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Tour de France News for July 9, 2003

Edited by Jeff Jones & Chris Henry

Alessandro confirms it for himself this time

Italian sprinter's confidence growing day by day

By Gabriella Ekström in Saint Dizier
Alessandro Petacchi
Photo: © Sirotti

If Alessandro Petacchi's first win at the Tour was the confirmation everyone had been waiting for, then the second win was the confirmation Alessandro had been waiting for.

"This is the better win, because today I have learned that I can race well, even when I'm not feeling good. And if I'm racing like this when I'm not feeling well, one can only imagine what I can do when I'm in form," Petacchi told Cyclingnews post-stage.

Click here for the full interview.
Full results & report of stage 3
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McGee not disappointed

Brad McGee
Photo: © Sirotti

Prologue winner Bradley McGee was not disappointed at losing the Maillot Jaune today to Jean-Patrick Nazon, after spending three full days in the coveted golden fleece. The Australian FDJeux.com rider finished in the same time as Nazon, but the Frenchman had collected 14 seconds in time bonuses along the way, which put him 8 seconds into the lead.

"To have the yellow is incredible, but I can't say I'm disappointed," said McGee post-stage. "We decided this morning we didn't want to go out and break our legs. We put all our eggs into the Baden basket for the finish, but he had a rough ride in the last kilometre and he was a bit behind. I'm still feeling very good and looking forward to the next two and a half weeks of racing."

The possibility of FDJ recapturing the lead in tomorrow's team time trial is remote, according to McGee. "I think any aspirations were lost when Jimmy Casper crashed," he added. "He's a sprinter, but he's also one of the strongest riders in the team time trial. We've just got to limit our losses."

McGee is also happy with his form in the mountains, which he showed in the recent Tour de Suisse. "Yeah I really enjoyed that. It's been a goal since last year's Tour. I live in Nice and have done a lot of training in the mountains, training camps and so on. But the Tour de Suisse was the first time in a race where I've been really up there."

"I'd love to be able to prove myself against the best riders for one or two days in the mountains," said McGee of his goals this year. "We're putting it together for the next few years to go for the complete GC."

More post-stage comments

Right after winning the stage, Fassa Bortolo's Alessandro Petacchi commented that, "I had to fight to get out of Vainsteins wheel but could do it. The tour is three weeks long and I don't know if I'll make it, but the Green is of course a dream of mine."

Robbie McEwen (5th) missed out again today, after being involved in the squeeze with Rene Haselbacher (who fell) and Baden Cooke. "I was on Petacchi's wheel, sitting good," McEwen told Belgian TV1. "The crash happened virtually on top of me. I lost my position because of it. Someone came on my right and pushed me. And Haselbacher was there, like he is every day, trying to get through. The sprints are so dangerous. I was going for the win today, but ended up with nothing again. Tomorrow I'll be recuperating as much as I can - if that's possible in a team time trial."

Stuart O'Grady (10th) said that "The last sprints have been really dangerous. I don't think it was an irregular sprint. There have been a lot of teams with one rider only in the last hundred metres and it has been very hazardous."

In the French TV program vélo-club they analysed the images of the sprint, with the view from the helicopter. Laurent Jalabert provided his expert analysis. "We can see that Baden Cooke advanced really very quickly on the left, to come beside McEwen. He must have surprised McEwen. The rider on the right of McEwen leaned on McEwen and then McEwen leaned on Cooke, it was like a domino effect. There nobody is responsible really when you analyse the images thoroughly. It was impressive to see and it's a miracle that nothing worse happened. It is important that riders keep their place in the sprint. I think McEwen held firm when Cooke squeezed between him and the barrier and he put out his left shoulder but at the same time McEwen was leaned on from the right also! Nothing to be done about it though."

Boogerd needs stitches

One unlucky rider today was Rabobank's Michael Boogerd, who crashed in the feed zone, requiring stitches to his knee after the stage. "I was on the right and thought I'd take a bidon," he told TV1. "A rider came on the right of me and he caused me to crash. My knee is really hurting. I fell straight on it. Because the speed wasn't high, you don't get the chance to avoid it. You can really hurt yourself in those type of crashes. I think it will be ok though."

Legeay: "O'Grady's a true winner"

Stuart O'Grady
Photo: © J.Devich/CN

Credit Agricole team manager Roger Legeay is happy to have Australian champion Stuart O'Grady on board. "Stuart wears his nice national jersey with pride," said Legeay. "He is really part of the team 'family', having been with us since the age of 19. He's a man built for the Tour. His negative point? When he doesn't win he closes up a bit, goes within and we wonder what's wrong. But I think he is a true winner."

Team talk before TTT

By Gabriella Ekström in Saint Dizier

With the stage between Joinville and Saint-Dizier coming up tomorrow, Cyclingnews spoke to the teams most likely to do well in the 69 kilometre team time trial.

German rider Jörg Jaksche is a member of the strong ONCE-Eroski team, a team likely to put in a really strong performance for Joseba Beloki tomorrow. "I am not sure about our plan yet," Jaksche told Cyclingnews. "We will have to discuss that after the dinner. It's Manolo's (Saiz) decision. It is obvious that we are the big favourites for the win since we won last year and were second the year before that. There are also some other teams that could do very well. I'm specifically thinking about US Postal of course, and Fassa Bortolo, but they have had to put in a lot of work in the last few days, and they might have burnt out some of their energy.
USPS start last
Photo: © J.Devich/CN

"Then there's Bianchi, which we have to take into account as well," adds Marcos Serrano as he is getting out from the gigantic team bus parked at Place Ducal in Charleville-Mézičr. "They have a very strong team, and obviously they will want to finish in a top position to keep Jan Ullrich up there with the main contenders."

After a quick check with Fassa Bortolo manager Ferretti, it is clear that he does not see his team as one of the main contenders for tomorrow's stage. "No, I don't think so. We will have to see. Vediamo."

Ferretti's response was echoed by his top sprinter Petacchi. "We'll just have to see how it goes. I didn't feel good at all during yesterday's stage, but this morning I am already better. Who knows about tomorrow?"

Daniel Becke, a compatriot of Jaksche but riding for Team Bianchi, told Cyclingnews that the team time trial was one of the bigger goals for Bianchi, and that they were all very focused on doing a good race. His teammate Tobias Steinhauser said that the team had ridden over the parcours for the fourth stage after the Tour of Germany, and that he thought it was a course without any big difficulties, and that it was well suited for the team.

"We will all do our best of course, and if all goes well we might be able to put valuable seconds between our team and US Postal."

Ramping up the TTT

Tomorrow's team time trial from Joinville to Saint-Dizier will feature a new twist, as teams will begin the crucial 69km test with the help of a starting ramp. Rather than build the contraption, Tour organisers have decided to use an import. Arriving from Spain is the full width start ramp used in last year's Vuelta a España, on loan to the Tour for stage 4. The ramp will be repainted for the Tour, then returned to the Vuelta.

Zabel wanted birthday win

Photo: © Sirotti

After he turned 33 on Monday, July 7, Erik Zabel (Telekom) did his utmost to win the second stage, but failed by metres and finished fourth in Sedan. "I was dreaming about winning this stage on my birthday, but I went too soon," he told L'Equipe. "I was out in the wind too early and right away I tried to get back in the group, but I couldn't go again."

Lobbying at the Tour

The Tour de France is not just the biggest bike race around, it is a festival of handshakes, networking, and behind the scenes deals. The Tour is an important time for teams to enlist new riders for the next season, and team sponsors also enjoy VIP access as team managers look to butter up the benefactors. Not surprisingly, the routes of future Tours also take continue shape, as the Société du Tour de France discusses possible deals with towns hoping to host the race.

Rotterdam in the Netherlands is a candidate for the "grand départ" of the 2007 Tour. The city's mayor, Ivo Opstelten, has followed the first few days of the Tour with a delegation hoping to win over the Tour organisers.

Another group of delegates with very big Tour aspirations was on hand for this year's Tour opener. Members of the delegation from Québec followed the opening stages to observe operations and lobby for a Tour start in 2008. The city will celebrate its 400th anniversary in 2008, and a Tour start is heavily sought after to coincide with the festivities.

Stage 3 Medical communique

Michael Boogerd (Rabobank): Deep cut to left knee requiring stitches
Rene Haselbacher (Gerolsteiner): Cuts to left elbow, and left lower back
Juan Miguel Mercado (iBanesto.com): Digestive troubles
Danilo Di Luca (Saeco): Suffering from a fever for last 48 hours
Damien Nazon (Brioches La Boulangère): Left knee pain

Giant's 2003 Tour de France special

Giant prize
Photo: © C.Henry/CN

This year's Tour has seen the unveiling of a special, limited-edition Giant TCR-100 being ridden by the ONCE-Eroski squad - and the exact same bike is the major prize in the 2003 Tour de France Fantasy Game on Cyclingnews.

It is still possible to enter the Fantasy game and select your dream team to have a chance to win this limited edition machine, a package worth €10,000.

The Giant features a black and white paint scheme with accents of red, white and blue to commemorate the French flag. A special graphics package will highlight the key cities and mountains of the Tour, such as Le Tourmalet, l'Alpe d'Huez, Paris and Marseilles. The frame will be finished with a high gloss clear coat.

Components are all top shelf, including Giant Carbon Technology seat post, handlebar, and stem; a full Campagnolo Record groupset and carbon Bora deep dish wheels with Hutchinson tubulars; a unique hand-made AX Lightness saddle specially designed for the bike; and black Nokon cables with red/white/blue accents.

Other prizes on offer include a group set from Campagnolo, the latest carbon fibre components from Full Speed Ahead, Speedplay pedals, fi'zi:k saddles, helmets from Giro and Bell and sunglasses from Rudy Project.

You can still enter the Fantasy Game until stage 6, so for your chance to win and for full details on all the prizes on offer in the 2003 Tour de France Fantasy Game, please visit the Fantasy Game section and register to enter your dream team.

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(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2003)

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