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89th Tour de France - Grand Tour
France, July 6-28, 2002
Tour de France news for July 14, 2002
Edited by Jeff Jones and Chris Henry
Stage 7 wrap up and post-stage comments
Stage 7 from Bagnoles-de-l'Orne to Avranches was another battle on the northern French plains today, albeit in sunny conditions and light winds. The day's main break of Leon van Bon (Domo), Franck Renier (Bonjour) and Anthony Morin (Credit Agricole) got swallowed with 3 km to go to set things up for a mass sprint. But it was not to be as Pedro Horillo (Mapei) hit out from 800 metres to go on the uphill finish, only to be mown down by Australian Bradley McGee (FDJeux.com) in the closing metres, who took a very classy stage win and the first for his team in the Tour this year.
There were plenty of crashes as usual, with Didier Rous breaking his collarbone, Oscar Freire hurting his back and Christophe Moreau also losing another four minutes. But a spill with 2 km to go saw Lance Armstrong caught up in teammate Roberto Heras's bike, having to disentangle himself and chase all the way to the finish. He lost 27 seconds and slipped to 8th on the general classification. (Full story here).
Bradley McGee (FDJeux.com, 1st)
"You can put all my Olympic success together and it isn't half as good as winning a stage at the Tour de France. I can't believe it, this is the biggest thing ever!" said an elated Bradley McGee moments after winning the seventh stage. "I knew I could get him [Horillo] when I left the peloton 800 metres out - I knew he'd gone too early. The big question was the guys behind, especially the Telekom team. I think I'd forgotten to change my big chainring from the team time trial, and I was in the 54x11 all the way to the finish line. I needed every tooth..."
"It was the uphill before the last kilometre that took it out of the sprinters. I was enjoying that because I knew that Zabel and Robbie would be hurting."
"We'd heard about the climb near the finish and that it was a hard finish and so at the team meeting this morning it was decided that I'd attack with 800 metres to go. Baden had to follow the other riders and then have a go in the sprint if I got caught but fortunately he didn't need to. It's amazing how a plan can be drawn up in the morning and then go so perfectly."
On today's crashes: "Yeah I was actually in one of them and I had a fall. But one of my teammates waited for me and got me back up there. It was that last one...but it was no problem."
On winning a stage: "he other three guys [McEwen, Cooke, O'Grady] have all finished up there in the past - all of them have proven themselves. I haven't thought about anything else but since the finish of the Tour last year. Today I was going over it in my head, for Baden Cooke as well. Thinking about where we went wrong, where we could improve...
On the Australian success so far: "It goes without saying. An Aussie will have a go at anything...There's not many of us. Cycling's not huge in Australia. You make the decision to come to Europe and you give 100 percent and nothing else but.
Lance Armstrong (USPS, 91st at 27 seconds)
"I didn't crash but I put my foot down and had to straighten my handlebars. I'm not upset about it. It just means I'll have to ride a bit faster in the individual time trial on Monday."
Jean-Marie Leblanc (Tour director)
"There have always been crashes in the early phases of the Tour. Today, there were no physical obstacles, it was just due to the nervousness of the pack. I don't know what more we can do to avoid them."
Freire falls and hurts his back
World Champion Oscar Freire was looking like an good candidate for the stage win today when he fell on the narrow roads leading into Avranches with 3.5 km to go. Freire fell on the left hand side of the road into a ditch, and injured his back. However, he remounted his bike to finish the stage in 183rd position, 6'23 down.
Afterwards he was diagnosed with "lumbar trauma" by the race doctors, and will undergo further investigations tonight to determine whether he will start tomorrow.
Rous out of the race after breaking collarbone
Frenchman Didier Rous became Bonjour's first casualty in the Tour when he crashed and broke his collarbone in the same fall. He fell along with a number of others, including Freire, Cristian Moreni and Christophe Moreau, ending what was looking to be a good day for Bonjour.
The fall actually happened near the front of the peloton, and Rous' colleagues Emmanuel Magnien, Walter Bénéteau, François Simon and Damien Nazon all were involved. Eventual stage winner Brad McGee (FDJeux.com) did not escape either, but was able to get back to the front of the peloton with the help of his teammates.
It was the third time in the 2002 Tour that Rous had fallen, putting an end to his ambitions of a top five on general classification after his 11th place last year. He was the only rider to abandon today, reducing the peloton to 184 riders.
Presentimento Andrea Tafi
Mapei-Quick Step's Andrea Tafi has been biding his time so far in the race, working for the team to set things up for Freire in the bunch sprints. However, tomorrow's finale is tough for the sprinters (like today), and Tafi is itching to have a go. We spoke to him at the start of Stage 7. He was brief, but to the point.
CN: From the beginning you've said you're looking for the right moment to attack.
AT: The moment has almost arrived.
CN: Are you looking forward to the final cote of Ty-Marrec in Plouay on Bastille Day?
AT: It seems like it.
Erik Breukink rates Rabobank's chances
Dutch ex-pro cyclist Erik Breukink is commentating the Tour de France for Dutch TV this year. Cyclingnews spoke to him before the start of stage 7 about Rabobank's chances in the Tour, with the mountains looming next week.
CN: How do you see Levi Leipheimer's role in the next week?
EB: The first thing Leipheimer has to do is ride a good time trial. He has to be in front of the general (classification), then we'll see what he can do in the mountains. He's the leader of the team and he has to show that he can be in the top 10 of the Tour de France.
CN: How's the morale in the team right now?
EB: The morale is OK, I think. They're trying to ride at the front in these early stages. The main thing is to get Leipheimer to the time trial safely, and then they will see how they can help him in the mountains. Boogerd is doing well, and Dekker is getting better; He crashed two times. I think the team is OK, but you don't just expect from [Leipheimer] that he can win the Tour de France, Lance Armstrong is too strong for that. I think at his best he can do top five.
CN: Yesterday we saw Karsten Kroon attacking a lot. What was the purpose of that?
EB: He's a young rider, he tries to be in front in these stages. It's a new experience for him, and it's difficult to get into the right escape. He was always there, but not in the good one. He's learning a lot. The whole team isn't riding like that, the others are staying with Leipheimer to try to bring him to the time trial and the mountains.
Gian Matteo Fagnini not happy with fine
Telekom's Gian-Matteo Fagnini was fined SFR200 by the race jury yesterday for "incorrect manoeuvres that could have dangerous consequences in the sprint" and "dangerous attitude in raising the arms in the first positions of the sprint."
"I don't think the fine I got was fair," he told Cyclingnews today. "I didn't really slow anybody down, and then when I put my hands up I was over on the right side, I didn't slow anyone down or do anything. We have to get our leadout better, because I'm only taking a very short turn before the sprint starts. Today I'm going to be on the front and Hondo is going to be the last guy."
Also after he won the sixth stage, Erik Zabel was quite (and uncharacteristically) aggressive, knocking TV cameras out of the way on his way through the crowds at the end. He was back to his usual calm self for the post-race interview, but he was annoyed at something at the time. It turned out that he thought the cameramen at the finish were too close to the end of the sprint; he was still fired up from winning and his temper gave way.
Didier Rous (Bonjour): Broken left collarbone