The Reactions- (Quotes from various European cycling luminaries about the recently
announced Tour de France 2005 race course)
Ivan Basso (Italy) 3rd in the 2004 Tour de France- “This Tour is difficult, as always. But my
first objective is to win the Giro (Tour of Italy). Then I will see about the Tour. I am going to
lose some time in the time trials and it’s difficult to get that back in the mountains. It is
important for me to take part in all the grand tours (France, Italy, Spain). I need to improve to
another level, as I did this season. I’m in the most important years of my career”.
Christophe Moreau (France)- “This Tour brings a lot of things that delight me. Notably
there are the arrival stages in Mende and at Briancon, where I passed through during my
successes in the Tour of Languedoc-Roussillon and in the Criterium of the Dauphine Libere.
There is also the passage through Mulhouse reminding me of the Tour 2000, where I just
failed to make the podium. These memories will give me an extra motivation. Although the
competition will be concentrated towards the last part, the racing will begin early. It will be the
last one standing who wins”.
Thomas Voeckler (France)- Wearer of the Yellow Jersey in 2004- “Given that there will be
two weeks without an individual time trial, there will be a lot of struggles with nervous stages.
This Tour might smile upon the risk-takers. I played that role last year, and that worked, so I’ll
try the same again. But I am not necessarily going to focus on the month of July. I’m not the
kind who focuses on one single objective. The 9th stage into Mulhouse inspires me”.
Richard Virenque (France) Retiring seven time winner of the “Best Climber” (polka dot)
jersey- “The course is well laid out with one less individual time trial, which is a good thing.
The alps are going to do damage, and the Pyrenees look tough: they will cause problems for
the riders. For now nothing has really changed for me, as I’m still racing. It’s next year that I’ll
have a real sense of relaxation. I already feel a little nostalgia, however.
Laurent Jalabert (France)- “This is a tour for complete riders and it can be good for
someone like (Alexander) Vinokourov, who has the style to be good in all disciplines. It will
really reward riders who are versatile and offensive”.
Eddy Merck (Belgium)- Five time Tour winner- “The 2004 course was harder. There is less
time trial and the mountains seem less difficult to me. This should make the competition more
open. That said, if Lance Armstrong comes in at the same level of conditioning he had last
year, I don’t see anyone who can beat him”.
Laurent Fignon (France)- Double Tour winner- “The course isn’t that bad. There will be
some great stages in the mountains. This Tour will again be dominated by Armstrong if his
rivals go about the race as they usually do. It will take imagination and audacity to keep him
from winning again”.
Alain Gallopin (France)- Sporting Director of Team CSC- “This is a good Tour for Ivan
(Basso- member of the CSC team). The first time trial is short, which will limit his losses. The
second is toward the end of the Tour, which is preferable for him with respect to the other
Jean-Rene Bernaudeau (France)- Sporting Director of Bourheus Telecom team- “ There
will be some long climbing approaches to the final line in the mountains which will necessitate
a big team effort. A result that favors associations of riders is very possible. There will be a
good start in the Vendee region which won’t favor us, however: there is not going to be a
prologue but rather a time trial. I would qualify this as a classic and difficult Tour with a stage
into Saint-Lary that looks scary. Something unusual could happen”.
Marc Madiot (France)- Sporting Director of FDJeux.com team- “This Tour is stimulating. It
is conceived for the audacious. With a prolog of 19km, there won’t be a lot of riders close at
the beginning. There will be a lot of racing and conditioning will play the major role. Whoever
it is, a complete rider should have an advantage, and that could favor Lance Armstrong”.
Vincent Lavenu (France)- Sporting Director for AG2R team- “I find the race course
dynamic and well split among the different disciplines. The race will be more nerve-wracking
as a result. On the whole, the tour is well balanced without too many mountains. I note eight
stages that might potentially be won by the sprinters, and this is not a large number. It’s a
tour for AG2R. I’m hopeful of getting an invitation to participate. In our hearts we know we
need to prove that our place is not in the lower category races and that we were only left off
the Pro Tour for political reasons”.
Philippe De Villiers, President of the General Council of the Vendee (where the Tour will
start)- “The Vendee is honored to host the grand departure of the Tour for the third time in
twelve years, following starts at Le Puy du Fou in 1993 and1999. It’s a heart-felt choice
because the Vendee, a land of traditioin, is also a big cycling region”.
Despite its eviction from the Pro-Tour racing organization, the Team Phonak, touched by
several doping scandals in 2004, still has ambitions to get back into the professional circuit by
2006. In order to accomplish this, the boss of the Swiss team, Andy Rihs, has made some
changes in the team management.
The Team Manager, Urs Freuler, and his Sporting Director, Alvaro Pino, have been fired. “I’
m saddened to separate from them after these years of working together, but everyone
understands what is best for the team”, he declared. As a result, the Belgian John Lelangue,
age 34, will take on more responsibility. Previously Assistant Director, he thus becomes the
new GM on the Swiss team. The name of the new Sporting Director will be known next
Monday when the team begins training camp in Majorca.
“The objective is not only the 2005 season but also to prepare for the following season with
the goal of getting back on the Pro-Tour and to find an eventual principal sponsor” declared
John Lelangue. Phonak, which has appealed its eviction from the Pro-Tour, must go before
the TAS (Tribunal of Arbitration of the Sport) about mid-January. For the present the team
will take part in the 2005 peleton, but not at the highest level but rather with continental
professional teams such as AG2R, RAGT, Agritubel, Lelme, and M. Bookmaker.
Recall that the team’s three leaders have been implicated in serious doping allegations:
Tyler Hamilton and Santiago Peres (blood doping) and Oscar Camenzind (EPO). Hamilton,
gold medal winner in Athens in the individual time trial, and Perez have both been fired. It’s
notable that Hamilton is the first athlete in history to have tested positive for blood doping.
1/10/05- Armstrong to do the Tour in 2005 or 2006
Lance Armstrong keeps up the suspense. While the world is still waiting to know the decision
of the American regarding his participation in the next Tour de France, the six time winner of
the event is making that suspense linger. He will return in either 2005 or 2006, the answer to
be known in three months.
The contract with the Discovery Channel Pro Racing Team, the new sponsor of Armstrong,
which took over for U.S. Postal, “provides that I do the tour in 2005 or 2006” declared the
racing Texan, during the presentation of the Discovery Channel team on Monday. Armstrong
added that he would make his decision at the end of April, after the classis. “That will be a
good moment to decide” he said. “Nothing says that I’ll be capable of participating” he
added. Furthermore, he said “we aren’t excluding anything, we’ll see”.
Asked about his tumultuous relationship with the French public, which sometimes boos him
from the side of the road, the rider thinks that he “didn’t have any problem” regarding this
subject. “I think that the perception (in the U.S.) of my relations with the French public are
absolutely incorrect on the whole. The majority of the people on the side of the road support
me. Certain people say unpleasant things (…). But I don’t have a problem with that” he said.
The American stated that he expected to participate in several “classic” races of the
European season; He cited the Tour of Flanders (March 4-6), Liege-Bastogne-Liege (April
24), la Fleche Wallone (April 20) and perhaps the Amstel Gold Race in Holland on April 17.
The rider hopes also to participate in the Giro (Tour of Italy) or the Vuelta (Tour of Spain),
but, as with the Tour de France in July, he has not yet made a decision.
Back to Cycling News
Armstrong to do the Tour in 2005 or 2006- 1/10/05
Phonak Doesn’t Give Up- 01/04/05
The Reactions- 10/28/04 (Quotes from various European cycling luminaries about the
recently announced Tour de France 2005 race course). Translation of L’Equipe article .