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Frankie Andreu of Dearborn, Michigan, again proved during the 1995 season that he is one of the mainstays of the Motorola team. He garnered a stage victory at the K-mart Classic in West Virginia in May and led the event until he relinquished the number one position to his own teammate, Lance Armstrong.

That same year, Frankie rode a great Tour de France, earning a top-10 finish in two stages. In the 1994 Tour, he was the only American to finish and narrowly missed victory on the final stage (Stage 21) down the Champs Elysées, where he placed second in a sprint finish.

Showing his strength in the sprint, Andreu also claimed two stage wins and the overall victory in the 1994 West Virginia Classic race in the United States. In addition, he placed fourth overall in the Leeds International Classic World Cup event, and then capped his season with a win on the final stage of the Tour of Poland, which brought his total race wins for the season to four. With his strong yearlong performance, Andreu posted 19th in the overall World Cup ranking.

During the 1993 season, Andreu captured a number of top-10 finishes, including a second place finish in Stage 18 of the Tour de France plus third in a stage of the West Virginia Classic and seventh overall in both the Tour of Britain and Het Volk. The previous year, he earned third in stages of the Tours of Ireland and Puglia and posted sixth in a Tour de France stage.

In 1991, Andreu finished eighth in the World Cup race Paris-Tours and third in a stage of the Tour DuPont. He gathered eight victories in the 1990 season. A professional since 1989, Andreu was previously a member of the 1988 U.S. Olympic Team and also the U.S. National Team, where he earned three U.S. National Championship titles--two in the points race (1988 and 1986) and one for team pursuit (1986).

1996 Microsoft Grand Prix
Seattle WA

"I couldn't get him off my wheel," said Andreu, who made a strong move on the seventh lap to catch the leaders at the 89th mile.

From that point, five leaders rode together until the final two miles when McCormack made a short-lived breakaway that led to the all-out sprint down Pine Street at the finish.

"I could tell in the last five kilometers (Horner) was probably going to win," Andreu said. "I was tired. I attacked four or five times and I couldn't get away."

1996 Tour duPont
1 2 3a 3b 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
- - - 10 35 53 44 66 21 83 88 31 -
- - - 68 68 47 44 44 24 24 24 24 -

1996 Tour de France

Prologue: Giving it your all

"It's a very fast course, but it was raining. Today was very dangerous, wet, slippery. You had to be really careful. It's not worth killing yourself; you've got three weeks to go. If it was dry, it [would be] very fast. You'd have super-fast times," said Frankie Andreu, a rider with the Motorola team.

With dry conditions, Andreu said before the prologue, the course would have been "tailor-made for [Chris] Boardman. But as it is, I don't know what is going to happen." An hour later, Boardman of the GAN team sped to second place. In 1994, Boardman rode the fastest prologue in Tour de France history, averaging more than 55 kph. Today's speed was 5 kph slower.

But how important is the prologue, a mere nine kilometers of a 3,900-kilometer race?

"You have to give it everything because you have to limit your losses for the first day. ... If you have a good prologue time, then any [breakaway] group you get into, you're going to be the top guy to get the yellow jersey. That's what you have to think about in the prologue. Realistically, only a few guys have a big chance of winning [the Tour], but if you finish just 10 seconds in front of the field and you rode a good prologue, boom, you could find yourself in the top spot."

In Saturday's race, Andreu finished 50 seconds behind the stage leader Alex Zülle to land in 82nd place.

Andreu noted that the prologue is key for the sprinters, who must now establish themselves before the first major time trial on July 7th. "It's very important to set up for the first week. There will be a sprinter in the yellow jersey before this is over with. Whoever wins the prologue will have the yellow jersey, but then the sprinters are going to take over. [The jersey] will change hands ... before we get to that first mountain stage."

Some of the likely prospects in the coming week: ONCE's Laurent Jalabert, who finished the prologue just 11 seconds behind his victorious teammate Alex Zülle; Saeco's Mario Cipollini, who finished 56 seconds behind; and perennial pack-sprint terror Djamolidine Abdujaparov, now riding for Refin-Mobilvetta, who placed 142nd (of 198 starters), still just 65 seconds back.

For many, the prologue is a relief, breaking the pre-race anticipation, Andreu said. "It's always good to get it going. In the beginning, you are a little bit blocked, you're not flowing. Usually it takes a good five days to get back in the rhythm of doing a stage race. The first two or three days everybody suffers a lot. Your body is not ready to start doing this yet; you have to wake up the body ... to start doing something that you're used to, get back to your comfort zone."

Comfort may be relative: "Tomorrow is going to be very hard."

Into Stage 1: What will become of Motorola?

As the 1996 Tour de France rolls into its first road stage, Motorola is facing the elements. Strong crosswinds drive the rain and are forcing the riders to fan out into echelons like geese, drafting in flight. And because the Tour has just begun, the riders are fighting to adjust to the tempo of the racing.

But Motorola riders and management are pressured by an additional force: the announcement earlier this summer that their team sponsor is dropping out. Team director Jim Ochowicz said this week that Motorola's support of the cycling team will see them through the summer. After that, the team's future is in question.

Frankie Andreu has been with the Motorola team longest. He addressed the approaching changes, which could include disintegration, or continuation under another sponsor's name. If the Motorola squad does not hold together, each of the riders will need to pursue offers this summer. "We have to find jobs, somewhere, [so] it's important for the individual riders to do something."

This is not to say that Motorola will fragment during this year's Tour de France. Every rider will benefit from a cohesive strategy. While acknowledging his need to be selling himself, Andreu credits the cycling community, and potential sponsors, with understanding that it is team chemistry that launches individual riders to a strong finish.

"I have a certain role on this team that I will stick to. So will the other riders on the team. [With] everybody on the team playing out their roles, and having Motorola wins, that increases the market value of everybody on the team, not only the rider who wins."

Out on the road, Andreu's role is to help position the team strategically. "My role is to be aggressive in these races."

In the early stages, the task will be to cover all breakaways. Later "if it's a little bit hillier race, then it's to set up the guys who can get over the hills and be in contention to win." Andreu added, "it depends on what our priorities are, in helping Lance [Armstrong] or [Max] Sciandri, or whoever is riding well, to set it up for the stage win." Despite successive wins at the Tour DuPont and Motorola's claim to four of the five road cycling spots in this summer's Olympic Games, it is stage wins here that can sell the team.

About Sean Yates Frankie replies: "It's lonely. I miss him already, because Sean's always been around. You get used to the people you hang around with. Without Sean, I'm without my security blanket. Every Tour I've done, I've done with Sean. If there was a team time-trial, Sean's absence would be a big, big factor. But even without it, Sean is always a factor. Whenever crunch time came you could always count on Sean to be there. Where Sean could do the work by himself, it will now take two or three of us. It is a factor we will definitely feel later in the Tour."

Stage 1: A road strewn with mishaps

"Everybody is used to racing, but since it's the Tour it's a whole different thing. Everyone's just going crazy, taking chances, shooting through holes and attacking. It's very nervous energy."

Forty kilometers from the finish of Stage 1, a rider swept across Andreu's front wheel as the peloton swung across the road. After the crash, as Andreu remounted his bicycle and chased back to minimize his time loss, he found the route strewn with other mishaps.

"I was with another guy, and as we went along, we kept picking up more carnage down the road. There were people falling off left and right today."

Andreu finished with a small group about nine minutes behind the main field. His injuries from the fall won't keep him out of the next stage, but Andreu's plan is to rest as much as is possible while pedaling 247 kilometers, the second longest day of this year's race.

The Motorola rider also spoke about rumors that some of his team mates may pull out early this year to rest and fine-tune their training for the Olympic road race on July 31st.

"In my mind the Olympics is great, but it doesn't take precedence over the Tour. [The Olympics], it's a glamour event. There's a lot of prestige. It will be a huge one-day classic, [but] it's not going to be like the Tour. You can't compare anything with the Tour. We're not riding the Tour to do the Olympics. We're racing here for Motorola and we're trying to win this bike race. After the Tour is finished, then there's the Olympics."

Specifically, the Motorola strategy calls for individual stage wins. But, "another main goal that we talked about was to try to keep Laurent Madouas [of France] up there for the mountains, maybe ... for the K.O.M. [King of the Mountain climber's jersey]."

Motorola has committed "to be active in the race. When it comes down to the field sprint [we] don't necessarily contest it, but if there's a lull with two or three kilometers to go, maybe take a flyer, take a chance, and try to do something."

Olympic note

Andreu has forfeited his Olympic time trial spot. The U.S. Cycling Federation structured its Olympic trials so that the overall winner of the five-race qualifying series would receive berths to both the Olympic road race and time trial. Andreu won the series with such consistent focus that he placed in the top three in all five races. But Steve Hegg of the L.A. Sheriff's team proved himself the stronger time trialist. Andreu has decided to focus entirely on the road race. "It's not my event," Andreu said of the time trial. "I thought you might as well put in someone who can represent the country to our best ability. I thought Steve Hegg would fit that."

Frankie Andreu cannot give his Olympic time trial invitation directly to Steve Hegg; the cycling federation will select Andreu's replacement. But expect Andreu's virtual gift to Hegg to be repaid in teamwork for Motorola's leader Lance Armstrong in the Olympic road race. (Armstrong was excused from riding the Olympic trials, but guaranteed entrance to both the road race and time trial because of his high ranking in the world professional standings.)

Stage 4: How the break made its escape

This stage was again dominated by weather, but a brave group of five riders rode the winds across eastern France to upset the Tour de France standings. French national champion Stephane Heulot's finish in the breakaway kept the leader's yellow jersey on a Frenchman, and still in the hands of the French-sponsored GAN team.

Motorola's Frankie Andreu recounted how the winning break escaped. "The whole field was together when they went, in the first 10, 15 kilometers. It was fast and there was a lot of attacking going on. We were there, and covered a few [breakaways], and then that one went. We didn't happen to have somebody in that one. It's the odds game; you go with so many. And then that one stayed away. I didn't think it was going to stay away because it was so windy. Then our group sat up, and [the break] kept getting more and more time. That's when everybody starts gambling: who wants to chase; what's it worth to which team."

So why had teams like Rabobank and GAN been active in the peloton when both teams had a man in the break that would eventually win? "For survival," Andreu said. "You had to go through [the echelon] because if you didn't, the wind was too strong and you were stuck in the gutter. For that hour there, it was survival, trying to stay in the front group. ... If you're not in the first 40, then you're just battling. It's the same as being in the front; you're just hitting against the wind. There's a huge fight to get in that top 40. But the wind was so strong yesterday, that it was hard moving up.

"After a while, your engine runs out. That's what was happening to everybody. People were just blowing up, coming back like rocks. Yesterday was by far the hardest."

In the team meeting this morning, Motorola renewed its commitment to emphasizing its presence in this year's Tour de France. Andreu summarized the meeting: "We have to be a little more aggressive to try to get in those opportunities, try to make something more for ourselves. We're going to be a little more active [Thursday], try not to let a break go without us."

Physically, the team has not been all there. Andreu is riding with injuries, which he says are healing, perhaps just in time as the Tour is only two days from some of this year's tough climbs. "Every day is getting better. But still, I can tell I'm pedaling weird. I'm not 100 percent. I've got sore muscles in spots I normally don't. I'm not really comfortable on the bike. For this, you've got to be 100 percent to really be going."

And the mountains? "I'm not a mountain climber. I need to be feeling a lot better to be able to survive over the mountains. That's what I'm hoping for. A lot of us have different injuries and problems right now, but we're trying to get through this. There's still a long ways to go."

Andreu had said after Stage 2 that Armstrong was not yet feeling on top form. But yesterday, Armstrong was active in the peloton. "He's feeling better now," Andreu said. "He was able to stay in that front echelon and rotate through it. That's what you have to do, that's the way to survive. He was able to stay up there."

Motorola has not yet been in a position to launch Laurent Madouas, their designated climber, into the standings for the climber's jersey. On the first rated climb of the Tour, Madouas flatted a tire at the bottom of the hill, so teammates had to stay behind to pace him back into the peloton. Andreu reports that Madouas is feeling good, but "there hasn't been much for him to do, or for us to do."

After a crash in stage1 Frankie replies:"Yeah, I got banged up and I'm suffering right now. I'm just trying to get through these first few days till the point where I'm feeling 100% again. We'll see what happens after that. It's affecting my Tour because I have to be a little cautious right now and I'm just not able to be 100%."

before stage 5:
"I haven't been home for the 4th of July in a long time, if I was at home I'd probably be at a bike race if I wasn't here at the tour but otherwise what I'd like to do on the 4th of July...either a big amusement park or a picnic. I'd like to go to like Cedar Point in Ohio which is close to my home and just ride the rides. I haven't done that in many, many years that'd be a...on a sunny day, not a rainy or windy day."

Stage 5: Spreading the peloton

How is it going with your student, George Hincapie?

Frankie Andreu: "He's feeling well and riding well. Right now it's not that critical. He's only doing the week and a half or two weeks. When I talked about the survival thing (yesterday), that comes later on, in the third week when you're doing the big mountains. The main thing that [George] knows is that you've got to conserve your energy and plan your efforts accordingly.

"Right now, I haven't been telling him much at all. He's doing everything on his own, but it hasn't been too challenging so far. It's just been flat and wet."

In the final sprint in Stage 5, Andreu said he and Hincapie "tried getting up there in the sprint, but it was too late. They were going too fast on the front. Everybody was in the eleven (53 x 11 tooth gearing), just flying. There's a little hill before we hit the downhill, and me and George were moving up, and right when we moved up, [Viatcheslav] Ekimov [Rabobank] took off. [That] strung out the front part of the group so we never got our slingshot to get to the front. It was a bit of mistiming." Hincapie ended up pushing through the pack to take 16th in the full field sprint.

"I wasn't feeling that good, and he was there, so....you can't win these things on your own, so I just took it upon myself to help him move up, 'cause maybe he would do something in the sprint."

When will the serious contenders emerge from the field?

"Today will be racing. And tomorrow will be very hard. Tomorrow will be a big shake-up on G.C. (General Classification). But today, I think, will be a normal Tour stage. It will be aggressive in the beginning. The second category (climb) will probably split things up, and after that, toward the finish, it'll really be going hard again. When it's flat, everybody can generally sit in and follow, and it's not so difficult for the peloton to stay together. When it gets hillier, riders become more aggressive because they know they can drop and get rid of a lot of the not-so-strong riders. So they have a better chance of making it to the finish alone, or being in a breakaway; I think today will be much harder and much more aggressive."

A mid-way rest day

During the rest day in Gap, Andreu looked ahead to the second half of the Tour.

"There's going to be some hard racing coming up. The next five days are important for our team to do something. That's what we're putting some emphasis on. [The terrain] is just up and down, up and down. Sometimes these days are harder than the big mountains. You've just got to hang on for dear life. All the time is really close, so it should be aggressive with those top 10 guys [trying] to get themselves up in the G.C."

Motorola will try to position Laurent Madouas and Max Sciandri "to be up there somewhere in the front."

Looking ahead to possible breakaways in the second half of the Tour?

"It all depends on the combination. Earlier [in the Turin to Gap stage] we had Madouas in the break but [Richard] Virenque and [Jay] Ullrich were there ... If you end up taking a G.C. rider with you, you might as well sit up, because somebody in the back is going to chase like mad."

And how did you spend your rest day?

"Getting shampoo, toothpaste. We got some newspapers. Put on jeans, or tennis shoes, just do normal things, get out of your bike clothes."

Was it restful enough?

"I hope so. I'll find out. No way of telling until you get on the bike and start to go hard."

Stage 11: A good day for Motorola

Motorola's Frankie Andreu talks about Thursday's Stage 11, in which Laurent Madouas finished with a break 2:46 in front of the field, in eighth place:

"It was good for our morale, good for the team to be part of the race, and not just hanging in the back suffering. [Madouas] rode a great race, on the climbs he was attacking two or three times. He said he felt great [and] when you have good legs you have to take advantage of it."

Where was Andreu today?

"Me and George [were] going like mad after everything ... on the front yesterday. And then it just didn't work out. You never know. I keep trying everyday. [When] I started getting tired [and] George started getting tired, we eased off a little bit, but the break had already gone by that time."

And with Madouas off the front?

"It allows us to sit back and relax and not have to worry about what happens because we have a rider in the front group. That's the whole object, in any race, you know--to get a rider in the front group. Then if it comes back together, you can try to go with the next group."

The rest day in Gap helped out?

"I'm much better. The heart rate could come up, which caused the legs to feel a bit better, a little more power. Yesterday, I hit my highest heart rate of the entire Tour and I never even went to my maximum. I've been really in trouble before. Now things are getting a little bit better. I don't know why, or what causes that, but it's good!"

Laurent Madouas has a few things to be happy about. After yesterday's stage, his wife gave birth to a son.

"He's all excited. He was all hyper last night [from his successful ride] and now he's even more hyper."

Stage 14: Things look up on Bastille Day

A week ago, Frankie Andreu forecast how his Tour would probably go.

"Normally, if you're not feeling good the first week, you just keep going downhill ... You don't usually find that all of a sudden you're coming up."

Happily, if unexpectedly, Andreu is beginning to warm to this Tour. After a crash in Stage 1, as well as head and chest congestion during the second week, the Stage 14 Bastille Day race into Tulle was a welcome change, despite terrain too hilly to suit Andreu's strengths.

"I was good yesterday, really good. Good heart, good legs. That first Category 2 climb they went with everything over that. It split into three groups but I was able to stay with the first group. I had to give everything the last kilometer--on my complete limit--to stay with the group, but I was able to do it. After that, a bunch of attacks were going, [and] I was going with that stuff, so I felt really good. I felt aggressive."

"A couple guys attacked and the Cat 4 was right there. And I knew, I can't go with these guys on the hill, so I waited to stay in the group. If I'd gone with them I would have blown up and got shot out the back. That's when, sure enough, the groups totally exploded."

Was your training out of sync for the most important race of the year?

"I rested before the Tour, but all the stuff ... I've been going since January. All the preparation for the classics [European one-day races], preparation for DuPont, then my Olympic trials. I've only had four days off here and there. This year it affected me, it became a problem. I was tired and didn't recover enough. Normally you don't have that Olympic trials segment, which was kind of intense. So I paid the price, you know; I'm still paying the price."

Andreu won the U.S. Olympic trials.

Stage 17: Hell of the south

In addition to facing some of the toughest climbs in this year's Tour, riders have also had to deal with temperatures soaring into the high 90s in recent stages.

Has the heat been significant?

"When it first gets hot out, I have big problems. Then after a week it doesn't affect me as much. I adjust, it just takes time. I'll do all right."

And the roads that are flowing with tar?

"Oh, the roads were like soup! It was so hot. You're riding and stuff is just--rocks just flying up--goo. Everybody goes to the sides [of the roads] because the middle is melted away. It's bad, you get shit all over, rocks sticking to you. I'm glad I have Oakleys on, otherwise my eyes would be gouged out."

This weather closely resembles what you'll face in Atlanta.

"That's the whole point of this." Will the 10 days between the Paris finish of the Tour and the Olympic road race be enough rest?

"For a one-day race, yeah."

Has living in Europe, having a European-based career, diluted his sense of being American? Andreu responded without hesitation:

"No, I'd still die to go home. We stick out like sore thumbs in Italy. We walk out, we've got baseball caps, tennis shoes, shorts ... 'What's going on? Where's a USA Today?'

"I've been able to adapt to the racing and the lifestyle over here, so I don't get as homesick as I used to. But still, I miss America a lot, all the time, can't wait to go home.

"They [Europeans] rip into us, that's normal. They say we're ostentatious, make everything so big, and a spectacle, so grand. It's true, though. We overdo everything."

1996 Tour de France
Frankie Andreu

stage place g.c.
1 188 188
2 135 186
3 188 188
4 138 171
5 50 163
6 163 158
7 156 152
8 95 147
9 131 146
10 132 141
11 49 127
12 95 126
13 128 125
14 125 123
15 106 121
16 82 121
17 70 111
18 74 111
19 11 111
20 61 111
21 10 111

Dearborn's Andreu rides for a chance at a medal
Detroit Free Press
Monday July 29, 1996

1996 Olympic Road Race

"I would be just as happy for an American to win the Olympics as...my...I mean for sure I'd love to see myself on the podium or do something well...but at the same time just to have a...bein' in the home country, just to have an American, I mean it's a team effort and this sport is a team sport no matter which way you slice it and cut it, you know, without the help of the other guys whoever wins the race would never have been able to have the chance to win that race. If an American wins the Olympic Road Race and I'm part of that that would be fantastic I mean, I would be just as happy as if I could be on the top podium."

The star-studded field wasn't easy on Armstrong, who was a marked man as the hometown favorite. But it helped his unsung teammate, Frankie Andreu, of Dearborn, Mich., who finished fourth.

"I had much more freedom than Lance did. I could attack off the front, take 30 seconds, they don't care about me, because I'm not as good a rider as Lance," Andreu said. "Lance takes two pedal strokes and guys get all over him."

"The riders who finished the tour had an edge because of their conditioning" Andreu said.

"I said before the race that the winner would come from the Tour de France," said Andreu, the only American to finish this year's tour. "Because when you come out of the Tour de France, either you're flying or you're dead."

With two laps to go and Armstrong exhausted, Andreu made one last check with his teammate, then attacked the three leaders by himself. But he bristled at the suggestion he had emerged from Armstrong's shadow.

"Lance is the best rider in America," he snapped. "I am not a better rider than Lance Armstrong."

...After the cyclists had completed part of another lap around the 8.1-mile circuit, Frankie Andreu, Armstrong's U.S. teammate who was serving to pace and protect him from the wind, had to know: Could Armstrong go for the lead one last time? "He said, 'I'm pretty dead. I don't think I can make it up [to the lead] again,'" Andreu recalled. "And that's when I took off."

Left to race on his own, Andreu, a 29-year-old from Dearborn, Mich., performed impressively, but he couldn't catch the leaders. Richard outsprinted Sorensen over the last 20 yards to win the gold by a bike length, in 4:53:56. Sciandri won the bronze, two seconds behind. On a day that many had expected would belong to Armstrong, Andreu instead crossed the finish line a surprising fourth.

"You have to be aggressive but you have to conserve your energy, you do too many efforts and you're gonna be dead at the end so...we took turns, me and Lance, goin' with the stuff and coverin' things like that and then those three guys they snuck away but we had just done a few things so we were waiting for some of the other riders to take over and try something but it didn't really work that way, you know?"

Swiss sprint wins road race gold
ATLANTA -- Pascal Richard of Switzerland passed Denmark's Rolf Sorensen in the final 20 meters to win the cycling road race Wednesday by a bicycle length.

Richard covered the 138 mile course in 4 hours, 53 minutes, 56 seconds. He swung left of Sorensen at the last moment and crossed the finish line with arms upraised.

Maximilian Sciandri of Britain won the bronze medal, finishing just moments later.

Frankie Andreu of Dearborn, Mich., finished fourth in 4:55:10. Lance Armstrong led for about a lap but faded in the final 25 miles and wound up 12th in 4:55:25.

The three top finishers escaped 35 kilometers from the finish and were pursued for the last 26 kilometers by Andreu after a race packed with attacks from the first of the 17 laps over the 8.1-mile course.

Richard, 32, is only Switzerland's second Olympic medallist in the road race. Bernhard Britz won a bronze 64 years ago in the Los Angeles Games.

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