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Tour Notes - Stage 9
By Podofdonny
Date: 7/15/2002
Tour Notes - Stage 9

Official Communication of the Tour de France

Weather on Tuesday: -- there is apparently no weather on the rest day!

Medical Communication

-- none --

Decisions of the racing commissioners:

Belli (Ita) - 20 seconds punishment for disregarding the 10m-gap

Magnien (Fra) 20 seconds punishment for disregarding the 10m-gap

Pagliarini (Ita) 20 seconds punishment for disregarding the 10m-gap

Velo (Ita) 5 seconds of time punishment because of drafting (200 m)

Mayo (Esp) 9 seconds of time punishment because of drafting (400 m)

Lance Armstrong "Was disappointed but not demoralised" by his second place today - and was not surprised by Botero’s performance - "Botero is a specialist - and you could expect him to win. In the Dauphiné he beat me by more time. Ten, eleven seconds over 52 kilometres isn’t very much. I am more surprised, probably, by the result of (Igor) Gonzalez de Galdeano .He rode an exceptional race."

"Everyone said, this Tour will be boring. I never said that, in fact the opposite - many times. I have always respected the other riders. This year the Tour is not about racing for second place. Ten riders have a chance for victory - some are a little bit down now -but they will fight on, make no mistake. It’s a little clearer after this time trial - but the Mountains will be decisive."

Botero the man from Medellin, does not look like a Colombian cyclist. 1.80 meters with brightly coloured hair is not the classic "mountain goat" look that Lucho Herrera introduced to Tour de France.

Also untypical is the 29 year olds career so far. Originally a climbing specialist he won the King of the Mountains in the 2000 Tour and also won a major Alpine stage. In a complete role reversal in 2001 he won two time trial stages in the Vuelta, and was second in the Worlds behind Jan Ullrich - much to David Millars annoyance who was third.

"These days I am more a time trial specialist, said Botero after his surprising victory against Armstrong in the Dauphine Libere. Now he has repeated his performance in the Tour de France.

Santiago Botero is somewhat of an enigma. Still officially a student - he will spend his spare time visiting Museums, Cathederals and other places of interest as he races round Europe.

Not that Botero would have had too much time for sightseeing. He has spent the early part of the season at home in Colombia - where he has trained for 7 months at an altitude of 1900 metres. His first race in Europe - Classique des Alpes - he promptly won.

Be careful not to dismiss Botero too easily - he is full of surprises!

Armstrong continues to dominate the world media - this is Hunter and Armstrong from

Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong has been speaking to Robert Hunter about coming to South Africa to carry out some of his pre-Tour training.

The American became interested when Hunter told him about the hilly roads around the Crystal Springs resort just outside Pilgrim's Rest.

"He has always wanted to visit Africa but had been a little worried about going there," said Hunter on Sunday.

Apparently Armstrong had a typical American attitude towards the continent - he was worried about catching malaria. Hunter put him straight on that count.

The two have become quite close on the Tour and after Armstong lost touch with the peloton after having his way blocked because of a crash, he turned to the South African for some help.

"I had slowed up in the final few kilometres and was cruising when I heard this American accent shouting at me to help him to the finish," said Hunter.

"I was up the road and just turning my pedals and here he was shouting at me to help him."

Being the kind-hearted West Rand boy that he is, Hunter helped the Tour de France champion make sure he lost as little time as possible.

Hunter himself is now in a strange situation in the Tour. The sprinting strength of the Mapei Quick-Step team has been whittled down to just Hunter with the abandonment on Sunday of teammate Oscar Freire with back problems. Freire crashed heavily on Sunday and suffered a recurrence of a long-standing back problem.

Tom Steels, the other sprinter in the Mapei team, pulled out of the Tour earlier in the week.

Now Hunter and his Italian teammate Andrea Tafi have earmarked the 10th and 13th stages of the Tour as possible chances for victory. The 10th stage is a 217km rush from Bazas to Pau with a few gentle climbs.

"The racing was incredible today," said Hunter. "I mean, the bunch took just two hours to finish 100km. We were flying."

When the group containing his Rabobank teammates for next year - Karsten Kroon (the eventual winner) and Erik Dekker - broke away, the main field never really had a chance, said Hunter.

Hunter finished 14th on the day, and was seventh in the main peloton behind Robbie McEwen, Erik Zabel, Baden Cooke, Stuart O'Grady, Jan Svorada and Fred Rodriguez. He is 123rd overall, eight minutes and 56 seconds behind the leader. Hunter is also 32nd in the points competition.

Transfer day so time to read a little more of

The 1929 Tour

One of the unluckiest riders of the Tour was Victor Fontan. He was leading in the Pyrenees, but after hitting a pothole in the darkness, he was forced to retire with a broken bicycle, prompting the journalist Louis Delblat to write, "How can a man lose the Tour de France because of an accident to his bike? [...] The rules should provide for a back-up vehicle with spare bikes on board. You lose the Tour to a better rider; you should not lose it because of a stupid accident to your bike." Such a manifestly sensible rule had to wait the departure of Henri Desgrange several years hence.

The team time trial stages had clearly not worked the way Desgrange wanted, so they were dropped in 1929 on all but three stages. But once again the Alcyon team was able to ensure that its leader reached Paris in Yellow, even though Desgrange had split the riders into "As" and "Touristes-Routiers" rather than in trade teams. Such ties went deeper than simply a change of jersey.

The early stages saw nothing to split the leaders; indeed in Bordeaux, three potential winners all pulled on the yellow jersey: Nicolas Frantz, André Leducq and Victor Fontan. But after the first Pyreneen stage, Fontan, an excellent climber, had moved into a lead of all but ten minutes. The next day, tragedy struck for Fontan. His forks broke and, it was said, he knocked on every door in a village before he found a replacement bicycle. No sooner had he set off than he punctured; realising that now he would never catch the leaders, he climbed off, crying, into the bushes, the Yellow Jersey still on his shoulders. "How can a man lose the Tour de France because of an accident to his bike?" wrote the journalist Louis Delblat. "The rules should provide for a back-up vehicle with spare bikes on board. You lose the Tour to a better rider; you should not lose it because of a stupid accident to your bike."

Meanwhile Maurice Dewaele had pulled on the Yellow Jersey, but the drama was not over. Physically exhausted, he collapsed just an hour before the start of the stage from Grenoble. His team literally dragged him onto his bike at the start, then road shoulder-to-shoulder across the road to prevent any rivals from attacking. Eventually Dewaele pulled through to win the race, but Desgrange was not impressed. "How can such a soft touch retain the Yellow Jersey?" he wrote. "Why didn't his rivals attack him more resolutely? What can one make of their tactics and the real worth of the winner? I declare the winner moribund."

Desgrange wasn't the only one to be worried: the race was dying on its feet through a combination of tedium and arcane rules. Desgrange himself wanted to break the power of the big teams - really meaning Alcyon - once and for all. Others just wanted exciting action. "What can be done to haul cycle racing out of its rut of tedium?" wrote one journalist. "New ideas! Bold initiatives!"

The initiatives were just around the corner...

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