BBC SPORT Arabic Spanish Russian Chinese

BBC Sport
 You are in: Special Events: 2001: Tour de France: Tour moments  
Sport Front Page
Rugby Union
Rugby League
Other Sports
Special Events
Sports Talk
BBC Pundits
TV & Radio
Question of Sport
Photo Galleries
Funny Old Game
Around The UK: 
N Ireland

BBC Sport Academy
BBC News
BBC Weather

  Monday, 30 July, 2001, 17:19 GMT 18:19 UK
Brotherton's Tour moments
The Tour winners - Laurent Jalabert, Erik Zabel and Lance Armstrong
The Tour winners - Jalabert, Zabel and Armstrong
Simon Brotherton, who throughout the Tour de France has told of his memorable moments from each stage, reflects on the race.

The 2001 Tour de France will be remembered as a good race.

Not only because of the spectacle provided by the cyclists, and Lance Armstrong in particular, but also because of the atmosphere that surrounded it.

There has been an air of suspicion surrounding the race ever since the drug scandals of 1998.

But this year the crowds were easily as big as they have always been, if not bigger, and the carnival atmosphere returned.

The feeling is that the Tour is back.

Lance Armstrong and Jan Ullrich shadow each other
Armstrong and Ullrich share a mutual respect

Nobody is pretending that cycling has solved all its problems, but it has certainly made strides in the right direction and to that extent we have to be optimistic.

The most enduring image came on the first day in the mountains - the day everyone was waiting for to see what would happen in the big duel between Armstrong and Jan Ullrich.

The American kept us guessing as he sat at the back of the lead group grimacing.

And then at the foot of Alpe d'Huez he suddenly came to the front and looked over his shoulder - it felt like a moment in time.

It was only a couple of seconds but it felt like longer.

He was looking Ullrich in the eyes as if to say: "This is where the fight starts, this is it, I'm off and it's up to you to try and come with me."

Armstrong disappeared and never looked back.

Laurent Jalabert takes the plaudits on the Champs Elysees
Jalabart takes the plaudits

He was dominant and just got stronger and stronger as the Tour went on. As a result, he has raised the bar.

Ullrich came to the Tour in a better physical shape than when he won in 1997, but Armstrong made him look pedestrian.

I don't think anyone has ever maximised their potential opportunity for victory as much as Armstrong has.

Now other teams are going to have to look at the way Armstrong prepares for the race and riders will have to match his dedication and preparation if they are going to match him.

Other winners included Laurent Jalabert, one of the best riders of his generation, who has finally won over the French public after a lukewarm relationship through the years.

He has spent most of his career riding for a Spanish team and he quit the Tour in 1998 when there was the drug problem.

But now the French love him and he got the biggest cheer of all the riders on the Champs Elysees after winning the polka dot jersey.

Erik Zabel out sprints Stuart O'Grady
Zabel's superior sprinting saw off O'Grady's challenge

The other main jersey winner was Erik Zabel.

I can't complain that the German won, but my heart goes out to Stuart O'Grady.

O'Grady had a great Tour and surpassed all expectations, but to lose the green jersey on the finishing line in Paris is heartbreaking.

It was an inevitable outcome and you could tell for several days that Zabel, the better sprinter of the two, would win, but it was a cruel end for O'Grady.

The mutual respect between Armstrong and Ullrich, when they crossed the line with the American clasping the German's hand, was a memorable image.

As was the moment that Ullrich disappeared over the side of the mountain.

We're leaving Paris with good memories.

Latest news from the world's biggest cycle race

Latest news

Results and standings

Brotherton's moments

Special features

David Millar's Diary

Sean Yates' view






Links to more Tour moments stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Tour moments stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

Sport Front Page | Football | Cricket | Rugby Union | Rugby League |
Tennis | Golf | Motorsport | Boxing | Athletics | Other Sports |
Special Events | Sports Talk | BBC Pundits | TV & Radio | Question of Sport |
Photo Galleries | Funny Old Game | N Ireland | Scotland | Wales