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89th Tour de France - Grand Tour
France, July 6-28, 2002
Tour de France news for July 24, 2002
Edited by Jeff Jones & Chris Henry
Stage 15 wrap up and post stage comments
The fifteenth and longest stage of the Tour, from Vaison la Romaine to Les Deux Alpes, saw the peloton back into the fray again after yesterday's rest day. They wasted no time at all in getting back to speed, with an impressive 48.3 kilometres covered in the first hour today. That set the stage for a very fast race, finishing 30 minutes ahead of the fastest predicted schedule of 35 km/h.
Colombian Santiago Botero (Kelme) claimed his second stage win of the Tour, finishing well clear of Belgians Mario Aerts (Lotto) and Axel Merckx (Domo), after dropping them on the final climb to Les Deux Alpes. The peloton finished 6'40 behind, with the GC status quo maintained, although Botero moved himself back up from 18th to 7th overall, after his successful breakaway. To borrow a Colombian expression: Que chevére - how cool.
Santiago Botero (Kelme, 1st)
"I never lost hope of winning a stage despite losing time on the Ventoux. That day I had mechanical problems, I had dehydration. After the Ventoux, I was obsessed with winning this stage and when I saw there was a breakaway, I went.
"I was so disappointed about my race two days ago. You have a bad day and eight months of hard work disappear. But it's better to win a stage than to be fourth in the final standings.
"Lance Armstrong is simply the best cyclist in the world. He has incredible mental strength and it is very hard to beat him."
Which of his two stage wins made him happiest? "They were both great. When I won the time trial, we celebrated late into the night and shouted as if Colombia had scored a goal in the (soccer) World Cup final."
Botero now has three Tour stage wins, including his one in Briancon in 2000. This is equal to his compatriot Lucho Herrera. But Botero refused to be drawn into comparisons. "You can't make comparisons from one period to the other. I'm a very different rider. Lucho was climber, one of the best ever. I'm more of an all-rounder," he said.
Lance Armstrong (9th at 6'41 and Maillot Jaune)
For once on a mountain stage, Armstrong failed to put any time into his nearest rivals, although he didn't really have to with a 4'21 lead over Joseba Beloki, and two more tough days in the mountains to come.
"Today was a bit long, but we had no problems. Les Deux-Alpes, it's too special. It's not too hard and quite fast - not a good place to attack," he said. "Tomorrow is much harder, it's the classic climbs of the Tour."
"I was happy for Botero, he deserved to win the stage but it's funny how he's so inconsistent. One day he's great like today; another he's not there."
When asked about the crowds today, Armstrong said that they were much better than on the Ventoux, when people heckled him all the way up with calls of "dopé, dopé", as he was chasing Richard Virenque and Alexandre Botcharov.
"There were a few people drunk and loud out there but overall they were fantastic," said Armstrong of today's mob. "France is a country of regions. There are certain parts of France where certain riders are more accepted than other regions. Today they were very nice. In fact, tell them thank you. Write 'Merci' in big letters on all your newspaper stories. They were great today."
Tyler Hamilton (CSC-Tiscali, 22nd at 7'21")
Today was a hard stage. Hot, long, and it had seven climbs. Plus it was just all these up and down roads, winding and twisting...the peloton was always strung out. I think regardless of whether you were in the break or the peloton, it was hard.
Tomorrow's going to be a tough day, a real tough day. It's not easy (in the heat). I think everybody suffers a bit, and it makes it that much harder.
Talking about being a little sick: "I started with a sore throat, and then I woke up yesterday morning and it just kind of set in. I took yesterday really easy and tried to rest a lot, but it's just in my head. There's a lot of pressure in my head and I can feel it in my lungs. My lungs are real tight. But it's better not to take antibiotics. That makes your body tired."
End of the road for Moreau
Christophe Moreau's luckless Tour de France finally came to an end today on the roads between Vaison-la-Romaine and Les Deux Alpes. The Credit Agricole rider, who was lying in 41st overall at 31'21, crashed on the tricky descent of the Col de Premol, suffering multiple cuts to his face and eventually deciding to abandon. It's the second time in two years that Moreau has had to pull out of the Tour, after finishing 4th in 2000.
"The gods were against me," he said. "This morning at the start, I was motivated and I tried to follow in the breaks and then there was the crash that I took as the last warning before being seriously hurt."
"I'm upset, it's really hard to leave the Tour that I badly wanted to finish for myself, for my team mates, my director Roger Legeay and my sponsor."
Moreau will try to recover now and ride the World Cups in August.
Baguet hanging tough
Last year he was a glorious stage winner, this year, he is fairly anonymous in the peloton. "I knew that beforehand," commented the Lotto rider to Het Nieuwsblad. "The Tour is drawn up so differently this year. At this time last year I hadn't shown myself much yet either. But then we still had three stages to come which I marked with red. In the first three I jumped with every break but missed the right one every time. In the seventeenth stage, to Montluçon I succeeded."
"This year there is nothing left at the moment, especially if you're an all-rounder and not a specific climber, time-trialist or sprinter. Maybe to Bourg-en-Bresse on Friday, but that is a very hard stage. I will have to have very good legs, because the coming stages aren't really cut out for me."
"On top of that you can't forget that we have been riding our soul out for Robbie McEwen for the last two weeks. But that doesn't get noticed does it? It's only going to be real fun when a Belgian wins; but that wasn't possible so far."
"The Tour is suffering indeed, but when you win, you don't think of that anymore. To be riding along just to be riding, that really is no fun, you can take this from me."
The sentiment is echoed by many of his peers, who desperately want to do something in the biggest and toughest race of them all, but are finding themselves clinging to wheels each day. But that's the Tour.
Stage 16 preview: Les-Deux-Alpes-La Plagne, 179.5 km
By Tim Maloney, European editor
Stage 16 is a bit shorter than the previous days stage, but it includes more climbing, with three classic hors categorie Alpine ascents on the carte du jour. Departing Les Deux-Alpes at 11:30, the stage climbs the south face of the relentless hors categorie Col du Galibier (33.7 km/4.7%) via the Col du Lauteret, where the Souvenir Henri Desgranges (highest point in the TDF 2645m) awaits.
Stage 16 then makes the 60 km descent to the Maurienne valley, where the harder south face climb up the Col de la Madeleine (19.3 km/7.9%) awaits the Tour peloton. After the summit of the Madeleine, there is another long descent to Bellcombe, then through Aime' and up the tough final ascent to La Plagne (17.3 km/7.0%), where Swiss rider Alex Zulle won in 1995.
Join us for our live coverage of Stage 16, starting 11:30am CEST/02:30 PDT/05:30 EDT/19:30 Aust EST
Eddy Merckx goes home
Eddy Merckx has gone home from the Tour de France. The popular commentator for RTBF had to do a lot of extra work when one of his fellow commentators left the Tour due to illness. Merckx threw out his back and had to leave the Tour to go back to Brussels to recover.
Dan Osipow in training
Cyclingnews spied USPS operations manager Dan Osipow riding on the parcours today. We saw Osipow as he finished the climb up to Les Deux Alpes, the last of his three cols today, naturally on his Trek bike and USPS uniform. Osipow croaked out to us as we passed in the car "This is hard has hell."
Is Osipow in training to join the USPS squad for his hometown event, the San Francisco GP?
You can check out his (fairly) regular Tour reports at www.uspsprocycling.com.
Stage 15 Official Communique
Christophe Moreau (Credit Agricole): Abandon. Cuts and multiple contusions
to the face.
Benoit Joachim (USPS): Fined SFR100 for incorrect comportment and dangerous manoeuvre (he suddenly swerved left on a climb and knocked Sylvain Chavanel off his bike)