Shorts: Latest news from stage 1

Procycling's team at the Tour rounds up the behind-the-scenes action after Sunday's first road stage

Procycling's team at the Tour rounds up the behind-the-scenes action after Sunday's first road stage
At one point on Sunday it looked as though Tour doctor Grard Porte's post-stage inventory of walking wounded might read like a Who's Who of the 2004 Tour. Mario Cipollini, Tyler Hamilton, Oscar Sevilla and Armstrong allies Manuel Beltran and Benjamin Noval were all among the fallers on the rain-sodden Belgian roads on Sunday. Fortunately, all were able to continue and complete the stage in the main peloton. Team Phonak boss Urs Freuler told procycling this evening that Hamilton had sustained "road rash to his right hip, but no injuries which should affect his performance." * One rider who didn't hit the tarmac this afternoon, but received more of Porte's attention than anyone was Aussie Brad McGee. Apparently handicapped by the recurrence of a long-standing back problem, the fdjeux.com team leader eventually rode into Charleroi in next-to-last place, escorted by team-mate and countryman Matthew Wilson, and over six minutes down on stage winner Jaan Kirsipuu. McGee complained tonight of feeling "cut in half" and "powerless in his legs". The 28-year-old Aussie Olympic hopeful will undergo checks this evening before deciding whether or not he can start tomorrow's second stage from Chareloi to Namur. * Another of McGee's countrymen, Nick Gates of the Lotto-Domo team, will not given the option of starting on Monday. Gates trailed into Charleroi tonight over half-an-hour adrift of the main peloton and more than five minutes outside the time limit. A press release tonight confirmed that the 32-year-old domestique had been eliminated from the race. * A beaming Paolo Bettini reacquainted himself with the polka-dot jersey he briefly wore in the Tour of 2000 tonight - then immediately vowed to help Quick Step team-mate Richard Virenque win the coveted garment for the a record seventh time. "This jersey isn't really for me, it's for Richard," said Bettini, whose leadership of the mountains classification partly rewarded a vain 116km breakaway bid on Sunday. "It's good for me and good for the team, but we would prefer Richard to be wearing it for the seventh time in Paris. Personally, I'll try to keep the jersey for a few days, but my real aim is stage wins. I have none in particular in mind, but I worked well at the Tour of Switzerland recently and I'm feeling good." * Podium aspirant Ivan Basso admitted that nerves may have contributed to a prologue performance which, a day later in Lige, the 27-year-old Italian defined as "just about satisfactory". Reflecting on his 70th place finish, 29 seconds down on winner Fabian Cancellara, Basso told procycling on Sunday: "I should have done better, but I put some of it down to the tension: I have been thinking about the start of the Tour for months now. I don't think that there is any disgrace in losing 10 seconds or so to Tyler Hamilton (18th at 18 seconds) and Jan Ullrich (16th at 17 seconds). It wasn't a course on which you could really test or demonstrate your form. At 6.1km, it was too short. That may have been Ullrich's problem if he didn't warm up enough. Personally I'm happy with my form although, in the Tour, you don't get a feel of how good your legs really are until 10 days into the race." * Alessandro Petacchi may have been thwarted in his first stab at a 2004 Tour stage win in Charleloi on Sunday, but - according to an interview with L'Equipe - the omens remain good for the Fassa Bortolo sprinter's green jersey bid. Despite claiming that he is not superstitious, Petacchi recalled an incident from before the Tour which, just maybe, bore the marks of divine intervention. "My cat, Trudi, who spends her whole day playing with balls, dropped a green one next to my suitcase as I was packing for the Tour," Petacchi told journalist Philippe Brunel. "At that point my fianc, Chiara, and I, looked at each other: it was tempting to think that she'd done it on purpose. There were other balls that she could have chosen - a red one, a yellow one, yet she chose that one. It seemed like an omen."
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