Official Communication of the Tour de France
Weather on Wednesday:
Isolated showers during the whole stage, sunny spells. Temperatures: 17 - 20 degrees. Wind from southwest, 20 to 40km/h.
The showers could have a big effect on the team time trial - but the weather forecasts so far have been far from accurate!
O'Grady (Aus): Heart flutter (tachycardia) up to 230 bpm no anomaly detected with electrocardiogram
Cabello (Esp): Back pain
U Etxebarria (Ven): Continuous pain in the right knee
Martinez (Fra): Foot problem
Radaelli (Ita): Insect bite on the left arm
Agnolutto (Fra): Pulled left thigh
Sanchez (Esp): When X-rayed on Monday in Saarbruecken no injuries of his elbow were found.
Decisions of the racing commissioners:
-- none. --
Some facts about Erik Zabel
Green on Green? --Team mate Rolf Aldag introduced Zabel to the joys of golf - he spends his spare time trying to improve his handicap (no I won’t make the obvious remark about Jan Ullrich).
Green and Yellow? --Last time Erik was in yellow was after stage 2 in 1998: "Anytime is a good time to be in yellow - it is a small club that every cyclist dreams of joining."
Nickname? --“Ete” apparently inspired by his dry sense of humour(?).
Father and Son? --Detlef Zabel, his father rode for the East German national team in the Peace Race, alongside German cycling legend Täve Schur.
Wife? --Cordula: She went to watch her brother race but Zabel spotted her as he raced around the criterium circuit - they have been together ever since and have a son, Rik.
First win? --Maybe 1993: Tirreno-Adriatico, but the 1993: Tour de la Nord-Ouest de la Suisse seems a good starting point.
10.07 - Stage 4: Epernay - Château-Thierry Team Time Trial 68 km
Still in Champagne country Epernay is the proud start point for the most decisive stage so far in the race. The towns website http://www.epernay.net/tdf/ gives a great insight into the atmosphere the race creates in rural France. The site points out that the "ticket d'entrée" to be granted the honour of staging the start of the stage was 47 500 euros, whereas a 30 seconds a commercial would cost nearly 91 000 euros - obviously better economic sense to stage cycle races. Every hotel is fully booked for miles around and with tongue firmly in cheek the site advises “For the private individuals who seek to place Tuesday evening, I advise to them to show ingeniousness and to pass by somewhat different ways... Certain wine growers have grape baskets and could perhaps make use of it to accomodate visitors in July.”
The teams will leave from the Esplanade Charles de Gaulle from 14.15 at five minute intervals. The course is flat, except for a nasty 3.5 kilometre, 200 metre climb in the middle. Unskilled teams may well loose men on this drag and will loose vital seconds trying to regroup.
Once over the Igny-le-Jard the teams then have a dead flat 20 kilometre run into Château-Thierry - a small town of 16,000 inhabitants which stands as the entrance to the Champagne vineyards.
So very apt, then, that the battle between the cycling teams of the world should take part in what is nicknamed the Cockpit of Europe. Always a beautiful and riveting sight - the team time trial can lead to disaster for any would be contender - last year the Postal Service lost time when Roberto Heras and Christian Vandevelde touched wheels in the pouring rain. It is the first time that the main contenders will have to show their strengths - a day of high drama in Champagne country.
Daily Peloton’s Stage Prediction
On current form it would be foolish not to bet on the US Postal team powering to glory. Credit Agricole, last year's winners, seemed to have suffered no luck but bad luck while the ONCE team look strong. CSC have a good chance too.
“Contre la montre par equipes” - The team time trial
In 1963 the Belgian rider Eddy Pauwels won the stage into Marne-Epernay and wore the yellow jersey. Born on 2/5/1935 in Bornem he turned professional in 1959 - and wore the yellow jersey in his first ever Tour, he was a remarkably consistant rider in the Tour gaining 4 stage wins and good overall finishing positions.
Results in the Tour
2 stages Tour de France 1961
1 stage Tour of France 1962
1 stage Tour of France 1963
9th Tour of France 1961
10th Tour of France 1962
11th Tour of France 1959
13th Tour of France 1963
20th Tour of France 1964
It is interesting to look at results of the 1963 stage -
Paris/Nogent sur Marne-Epernay, 152.5 km
1. Eddy Pauwels en 3h30'03"
5. Van Tongerloo à 1'23"
6. Van Looy à 1'28"
10. Van Geneugden
You wouldn’t expect to see Bahamontes in a four man escapee break over this sort of terrain - and what a great ride by Alan Ramsbottom (who moved up to third on Overall as a result) - Alan eventually finished in 16th place - one of the best British rides ever in the Tour de France.