Tour de France News for July 2, 2003
Edited by Chris Henry
Botero: the invisible man
With Paolo Savoldelli and Cadel Evans out of the line up, Team Telekom
is down to two of its four planned leaders for the Tour. While Alexandre
Vinokourov has proven his talents in several big races this season, most
recently the Tour de Suisse, co-leader and new recruit Santiago Botero
(ex-Kelme) has been something of a mystery. Botero chose to follow his
habitual plan, which has meant he has rarely been seen by the European
peloton this season, and even by his own team.
"When he signed with us, Botero insisted on keeping the same preparation
as in previous years, that is to stay in Colombia until May and to resume
competition at that time, in Spain," team manager Walter Godefroot commented
in a Reuters interview. "It worked in previous years, so we agreed."
Nonetheless, Botero remains a question mark in Godefroot's eyes. "I cannot
say I know him well," he said. "I have hardly seen him race this season
and he was sick during the Tour of Germany. He came back at the Volta
a Catalunya, and even if my assistant Frans Van Looy found him to be a
bit heavy, I think he'll be good for the Tour!"
"It's true that it's annoying not to be able to count on Savoldelli,
nor Evans, but with Botero and Vinokourov and some very good teammates,
we still have the capability to cause some trouble."
Moncoutié looking at GC
David Moncoutié (Cofidis), 13th overall and best French rider
of the 2002 Tour, has high hopes for an even better result in 2003. At
the same time, the Cofidis climber knows that he has his work cut out
for him and looks forward to helping David Millar along the way.
"Last year I finished 13th overall and I know that it will be hard to
do better," Moncoutié said in a l'Equipe interview. "To crack the
top ten there's a big step to take; it's not just a matter of moving up
three or four places, but to reach a new level, that of the best."
Moncoutié began to show his best form with a mountaintop win on
the final day of the Route du Sud this month, and claimed the Mont Faron
stage early this year in the Tour Med. Illness and allergies sidetracked
the rider in the spring months, as well as at the Dauphiné Libéré,
but Moncoutié hopes to hit his best form for the Tour.
He also has simple pleasures which inspire him in competition. "I like
to surprise people," he said. "What I like in the mountains is to pass
the most riders possible. That's why sometimes I attack from the back
of the group, because I get a lot of joy in passing the others."
Moncoutié will ride as co-leader for Cofidis along with Millar,
who himself showed improved climbing form at the Dauphiné, where
he finished third overall, on top of his usual time trial talents.
Tour landmark commemorated
A plaque commemorating the 100th anniversary of the first Tour de France
was placed on the walls of the old Réveil Matin Tuesday in Montgeron,
just south of Paris. The same site will welcome the 2003 Tour on the first
road stage this Sunday, following a neutral ride from the Stade de France
through Paris to the historic landmark in Montgeron.
"It was 100 years ago, at 3:16pm according to reports, that sixty riders,
sixty pioneers began what was considered to be insanity: doing the Tour
de France by bike," commented Tour director Jean-Marie Leblanc.
A number of Tour icons were present at the ceremony, including five-time
winner Bernard Hinault, Bernard Thévenet, Laurent Fignon, and Joop
Zoetemelk. Victor Cosson, third in the 1938 Tour, also joined the festivities
along with France's hope for the new generation, Sandy Casar.
Brioches changes colours
The Brioches La Boulangère team will be sporting new jerseys at
the Tour de France, in an effort to reduce confusion in the peloton. The
all red La Boulangère uniforms have been repeatedly confused for
the Saeco team, by both race commentators and team directors alike. A
new jersey featuring white sleeves and shoulders will replace the older
"It was causing problems with the race directors who called the wrong
directeurs sportifs in the case of a puncture," La Boulangère director
Philippe Raimbaud told l'Equipe. "Thus it made sense to make a change
which would guarantee safety in the race and be more effective in terms
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