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89th Tour de France - Grand Tour
France, July 6-28, 2002
Tour de France news for July 25, 2002
Edited by Jeff Jones & Chris Henry
Stage 16 wrap up and post stage comments
Today's 16th stage from Les Deux Alpes to La Plagne was the toughest Alpine stage in this year's Tour, with three hors categorie giants to be climbed - Col du Galibier, Col de la Madeleine and La Plagne. The attacking started near the top of the first climb, and from that break came the eventual winner of the stage, Michael Boogerd. The Rabobank ride rode solo for the last 90 km and impressively held off the charge of Lance Armstrong and co. on La Plagne to take a hard earned win, and one that he will never forget. It was the 150th win by a Dutchman in the Tour de France.
Laurent Jalabert also got himself in the early break, and picked up more mountain points to move 78 points into the lead in that competition, with Santiago Botero in second place.
Michael Boogerd (Rabobank, 1st)
"I have always dreamed of winning a mountain stage in the Tour De France and now I've made it - this is the best day of my career. It's so beautiful, I'm very glad with it. Tonight I think I can believe it, with the champagne and the team."
"I was away with a good group but they were watching each other, so I went away on the Telegraphe. A great victory, it's the second one for me [in the Tour] but this is the Queen stage."
"When I started (the climb of La Plagne), I was thinking they would catch me," said Boogerd. "But my legs weren't too tired so my sport director told me to keep up a good tempo. When I heard that Sastre and Armstrong were coming up, I was just suffering and fighting to win the stage."
"I will never do this again. As an amateur once I made a solo break of more than 100 km. Then I said: Never again. But this is more. I think I believed in the victory in the last 5 km; but between 10 and 5 I died several times. I went to this climb with Leipheimer a month ago, so I knew what it was."
When asked about the talisman that he kissed when crossing the line, Boogerd replied "It's a little talisman which brought me luck in the past. There are three things in it. My first tooth, my girlfriend's first tooth and a four-leaf clover my mother-in-law [girlfriend's mother] gave me."
Adri van Houwelingen (Rabobank DS)
"He had some bad kilometres between 8 and 5 (on La Plagne), but then he became stronger. He had troubles with cramps and I said to him: this can be a historical day because it's the hardest stage in this Tour."
Carlos Sastre (CSC-Tiscali, 2nd at 1'25)
"I have done what I could, I tried and I knew that this was my opportunity to get among the top ten, which is my objective by the end of the Tour, although there are still some very hard stages."
"To come second is very important. I tried as much as I could to win, but it was right that Boogerd won - he had been away for the whole stage.
"[Armstrong] is the strongest rider, he is the Indurain of now and you have to take your hat off to him."
Lance Armstrong (USPS, 3rd at 1'25 and Maillot Jaune)
"I'm happy for Michael Boogerd. He rode a hell of a stage and was out there all day. When somebody does that and spends a lot of the stage alone, climbing over the mountains in the sun and with the wind, they deserve to win...I don't need to win all the time."
"These are hard days but I feel really good in this year's Tour, especially on the climbs. I know all the climbs very well now and so I was comfortable and in control all the time. The team was good as well. They kept the right consistent rhythm and so that helped me feel even better."
"We've still got two more hard days. Tomorrow is a complex stage. It's up and down all day without any flat sections. It's almost the same stage where I cracked in 2000. It will be another hard day. And Friday is tricky. It's always up and down with lots of small climbs. The team is going to have to work hard. There's always something to worry about."
Axel Merckx (Domo-Farm Frites, 36th at 11'39")
"We were cooperating well (in the chase behind Boogerd), but I couldn't ride any faster after yesterday."
"I continued because I wanted to stay in the group and it was better to begin the Madeleine at my own rhythm instead of ride behind the Armstrong group. I was in front so it was best to continue."
Q: Two days of attacking, will we see the same tomorrow?
"I can feel it in my legs now... we'll see."
Stuart O'Grady (CA, 39th at 13'32)
"I felt pretty good after the first climb and I thought stuff it I've got nothing to lose. Once I was away I thought I would try and get clear for the first bonus sprint, and after I got that I thought that was my finish line but I got into a rhythm on the second climb and decided to keep going."
"After the second bonus sprint I was rapt and when I got to the final climb I was knackered. I think it was the first time I have ever seen Lance on the final climb on a real mountain day."
Oscar Sevilla (Kelme) was one of three riders to abandon the 16th stage, along with Laurent Dufaux (Alessio) and Jimmy Casper (FDJeux.com). Sevilla was lying 11th in the general classification at 14'10 behind Armstrong, but has been suffering from stomach pains in the last couple of days and call it quits today.
70 riders pardoned
73 riders - nearly half the Tour's contingent - finished outside the time limit in today's 16th stage from Les Deux Alpes to La Plagne. 70 of them were just 12 seconds slower than the cutoff time of 34'14, calculated based on the time of the winner and the difficulty of the stage. The Tour organisers allowed them to remain in the race, however three weren't so lucky: Dave Bruylandts, Fred Rodriguez (both Domo) and Christophe Oriol (Ag2r) finished after the large 'bus', and were therefore declared outside the time limit.
Cooke riding on a special type of saddle
By John Trevorrow
Baden Cooke (FDJeux.com) is showing just how tough he is. A type of cyst has developed on the tender part of his rear end, just where the body makes contact with the bicycle.
"I don't know how I got it but it came up on the rest day and it has gotten bigger," Cooke said. "The doctor was so impressed he has taken photos for some medical journal, I just hope it doesn't get up on a website somewhere," Cooke joked. "I have had to do a bit of handy work on my saddle by cutting a hole in the left hand side. Without that I would not have been able to get through the stage."
Speaking of websites, those interested in finding out more about Baden Cooke can check out his unofficial website at www.baden-cooke.com (in French).
Why negative points?
A number of readers have commented on a curiosity in the points (green jersey) classification, where some riders actually have negative points. This arises because the organisers impose penalties for various infractions in a number of ways. The most common is a fine of so many Swiss Francs. A harsher penalty is to deduct time from the rider's GC time, or deduct points from their points tally. If the rider has been particularly naughty, they will be disqualified from the race.
Riders can be penalised in a lot of ways, e.g. hanging onto a team car, or taking too many "bottles" from the director sportif; answering the call of nature in front of the public (when you gotta go, you gotta go; causing another rider to crash, or otherwise riding dangerously in the bunch; hitching a ride to the finish in Jean-Marie Leblanc's car; giving spectators the evil eye, and so on.
Stage 17 preview: Aimé-Cluses, 142 km
By Tim Maloney, European editor
The final Alpine stage of the 2002 Tour De France has a late start in Aimé at 1:00pm, the tiny Savoie town's 4th time to host a TDF stage start. From Aimé, the road goes up almost at once, with the east face of the Cat.1 Cormet de Roseland (19.4km/5.8%), commencing after only 10km. The beautiful, wooded climb has two distinct sections separated by a false flat section midway. After the summit, Cormet de Roseland's has a technical descent to the Arly valley, where the Cat. 1 Col des Saisies (15.3km/6.0%) is next. Saisies is where Marco Pantani attacked Lance Armstrong here in 2000 and with half the stage yet to go, don't be surprised if this Col is again prime territory to attack the Maillot Jaune.
Col des Aravis (11.7km/4.9%) crosses the massif of the same name. Not particularly difficult, the Cat. 2 Aravis was first included in the Tour De France 91 years ago. The final Alpine climb of the 2002 Tour De France is the Cat. 1 Col de la Colombière (11.8km/5.6%), which climbs the magnificent Massif des Aravis via the shorter south side of the col, but with the last 3km at 8%, the narrow Colombière is no pique-nique. After the final summit, Stage 17 descends 21km to finish in Cluses, the main town in the Arve valley.
Join us for our live coverage of Stage 17, starting 13:00 CEST/04:00 PDT/07:00 EDT/21:00 Aust EST