February 27, 2004
Lion King to roar at Tour, not organizers
The 2004 Tour wildcards were announced today.
In by wildcard are:
Brioches la Boulangere
Kelme, facing financial problems and demoted to Division II (along with Domina Vacanze, which got in), was excluded, although Tour organizers have occasionally allowed a provisional 22nd team.
The selection means Mario Cipollini will be contesting the sprint finishes against Alessandro Petacchi, who won four such stages in last year’s Tour, as well as Baden Cooke and Robbie McEwen, who finished the race neck and neck in the green sprinter’s jersey competition. Cipollini hasn’t raced in the Tour since 1999, when he won 4 straight stages.
The AFP story quotes Tour director Jean-Marie Leblanc:
"Mario Cipollini called me around ten days ago to tell me: 'I really want to do the Tour this year and I promise you I'll give it my all'," added Leblanc.
"The major difference from last year is that the climbing stages are much later in the race.
"So he's got a good chance to show what he can do this year. He's a rider whose brilliant sprinting has brought a lot to the Tour. Just like Petacchi last year."
The full list:
Brioches la Boulangère (France)
Crédit Agricole (France)
Team CSC (Denmark)
Domina Vacanze (Italy)
Fassa Bortolo (Italy)
Illes BalearsBanesto (Spain)
Phonak Hearing Systems (Switzerland)
RAGT Semences-MG Rover (France)
US Postal Service-Berry Floor (USA)
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