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Tour de France 2004: The Route - More Reactions
By Staff
Date: 10/23/2003
Tour de France 2004: The Route - More Reactions

Lance Armstrong

Lance Armstrong affirmed today that he will go to for his sixth Tour victory: "I love this race and my objective will be to achieve the sixth victory."

Armstrong says the main difficulty of the route "will be in the Alps, mainly the time trial of the Alpe d'Huez", though he says it won't be a more complex edition than the others. "For Ullrich as for me, this time trial will change nothing: it will be the critical day. That one will determine the winner."

"I will be able to say better how the race is with reconnaissance of the stages, but the Tour is always difficult." Armstrong also said that that the organizers always want to introduce some novelty and pointed out that in this edition "the third week will be in particular, harder."

"In this Tour, I will count a lot on Roberto Heras. I won't come there worrying about taking a 6th victory, but rather to participate in a new Tour. This race is for me the incentive that makes me stay on a bicycle."

Jan Ullrich

"The last week will be hyper-hard. I am relatively happy with the program - I have recovered my confidence this year. I have three or four more opportunities to win the Tour. After that I will be too old. I am going to fight for it."

Ullrich said he didn't want to eliminate other rivals (in addition to Armstrong) and mentioned expressly the Spaniard Joseba Beloki "if he is recovered." The 1997 Tour winner said that his move to team Telekom gives him more options for victory. "My new team is very strong and I believe that I will have my options", he commented.

Richard Virenque

"I am perplexed at the course. There are less mountain stages than in the past. If I look well at the detail of the twenty stages, there are twelve days without mountains. In fact, all is concentrated on the last week where the Alpine stages will take place. I think exactly that all is going to be played out in this last week (the Alpe-d'Huez time trial, the crossing of the Alps and the last time trial at Besançon) and there will be an aura of suspense until the end. It is an atypical course. Certainly, there are a lot of cols on the program, but they are cols with small percentages. My objective will remain the green jersey and victory in mountain stages. For the Alpe-d'Huez time trial, that  concerns riders who will play in the general classification, and this is not my case."

Christophe Moreau

"It is an atypical course and innovating. There's less in the Pyrenees; there are only two small stages. In addition, there is not a high mountain indeed. It is a succession of small cols and big slopes which should encourage attacks. I think this is a very tactical Tour. All should be played out the last week. One won't be able to put in play the usual tactics, it is going to be necessary to be notably innovative during the first fifteen days. It will also be interesting to see what tactics will be adopted by Lance Armstrong and US Postal during the first two weeks of the race. The individual time trial at Alpe-d'Huez will make a thick gap and will very certainly be decisive for the general classification. For myself, I aim for the general classification and a spot on the podium."

Marc Madiot

"I distrust some first impressions. The first part appears simple but this only makes it more delicate because the race will be animated. The time trials are going to tighten suspense. Necessarily, they are going to increase the interest of the Tour."

Patrick Lefévère

"This Tour could surprise the favorites. The peloton can explode at the most unexpected moment indeed. It has not been conceived for Armstrong or Ullrich. Promoters never design a course for the client. But, this time, they set the malice there. Everybody will be very attentive to the 3rd week. Outsiders will have a lot of opportunities to trap the favorites."

Laurent Jalabert

"This Tour will be interesting because it has been thought out to maintain uncertainty for the longest time possible and to not definitely eliminate a maximum of riders. Difficulties have been restricted but this Boucle has no less traps, with a lot of possibilities for strikes. It is going to be necessary to be in condition the last four days. The Tour will come back to the coolest and to the most offensive. Armstrong and Ullrich will be favorites. Vinokourov can win it. Millar can be in the game as can Beloki: it has widened the circle."

Quickstep-manager Patrick Lefevre dares to predict:" This Tour has barely any mountain in it. I see Bettini battling for yellow up till Paris. next year." Jean-Marie Leblanc admits: "We strive for a as close as can be top five in the general classification at the foot of the first climb, not more than a minute apart from the other. Armstrong thinks the timetrail to Alpe D'Huez will make the difference. Ullrich clings to the fact that he knows the third week (always his best week in the Tour) will be the decisive one in the Tour 2004.

Thanks to Todociclismo and L'Equipe.

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