July 14, 2003
With this green jersey on my shoulders, the Tour has been a dream so far. We’ve now worn all the jerseys at Fdjeux.com: yellow with Brad McGee, polka dot with Christophe Mengin and I wore white before the team time trial. There has only been one day, stage 6, that not any of us was wearing a specific jersey.
Prologue winner Bradley McGee has been having trouble keeping his energy up; Cooke calls it hypoglycemia, while elsewhere McGee calls them hunger flats or 'the bonk'.
CNNSI.com offers an interview with Stage 9 winner Alexandre Vinokourov about his wins at Paris-Nice, Amstel Gold, and the Tour of Switzerland, and his much greater loss -- the death of his friend Andrei Kivilev, who finished 4th in last year's Tour, and died on the road during Paris-Nice.
"From one point of view, it's a good season, even if it's a bad year because of Andrei's death. It's thanks to him that I won today.
"I'm sure he is pushing me when I'm on the bike, he gives me his form and his strength," the Telekom team leader said.
Seen at LOGos Tour Blog.
VeloNews tech editor Andrew Juskaitis starts off with a fairly ho-hum report on the new Trek frames Lance Armstrong is riding, and that he's the only one riding the 2004 Shimano Dura-Ace componentry. Way down toward the end he slips in some really useful stuff, his Tour de France driving tips:
Driving Tip #1 While driving down the L'Alpe d'Huez this morning our European correspondent Andrew Hood learned the hard way of the concept of downshifting to prevent brake overheating. By the time Hood captained our Volkswagen down to the bottom of the climb, our front brakes had thoroughly overheated producing voluminous plumes of smoke. Even the Saeco and Crdit Agricole team cars which passed us took notice and thoughtfully informed us that our brakes were nearly on fire.
Driving Tip #2
With my first taste of "maximum attack" Tour driving today, I learned you can never go too fast through a round-about directly into a pitch black tunnel while passing a motorized float shaped like a giant inflatable rubber ducky.
VeloNews photographer Casey Gibson found himself in the middle of it all today:
When we pulled on, there were no cars, no motos, no anything but fans peering down the road past our car.
I told the other photographer something was seriously wrong, and we had to get down the road as fast as possible. We floored it and flew aroung the next corner, and right into the back of the Virenque break, 9 minutes down the road from the main peloton. This is expressly forbidden, as anyone would know, and we knew we were in deep trouble. I told the other photographer we had to find a way off. No sooner than the words were out of my mouth, than a red organization car, the one car we did not want to see in this situation, was in the rear view mirror. We immediately pulled off, and they eased up next to us. Expecting a severe warning or tongue-lashing from the security people, I stopped breathing when the rear window rolled down and Msr. LeBlanc looked at us. OH MY GOD. I blurted out a lame apology. He said, "Come see me tonight in the Permanance." Read more...
Luc LeBlanc is the overall race director, and not a man you want to anger if you value your press credentials.
Italian rider Gilberto Simoni said he may quit the Tour de France on Tuesday after losing more than 30 minutes to his rivals during Monday's mountainous ninth stage to Gap.
Simoni, winner of this year's Giro d'Italia, sits 70th, 52:08 back.
According to Lance Armstrong's site:
[Beloki's] full dx: fractured upper femur, a complex fracture of the right elbow, a simple fracture of a right finger and multiple contusions to the hip.
Among the Golden:
Jorg Jaksche (ONCE-Eroski) ... Jaksche was the virtual Yellow on the road today, and rode brilliantly to force the Posties to chase. He was very strong on the climbs, attacking repeatedly to whittle the group of 14 down to two near the end. This was a perfect team tactic, as this would help tire out the Posties and set up Beloki. Unfortunately, his team leader's crash brought a sad and sudden end to what was really a great day for the ONCEs up to that point.
Jaksche earned the most combative rider award for the day's work.
Among the Gazers:
David Millar (Cofidis). He launched an attack on the penultimate climb, rode solo for awhile, and then blew sky high on the final climb. This ill-timed attack ended with Millar in 28th at 1' 47" today, losing valuable time in his quest for a top ten on GC. He's still in 19th on GC at 7' 15", but Millar has to be more careful with his attacks down the road.
I have to agree here; Paul Sherwen and Phil Liggett always want to think the best of the Anglo-Aussie-American contingent, and were applauding Millar's break, but the time gaps Sherwen quoted were much better than any that appeared on the Tour site.
Eventually, soon after Sherwen declared that Millar was closing on the break, less than a minute ahead of him, he was overtaken by the field.
ESPN.com has posted the daily Associated Press wrapup:
"I was scared like never before," said Armstrong, who took the leader's yellow jersey on Sunday. "It was a real panic. In a moment like that, it's a survival instinct."
Beloki hit the road hard when he slipped off his bike speeding around a bend on a rapid downhill descent with less than 5 miles to go. Armstrong was right behind and just missed plowing into the Spaniard.
Beloki, the 2002 runner-up behind Armstrong, was conscious when taken to a hospital in an ambulance. Tour doctors said he fractured his right leg.
With 11 stages left in the three-week Tour, Vinokourov is 21 seconds behind. Armstrong is trying to match the record of five straight Tour wins set by Spain's Miguel Indurain.
"I've never been so close to the yellow jersey and I've always dreamed of it ... Why not realize this dream?" Vinokourov said. "I'm motivated and I'll do my best."
Seven riders abandon
- Eddy Mazzoleni (Vini Caldirola)
- Lilian Jegou (Credit Agricole)
- Jimmy Casper (FDJeux.com)
- Stefano Zanini (Saeco)
- Andreas Kloden (Telekom)
- Angelo Furlan (Alessio)
- Joseba Beloki (ONCE)
172 riders soldier on. Casper's abandon leaves Hans de Clercq of Lotto the lanterne rouge, 2:18:12 behind Armstrong.
From the official Tour website.
Britain's David Millar had looked certain to catch the leaders but he mistimed his challenge and was swallowed up by the peloton with 7km remaining.
"His (rear) tire exploded in front of me," Armstrong told French television.
As Beloki went down, Armstrong barely managed to avoid him, was forced off the road and took a shortcut down the grassy part of the descent to rejoin the race.
"I decided to do a bit of cyclo cross!" said Armstrong. "I was really scared. It was the reflexes of a survivor."
Meanwhile, four-time winner Lance Armstrong received a huge boost to his chances of securing a fifth successive Tour de France as closest rival Joseba Beloki crashed on the descent from the final climb.
The Spaniard was just 40 seconds adrift of the American in the overall standings and was leading Armstrong down the descent in the ninth stage when he braked sharply and came crashing down onto the road.
While he lay prone being tended to by ONCE team-mates, 31-year-old Armstrong avoided him and took a shortcut down the grassy part of the descent to rejoin the race.
Overall : Vinokourov at :21
Joseba Beloki's injuries and Vinokourov's winning breakaway shuffled the top of the GC a bit:
1) Lance Armstrong (USPS) 40:15:26
2) Alexandre Vinokourov (Telekom) @ :21
3) Iban Mayo (Euskaltel) @ 1:02
4) Francisco Mancebo (iBanesto) @ 1:37
5) Tyler Freaking Hamilton (CSC) @ 1:52
6) Jan Ullrich (Bianchi) @ 2:10
7) Ivan Basso (Fassa Bortolo) @ 2:25
8) Roberto Heras (USPS) @ 2:28
9) Haimar Zubeldia (Euskaltel) @ 3:25
10) Denis Menchov (iBanesto) @ 3:45
Stage 9 | Vinokourov takes stage, moves into 2nd
The big news today will be that Joseba Beloki, who was looking like a sure podium finish, and a serious threat to Armstrong's chances, crashed out of the race near the finish today.
It's a shame, and will distract from another classic stage today, as ONCE put Jorg Jaksche in a long breakaway that threatened the yellow jersey, forcing US Postal to work all day long to bring it back.
Alexandre Vinokourov, second yesterday, pursued a similar strategy as yesterday, gapping Armstrong's group, then riding away from the survivors of the early break, winning the stage by 36 seconds.
1) Alexandre Vinokourov (Telekom)
2) Paolo Bettini (QuickStep) @ :36
3) Iban Mayo (Euskaltel) same time
4) Lance Armstrong (US Postal) s.t.
5) Jan Ullrich (Bianchi) s.t.
6) Ivan Basso (Fassa Bortolo) s.t.
7) Georg Totsching (Gerolsteiner) s.t.
8) Francisco Mancebo (iBanesto) s.t.
9) Haimar Zubeldia (Euskaltel) s.t.
10) Tyler Freaking Hamilton (CSC) s.t.
Tour headline du jour | Armstrong Goes Cross Country
16 H 50 - Armstrong Goes Cross Country
It's like a Nike ad... Lance has cut out a hairpin turn and raced across a field to rejoin the peloton after racing off the road to avoid the fallen Beloki.
This will make all the sports highlights shows: Beloki fishtailed on a slick spot on the road, went down, and Armstrong rode off the road, and cut down to rejoin his group.
Beloki has been loaded in an ambulance, and will be out of the Tour.
[T]hose searching for a chink in the Texan's armour were encouraged by his failure to stamp his authority on the race in Sunday's epic ride up L'Alpe d'Huez.
Ordinarily, it is during the showpiece mountain stages that Armstrong chooses to make a statement to his rivals.
This time, however, numerous riders felt confident enough to attack the US Postal team leader.
And, although he grimly held on take yellow, Armstrong later admitted to feeling the strain.
Yahoo! Sport talks to Australian Michael Rogers, 23, who has been placed as high as 3rd in the young riders' battle for the white jersey. On Sunday, Rogers had to suspend his efforts in that competition to pace QuickStep team leader Richard Virenque up l'Alpe d'Huez:
[T]he Canberra-born rider keeping one eye on the white jersey for the race's best under-25 rider while trying to help Virenque on his quest at high altitude.
And although his unselfish efforts on Sunday dented his overall chances, Rogers is confident he can make up for lost time.
"The Tour is far from over and as far as the young riders' competition is concerned there's still a few interesting stages left," said Rogers, who finished the eighth stage along with Virenque at 9:29 adrift of Mayo.
In honor of Lance Armstrong retaking the maillot jaune, here are a few profiles of the USPS leader:
- Force Majeure, from Outside Magazine, June 2003
(Outside also has a 2001 Tour rehash, a discussion of Lance's training techniques, and profiles from April 1998 and July 1994)
- CNNSI.com offers reviews of Armstrong's four Tour wins:
2002: King of the Hill | 2001: Magnifique | 2000: Heavenly Ascent | 1999 | Tour de Amerique
- The Long Ride, from The New Yorker in July 2002.
- LanceArmstrong.com has the full text of Chapter 1 of Every Second Counts, Armstrong's follow-up to It's Not About the Bike. Every Second Counts is available for pre-order at Amazon and expected to ship in October
Tour Today: Bourg d'Oisans - Gap
A stage with interesting geography: a first category climb, an haute categorie climb, a long descent into a valley, a 2nd category climb and a 3rd category climb. The hard climbs are front-loaded, so it will be interesting to see whether anyone tries or succeeds to generate a break on the early, harder climbs, with the risk that the peloton (or much of it) can build a pursuit during the 60 or so kms down from the Col d'Izoard. It seems more likely that a rider looking to move up in the King of the Mountains competition might try to get away over the big two climbs.
Four abandons during the stage yesterday:
Pierre Bourquenoud (Jean Delatour)
Antonio Tauler (Kelme)
Ignacio Gutierrez (Kelme team leader)
Nicola Loda (Fassa Bortolo)
One rider was eliminated for finishing outside the time limit:
Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel)
That leaves 179 riders to start Stage 9, although there are rumors that at least Glberto Simoni will not start today's stage.
Yellow jersey - Lance Armstrong
Polka-dot jersey - Richard Virenque
Green jersey - Baden Cooke
White jersey - Dennis Menchov