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Tour de France Cycling News for July 20, 2005

Edited by Jeff Jones, Shane Stokes & John Stevenson, assisted by Sabine Sunderland

Australians offer shocked condolences for Amy Gillett

By John Trevorrow in Pau

Cadel Evans' excellent ride in stage 16 was "the least I could do" in memory of Amy Gillett
Photo ©: Mitch Clinton
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The crash in Germany on Monday that killed Amy Gillett and injured five riders from the Australian team has deeply affected the Australian contingent at the Tour. All the Australians at the Tour de France were in shock today; the riders, the journos, the workers and the fans. Some of the cyclists knew the girls well, while others only well enough to say hi. But they all looked forlorn and seemed to have that emptiness and sadness that comes with losing a comrade.

Everyone's thoughts today are for the family and friends of Amy Gillett, Alexis Rhodes, Louise Yaxley, Katie Brown, Lorian Graham and Katie Nichols. And, of course, team coach Warren "Wazza" McDonald.

Robbie McEwen: "I just heard about the girls. I can't believe it. Australian cycling has a special bond that most other nations don't have, and my heart goes out to all the loved ones."

Baden Cooke: "Mark (Renshaw - boyfriend of Katie Brown) has gone to Germany to be with Katie. It's every cyclist's nightmare to be involved in an accident like that. You do everything you can to avoid crashes, but it doesn't matter how good a bike rider you are or how careful you are, a car ploughing into you is something you can't do anything about. I would like to send my condolences to the families of all involved."

Stuart O'Grady: "The other day I was wearing an armband for Casartelli. Now I am wearing an arm band for a fellow Australian rider. I'm devastated. I'm shocked. We feel so sorry for her family our thoughts are with them. And I hope the other girls who are in critical condition come though on the good side."

"It's hard for everyone. It's hard to continue and go out and race. There are things much bigger in life than sport. But we have to get on with our job. Unfortunately, what we do is very dangerous. But I am sure their families and everyone would want us to keep going. It's a sign of our support to keep on racing."

Robbie McEwen
Photo ©: Anthony Tan
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Cadel Evans: "I don't think words can do anything. I don't know how many people have to get killed before society realise how dangerous motor vehicles are. I feel sorry for the girls, their friends and family. Very sorry."

Matt White: "It is devastating for everyone involved, they will all be in my thoughts today."

Simon Gerrans: "What terrible news. I have met most of the girls on the Bay Classic but I didn't know them real well. But I am devastated by the news. An accident like that is something that every cyclist dreads and for it to happen to our national team is unbelievable. My deepest condolences go out to all the families"

Mick Rogers struggles through

By Hedwig Kröner in Pau

Quick.Step's Michael Rogers has not been able to live up to his goals in this year's Tour de France. The time trial world champion was aiming for a top ten placing, but the tempo of the peloton, the slopes of the Pyrenees combined with extreme fatigue have made him lose over an hour to Armstrong's yellow jersey and the other GC contenders.

"I've been really tired these last couple of days, really struggling," he told Cyclingnews on the morning of stage 16 to Pau. "All I want to do now is get to Paris. The fatigue just got on top of me and it all stacked up. I'm disappointed, but that's life - I'll try again next year."

The winner of the Tour of Germany in 2003 still would like to make up for the disappointment, but knows it is not going to be easy. "The race is fairly controlled now, but if I can get into a break or have a good time trial that's going to be a bonus. I can try on the next stages, but you need to be lucky and have a good pair of legs to get into the break - it's not easy. First and foremost, I want to finish this race. I totally emptied myself..."

O'Grady tries to take more points

With time ticking down to Sunday's finish on the Champs Elysees, Stuart O'Grady is doing all he can to catch and overtake maillot vert Thor Hushovd (Credit Agricole). The Cofidis rider is a better climber than his rivals Hushovd and McEwen but was unable to get into the points today.

"I knew it would be impossible to stay with the front guys over the top of the climb but I tried to stay with them for as long as possible," he said at the finish. "A few of the guys waited for me, but it was not to be."

"I don't know how the rest of the week looks. I'll just take it like I do every day…each stage I will try and get what advantage I can. It's going to be hard, though."

O'Grady said that the terrible accident yesterday involving the AIS women's team made the stage event tougher. "It's a shocking day, a dark day for Australian cycling. I tried to ride out there with their spirit and thinking of the guys back home…a hard day."

Stressed Lefevere looking forward to Paris

"I'm longing for the end of this Tour," Quick Step manager Patrick Lefevere told Sporza Radio on the rest day. His team first lost star sprinter Tom Boonen due to injuries sustained during a couple of unfortunate crashes and now has only five riders left.

"Is this frustrating?" asked Lefevere. "Well, for a few riders there's mitigating circumstances. Boonen was injured. Cretskens and Hulsmans were riding their first tour. They both will understand now that they have got a lot of work to do still. But I have to speak in their defence: they were riding at the front for a whole week. Of course everyone has forgotten that already. Jean-Marie Pfaff [legendary Belgian soccer goal-keeper] said it once: people only remember for a fortnight.

"No, I'm definitely not disappointed by the riders who have gone home. Rogers and Sinkewitz, they are the ones who sank through the ice!

"Sinkewitz was crying like a baby last year because he was left at home. Now, we allowed him to prepare for the Tour from the start of the season, but he can't do anything. And Michael Rogers might have been a bit under the weather during the Tour of Switzerland, and maybe he forced things a bit; but is that the reason for his shortcoming?

"Tom Boonen is recovering. He told me over the phone that he is riding his bike; albeit at tourist pace," Lefevere concluded.

Vansummeren happy

Unlike Lefevere, Davitamon-Lotto rider Johan Vansummeren seems to be enjoying this Tour. "We stopped for a coffee and that was a bonus, very relaxing," he said of the second rest day. "For me, a goal I set before the start was that I'd finish the Tour. I'd be very disappointed if I hadn't made it to the second rest day. I feel good still.

"It's been okay to room with Robbie McEwen here in France. The Australian press keeps ringing him at odd hours; because of the time difference Robbie is often still talking on the phone at midnight. But we've been getting eight hours of solid sleep, so that's been plenty. Robbie feels strong and he was okay yesterday, after having a bit of a lesser day on Saturday."

Besides helping Cadel Evans on the road to Paris, aiding McEwen is also important. "Obtaining the green jersey is definitely something we are looking at but it's no priority. I mean, anything can happen still, with Hushovd and O'Grady. They have had to dig deep for those intermediate sprints in all the stages, while Robbie was sitting back. They have used a lot of power and strength. So, if they have a bad day anything is possible.

"But to win on Sunday on the Champs-Elysees is a priority. That is something which can't go wrong!"

Frison sets out his stall

Davitamon Lotto directeur sportif Herman Frison is aiming high as the Tour heads towards its conclusion. Another stage victory, the green points jersey and a good top ten placing overall are all on his wish-list. Following a less-than-relaxing rest day, some R & R is also needed, although that will have to wait until next week.

"I slept in a bit but then I had to get back to work at 9am, which is late during the Tour," he said. "Normally I have breakfast at 7.15-7.30 every morning. We also had blood tests, so that meant that the riders had to get up early anyway. Training was an individual thing. Some of the guys trained a couple of hours; some didn't. Cadel even went for a spin behind the car. Everyone has to listen to his own body."

"I think we've definitely reached our goal concerning the number of wins," he continued. "Actually, we've got one more than was our goal. We still want the green jersey, for sure, but the truth is we already have Sunday on our mind. We can take a fourth victory there."

Tom Boonen's withdrawal from the race changed things for the team. "When Tom stopped we sort of thought it would be possible to go for the green, and we really studied that option. We'd have to aim for the intermediate sprints but it's going to be very hard. It didn't work in the last stages. I'm a bit afraid for Wednesday; that third category col at the end is hard. We have to make sure we lose O'Grady there, before the finish, in order to take more points."

Frison also said that getting Cadel Evans into the top ten was a priority, and 24 hours later that goal has been achieved. Now the focus is on keeping the rider up there all the way to Paris.

Stage win important for Armstrong

"Lance wants to win a stage in this last Tour," Discovery Channel's Dirk de Mol has told the Belgian media. "For sure. He'll definitely be going for it in the coming days."

"It's true that Lance puts everything on the Tour, but you just can't compare cycling with the racing of the times of Merckx. Racing is very different now. Uphill, Lance has had no weak moments. That's because he knows his own power, his limits, strength and his body like no other rider. That really is something to be admired."

De Mol plays down speculation that stage 15 winner George Hincapie can fill Armstrong's shoes. "There's been a lot of talk about Hincapie following in Lance's footsteps as a TdF winner. While it's not realistic to think that George could win the Tour; he certainly can make the top 10. To ask for more is out of the question."

"George has got a big motor and he can handle big training rides and one-day classics, and smaller stage races. But he is the type of rider that doesn't get better during those long training camps we have. Lance does, but Hincapie is not the same rider."

Untitled Document

The Tour de France of give-aways and competitions

Don't miss out at Tour time!

Resident freebies expert, Rufus Staffordshire, sniffs out some competitions where up to $1 million in prizes are on offer as manufacturers clamber for your eyeballs. Woof!

Lucky 7 Sweepstakes'
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The Tour de France is not only a reasonably popular bike race, ahem, it's also a great opportunity to win an incredible range of prizes and competitions on offer from manufacturers, publishers and distributors.

Many of our sponsors are offering Cyclingnews readers a schwag-fest of give-aways during the lap-around-France. The prizes on offer range from Volkswagens and vaccuum cleaners through to trips to Paris for the 2006 TdF, as well as actual kit being ridden by top pros in the Tour - including top bikes from Trek, Cervelo, and Avanti.

So that you don't have to go hunting around the Internet for all these goodies, we've assembled the Cyclingnews complete guide to Tour freebies and competitions.

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