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89th Tour de France - Grand Tour
France, July 6-28, 2002
Tour de France news for July 22, 2002
Edited by Jeff Jones and Chris Henry
Stage 14 wrap up and post race comments
With Rest Day 2 scheduled for Monday, today's long stage from Lodeve to Mont Ventoux was raced flat out - 38.61 km/h with a 2000m gain in altitude is not slow, and Lance Armstrong's time up the 21 km Mont Ventoux was around 58 minutes (note: Jonathan Vaughters clocked 56.50 up Mont Ventoux in a time trial during the 1999 Dauphine Libere).
However it was not enough to catch Richard "allez" Virenque nor Alexandre "Bobo" Botcharov, who both made the early breakaway which had a 7'30 lead. Virenque left Botcharov with 10 km to go to tackle the climb on his own, eventually winning by 2 minutes. Armstrong increased his grip on the Maillot Jaune, and te gap to second placed Joseba Beloki is now a formidable 4'21.
Richard Virenque (Domo-Farm Frites, 1st)
"I was worried about Armstrong. I didn't have a radio so I didn't know exactly what was happening behind. I knew I was a bit slower so I had to give everything I could at the end.
"I'm lucky to win each time with panache and really make my mark. It's always like that, I don't know why.
"Every mountain stage in the Tour interests me. In the Pyrenees it's true I didn't have good legs, but I'm a rider who gets better with time. I also wanted to drop a bit on GC so I could have more freedom to attack.
When asked about Jalabert's attacking, Virenque replied "A few times I asked Laurent to attack together. Unfortunately I didn't have the legs to follow."
Finally when asked about Lance Armstrong's comment about the fans being negative (see below), Virenque was typically Virenque. "I think the public was reserved a little bit for me today. I'm lucky to have the public by my side - during the good moments and the bad moments, they've helped me...Thankfully for me there were plenty of people to support me on the climb."
Lance Armstrong (USPS, 3rd at 2'20 and Maillot Jaune)
Lance Armstrong gave an extended press conference at the end of stage 14, in lieu his usual rest day conference.
Q: Do you expect to keep attacking?
LA: It's hard to say exactly, but I think the smart thing to do is to ride conservatively now. This is not a race to win by as many seconds or minutes as possible, it's a race just to win. So there's no need to be aggressive. It's probably better to stay with as many teammates as possible.
Q: did you learn anything about your rivals?
LA: I'm surprised that Beloki was dropped from Rumsas and Basso. After their declarations of ambition to attack and to make a big difference in the Alps, this is a surprise. People asked if I were worried about having Azevedo and Beloki there, but it doesn't particularly worry me. In the Alps I'll have Chechu, and Floyd is coming back. I think in the Alps we'll see a different Floyd Landis than we saw in the Pyrenees.
Q: what was your impression of the fans on Mont Ventoux?
LA: It's disappointing, to be honest with you. The people are not very sportsmanlike. Some of them...a boo is a lot louder than a cheer. If you have ten people cheering and one person booing, all you hear is the booing. But if I had a dollar for every time somebody yelled, "dopé, dopé," I'd be a rich man."
I don't particularly understand that mentality. I think it's an indication of their intelligence. But those are the things that I have to live with, and I'm not here to be friends with a bunch of people who stand on the side of the road that have had too much to drink, and want to yell "dopé!" I don't have to care. Nor will I care in three or four years when I'm sitting on the beach with my kids, having a cold beer. But don't come to the bike race in order to stand around and yell at cyclists. Stay at home.
I think it's an issue of class. Do you have class, or do you not have class? That's not the way a classy person acts.
Q: Asked about Beloki's attack
LA: I was waiting for the race to be opened up. I wouldn't say that I was provoked, I'm sure that he had word in the radio that I was in the back of the group behind a couple of other guys, and that Manolo told him to attack. I'm quite sure. But it was good. It turned out to be a good thing for us, and I was glad somebody attacked.
Q: Was it planned that Heras would drop off? What happened with him?
LA: You never plan for somebody not to be good. I haven't talked to Roberto. I haven't talked to Johan about the situation. The Ventoux is strange like that. Some people are good there, some people are just not good there. If you have a little bit of a bad day, you're immediately dropped. It's a hard one to judge yourself on. But I'm confident that he's still in good condition.
Q: Are you too strong for the Tour's own good?
LA: I don't know. I do know that I love the bike race, I love everything that it stands for, and it's what they pay me to do. This is my job. They say, "Lance, we want you to win the Tour de France." That's what the team wants, that's what the sponsors want, what the American public wants (the cycling fans in America want), cancer survivors around the world... that's what they want.
So I can't really concern myself with 'is it bad for the event, is it bad for the sport?' I have to do my job and I have to fulfil my passion. That's normal, I think. Perhaps that's part of the reason that people are sometimes so angry on the climbs. Of course they're pissed. They would rather have a new winner every year and a new winner every day, and a constant evolution. But again, I care too much about the event and I care too much about winning to factor that in.
Q: Do you have regrets about letting Pantani win in the past?
LA: I definitely have regrets about that, but I can't change that. I was fortunate enough in 2000 to go on and win the Tour. Even though I wasn't close to winning today, I put time into my rivals and I'm happy about that. I didn't come here to win the Mont Ventoux, I came here to win the Tour de France. I have to remember that, and everybody in the team has to remember that. I think the Tour will be back here before I'm gone, so maybe I'll get another chance. Maybe not.
Laurent Jalabert (CSC-Tiscali, 80th at 22'19, Maillot Pois)
"I'm happy for Richard. His objective was the polka dot jersey and mine was a stage win, so we're a bit reversed."
Fred Rodriguez chills out in Provence
By Jeff Jones in Lodève
The Domo-Farm Frites sprinter was his usual laid back self this morning in Lodève when he spoke to Cyclingnews about the Tour de France so far. Despite the 221 kilometres ahead of him in 32 degree heat, with the almost 2000m climb of Mont Ventoux to finish, Rodriguez considered stage 14 "one of the easier days - unless you're a climber."
Most of the other riders we spoke to didn't quite hold with the Domo man's view, with many clearly praying that they would get through the stage to the rest day tomorrow.
Lance Armstrong was his pick for the stage: "Lance is pretty confident and his team is pretty strong. I think he's going to want to win another mountain stage....I think his confidence his higher [than in the past] and he wants to prove some more."
Although Armstrong did increase his grip on the Maillot Jaune by placing third in the stage, he could not catch Rodriguez' teammate Richard Virenque, who attacked early and made the crucial breakaway group, which still had 7'30 at the foot of Mont Ventoux. Virenque survived the Armstrong charge, and took an impressive stage win.
Rodriguez hinted at this before the start, saying that "My team's strong - Virenque is strong, Axel's going well. They're still feeling positive that they could do something in the mountains. Virenque is still looking for his legs, as he hasn't felt 100 percent yet. He's hoping on one of these stages to be brilliant - that's what he did a couple of years ago with Polti. He came out of nowhere."
But for Fred himself, it hasn't been the best of Tours so far in terms of results. The flat stages have either been won by breakaways, or if they've come down to a mass sprint, Rodriguez has not been right up there.
"It's been a pretty off couple of weeks for me. I've had a couple of top 10s but I haven't been rolling like myself. I got sick in Philadelphia [USPRO Championships] with bronchitis and I don't think I've ever recovered. I just went straight into big stage races and never found my form again."
"I'm a little disappointed at the way it's been going, but at the same time I know if I can make the Champs Elysées - when I can smell the finish line I can always pull something off. We have to tough it out another week but it's a big stage - the Champs Elysées - for a sprinter to win. For me it's a good chance to do a good result."
So Rodriguez will continue to 'hang in there' until next Sunday, using the mountains as "training - more for preparation for the classics and to be as fresh as possible for the Champs Elysées."
l'Etape du Tour
Tomorrow's rest day will mark the tenth running of the l'Etape du Tour. Sponsored by Velo Magazine, l'Etape du Tour is a recreational ride that each year duplicates exactly one of the stages of the Tour de France. This year's Etape will run from Aime to Cluses, the route of stage 17. An expected 7,500 cyclists will tackle 142 kilometers and the climbs of the Cormet de Roseland, the Col de Saisies, Col des Aravis, and the Col de la Colombière.
Stage 14 Communique Medical
Peter Luttenberger (Tacconi Sport): Abandoned due to right ankle injury.