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Tour de France News for May 3, 2004

Edited by Jeff Jones

Voigt: Ullrich would be unbeatable in CSC

Jens Voigt
Photo ©: Jon Devich/CN

Jens Voigt (Team CSC) is one of the top 10 riders of the 2004 season, winning two stages and the overall of Criterium International, a stage in the Vuelta a Pais Vasco as well as second in the Tour de Georgia, third in the Tour Méditerranéen and fourth in Paris-Nice. The German switched teams to CSC this year after six years of riding for Roger Legeay in Gan/Credit Agricole, and has experienced an improvement in form.

"I have new teammates now and with that, a lot more pressure," explained Voigt in an interview with German newspaper Der Spiegel. "I would like to prove myself in the new team. And then there's Bjarne [Riis], a brilliant trainer and team director. He has a magical capacity to lead every rider to the heights of their personal achievement. I've never experienced someone like this. Bjarne is a motivational artist. He gives you the self-confidence that you need around you in hard races."

Voigt recalled the team's rather novel training camps, which pit the riders against all sorts of challenges, none of which are cycling related. "That was real survival training, which lasted 36 hours. For example we had to make a campfire by means of only one match. If we didn't succeed, one of us would have to run for a certain distance. Together we constructed a rope bridge over a gorge, which we had to get across. We also had to overcome a wall made only out of rope."

The camp was designed by ex-soldiers to test psychological characteristics of each team member, and Bjarne Riis was informed of the riders' performance under pressure. "As a team, it brought us together in any case," said Voigt.

Voigt was asked his impressions of Lance Armstrong in the Tour de Georgia, and he related that Armstrong was "more open and more at ease. I don't kn7ow whether it's his new girlfriend but he makes jokes with journalists and is not as closed as before...In Georgia he delivered a good performance. He seems to be on the right way towards the Tour de France." He added that he believes that Armstrong will win his sixth Tour, and will hang up his bike afterwards.

Finally, questioned on how Jan Ullrich would fare in CSC, Voigt replied, "In my opinion, the combination of Ulli and Bjarne would be unbeatable. When Ulli won the Tour for the first time, Bjarne was next to him and was able to give him valuable tips." And with Voigt, Jaksche and Ullrich all in the same team, "We three together - that would be a hammer! It would be incredible what we could do."

Moreau back on track

By Chris Henry

Moreau back on top
Photo ©: Cyclingnews

After another bad-luck spring, derailed by a pre-season knee injury, Christophe Moreau (Crédit Agricole) is finally coming back into his best condition. Moreau suffered through an extended period off the bike early in the year, and in his first few races in mid-spring he found himself out the back and lacking of condition. On a sunny Sunday outside Paris, Moreau was all smiles as he prepared to take the line at the Trophée des Grimpeurs, a grueling test featuring 17 climbs of the Côte de l'Ermitage, a 300 metre, 13% ramp to a summit in Sannois.

Speaking to Cyclingnews before the race, even Moreau seemed blissfully unaware of his own potential. Regretting that his recovery from the winter accident had taken longer than planned, he truly showed no intention of riding for victory in the Trophée des Grimpeurs. In due time, however, he found himself in the early break, still among the leaders as the major selections were made, and with enough strength left in his legs to make his own winning move, beating Belgium's Philippe Gilbert (FDJeux.com) and compatriot Jérôme Pineau (Brioches La Boulangère).

"I've been coming back slowly, and now I'm finding good condition just as the stage races are coming up," Moreau commented before the race. "It's true that my return has taken longer than expected, but it's coming."

Moreau is eager to defend his title at the Four Days of Dunkerque this week, even if he feels his form might still be a bit shy. The Tour du Languedoc-Roussillon and Dauphiné Libéré represent more viable objectives, even if today's Grimpeurs victory will provide an unexpected boost in morale for the coming week.

"I think things will be better by the middle in the middle of June, and the French national championships have a very tough parcours this year, which will be good for arriving at the Tour de France in very good form."

Although he expected to play a support role at Grimpeurs, winning the race was no doubt the best way to "help the team" this time around.

Ullrich training hard

Realising that with two months to go until the Tour that he is perhaps a little behind schedule in terms of race fitness, Jan Ullrich (T-Mobile) is in a heavy training phase at the moment. The German, who has never finished lower than second in the Tour in six attempts, was struggling to hold onto the back of the peloton in La Flèche Wallonne on April 21, his most recent race. But he maintains that there is no reason to panic.

Since Flèche Wallonne, Ullrich has been training near his home in Lake Constance, Switzerland. "I don't hear any alarm bells for summer," said Ullrich in an interview with ARD. "I'm working hard on my endurance and my weight, which is yes, my handicap."

"Here I can prepare and train in peace and keep my head clear," explained Ullrich, who has been doing six to seven hours per day. "There will be better days from me." Ullrich will return to racing on May 29, and in the meantime will inspect some of the key stages of the Tour, including the time trials in Besancon and Alpe d'Huez.

Ullrich's adviser Rudy Pevenage said that, "His motivation is good and he is training hard. It's still a little early to say something about his climbing form. But he will do it - he has no other option."

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