231 km from Megève to Bron via the Cat. 3 Col des Fleuries
- certainly a stage for the sprinters. Stage 2 from Bron to Saint-Etienne
(181 km) is no sprinters affair, however. After a lumpy 150 km, the riders
face the Cat. 2 Col de la Croix de Chaubouret (1201m) with its summit
coming at 16 km from the finish. This will be the first test for the mountain
men, although there are harder stages to come.
Wednesday's third stage between Saint-Etienne and Aubenas (180 km) is
slightly easier than Stage 2, but with the Cat. 2 Col de Mezilhac (1119m)
coming at 36 km to go, the sprinters will have a bit of work to do to
reach the finish with the front group. Stage 4 on June 10 is a key stage:
a 21.5 km individual time trial from Bedoin (280m) to the top of Mont
Ventoux (1909m), the feared Géant de Provence. This stage will
be an important one for the classification as well as the Tour de France
aspirants, who will face the Alpe d'Huez mountain time trial on July 21.
Stage 5 from Bollène to Sisteron (149 km) should be another one for
the sprinters, featuring four Cat. 4 climbs including twice up the Monthée
du Thor in the finishing circuits in Sisteron. Gap / Grenoble (144 km).
Stage 6 starts in Gap and straight away goes up the Cat. 2 Col Bayard
before descending into Chauffayer, then tackling a mountainous parcours
culminating with the Cat. 1 Col du Luitel after 110 km. Two more Cat.
3 climbs are encountered in the last 34 km before the finish in Grenoble.
The final 200 km stage around Grenoble on June 13 is no sprinters romp
either. After a flat first 60 km, the riders climb the Cat. 2 Col de l'Echarasson
(1146m) followed by the Cat. 4 Col de Carri (1202m) and Cat. 2 Col d'Herbouilly
(1374m) with its summit at km 112. Then there is a drop down into the
valley before the final climbing obstacle of the Dauphiné is reached:
the Cat. 1 Col de Sarcenas (1156m), a 10.5 km climb averaging 6.5%. The
summit is at 15 km to go, so once again there will be a fast, downhill
plunge into Grenoble to determine the winner of the 2004 Critérium du
Prologue - June 6: Megève ITT, 5.4 km
Stage 1: June 7: Megève - Bron, 231 km
Stage 2: June 8: Bron - Saint-Etienne, 181 km
Stage 3: June 9: Saint-Etienne - Aubenas, 180 km
Stage 4: June 10: Bédoin - Le Mont Ventoux ITT, 21.6 km
Stage 5: June 11: Bollène - Sisteron, 149 km
Stage 6: June 12: Gap - Grenoble, 144 km
Stage 7: June 13: Grenoble - Grenoble, 200 km
Cipollini says yes to Tour
In what could be his last chance to ride in the Tour de France, Italian
superstar sprinter Mario Cipollini has said yes to the opportunity. Cipollini
was injured in a crash during stage 7 of the Giro d'Italia, which eventually
saw him abandon the race with a total of 14 stitches in his right leg
and left elbow. "I will participate in the Tour, even if I am not in my
best condition," said Cipollini. "I hope my team will support me."
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2004)
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