Home Cyclingnews TV   News  Tech   Features   Road   MTB   BMX   Cyclo-cross   Track    Photos    Fitness    Letters   Search   Forum  
Tour home
Live coverage
Start list
Stages & results
Map & profiles
Tour diaries
Features & tech
Tour history

Recently on Cyclingnews.com

Bayern Rundfahrt
Photo ©: Schaaf

90th Tour de France - July 5-27, 2003

Armstrong already focused on win #5 in 2003 TdF

Lance Armstrong
Photo: © CN
Click for larger image

By Tim Maloney

(OCTOBER 27, 2002): Cyclingnews spoke to Lance Armstrong following his return home to Austin, Texas after a quick trip to Paris, France for the 2003 Tour de France presentation and a special dinner the evening before honoring all the living Tour de France winners. "It was a huge honor to be there with 21 Tour de France winners together," Armstrong told Cyclingnews. "Forty Tour wins in all...!" Armstrong further explained to French sports daily L'Equipe that "(attending the dinner) was truly a pleasure and an honor for me to share that moment."

As for the 2003 Tour de France, Armstrong explained to Cyclingnews that "I think this is a traditional Tour, actually. It's back to focusing the key mountain days in the middle. The biggest difference (next year) is that there are only 3 actual uphill finishes which doesn't suit us necessarily. I like the route though. It has an enormous amount of historical perspective while also being very modern."

Living legends
Photo: © CN
Click for larger image

Lance's bottom line: "Like I always say, the Tour de France changes every year, but in the end the results are pretty consistent, and that is that the best man normally wins."

Armstrong's interview with L'Equipe's Jean-Pierre Bidet, published last Friday following the Tour presentation, also revealed additional perspectives about the four-time consecutive Tour winner's take on his quest for the fifth in a row.

Overall approach:
"I'm going to approach this Tour as if it were my first, and not a possible fifth victory in my palmarès. It's historic, sure, but for me it's a new Tour with all of the usual dangers. I only have one regret: there's no Mont Ventoux. But I've already asked Jean-Marie Leblanc if he plans to include it in 2004."

"(US Postal) is going to have some work to do next spring. So long as you're not out there getting a sense of the route, the sharpness of the curves, the direction of the wind, (the parcours) is just a drawing on paper."

Stage 4 / Team time trial:
"...The first real selection, as usual. But now I'm convinced we'll never win it. In my career I've finished in second place five times! I don't think we've ever concentrated enough on it. A team like ONCE thinks only about (the team time trial); it's an obsession for Manolo Saiz."

"For (USPS), I'm the only one who obsesses about it. For the others it just makes them nervous. They don't want to suffer in front of their teammates, and most of all they don't want to fail. So it's important, you can lose minutes. And if you arrive at l'Alpe d'Huez with a deficit of several minutes, it's not the same..."

Time trials:
"It's too bad the time trials are notably shorter (in '03) than in other years, even if the differences there are usually played out in seconds rather than in minutes like in the mountains. (Stage 12's TT) is in a region that I know a little bit, and it's fairly hilly. It's not too far from (Girona), so I'll probably drive up and check it out."


Stage 8 / l'Alpe d'Huez:
"Two years ago we did the Madeleine and the Glandon before l'Alpe d'Huez. I think that was harder and more compact, even though the Galibier is a very long and difficult climb, with the Telegraphe right before it. On paper it seems easier, but when you're on the bike you forget about that."

Stage 9 / Col d'Izoard (north face):
"I've never done it from that direction. It doesn't seem as steep, but maybe it's longer. Either way we'll have to go look at it. What matters is the fact that there are no climbs after that, and the finish is 60km from the summit. If you're isolated or in difficulty, you can wait for some teammates to come up and help get back in the game."

"This year, the Pyrénées are rough. Sixteen cols in four days, what a program! Plus, they arrive at the end of the Tour. The team will have to still be very strong to get through that."

Stage 13
"It's the gradient of (Col de Pailheres) that worries me. On paper, it's more difficult than the Galibier. On the other hand, Bonascre is short and more rolling."

(Cyclingnews has compiled many opinions of the 2003 route from riders and team management, as well as photos from the presentation, including a special picture of 21 of the 22 living TdF champions.)

Participation in the Tour

22 teams of nine riders will be selected for the 2003 Tour de France. The selection will take place over three rounds in accordance with the new UCI rules for the three Grand Tours. 14 teams will automatically qualify at the end of October, 2002 based on the end of season UCI rankings. Then four wild cards will be select at the end of January 2003, after the registration of the new trade teams (e.g. Quick Step-Davitamon). Finally, four more wild cards will be chosen on May 15, which according to the organisers "will take into account the sporting results obtained by the potential teams."

Assuming no changes to the teams rankings based on the last UCI classification, and taking into account the teams that are stopping at the end of the season, the following 14 teams are automatically qualified for the 2003 Tour:

Fassa Bortolo
US Postal Service
Team Coast
Team CSC Tiscali
Team Telekom
Kelme-Costa Blanca
Tacconi Sport-Emmegi

The next four teams on the list are Saeco-Longoni Sport, Lampre-Daikin, Acqua & Sapone-Cantina Tollo, and Phonak Hearing Systems. Saeco and Lampre will therefore be looking for points in this Sunday's Japan Cup to ensure automatic qualification. Also noteworthy is the fact that Mario Cipollini's Acqua e Sapone team, which may or may not exist next year in its current form, has not automatically qualified.

The final point to note is that yet again, only one French Division I team, Cofidis, has qualified. FDJeux.com, Jean Delatour, Credit Agricole, Ag2R Prevoyance, Bonjour (and possibly BigMat if it continues) will all be vying for those final eight spots. In theory then, the organisers could include seven French teams and two other foreign teams.

Cyclingnews' live coverage of the 90th Tour de France is powered by