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Overall contenders: The race for the yellow jersey

Sprinting and climbing have their honors, and winning the green or polka-dotjersey is great, but the puff daddies in the peloton have their eye onone prize: the yellow fleece of the overall race leader. The general classification (GC) is computed by adding together everyrider’s finishing time for each stage, less any time bonuses he earns.For the team time trial (stage 5), the time of the fifth finisher in eachteam is given to each rider in that team, except for those who finish behindtheir teammates — they are given their actual finishing time. The maximumtime for a rider finishing alone

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Photo: Graham Watson

Sprinting and climbing have their honors, and winning the green or polka-dotjersey is great, but the puff daddies in the peloton have their eye onone prize: the yellow fleece of the overall race leader.

The general classification (GC) is computed by adding together everyrider’s finishing time for each stage, less any time bonuses he earns.For the team time trial (stage 5), the time of the fifth finisher in eachteam is given to each rider in that team, except for those who finish behindtheir teammates — they are given their actual finishing time. The maximumtime for a rider finishing alone (or for a whole team) is the time of thewinning team plus seven minutes.

Time bonuses are awarded on the following basis:
Every stage (except time trials): winner gets 20 seconds, second place12 seconds, third place 8 seconds.
Every intermediate bonus sprint: First, 6 seconds; second, 4 seconds;third, 2 seconds.

Last year, Lance Armstrong had a half-hour deficit to overcome afterFrançois Simon, Andrei Kivilev and a dozen others finished 35 minutesahead of the pack on stage 8. He achieved the overall victory by takingsolo stage wins at L’Alpe d’Huez and Pla d’Adet, and by winning the individualtime trials at Chamrousse and St. Amand-Montrond. Armstrong finished theTour with a winning margin of 6:44 over runner-up Jan Ullrich, while Kivilevended up in fourth at 9:53 and Simon was sixth at 17:22.

GC Riders to watch:
1. Lance Armstrong, U.S. Postal Service (2001 winner): MidiLibre and Dauphiné should bring him to the boil again in July.

2. Joseba Beloki, ONCE-Eroski: He’s been stuck in a third-place groove,maybe this year, with Ullrich gone and Simoni out of the picture, he can break out.

Beloki

Beloki

Photo: Cor Vos

3. Oscar Sevilla, Kelme-Costa Blanca: Ready to step up afterbeing runner-up at Vuelta and seventh at Tour

4. Levi Leipheimer, Rabobank: Great expectations for ex-Postie’sdebut Tour after his third place at Vuelta.

5. Francisco Mancebo, iBanesto.com: Another young Spaniard, 13thlast year, on an upward curve.

6. Santiago Botero, Kelme-Costa Blanca: Sevilla is his team’smain man, but this Colombian’s TT skills should see him go for the top10.

7. Roberto Heras, U.S. Postal Service: If he can avoid thosepesky crashes, Armstrong’s top climbing help should return to the top 10.

8. Tyler Hamilton, CSC-Tiscali: With a good start in the prologue,TTT and stage 9 TT, Armstrong ex-lieutenant may show his true worth.

9. Andrei Kivilev, Cofidis: Was 2001 a flash in the pan, or canhe sustain a challenge without a lucky break?

10. Dario Frigo, Tacconi Sport: Paid his drug dues through thewinter, but his new team doesn’t have the
Fassa firepower.

11. Richard Virenque, Domo-Farm Frites: No podium without thedrugs, but the French public’s pin-up will like the climbs.

12. David Millar, Cofidis: Popular Brit ready to roll in theTTs (and climbs?) after recovering from extreme fatigue syndrome.

13. Iban Mayo, Euskaltel-Euskadi: Only 24, but his 11th placeat the Vuelta shows he’s ready to display his climbing skills at the Tour.
 

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