Tour de France Cycling News for July 2, 2005
Edited by Jeff Jones & Hedwig Kröner
7 threats for Armstrong's 7
An interview with Marcel Wüst
Photo ©: AFP
With less than a day to go before the start of a hopefully epic 92nd
Tour de France, everybody asks the same questions: What will this year's
race bring? How will the story unfold? Who will win which stage, who will
end up in Yellow, Green and Polka Dots? At the Tour's mobile HQ in Challans,
Cyclingnews Hedwig Kröner caught up with a guy who once won a bunch
sprint in front of the likes of Erik Zabel and Tom Steels, but wearing
the Polka Dot mountain jersey: Marcel Wüst.
That was back in 2000, and in that same summer the former pro sprinter
was forced to quit his job when a bad crash almost cost him his life,
but definitely took away the sight in one of his eyes, making further
racing impossible even after his recovery. Nonetheless, Wüst remained
inside the pro cycling circus, using his countless contacts to work for
various teams as a press officer, as well as expert commentator for German
TV broadcaster ARD.
CN: Marcel, who's your favourite for tomorrow's time trial?
Marcel Wüst: Michael Rich. I'm convinced he can pull
it off, and I would really be happy for him. Gerolsteiner deserves a big
win like that. But of course, the usual suspects like Ullrich, Armstrong,
Cancellara, maybe Botero and the other time trial specialists will also
be there. But it's hard to say as we haven't seen them seriously race
against each other just before the Tour. There will definitely be big
time differences with the head- and side wind coming from the sea, so
it will surely reveal who's hot and who's not...
for the full interview.
Team presentation a spectacular affair
By Jon Devich in Challans
Photo ©: Jon Devich
Thousands turned out for the Tour de France team presentation on Friday
in Challans. Cloudy skies and threats of showers didn't deter eager fans
from lining the 1km parade lap. This year Tour organizers debuted a different
format to the presentation compared to previous years when a simple stage
and roll-up showcased each team. Always trying to outdo itself, the Tour
presented each team on an elaborate stage with spectacular lighting and
even a low hanging fog. After a team rolled up and each rider was presented,
the group exited the Parc des Sports to be escorted by young riders holding
Tour and country flags. Fans could then get a close up look at their favourites
as they made their way around the loop. Supplementing the 21 teams was
a recreation of a turn of the century race caravan made up of riders and
The riders seemed to really enjoy their time under the lights, and every
team rolled into the streets with wide smiles on their faces. Lance Armstrong
looked laid back and relaxed as usual, fielding a couple of questions
while on stage. Main rival Jan Ullrich looked equally relaxed, even though
he was sporting a bandage on his neck which covered up the minor cuts
from his crash while training earlier in the day.
Thomas Voeckler (Bouygues Telecom)
Photo ©: Jon Devich
The hero of the evening had to be Thomas Voeckler. Voeckler and his Bouygues
Telecom team brought the loudest cheers from the audience who kept clapping
well after the team got in place on the stage. Director Sportif Christian
Guiberteau became heartwarmingly emotional during his thank you words
to the Tour organization. Voeckler's welcome was then just as loud outside
the Parc des Sports as the team came into the street for the parade.
The evening ended as teams completed the loop and headed back to the
buses. Fans crowded behind the barriers for a better view but with a big
day tomorrow their was no lingering by the riders. Today kicks off at
15:40 with the last rider, Lance Armstrong, leaving the start house at
18:48. With high winds along the coast it should prove to be an exciting
For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here
Relentless Ullrich looking forward to party
In his last pre-Tour 2005 press conference in Challans on Thursday,
Jan Ullrich looked pretty relaxed. The T-Mobile star was able to prepare
the biggest event of the year without interferences, and is convinced
that his form is just right for July - not just for the mountain stages
starting the second Tour week, but also for the first time trial today.
"I believe I can perform well at the time trial," he said. "I haven't
really got the Yellow jersey in mind, because that would put a lot of
pressure on the team right away. But I will give everything of course
and see what I can pull off."
"Der Kaiser" also talked about Lance Armstrong, who will be the one
to beat once again, but for the last time. "I think he will be very strong
again this year," Ullrich said. "Otherwise, he wouldn't have lined up
at the start. But he, too, has weaknesses, and if he shows them, we will
use it. Another year, another opportunity," he optimistically added. Ullrich
knows it's his last chance to beat the Texan after so many attempts -
but he hasn't really imagined life without Armstrong yet.
Asked if he would miss his rival after this year's Tour, he replied,
"I haven't thought about that yet. But the whole cycling world will miss
him, because he dominated it during the last years. If there is a big
farewell party, I sure hope I'll be invited. There might be a tear or
Ivan Basso (CSC) is tipped as being one of Lance Armstrong's most dangerous
challengers during this year's Tour. After finishing third last year,
Basso has improved another notch this year, even if he couldn't completely
demonstrate it during the Giro. But coming into the Tour, Basso is confident
that he is up to the task.
"I don't know where I'm at in comparison with Ullrich or Armstrong,"
he told L'Equipe. "But I know that I've done everything to be ready
and that I'll attack Armstrong when I can."
Basso recalled his race last year, where he performed well but suffered
in the mountain time trial on l'Alpe d'Huez. "Until L'Alpe d'Huez, I felt
as though I could make that Tour explode, and that euphoric feeling never
left me," he said. He has trained all winter on the Düsseldorf, Germany
track to improve his time trialling. "I think I've shown at the Giro that
I improved with regard to that, without losing my capabilities in the
Basso reconnoitred the final ascent to Courchevel, today's time tiral
and the Blois time tiral, "but not more," he added.
He learned a lot at this year's Giro, mainly about himself. "Ít was
important for me to prove to myself that I was able to overcome the worst
moments of crisis." A similar attitude to that of his biggest Tour rival,
Riis downplays Ullrich
CSC team manager Bjarne Riis knows what it takes to win the Tour, having
done it himself in 1996 and being by the side of Jan Ullrich when the
young German did it in 1997. But in 2005, eight years after Ullrich's
victory, Riis doesn't believe that Jan can dethrone Lance, and feels the
greater challenge will come from elsewhere. "After what I saw of Jan during
the Tour de Suisse, I can't say that I'm impressed," said Riis to Dutch
newspaper AD. "In the big mountains, he comes too short, certainly
in comparison with Vinokourov. I consider him as a much more dangerous
As far as Basso's chances go, Riis believes that he will recover from
his bad Giro. "Ivan is no Simoni," said Riis. "To ride a second Grand
Tour is a question of motivation, of mentality, and of thorough, sophisticated
preparation. I can say that these elements are present to a large degree.
Ivan is ready for the Tour.
Italian company, Nobili, will become a new sponsor for Team CSC starting
with this year's Tour de France. Nobili, which produces water taps and
tap fittings, will have a prominent spot on the Team CSC jersey both front
and back. The deal is for one year, initially.
"We see this sponsorship deal with Team CSC as a unique opportunity
to get exposure for our brand internationally, and we are happy to have
found a strong partner in Riis Cycling," said Nobili's export manager
Carlo del Negro. "We have commercial interests all over Europe, and that
is why this sponsorship works for us. We have very good experiences with
cycling via other sponsorship agreements, but the deal with Team CSC is
at a much higher level."
Riis Cycling's sales and marketing manager, Lars Gjøls-Andersen, expressed
his pleasure with the deal, and hoped it would "open the door to a more
Lefévère angry at Sinkewitz
Bad vibes have been reported inside the Quick.Step team bus. Team manager
Patrick Lefévère spoke out to Belgian media sportwereld.be about
his anger at Patrik Sinkewitz' announcement to leave the squad for T-Mobile
next year. "If I could replace Sinkewitz in our Tour team, I would do
it immediately," the Belgian said. "He broke his word. The German is a
false player all the way. I have an agreement with his manager Tony Rominger
and e-mails from Sinkewitz himself saying that he would sign a new two-year
contract at the Tour. He just used me to get on the Tour roster. [...]
He shouldn't expect any support from our team. He's only 25, so he will
still be around for some years if he's not suspended or victim of a crash.
The wheel is round and continues to spin and it's only a small world.
I'll get him sooner or later."
No rain today, but... sardines?
Just in time for the Tour de France, the French will not miss out on
the opportunity to show their discontent over national matters. Using
the media coverage, the "Grande Boucle" is a perfect occasion for the
country's typical protests. Unhappy about new governmental restraints,
the sardine fishermen of the Atlantic Ocean have therefore threatened
to throw fish on the parcours of the time trial today. Weather forecasts
have not predicted any rain for today, fortunately, so let's hope the
riders won't slide over wet sardines...
It should be a dry, but windy day for the 189 riders taking part in
the first stage of the Tour de France between Fromentine and Noirmoutier.
After a cloudy morning, it's supposed to clear more towards the afternoon
and evening as the weather front moves east. The wind direction may change
from northwest and switch around to the west, meaning it will be a head/crosswind,
blowing at 10-20 km/h. The temperature will be 17 degrees in the morning,
rising to 25 in the afternoon.
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