Great summary of a great Tour de France


News: Chris Carmichael on the Tour de France. _A great summary by Chris. Here are some excerpts_
There are always heroic performances in the Tour de France, but in 2003 we saw more than usual. Tyler Hamilton surprised everyone, including himself, by finishing the second stage of the race after breaking his collarbone inside the last kilometer of Stage 1. He soldiered on through the mountains and time trials, attacking all the way, and ended the Tour de France fourth place overall, with a stage win from a solo breakaway and a second place performance in the final individual time trial. In 2004, I expect Tyler to be standing on the podium in Paris with Lance Armstrong, though the CSC leader will have to wait at least one more year to win the yellow jersey.
This 2003 Tour de France will be remembered most for the epic battles between Lance Armstrong and Jan Ullrich for the yellow jersey. Armstrong was not as invincible as he was in previous years, and Ullrich was stronger than he was back in 2001, the last year he and Armstrong faced off in the Tour. Lance had to call on his team and his experience to find the strength and the strategy to win his fifth Tour de France, and he will savor this victory for a long time.
Even after accomplishing the goal that he has pursued since this time last year, Lance won't take that much time off the bike. Following the Tour, Lance and I need a short break from each other. He doesn't want to follow structured training for a few weeks, and I don't think he needs to, so we'll talk less frequently than usual during August. He is booked to ride a few post-Tour criteriums, and there are some media obligations to take care of, but he'll still find time to ride almost every day. Once the excitement dies down, though, it's back to work on preparing for the 2004 Tour de France. There are plenty of riders already lining up to challenge him next year, but I believe that if Lance arrives at the start next year in the same or better shape than he was in this year, no one will be able to ride through him to win the 2004 Tour de France.