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Tour de France News for July 3, 2003

Edited by Jeff Jones

Garzelli under the weather

Stefano Garzelli
Photo: © Sirotti
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Vini Caldirola's top rider Stefano Garzelli, has not had an ideal run into the Tour. The second place getter in the Giro has been suffering from an inflamed throat, and has been taking antibiotics to try and get over it before the Tour starts on Saturday.

 

Maier looking forward to Tour start

Austrian skier Herman Maier has just a couple of days wait before he "fulfills a dream" and opens the Centenary Tour de France by being the first rider off in the 6.5 kilometre prologue in Paris. "We've been asking about it for a long time," he told DPA. "It surprised us that it came off for the 100th birthday of the Tour."

Maier has been training every day on the bike, although he admits he's had some problems with his time trial bike. "I had to get out the hacksaw and cut a bit off," he said. However he is looking forward to "meeting other athletes" at the Tour, as normally "you don't have the opportunity to do this."

"I wasn't really able to prepare correctly. It is simply a big honour for me to be here," said Maier, who also doesn't want to embarrass himself against the world's best riders. "But I think I will do the time trial in a better way than Lance Armstrong would complete the 'Streif (a downhill in Kitzbühel)."

Oldest starters: Udo Bölts & Viatcheslav Ekimov

The oldest starters in this year's Tour are German Udo Bölts (Gerolsteiner) and evergreen Russian Viatcheslav Ekimov (US Postal). Bölts will turn 37 in August, while Ekimov celebrated his 37th birthday in February. Bölts is in his 14th season as a pro, which will also be his last as he has announced his retirement at the end of the season. Ekimov turned pro in 1990 and retired at the end of 2001, only to be enticed back to US Postal in the middle of 2002.

Paris prepares

Lighten up
Photo: © Alain Quenderf
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With two days to go, the square in front of the Paris Town Hall looks to be well ready for the teams' presentation that will usher in the Centenary Tour de France on July 4.

As you can see in these images from Alain Quenderf, lighting towers and video screens are in place. We wonder what's more nerve-wracking for the riders: the ramp up to the stage or the start ramp for the podium!

Images by Alain Quenderf

  • The Tour kicks off on July 4 with a presentation of the riders here in the square of the Paris Town Hall.
  • Riding that ramp is probably scarier than taking off down the prologue ramp.
  • By July 2 preparations were well advanced for the presentations with video screens in place.
  • Not quite the 2003 peloton in miniature.

Desgrange honoured on Maillot Jaune

The founder of the Tour de France, Henri Desgrange, will be honoured in a special way in this year's historic race. The letters "H.D." will be initialed on the Maillot Jaune (leader's yellow jersey), as they were back when the race started.

Speedplay makes its full debut at the TdF - and joins the Fantasy Game

Zero prizes!
Photo: © Speedplay
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Making its Tour de France debut this year as full team equipment on the Team CSC bikes are the lightweight Zero pedals from US manufacturer Speedplay. Although Speedplays have been used in the TdF by riders such as Jonathan Vaughters - as he used the American pedals over the team's standard equipment - 2003 is a significant milestone for the California-based firm.

To mark the occasion, Speedplay has joined the roster of prize sponsors for the Cyclingnews 2003 TdF Fantasy Game and these lightweight, adjustable float pedals will also be on offer as prizes in the fantasy game. To play, entrants select their own dream team with the aim of accumulating as many points as possible throughout the TdF.

The Major Prize on offer is a limited-edition, Giant TCR 100 composite beauty with full Campagnolo Record groupset, 2003 Campagnolo Bora wheels, Nokon cables and a host of lightweight goodies that will result in a machine coming in well under the 7kg in weight and worth 10,000 euros. In addition, there's an autographed ONCE jersey from the TdF team, as well as a Giro helmet.

We're also offering great supplementary prizes, such as a full Veloce groupset from Campagnolo, team issue helmets from Giro and Bell, as well as the latest Arione saddle from fi'zi:k, with even more to come.

For your chance to win and for full details on all the prizes on offer in the 2003 Tour de France Fantasy Game, please visit the Fantasy Game section and register to enter your dream team. The teams list is now updated with what is likely to be the final start list.

All teams already entered into the 2003 TdF Fantasy Game are automatically eligible for the prizes.

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