Who's in yellow?
Nazon answers Armstrong criticism by claiming leadPosted: Tuesday July 08, 2003 12:51 PM
PARIS (Reuters) -- Jean-Patrick Nazon took the Tour de France leader's yellow jersey much to everybody's surprise on Tuesday and said it was a reply to derogatory comments made about his team by four-times champion Lance Armstrong.
Six months ago, the Frenchman found himself without a team after being dropped by FDJeux.com and was lucky to be hired at the last minute by French outfit Jean Delatour.
Jean Delatour, in turn, were lucky to take part in the Tour de France after being handed a controversial wildcard for the race at the expense of Domina Vacanze, the team of Italian world champion Mario Cipollini.
The decision made by Tour organizers shocked many in the cycling world.
The Texan, bidding for a record-equalling fifth Tour victory this year, called Jean Delatour "amateurs" in June's Dauphine Libere race.
Armstrong was angry at team leader Patrice Halgand for attacking after the American, who was the overall race leader, had crashed and hurt his arm.
"I had no revenge to take over Armstrong, he's stronger than us in any case," said Nazon, who did not take part in the Dauphine Libere.
"What's happened happened. Maybe he'll back down on his comments which were a little bit pathetic towards our team.
"We're doing the same job as he does. We pedal too. We might not be as strong as he is, but this can be seen as a reply to his remarks," he added.
There was further satisfaction for Nazon as he took the jersey off former teammate, FDJeux.com rider Bradley McGee of Australia.
"I have no revenge to take over my past," said the Frenchman, kicked out by FDJeux.com boss Marc Madiot after a dispute.
"It acted as a kick in the bottom. I went through hard times but maybe it strengthened me. I had a bad reputation, nobody had faith in me," he said.
"Now I have proved I'm not as stupid as some say," he added.
His point made, Nazon will probably only savor the yellow jersey for 24 hours as Wednesday's team time trial will almost certainly lead to the first big upheaval in the Tour standings.
In such a one-off event as the 69-km team test, Jean Delatour are undoubtedly amateurs in comparison to Armstrong's U.S. Postal team.
'Tough' Hamilton praised by Armstrong
SAINT DIZIER, France (Reuters) -- Lance Armstrong has described his former teammate Tyler Hamilton as a "tough dude" for riding in the race with a broken collarbone.
Hamilton, who used to ride for Armstrong's U.S. Postal team, broke his right collarbone in a crash near the end of Sunday's first stage and is continuing in the Tour against medical advice.
The American, now with CSC Tiscali, completed Tuesday's 167.5-km stage from Charleville to Saint Dizier in the bunch finishing in the same time as winner Alessandro Petacchi.
"Tyler is a tough dude, he's a fighter," Armstrong said before the start of the stage.
"I dislocated my collarbone once and I didn't want to get on my bike but Tyler's got a lot of ability to suffer.
"Yesterday the stage to Sedan wasn't an easy day, especially if you don't have complete control of the bike. I was riding along thinking 'man, how's he doing it all taped up and in pain'.
"I admire him a lot for having the courage to carry on. I knew he'd finish if he managed to start the stage but that's the kind of guy he is," added Armstrong, who is going for a record-equalling fifth consecutive win in the Tour.
Hamilton started Tuesday's stage with his shoulder strapped up but said he was determined to stay in the Tour for as long as possible.
"My collarbone is aching a lot but it doesn't really affect my riding. I'd suffer the same if I wasn't on the bike," Hamilton said.
"I slept well last night and that helped me recover. I'm determined to carry on for as long as I can and do the team time trial on Wednesday.
"Hopefully my position on my time trial bike won't affect my riding but we'll see what hqappens out on the road."
Special bikes are used in the time trials, giving the riders a more aerodynamic position. The riders are tucked over the front of the bike with their forearms resting on the handlebars instead of holding on to them.
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