Despite our concieted continenal cousins being famous for their open minded attitude to things such as the English language even dedicated francophobes have been stunned by the latest move from Tour director-general Jean-Marie Leblanc.
He says “We put our confidence in the teams that we know rather than teams that have just been formed or strengthened, like CSC and Mercury.” “The door isn’t closed to anyone — either French or foreign teams. It is up to them to convince us. To be convincing, there is a certain chemistry, to see their results, their comportment, their potential….”
What we say is: Judging by the approved listing this “certain chemistry” and “comportment” actually mean they need to be as French as possible.
French B list teams AG2R, Bonjour and Jean Delatour have been included while the Mercatone Uno-Albacom, Team Coast, CSC-World Online, and Chann McRae (Mercury-Viatel), Mario Cipollini and Laurent Dufaux (Saeco), Jeroen Blijlevens (Lotto-Adecco), David Etxebarria and Haimar Zubeldia (Euskaltel-Euskadi), and Christophe Mengin (La Française des Jeux) have all been left out and will have to scramble for the last four “wildcard” places in April.
This almost certainly excludes some real contenders – Alex Zülle and Fernando Escartin, Laurent Jalabert, Pavel Tonkov, Laurent Dufaux, Jeroen Blijlevens, David Etxebarria and others – and infamous characters such as Saeco’s Mario Cipollini. It also leaves teams who have gained sponsorship from collecting highly ranked riders such as the American Mercury-Viatel and our own Linda McCartney squad in real trouble as they now can’t provide sponsors with the profile they promised.
For the full ‘did they – didn’t they’ Tour 2001 team listing check out Velonews but we’ll keep you informed of any developments including a so far unconfirmed rumour of flamin’ big trouble at McCartney’s burger meisters.
Meanwhile we thought we’d best start our own forum thread for Frenchmen or indeed Euro loving fox hunters who are becoming increasingly sickened and outraged by the highly biased, opinionated and ill-founded drivel that passes for editorial tone on this site these days.
You see, we do love you after all.