The questions that we were asking three weeks ago have since found their answers, questions about race contenders Armstrong, Ullrich, Heras and Casagrande; about Zabel, the man seeking a sixth green jersey, and Laurent Jalabert, the flag-carrier of French cycling. The report card is ready, and we now know whether the American has become a three-time Tour winner, matching his compatriot Greg LeMond.
We also know how the race shaped up, and whether the organizers dealt us some winning cards. "This will be a very complete Tour, with a prologue, 10 flat stages, three semi-mountain stages, four
When you meet Tyler Hamilton, you think, "This guy’s too nice to be a pro bike racer." His dark, wavy hair is neatly trimmed, his eyes twinkle, and his mouth always has a hint of a smile. And with his calm, polite demeanor you would think that this slightly built 28-year-old New Englander was a banker sitting down to discuss a line of credit, rather than an elite athlete about to embark on his fifth Tour de France.
Hamilton might well have become a corporate lackey, as he majored in economics at the University of Colorado. But while studying at the Boulder campus, he transitioned from
George Hincapie is no stranger to the Tour de France. The popular American racer rode his first Tour in 1996 with Motorola when he was just 23, and he has been a fixture at the July race ever since. In his first year, Hincapie had a bad crash and didn’t finish, but he has made steady progress in each of the following years. In 1998, the spring classics specialist had one of his best Tours from an individual standpoint, narrowly missing a chance to wear the leader’s yellow jersey after featuring in a winning breakaway on stage 3.
The next two years, however, weren’t about individual goals.
The last three years have presented American Tour de France hopeful Bobby Julich with a long and rocky road. As a member of the French outfit Cofidis in 1998, Julich surprised nearly everyone with a third-place finish, but crashes and illness have taken their toll on the man from Colorado ever since. At last year’s Tour, Julich was a glum figure, out of the headlines until Jeroen Blijlevens decided to punch him on the Champs Elysées.
But if memories of that, and the year before when Julich crashed out of the Tour in the stage 8 time trial, were on his mind this past March, it didn’t show.
He was there in the Pyrenees, there in the Alps, always ready to do the work necessary to aid in the effort. Like all serious team players, he was willing to put personal ambition aside and maintain focus on the big picture. For the last two years, that big picture has involved a guy named Lance Armstrong and a yellow jersey. This year the jersey is the same color, but Kevin Livingston is ready to do his best to see that someone else is wearing it on the streets of Paris on July 29.
In Livingston’s case, his best can amount to a serious contribution. In 1999, Livingston was almost always at