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As posted http://www.cyclingnews.com/letters/?id=2004/feb13letters

How will the Tour 2004 unfold?
It was a dark winter night in the Canadian snow-packed Laurentian mountains. From the star-studded sky came a small but clearly visible light beam. It hit the snowdrift in front of my log cabin and began melting it. I was afraid at first, but then I saw that the beam was merely writing something in the snow... Here's what it said.

Predictions for the 2004 Tour de France.

The big news about the TdF 04 happens before the Tour. In early March at the Vuelta à Murcia, Armstrong and Ullrich meet in a heavily media-covered event. Before the start of the first stage they look at each other and decide that sportsmanship should be the order of the day. When the stage finally begins, both decide that it would be unsportsmanlike not to wait for the other guy, so both refuse to turn a pedal before the other. Reports from Spain in early July have both riders still standing at the start line at Murcia, five-month beards on their chins, surrounded by empty musette bags and drink bottles, still giving each other "The Look" and waiting for the other guy to move.

Another story breaks just before the prologue. Jean-Marie Leblanc (in an unprecedented move) decides to ban all Spanish riders that are not riding on a French team or a French bike, finally proving Pascual Llorente's point. Somewhat interestingly, ASO forgets to ban Roberto Heras, thinking that he is still riding for USPS.

The prologue is won by Joseba Beloki, with David Millar close second. Millar has to carry his ride across the last part of the 6 km course after both pedals, his saddle and the handlebars come off. Tyler Hamilton breaks his collarbone after being hit by Millar's left pedal. He will continue the Tour.

The first three stages are decided by mass-sprints and are all won by Sandro Petacchi.

The team time trial is nullified after it is discovered that theoretically an entire team could lose sufficient time for the leader to lose the TdF. After checking the race's history, Leblanc discovers that a lot of Tours were decided by less than a five-minute margin.

Stage 5, 6 and 7 are all won by Petacchi but he crashes after his sixth win while trying to having to raise six fingers to point at the camera and not noticing Graham Watson, who wanted to take one of his famed snapshots at the finish line. Petacchi retires, Watson is okay, his camera is not. Tyler Hamilton breaks his second collarbone after being hit by Watson's camera lens. He will continue the Tour.

Stage 8 is won in the rain by David Millar after a solo break away of 171 km, which starts after the first kilometre of the day. Millar is happy but tells everyone that the course is too dangerous and the race should be stopped.

After the rest day it's time for the sprinters again. O'Grady and Zabel battle it out on the Stage 9 finish line, only to find that they mistook the "flamme rouge" for the finish. Cooke and McEwen sprint to the real line and cross it at the exact same time. The photo finish proves it. They share the podium, the ceremonial handshakes, the flowers, the podium girls... Both fail to go on to stage 10 and open a flower shop in the center of Guéret, which is a nice city for settling.

Stage 10 is won by Axel Merckx. His dad is so proud that he knocks over a couple of spectators on the way to the podium. He also runs into Tyler Hamilton who falls and breaks his left arm. He will continue the Tour.

Stage 11 sees a 20-man breakaway getting caught by the peloton with only 50 meters to go. O'Grady wins the sprint but is later disqualified after it is found that "the bulge" he was packing in his shorts on the podium is actually an aluminum-wrapped cucumber.

Stage 12 is a classic mountaintop finish. Botero wins the stage in front of Heras, who gets the yellow, Virenque is third but gets the King of the Mountain in the process. Virenque fails to start Stage 13 as during the night he develops a rash as a result of sleeping in the polka-dot jersey. He now has permanent polka-dot scars all over his upper body.

Stage 13 is won by Beloki in front of Heras. Beloki breaks down in tears at the finish line. A minute later Tyler Hamilton passes the finish line, not noticing the puddle of tears. His front wheel slips and he crashes, breaking his right arm. He will continue the Tour.

Stage 14 is won by Vinokourov, who takes along his one year old baby in a bike trailer for the stage. He literally "rocks the baby" over the finish line.

Stage 15 is won by Basso in front of Sastre and Bettini. In fact all riders in the front group are Italian. They are all disqualified as a raid by French police allegedly discovers receipts for drugs of a total of over €600 million in their luggage (but no drugs). Six months later French police quietly abandon the case for lack of evidence.

Stage 16 is the long-awaited time trial up Alpe d'Huez. Beloki wins by three seconds over Botero and five seconds over Heras (still in yellow). Leblanc is stunned that no Frenchman has yet won a stage and decides to ban all non-European riders from the rest of the Tour. After protests by the US state department, Leblanc reverses his decision and decides to leave US and Canadian riders in. Tyler Hamilton is so happy that he tries to do a wheelie on his TT bike only to fall and break his neck. He will continue the Tour.

Stage 17 is won by Floyd Landis after replacing his radio earpiece with headphones and listening to ZZ Top all day. However, Floyd will not continue the Tour as he does not notice the finish line and keeeps on going. Rumors have it that he is now on tour with the little ol' band from Texas.

Stage 18 is won by Beloki - who promptly breaks down and cries again - in front of Heras who remains in yellow. Joseba will however not go on with the Tour as the entire La Boulangère team is stricken with diarrhea after eating some bad brioches for dinner.

Stage 19 is won by David Millar, again in the rain. He is very happy and thanks all his friends during the podium ceremony, including a tribal medicine man from Mozambique who was seen before the stage in the start area performing a rain dance. Heras stays in yellow.

Stage 20 gets underway with a dispute between Manolo Saiz and Johann Bruyneel after Johann tries to hand out champagne to the reporters at the start line. Manolo accuses Johann of "backstabbing" after which Bruneel punches Saiz in the face. Both roll on the floor fighting and screaming. Leblanc sees the scene and fines them both one symbolic Swiss franc before he bans them both from the final stage.

At the finish line there is a mass-sprint of the peloton which is won by George Hincapie. However George does not believe he won and refuses to go to the podium. Heras rolls in with the main pack, proudly displaying the yellow. At the podium he receives the final yellow jersey of the 2004 TDF with... a USPS logo on it! Some rumors have it that he never left the "blue train", others claim that Bruyneel has offered him a new contract to rejoin the USPS squad. The contract is backdated to January 1 2004.

Epilogue: After reading this message in the snow, I realized that this could only mean that I either had too much eggnog for Xmas or that I have been reading too many Cyclingnews.com reader letters. Either way, I'm waiting for the Tour 2004! Only 135 days left!

Laurent Schoux
Montreal, Canada
Wednesday, February 11, 2003
 

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That was the funniest thing I have ever read

My favorite parts were with Ty Hamilton. Wheelies on the TT bike was hillarious. I got this funny mental image of him riding on his new BMC bikes in a full body cast.
 

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well done.LOL
But you forgot stage 22 Where Jacky Durand goes on a 180 km break-away only to be told by his directeur sportif that the tour ended the day before .
 

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Tour De France prediction for '04? I'm taking Ullrich or Hamilton. Phuck Lance.
 

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My not-so-bold predictions

Podium-Armstrong, Ullrich, Basso
Green-Petacchi
Polkadot-Mayo, Simoni or Virenque
White-Chavanel or Valverde
Most aggressive-Valverde or Chavanel
TT's-Millar and Ullrich
MTT-Armstrong
TTT-USPS
Team Clas.-T-Mobile
 

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Hey SPUN... Thx for posting my letter :D
 

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04

this years tour should be very interesting, maybe even more so than last years. i think hamilton will make a good appearance in the mountains, because he rode so strong last year and that was with a broken collarbone. i think lance will win, but this will be his last time. ullrich or vino will take 2nd, and hamilton will take 3rd. should be interesting when Cipo and Petacchi are sprinting together. i'm hoping Cipo schools Petacchi, if only because he's the epitome of the word "cool". i want to see lance and tyler battle it out on the Alp d Huez, and millar and ullrich battle it out in the ITT.

oh, and i will win the TdF in about 10-12 years.....look for me
 

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soulsurfer104 said:
this years tour should be very interesting, maybe even more so than last years. i think hamilton will make a good appearance in the mountains, because he rode so strong last year and that was with a broken collarbone. i think lance will win, but this will be his last time. ullrich or vino will take 2nd, and hamilton will take 3rd. should be interesting when Cipo and Petacchi are sprinting together. i'm hoping Cipo schools Petacchi, if only because he's the epitome of the word "cool". i want to see lance and tyler battle it out on the Alp d Huez, and millar and ullrich battle it out in the ITT.

oh, and i will win the TdF in about 10-12 years.....look for me

Firstly Lance will not win the tour this year, also he will be lucky to even make the podium. First reason, the curse on the sixth tour, no other rider has ever won their sixth, there has always been a event to prevent this or their confidence gets in the way. Lance is too fat and has lost the power to weight that has gave him the edge in the mountains and his time trialling is hasn't improved since last season. Finially lance hasn't been racing enough in he is currently more concerned with making media appearances and eating doughnuts with actressses; simply put fame has got to his head and he has lost sight that his racing is what has made him what he is today nothing else and without it he is a nobody. He needs to get back to racing if he wants to stand a chance come July, grand tours are won in march and april.
My podium picks Hamilton Ullrich Basso
other notiable mentions Vinokourov, Mayo, Moreau, Heras
darkhorse Boogerd\

but its the tour so anything can happen so i think we'll just have to wait till july to find out
 

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Don't forget to put Rebellin in there somewhere. He's doing well in the Classics so far.
 

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I wouldn't forward that e to him, without first asking Ivan Dominguez how crow tastes. If you're buying all that donut, tv hype you are falling into the second best LA ruse since the "I'm blowing up bluff" at Alpe de Huez. First he's close to both Merckx and Indurain, he won't make Miguels mistake of showing up out of form. second he won't (actually too late to do anyhow) take a year off from the Tour from Boredom (Like Merckx)and go win the Giro and set the hour record. Hinault and Anquetil both took too long to win five and their age made it harder.
Hell HinaBut LA has the best coach, the best technology and is the most meticulous preparer since Eddy. Heras said it best and I paraphrase "remember he still won the Tour this year and he and the team weren't at their best." USPS has shown more early success than ever, is as good or better than they have ever been. Methinks he will want to put a stamp on #6 and will dominate the race far more than last year.
my prediction LA
Tyler,
Jan
toss in Basso, Mayo, Jullich or Leipheimer as my wild cards.
 

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atpjunkie said:
I wouldn't forward that e to him, without first asking Ivan Dominguez how crow tastes. If you're buying all that donut, tv hype you are falling into the second best LA ruse since the "I'm blowing up bluff" at Alpe de Huez. First he's close to both Merckx and Indurain, he won't make Miguels mistake of showing up out of form. second he won't (actually too late to do anyhow) take a year off from the Tour from Boredom (Like Merckx)and go win the Giro and set the hour record. Hinault and Anquetil both took too long to win five and their age made it harder.
Hell HinaBut LA has the best coach, the best technology and is the most meticulous preparer since Eddy. Heras said it best and I paraphrase "remember he still won the Tour this year and he and the team weren't at their best." USPS has shown more early success than ever, is as good or better than they have ever been. Methinks he will want to put a stamp on #6 and will dominate the race far more than last year.
my prediction LA
Tyler,
Jan
toss in Basso, Mayo, Jullich or Leipheimer as my wild cards.
Hate to break it to you buddy but Armstrong isn't in the same league as Merckx and even Indurin
Firstly consider Merckx won 11 grand tours armstrong 5, merckx 4 world championships armstrong 1, Merckx won at absolutely everything he entered where as armstrong only plays to win once per year. Merckx could do everything climb sprint time trial solo break, armstrong can only climb and time trial
Merckx broke to embarass his opponents armstrong is too concerned with showing class or burning out. Merckx wanted to win everything he was the total package the total athlete

MERCKX IS A CYCLING GOD, THE BEST EVER WAS THE BEST THERE EVER WILL BE HANDS DOWN
 

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_andrew_ said:
Hate to break it to you buddy but Armstrong isn't in the same league as Merckx and even Indurin
Firstly consider Merckx won 11 grand tours armstrong 5, merckx 4 world championships armstrong 1, Merckx won at absolutely everything he entered where as armstrong only plays to win once per year. Merckx could do everything climb sprint time trial solo break, armstrong can only climb and time trial
Merckx broke to embarass his opponents armstrong is too concerned with showing class or burning out. Merckx wanted to win everything he was the total package the total athlete

MERCKX IS A CYCLING GOD, THE BEST EVER WAS THE BEST THERE EVER WILL BE HANDS DOWN
I agree that Eddy is the greatest... So we should listen to him. In 2000 he predicted that Lance would win 6, 7 or more Tours (in France that is).

I don't want to get into a discussion here because I feel that nobody can honestly predict the outcome of the Tour de France. We can speculate on who is a favorite and who is not... just to be proven wrong the first mountain stage, the first time trial or even the first stage... see 2003. Hence, look at my original Letter and I think we should all agree to disagree and be on our merry way :D

And I know... What do I think ? I think it's going to be Kim Kirchen winning the Tour de France 2004 (I don't even know if he'll be selected...but if he is... He will win). Should I bet 1$ on it I would probably come out wealthy :D
 

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did I ever say LA is better?

I've checked my post over and over as I gaze across my office at my Molteni Orange Merckx that got me here to work and I just can't find it. I was comparing the failures of other 5 time champions which you so 'non-scientifically' blame on a 'curse'. Trust me, my daughter (9 months Old) has a picture of Eddy over her crib (69 breakaway) and I'm accutely aware of his Palmares. Like I stated he would have won 6 but took a key year off, then a wreck and finally a punch by a jealous spectator ruined his chances. Indurain clearly made a training decision error (coming in a tad heavy) expecting to ride off the extra weight in the first "easy-(relative term)" week of the Tour. Bad weather (cold/rain) forced a sluggish pace and extra food intake to keep warm kept those pounds on and that's when Riis attacked in the mtns. I used Miguel and Eddy foremost as they are friends, allies and mentors of Lance. Big Mig taught him his cadence.
In regards to your other posts:
LA's TTing well lets see, he's won every TT he's done this year except 1 at Crit. Intern, which he came in a close second to Jens Voight who had trained to 'peak' for this event.
so his TTing hasn't shown much this season?
He's had opportunity even 'off form' to win a early mini-tour but instead after taking the TT works as a Dom for team mate Landis.
His so far 'early season' , fat/rock star lifestyle/ beer drinking/ donut eating self has had more early season victories than any other year.
The "cuban missle" sends a mild insult his way 'not an issue' in TdG, Lance grabs his wheel and pips him in a SPRINT. check the pix of his lunge. this tells volumes about his 'attitude' and everytime someone detracts him, it motivates him more for the kill.
In regards as I said I'm not comparing him to any of the other of the 5x winners but if you'd like I will.
On TdF Palmares alone (Days in Yellow, Stage Victories and overall time gaps)
the order would be
1) Merckx (God) none even close
2) Hinault (the last true patron of the Tour) I'll put him here even though I only count 4 of his victories as the fifth was gifted. But knee injury, killed a key section of his TdF career.
3) LA (5 in a row, more days in Yellow, more stages) competes and wins in both TT and Mtn stages ( Mtn. where Indurain and Anquetil were more known for damage control)
so LA gets the 'more all around package' over Mig and Anquetil but under the annibal and the Badger as, as youstated they took sprints as well.
4) Big Mig (gotta give pts for the 5x in a row his overall gentlemanship and absolute domination of the TT)
5) Anquetil (though begrudgingly as his competitiveness spanned a longer timespan than Mig or LA)
6) Lemond, I'm counting him as a 4x winner (taking one back from the Badger). without that stupid hunting accident he may have been the first to win 6.
now this is based on Tour record alone, Mig would jump LA in an overall as he raced and won other GT's. But it's hard to judge honestly across time as different ages require different training, etc....Cycling is far more specific for everyone now so riders don't dominate across disciplines like they used to. Don't forget Eddy kicked tail on a fixie as well.
so now let's all chant and be happy
EDDY! EDDY! EDDY! EDDY! EDDY! EDDY! EDDY!
and yes, we should listen to the words of God as so eloquently put in another post.
I'm just bummed that after Sunday my beloved classics are over and the OLN coverage this year has sucked! Lemond said it best, "I'd trade my world championships for a Paris Roubaix" or Indurain " I'd settle for a year of seconds for victory in the Tour".
 

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so my question is

Coppi or Bartali.equal # of wins , Coppi cut down by constant battle with Malria but Bartali remained competitive for a huge span of years. How many woudl they have won without WW2?
 

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atpjunkie said:
3) LA (5 in a row, more days in Yellow, more stages) competes and wins in both TT and Mtn stages ( Mtn. where Indurain and Anquetil were more known for damage control)
so LA gets the 'more all around package' over Mig and Anquetil but under the annibal and the Badger as, as youstated they took sprints as well.
4) Big Mig (gotta give pts for the 5x in a row his overall gentlemanship and absolute domination of the TT)
Big Mig is ahead of LA right now. Two Tour-Giro doubles outweigh his boring racing style and tilt the scale in his favor over LA's five Tours with no other grand tour attempts--let alone victories.

Big Mig was never a whiner. LA's rediculous excuses last year in preparation for a loss were pathetic. Lemond usually whined after or while something was happening; even he didn't whine before it happened.
 

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did you skip the line

based on Tour record alone? I made clear reference to Migs Giro wins afterwards when referring to 'overall' status. But then again we could add WC or overall positions in classics, etc..., that is why I qualified mine as TOUR PALMARES ALONE
regarding attitude, "who gives a ___!" and what does that matter in their rankings?
as far as cycling gentlemanship yes MIg is #1 in Tour 5x winners.
Eddy and Hinault were both slave driving, S>O>B taskmasters, does that matter? I don't care that Lance, or Lemond whined. Hell Poulidor was probably one of the finest, most humble gentleman cycling has seen, and he has a heapful of also rans (and the French publics eternal adoration) to go with it.
Big Mig was great, the Bjorn Borg of cycling. I'm never going to knock him, I'm not doing a personality test as this is SUBJECTIVE. Some people liked Mac and Jimmy Connors (or Nastase for that matter). some liked Laver and Borg, that is a subjective, personally I liked Borg. as I like Mig.
Eddy was a tough man to ride with or for, but as for his 'public' personality he just let his legs do the talking. He's always been the man, but the images I think of most are him pinning it on the cobbles and mud as much or more than his legendary breaks in the Tours.
 

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and last yet

Anquetil was petty and jealous of Poulidors public popularity. So much so that even when he couldn't win the Tour, he did everything in his power to ruin Raymonds chance. He had this guy beat and that still wasn't enough to allow him to give RP a day in the sun. Is this conduct becoming of a champion? Unfortunately so. Hinault's great quote after winning 5 " as he suffered for me, I will suffer for him" followed by absolute treachery that split La Vie Clare in 2. So in all reality Mig is the anomoly in the group. The rest of them are pretty much a bunch of [email protected]@rds but that's what got them where they are.
 

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Good points, junkie.
 
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