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Tour Tidbits: Cipo’ on Eurosport? McEwen ready to rage; Pound pops off; and after Lance, what?

Second act for Cipo'?The recently retired Italian champion Mario Cipollini may make a second career as a television personality. According to Eurosport, the deep-voiced playboy was close to accepting an offer to work as one of the broadcaster’s “consultants” for the Tour de France – the expert commentators narrating the broadcast. “We wanted to have Cipollini too,” says executive producer Patrick Chassé, who oversees the Eurosport coverage. “He wanted to spend the holidays with his family, so it was not possible.” “Maybe next year,” says Chassé. McEwen ready to rage on

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By Nathaniel Vinton, VeloNews staff writer

Second act for Cipo’?
The recently retired Italian champion Mario Cipollini may make a second career as a television personality. According to Eurosport, the deep-voiced playboy was close to accepting an offer to work as one of the broadcaster’s “consultants” for the Tour de France – the expert commentators narrating the broadcast.

“We wanted to have Cipollini too,” says executive producer Patrick Chassé, who oversees the Eurosport coverage. “He wanted to spend the holidays with his family, so it was not possible.”

“Maybe next year,” says Chassé.

McEwen ready to rage on Champs-Elysees
Following Friday’s stage ending at Le-Puy-en-Veley, Australian sprinter Robbie McEwen is ready to do battle on Sunday when the Tour de France concludes in Paris, France.

“I would expect Sunday we will smash into the Champs-Elysees,” says McEwan. “We might ride over the line once as a group under the control of Discovery Channel, and after that, the war’s going to burst open. There’s going to be guys attacking everywhere.”

On Friday McEwen sprinted to the line at the front of the main group, with other top sprinters Thor Hushovd and Stuart O’Grady right behind him. “I decided to do a sprint just to stay in touch,” he said. “I’m 21 points behind the others, and there’s almost no difference in the points. It’s only one point per place, so we’re hardly any closer. It’s more of a practice run for Sunday.”

On Sunday, McEwen doesn’t expect any surprise contenders. “I don’t think there’s many other teams that want to have a sprint. Maybe just Française des Jeux will ride with us. I don’t expect that the others will. Maybe Cofidis will if they’ve decided that’s the only chance.”

Anti-doping chief speaks
Dick Pound, the chairman of the World Anti-Doping Agency, was asked what he thought of the fact that this year’s Tour de France is relatively free of doping busts.

“I don’t follow the sport all that well,” said Pound. “But with guys like Victor Conte out there finding ways to get around our tests, all you can say is that if a guy can beat a test, then he can beat a test.”

What does Pound think about frequent claims that Lance Armstrong is the most tested athlete in sports?

“I think Ian Thorpe might disagree with him,” said Pound, naming the Australian swimming champion and nine-time Olympic medalist.

The post-Armstrong era: a few predictions
Bobby Julich: “It’ll be exciting especially for CSC, because we have the heir to the throne, I guess. More people will have a chance to win the Tour de France, which is the ultimate goal in cycling.”

Chris Horner: “It’s going to more nervous than ever. Without Armstrong in the race, everyone is going to think they have a shot at the Holy Grail.”

Johan Bruyneel, Discovery Channel sport director: “I start from the idea that we cannot replace Lance. There is not a second one in line to step up and do what’s he’s been doing. Either we have some people in the team can try to step up and take the responsibilities, it’s something very difficult to deal with if someone to be next leader of my team – or find someone who isn’t already on our team; that’s not the case at the moment – we have to change our mind when Lance retires and put the bar a little lower, still winning big races.”

Erik Breukink, Rabobank sport director/team manager: “It is a European sport. It stays like this. It doesn’t change. Only Armstrong is not on the Tour, and other riders have a chance now to win the Tour. He was the first one who really focused only on the Tour de France. Not even Indurain rides like Armstrong. Indurain was even winning the Giro. Armstrong was really only focusing on the Tour, and that’s the difference he made in the last seven years. I think it’s always good when there are big sponsors coming into cycling, like Discovery and U.S. Postal. They are big sponsors, and they are attracting other sponsors also. That’s an advantage. It helps. Armstrong is a famous guy. But after Armstrong somebody else will take it over.”