Tour de France News for May 31, 2004
Edited by Jeff Jones
Lance, meet the Mortirolo
Amid the thousands of cycling enthusiasts testing their legs on the
steep slopes of the Passo di Mortirolo on Saturday was a lean, bronzed
rider who probably ascended the 12.8 km climb faster than most. With one
month to go before five time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong defends
his title and goes for a record sixth victory, the American was training
in the mountains of the Italian Alps.
With the Giro d'Italia gruppo racing a valley away, Lance was ascending
the Mortirolo in mufti, as the USPS-Berry Floor leader seldom wears his
team kit unless he's racing and after his training session, Armstrong
spoke to La Gazzetta dello Sport's Pier Bergonzi.
"It's a terrible climb...it's perfect for a mountain bike. On the hardest
parts, I was riding a 39x27 and I was hurting, really hurting. (Mortirolo)
is the hardest climb I've ever ridden. My time up the climb? It's not
important; I rode the Mortirolo to have some fun and ride with the 'cicloamatori'...there
were a few raindrops, but it was a great day.
PB: So did you want to try the Mortirolo looking forward to riding
the next Giro d'Italia?
LA: You never know...
PB: Have you been following the Giro d'Italia?
LA: I haven't missed anything. It's been a great race
PB: And yesterday's stage with the Gavia and the finish at Bormio
LA: I saw that Cunego was great and Cioni also impressed
me. Dario is finishing the Giro in great form. I have to congratulate
him. It was also a stage full of emotion and I liked the way Garzelli
and Simoni rode.
PB: Are you surprised by Cunego's Giro performance?
LA: I've met him and people have also told me good
things about him, but what (Cunego) is doing in this Giro is something
special. In the last few stages, I've noticed his presence of mind. He's
got good legs and a good head. At this point, it's hard to imagine that
anyone can beat Cunego in the Giro.
Gerolsteiner extends through 2008
The Gerolsteiner mineral water company has announced the extension of
its sponsorship of the cycling team until at least the end of 2008. The
team's current contract was due to expire at the end of 2005, but Gerolsteiner
and the Holczer sport marketing group, which runs the team, agreed to
add another three years of sponsorship in order to qualify for the UCI
Gerolsteiner thus joins Rabobank as one of the first teams to take up
the four year license option for the Pro Tour, thereby guaranteeing it
starts in all the major cycling events of the year.
"Cycling in Germany should be bound to the name of Gerolsteiner in the
future," said manager Jörg Croseck in a statement. "The team represents
our brand at home and abroad and makes a positive impression on all the
relevant target groups.
Team manager Hans-Michael Holczer said that he is confident that the
team will continue to improve its standing in world cycling. Gerolsteiner
currently sits in third place on the UCI's team rankings with World Cup
leader Davide Rebellin its top ranked individual in fourth place.
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2004)