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89th Tour de France - Grand Tour
France, July 6-28, 2002
2002 Tour de France journals
John Eustice, Tour de France International Show host
New Yorker John Eustice is the host of the Tour de France's 2002 International Show, broadcasting to over 30 countries world-wide, with play by play by Phil Ligget. Eustice is covering his ninth Tour De France, his previous eight with ESPN and ABC Sports. In cycling, the 46 year old Eustice was the first-ever USPRO Champion in 1982. Originally from Ivyland, Pennsylvania, Eustice competed in the Giro d'Italia, Vuelta a Espana and World Cycling Championships. When he's not at the Tour de France, the father of two runs his sports event promotion company Sparta, organizers of the Housatonic Valley Classic and the Univest Grand Prix.
Stage 7 - Saturday July 13: Bagnoles-de-l'Orne - Avranches, 176 km
Stage 8 - Sunday July 14: St-Martin de Landelles - Plouay, 217.5 km
Cyrille Guimard - the former team director that brought Greg LeMond, Laurent Fignon and Bernard Hinault into the pros and showed Lucien Van Impe how to win the Tour, is widely acknowledged as a superb tactician and master of the Tour (I believe he's directed 7 wins with 3 different riders).
He can't understand the tactics adopted by ONCE since the TTT. "The Yellow is something you want to get rid of as soon as possible - it's poison."
Guimard feels that it is foolish for a Tour contender to defend then jersey during the early flat stages. "Give it away to a small team that will kill itself to defend it and do the work of keeping the field under control for the contender's team."
In the way that ONCE has carried the race for the USPS boys. When asked about the defending champion, Guimard replied, "Armstrong has not been tested. He's not had to do 100 meters of work the entire Tour. It's only when you put a rider and their team under pressure for 60 or 100 k's that you can see how they really are."
Guimard is a big proponent of putting riders on the attack, forcing chases and, in general, tactical battles, something he feels has been missing from the Tour for years. "It's not Manolo Saiz who is going to come up with tactics anyway, there's not a great deal of imagination there."
Event Armstrong has questions about the ONCE approach. "Why they spend day after day riding on the front at high speeds, using up a rider like Beloki who has finished 3rd in the Tour, I can't figure out. Every morning they say that they are not going to defend the jersey and every day they ride tempo. That's their style anyway, say one thing and do the complete opposite."
On the ONCE side everything is just fine. Gonzalez de Galdeano is comfortable with their approach, feels that they really only used up two riders during the chases (I swear that I saw none other than Olano on the front for kilometres at a time but...) that they stayed out of the crashes (true) and that they have developed a strong psychological advantage over the days. Gonzalez de Galdeano has also stated that he's gotten more out of holding the jersey for 5 days than in having finished 5th overall in Paris last year.
Which might very well explain the ONCE approach. The publicity gained by holding the Yellow is enormous. And perhaps Manolo Saiz, remembering when he gave the order to give away Jalabert's Yellow in 2000, and then never getting it back, has made a tactical decision based on sponsor returns rather than the final podium. Today's time trial and the Pyrenees will give us the answer.
Yesterday's Bastille Day stage into Plouay, the cycling capital of France, saw the French riders give their all, but lose to the Dutch. The French guys just don't know how to finish off a race it seems. The Dutch riders, raised on fast pedaling and lots of sprinting for "premies," all have track rider sense. Italians too.
I think it goes to the basics of when the French kids are formed. They are started off on big gears and never get the feel of the bike. They are strong for sure, climb and are endurant but are, with exceptions of course, missing technique. Yesterday they were also missing a sense of the deal it seemed. Either Belohvosciks is the dumbest rider to ever climb on a racing bike, or he realized he couldn't win and ended up with the Dutch pirates. On the French National Holiday no less. Sometimes cycling is its own worst enemy.