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89th Tour de France - Grand Tour
France, July 6-28, 2002
2002 Tour de France rider journals
In addition to the exclusive journals by Cyclingnews diarists Bradley McGee, Floyd Landis, John Eustice and Mike Tomalaris, the following list provides you with a profile on other riders who will be keeping a regular diary during their adventures in this year's Tour. Click on the rider journals link for a short profile on each rider that goes straight to their diary; or click on the stage comments link that includes a summary of all their comments on one page. Some have daily updates, while others update their diaries only when they have not expended all their energy after a hard day in the saddle.
Edited by Anthony Tan
Tyler Hamilton (CSC-Tiscali, 74th at 1.55)
We spent our longest day in the saddle to date today. Stage 8 proved to be a little less dramatic than Stage 7, thankfully. The amount of crashing and full on craziness yesterday was enough to frazzle the strongest of nerves. Everyone always says -- stay up front and out of trouble. But yesterday, the trouble was up at the front. Both crashes occurring in the final ten kilometers were in large part, a domino effect from the front of the peloton. Which just goes to show you that anything can happen in bike racing. Just when you think you are doing the right thing - you could wind up in a terribly wrong situation. It's crazy.
This being the Tour de France, there are plenty of French cycling fans on hand. I think they are about the most passionate fans on the planet. The amount of signs you see along the road side for French riders and teams is literally amazing. But sometimes these folks can take things a little too far. For instance, yesterday, when my teammate Laurent Jalabert went down inside 10K to go, he broke his bike and took a bike change from Michael Sandstod. While actively making the transfer to Michael's bike, Laurent left his broken bike on the road. He knew the team car would eventually approach and pick it up. But before it arrived, a crazed fan jumped out of the crowd and grabbed Laurent's bike and started running. I guess getting you hands on a French star's bike is the equivalent of hitting pay dirt, because this guy took off like a shot. Luckily, our team mechanic arrived just in time to see this guy making his get away and took off after him. He was ultimately able to retrieve Laurent's bike. But not until battling the Jalabert fan in a nasty game of tug-of-war. In six Tours, this is one of the craziest stories I have ever heard.
Robert Hunter (Mapei-Quick Step, 14th at 1.55)
Today was the fastest stage we have done in the Tour so far and I doubt we will do a faster one. We started right out the blocks today and it honestly never ended. No wait, we did manage to slow down through the feeding zone and grab our bags. But that was only for something like 2km's and then it was flat out again because the break went away.
It was an ok day if you stayed on the wheel but I was stupid enough to be attacking all the time hoping that I would get in the move. The only problem with this is that everybody wanted to go away today. It was amazing. Even riders on the same team were chasing each other. I managed to come to my senses and stopped attacking after about 70km's.
Bobby Julich (Team Telekom, 53rd at 1.55)
One thing is for sure, with the high speeds of this first week, there’s going to be a lot of guys in the hurt bag during the last week of the race. ONCE was on the front bringing back a break of 12 that had been away, and fortunately the team pulled the break back right before we got to the feedzone.
With 50km to go, our team director got on the radio and asked Erik whether he wanted us to go to the front and ride for him, to chase back the break. I was crossing my fingers that he’d say no so that I could save a little for tomorrow’s time trial and, when Erik said that he didn’t want to pull it back together, I was happy. It made my day easier and I was able to just spin and to sit on wheels.
Levi Leipheimer (Rabobank, 41st at 1.55)
Do you want to hear something weird? Rabobank has won stage 8 at the Tour de France for the past 3 years, believe it or not. The fact that the courses change every year and varies in every possible way, makes it more of a crazy coincidence. Today Karsten Kroon took the podium at his first ever Tour de France. He and Erik Dekker made it look easy in the sprint. Erik made for a dramatic final 15 km. He rode very aggressively for Karsten and fought back onto the group after each attack only to attack again. Then he took third. That’s pretty amazing for a guy who crashed himself into a pretzel at Milan San Remo. He seems to crash a couple months before the Tour every year and comes back kicking. It's become his good luck charm.
Robert Hunter (Mapei-Quick Step, 107th at 6.03)
Today came close to being a total rest day because I started the day out really not being in the mood to race. I never stressed my body during the time trial and had an average heart rate of 155 bpm. This is 40 beats below my maximum.
Today turned out to be a great surprise and Lance did not win. Before today, everybody thought this would be impossible but hey, he is only human. Even in the past three tours the TT was probably the place where Lance was put under the most pressure. He makes his most decisive moves in the mountains. Don’t be fooled by Lance’s tactics today...take note. I think it was all a game plan to finish with that time gap. Trust me he is like a master at playing chess. He seems to know how to handle all his opponents and have the right answers before they even make their move. And most of all he always knows when to play his check mate.
Bobby Julich (Team Telekom, 50th at 3.56)
I wish I could say that I felt bad today, but I didn’t. I did the warm-up that I wanted, I previewed the course, I ate about three hours before the race - I did everything that I wanted. I even felt myself right there, in the moment, but I just was not really attacking the course like I needed to if I was going for a good result.
I actually was not too surprised at the finish order today. I forget who I was talking to, but I picked David Millar, Gontchar, Lance, Botero and Galdeano to be at the top. Especially after I got done previewing the course, I knew that it was going to be a day for the pure power riders. It was not fitness or climbing - the best technique was to put it in the biggest gear that you could turn and just go.
I think that now I’m even more of a wild card than I’ve ever been. It wasn’t my objective to be in the top five in this Tour, so now it gives me an opportunity to try to get into a break that they may let go. The first stage in the mountains is always very prestigious, it’s a contest to see who is where and at what level, so I don’t think we’ll see a break staying away. I know that all of the US Postal and ONCE riders will work to keep it together so that it can be a battle between Lance and Galdeano.
Tyler Hamilton (CSC-Tiscali)
I feel like we've kind of earned our first rest day here at le Tour 2002. No matter how many times you start this race, the first week is always a shock to the system. First, there's the stress of entering the world's most talked about bike race. Then there's that second nagging element that lingers in the back of every rider's mind. Bad luck can curse you at any moment during the first week. Folks always say the Tour doesn't start until the roads rise up toward the heavens. But it's also true that your Tour can surely end in the first week if you are in the wrong place at the wrong time.
All things considered, I'm fairly pleased with how the first 9 stages have played out for me and our team. Sure it would have been great to see Denmark represented on top of the podium after the team time trial. And even better, it would have been the opportunity of a lifetime to see Laurent in yellow. Especially now that we know this will be his swan song at the Tour de France. I cringe at the thought of him having a mechanical yesterday in the individual time trial. I want to see him do something special here at this race. But things can always happen that are out of your control. And getting a flat is one of those things.
Levi Leipheimer (Rabobank)
Welcome to the first rest day of the tour. It comes at a good time. Before tomorrow's mild introduction to long vertical roads and after an intense time trial. Yes, Lance was beaten. Pretty shocking really but not foreshadowing in my opinion. Jonathan Vaughters is stocking his basement with canned goods and buying a cryogenic spot because he thinks the end is coming but I'm not so sure. Santiago Botero was amazing in the time trial but Lance will be attacking when we hit the hills. Botero rode a normal bike and didn't even wear an aero helmet yesterday. He's just so strong. People are throwing their predictions around all over the place but I really think it's to early to tell who has the form it takes.
Bobby Julich (Team Telekom)
This year it’s a route and plan for the race. Tomorrow we have a mostly flat day and then two days of hard mountains and then a mostly flat day before Ventoux and then another rest day and three really good days of climbing before the final time trial. There’s going to be carnage right from the start. I tell you, this last week is going to be amazing--there are going to be time gaps going everywhere, if the difference isn’t done in the Pyrenees, then it will be done in the Alps for sure.
It’s flat, but tomorrow will be deceptively tough as it’s the last stage before the serious mountains begin. Guys like Kirsipuu will be going for wins. So it’ll be the status quo of the first week--50 or 52kph for the first two hours. It should be really aggressive from the gun and, because it’s only 147km, could likely stay that way for the whole day. We’d definitely like to win get Erik another stage win before the mountains.
Robert Hunter (Mapei-Quick Step, 16th at 3.57)
I was hoping to make the break today as everybody knew it would make it to the finish. I managed to jump into a great group of 5 riders after 10kms. It was me, Nico Mattan, Leon van Bon, Martin Hvastjia, and some Spanish guy. But with the riders that were in it I was confident it was the one of the day. We rode hard for 20km's with the group at 30 seconds. I was hoping the race would blow to pieces and let us go but it never happened and FDjeux.com decided to bring it back because they never had a rider in the group. I was a tad pleased when it happened because I was suffering like a dog out front due to the pace at which we were going.
The break that stuck finally went away and we had a rider in it but I was unhappy not to be there myself. The stages are running out quick for me to do something. I have to say lady luck does play a big part sometimes.
Bobby Julich (Team Telekom, 95th at 3.57)
Today was nothing - nothing compared with how the Tour has gone this year. We hit the 50km mark in like 55 minutes, which was 57kph for the first hour! It was tough for breaks to get off. What are you going to do when the pack is moving at 57kph? You’ve got to go at least 60 and not too many guys can do that for very long.
I was disappointed for Stuart (O’Grady) today because he was in the break and couldn’t get the win. It may have been his last chance for a stage win. He and the team really needed it because they’ve had some horrible luck this year in general, and at the Tour for sure. I was really rooting for him. When I saw him in the village this morning, he had his special yellow glasses on and no helmet, so I knew he’d be the guy to watch.
Everyone is waiting to see if Lance is human or if he’s as super as he’s been the past three years. Everyone is wondering what Botereo will show--will he be the rider that won the Classic des Alpes or the one that lost 15 minutes to Lance on the Ventoux stage of the Dauphine this year? I also haven’t even seen the guys from Banesto or Euskatel at all. Tomorrow that will definitely change. The Spanish guys have been biding their time and licking their chops, just waiting for the mountains. The Pyrenees is the closest they come to home in this race, so it will be great guns for those two days.
Roger Legeay (Credit Agricole Directeur-Sportif)
The Credit Agricole riders once again took to the road after one day of rest in Bordeaux, which was much appreciated. Our leader, Christophe Moreau, was not able to show himself in the individual time trial the other day because of his falls. It is difficult to know how he will go in the Pyrenees; however I remain convinced that he will enjoy a great last week in the mountains.
Tyler Hamilton (CSC-Tiscali, 28th at 3.14)
I had hoped today was going to be an opportunity for our team to finally show it's true strength. Personally, I had goals of doing something special, but none of it was meant to be. I didn't have the extra, little bit of snap you need to be at the front at the finish. By the end of today's stage I had lost about 3 minutes. Luckily I was able to hang in and limit my losses. But my disappointment was nothing in the scheme of things. On a competative note, it was tough to see Laurent come so close to winning another stage. If only the race ended 5 kilometers before it did. But regardless of his placing his ride was pretty incredible.
Robert Hunter (Mapei-Quick Step, 87th at 20.19)
I think one of the biggest surprises of today was Heras. He looks like he is going real strong. And if he keeps going like this he has a possibility for the podium. He will lose time in the TT but in the mountains gain it all back.
Rumsas was good and I’m backing him for sure on the podium. I’m glad Lampre has got somebody to ride GC finally at the tour because all they ever were concerned about was the Giro.
One of the other riders who rode well was Basso the young Italian. He has been so full of promise until now and everybody always speaks of him like it’s the coming of the king. But I must say it’s good to see him finally ride so good in the Tour.
Bobby Julich (Team Telekom, 52nd at 6.46)
Today definitely wasn’t the day to go for a win. USPS was just so absolutely dominant from the time they hit the front until Lance came around Heras and took the win. I have a hard time understanding why Roberto would want to give up his own ambitions to ride for someone else. He went to the front with maybe 6 or 7km to go on the climb and just turned it up. There were no accelerations or attacks, just a smooth acceleration that burned everyone off.
The guy that impressed me the most for USPS was Pavel Padrnos. He rode on the front for the entire Aubisque at a strong tempo, then he rode the rest of the day down through the valley with Ekimov and Pena. He was super-impressive. George (Hincapie), too. He is the best dollar-for-dollar investment that any team could ever make. He’s always solid, always strong, always motivated, never has morale problems, never sick or injured. He’s an incredible investment for the team. He specializes in the Classics and then is still flying for the Tour. I’ve known him for 14 or 15 years and there’s nobody like him.
Tomorrow is another day in the mountains and we’ve got five good climbs and we finish with the 17km ride up Platueau-de-Beille. It will be hot again and the Spanish fans will be going crazy again, so I’m looking forward to it. Maybe I’ll get in an earlier break that will get away or maybe I’ll conserve until the action happens on the final climb. Either way, I hope that I can play a bigger role at the end of the stage and get a good finish.
Levi Leipheimer (Rabobank, 24th at 2.41)
As usual the attacks started early. I felt very good over the Aubisque. Postal was setting the tempo all the way to the final climb. With 5 km. to go it was down to about eight of us including Lance, Roberto, Chechu, Sevilla, Rumsas and Kivilev. Then when Roberto started attacking I could not follow. My legs were finished but unfortunately the race was not. I lost a lot of spots in the last few kilometers. My legs are good now and tomorrow is a new day, a very difficult day but a new one.
Robert Hunter (Mapei-Quick Step, 83rd at 24.08)
Today was different in every way. The race was fast and hard with many attacks at the start of the climbs but Postal just took control of the race in such a way that it was a pleasure riding in what was left of the group. I still suffered like a dog but I managed because of the constant tempo that was set. What a difference I tell you. All I can say is go Lance go...oh, and one other thing Lance, don’t hurt me too much...please.
I seem to have better condition than about 100 other guys in the group, so that's one good thing. At least when I’m suffering I can always think of the other fools going worse than me. Why is it always nice to see somebody else suffering more than you?
I’m sure you all saw [Christophe] Moreau have it out with [Carlos] Sastre in the group today. If I was Sastre I would have sent him to the tar. Nasty to say I know but he is one of the biggest idiots in the group. He thinks he owns the place. I would love for him to lift his hand to me so I got a reason. I would honestly even risk going home to give him a good punch on the nose. I know it’s not nice to fight but with him I’d actually enjoy it....sorry to say, but true. He is just one of those guys who don’t seem to hear too good so the only way they learn a lesson is if they feel it.
Bobby Julich (Team Telekom, 51st at 11.36)
Jalabert again? When I was thinking about his ride after the finish yesterday I had a feeling he would do it again. When I saw that he didn’t get enough mountain points to take the climber’s jersey, then I knew he would be going for it. At the bottom of it all, I think he truly enjoys putting the hurt on people. I think only two guys could stay with him and at one time they had 5-minutes advance. That’s very impressive, especially considering how US Postal was leading the field. I think for someone like Jalabert to ride that way, that’s just conditioning and really digging deep. I’d be surprised if he tried that again, but also tomorrow is an easy day, then we have Ventoux and a rest day, so you never know, we could see Jalabert off the front again in the Alps.
Tyler Hamilton (CSC-Tiscali, 68th at 9.56)How about that Laurent Jalabert? The guy's been riding like an animal for three days. I honestly don't know how he does it. Attacking off the front takes a lot out of you. Especially going up hill. He's incredible. We're happy to see him wearing the polka dot climbers jersey. Doing so was a big personal goal for him and for our team. And you could say the entire country of France is happy for him too. It seems like the entire population has come out to wish him well in his last Tour de France. The frenzy surrounding this guy is nothing short of a circus. It's great to see.
Yesterday was a bit of a rough ride for me. Half way up the final climb I cracked and lost contact with the lead group. I lost eight minutes in the final eight kilometers. My dream of finishing in the top five is probably over. Having been focusing on back to back grand tours like I have this season has meant that I have had to focus on being in top form for six solid weeks of racing. That's a long stretch to have to go without having a bad day. I think I made it about five weeks before having a bad day yesterday. I've had pretty good legs since the beginning of May. So I guess it was about time for things to start catching up with me here in the Pyrenees. That said, there are still seven stages left in this race. So there are still seven opportunities to turn things around. And, no doubt - I'll be giving it my best shot.
Bobby Julich (Team Telekom, 10th at 1.08)
Before the start the team plan was to get somebody in the first move so that the team wouldn’t have to work too much. I really hadn’t been going that deep the last few days so I decided, okay, I can probably get in that first break on the mountain.
I felt surprisingly good on the first climb. It was hot and sticky, but I felt good and was in this seven-man chase group over the top. We had a good gap on the peloton, but then had like a 30-kilometer chase before we could catch up with the four-man group with Laurent Jalabert and David Millar.
But then, 15 kilometers from the finish Jalabert did this attack on this hill. It was funny because at first it didn’t look like an attack, just a hard pull. But when he looked back and saw he had a gap, he really attacked.
I immediately jumped across to him, but I thought 15 kilometers out was still too far so I backed off. But then this train of five guys just came by and it was all over.
Levi Leipheimer (Rabobank, 47th at 9.56)
Today was not super hilly but a break got away on the first climb in the beginning of the race. My teammates Michael and Beat were there taking second and eighth in the end. It was a good day for the team but I didn't feel so great. Hopefully it was one day and I'll be good for the mountains again tomorrow. It was fairly easy in the field so maybe my legs just didn't fully wake up. It has been hot the past few days so it's work just to stay hydrated on these courses. Lots of enthusiastic fans have been treated for heat exhaustion and whisked away in ambulances. Never a dull moment at the Tour.