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Last Updated: Wednesday, 16 July, 2003, 15:33 GMT 16:33 UK
Q&A: Sean Yates
Sean Yates dons the yellow jersey back in 1994
Sean Yates is one of a select number of British riders to ever wear the yellow jersey of the leader of the Tour de France.

He took the overall race lead back in 1994 after a blistering ride against the clock and became known as one of the best domestiques of all time in his lengthy career.

This year he has returned to the Tour for the first time in eight years as the assistant sporting director of CSC.

The team have endured a mixed race so far, with team leader Tyler Hamilton fracturing his collarbone on the opening stage.

Hamilton has bravely ridden on and the determination of the team was rewarded on Tuesday with victory by Jakob Piil on stage 10.

Here he answers your emails from the midst of the Tour.

Rob Finch, Essex

Sean, are you still able to keep up with your own training since you've been working for CSC?

I've been training a lot recently but have only just got into it after a few heart problems. I went out on the bike for five-and-a-half hours on the rest day. I normally aim to head out at 0530 (BST) in the morning during the Tour and aim to get back by the time our riders are up. Then you're ready to face the day.

Che, Sorata

What were the high and low points of your career?

All my wins are high points. But the fact that I rode as a professional for 15 years has got to count as a high point.

There's only one real low point that stands out and that's when my team-mate Fabio Casartelli crashed and died in the 1995 Tour. I remember having to go to the funeral. It was devastating.

Stephen, Colchester

How do you rate the following three experiences in the Tour: wearing the yellow jersey, winning your first Tour time trial in a record time, and finishing your first Tour?

Finishing for the first time would have to rate pretty highly. There's no better feel than cruising to the Champs Elysees. Nothing comes close to it actually. Obviously the yellow jersey is nice but just staggering home after three weeks of hell is the real achievement.

Martin, London

Sean, as a famous pro domestique for 15 years now sitting behind a team car, which domestiques have impressed you so far on the Tour?

None really! The race has changed a lot and there are a lot less team leaders so everyone has more of a free role. There are some, like Mario Cipollini's lead-out men or those that coax Gilberto Simoni up the mountain.

But I wouldn't even say that Lance Armstrong has domestiques. They ride as a team with Armstrong the key figure, but not like it used to be.

Martin Sear, Dagenham

Is Tyler Hamilton's performance in this year's Tour the best you have witnessed and how do you think he would have faired without injury?

Tyler Hamilton struggles on despite his fractured collarbone
Yates has been impressed by Hamilton
His fractured collarbone has made his life miserable over the last 10 days. In the last couple of days particularly his ribs are hurting and he's having trouble breathing. It's affecting how he's riding - he can't really get out of the saddle but he's still in contention for the lead.

Had he not had the injuries he would have gone faster in the team time trial but, apart from that, it hasn't made him lose that much time. It just shows how high his pain threshold is.

People have even had the cheek to question whether he's actual carrying the injury, but we've got the X-rays to prove it!

Dan Smith, London

Can Tyler hold on until Paris and, if so, can he challenge Lance for yellow?

He's been suffering a lot in the last couple of days and is having further check-ups and X-rays. There's only so many painkillers he can take. Of course it could have all been very different. It's so frustrating for him. But Lance is still my pick to win.

Grant Swan, Newcastle

How do you feel when sprinters drop out of the Tour as soon as they see a mountain?

These guys pull out because they don't need to kill themselves. Alessandro Petacchi, for example, has won his four stages and earned his money.

By finishing the race he might risk losing his speed in the long-term, which is what has happened to Erik Zabel. Mario Cipollini always pulls out early and that's why he's lasted so long as a rider. It doesn't bother me when these guys pull out. It gives the rest of us more of a chance.

David Henderson, Birmingham

Had there not been a team time trial, Lance Armstrong would not be in yellow. Are you a fan of a discipline which favours the wealthier teams?

I'm a great fan. It's my favourite event and always has been. I'm very happy for Lance and the US Postal guys, who have been trying to win it since the early 90s when they were Motorola. It shows how strong and motivated a team is - it's not necessarily how wealthy a team is.

Mike Betts, London

Do you think David Millar is ever likely to be a contender for the overall in the Tour or is he destined to be another Chris Boardman - great at the time trial but inconsistent in the mountains?

He obviously has great qualities as a time trialist and can climb. But winning the Tour - there's only a few guys who can do that. It's a big challenge and the year's are going past.

I honestly don't know whether he can do it. He has the qualities, but whether he has the consistency or stamina is another question altogether. You need to be determined and he's lacking in that area.

Simon Lewis, London

What are some of the other UK and Irish riders up to now?

Sean Kelly commentates for Eurosport, Martin Earley's a chiropractor and Stephen Roche runs a hotel as well as being part of the Tour organisation. As for Robert Millar, I'm not sure what he's up to. But I talk every few months to all the guys and find out what they're doing.

Dominic, Leeds

How long do you think it will take for Great Britain's track success to come to the road like the Australians have managed?

I don't think you can compare the Australians to the British. They are a lot tougher bunch and are doing amazing things in the Tour. There will be Brits who'll come along once in a while but I can't see us following the Aussie lead.

Dave, Texas, USA

With such a tender lead, is Armstrong going to have to lead from the front and show he is the strongest of will he let Vinokourov, Hamilton et al attack him and then respond?

There's the time trial to come first and, if he puts another minute on Vinokourov, he can take control of the race. People are saying he's below his best but he was holding back on Alpe d'Huez. The Tour will be won and lost in the Pyrenees. Armstrong will have to fight for it, but certainly fight a lot harder.

Links to more Grandstand: Have Your Say stories


Sean Yates
"I think Lance Armsrong is still the strongest competitor in the tour"




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