By Andrew Hood
Tyler Hamilton better brush up on his Spanish as five of his eight Phonakteammates named to start the Tour de France hail from the Iberian Peninsula.Hamilton will be looking to improve on his fourth-place performancein last year’s Tour and will count on the Spanish mountain goats to usherhim through the Tour’s key moments in the Pyrénées and theAlps.Joining Hamilton for the 91st Tour are Spanish riders Oscar Sevilla,Santi Perez, Jose Gutierrez, Oscar Pereiro and Santos Gonzalez. The otherteam members are German rider Bert Grabsch, Frenchman Nicolas Jalabertand Swiss rider Martin Elmiger. Frenchman Cyril Dessel is the team’s reserve.Phonak, racing in its first Tour, obviously took strength over any senseof national spirit as Elmiger is the only Swiss rider on the Swiss-based team.The team said Sevilla and Perez are designated to help Hamilton in thehigh mountains while Pereiro, Gutierrez and Gonzalez will assist in themiddle mountains and the team trial. Jalabert will lead two first-timers– Grabsch and Elmiger – to take on the all-rounder role.Phonak for 2004 Tour
Tyler Hamilton (USA)
Oscar Sevilla (Sp)
Santi Perez (Sp)
Jose Gutierrez (Sp)
Oscar Pereiro (Sp)
Santos Gonzalez (Sp)
Bert Grabsch (G)
Nicolas Jalabert (F)
Martin Elmiger (Swi)
Cyril Dessel (F)Bruyneel: ‘Lance is Ready’
U.S. Postal Service sport director Johan Bruyneel says he’s confidentLance Armstrong can win a record sixth Tour de France.With excitement building and the 91st Tour start just over a week away,Bruyneel said he isn’t worrying about the losses against Iban Mayo (Euskaltel-Euskadi) and Tyler Hamilton (Phonak) in the Mont Ventoux climbing time trial during the Dauphiné Libéré.“That doesn’t count anymore, I hear Lance every day and I just knowhe’s ready. This means I am convinced he will succeed again this year,”Bruyneel said. “Lance put in a lot of training in and around Gerona andtook the necessary step forward.”Bruyneel once again repeated that he believes 1997 Tour champion JanUllrich (T-Mobile) is Armstrong’s top rival.“It goes without saying it looks like Ullrich will be contender numberone. But there are a lot of other guys to watch out for: Mayo, Hamilton,Heras, Basso, Menchov… and I even forget a couple of others,” he continued.“Anyway, we can’t take Ullrich into account, we’ll just see what happenswhen the Tour starts. If you really want to know: according to me Ullrichgoes into (second) place.”Bruyneel said the selection of Benjamin Noval over yellow jersey holderVictor Hugo Peña was based strictly on a strength test, but addedhe selected Pavel Padrnos over Benoit Joachim based on experience. As forthe Tour course, Bruyneel said the final week will be decisive.“The men will also be separated from the boys during the two mountainstages in the Pyrenees, on Alpe d’Huez, Le Grand Bornand and in the timetrial in Besançon,” he said. “I think we have to watch out carefullyday in, day out. It can happen anywhere, even in a flat stage. Just supposethe wind blows hard, in that case we’ll have to ride very attentive.”
Millar detained, released by French police
World time trial champion David Millar has been released after spending two nights in a police cell being questioned about doping on his Cofidis team.
Police sources said the 27-year-old Scot, due to ride in the Tour de France next week, was taken into custody on Tuesday night while he was dining at a restaurant in Biarritz, France. He was still being questioned Thursday.
He was being treated as a witness and not a suspect. Millar, world time trial champion in the road event, was scheduled to line up in the Tour de France time-trial prologue at Liege in Belgium a week from Saturday.
Millar was second to Australian Bradley McGee in last year’s Tour prologue and lost to the Australian in last week’s Route du Sud race.
Millar’s Cofidis team has been under investigation since January when seven people were charged including Philippe Gaumont who admitted using EPO and accused the rest of the squad of taking banned substances.
Millar has denied the accusations and has never failed a drugs test.
Cofidis suspended all competition for its road team from April 9 to May 5, depriving Millar of making his World Cup track debut in Manchester which he had hoped to use as vital training for the Athens Olympics.
Gaumont, Robert Sassone, Mederic Clain, Marek Rutkiewicz and Daniel Majewski were charged with doping offences and they have all left or been sacked by the team.
Cofidis’ former soigneur, Boguslaw Madejak, and an ex-manager of their third division team, Oleg Kozlitine, have also been sacked after the Paris judge investigating the case pressed charges.
-Agence France Presse
No Evans for Tour
Cadel Evans (T-Mobile) has been told that he’s the first reserve for the upcoming Tour de France. T-Mobile brass has selected experience over Evans’ climbing yet unproven abilities in the Tour, which he’s yet to race.
In an entry on his personal web page, the former mountain biker confirmed he likely won’t be part of the nine-man Tour team to be announced Friday by T-Mobile.
“After days of waiting for some news about my place on the Tour team … I’ve finally been told what is likely to be my fate for July. I received the official call from my team director, Mario Kummer, yesterday afternoon and he told me the news from T-Mobile. My place on the Tour team — at this stage — as the first reserve,” Evans wrote.
Evans missed last year’s Tour after breaking his clavicle, but rebounded with a nice victory in the Tour of Austria earlier this month. But that wasn’t enough for T-Mobile, who are set to bring a strong team for Jan Ullrich to take on Lance Armstrong. “I spoke with Walter Godefroot through the week and he told he thought I was going well, climbing with the best in the world and doing all that I needed to do to prove myself, but I lacked Tour experience and that’s what their concerns about me were,” Evans said. “When I got the call, I didn’t ask any questions. But I’m also frustrated that I let down everyone who thought I would be part of this year’s Tour.”
Evans held out hope that he still might make the team. After a strong grand tour debut at the 2002 Giro d’Italia, when he became the first Australian to wear the pink jersey, Evans struggled with injuries in 2003 and crashing out of the 2003 Vuelta a España. “I’ll start reassessing my goals for the rest of the season,” he said. “Put it this way, the world’s are looking good for me and there are still plenty of other races in the season.”