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Tour de France 2003 - Newspapers Part Two!
By Podofdonny
Date: 11/2/2002
Tour de France 2003 - Newspapers Part Two!

Tour de France 1903

With the Tour being conceived as part of a newspaper war, we continue our series in how the English speaking press reacted to this year's launch. We have already established that William Fotheringham from the United Kingdom's Guardian saw the race in its historical sense in his excellent “sowers of energy” article. It is an article of depth and fact. “The first checkpoint in the 1903 Tour was in Nevers and the town on the banks of the Loire will host the finish of stage five” is a near perfect sentence in cycling reporting terms.

Meanwhile the Reuters piece by Gilles Le Roc’h kept an historical theme while also referring to next year's race. “The American, hoping to win his fifth Tour in succession, will have to master two individual time trials, over 60 miles in all, and seven mountain stages,"  which is complemented by, "For the centenary we could not avoid going to l'Alpe d'Huez, a memorable finish which crowned Fausto Coppi as its first winner (in 1952)," Leblanc said.” A near perfect balance between the Tour in its full historical sense and a very telling quote. For Leblanc to pick out an Italian rider with such respect will certainly raise a few ironic grins from Italian Team managers whose teams have been excluded from the TdF in recent years at the expense of teams of lower stature.

Full reports and photos can be found here - click here to read part one

Father of the tour Desgrange
Associated Press writer Michael McDonough covered the launch from the perspective of Lance Armstrong - not surprisingly his report was widely syndicated through out the USA press including the Washington Post. Unlike the previous two articles the sense of tradition is seen from Amstrong’s viewpoint -"It enhances how historic an event it is." - while the main thrust of the article concentrates on the forthcoming race.

The article also makes reference to the case of Rumsas and also clarifies the team selection process.


Armstrong ponders on the tour route

Route Unveiled for Tour De France

By Michael McDonough

Associated Press Writer

Thursday, October 24, 2002; 3:06 PM

PARIS –– Lance Armstrong doesn't think his bid for a record-tying fifth straight Tour de France will be any easier next year.

Even though the route for next year's 100th anniversary race features more stages in the mountains – where Armstrong has taken control and dominated since 1999 – there are fewer grueling uphill finishes.

The 2003 route could probably have been "a lot more complicated," Armstrong told The Associated Press on Thursday, the day Tour officials announced the itinerary. But he's pleased.

"There's enough uphill finishes. I would not try to say I'm disappointed," he said in a phone interview. "It's a traditional Tour, it's fine."

Four riders have won the world's toughest cycling race five times. Only Spain's Miguel Indurain captured five back-to-back. Armstrong is the only American to have won more than three Tours.

The three-week Tour is usually decided in the mountains, and Armstrong sealed his fourth straight victory in July by crushing rivals in six mountain stages. A year earlier, there were five legs in the Alps and the Pyrenees.

Next year's Tour, which starts in Paris on July 5 and ends in the French capital July 27, has seven mountain legs. The most difficult is expected to be the 130.82-mile eighth stage from Sallanches to L'Alpe d'Huez.

Alpe d’Huez
Tour director Jean-Marie Leblanc believes the new route could benefit Armstrong.

"I don't think Lance Armstrong has anything to worry about in this itinerary," Leblanc said. "There is scope for him to impose his superiority, if there is a superiority (next year)."

Armstrong said there are five major peaks in the 2003 Tour he has never climbed before. He will attempt the imposing Col de l'Izoard mountain pass from a different side for the first time. He plans to make each climb at least once before next year's race begins.

"We won't change a thing from our M.O.," Armstrong said.

Even though next year's event will mark the 100th anniversary of the Tour, it will only be the 90th edition. The race was canceled during both World Wars.

"It's a milestone," Armstrong said. "It enhances how historic an event it is."

At 2,109.55 miles, 20-stage race will be the seventh shortest in Tour history.

Organizers have made the event less punishing in recent years to reduce the incentive for using endurance-boosting drugs. Leblanc said stopping drug cheats would be a priority again next year.

"The fight against doping has improved year after year," Leblanc said. "It isn't perfect, but will it ever be?"

On the last day of this year's Tour, the wife of Lithuanian Raimondas Rumsas, the third-place finisher, was stopped by customs officials with suspected doping products in her car.

Rumsas' wife, Edita, was jailed for more than two months as part of a probe that is still ongoing. Raimondas Rumsas passed all his drug tests in the Tour and has said the products in his wife's car were for his mother-in-law.

None of the stages starts or finishes outside France, although the 14th leg in the Pyrenees crosses briefly into Spain. There are two rest days, three individual time trials including the prologue, and one team time trial.

There will be 22 teams in next year's race, compared to 21 this year, with nine riders in each team. The top 14 squads in the International Cycling Union's end-of-year rankings qualify automatically, and Tour organizers will hand out eight wild cards.

Sunflowers , the Tour and Miguel Indurain
Another report widely syndicated was the United Press International report which focused on the previous winners of the Tour and Greg LeMond in particular. The report has keeps to its “sentimental" theme, mentioning “Leblanc said all of the surviving winners will march down the Champs Elysees on July 27, and ceremonies will be organized at different points of the route to pay tribute to racing legends.” while also looking towards the race itself with Lemond full of praise for Armstrong.


Tour de France plans sentimental journey

PARIS, Oct. 24 (UPI) -- Officials of the Tour de France announced Thursday next year's event will be conducted over a course that traces the route of the first race 100 years ago.

A galaxy of former champions, including five-time winner Bernard Hinault, Eddy Merckx, Miguel Indurain, American Greg Lemond, Marco Pantani and Jan Ullrich, joined four-time defending champion Lance Armstrong at the announcement ceremony.

Bernard Hinault
"This is no ordinary Tour we have organized," Director Jean-Marie Leblanc said.

The 2003 race, from July 5-27, will involve 22 teams and cover 3,350 kilometers in 20 stages.

It will visit original Tour cities Lyon, Marseille, Toulouse, Bordeaux, Nantes and Ville d'Avray as well as Sedan, Troyes and Bayonne.

For the first time in 50 years, the race will start in the heart of Paris with a seven-kilometer individual time trial on July 5 and end, in keeping with a century of tradition, on the Champs Elysees three weeks later.

On start day, the teams will mass in Stade de France before setting out from the cafe Reveil Matin just as the first Tour riders did.

The centenary race will have seven mountain stages -- three in the Alps, including ascents of the col du Galibier and Alpe d'Huez, plus four in the Pyrenees.

"This is the 100th anniversary of the most famous cycling race in the world, and we want to make it a fantastic and popular celebration for all cycling fans," Leblanc said.

The greatest of them all - Eddy Merckx
Leblanc said all of the surviving winners will march down the Champs Elysees on July 27, and ceremonies will be organized at different points of the route to pay tribute to racing legends.

"We want it to be as similar as possible to the race in 1903, especially going in a clockwise direction and crossing the big cities of the 1903 Tour -- Lyon, Marseille, Toulouse, Bordeaux and Nantes," Leblanc said.

"We have to make it a memorable celebration. We want the magic of the competition to go on. This is a great privilege for us all to be part of history."

Lemond admitted to being moved by Thursday's ceremony. He became the first American to win the Tour in 1986, but was shot in a hunting accident a year later, suffering 60 shotgun pellet wounds.

Greg Lemond
Lemond took two years to fight his way back to full health and astonishingly won the Tour again in 1989 and 1990.

"This gathering of so many champions is fantastic and very moving," he said. "We have to pay tribute to them all as well as to the race itself. I feel emotional."

Fellow-American Armstrong beat testicular cancer in 1998 before his quartet of triumphs.

"Lance is one of the greatest champions the Tour has ever had," Lemond said.

To be continued...
Photos thanks to, Daily Peloton, BBC, CBS, Belgacom.

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