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Tour de France - News Roundup
By Podofdonny
Date: 6/30/2003
Tour de France - News Roundup

Saeco Finalise Team

Commesso recovers in time for Tour de France

Final team line-up decided: Ludewig the ninth rider

With his third place in the spectacular Italian national championships held in Saltara on Sunday, Salvatore Commesso has confirmed that he will be a key part of the Saeco team for the Tour de France alongside Gilberto Simoni and Danilo Di Luca. Commesso had to give up his Italian champion’s jerseys to Paolo Bettini but he rode extremely well considering the physical problems that affected his ride.

"I couldn’t ride as well as I wanted," the Naples born rider said referring to his injuries incurred at the Tour of Switzerland.

"With the form I had I could have won the Italian title for a third time but there is no doubt that Bettini deserved to win and I can only congratulate him on his victory. Now I want to recover as quickly as possible so that I can have a great Tour de France." Regarding the Tour de France, the Saeco staff have decided the final ninth rider for the team. German rider Jorg Ludewig will complete the team line-up, joining Gilberto Simoni, Danilo Di Luca, Paolo Fornaciari, Gerrit Glomser, Fabio Sacchi, Stefano Zanini, Salvatore Commesso and Leonardo Bertagnolli. Ludewig has been chosen ahead of the two other riders who were being considered for the Tour: Andrea Tonti and Ivan Quaranta. "I’m sorry for Quaranta but this time it was purely a technical decision," Team manager Claudio Corti said.

"After the results of the Giro d’Italia and considering the ride Gilberto Simoni could do in the Tour, we have decided that it is the right decision. It is not that Quaranta has been overlooked. We still feel he is one of the strongest sprinters in the world and we will make sure he gets other chances to show what he can do."

The Saeco team staff for the Tour de France has also been decided: Directeur sportifs Giuseppe Martinelli and Guido Bontempi; team doctor Carlo Guardascione; soigneurs Massimiliano Napoletano, Mauro Bencini, Andrea Montecchi and Michele Pallini; mechanics: Giuseppe Archetti, Federico Borselli, Alfredo De Marchi and Tullio Pelliccioli.

WADA for Tour

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) will be sending a team of independent observers to the Tour de France.

WADA president Dick Pound said, "I am very pleased that WADA can send, for the first time, a team of Independent Observers to the world-famous Tour de France, particularly on its 100th anniversary, I applaud UCI and the organisers of the Tour for allowing the team to be present, and the French Ministry of Sport for ensuring that the Observers will have access to all relevant information throughout the event."

The team will be observing testing procedures from the start on Saturday July 5th until July 9 and will also receive daily laboratory reports throughout the race.

This move will be welcomed by cycling fans who will see the move as another step in the right direction to restore cycling's image. WADA will issue a public report after the event, and will deliver a verdict on whether or not the doping control rules have been applied correctly.

CSC Team of Champions!

Michael Blaudzun and Nicki Soerensen give CSC a double gold edge for the Tour!

In the tight race for the medals on the time trial at the Danish National Championships in Nibe, Team CSC’s Michael Blaudzun was able to claim the gold medal on Friday afternoon. The team had four riders in the top-10 but Blaudzun’s 1st place was by far the most important Team CSC performance.

”I am very happy to be on top of the podium. I have worked hard and it was nice to see that it paid off. I was very confident during the ride and it is important to have that feeling in this kind of event. I am now looking forward to the Tour and I feel that I am ready for the job. The championship strengthens my confidence and I am looking forward to going to France”, said a visibly happy Michael Blaudzun when he had received the championship jersey.

Manager Bjarne Riis was of course full of praise when he spoke about his rider: “Michael did a great time trial and he lived up to the role as favourite that he had been given before the start. He will be an important rider in the Tour squad and today he showed us that he is ready for the job”, said Bjarne Riis who was also very impressed by the Herning rider Brian Vandborg who, very surprisingly, came in 3rd.

”He is an obvious talent. We must pay attention to that kind of rider and I have every intention of doing so. Let there be no doubt about it: we are very interested in riders who are able to make such good results”, said Riis when asked to comment on the impressive bronze medal that was won by the rider who represents Team CSC’s mother club, Herning Cycle Club. Team Fakta’s Joergen Bo Pedersen took the silver.

With a solo attack on the final of 11 rounds, Team CSC’s Nicki Soerensen won the road race at the Danish National Championships on Sunday afternoon.Soerensen was the only Team CSC representative in what turned out to be the decisive breakaway. The team used a lot of energy in the first half of the race and when an attack was launched on one of the climbs towards the finish, Nicki Soerensen was the sharpest rider on the team.”It is nice to take a victory again and I am proud of my national jersey. The race was very tactical but when I attacked in the finale I knew that it was the right move. Up till that point I was not too confident and I expected that Lars Michaelsen or Jakob Piil would come up from behind which would have allowed us to outnumber the opposition. As it turned out, I came out on top and I am going to France with a nice jersey – I will make sure to wear it well”, said Nicki Soerensen who – at the end of the 192-kilometre race - was joined on the podium by Allan Johansen (Team Fakta) and Bo Hamburger (Formaggi Pinzoli). ”Nicki really deserved this victory. He has put in a tremendous effort for the team during the spring season and the Danish Championship is a fitting reward. The tactical situation made it necessary for us to gamble a little bit and, fortunately for us, the gamble paid off. Now, we can go to the Tour with two newly crowned Danish champions and that strengthens our confidence”; said Bjarne Riis after the race.

Stefano Garzelli on anti biotics

Second in the Giro, Stefano Garzelli is suffering from a sore throat and is currently on a three day course of anti- biotics. However the former Giro winner is in good morale and is hoping that the infection will clear up within the first week of the Tour de France.

"Unfortunately over the last couple of days my throat has worsened, so it has become necessary to take medication in order I can continue my preparation”.

Millar Loves the Tour

Talking to the Guardian Newspaper today David Millar waxed lyrical about his love of the race -

"I still get goosebumps thinking about being in a break with Laurent Jalabert with someone every 200 metres waving a sign saying 'Merci Jaja'. There's not another sport like it."

"There's a whole romantic side to cycling, it's a do-or-die sport. I love racing like that. Jalabert made a conscious decision to please the public, to give something back to the sport; he was visibly enjoying himself and that's the most beautiful way to race. If you're capable of finishing in the top 10 in the Tour, you can attack and put on a show. I know how much pleasure it gave me when I was young, watching guys race like that."

Hoban Remembers the good times

Talking to the London Telegraph today, legendary British fast man Barry Hoban remembered some of the more amusing moments of the Tour -

"It wasn't all pain you know. My big mate was Gerben Karstens, from Holland, who was certifiably bonkers as well as being a great bloke. His favourite party trick on a quiet transition stage between the Alps and Pyrenees - with everybody in the peloton dozing or having a good gossip - was to spot a luxuriant maize field ahead, sprint hard, and then slam on the front brakes and somersault, bike and all, over the hedge to land comfortably upside down in a spongy bed of maize. God knows where he learnt that trick.

"Another little favourite was for Gerben and myself to sprint a couple of kilometres ahead - the peloton knew it was playtime and indulged us - before we would stop with a group of fans on a bend and invite ourselves to their picnic. A little bit of cheese and sip of Muscadet, very pleasant indeed. Then, when the peloton rode past, we would hurl bread rolls and abuse at them, especially all the big names. The crowd would love it and cheered us on our way as we remounted. We had a lot of fun on the way."

Robert Hunter Pleased at Selection

South Africa's Robert Hunter, following a hand injury which spoilt his early part of the season, is particularly glad to be in the Rabobank Tour team:

"I think what pulled me through was my versatility. My main role during this tour will probably be to help Oscar Freire (twice world champion) in the final sprint to the finish. "Levi Leipheimer is the rider we'll all help to become overall tour winner. Mine and Oscar's role will be to try to win the (green) points jersey."

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