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Tour de France Stage 17 Preview
By Podofdonny
Date: 7/23/2003
Tour de France Stage 17 Preview

Stage 17: Dax - Bordeaux 181 km

Weather on Thursday

Slight rain in the morning.The sun will emerge as the day continues. Temperatures between 22 degrees at the start and 25 degrees. Wind between 10 and 20 km/h, a tail wind at the start, however this will be a head wind starting from Saint Symphorien (km 102).

What Alpe d’Huez is to the climbers Bordeaux is for the sprinters. Only Paris has featured more times than Bordeaux in the Tour de France’s 100 years. The race has finished in the town 77 times and the first winner in the city 100 years ago was the Swiss rider Charles Laeser.

However, the victory was not all that it seemed.

The 23 year old mechanic from Geneva won the race by profiting from the rule at the time, that those riders who had abandoned the previous stage were allowed to start one hour later than those still in contention for the General Classification. They started in a second group one hour after the true “Giants” had set off.

After the start in Toulouse, Laeser caught up with the Belgian Marcel Kerff (a big hitter of his day who finished 6th overall) at the control point in Langon. Kerff had a flat tyre and had dropped back from the first group. Laeser helped the Belgian and the two men rode on together. Laeser finished in the Vélodrome du Parc in Bordeaux as Julien "Samson" Looten was already being celebrated as the winner.

Confusion reigned, as Laeser duly showed his control sheet to prove that he had in fact finished four minutes faster than “Samson” on the podium.

But if Laeser proved to be an unlikely first winner, it has been very much of the case of the “usual suspects” over the past few years.

Erik Zabel. Photo copyright © by Dave O'Nyons.


Last Winners in Bordeaux:

1999 Tom Steels, 1997 Erik Zabel, 1996 Fred Moncassin, 1995 Erik Zabel, 1993 Dzamolidine Abduzhaparov, 1992 Rob Harmeling, 1990 Gianni Bugno, 1989 Etienne De Wilde.

Of those famous names only Rob Harmeling may seem unfamiliar. The former Histor and TVM rider managed to get in a small hard working group and take the stage - an exception rather than the rule.

Robbie McEwen. Photo copyright © by Dave O'Nyons.

Green Jersey!

The race for the green jersey can be seen as a race to the line for Oz fast men Cooke and McEwen.

However, Zabel and Telekom will realise that brave Vino should be on the podium in third place and may alter their targets. The Telekom team may now start thinking about podium and green jersey, as Zabel is as tough as the proverbial boots.

Meanwhile Credit Agricole seem to have got it horribly wrong. Moreau battles in the mountains on his own, while Hushovd and O’Grady manage to fight each other for the green jersey - had they pooled their resources just a little - 134 + 128 points - they would be already wearing the green jersey.

Points after Stage 16

1 Cooke Baden AUS FDJ 156 pts
2 McEwen Robbie AUS LOT 148 pts
3 Zabel Erik GER TEL 143 pts
4 Hushovd Thor NOR C.A 134 pts
5 O'Grady Stuart AUS C.A 128 pts
6 Paolini Luca ITA QSD 119 pts
7 Nazon Jean-Patrick FRA DEL 111 pts

On top of all this there is the prospect of crosswinds that can cause huge time deficits if the peloton is split apart. The favourites are in for a stressful day where they have to stay close to the front of the peloton all through the day.

Tradition demands it will be a sprinter tomorrow...

Baden Cooke. Courtesy

Stuart O'Grady. Photo courtesy

Thor Hushovd. Courtesy of

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