The Daily Peloton reckons the biggest danger to Lance Armstrong taking
his Fourth Tour are his own fans. Those so-called fans who run alongside
cyclists in the heat of a race are complete idiots - a danger to themselves, the
racers, the race officials and other spectators. They are not fans, but ego
maniacs who want 15 seconds of glory on the TV screens back home. Remember, fans
stand by the roadside and cheer EVERY competitor on - they neither boo nor run
beside the riders.
With one death and the injury list mounting, let's hope the fans' behaviour
is as committed and professional as the riders and officials.
The sad fact is that there have been two spectator deaths in recent times.
Will we pass their memorial stone in future years - no.
Meanwhile the Tour officials are taking every responsible step.
Three spectactors injured is yesterday's sad total, this fact, added
to the accidental death of seven-year-old boy last week after he ran out into
the path of a sponsors' vehicle, has prompted the police to keep a closer eye on
the sponsors' convoy. The convoy which passes over the stage course, handing out
goodies prior to the passing of the peloton, is now under strict security. Over
630 radar controls have been carried out by traffic police since the start of
the Tour. Around a dozen vehicles have had to be given a verbal warning. (AFP)
Manolo Saiz was full of praise for the Texan currently in yellow -
"Armstrong has shown he has the blood of champions flowing through his veins,"
ONCE team director, Manolo Saiz, told French daily Le Parisien. "He is
much stronger than us, we see it day after day. "Of course, we will still do the
maximum and hope Armstrong has an 'off' day," Saiz said. "But it would really
have to be a big 'off' day for us to catch up."
Jan Ullrich’s career is very much in doubt according the Manager of
Team Telekom, Walter Godefroot, after his testing positive for amphetamines.
"I’m not even convinced if Jan himself is sure he wants to continue,"
admitted Godefroot today. "He has often promised things that have not always
been converted into reality. Ullrich is not always reliable." The winner of the
Tour of 1997 was tested positive for amphetamines on the 12th of June, when he
was in Germany recovering from a knee injury.
The cyclist admitted to have taken two tablets during a party.
The German Federation of Cycling will announce in the next few days the
penalty that it will impose on the cyclist which would seem likely to be a
suspension of between six months and a year.
US Postal are, not surprisingly, leading the prize money in the tour
so far - the "blue rockets" as the French Press and Laurent Jalabert in
particular, likes to call the Postal boys, with 46,844 euros. The Pink brigade of
the ONCE are second with 39,043 euros. FDJeux.com, by virtue of the tactical
know how of Madiot, rank third 32,275 euros. Euskaltel-Euskadi are having a very
disappointing tour so far, last with just 8,901 euros.
Mercatone Uno (remember them?) will continue sponsoring the a team
next season, which is more good news for the peloton. New team Directeur will be
Davide Boifava - presently with Tacconi Sport. Marco Pantani will continue to
have an input towards team selection and organisation.
Names on the shopping list so far are former World Champion Romans Vainsteins
(Domo) and the Spanish rider from i.banesto.com, Francisco Mancebo.
Quickstep-Omega Phara will be the new name that cycling fans will have
to get used to. The team has confirmed its entry into the professional ranks.
The respected team manager Patrick Lefevere will be the Directeur Sportif.
Quickstep will be the majority sponsor, and they were previously the
co-sponsors of the Mapei team, whose president announced recently he was pulling
the team out of cycling at the end of this year. Mapei has sponsored cycling
teams with much success for the best part of a decade, notching up hundreds of
victories. However the expulsion of Stefano Garzelli in the Giro, after testing
positive for a banned substance, seems to have been the final straw for Mapei
In what are very difficult times for the European peloton the announcement of
the team from a major sponsor (Quickstep employ 1,700 people and have a turnover
of 650 million euros ) can only be good news. The team is hoping to break
quickly into the top ten of UCI ranked teams with a team of "European" riders.
Pradera's a budding mechanic: Far from the love of cycling, Spanish
rider Mikel Pradera is mad about mechanics, and anything electrical. The
27-year-old ONCE rider spends his spare time repairing anything from broken
kettles to run-down cars and motorbikes. "I studied electrics and mechanics at
University, so I like to fix things, anything from cars to motorbikes to
electrical appliances. The only thing is, when I'm at home in Bilbao all my
friends come to me when their cars are broken down. As for my bike, well I don't
really tinker with that at all." (Agence France Press)
Random blood tests on 54 Tour de France riders Monday revealed no
cases where doping was suspected.
World cycling's governing body, the UCI, said no riders were declared "unfit"
after the tests performed on seven randomly selected teams. The riders were not
Under the current Olympic-standard procedure for banned substances such as
the endurance-booster EPO, riders undergo a combined blood-urine test. If the
blood screen shows abnormal levels of oxygen-carrying red cells, raising
suspicions of doping, the urine test is used to confirm a positive result.
In cycling, riders with abnormal levels of red cells are declared "unfit" and
barred from racing.
EPO, or erythropoietin, boosts endurance by stimulating the production of red
blood cells in the body. It is considered among the most abused drugs in sports.
The teams tested Monday were: AG2R; Domo Farm Frites; Mapei; Lampre; Lotto;
Credit Agricole and Rabobank (Associated Press)
Brochard in rift with TV commentator: French rider Laurent Brochard
has been involved in a rift with TV commentator Gerard Holtz. The Jean Delatour
rider, who came close to winning Saturday's 13th stage finally claimed by
Britain's David Millar, refused to go on the Tour's official post-stage program,
"Velo Club", after the grueling stage to La Mongie. The commentator criticized
the rider live on air, leading Brochard to hit back live on Sunday: "I was
suffering and I had other priorities. We're not cattle, we're just human
Merckx scolds Virenque: Tour de France and Giro legend Eddy Merckx
took a swipe at Richard Virenque - for changing his position on his bike! Merckx,
the Belgian five-time winner of the Tour and the Giro, said 14th stage winner
Virenque could have done better in the climb to the mythic 1912-meter Mont
Ventoux Sunday if he'd heeded his advice. "I tried to tell Richard not to make
changes to his riding position when he was being advised to do so. He's a lot
higher on the bike, his center of gravity has moved up and he's less
aerodynamic," said Merckx, who commentates for Belgian radio and is also a cycle