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Tour de France News for July 4, 2003

Edited by Jeff Jones & John Stevenson

Two more years for CSC

Bjarne Riis
Photo: © Elmar Krings
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CSC, main sponsor of the Danish-based team run by 1996 Tour de France winner Bjarne Riis, has renewed its association with the squad for another two years.

The initials stand for Computer Sciences Corporation, and as you might guess, CSC is in the IT business. That sector has been in a bit of slump since investors realized in 2000 that just putting up a pretty website isn't actually a license to print money, but CSC Denmark's recently announced results have been shown fast growth thanks to the trend for outsourcing IT services.

According to the head of CSC Denmark, Ingelise Bogason, CSC's bike team sponsorship has contributed to that growth. "It has made us more known," said Bogason.

Announcing the continuation of the sponsorship at a pre-Tour de france press conference, Bjarne Riis was delighted. "We have had three fantastic years with CSC. To be able to sign for two more years makes a very good foundation for the team. Every year we have new ambitions. Every year we have high expectations," said Riis.

"We want to be prepared all the way. We have big ambitions this year."

Riis' outfit is targeting the team time trial this year, but he admits the special conditions of racing in France can be a problem. "The team time trial takes a lot of discipline. If you don't have the discipline, you can forget about it. I think the most dangerous thing could be the wind," said Riis.

CSC's team leader Tyler Hamilton is one of a handful of riders tipped to threaten four-time champion Lance Armstrong in this year's Tour. After his victories at Liège-Bastogne-Liège and the Tour of Romandy and second place at the Vuelta a Pais Vasco, Hamilton says he thinks he can peak again for the Tour.

"I feel good at the moment, Said Ahmilton. "The condition is still coming and I hope to hit my peak here at the Tour de France."

"I'm a pretty well-rounded rider. It'll be important to be in the thick of things in the Alps, then I think the real race starts around the Pyrenees. The Pyrenees are where the race will be won or lost. If the legs are good, I'll try to make a move there."

"I feel the strongest I've ever felt. For me the spring was a great confidence booster. The homework's been done, now it's time to take the test."

Hamilton had indicated in the Danish press that he would like to stay with CSC if the sponsorship were renewed. It therefore looks like he will continue to ride in red and white for at least two more years. Jakob Piil and new Danish champion Nicki Sørensen have made similar indications.

Vini Caldirola's big guns get set

Vini Caldirola-So.Di's three main riders in the Tour will be Stefano Garzelli, Romans Vainsteins and Fred Rodriguez. Garzelli will be the key man for the general classification, after finishing second in the Giro d'Italia, while Vainsteins and Rodriguez will concentrate on the bunch sprints.

Garzelli told a press conference today that "I'm arriving at the Tour with big ambitions for the general classification." His run up to the Tour has been hampered by illness, but he said, "The important thing after the Giro was to recover both physically and mentally."

Sprinter Romans Vainsteins is looking for some good results in the Tour, after a fairly lacklustre year last year. "After the great season I had in 2001, I had a lot of bad luck. [The Tour] is a good opportunity to restart my career," said the Latvian.

Fred Rodriguez said his role will be "...multitasking. I need to help Romans and also Garzelli, but they'll also be helping me...After two bad years of coming in sick, I'm finally coming in with good form.

Rodriguez doesn't believe that Lance Armstrong is unbeatable. "Bike racing is never predictable," he said. "It's more than just the strongest guy winning. Lance has shown that nobody's come close [to his level], but even he believes it's not easy."

Hamilton and CSC on the (very) big screen

An ambitious project is in the works, a collaboration between IMAX film makers and Team CSC. For the first time, the Tour will be captured on 70mm IMAX cameras as a film crew follows Tyler Hamilton and the CSC team throughout the three-week race. The 40-minute film is to capture not only the excitement of the race and the scenery throughout France, but also portray the relationship between team director Bjarne Riis and his riders, as well as explore the role of the human mind in a sporting event as grueling as the Tour de France.

Filmmakers will use four camera crews during the Tour, as well as one full-sized IMAX camera mounted on a motorcycle, with the camera remotely controlled by an operator in a helicopter. The film is expected to run in countries worldwide.

Yellow jersey contenders: Can Armstrong make it five?

Can anyone stop Lance Armstrong from winning a fifth Tour de France? Cyclingnews European editor Tim Maloney says the European media is getting restless, but Armstrong has won the hearts and minds of the French people. Now he simply has to conquer possibly the strongest line-up of opponents in years, including Gilberto Simoni, Stefano Garzelli, Joseba Beloki, Tyler Hamilton, Levi Leipheimer and others.

Read Tim's full analysis in Lance Armstrong and the 2003 Tour De France.

Stuart O'Grady: Going for green

In the 2001 Tour Stuart O'Grady and Erik Zabel's battle for the green jersey was a hard-fought contest that went right down to the wire on the final run to Paris. On the way the Australian everyone calls Stuey spent several days in the yellow jersey and led his Credit Agricole team to victory in the team time trial.

In 2002 O'Grady was sidelined in the early season by medical treatment for a kinked leg artery, came to the Tour less prepared than he'd have liked and the green jersey torch passed to his countryman Robbie McEwen. But O'Grady is back this year with two working legs and after a change of training techniques this year he is hungry for more.

Read Karen Forman's interview with Stuart O'Grady in Scratching the seven year itch.

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