Tour de France News for May 25, 2004
Edited by Jeff Jones
McEwen heads home
The 15th stage of the Giro was the last one for Robbie McEwen (Lotto-Domo),
who boarded a plane to Brussels in order to return home to Everbeek in
Belgium. McEwen, who never intended to finish the Giro, will not go away
empty handed either. He won a stage and finished second to Petacchi three
times, including today.
"I had great legs today and the team worked well," McEwen told Cyclingnews
after Stage 15. "I thought I could get through at the end, but just missed
the gap." He also promised to renew the battle with the Fassa Bortolo
super sprinter at the Tour de France. "Petacchi is beatable and I'm looking
forward to the Tour," added McEwen.
RAGT Semences meet
Sylvain Calzati (RAGT)
Photo ©: AFP
The RAGT Semences-MG Rover team, fresh out of the Tour du Languedoc-Roussillon,
is holding a training camp in the Monts du Beaujolais near Villefranche
sur Saône between May 24-27. The team will use the occasion to do some
intense work with a view to the forthcoming Dauphiné Libéré and Classique
des Alpes. Each day they will be riding in the mountains, finishing with
the Monts du Bugey and the Le Grand Colombier.
The team's neo-pro Sylvain Calzati rode well in the Tour du Languedoc-Roussillon,
being part of a breakaway that almost made it to the finish in Stage
3. Calzati commented about one of his better known competitors in
that race that, "I admit that I'm impressed to be riding alongside Armstrong
whom I admire particularly. I like the way he prepares his races to the
nearest millimetre, leaving nothing to chance. The way I see it, I prefer
not to race at all if it's just to play a walk-on part. I'm much more
in favour of a tightly-packed training programme and prefer to avoid taking
part in races arbitrarily. Not much chance of success with that sort of
arrangement in my view. To succeed on the pro circuit, I'm persuaded that
you have to plan everything ahead."
Calzati's aim is to win a race "any race", and more specifically he
wants to do well in the Dauphiné Libéré "which runs practically right
past my front door. But there is also the Classique des Alpes and the
Route du Sud. Stage races with steep climbs on which I tend to do well.
Then there are the French Championships in Pont des Fossés. As an amateur,
I raced four as a Junior, and won as an Espoir. I know the course by heart,
and imagine that I could do well."
No Tour for Vandenbroucke
After bailing out of the Giro d'Italia with a case of bronchitis just
before the race began in Genova, Frank Vandenbroucke will not contest
the Tour de France for Fassa Bortolo either. Instead, the Belgian will
focus on the Olympic Games and the fall classics.
Team manager Giancarlo Ferretti will build a Tour team around Alessandro
Petacchi for the sprints, and he also hopes that former Vuelta a España
winner Aitor Gonzalez will return to form before July. In the meantime,
questions continue over the fate of Vandenbroucke and when and where he
will return to racing.
"I've been in cycling for 30 years and I've worked with riders like Argentin,
Bartoli, Bugno and Van Lindens, but never before have I had to continually
comment on the program of one rider," Ferretti said, quoted on sportwereld.be.
"Anyway, we count on him for the classics. Does he necessarily need a
grand tour to become a few percent better? I don't think so."
Belgian national coach José De Cauwer doesn't necessarily agree
with Ferretti's assessment, calling Vandenbroucke's absence at the Tour
'a sin'. De Cauwer has his eye on VDB for Olympic selection, but insists
that competition for the Belgian national team will be stiff.
"I want some positive indications," De Cauwer said. "I'll gladly take
Vandenbroucke along, but I need to see something. I only want one thing:
Ullrich hits the Alps
T-Mobile's leader for the Tour de France, Jan Ullrich, has taken a page
from the Lance Armstrong handbook and set up camp in the Alps for some
tests on the major climbs of this year's race. In particular, Ullrich
has been training on the slopes of Alpe d'Huez, scene of what should be
a crucial individual time trial this year. Having finished second in the
Tour on five occasions (three behind Armstrong), Ullrich is still in search
of his second overall victory after 1997.
"If I would have won last year and not finished second, I probably would
have stopped racing," Ullrich said in an interview with Bunte.
"This summer I once again have a big goal."
It's been another lacklustre spring for the German, who has once more
confounded the critics with a slow start to the year and apparent excess
weight. Nonetheless, Ullrich continues to train and insists that his preparations
for the Tour are on track.
"My hard training in the past few weeks has been done completely with
the Tour de France in mind," he explained. "I've been working harder and
harder, which I need to do in order to win the Tour, and I can feel that
my form is coming."
Hamilton in the Pyrénées
After a short trip to the United States following his overall victory
in the Tour de Romandie last month, Phonak captain Tyler Hamilton has
begun his own Tour reconnaissance in the Pyrénées mountains.
Hamilton will return to racing at the Dauphiné Libéré,
where he will face the likes of Lance Armstrong and Iban Mayo, among others.
"I rode the last kilometres of the stage to la Mongie and I rode all
the way to the Plateau de Beille," Hamilton said of his training outings.
"I'll also check out the the climbs in the Alps and the Alpe d'Huez time
trial at least three or four times."
Holm back to work
T-Mobile's Brian Holm has taken up his job as assistant sports director
with the team. In the last few months the Dane underwent surgery and chemotherapy
for intestinal cancer. In February, he wrote, "I've never been more scared
in my life." Now, he happily declares, "I feel like I have been born again."
His return was celebrated not only by his own team, but also by riders
and management from various teams last Sunday at the Bayern International
Rundfahrt, where he replaced Mario Kummer in the team car.
Holm didn't get much time off before his next assignment. He'll be leading
the team in the Tour of Luxemburg this week. The tour also marks the return
of T-Mobile's Giuseppe Guerini, who two weeks ago suffered severe facial
injuries in a crash after colliding with a pedestrian during training.
Santiago Botero will also be there, apparently still searching for his
T-Mobile for the Tour of Luxemburg: Mario Aerts, Santiago Botero, Giuseppe
Guerini, Torsten Hiekmann, Serguei Ivanov, Daniele Nardello, Christian
Werner, and Steffen Wesemann.
Courtesy: Susan Westermeyer
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2004)