Jan Ullrich is now a father after Gaby gave birth to Sarah Maria today at 15.08.
On his official website he says he is so happy he could "dance on clouds and that I will never forget the last few hours," and that he now feels really relaxed for the Tour.
Daily Peloton extends its warmest best wishes to the Ullrich family.
Visit www.janullrich.de for the full story!
Ivan Basso - Best Young Rider 2002
Ivan Basso, the man from Gallarate, Italy, who was best young rider in the Tour de France 2002, enters this year's race with steely determination and strong ambitions -
"I want to be in the postion, on the last day of the Tour, to be told 'what a great race you have had!'. It could be a stage win, or three second places, but what I hope for is something like a solo victory on a Mountain stage. I hope that this is a race where I leave my mark.”
Certainly Basso seems to have the potential to achieve this ambition. However at 25 years old and already in his fifth season as a pro rider, success has not been easy to come by; with 6 victories, the most important being in the Tour de Mediterranean 2001, winning atop of the cyclist's mountain, Mont Faron. Some people have begun to question whether Basso lacks that magic spark in either his head or his legs that will convert that potential into tangible results.
"I have the reputation of a complete rider, yet still incomplete since I must improve a little in every aspect of the sport. Don’t forget last season I had 6 second places and was very close to victory on a couple of occasions.”
This year Basso comes to the race after a different preparation schedule. He missed the Giro d’Italia in order to arrive fresh for the Tour. He has had 35 days of racing as preparation and is determined not to make the same mistakes as last year -
“The race seems more balanced than last year, with the difficult stages spread over the entire three weeks. I do not want to repeat past errors like last year when I attacked on the first mountain stage and then suffered for my efforts. Fassa Bortolo will have three Captains in the race, myself, Aitor Gonzalez and Petacchi. Everyone will have adequate support and I intend to have a great race.”
Armstrong on Telekom
Armstrong considers not one rider but a team, Telekom from Germany, as a threat.
"Botero, Vinokourov, Nardello," he said. "Put 'em all together and they can be tough. I don't think any one of them is a potential winner, but if you gave them a 15-minute breakaway, then they are potential winners."
“Then again you can have too many leaders in one team, if they all start to race for themselves it would be a different story."
Meanwhile Telekom themselves are on the offensive.
"We want to attack everywhere, and to make Lance Armstrong's life as difficult as possible," the team's director Kummer said on the team's Web site.
He added that the team had "enormous potential" with Botero, Alexandre Vinokourov, the winner of the Tour of Switzerland. Daniele Nardello and Giuseppe Guerini add depth to the Telekom team.
Armstrong on Tyler Hamilton
"Tyler has the skill needed to finish on the podium in Paris," Armstrong said. "He has the complete package: speed in the time trials, the climbing ability and experience."
Tyler Hamilton on the Tour
Riding as team leader has been a sharp learning curve for Tyler Hamilton.
"It's a whole different way of thinking on and off the bike," Hamilton said. "I helped Lance Armstrong win his first three Tour de Frances. When you're riding for somebody it's a whole different mind-set. Your objectives are completely different. You treat training differently as well. I was 31 years old, but I was a rookie at being a team leader. I definitely had a steep learning curve."
"This will be my seventh Tour de France, and I've never raced it 100 percent for myself," Hamilton said. "I'll be at the starting line in Paris in top condition and ready to give 110 percent. Wherever that puts me I'll be happy. I've never been able to do that."
Iban Mayo on the Tour de France
The Euskaltel-Euskadi rider Iban Mayo approaches his second participation in the Tour of France "with dreams and ambitions" that inspire him to do something important in the race and yet "with my feet firmly on the ground, I have yet to do anything in this race”.
Mayo, who is having a great season with 2 victories and overall in the Vuelta Ciclista al Pais Vasco and two stages in the in the Dauphiné Libere, realises that the "the Tour is another story. The Dauphiné has made people expect more from me, but the Tour is a completely different race.”
The man considers Lance Armstrong "unbeatable" but considers Joseba Beloki and Santiago Botero the men most likely to overthrow the North American, while riders who have contested the Giro, like winner Gilberto Simoni will be at a disadvantage.
Another one of the strong men from Euskaltel-Euskadi, David Etxebarria, is hoping for a stage win - "the stages in the Pyrenees are important for us and the 16th stage to Bayonne is good for me. But even so I hope to do well before then", he said.
Etxebarria thinks that too much pressure is being put on Mayo, who is without a doubt the team's best rider this season.
"But once the race begins Mayo will be forgotten and everyone will think about Armstrong and other people. That might be a benefit to him", thought the man from Abadiño.