Articles - Lance on Safety Issues

Discussion in 'Road Cycling' started by Churchill, Jul 12, 2004.

  1. Churchill

    Churchill Guest

    Jul. 11, 2004. 01:00 AM

    Lance's safety prescription
    Armstrong: Spills can be prevented Race `needs time trial in first

    SAINT-BRIEUC, France-Lance Armstrong says Tour de France organizers
    could do more to calm jumpy riders and avoid spills that could mar his
    record hopes.

    For a second straight day yesterday, the five-time champion offered
    unsolicited pointers for Tour managers. He suggested that a time trial be
    held in the often-nervy first week, to thin the number of race favourites.

    Sending riders out one-by-one against the clock would leave just the
    fastest with a realistic chance of winning the three-week Tour. Laggards
    would fall by the wayside, reducing the field of contenders. That, in turn,
    could leave fewer racers jostling each day at the front of the race - a
    recipe for crashes.

    "The race needs a time trial in the first week because it's too
    nervous without it," Armstrong said. "It's safer for the event to establish
    some order in the group and we're still another week away from figuring out
    who the hell's going to be in the front."

    A day earlier, Armstrong had said the finish of Friday's stage was too
    narrow. A pile-up left some riders badly hurt.

    As the 32-year-old battles for a record sixth title, young riders are
    stealing the show.

    Outpacing two last challengers, Italian hope Filippo Pozzato bolted to
    victory in yesterday's 204.5-kilometre ride from Chateaubriant to
    Saint-Brieuc in Brittany. At 22, Pozzato is the Tour's youngest rider.

    French champion Thomas Voeckler, 25, holds the overall leader's yellow

    Armstrong, who aims to recover the lead by Tour's end in Paris on July
    25, was 55th yesterday, 10 seconds behind Pozzato. Armstrong rival Jan
    Ullrich of Germany, the 1997 Tour winner, placed 30th, in the same time as
    the Texan.

    Overall, Armstrong remained in sixth place, nine minutes and 35
    seconds behind Voeckler. Ullrich is still 55 seconds behind Armstrong.

    Pozzato's win was the first bright spot for Italians. Two top Italian
    sprinters, Alessandro Petacchi and Mario Cipollini, withdrew with injuries
    this week. Gilberto Simoni nearly quit yesterday after an injury in the mass
    crash Friday.

    A dozen riders have withdrawn so far from the Tour, mostly with
    injuries. Tyler Hamilton, an American with Phonak, was embroiled in Friday's
    pileup and hurt his back but is racing on.

    "I wasn't feeling so hot," said Hamilton.

    Armstrong was bruised but not badly hurt in a tumble Friday.

    "I thought you'd have more spice in the race, but I think guys are
    tired and stressed from all the crashes," he said.

    Belgian Christophe Brandt became the first rider to fail a doping
    test. His team said he was sent home after testing positive for a heroin
    substitute. Brandt suggested a lab error might be to blame and was awaiting
    results of a follow-up test.

    Associated Press

  2. Churchill

    Churchill Guest

    Armstrong: Bruised, but far from out


    10 July 2004 10:46

    Lance Armstrong knows his bid for a record sixth Tour de France victory
    could all end in one crash. So he wasn't pleased when dozens of riders went
    down in a pile in front of him.

    The crash at the finish in Angers was the final straw for a five-time
    champion already bruised up in a tumble earlier on Friday in an otherwise
    smooth ride in balmy weather through western France.

    Exasperated, he suggested that organisers of the three-week race should put
    safety first.

    "You saw the big crash at the finish, this is stressful," the 32-year-old
    said. "Coming in, they've got the barriers really tight, and you've got 200
    guys racing through there at 40 miles (65 kilometres) an hour."

    "I don't know what ... they're thinking, but you're going to have crashes."

    Belgium's Tom Boonen, a former teammate of Armstrong riding in his first
    Tour, won the sixth stage in a sprint ahead of the spill that took out and
    held up dozens of riders, including the Texan.

    Only the evening before, Armstrong had told reporters about the strain of
    knowing that his ambitions at the Tour -- the race he works so hard to
    win -- could all end in a bout of bad luck.

    "In this race, I'm always scared, always nervous," he said. "The last two or
    three days for me, personally, have been really, really nerve-racking."

    Down but not defeated, Armstrong scraped himself up off the asphalt and
    resumed after his fall 20 minutes into the 196-kilometre ride from Bonneval
    to Angers.

    In the rain-soaked first week, other riders haven't been so lucky.

    Italian sprinting specialists Alessandro Petacchi and Mario Cipollini
    withdrew from the race before Friday's stage. Petacchi, who roared to four
    sprint-finish wins in the 2003 Tour, injured a shoulder in a crash on wet
    roads Thursday.

    Former world champion Cipollini fell on Wednesday, aggravating a leg injury
    from the Giro d'Italia in May. That same day, Iban Mayo -- once considered a
    threat to Armstrong -- fell out of contention after he crashed and lost
    crucial minutes.

    While he wasn't hurt, the spill was Armstrong's biggest scare in his bid for
    an indelible place in the annals of sporting history.

    "It was a typical early race crash," Armstrong said. "There's nothing you
    can do. You hit the brakes, but bikes don't stop that fast, so I just went

    "It wasn't bad, a little bit on the arm, a little bit on the hip," he said,
    listing his bruises.

    In another stroke of good fortune, the second spill that held him up almost
    within sight of the finish happened close enough to the line that he wasn't
    docked valuable time.

    Under the rules, competitors held up in a crash in the final kilometre of a
    stage are given the same time as Boonen, the winner: 4 hours, 33 minutes, 41

    That meant that while Armstrong finished 34th, German Jan Ullrich -- his
    most feared rival -- was 26th but didn't make up time on the defending
    Frenchman Thomas Voeckler of Brioches La Boulangere maintained the overall
    lead. Armstrong remains 9 minutes, 35 seconds back in sixth place, and
    Ullrich trails him by 55 seconds.

    Barring any mishaps, Armstrong is confident he can recover the leader's
    yellow jersey by the end of the three-week race in Paris on July 25,
    expecting Voeckler to eventually buckle under the pressure of leading.

    Taking the yellow jersey made the 25-year-old French champion a homegrown
    hero overnight, but he still shows deference to the leader of the pack.

    Ensnared in Armstrong's crash, he rolled over the champion's feet -- and was
    quick to apologise.

    "I hope I didn't twist his ankle," Voeckler said.

    Crashes are nothing new. Riders accustomed to grueling mountain climbs and
    punishing weather often take tumbles, and are competing here with bandaged
    chins, black eyes and stitched-up wounds.

    This year, a mix of nervous, aggressive riding and narrow roads made slick
    by rain have caused several collisions and spills in the first six stages.

    The daily medical statement issued by Tour organisers on Friday listed a
    dozen riders who had a variety of injuries, including broken ribs, injured
    knees, and cut wrists and necks.

    Tyler Hamilton, a former teammate of Armstrong's, hurt his shoulder. But it
    was of little worry for the thick-skinned American: He thrilled crowds a
    year ago by riding most of the Tour with a double-fractured collarbone --
    even winning a stage and
    finishing fourth in Paris.

    The Marblehead, Massachusetts native still has psychological scars.

    "His morale is not so good because he's thinking about last year," Phonak
    team manager Urs Freuler said.

    Several Armstrong teammates have also been entangled in crashes.

    Spaniards Jose Luis Rubeira and Manuel Beltran are riding with stitches
    after falling.
    Another Armstrong teammate, Viatceslav Ekimov of Russia, arrived back at the
    team bus Friday with a trickle of blood down his right knee.

    Armstrong's US Postal Service team has made no secret of its strategy of
    keeping to the relatively safe areas at the head of the main rider pack --
    and others are trying to mimic it.

    The problem: Not everybody can do it.

    "The US Postal's habit of always trying to remain ahead to protect Lance
    Armstrong has been copied this year by other teams," said Boonen, a
    Quickstep rider. "The roads are sometimes narrow, so naturally there isn't
    always enough space." - Sapa-AP