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Tour de France News for July 10, 2003

Edited by Jeff Jones

Armstrong not completely satisfied

Lance Armstrong
Photo: © Olympia Photo

Although Lance Armstrong might have been happy with his team winning the team time trial, he wasn't completely satisfied with his own performance, even though he did some long turns on the front. "I never had the right sensations," Armstrong commented immediately after the stage. "It was going round, but not supple enough."

However, taking his first Tour team time trial win was a big satisfaction. "Finally I dealt with the frustration I've carried with me for years," he admitted. "With the team I just missed the win in the TTT a few times. Last year, and also in '94 with Motorola. Second every time. That's why I marked this stage, because I really wanted to win the TTT for once. You have to agree, with a team like that we couldn't be satisfied with anything less."

Armstrong added, "On top of that, a team time trial gives a clear reflection of the overall power of a team, and if it all goes to plan, the victory tastes sweet."

New yellow jersey wearer Victor Hugo Peņa told Cyclingnews today before the start of stage 5 that, "I can't imagine how this could have happened. When I was 10 or 15 years old I looked at everything with Lucho Herrera and Fabio Parra. Today is my day."

Peņa was going around with a birthday cake before the start. He was also awarded his weight in champagne by the locals. Floyd Landis told Cyclingnews that, "Victor's enjoying it. We didn't have a big party last night, there's still a bit of racing left. We had a little champagne. We don't normally do that, but it's Victor's birthday today too so it's a nice present for him."

"The first stage win hasn't sunk too much yet," added Landis. "I've got to wait a bit to get too exited. I learned last year that it's a long race. If it's convenient we'll defend the jersey but we aren't going to spend any energy on that. We have to be careful how much we spend this early."

Beloki will attack

Joseba Beloki
Photo: © J.Devich/CN

Joseba Beloki (ONCE) is now sitting in ninth place on GC, 33" off the time of Victor Peņa. The Basque climber was much closer to the lead at this time last year, after ONCE had won the TTT. "I realized it would be very hard to beat US Postal," Beloki said post-race. "Now, I can live with the result without problems. The loss is minimal and it doesn't change my plans. I will attack on the cols. The yellow is still within reach."

Garzelli a dark horse

By Tim Maloney, European Editor in Troyes

The form of Stefano Garzelli in the Tour is an unknown quantity so far. The Vini Caldirola rider is sitting in 63rd on GC, 2'03 behind leader Victor Peņa. Garzelli finished second in the Giro d'Italia last month behind Gilberto Simoni (Saeco), who is even further down on GC in 106th. But it's early days yet.

"The most important thing about the first part of this Tour, like every tour, is to avoid crashes and to do well in the team time trial," Vini Caldirola director Vitorio Algeri told Cyclingnews today. "Up until now Garzelli hasn't lost anything in crashes, and in the TTT we did a good ride yesterday and we lost relatively little, so Gazelli and the rest of the team have a lot of morale for the next few days."

"Garzelli's condition is a question mark for the team. He had a great Giro d'Italia, but he also used a lot of energy. After the Giro, Garzelli had a month to recover. He only raced for two stages in Catalunya. Until we hit the first climbs, we really don't know where his form is. We'll just have to wait for those stages and see how he is."

Algeri believes that US Postal will now exert its grip on the race. "From this point on I think Lance and his team are going to take control of the situation. Like every year, they'll ride the mountain stages the same way. They'll likely let a break go and with the really strong team they have, keep the break under control, and then on the key climbs Lance will take over."

CSC team time trial "acceptable"

Team CSC
Photo: © Sirotti

Team CSC had high hopes for the fourth stage team time trial, but after Tyler Hamilton's crash in stage 1, the team had to revise its ambitions. Yesterday they finished 10th, 1'45 behind winners US Postal-Berry Floor. Afterwards, CSC called it an "acceptable performance" in the circumstances.

"We came up with a solid performance," said manager Bjarne Riis. "As I see the stage, Tyler was the strongest man in the team. The time loss is acceptable. When we consider the circumstances, our performance lived up to the expectations. It impressed me to see how hard Tyler worked and to see how every rider in the team used all his energy in the effort."

Tyler Hamilton had a tough time of it, but was able to overcome the pain of his broken collarbone again. "I was feeling very sore this morning and when I came back from my training ride earlier today, I was feeling a bit pessimistic," said Hamilton. However, I found a good position on the bike and I rode as fast as I possibly could today. I am satisfied with my own performance and I think that the team worked well together. I still have to take it one day at the time and I will have some new x-rays taken tomorrow and then we will se, how the collarbone is doing."

Lotto-Domo: "A day to forget"

Lotto-Domo finished dead last in yesterday's team time trial, 4'53 down on the winners US Postal-Berry Floor. The last time Lotto finished last was 11 years ago, which prompted some angry phone calls from Brussels.

"If we couldn't perform any better, they said it might be better for the team to return to Belgium!" recalled former director (and now Marlux DS) Jef Braeckevelt to Het Nieuwsblad. "Things must have drastically changed for the board to be OK with this way of riding a TTT."

Lotto-Domo DS Marc Sergeant took the defeat with a smile. "We lose five minutes to US Postal, that is acceptable," said Sergeant. The eight Lotto-Domo riders came in at 4.53 with Nick Gates finishing later t 5.02. The team apparently had agreed on riding "at a snails pace" [still over 49 km/h!] but the Lotto-Domo boys thought they looked OK.

"The only thing we had to take care of was not to look ridiculous. The previous days we have been riding at the front of the peloton in service of McEwen," remarked Sergeant "The teams of the classement riders contract riders who are specialised in this, we haven't. What does it get you to let everyone ride flat out and still finish sixteenth? And then find out the day after that everyone is too knackered to force a mass sprint. All we really want is to win a stage, discussion closed."

"I'm happy this is over and done with," said (a possibly slightly embarrassed) Axel Merckx. "A TTT is nice to watch, not to ride."

"What did you expect," Serge Baguet told the Belgian press. "With Rik Verbrugghe we only have one rider who can ride a good classement; he's the only one who can maintain the tempo. Maybe we should just focus on winning a stage and not ride to win those intermediate sprints for Green?"

Petacchi's rivals on Petacchi

Double stage winner Alessandro Petacchi (Fassa Bortolo) refuses to let himself be called the new Cipollini. "Pure sprinters like him have got that short, scorching jump in the legs," Petacchi points out. "Mario can explode just before the line, I can't. I can only win in long, exhausting sprints. My team mates Loda and Velo launch me and over the last four hundred metres I just keep up that cut-throat speed."

German sprinter Erik Zabel realises that to beat Petacchi will take a lot of doing. "Petacchi simply is the fastest in the sprint at the moment. I doesn't surprise me at all, those six stage wins in the Giro weren't a coincidence. Sunday in Meaux he showed us again. In Saint-Dizier he convinced the last disbelievers. At the moment I'm coming up short. I don't have any excuses -I feel physically strong but that isn't enough to beat Petacchi."

Robbie McEwen thinks there are similarities between Petacchi and Cipollini. "Alessandro Petacchi suffers from the Cipollini syndrome. All sprinters do really, but being Italian, he's got it worse. Everybody wants the crown of 'super Mario'. As a sprinter he has the same style, straight on, straight forward, from a long way and keeping the same speed the whole time. He is very strong at the moment but he can be beaten. Petacchi is a fair sprinter. As a human being he differs a lot from Mario. In the race we greet each other although he is my biggest opponent."

Baden Cooke thinks that there is more to come from Petacchi. "The best Petacchi won't be dropped on a small climb, like he was in Sedan," Cooke says. "But the Italian is not a sprinter who takes the big cols easily. He certainly can be compared to Cipo in that way, because the World Champion can't do that either. But no big sprinter of their calibre needs to. If you ask me where I rank Petacchi I'll tell you: right at the top. I think it will be hard for Cipollini to beat him in the future, but whether Petacchi can accumulate palmares like Cipo's, remains to be seen."

Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano's views

Cyclingnews has been blessed by a great body of diarists during this year's Tour, including Bradley McGee, Floyd Landis, Fred Rodriguez, Paolo Bettini Dr Michele Ferrari and the quirky Podium Girl Gone Bad. We are also fortunate to have ONCE's Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano, yellow jersey wearer for a week in last year's Tour, who is not riding this year due to a broken collarbone and a (non-UCI) ban for taking too much salbutamol during Le Tour 2002.

Igor is still watching the Tour of course, and each day is filing his own take on what happened during the stage. Unsurprisingly, it's very insightful, given that he has the benefit of television as well as his own experience in the Tour. You can always find the latest updates here.

All our other diarists, as well as our interviews, tech stories, and historical features, can be accessed from the features page in the Tour section.

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