Stage 4 - July 9: Joinville to Saint-Dizier TTT, 68 km
© Copyright Amaury Sport Organisation / A.S.O. 2003
So the big guns must make their first showing since the prologue and nerves
of steel are required for this team test. No disputing who the favourites are;
the Once -Eroski lads have team time trialing down to an exact art and have a
multi talented squad to gain a real advantage over the flat parcours.
Also near the mark will be US Postal Service, CSC, Fassa Bortolo and Cofidis.
The Tifosi of Italy will be watching the stage from behind the settee hoping
that the Saeco team, with the Giro d’italia winner Simoni, will not lose too
much time to put him out of contention. That said, the Saeco team are well
organised and have not stopped racing all season which may give them more power
than is anticipated.
Warm and dry. Slight wind. Temperatures between 24 and 29 degrees.
14h05 La Boulangère
14h15 Fassa Bortolo
14h25 Jean Delatour
14h30 Vini Caldirola
14h45 Crédit Agricole
15h05 Quick Step
15h45 US Postal
Brave Tyler Hamilton is determined to continue - ”Of course, it still hurts and I am constantly reminded that my collarbone is broken. It is very important to me that I am able to help the team on the team time trial tomorrow. As I have said before, it is very important to me to be able to help the team – and especially Carlos – by giving all that I can give. I am obviously not feeling 100% fit but I will still be able to aid the team”, said Team CSC’s captain.
“It is the first crucial stage of the Tour. Bianchi and US Postal are the favourites", according to a pokerfaced team manager Manolo Saiz. (ONCE have won for the last three years.)
"A place in the top five would be very good", according to Rudy Pevenage.
Time trial specialist Thomas Liese commented - "20 to 30 seconds behind the best teams, Once and US Postal, would be acceptable."
The Bianchi team has trained over the course, Pevenage said - "After the Tour of Germany we practiced on the course. The first kilometers are particularly important. That is the key to the stage, if you do not do well there all will be lost. Garmendia and Steinhauser will lead the team over this part of the course. But the Postal team are favourites - they had 4 men in the first 15 in the prologue - that is an indication of their strength.”
In spite of speculation in the Spanish press that Armstrong was more badly hurt in the Stage One crash than he is letting on, so far all goes well for the Postal team -
"I'm looking forward to tomorrow's team time trial, I'm confident we can take the yellow jersey. Winning it would be a bonus for the team. We've never been able to. But we have a lot of motivated guys, a lot of experienced guys," Armstrong said.
“This stage will undoubtedly be of crucial importance, because I think we stand a good chance of taking the yellow jersey. If you ask me, the battle will be fierce with Once, a team with a strong tradition in these kinds of undertakings. Last year as well, ONCE won the team time trial, which makes them my hot favourites once more. On the other hand, our team has five or six guys who ride well against the clock, which means we should go for a win. There will be a number of outsiders as well. To me, FDJeux.com, Crédit Agricole and Telekom are the ones to fear most. Next to these three, there’s CSC as well, a team no-one should underestimate,” commented Benoit Joachim on the team site.
Here is how the professionals rate the teams chances:
Fassa Bortolo 16/1
Quick Step 20/1
2002 (Château-Thierry, 67,5 km)
2. US Postal + 16
3. CSC 46
4. Fassa Bortolo 1:30
5. Cofidis 1:44
2001 (Bar-le-Duc, 67 km)
1. Crédit Agricole
2. Once + 31
3. Festina 54
4. US Postal 1:26
5. Kelme 1:38
2000 (Saint-Nazaire, 70 km)
2. US Postal + 46
3. Telekom 1:26
4. Cr.Agricole 1:32
5. Rabobank 2:12