By Andrew Hood
Miguel Indurain is the only man to win five consecutive Tours. “Big Mig,”as he was called in his hey-day, was far away from the Tour de France,in Norway, when Lance Armstrong barnstormed his way to a fourth win, oneshy of Indurain’s record. Here are some excerpts with an interview publishedin the Spanish sports daily MARCA:Question: Who would win if you could race against Armstrong?Answer: “It’s hard to say, because you cannot take things fromera to another. It’s difficult to say who would have won, because we arequite similar, both are strong in the mountains and the time trial.”Q: Is Armstrong very good or his rivals not so much?A: “Armstrong is very good, it’s obvious. But it’s true that,except for Ullrich for two years, every year it’s been someone different.Now there are no pure climbers. This year there was no Ullrich, but Armstrong’s already beaten him twice.”Q: How do you see Armstrong’s transformation?A: “I’m no doctor, so I don’t know, but with the years you gainresistance. It’s obvious that cancer changed him, changed his mentalityand his character. Before he was always attacking off the front, now he’scalmer, smoother. But before like now, he always had a lot of class, hewas a born winner.”Q: Did you ever think Armstrong could win four Tours?A: “No, when he was young, I never thought he could win a Tour.The big surprise was when he won his first. Seeing how much he dominatedthis year, he can win more.”Q: So you think he can win five?A: “For his mentality and physical strength, yes. But in December,you have to start all over again and nothing matters what you did before.From this moment, everything has to go right. But it’s obvious Lance knowshow to get ready and arrive in shape.”Q: And more than six?A: “You have to go year to year. It’s true that he’s still young,for this, he could still win two. But to stay on top is tiring and forthis, you have to only think about the next one. Later, we’ll see.”Ullrich to CSC-Tiscali?
Rumors are flying that troubled cycling star Jan Ullrich willleave his Telekom team to join former teammate Bjarne Riis at CSC-Tiscali.Ullrich’s agent, Wolfgang Strohband, shot down the story, calling the possibledeparture from Telekom “pure invention.”Riis, winner of the 1996 Tour, is now the team manager for CSC-Tiscaliand has a big hole to fill with the retirement of Laurent Jalabert.Telekom is the only team that Ullrich has raced for, but relations betweenthe 1997 Tour champion and team directors Walter Godefroot and Rudy Pevenage are at an all-time low following Ullrich’s positive test for amphetamines in June.Ullrich admitted he took Ecstasy pills in a wild night out on the townand won’t be able to race until March, 23, 2003. Telekom says they won’tpay Ullrich during his suspension. Meanwhile, Riis has reportedly invitedUllrich to vacation at his Tuscany farm in August. “Ullrich is the onlyracer who can fight Armstrong face-to-face,”Riis told Danish reporters at the end of the Tour. “Ullrich is a greatracer, he needs to be in the right environment to recapture his ambitionsfor victory.”Riis said he would only consider Ullrich if the German was free fromhis Telekom contract, however. Strohband insists Ullrich will stay at Telekomand said the top priority is resolving Ullrich’s knee problems in timefor the 2003 Tour.Rubiera likely to stay with USPS for two years
Jose Luis Rubiera will likely stay on for two more years with the U.S.Postal Service team, Rubiera said at the end of the Tour de France.Rubiera’s contract is up at the end of this season, but told VeloNewshe expects to stay with the team. “I want to stay here and they want meto stay here,” he said. “We’re working out the details now.” Rubiera hasbeen one of Armstrong’s most consistent and important helpers since hejoined Postal Service at the start of the 2001 season.”Riding for Armstrong is the best place to be. He’s the best racer andhe’s very professional. His winning attitude really lifts the team,” Rubierasaid.Rubiera and his Postal teammate Roberto Heras will now take on the Vueltaa Espana in September, where Heras hopes to follow up his overall 2000victory with another win.Last year, Levi Leipheimer finished third and Heras fourth, thanks inpart to good work from Rubiera.”Last year I was hoping to do better in the Vuelta and once I realizedI was not in top form, I sacrificed everything to help Roberto and Levi.That’s my job,” Rubiera said.Record French TV audience for Tour
France 2, the channel that broadcasts the Tour de France live acrossFrance, is happy with how the race went. The Tour’s final time trial wasseen by 3.5 million viewers and 5.3 million viewers tuned in to watch thestage to Mont Ventoux. Last year, an average of 3.4 million viewers watchedeach stage. This year, that total inched up to 3.7 million per stage, accordingto the television station.