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89th Tour de France - Grand Tour
France, July 6-28, 2002
Tour de France news for July 7, 2002
Edited by Jeff Jones and Chris Henry
Prologue wrap up and post stage comments
Lance Armstrong started the 2002 Tour de France with a bang, clocking the fastest time on the tough, technical 7 km prologue course in Luxembourg. Cheered on by hundreds of thousands of fans, Armstrong went under Laurent Jalabert's impressive 9'10.51 by two seconds, earning the right to wear the Maillot Jaune (yellow jersey) as leader of the race tomorrow. In third place was Lithuanian Raimondas Rumsas (Lampre), who could be a surprise package in this year's Tour, as he's very capable in the mountains.
Lance Armstrong (1st, 9:08.78)
"This was a special stage, incredible...the city is very beautiful, hilly, technical, with pavé...I think it was a good stage to win. When I got out there the course was dry and I felt incredibly good. It is a surprise and it is a good surprise. I'm happier than you think."
"After seeing the split times all day, we knew the race was going to be won or lost in the in the last kilometre. It was really hard. Personally I was cross-eyed."
On starting in his US Postal skinsuit, and not the Maillot Jaune as defending champion: "I was wearing it for two reasons; I like to ride in a (skinsuit) that is already broken in and I wore this one in the Midi-Libre and Dauphine. The other is that I didn't want to wear it (maillot jaune) because you have a choice and I hadn't earned it yet."
On defending the jersey: "We'll have a team meeting this evening with Johan and team and see what we're going to do. But I don't think so; we'll probably wait for the team time trial",
On Jan Ullrich: "In general, I think I will miss him and the race will miss him...I watched the press conference on TV this morning and I thought he was incredibly brave and honest. I thought he accepted responsibility for what he did. He was a man, he said it was a stupid mistake but he acted like real gentleman."
Laurent Jalabert (2nd, 9:10.51)
"My feelings are mixed. I am disappointed to have come so close to my first prologue victory in the Tour, and the Maillot Jaune. But I am satisfied of my performance, the feelings I had in my recent races were very average. I liked this circuit as soon as I saw it, and if I wasn't quoted in the prognostics, I hoped to pull off a coup. Alas, I fell to Mr Armstrong, a blue rocket against whom there was nothing to do!"
"One shouldn't get carried away, it's only a race of 7 kilometres, not a mountain stage. I don't know if I will try to go for the Maillot Jaune, because that would mean I will be competing against the sprinters in the intermediate sprints, and I know that won't be easy."
"I've worn the Maillot Jaune twice in my career (1995 and 2000) and in another year I everything to try and gain it. I fought for the sprints everyday and I failed by one second. So I don't know."
Brad McGee (11th, 9:21.680)
"Satisfaction for me comes when I know I could come out of a ride and it was absolutely perfect. It wasn't a perfect ride, it wasn't pretty. I sort of had to switch the guns, if you know what I mean. I wasn't firing on all torpedoes...I think everyone's going to make a mistake. It's the guy who makes the least that's going to win today."
Was it a matter of taking risks in the corners? "Yeah, I took a few I guess. I skipped a pedal once... If it was raining I would have been over the barricades for sure. "
Was it dry? "It was dry. If it wasn't I was riding like it was anyway. The pave at the bottom turn corner was real dangerous, but I feel I got out of it reasonably well. But from now on it's just a smash on... it's nasty."
How was the hill? "Not so bad. The actual hill... I got a good rhythm. It's after it when you've got to try and relaunch and smash that last kilometre an hour, you know, that's torture."
Tyler Hamilton (16th, 9:24.740)
"It's my first race in over a month, so I wasn't really expecting too much. I didn't take any risks at the beginning, I was probably pretty slow for the first half of the prologue. But it was important not to make a mistake like I did in the Giro. I think I put a good effort in the second half of the prologue, and you know, I didn't win and it wasn't really that close, but I didn't lose too much time. I wasn't looking to be on the podium today, just trying to have a solid ride.
On how he is recovering from his shoulder injury: "It's ok. My shoulder's better but it's not...I won't lie, it's not 100%. It still hurts a bit. The important thing is I can pull on the handlebars, which I really wasn't able to do too well during the Giro. So.. I'll take that as a good thing."
On his expectations in the first week: "Tomorrow and the next day are real hard stages. A lot of people just assume it's an easy day, but it's not. It's up and down all day, and with a little wind it can be a dangerous stage. It probably will be. You've got to just keep the eyes open, pay attention, stay focused, and just try to stay with the contenders."
Levi Leipheimer (18th, 9:24.940)
"I was a little bit nervous in the first part, it was technical. I'm not one to take any risks, so I was conservative and I lost a lot of time on the way down. The first part was pretty technical. You could lose the race in the first part, but you could be strong in the end and still not show your form, I guess is what I'm trying to say is, that I lost a lot of time to some riders and I couldn't take enough time back on the climb."
"I was hoping to at least picture myself in the top ten, so... a little bit out. It's not my kind of course, really, and I should fare a lot better in the longer ones."
"The first stage in Luxembourg is very up and down. I've done the Tour of Luxembourg three times so I know what the terrain's like. It's not easy. But everybody's fresh, so you should just be more nervous than anything."
"I'm not going to ride defensive, but I'm not going to be attacking either. You have to pay attention and look for something unexpected."
Kevin Livingston (101st, 9:47.740)
I felt good, though, that's all that's important. And the fact that it was dry. If it's, dry you know, the middle part's a little technical... I think more just your technique of how hard you go. The last 2k are a little deceiving - it's a false flat and it's hard to get back up to speed after the hill. It's not really my specialty but every year I give it my best.
Vasseur excited for the Tour
After the disappointment of missing out on selection for last year's Tour de France with US Postal, Cédric Vasseur is happy to be back on the route du Tour with the French Cofidis squad. Vasseur told l'Equipe "it's a bit like it's my first Tour... It gives me a bit of extra pressure. I'm a little nervous, I'm not sleeping as easily... Six or seven stages interest me, particularly July 14th in Plouay."
Centennial 2003 Tour Takes Shape
While this year's Tour de France prepares to take off, great interest is already being shown in the organization's plans for next year's centennial of the first Tour. With the prologue on July 5, 2003, the race will celebrate its hundredth birthday, and to mark the occasion Jean-Marie Leblanc envisions a Paris departure. Though few details of the actual parcours have been disclosed, one thing seems certain. After a prologue through the streets of Paris and a neutral start through central Paris on stage one, the road racing will begin in the town of Montgeron. Just south of Paris, this town served as the first start back in 1903, in front of the Réveil-Matin.
The Tour will focus on celebrating its history, with a classic route and a chance to visit many of the cities which played host to the first edition of the race. Five major cities which welcomed the Tour in 1903, Lyon, Toulouse, Marseilles, Nantes and Bordeaux, were already candidates to host stages as plans for the 2003 began to take shape. But as Leblanc told l'Equipe, "we will keep a certain classicism for the race elements. We will be, on the other hand, imaginative and audacious concerning the festivities which surround the centennial."
Not only do the 189 riders in this year's Tour represent 30 different nations, they come in all shapes and sizes. Here is a rundown of this year's short and tall, light and heavy.
Shortest riders: Miguel Martinez (Mapei) and David Etxebarria (Euskaltel)
So from the entire peloton, just what are the average Tour rider's dimensions? According to the Tour's head doctor, Dr. Porte, he is 1.79m tall, weighs 73.1kg, has a resting pulse of 52bpm, and a lung capacity of 6.62 litres.