The Week That Was...

News & Results

07/20/2004| 0 comments
by Ian Melvin

The Week That Was...

Ian comments on the happenings in the world of cycling.

Week two and this is getting hard now!  After an initial idea to try and focus on events away from France for a three week period, the news sources have dried up and unless you?re interested in the on-going doping scandal with the Australian track squad or which second string riders are being picked for the up and coming second string races, there really is little to report on. <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" /?>

 

The Tour has really captured everybody?s attention this year with some fantastic performances and a handful of surprises and withdrawals already...

Lance is showing better form than 2003, his pre-race preparation certainly seems to have gone to plan. 

The Kaiser, Jan Ullrich is already over 6 minutes behind and his race for the general classification really does seem to be over.  Jan appears to have peaked during the recent Tour of Switzerland and seemingly left his climbing legs behind as he boarded the flight for <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" /?>
France
.

Of the other pre-race favorites, I think we saw the best of Iban Mayo in the Dauphine Libere ­ beating LA in the Dauphine is one thing but it sure isn?t the Tour!

Captain courageous, Tyler Hamilton, has again fallen foul of the French tarmac.  After injuring his back in an early race fall,
Hamilton
was forced to abandon in the second stage through the
Pyrenees.

Armstrong?s former lieutenant Roberto Heras is seemingly learning the hard way that riding the Tour, as a support rider is a very different proposition to leading a challenge yourself.  So far Heras has failed to show any of the form that has previously propelled him to victory in the Vuelta. 

Whilst this group of riders has, in general, failed to live up to the pre-tour hype, their absence from the standings has provided an opportunity for a new group of riders to emerge to challenge for the race honors.

Leading the Tour for the past week is 25-year-old Frenchman, Thomas Voeckler.  By rights, this unknown rider from the Brioches la Boulangere team should have surrendered the maillot jaune on the first day of serious climbing to the finish in La Mongie. Instead, leaving the
Pyrenees, Voeckler and his team were still defending a 22 second lead ahead of Armstrong.

By
Paris
, it?s unlikely that we?ll still see Voeckler on the final podium but one rider sure too not be too far away is the former winner of the tour?s white jersey, Italian Ivan Basso.  After changing teams at the end of last season, Basso and his CSC team have been prepared meticulously by team Director, Bjarne Riis and it certainly appears to have paid off with Basso being the only rider able to stay in contention with Armstrong in the Pyrenean climbs.

Finishing not too far behind on both stages was Sydney Olympic Games medalist, Andreas Kl?den of Ullrich?s T-Mobile team.  Although team leader Ullrich has said he will happily support the team?s best placed rider, it?ll be interesting to see what happens if his legs finally catch him up in the
Alps.  Anyway, I

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