Tour de France News for July 9, 2003
Edited by Jeff Jones & Chris Henry
A day in yellow for Nazon
First French Maillot Jaune in Centenary Tour
By Gabriella Ekström in Saint Dizier
Photo: © Sirotti
Last year, Jean-Patrick Nazon was far from being a celebrated rider in
the Tour. After being left out of the Francaise des Jeux Tour team, and
then not being offered a new contract at the end of the year, it was even
uncertain for a while whether he would continue his career. His month
of July was spent in front of the TV, watching his compatriots battle
it out for stage wins and colourful jerseys.
"That was a very hard moment for me, and it made me feel very uneasy,"
said Nazon after donning the yellow jersey in stage
3. "It is always hard for a French rider to be left out from the Tour,
and right now I don't wish to think about the circumstances that left
me at home. Having said that, I do believe going through those hard times
has strengthened me, because with a lot of help from my family and friends,
I am here today. In a way, I doubt I would be wearing the yellow jersey
today if that had not happened to me."
here for the full interview
Hamilton still wants to finish
CSC's Tyler Hamilton faces his toughest test today since breaking his
collarbone, the 69 km team time trial between Joinville and St Dizier.
"I have to do the time trial for the team," Hamilton said. "After that,
the real test will be the first stage in the mountains. I've done the
Tour six times and I've finished it six times. I want to finish this one
but finish it well. If I'm not able to attack in the mountains, it's over."
CSC team doctor Joost De Maeseneer will reassess Hamilton's condition
tonight. "I spoke with Dr Porte [Tour race doctor]. We're going to look
at the X-Rays tonight. There are two fractures of the collarbone, but
they're not complete breaks. At best, the fibres will be reinforced. At
worst, the fracture will be more pronounced. In which case, he would have
More post-stage comments
Erik Zabel (Telekom, 4th)
The German sprinter is still looking for that elusive stage victory,
once again finishing fourth in the bunch sprint yesterday. "Like on Sunday
for the first stage, Petacchi is already shown himself to be very strong,"
Zabel told L'Equipe. "He is without question the toughest. I'm not surprised
since his six victories in the Giro say it all. I couldn't do anything
against him, even if I was feeling good. But that's not enough to win."
Jaan Kirsipuu (Ag2r, 22nd)
The Estonian sprinter commented on the crash of Rene Haselbacher (Gerolsteiner)
at the end of the stage. "Haselbacher was looking for this crash for a
long time," said Kirsipuu. "He got what he wanted. He's very dangerous
in the sprints, but he doesn't always get through. As far as I'm concerned,
I lacked a little power to keep up with the top guys."
Christophe Moreau (Credit Agricole, 28th)
Moreau is lying in 113th on GC, but hopes to improve that in the coming
stages. He's looking forward to today's team time trial. "Last year I
had already crashed a lot by the time we got to the team time trial and
there was no cohesion among us," he said. "This time we know the parcours
is more rolling and therefore better suited to our capabilities as rouleurs.
The team won two years ago. Today it could happen, even taking the yellow
Richard Virenque (Quick.Step, 39th)
"It was a little less dangerous today and in four or five days, everything
will be in order," said Virenque, who is biding his time in the peloton.
"Everyone will find his place after the team time trial and the beginning
of the Alps. Also, I'm not feeling any more pain in my knee."
Jimmy Casper (FDJeux.com, 196th)
Still in a neck brace following his crash in stage 1, the small French
sprinter is improving. "It was a better day than Monday," Casper told
L'Equipe. "I stayed in the back of the field and waited to see what would
happen. If I can go to the team time trial without the brace I'll use
the time trial bike. If not, I'll use my regular bike but that will be
"Where is McEwen?" asks Belgian newspaper Het Nieuwsblad in Wednesday's
edition. The Belgian Lotto-Domo team was able to celebrate a stage win
already at this time in the Tour last year, but this year there's only
been disillusion. The Belgian press is not taking that without questions.
Robbie is still calm, after finishing fifth in stage 3. "I'm happy I
stayed on the bike. That Haselbacher messed everything up. Luckily I'm
not the type to worry. I will look at the images again tonight and forget
that sprint in Saint-Dizier right afterwards."
The Belgians are still hungry for a win of one of the two Belgian teams
in the Giro. And the press is putting some pressure on their "rubber Robbie".
Maybe it's because the Aussie sprinter insisted having the team built
around him, and not Rik Verbrugghe, with Hans De Clercq and Leon Van Bon,
and of course with buddy Nick Gates, who has according to Belgian cycling
commentators not been able to do much for the team so far.
The Belgian public, with an unsurpassed tradition in cycling is very
critical. In Sedan Lotto-Domo's sprinter was nowhere and yesterday in
Saint-Dizier he got sandwiched between Haselbacher and Cooke. Robbie defends
his position. "I never like crashes but I don't feel sorry for that guy.
Haselbacher can't sprint. He got what he was asking for."
So what really happened? "It was pretty dangerous. That Austrian wanted
to dive into a hole that wasn't there. Before that he also bumped Zabel's
wheel twice. Haselbacher is a wringer, a kamikaze. Everyone can go for
their own chance, but that man is confused, mistakes his ambitions for
his abilities. He will never win a mass sprint in the Tour. I am especially
disappointed because I was in the middle of the perfect sprint: I was
nicely on Petacchi's wheel."
Het Nieuwsblad continues, Petacchi seems to be the new Cipollini? McEwen
doesn't disagree. "Alessandro is also the same type. I am rather an explosive
sprinter. He starts the sprint from a long way out and pulls it through
to the line. I don't know whether he has the same condition as in the
Giro, but he is really very strong."
HNB asked why Robbie didn't contest the last intermediate sprint yesterday.
"If I would have finished in the first three, then I was the leader and
not Jean-Patrick Nazon. I didn't do the last intermediate sprint to save
my strength for the final sprint and for the TTT tomorrow."
In the battle for Green, McEwen remains in the lead, with a dozen points.
"To win a stage as quickly as possible, that is the mission. Only after
that the Green counts."
He also defends his teammates, in response to the question as to whether
they couldn't have done any better? "Not at all. On the contrary, Gates,
De Clercq and Van Bon did their job impeccably. They dropped me off in
the right spot. I'm just the type that looks for his own way the last
five hundred metres. The team really is ok. On Thursday I'll be trying
it again. In the Tour it's never easy to win one. That is the difference
for me with other races."
But as all cycling fans know, for the fast man from the Gold Coast,
this kind of pressure might be all it takes for him to turn things around
and take that next stage on Thursday.
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