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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

Latest News for July 24, 2003

Edited by Jeff Jones & Chris Henry

Disbelief at Hamilton's ride

Well, Hamilton couldn't believe it
Photo: © Sirotti

Tyler Hamilton's incredible performance in Stage 16 to hold off the peloton by nearly two minutes in Bayonne after a 100 km solo breakaway will go down as one of the great rides in this Tour de France, which has seen several outstanding performances so far. But still, some of his colleagues cannot believe that he did it, given that he still has a cracked collarbone.

Michael Boogerd said, "It's incredible that the American can do this. Today, the race was so hard again. Two times we managed to create a gap. After the last climb I had the feeling that our tempo was not high enough to avoid a mass sprint. But he just kept hammering at the front."

Telekom director Walter Godefroot still has his doubts about Hamilton's fracture, but defended himself in the VUM newspapers today. "I have never said that Tyler is lying!" said the Belgian. "But my doubts remain. I have seen many collarbone fractures in my team. It was unimaginable that those guys would race. I broke the same bone myself; I know what I'm talking about. Maybe the doctors now have found the way to tape that bone better, miracles can still happen." Tour doctor Gerard Porte explained it as follows. "Because the line of the fracture is not complete, in medical terms, we speak of a cracked bone, not a broken one. Hamilton was just very lucky that it is an undisplaced fracture. But there's no doubt that he has conquered pain in this Tour."

More stage 16 comments

Alexandre Vinokourov (Telekom, 3rd GC)

Photo: © C.Henry/CN

"The legs were good but the conditions were not great for attacking," Telekom's Alexandre Vinokourov (3rd on GC) told L'Equipe. "When the gap to Hamilton reached five minutes we started chasing and when the gap was down to four minutes there was no longer any danger and we rode to win the stage with Zabel."

"I'm concentrating on the time trial to try to do something. I'm not saying I'm capable of taking three minutes from Armstrong but I will fight to conserve my third place."

Haimar Zubeldia (Euskaltel-Euskadi, 4th GC)

"Hamilton did a great ride and it's true that our plans were a bit disrupted," said Zubeldia, who will have to ride well on Saturday to prevent Hamilton from taking 1'20 back from him. "What's more, at the moment the attack started, Iban Mayo had a mechanical problem. The stage really didn't go as we had hoped. It's too bad, but I still have the time trial in Nantes to try for the podium."

Sandy Casar (, 8th stage)

Photo: © C.Henry/CN

"It's always a pleasure to be in front and to animate the race," said Casar of his ride in the breakaway in stage 16. "It's good for the morale. I recovered well during the rest day and in the final road stages I will try to do something."

Ludovic Turpin (Ag2r, 80th stage)

"I went after 20 kilometres even though I wasn't feeling fantastic. When Hamilton joined us I told myself 'that's going to complicate things'. It's too bad for me because each time I find myself ahead, the break doesn't last until the end."

David Millar (Cofidis, 145th stage)

"I'm completely exhausted and very upset but to attack from the start was the only card I had to play," said Millar, who was active from kilometre 13. "I know that I rode hard when Bettini sat up but it was a risk I had to take. I hoped that behind it would have broken up and afterwards I found myself in the right break but Hamilton was too strong and he demolished the peloton. I finished in the grupetto and mentally that's very hard. I'm a bit demoralised that this has not been the Tour de France of my dreams."

The battle for green

With just three stages left in the Tour for the sprinters, the battle for the green points jersey is likely to come down to the final sprint on the Champs Elysées again. Green jersey wearer Baden Cooke (156 points) believes that he has a good chance of holding onto it until Paris, as his main rival Robbie McEwen is not quite at top form.

"McEwen is not as good as last year," Cooke told Het Laatste Nieuws. "Robbie has been racing for one year and a half at 100 percent. You can't hold that. Now he's only at 95 percent and that makes him vulnerable. But the green jersey is not done yet: there's still three more days of fighting for the bonifications."

Robbie McEwen (148 points) said that, "I survived the Pyrenees without problems, physically I'm still very good. I still have three big chances, and the victory in Paris can make everything good. A stage victory and green, that's still the ultimate dream."

Erik Zabel (143 points) moved up to third in the classification after taking second in the stage yesterday. But he says he only has one thing on his mind. "Sorry, I'm not interested any more in the green jersey but the stage victory still interests me. I have accepted I'm not among the very fastest of the peloton anymore. Other guys are establishing themselves. Since the day I accepted this I feel much happier."

Ullrich given Fair Play prize

Ullrich avoided the crash, but waited
Photo: © AFP

Jan Ullrich has been awarded a prize for Fair Play by the Deutsche Olympische Gesellschaft (German Olympic Committee) for his actions during the 15th stage of the Tour de France. The stage that finished on Luz Ardiden saw race leader Lance Armstrong crash when he tangled his brakes with a spectator's musette. Iban Mayo was right behind him and crashed as well, while Ullrich managed to avoid it and suddenly found himself in the lead. Instead of taking advantage of the situation, Ullrich slowed while Armstrong regained contact, and eventually finished 40 seconds behind the Texan who attacked shortly after catching the group.

"In the hard battle for the overall victory in the Tour, Ullrich did not want to profit from the bad luck of his rival," said GOC chairman Hans-Joachim Klein. "In doing that he followed an important sporting principle: fight each other on an equal basis."

Lotto-Domo: and then there were six

Nick Gates abandoned the Tour yesterday after around 50 km, reducing the Lotto-Domo team to six riders from the original nine. Gates, who is riding in his first Tour, told AFP a few days ago he would probably have fared a little better physically if he had not had to contest the Tours of Italy and Switzerland in order to prove his worth to Lotto.

"The Tour is totally different from the Giro or the Tour of Switzerland, but I think that on top of what I've already done, I'm at my end. I feel physically empty," he said. "I've never ridden a big Tour before and now I've done two in one year, and the Tour of Switzerland in between and, physically, it's just impossible."

Even though he didn't finish those two stage races he feels it has been too much for him to handle. "This is damn hard" Gates said to the Belgian press today.

Not making it to Paris is a big disappointment for the Australian, who had to hold back the tears and disappeared into the team bus, watched by his parents. In addition, after battling through the Alps and the Pyrenees, his teammates now miss out on a €10,500 prize bonus, as teams that get to Paris with seven or more riders get a premium of €1,500 per rider.

Mayo in demand

At least four teams want to sign up Basque climber Iban Mayo for next season. His current employer Euskaltel-Euskadi, the Italian Saeco team, the Swiss Phonak formation and Quick Step-Davitamon. "Mayo's manager has our offer on the table, but that doesn't make him ours yet!" said Quick.Step's Patrick Lefevere.

Engoulvent talking to Cofidis

Jimmy Engoulvent (Brioches la Boulangère) has started talking to Cofidis about a contract for next season. The Frenchman is at the end of contract with Brioches la Boulangère, and would help to boost the number of French riders in Cofidis if he changed. Cofidis is the top ranked French team, however it only has seven French riders. It wants to go to ten next year.

Sevilla back on the bike

Oscar Sevilla (Kelme) has finally started training again, after several months off due to a cyst. The Spanish climber is expected to make his return to competition on August 9 at the Clasica San Sebastian.

New Turkish stage race

There will be a new UCI 2.3 stage race in Turkey next year, according to L'Equipe. The race will be called the "Turkish Riviera Tour" and is scheduled for February 18-22. Each stage will end in Antalya and the race is expected to get a decent number of division I teams.

Pan Am Games Mountain Bike preview

Referred to as the "Alps of the Caribbean", the mountains surrounding the Dominican town of Jarabacoa play host to the Pan American Games Mountain Bike competition on Sunday, August 12. Centrally located northwest of Santo Domingo, the picturesque community of Jarabacoa provides the challenging and beautiful terrain characteristic of the sport of mountain biking.

With stellar talent throughout the participating countries, the mountain bike event will be hotly contested and feature many of the sport's established greats and rising stars. Representing the United States in the 2003 Pan American Games Mountain Bike event will be Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski (Boulder, CO), and Jeremiah Bishop (Harrisonburg, VA) for the men, while Mary McConneloug (Fairfax, CA) will be the sole women's representative.

Horgan-Koblelski, the reigning U.S. National Short Track Cross Country Champion, earned his spot on the Pan Am Games team as the top ranked American rider after the first three NORBA National Championship Mountain Bike Series Events, which also doubled as Pan Am Games qualifiers.

Bishop joins Horgan-Kobelski on Team U.S.A. after a breakthrough performance at Mt. Snow. Bishop's third place finish in that event gave him a number two ranking amongst Americans and an opportunity to compete in Santo Domingo.

Mary McConneloug solidified her spot on the U.S. Pan Am Games team and put her stamp on the women's international mountain bike scene after a dominant performance at Mt. Snow this June. In a breakthrough performance of her own, McConneloug took home the victory in the cross-country event amongst a field stacked with some of the world's top competitors.

In the women's event, McConneloug's biggest challenge will likely come from a number of candidates, primarily 2000 Olympian and NORBA NCMBS round two victor, Jimena Florit (Arg). Florit, a two-time NORBA overall series champion in the short track cross-country discipline is only one of many possible threats.

Good lineup for M. Donnelly Junior Tour

By Shane Stokes,

With less than two weeks remaining before the start of the M. Donnelly Junior Tour, race organiser Alice Sherratt has released details of what should be a fascinating contest. A strong international field of riders has been confirmed for the tough event, with three squads from France, three from the Netherlands, two from South Africa, one from the USA plus teams from the UK all travelling to Ireland to take part in the six day stage race. The English and Welsh national teams are part of this UK entry, as are five regional teams.

"There will be a good line-up for the Junior Tour," said Sherratt, "It should be a great race."

The 2003 race will be held in the environs of County Waterford, the M. Donnelly Junior Tour having made the move last year due to traffic congestion in the Dublin area. "We were very happy with the way things turned out last year," said Sherratt. "The move worked very well for us. The local support is great and the assistance of the Waterford Institute of Technology makes things much easier for us, in terms of food and accommodation. There is a very good atmosphere and the racing itself is great."

The M. Donnelly Junior Tour will begin in Waterford with a one-mile hilly time trial on Tuesday, August fifth. It continues the following day with an undulating 62 mile stage out around Dungarvan, while on day three the riders will cover 63 miles to Enniscorthy. Stage four will be probably be the hardest leg of the race, with four laps of a very hilly 14 mile circuit at Carrick on Suir likely to splinter the field.

The following day the riders will dispute a 66 mile stage which starts and finishes in Clonmel and takes in the climb of the Vee. Then the final day of racing will take the riders on a two-lap, 40 mile road race which concludes on the Quays in Waterford city.

The Junior Tour will once again be sponsored by the Meath-based businessman Martin Donnelly, who came on board last year and whose support has made a huge difference to the race. The Clareman has had a history of sports sponsorship, having been involved with GAA teams for many years, and indeed the day before the Junior Tour begins, the Poc Fada hurling competition he backs will take place in the Cooley Mountains.

"I like being involved in sport and am delighted to help out with the Junior Tour again this year," he said. "I was very impressed by what Alice, Phil and the others did last year and think that the race worked very well in Waterford. People reacted in a very positive way last year and so with a response like that, I am delighted to help out. Last year was my first time sponsoring it...I came into it quite late and so there wasn't much time available, but the goal is now to build on that start and make the race bigger and better."

Donnelly is a keen leisure cyclist, having done numerous events including six Mizen Head to Malin Head rallies, and so helping raise funds for the Children's Hospital. Later this year he will be going on a fundraising cycle to South Africa, and so it is obvious that the sport is important to him. And helping to make it bigger is, for him, a considerable motivation.

"Cycling doesn't get as much coverage as other sports do in this country," he says. "That is a pity as in the past there have been some really great riders from Ireland. I feel that there are a lot of other good cyclists out there who could achieve success. I believe that the Junior Tour can help bring new riders to the fore, and so would hope that my input is in some ways contributing to the future of the sport."

Race director Phil Cassidy agrees with this, stating that the Junior Tour has benefited greatly from Martin Donnelly's input. "It has made a huge difference to us to have the support of Martin, who is synonymous with sport. It is great to have this kind of backing for cycling, and while it will not happen overnight, I think it can make a real difference to the future of the sport here in Ireland. If we can bring guys on from the race - guys like Mark Scanlon, who won the Junior Tour and who could be a future stage winner of the Tour de France - then the public will sit up and notice the sport. And this time Irish cycling will be ready to really capitalise on that.

"Martin's input really is a huge boost. There are no big pressures from him as he is letting it develop at its own pace. It really is a pleasure to work with somebody like him - it took less than five minutes over a pint in the Grasshopper Inn for him to pledge his support. He is a very generous man with sport in his heart."

Race organiser Alice Sherratt agrees, stating that Donnelly's support has been of huge importance to the race and has helped the Junior Tour make the crucial move out of Dublin. "It was getting really difficult to run the race around Dublin due to the big traffic problems there. Martin's backing was essential for us to be able to move to Waterford, and we are really happy with the results of that. It was a great success last year thanks to his help, and also because of the input of the Waterford Institute of Technology, Joe Robinson and the local Gardaí, plus the Chief Marshal Pat Power."

"There are some great teams coming this year and we have a good route planned. We are all looking forward to what should be a really great race," she concludes.

* Late entries are still being accepted for the M. Donnelly Junior Tour. Contact Alice Sherratt at 00 353 87 2929913.

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