Scroll down to read these articles from L'Equipe. Translated by Walt Ballenberger
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Paris-Roubaix- To Win Every Year- Tom Boonen Interview-04/10/05
Paris-Roubaix- Boonen at the Rendez-vous- 04/10/05
Results- Tour du Pays Basque and la Sarthe-Pays de la Loire- 04/08/05
Results- Tour du Pays Basque and la Sarthe-Pays de la Loire- 04/07/05
Armstrong Counter-Attacks- 04/06/05
Results- Tour du Pays Basque and la Sarthe-Pays de la Loire- 04/05/05
La Sarthe-Pays de la Loire- Ullrich Expected- 04/04/05
Tour of Flanders- Boonen Makes a Boom- 04/03/05
Tour of Flanders- A Very Anticipated Duel- 04/02/05
Hondo Positive and Suspended- 04/01/05
Devolder OK- 03/31/05
Bettini Drops Out- 03/31/05
Suspense surrounds Armstrong- 03/30/05
To Win Every Year- Tom Boonen Interview-04/10/05
Tom Boonen achieved his third objective of the season, on Sunday becoming the ninth rider to
win the double of the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix, but the Belgian hasn’t yet satisfied his
desire to take the green jersey in the Tour de France or the World Championship title.
What was your strategy to win (Paris-Roubaix)
“I had to get away from the two fastest riders, Michaelsen and Backstedt. That went well because
when Flecha attacked they were left behind. After that I knew I could work together with Hincapie
and Flecha, even though I was a bit fearful at the approach to the velodrome (where the race
ended after a full lap) because I didn’t feel as strong as I thought I would. I was a bit tired, but
nobody attacked in the last five kilometers, and in the final sprint everything went well.”
You have already attained your principal objectives of the season in winning the Tour
of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix. What will motivate you for the rest of the season?
“First of all I’m going to take some vacation. I’ve already accomplished my first three goals of the
season which were to win Harelbeke (the Grand Prix race in Holland on March 26), the Tour of
Flanders and Paris-Roubaix. I’m confident for the rest of the season. I’m going to try to win the
green jersey in the Tour de France and the world championship title in Madrid.
Like last week you remained calm and in control. Do you think that was decisive?
I’m always calm which no doubt made a difference. I knew that in the final stretch with Hincapie
and Flecha that the one who was most in control would win. Hincapie has never won a classic
race and Flecha did win the Grand Prix of Zurich, but he is not used to being in that situation
either. To keep one’s cool is the most important thing to win a race like that.
You’ve won your first Paris-Roubaix at only 24 years of age, which is much younger
than Johan Museeuw or Andrea Tafi (other Belgian classic champions), who just
finished his last Paris-Roubaix at age 38. Does that give you any ideas about how many
times you could win?
“I want to win every year, but certainly not for 14 years. Tafi and Museeuw became winners
much later. For me, I don’t think I’ll be able to stay competitive for such a long time. We’ll see
what happens in the next 5 or 6 years, but I won’t be racing until age 37.
Boonen at the Rendez-vous- 04/10/05
Tom Boonen (Quick Step team), who was the big favorite, took victory for the first time in
Roubaix, a week after his success in the Tour of Flanders. He easily outdistanced the American
George Hincapie (Discovery Channel team) and the Spaniard Juan Antonio Flecha (Fassa
Bortolo team). Magnus Backstedt (Liquigas team), the winner in 2004, came in fourth.
Chavanel Takes the Laurels- 04/08/05
Sylvain Chavanel (Cofidis team) took the 53rd circuit of La Sarthe-Pays de la Loire by pulling
away and winning the 4th and last stage between Sable-sur-Sarthe and Le Mans, which was 180
km in length. Chavanel held the leader’s yellow jersey from the second stage on to the end.
Di Luca In a Close One- 04/08/05
With only 10 seconds separating the top five riders in the Tour du Pays Basque (Tour of the
Basque Country), the last individual time trial of 9.3 km around d’Onati (and the second stage of
the day) made for an intense scene which resulted in a final victory of Danilo Di Luca and the
stage win for Alberto Contador.
In the rain, Aitor Osa (Iles Baleares), the leader coming into the stage, was not able to keep his
lead against the top riders. Only a second behind the Basque (Osa), Danilo Di Luca (Liquigas-
Bianchi team) beat the winner of the 2002 event.
Over a very slippery route, the Italian effectively dominated his adversary who ended up in fourth
place at 14 seconds behind, and he was able to hold off the two time trial specialists, Davide
Rebellin (Gerolsteiner team), second at 3 seconds behind in the general classification, and
Alberto Contador (Liberty team), third overall at 11 seconds back.
Valverde Wins Again- 04/07/05
A second stage win in the Tour du Pays Basque (Tour of the Basque Country) for Alejandro
Valverde. The young Spanish hope won the fourth stage in a sprint. The stage took place
between Votoria and Alsasua (167 km). His countryman Aitor Ota (Baleares team) kept his lead
in the general classification.
Naxon in a Sprint- 04/07/05
In the third stage of the race Circuit la Sarthe-Pays de la Loire which took place on Thursday
between Angers and Sable-sur-Sarthe over 195 km, Damien Nazon (Credit Agricole team) took
his first victory of the season by winning a sprint over Andris Nauduzs. Sylvain Chavanel (Cofidis
team) kept the overall lead.
“It’s been two years since I won a race” (due to family problems and crashes), commented the
stage winner. “There have been highs, some lows, never really deep lows, and I’ve been able
throughout all that time to count on several people, but I don’t want to make a big deal about all
that”. Damien Nazon hasn’t forgotten 2004, however, a very tough year caused by “a crash in
the Tour of Qator”, and “the fact that I couldn’t do the Tour de France after that”, he confided.
“To miss the Tour, that felt very bad. That really broke up the rhythm of my year”.
“I was completely left behind in the sprints, for example. Here, it wasn’t fantastic either, I left too
early into a headwind. But now, I hope things will go better”, he concluded. His good fortune
contrasts with the frustrations of his younger brother, Jean-Patrick, who had to abandon the race
on Thursday, paying the price for recent setbacks (flu, crashes).
Ullrich Feels Good
The big attraction of the event, the German Jan Ullrich, who is in his first race of the year,
continues to made good progress (20th in the sprint, 12th overall): “It was difficult with the rain
and wind and having to deal with the escapees. But I feel good and I was able to maintain
contact in front, but I didn’t want to take any silly risks”.
The 4th stage (arrival in Mans) with grades of up to 18%, will take place on Friday and will be a
“race of truth”. “Friday will really be difficult. Friday, that’s the day when the strongest riders will
be in front”, said Chavanel, who said he fears Laurent Brochard (37 years of age) more than
anyone else, since he is in good form and is racing in his home region.
Lance Armstrong filed a legal action in a Texas court against his ex-assistant who revealed in a
law suit in the same state that he had found doping products in the home of the American
champion. This suit by Armstrong seeks damages of $125,000 US against his former employee.
The ex-assistant of the American champion claims in his suit to have discovered in February of
2004 in the bathroom of Armstrong’s home in Spain a bottle containing “androsterin (and
anabolic steroid, a precursor of testosterone) or something like that”.
Anderson also told justice officials that there “was a concerted effort by a group of dishonest
people to do everything possible for Lance to win the Tour de France, cheating in order to make
money, using prohibited substances and all the while pretending that Armstrong was clean and
was not using doping products (…) A diabolical, dishonest and deliberate plan which is one of
the biggest scandals in the history of sport”.
According to the daily French newspaper, Le Monde, dated April 6, Anderson affirmed to the
judges that Armstrong deliberately avoided a doping control test at his ranch in Dropping Spring,
after his sixth Tour victory last year. The test was to be conducted by representatives of the
World Anti-doping Agency, who have made no comments.
This is “a web of defamatory nonsense based on a string of sensational lies and fabrications”,
the lawyers for the six time Tour winner, who decided to file a counter-suit , wrote to the presiding
judge. They stated that the legal proceeding by Anderson is “below the level of tabloid
journalism”. Mike Anderson filed his complaint several months ago for an unjustified firing after
asking for a salary increase, and because he said Armstrong failed to finance a bike shop for
Anderson as promised.
Armstrong always has stated that he never promised anything to Anderson and that his former
employee is simply trying to extort money from him.
Results- Tour du Pays Basque and la Sarthe-Pays de la Loire- 04/05/05
Di Luca in a Sprint-
The Italian Danilo Di Luca (Liauigas) took the first stage of the 45th edition of the Tour du Pays
Basque (Tour of the Basque country) in a sprint which took place on Monday over 133 km with
both the start and the finish in Zarautz. The man from the other side of the alps beat out
Spaniards Miguel Angel Martin Perdiguere (Phonak team) and Alejandro Valverde (Iles Baleares
The Frenchman Jerome Pineau (Bouygues Telecom) came in fourth. There were about 30
riders in the sprint. The Kazak Alexander Vinokourov and the German Andread Kloden, who was
second in last year’s Tour de France, came in at 21 seconds behind the sprinters.
Tuesday, the second stage will take the riders from Zarautz to La Lejana-Trapagaran (166km).
Two second category three third category climbs are in the program.
Ravard Takes the Victory-
The Frenchman Anthony Ravard (Bouygues Telecom team) sprinted to victory in the first stage
of the 53rd Circuit from la Sarthe-Pays de la Loire, which took place Tuesday between Saint-
Hilaire-de-Riez and Varades, over 197.2 km.
Ullrich Expected- 04/04/05
The German, Jan Ulrich (T-Mobile team), who hasn’t raced yet this year, will be the big attraction
of the 53rd running of la Sarthe-Pays de la Loire race which will be contested from Tuesday
through Friday this week. The winner of the Tour de France in 1997 had his winter preparations
bothered by bronchitis and colds which caused him to drop out of the Tour of Murcie. His fitness
level is the big unknown before the start of this event. “I won’t be able to win, I just want to ride
well, not more nor less than that”, stated Ullrich. “Jan is in good health, very motivated and in
good physical condition for this time of the year”, added his advisor Rudi Pevenage.
Le Belgian Frank Vandenbroucke (MrBookmaker.com team) and the Italian Francesco
Casagrande (Naturino Sapore team) top the list of other foreigners. Vandenbroucke’s condition
is also hazy after his winter preparations were uneven (foot problem and a condemnation for
drug usage by the Belgian authorities slowed his training). As for the return of Casagrande (ex-
world number one rank), he could perhaps spice up the finishes if he has shaken off the effects
of recent wounds.
From the French ranks, Christophe Moreau (Credit Agricole team), Sylvain Chavanel (Cofidis
team) and above all the favorite son from la Sarthe, Laurent Brochard (Bouygeus Telecom), will
be the stars. Moreau has had some health problems which kept him out of Paris-Nice.
Chavanel, who switched teams in the off season, will have the chance to get used to being his
team leader. As for Brochard, he is in great condition for an athlete of 37 years of age, having
recently won the semi-classic Paris-Camembert for the third time. He will try to confirm his
position as the best French rider thus far this season.
“Since the race course is very difficult in the final part, I see probably a fighter-climber type as the
winner” stated Gerald Feuvrier, race director. The last stage between Sable-sur-Sarthe and
Mans (180km), has slopes of 16 or 18% grade.
Boonen Makes a Boom- 04/03/05
All of Belgium was waiting, and the flat country (Belgium) was not disappointed. Tom Boonen
(Quick Step team) stood up to his status as favorite in the Tour of Flanders, raced Sunday over
256 kilometers between Bruges and Meerbeke. Accompanied by five riders, the Belgian
launched his attack with eight km remaining to the finish to outdistance his companions in the
escape and take the victory.
The young man, 24 years of age, from Anvers finally took the lead over the German Andreas
Klier (T-mobile team) in a lead escape group which also included the Belgian Peter Van Peterem,
the Italian Roberto Petito, the German Erik Zabel, and the Italian Alessandro Ballan. The
American George Hincapie headed up another group and took seventh place less than two
minutes behind the leader, ahead of his compatriot Lance Armstrong who was in a third small
Boonen vs. Van Petegem
The springtime sunshine visibly inspired the leaders. In the morning an escape was made by six
riders (Marzoli, Mourey, Boucher, Backstedt, Barredo and Zaballa) who led the race before
having difficulties and falling back little by little. Then Alessandro Ballan shot out in front with fifty
kilometers to the finish. But the acceleration of a trio of favorites (Klier, Van Petegem, Boonen)
at the summit of Valkenberg, at 32 km to the finish line, was decisive. The group was joined at
that time by Zabel and Petito and proved to have an insurmountable lead over the other racers.
Klier and then Boonen tried to escape on the Bosberg, the last of the seventeen climbs of the
day, but that proved to be unproductive. Tom Boonen then waited for Van Petegem to take off
on the flats leading into Meerbeke in order to counter-attack, and he was able to stay out ahead
and take the victory in front of the Flemish public that was applauding all the way. “I could not
wait, I would not have been able to win in a sprint against Zabel who had a teammate to help
him. I had to attack, and I still can’t believe I won” declared Boonen shortly after the victory.
A Very Anticipated Duel- 04/02/05
The sendoff on Sunday of the 89th edition of the Ronde (Tour of Flanders) will feature a very
anticipated duel between the two big favorites, the young hope Tom Boonen (Quick Step team),
24 years of age, and the veteran Peter Van Petegem (Davitamon team), 35 years of age, double
winner of the event, who is going for the hat trick. Lance Armstrong will be there with his
Discovery Channel team, and they could steal the show. Two other teams to keep an eye on:
Rabobank with Erik Dekker, and the T-Mobile team of Steffen Weseman, the defending
This weekend all of Belgium is celebrating cycling. The whole country, from Bruges to Meerbeke,
is mobilized. In all the cafes, bistros, bars and village squares, the public will gather in order to
cheer for their countrymen and see one of them win the Tour of Flanders, the grand classic race
of the year. Last year, a sacrilege, it was a German, Steffen Wesemann, who took the prize. But
for six of the past ten years the statistics have favored the Belgians. Five of them have won in
that time, and since the first running of the event in 1913, they arrived in front at the finish sixty
three times. And this year it is difficult to not mention the favorite racers of the flat country
(Belgium). This 89th running of the Ronde could well turn into a duel between Tom Boonen and
Peter Van Petegem. Thus, up to the start on Sunday, the battle between these two riders will be
the subject of all the passion and commentary.
Hondo Positive and Suspended- 04/01/05
Danilo Hondo (Gerolsteiner team) tested positive in a drug test taken at the beginning of March
and has been suspended by his team, waiting for the results of a confirmation follow-up test.
The German, second in Milan- San Remo on March 19, was tested at the Tour de Murcie where
he won two stages. He dropped out of the first stage of the Three Days of la Panne race on
Wednesday, officially because of a cold.
The analysis showed the presence of a stimulant, of which the manager of Gerolsteiner, Hans-
Michael Holczer, hasn’t identified. The rider, originally from Cottbus and who now lives in
Switzerland, will be incurred a suspension of two years if the second test confirms the results of
Devolder OK- 04/01/05
The Belgian Stijn Devolder (Discovery Channel team) on Thursday won the Three Days of La
Panne by virtue of results in the last stage, an individual time trial of 13.7 km in La Panne, won by
his teammate the Russian Viatcheslav Ekimov in 16’48”88.
In the final classification Devolder had a 16 second lead over the Italian Alessandro Ballan
(Lampre team) who was leading at the start of the final stage, and led the Belgian Nico Mattan
(Davitamon team) by 24 seconds.
Bettini Drops Out- 04/01/05
The Italien Paolo Bettini will not participate in the Tour of Flanders on Sunday, his Quick Step
team announced on Thursday, affirming that the Belgian will be sole leader of the team at the
start of the “Ronde”, a classic race that counts toward the Pro Tour title.
“Paolo is not entirely ready, and it is better to save him for the classics in the Wallon (part of
Belgium) at the end of April where he will be in better condition. The team will thus have just one
leader on Sunday: Tom Boonen” indicated sporting director Wilfried Peeters.
The Quick Step team for the Tour of Flanders on Sunday will be: Tom Boonen (BEL), Wilfried
Cretskens (BEL), Nick Nuyens (BEL), Kevin Hulsmans (BEL), Servais Knaven (PBS), Filippo
Pozzato (ITA), Marc
Suspense surrounds Armstrong- 03/30/05
The American Lance Armstrong, six time winner of the Tour de France, kept the suspense going
Wednesday regarding his possible retirement at the end of the season, all the while admitting a
certain amount of weariness.
“The saddest thing for me, when I’m in Europe, is to be separated from my kids, who are in
Texas. These repeated absences and the long distance makes me want to say stop and to go
home to be with them”, confided the Texan in a long interview published by Le Figaro (French
“To ride the bike three, four hours, maybe more, like I did before I turned professional, still brings
out the same passion in me. That will never change,” stated Armstrong, 33 years of age, all the
while confessing that he was not obsessed by the allure of the Tour at the end of last year as he
was in previous years.
The American also spoke about his cycling goals: “To win a seventh Tour is now my objective.
But seven, that will just be one more, while the sixth, that was magic. I am not interested in
maintaining a high profile. I will keep an eye on cycling from a distance. I’ll be there from time to
time but only for a visit, not for every race on every weekend, as if I were nostalgic to be racing
Curious press conference
“I will not always do the Tour” added the ex-world champion. “It’s very possible to think about
that. But it’s too early to say it. I will announce it to you, I’ll announce it to the world, but later.”
The prospect of retirement at the end of the year was also expressed by the journal L’Express
which wondered if an announcement might be made at the press conference scheduled by
Armstrong on the eve of the Tour of Georgia (United States), on April 18.