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89th Tour de France - Grand Tour

France, July 6-28, 2002

Tour de France news for June 18, 2002

Edited by Jeff Jones

Telekom builds team around Zabel for the Tour

The Deutsche Telekom team will go into the Tour de France this year with the aim of helping Erik Zabel to his seventh green jersey for the most consistent rider in the sprints. Zabel has not released his grip on the jersey since 1996 when he won it for the first time, and was involved in an epic battle with Stuart O'Grady last year to take the jersey on the final stage.

To this end, team manager Walter Godefroot has picked Zabel's leadout man Gian Matteo Fagnini this year, which should make it easier for Zabel to win a few stages. The rest of the team will be Rolf Aldag, Steffen Wesemann Bobby Julich, Kevin Livingston, Guiseppi Guerini, Alexandre Vinokourov, and Andreas Klöden. Danilo Hondo is first reserve.

Klöden's selection is a big surprise, as he said last Friday that "My condition is not as good as that of the rest of the riders [on the team]. A start does not make much sense." The reason for this is a knee injury that has kept him out of competition for eight weeks. Klöden's first race back is the Volta a Catalunya, which started today and Telekom will presumably reassess his condition after this race.

Godefroot says that the team is aiming for stage wins and not the overall. "After Jan Ullrich's forfeit we are missing a real GC rider. So we are aiming for stage win in the middle section instead."

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