July 01, 2004
Cooke: A repeat in green?
At 25, Baden Cooke is starting his 3rd Tour de France with 2003's green jersey on his back. This season has started slowly, with his only victory coming in April at the Three Days of De Panne. “I may not have won recently but I know that my form is better than last year.”
Cookie will be looking to repeat in green, and thinks the difficult last week will cull some of the fastest sprinters.
“It’s very long for many of the other fast riders to survive the Alps and the Pyrénées, it becomes boring when there’s nothing else to do in the race but wait for the final stage.”
Cooke also wants to have a go at winning the final stage on the Champs Elysees, where he was 2nd in 2002.
He'll be joined by 9 other Australians, a remarkable showing. The full Aussie list:
• Baden Cooke (fdjeux.com)
• Bradley McGee (fdjeux.com)
• Matthew Wilson (fdjeux.com)
• Stuart O'Grady (Cofidis)
• Matthew White (Cofidis)
• Michael Rogers (Quick Step-Davitamon)
• Allan Davis (Liberty Seguros)
• Scott Sunderland (Alessio-Bianchi)
• Robbie McEwen (Lotto-Domo)
• Nick Gates (Lotto-Domo)
Cooke will be maintaining an online Tour diary at < AHREF="http://www.bike.com/">Bike.com.
Millar unlikely to ride Olympics
The story in the Scottish Herald newspaper goes into a little more detail on Millar's Thursday hearing.
Of the EPO syringes found at Millar's home in Biarritz, his attorney says Millar "was keeping them as souvenirs."
Looks like David Millar will be dropped by Cofidis, which continues to repeat that they "will adopt a zero-tolerance policy on doping."
Millar has been suspended by the British Cycling Federation, which may influence the British Olympic Association on Athens selections:
The BOA, though, were sticking by their wait-and-see policy. "We have 192 athletes selected for the Games and we are not aware of any of these athletes having committed a doping offence," said the spokesman, Philip Pope.
However, it seems inconceivable that Millar can possibly travel to Greece as a self-confessed drug user.
I'm riding up what?
A good (and entertaining) primer on endurance training, outlining recent studies on diet, oxygen uptake, and other related fields, with the Tour as its centerpiece.
Daily Peloton offers a profile of Tyler Hamilton and his squad for the 2004 Tour. Hamilton looks very strong and very motivated, and his Phonak team did very well in the Dauphiné Libéré. They're going to be a strong team for years to come, as well, as Oscar Sevilla looks poised to step right into Hamilton's cleats when Tyler can no longer hang in the big tours.
Over at PezCycling, they have a look at Hamilton's time-trial bike, which looks like it would be more at home on a Formula One track than a bike race. It's got carbon fiber everywhere, and a strange new, patent-pending fork-stem interface.
Audio: Interview with Floyd Landis
Alex Chadwick at NPR talked to Floyd Landis about the upcoming Tour, Armstrong's chances in it, and exactly what does a domestique do, anyway?
Photo gallery of the '93 Tour
Bob Mina has posted an album of pictures he took on an organized tour to the 1993 Tour; there's some great shots of Miguel Indurain, who won the 3rd of his 5 Tours that year, and of a baby-faced Lance Armstrong, who had just won his first Tour stage.
Also, reigning world champion Gianni Bugno getting dropped on Pla d'Adet...
Le Monde: "Super-EPO" likely in the peloton
Le Monde ran a story yesterday about CERA, an experimental drug from Roche that stimulates red blood cell production in the spinal cord. Roche is directing research toward use in anemias associated with cancer and kidney disease, but Le Monde says Italian investigators believe it's already in use by pro riders.
The story suggests CERA may be the “new kind of EPO” referenced during wiretapped conversations involving Italian racers.
They further quote a French professor, who says a single course of CERA would be enough to last through a 3-week tour, where EPO would require multiple dosages during a long race.
Another professor maintained that the level of the drug in urine would be so low as to be undetectable.
There's information about CERA research all over the internet.
Di Luca out; Loosli joined
Earlier rumors were wrong about Danilo Di Luca; Saeco has removed him and replaced him with David Loosli of Switzerland.
Cycling4all quotes AFP that Andrea Peron, Pavel Padrnos, and Stefano Zanini are being discussed over some 2001 doping charges. More if it happens.
Gonzalez: 'just a few tenths over' hematocrit limit
Eskaltel manager Miguel Madariaga claims Gorka Gonzalez' high hematocrit test resulted from extensive training in the Pyrenees in preparation for the Tour. Time spent at higher elevations can raise the level of red blood cells in your blood.
Madariaga further explained that Gonzalez, who was called into the Euskaltel Tour team when Mikel Artetxe injured an elbow, “had been in the Pyrenees training [when Artetxe got injured]. The UCI itself says that may have been the cause because if you have been at altitude you have to allow more than six or seven days before undergoing this kind of test.”
Earlier this season, Davide Extebarria, also of Euskaltel-Euskadi, also failed a hematocrit test, and couldn't race for two weeks.
Contrary to my initial assumption, the Euskaltels won't be allowed to replace Gonzalez, and so will line up with 8 riders come Saturday.
Armstrong faces press pre-prologue
It was probably a little frosty in Liege today, as Lance Armstrong held a press conference that included the author of a recent book claiming Armstrong took performance-enhancing drugs.
"But I'll say one thing, since (one of) the esteemed author is here. In my view extraordinary accusations must be followed up with extraordinary proof.
"Walsh and Ballester have had four or five years working on the book, and they've still no proof. But I will spend however long it takes and whatever it takes to show the allegations are unfounded. I have already engaged lawyers in England and France."
Armstrong alluded to the fact that he could lose with a fair amount of class:
"I still believe that it's the best man who wins in Paris. Even if I'm second, it's the best man who wins the race."
Millar in court for EPO possession
David Millar, the current world time trial champion, was formally placed under judicial investigation today.
His lawyer said Millar, 27, told the court he had used EPO for three one-week periods, in 2001 and 2003. Millar has not been charged, and was released after the hearing.
The Devil goes down to Belgium?
PezCycling catches up with Didi Senft, the German who shows up at races and gets more publicity than some of the riders. Last year, in honor of the Centenary Tour, he went a little overboard and set up a number of scenes along the course.
He's been chasing the riders in that costume since 1993. Strangely, he keeps the same costume, but changes pitchforks depending on the event.
Senft is also a bicycle-mad inventor, and holds the record for the world's largest rideable bicycle.
Didi was featured (on tape) on Craig Kilborn's Late Late Show on CBS last night, as part of his "This Just In" segment.
Petacchi new world No. 1
Bassed on his record Giro d'Italia, Alessandro Petacchi has taken over the lead in the UCI world rankings. Jumping from number 227 all the way to number 6 is Damiano Cunego, who jumps ahead of Lance Armstrong through his overall Giro victory.
Erik Zabel is a tiny 15 points back of Petacchi, with Quick Step's Paolo Bettini another 56 points behind Zabel. Jan Ullrich cracks the top 10, based on his Tour de Suisse win, and Tom Boonen jumps from 90 to 12.
Gonzalez fails hematocrit, won't start Tour
Euskaltel-Euskadi's Gorka Gonzalez was the only provisional starter to fail this morning's hematocrit test. Per UCI rules, he's not allowed to race for two weeks. There's no word on his replacement.
RoadCycling.com talks to Bobby Julich
I'm very happy to introduce the first paid sponsor ever for TDFBlog, RoadCycling.com. They've kicked their Tour coverage off with a newly-expanded Tour preview (with Top-10 predictions) and now, an interview with CSC's Bobby Julich.
Julich has shown great form this year, but seriously considered retirement before signing on with CSC.
What can we look for from Julich at this year's Tour?
"[F]irst of all I’m there to help Basso and Sastre. Then we’ll see how the race develops."
Below, Julich motoring alongside El Jefe at the Tour de Georgia.
Hamilton: I have to beat 2002 Lance
Andrew Hood offers a good profile of Tyler Hamilton, who says he's not out to beat the Lance Armstrong that showed up at last year's Tour, but the more dominant Armstrong who beat Joseba Beloki by more than 7 minutes.
"I know him well, and he'll be back in fighting form, so that means I have to be better than Lance was two years ago."
Backstedt back; seeks stage win
Magnus Backstedt is one of my favorite riders. With a name more suited to the World's Strongest Man competition, Backstedt towers over most of his compatriots at around 6' 4" and 200 pounds. He's unlikely to win any mountaintop finishes.
He's a smart rider with a good finish, though, and took a stage of the 1998 Tour on a 220-kilometer 4-man breakaway (right) to become the first Swede ever to win a Tour stage. After doing some time in the equivalent of cycling's minor leagues, Backstedt is back in the bigs this year, riding for Alessio-Bianchi, and with some good results already.
He won Paris-Roubaix this spring, the legendary "Hell of the North," featuring sections of cobbled pavé that jars the riders and led to Rock Shox developing a road shock called the Roubaix.
Backstedt will be sniffing for a stage win in the Tour, and looking to maintain his fitness for the road and time trial events at the Olympics.
"I will be looking to get in a break in this year's Tour and see what happens."