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Dauphiné Libéré
Photo ©: Sirotti

Tour de France News for July 16, 2003

Edited by Chris Henry

Tour heat takes its toll

Water, please
Photo: © Olympia Photo

The hot temperatures in France over the past week have steadily taken a toll on the peloton, as long stages, difficult terrain, and ever-aggressive riding keep the cyclists at their limits. Even with ample rehydration throughout the stages- riders often consume at least 10-14 bottles a day- fatigue is a greater concern under the hot sun.

Head Tour de France doctor Gérard Porte explained some of the consequences of the hot summer sun. "Since the riders come to the race in good form, they don't necessarily feel the fatigue in the first week," Porte said in a l'Equipe interview. "After that, you start to see riders coming in outside the time limit, abandons, digestive troubles, cramps, or tendinitis."

More riders made it through the first week than Porte expected, but he expects the Pyrenees will strike a tough blow to the peloton. "There were relatively few abandons in first days, but 22 riders quit in three days in the Alps!"

More post-stage quotes

René Haselbacher (Gerolsteiner, 5th at 2'07)

"I knew that on a stage like this I could do something. When Piil and Sacchi attacked, I tried to go clear seven, eight, maybe nine times, but the others didn't do anything and I was exhausted."

Jan Ullrich (Bianchi, 34th at 21'23)

Solid start for Ullrich
Photo: © Sirotti

"I've succeeded in finishing the first week without any major problems, and that's important. I followed Lance's attacks at my own rhythm, and I'm still ok considering I had some health concerns. The coming stages in the Pyrenees should be interesting, even if Beloki's abandon might change the outcomes."

Tyler Hamilton (CSC, 36th at 21'23)

"Everybody could see that Jakob [Piil] was climbing well Monday in the Alps. When he climbs like that, it means he's very strong. I'm very happy with what he did [yesterday]. I still have big ambitions for the Tour. Of course I still feel like there's a knife in my back, but a calm stage like [Tuesday] helps."

Alexandre Vinokourov (Telekom, 53rd at 21'23)

"I slept well after my victory on Monday. I didn't overanalyze things. I'm calm and I want to avoid putting any pressure on myself just because I'm second overall behind Armstrong."

David Millar (Cofidis, 54th at 21'23)

"I rode in the final straight to help my friend Cookie (Baden Cooke, FDJeux.com), who's wearing the green jersey. I'd never done that before, but I also did it for fun. Now it's a rest day, which will be good even if I'm not feeling too tired. I'm feeling better every day. From this point on, my objective will be the time trial, as well as doing better on the climbs."

Millar's misjudged attack on stage 9 still irks him, particularly given his improving form in this year's Tour.

"I'm still upset about the mistakes I made [Monday] because I had the legs to win. I was so strong that when I attacked I didn't realise nobody could come with me. I learn something every day."

Cooke wants cameras

Current green jersey holder Baden Cooke (FDJeux.com) has criticised Tour organisers for the lack of cameras at the intermediate sprints. Cooke felt he was robbed of crucial points in Tuesday's stage 11, placed behind Robbie McEwen in a sprint he insists he won. It is not normal practice for races to include finish line cameras at the intermediate sprints, largely due to the costs involved. Line judges are used to determine the outcomes of these sprints, which count toward the green jersey points competition.

"I believe I won the first sprint ahead of Robbie," Cooke said in an AFP report. "We both went for it and I believe I got my wheel over the line just ahead of him but they gave it to him instead. I'm pretty pissed off at that. I don't understand. It's the Tour de France, so why don't they have line cameras?"

After reviewing the video of the sprint, race commissaire's stuck with their initial decision to award the points to McEwen, but Cooke remains dissatisfied.

"I remember even last year it was the same when there were a few close calls between Robbie and (Erik) Zabel," he added. Cooke's lead in the jersey contest is a slender 9 points after 11 stages, and he fears plenty of competition from the likes of McEwen, Erik Zabel, Thor Hushovd, and Stuart O'Grady.

"It's going to be tricky in the mountains, there's a few guys like Zabel and Hushovd who can climb and get some points, but I'm feeling pretty good about my chances in the mountains. Hopefully the green jersey won't come down to two points."

Fassa Bortolo leading prize money standings

The Fassa Bortolo team is down to just three riders after the first 11 stages of the Tour de France, however it is at the top of the prize money standings with €39,681. The success of Alessandro Petacchi in the first week carried them all the way, however with Petacchi's exit they will certainly lose ground in the second half. Close behind Fassa Bortolo is Quick-Step-Davitamon, with €39,149, then Crédit Agricole with €30,823. The top five is rounded out by FDJeux.com (€29,425) and Team Telekom (€27,808)

The remainder of the standings:

US Postal Service-Berry Floor (€26,002)
Euskaltel-Euskadi (€21,736)
Ag2R-Prévoyance (€ 19,481)
Jean Delatour (€17,248)
ONCE-Eroski (€13,565)
Brioches La Boulangère (€13,358)
Lotto-Domo (€12,940)
Caldirola-SO.DI. (€12,652)
iBanesto.com (€12,131)
Team Bianchi (€12,075)
Team CSC (€10,259)
Rabobank (€7,249
Saeco (€5,782)
Cofidis (€5,760)
Gerolsteiner (€5,652)
Kelme (€4,768)
Alessio (€3,975)

Indurain in l'Etape du Tour

Five time Tour de France winner Miguel Indurain will be back on the bike in France, participating in the annual l'Etape du Tour ride, which lets amateurs ride the exact parcours of a Tour stage. This year's Etape du Tour, running today during the pros' rest day, will follow the route of stage 16 between Pau and Bayonne.

Indurain will join the more than 8,000 registered riders, along with former pro Abraham Olano, ex-Formula 1 champion Alain Prost, Japanese Formula 3 champion Takuma Sato, and the winner of the first Etape du Tour, Christophe Rineiro of MBK-Oktos.

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

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