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Tour de France News for July 2, 2003

Edited by Anthony Tan

Ullrich becomes a Dad

As of eight past three yesterday afternoon, Jan Ullrich became a father to his first child, daughter Sarah Maria, delivered at Freiburg University Hospital.

According to Ullrich's website, janullrich.de, his girlfriend Gaby had a quite a complicated and difficult birth, with the operation requiring a Caesarian section. However, both Gaby and Sarah Maria are now doing fine, and today Ullrich drives to Switzerland to pack his bags for the Tour, flying out to Paris at midday.

"I could dance on clouds," said a delighted Ullrich. "These hours will never be forgotten; Sarah Maria's birth gives me more motivation for the Tour de France, and as I fly to Paris, my thoughts are with my wife and daughter."

McEwen seeing green

By Anthony Tan

Last year's champion in the points competition at the Tour de France, Robbie McEwen, has started to come good just in time to defend his green jersey title at the Centenary Tour.

A left-knee injury sustained at the Tour Down Under when McEwen was in winning position to win overall began McEwen's rollercoaster ride this season. Subsequent abandons at the Tour Méditerranéen and Paris-Nice left the 31 year old Australian and his punters wondering, however, things started improving at the end of March with an impressive win at the Dwars door Vlaanderen.

His form continued to improve until mid-April at Scheldeprijs, but McEwen's luck turned sour once again when was caught in a bad crash with just two kilometres remaining.

"You've always got to rate your season based on what you've been through," said McEwen in an interview with Cyclingnews. "Last year everything went perfectly and I won one race after another; this year, I've had my injury at the Tour Down Under, then I came back from that a little too quickly and over did it, then I got sick, and then I had a big crash in Scheldeprijs."

McEwen may have gone down, but he wasn't out: the pocket rocket came back firing at the Giro d'Italia, winning two stages and quelling sprint rival Alessandro Petacchi's incredible run, albeit only for a few days. His most recent win in stage two of the Tour de Suisse was a significant morale booster, and McEwen says he now feels ready for another shot at the maillot vert.

"I think anybody who can go and win Dwars door Vlaanderen, two Giro stages and a stage in the Tour de Suisse could already say they've had a good season, and now my most important race is coming up, so I'm pretty happy with things so far," said McEwen.

Asked about his main rivals in the game for green, McEwen lists Erik Zabel, Stuart O'Grady, Baden Cooke and Alessandro Petacchi as 'real' threats. In terms of tactics, that's yet to be decided: "Last year, I probably gave away about 25 points not doing the intermediate sprints for the first four or five days, so that's something I'll have to consider over the next few days to decide exactly what my tactics will be."

(See also: Cyclingnews interview with Robbie McEwen)

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