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Last Updated: Thursday, 10 July, 2003, 08:47 GMT 09:47 UK
Boogerd calls for sprint overhaul
By Matt Majendie

Holland's Michael Boogerd has called on race officials to change stage finishes at the Tour de France in a bid to halt the horrific crashes that have marred the first week of racing.

Michael Boogerd
Boogerd has been caught up in two crashes already

Currently every rider who crosses the one-kilometre-to-go barrier in the leading bunch is given the same time as the eventual winner.

But the Rabobank rider, who boasts a best Tour finish of fifth, believes changes need to be made before 2004.

He told the BBC Sport website: "Pressure is getting greater on riders all the time to win stages.

"Clearly the big sprints are the problem, where a whole host of guys jostle for position in order to prepare themselves for the last kilometre.

"That jostling is happening earlier and earlier on the flat stages. The organisers need to maybe change the time-sharing rule to when the peloton crosses the 5km barrier rather than with 1km left.

"That way we're more likely to steer clear of the endless crashes we had last year."

Alpe d'Huez would be the one I'd want to win the most
Michael Boogerd

Boogerd is among those to have fallen foul of crashes in the opening week - coming off his bike on stage three as well as being caught up in the melee on stage one, which saw Tyler Hamilton break his collarbone.

A year ago, Boogerd ensured he avoided any major incidents by staying towards the front of the peloton.

This year he has taken a different approach.

He said: "I'm not going for the overall classification so I'm further back in the field, which means I'm more susceptible to these accidents.

"It's frustrating that someone else's mistake can cost you a chance to finish the Tour, but that's racing."

He has already seen team leader Levi Leipheimer, who had been bidding for a top-five finish, retire from the race following a crash.

But Boogerd insisted it would not change his race ambitions.

He added: "I don't really have any ambitions. That said, a stage win is always in the back of my mind, as I'm sure it is for every rider.

"Alpe d'Huez would be the one I'd want to win the most but again I can name 20 riders off the top of my head who could do the same.

"I'll just have to see how I'm going and take it from there."

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