Winner of the 2003 Tour and 2004 Giro prologues, Aussie Brad McGee is the man to beat in Liege.
Fdjeux.com rider Bradley McGee will start the prologue of the 91st Tour de France as favourite to wear the first yellow jersey. McGee won the Giro d’Italia prologue this year, and blasted to victory in 2003 Tour prologue time trial. This year’s flat course will again suit his strengths. The Australian spent all of Friday in bed in his hotel room, and apparently didn’t come out of his room to eat anything. His wife, Shany, said that he was ill and had a headache, but team-mate Baden Cooke laughed: “He’s just nervous. He’s like this before most of the prologues he rides. It’s just his way of concentrating.” The 6.1km route starts and finishes either side of the Parc d’Avroy in the centre of Lige in Belgium, just next to the River Meuse. Its only blip is a small rise to just 45 metres after 4.3 kilometres: nothing to slow down McGee, or overall race favourites Jan Ullrich and Lance Armstrong who shouldn’t be very far off the pace today. RAGT’s Swiss rider Pierre Bourquenoud will push the first pedal of the 2004 Tour, rolling down the start ramp at 16.01CET. Armstrong, as defending champion, will be last man off at 19.08CET. * Last year’s prologue runner-up David Millar won’t, of course, be in contention this year, and the Scot was given short shrift by Tour president Patrice Clerc when procycling asked him to comment on Millar’s current tribulations. “I don’t have any sympathy for him,” said Clerc. “That’s nothing against Millar as person, but we are all under pressure to perform. Years ago, the race organisation hadn’t made its position clear on doping, but now everybody knows. There are no excuses. Now they all know the rules.” “There is no plan to strip Millar of his victories, although maybe there should be provision to do that,” said Clerc. “The judicial penalty is enough. He has a lot of talent, so it’s a disaster for him. I think that his career could be finished, although I hope he can survive this.”