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Dauphiné Libéré
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition News for July 24, 2003

Edited by Jeff Jones & Chris Henry

Broken bone blues

By Tim Maloney, European editor in Pau

Never say die for Hamilton
Photo: © Sirotti

Tyler Hamilton, the winner of Stage 16, must have one of the highest pain thresholds in the pro peloton. In his seventh Tour de France, Hamilton has called this his "hardest ever. The first week it was just brutal. Both on and off the bike, I was suffering and I wasn't sleeping well and just took it day to day the first week. My goal then was to just make it to the TTT on Stage 4 and help my team. So after that I felt OK and now here I am! But it's been a hard fight and without the support of my team I wouldn't be here now."

Hamilton was philosophic about the overall impact of his cracked clavicle. "I had a couple of off days the first two days in the Pyrenees, not bad days, but off days. If I had been a little bit better on those two days, I'd still be in the hunt for the podium. So I think in the future, the podium could be a possibility."

Regarding Telekom director Walter Godefroot's comments calling his injury "a cheap American PR gag", Hamilton responded that "Walter has the right to his own opinion. We welcome him to come and take a look at the X-Rays. It's unfortunate. It's also a disappointing that Godefroot is calling me and my team liars."

Tour de France race doctor Dr. Gerard Porte confirmed that Hamilton had not been faking it, saying that "Hamilton has some scarring where he broke his collarbone, and there was a small new fracture but only a crack. Luckily for (Hamilton), his collarbone remained aligned and that he can continue in the Tour. The morning of Stage 2, Hamilton told me he would start the stage but would abandon if he couldn't continue. We saw Hamilton do a good team time trial, make it over the Alps when he couldn't even get out of the saddle. Since then, Hamilton was able to race in the Tour De France and his bravery has been extraordinary."

Tyler's Haven, the woman behind the man

Photo: © J.Devich/CN

Tyler Hamilton's spouse for the last four and a half years, Haven, has found herself in an important role during this Tour de France, supporting her husband as much as possible after his crash in Stage 1. "I'm here in the Tour for Tyler and only for Tyler," she told Het Laatste Nieuws. "If he hadn't fallen, you would only have seen me here a few times, but since his terrible injury he really needs me. He didn't even have to ask it. We know when a close presence is necessary. Tyler and I are a team, you see. It has always been like that and it will always be. Since we were married, we have both gained a lot in maturity and responsibility. Taking care for each other, that's love."

After seeing Tyler crash in the first stage, Haven packed her bags immediately and left together with their golden retriever Tugboat for the Tour de France to bring Tyler back home. "But Tyler is a fighter," she said. "I don't know anybody else with such a willpower and character. Where does he get it from? He always says that Tugboat and me are his driving forces, but there is more of course. As a teenager Tyler often went for skiing in one of the most barren and dangerous ski resorts in North America. Even if his nose froze off. That made him tough, I think."

"He is also very close to Armstrong, admires his fighting mentality. That's the one and only way, he always says. I know it's useless to try to convince him: he wanted to continue anyway, so I put up with it. But it hurts to see him suffering - everything shows it. I'll stay in the Tour all the way to Paris. I'm staying in the same hotel, but not in the same room. Tugboat does. He calms down my husband and relieves the pain. He has a therapeutic influence on him."

"Myself, I stopped my career in the publicity world five years ago for Tyler's career, so that he can devote himself optimally to his passion. And believe me, I could only do this because I know he would do the same thing for me. And will do. After a few years I'll continue my career and he will be refreshing the nappies of a baby or two. That's for sure, yeah."

Ullrich or Armstrong?

Photo: © Sirotti

As expectations solidify concerning a Tour de France duel between just two men, Lance Armstrong and Jan Ullrich, the prognostics begin over which one will take top honours. Many believe Armstrong set the stage for victory with his stage win in Luz-Ardiden, but the deal is not done and few are willing to count Ullrich out with one more individual time trial to come. For his part, Tour director Jean-Marie Leblanc is not one to reveal his prediction, lest he appear anything but impartial.

"An organiser shouldn't guess at the winner," he told l'Equipe. "The big day for the two will be the 49km time trial, which is perfectly flat. There are 67 seconds separating them, and I don't know who will win."

Five-time Tour winner Bernard Hinault rates the chances of the two leaders as equal, and still shows his aggressive side in encouraging an attack. "If I were sure that I were stronger, I'd wait for the time trial," he said. "But why not go for time bonuses before the time trial, like I did in 1979? Having seen what Armstrong did at Luz-Ardiden, he's not as far off (his form) as people thought. Ullrich might have regrets for not having attacked at the Plateau de Bonascre; he had a lot to gain there."

Given Armstrong's show of force on Monday, another five-time winner, Eddy Merckx, thinks the American is now in the power position. "I would say Lance Armstrong now," Merckx said of his final prediction. "After the time he took the other day, Jan Ullrich is still the favourite for the time trial, but I think it will be difficult to take that sort of time again at the end of the Tour."

Photo: © Olympia

As the leaders watched each other on the final mountains of the Tour Wednesday, it became clear the time trial would be the final showdown. Even if Jan Ullrich is able (and willing) to fight for time bonuses on the flat stages, he will need the ride of his life Saturday to take back more than a minute from Armstrong between Pornic and Nantes. Anything is possible, as Ullrich's impressive display this year has spurred him to think of victory in the final week rather than his more modest Tour ambitions at the beginning of the month.

"I had really dreamed of finding my best form once again, but I never thought it would come so quickly," Ullrich commented during the Tour's second rest day Tuesday. "It's true that I came to this Tour with the goal of preparing for 2004, but today it's this Tour, the centenary, that I really want to win."

Armstrong's fortunes improved with his stage win Monday, but the American has always insisted - as most riders do - that the Tour is not over until Paris. Following his win in Luz-Ardiden, Armstrong said the surge of adrenaline from his crash was so strong, he told himself, "Ok Lance, now you're going to win the Tour." He may not have put enough time on Ullrich to do that yet, but his confidence is back and he will look forward to the time trial showdown.

McGee uncertain for track world's

By Chris Henry in Bayonne

Brad McGee winner of the 4000m individual pursuit at the 2002 World Track Championships, remains uncertain as to whether he will contest this year's event in Stuttgart, Germany. The Australian pursuit specialist, who entered the Tour de France in excellent form and claimed the prologue time trial victory in Paris. After his three day stint in the leader's yellow jersey, which included leading teammate Baden Cooke to victory in stage 2, McGee suffered in the mountains and found his best form eluding him in the subsequent two weeks.

As the Tour heads into the home stretch, McGee is uncertain about whether he will be in fighting shape for Germany. "It's still up in the air," McGee told Cyclingnews after stage 16 concluded in Bayonne. "It's just that the state of my health is not the best right now."

McGee expects to speak with the Australian selectors in the coming days before finalising his decision.

Saeco sign Simoni and Pieri until 2005

Team Saeco has signed deals with two of its top riders, Gilberto Simoni and Dario Pieri, for two more years. "With Gilberto we've formed a partnership which is more than just about major results, we've also created a extremely positive atmosphere in the team," said team manager Claudio Corti. "We've got a very strong and united team which we intend to consolidate and develop. The satisfaction of our sponsor Saeco of the company president Sergio Zappella are a confirmation of our good work."

Moreau extends with Credit Agricole

Christophe Moreau has extended his contract with Credit Agricole for two more years. The 32 year old Frenchman is currently lying in 8th place in the Tour de France on the general classification.

New team for Ljungskog

By Gabriella Ekström in Bayonne

World Champion Susanne Ljungskog has a new contract with Dutch team BIK Power-Plate and started the Thüringen Rundfahrt on July 22nd with her new team. The reason for the change is that Ljungskog's previous team Aliverti failed to fulfil some of its commitments, and the departure of Simona Parente and sport directeur Alessandro Calzolari made it impossible for Ljungskog to target the Tour de France as planned.

The transfer has been approved by UCI, and BIK Power-Plate was second behind Equipe Nürnberger in the first stage of the Thüringen Rundfahrt, a team time trial over 27 kilometres. The addition of Ljungskog makes Team BIK Power Plate the top ranked women's team in the world.

Mattan to lead new Belgian team?

According to the Belgian press, Nico Mattan (Cofidis) could well be the leader of Patrick Lefevere's new second division Belgian team Bodysol-Brustor next year. The team would also contain a lot of younger riders such as Johan Vansummeren, Dimitri Muravyev and Preben Van Hecke. It's also possible that Johan Museeuw, if he decides to quit at the end of this year, will be the directeur sportif of this team in order to gain experience before taking over a similar role at Quick.Step-Davitamon.

Dominguez looking for repeat in NYC Cycling Championship

Cuban born American sprinter Ivan Dominguez will return to defend his win at the inaugural New York City Cycling Championship presented by BMC Software when the race returns to the streets of Lower Manhattan on Sunday, August 3. The race is a 100 kilometre criterium that will feature over 70 top riders from 19 teams racing through Manhattan's financial district, starting and finishing at the intersection of Wall Street and Water Street.

The NYCCC is one of six official events on the Pro Cycling Tour (PCT), which includes other events such as the USPRO Championships in Philadelphia and the San Francisco Grand Prix. The day's racing will begin at 7:30 a.m. with the Junior PCT Grand Prix for riders 18 and under. The BMC Software Corporate Challenge will follow at 8:25 a.m. and the amateur team cycling event, the Mengoni Grand Prix, is scheduled for 9:20 a.m. The BMC Software Bike Messenger Challenge, pitting Manhattan's best delivery cyclists against one another in a uniquely New York event, takes place at 10:40 a.m. The featured men's championship will start at 12:15 p.m. and end at approximately 3 p.m.

NORBA series at Schweitzer Mountain Resort

The NORBA series will enter its penultimate round this weekend, July 24-27 at the Schweitzer Mountain Resort in Idaho. In the men's downhill, Chris Kovarik (Australia, Intense/Fox) and Greg Minnar (South Africa, Haro-Lee Dungarees) stand first and second, with Dustin Adams (Canada, Giant/Peal Izumi) a close third. The consistent Kovarik should continue to pressure his rivals. Mountain Cross ace, Eric Carter, (Temecula, Ca., Mongoose-Hyundai) is leading that series overall and has recently secured the World Cup series title in Mountain Cross. On the NORBA circuit, however, Carter is being pushed hard by one the experienced 34 year old, Mike King (San Diego, Ca., Team Haro Lee Dungarees). The consistent Kovarik sits comfortably in third and is ever looking to move up in the standings.

In the women's gravity categories, 37 year old Marla Streb (Los Osos, Ca., Luna Women MTB) is in one of her best years in both Downhill (first overall) and Mountain Cross (fourth overall). Streb needs a near flawless run on the downhill course this weekend as Fionn Griffiths (Great Britain, Foes Azonic) holds second overall and is coming off a recent World Cup victory. Tracy Moseley (Great Britain, Kona Clarks) is third in the series. Excitement on the course peaks at a river-crossing jump that challenges riders to show their skills in the air. BMX champion Jill Kintner (San Jose, Ca., Staats Bikes/Fox Shox) has eased into the pro Mountain Cross ranks and leads the series ahead of second place Katrina Miller (Australia, Jamis Bicycles) and third place Sabrina Jonnier (France, Intense) who reports having an enjoyable North American campaign this summer.

In men's Cross Country, Ryder Hesjedal (Victoria, B.C., Subaru-Gary Fisher) leads the series, with Seamus McGrath (Canada, Haro Lee Dungarees) second, and American Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski (Boulder, Colorado, RLX Ralph Lauren) third. Expect fireworks from Roland Green (Victoria, B.C., Trek Volkswagen), back on form with a recent win at Mount Snow, Vermont. Horgan-Kobelski and McGrath head the Short Track series, Australia's Paul Rowney (Sobe-Cannondale) is third.

Mary McConneloug (Fairfax, Ca., Seven Cycles) had a breakthrough win at Mount Snow and should be considered a favourite. She is second overall in the series behind Jimena Florit (San Diego, Ca., RLX Ralph Lauren) who hails from Argentina and is in the process of gaining American citizenship. Chrissy Redden (Canada, Subaru-Gary Fisher) is in third. Women's Short Track is led by American Susan Haywood (Trek-VW) of West Virginia who came close to victory in her home state at the third round of the NORBA series. Katerina Hanusova (Czech Republic, Luna Women MTB) is on form as she was victorious at Mount Snow and is second overall ahead of Redden.

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