Tour de France News for May 9, 2004
Edited by Chris Henry
Beloki has doubts
Joseba Beloki, battling continued setbacks in training and racing since
the beginning of the year, has shown tempered confidence as the Tour de
France looms on the horizon. Beloki was recruited by Brioches La Boulangère
to challenge for the Tour title, but has yet to return to top condition
since his Tour-ending crash in 2003. This weekend he lines up at the Clásica
de Alcobendas as defending champion, however thus far this season the
Basque has yet to finish a race.
In a Marca interview this weekend, Beloki admitted he's not yet
a contender for Tour de France, and revealed that his sights may be set
later in the season at the Vuelta a España.
"I'm basically doing the same program as last year," he said of his pre-Tour
preparations. "Alcobendas was the first race I did and I would like to
be on top, but it's going to be tough. I hope all of my misfortunes are
behind me. A crash was the worst thing that could happen to me and already
this year I've had three."
As for this year's Tour, which Beloki says features a very demanding
parcours, "I'm not on the list of favourites right now," he conceded.
"I have to earn that. But I still have time. The other thing I need is
"The Vuelta will be an important challenge," he added. "The Vuelta for
me is like the month of September for the students. It would be a disappointment
not to finish on the podium. If I'm going well, I have to hope for the
Vasseur to face Gaumont
Cédric Vasseur and Philippe Gaumont are expected to come face
to face in the courtroom of judge Richard Pallain on May 18. Both riders
have been implicated in the ongoing drug investigation in France which
ostensibly centres around the Cofidis team. Gaumont, after admitting to
doping throughout his career, was ultimately released from the team this
Vasseur, placed under investigation in France following allegations from
Gaumont that he too had used performance enhancing drugs, remains suspended
from the team but continues to deny any drug use. Recent counter-analysis
of hair samples taken from Vasseur, which earlier this spring revealed
the presence of cocaine, however judge Pallain has let to remove Vasseur
from the list of those being investigated in the ongoing affair.
Ullrich expected in Germany
Jan Ullrich, expected to compete in the Tour of Germany at the end of
this month (May 31-June 6), has indeed added his name to the list of starters
for his national tour. After lacklustre performances in the early season,
including an early abandon at the Flèche Wallonne, Ullrich has
continued to train in relative solitude in Italy and Switzerland. He has
also added the Tour of Switzerland to his pre-Tour de France program.
"We have his written agreement concerning his participation," Tour of
Germany race director David Pohle commented this week. Ullrich will line
up alongside T-Mobile teammate and fellow Tour de France captain Alexandre
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2004)