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Andreu was all smiles at the U.S. Postal Service training camp, something youdidn't see him doing a lot of in 1997. He was back on a U.S. squad, best friend Lance Armstrong was back in the saddle, and the Cofidis team jerseys were nowhere in sight.

The 30-year-old Detroit native has raced in six Tours, more than any American currently racing. Last year, however, racing with the French Cofidis squad was more challenging than any climb he's faced in the Tour.

"It was a joke last year on Cofidis. I've been on amateur teams better organized than that. We wouldn't have time-trial bikes at the Tour. During the time trials there, we'd ride our normal bikes, no tri-bars, no disc wheels, nothing. After a 250-km classic, we'd finish and there'd be no towels, no water. Last year at the Tour I told Mark (Gorski, U.S. Postal's team manager) I wanted to ride with these guys and no one else," said Andreu, fourth in the 1996 Olympic road race.

"It's good to be on an American team again," he added. "I didn't mind racing with the French team, because we had Lance, Bobby (Julich), and Kevin (Livingston) ó just the management was all wrong for me. But I didn't want to go to another French or Italian team and be the only American. Luckily, I only had a one-year deal with Cofidis and I could get out of there."

Andreu says he's going to fight this season for wins in some of the smaller stage races and perhaps in the one-day classics. During the Tour, he's a work horse for the team captains.

"I just feel lucky to be able to race and make a living at something I love doing. Sure, I've had some close calls in my career, but I don't look at it that way. I'm just thankful to be able to do this," he said.

Race Notes: U.S. Postal rider Frankie Andreu tried to prepare for the race in a new way. It's called the anti-jet lag approach. Arriving from the United States at 9:30 a.m. on the morning of the race, he insisted nevertheless on jumping in. "It's the best way to avoid falling asleep," joked the innovative Andreu. He did not finish the race. But then, neither did over half the peloton.

March 22, 1998

Crash stifles Americans in Milan-San Remo; Germany's Zabel wins event

By Rick Blanchard / The Detroit News

A crash in the frenzied final 31 miles of Milan-San Remo kept most American cyclists out of contention Saturday in the prestigious 174-mile World Cup opener in Italy.

Erik Zabel (team Telekom) of Germany took his second straight victory in the race's 89th running, sprinting past French challengers Emmanuel Magnien (La Francaise des Jeux) and Frederic Moncassin (GAN). Zabel's time was 7 hours and 10 minutes.

Bobby Julich, 26, who rides for the French team Cofidis, was the top-placed American at 32nd, in a group 17 seconds behind the leader.

The crash at the base of the Capo Berta climb, one of several that mark the last part of the race as it winds from Milan to San Remo on the Mediterranean, slowed Frankie Andreu, of Dearborn, Mich.

"Frustrating, that's a very good word. I really wasn't able to do anything," said Andreu, 31, of the U.S. Postal Service team.

Andreu's team member Tyler Hamilton, of Brookline, Mass, and Kevin Livingston (Cofidis) of St. Louis, Mo., also got stuck behind the crash.
Andreu said he was about 30th at the time as riders were jockeying for positions to carry them through the climb.

"I had to hit my brakes as hard as I could, but couldn't stop. We were easily doing 60K (37 mph)," Andreu said. "The pack was super nervous, constantly guys were shooting into holes, swerving to move ahead -- it's very crazy.

Ahead of the spill was George Hincapie (USPS), of Charlotte, N.C., and Julich, of Glenwood Springs, Colo., The crash left 173 out of about 225 riders finishing the race.


Ekimov seventh, Hincapie and Andreu in top 22 at Tour of Flanders.

The U.S. Postal Service Pro Cycling Team posted its highest finish in a World Cup race yesterday when team leader Viatcheslav Ekimov finished seventh at the Tour of Flanders in Belgium. Ekimov, who finished 10th overall at Flanders in 1997, finished the 277 kilometer event in a group of seven chasers 43 seconds back of three-time race winner Johan Museeuw of Mapei. Museeuw attacked the lead group of riders on the 13th of the race's 15 climbs with approximately 25 kms to go and was able to stay clear for victory. The USPS team also placed two riders, George Hincapie and Frankie Andreu, in the next group to cross the line, as the American duo finished 17th and 22nd, respectively, at 58 seconds.

Besides Mapei, which took the top two overall places and four of the top 10, the U.S. Postal Service team was the only other team to place three riders in the top 25.

Teamwork was the name of the game for the USPS team from the start of the nearly seven hour affair. With cross winds playing a role from the start in Brugge, a group of 15 riders, including the USPS' Anton Villatoro, broke from the field and quickly gained 45 seconds after just 30 kms of racing. The lead group increased its lead to just over four minutes at one point but began to break apart, losing five riders. The tem leaders, including Villatoro, the other four USPS team members - Marty Jemison, Juan Llaneras, Christian Vande Velde and Sven Teutemberg - also played key roles in helping the three team leaders throughout the race.

Following a solo attack by La Francaise des Jeux's Frederic Guesdon that gained nearly one minute, the leaders re-shuffled at the front until Museeuw attacked on the Tenbosse climb, quickly gaining 30 seconds. Ekimov, fourth overall at the 1996 Tour of Flanders, then worked his way into the seven-rider chase group, with Hincapie and Andreu present in the 13-rider second group, just a handful of seconds behind.

Following the mid-week Classic, Gent-Wevelgem on Wednesday, the same eight riders will start Paris-Roubaix on Sunday. Meanwhile, the USPS will also field a team for the Circuit de la Sarthe stage race in France, beginning tomorrow and concluding on Friday.


Shower Talk From Hell

U.S. Postal rider Frankie Andreu has a strange affliction. He loves Paris-Roubaix. Or at least he did until he rode the most recent edition, one of the sloppiest and most dangerous ever. Andreu has finished as high as ninth(in 1994). This year he did not place, as he finished with a group of 17 riders who came in outside of the official cut-off. But he finished, and for the second straight year Andreu offers VeloCity readers his testimony from the "Hell of the North." We caught up with Frankie in the showers of the Roubaix vélodrome:

"Yes that was a Sunday in hell. Hard, slippery. It was hard all day. Cross winds all day. When you were on the pavé trying to fight for position, you were constantly getting hit by the cross-wind. A lot of the pavé in the beginning and the end was just like ice. It was incredible, guys were falling all over the place. I went down three or four times. Flatted twice. It was a rough race."

"My first crash was in the second section. It was muddy. Real muddy! I just slid out. My rear wheel just wrapped around. All of a sudden, my rear wheel was my front wheel. Next thing I knew, I was on the ground, right into this huge mud puddle."

"My second wreck was the Arenberg forest section. That was impossible. You come into the forest at about 60 kilometers an hour, and when you hit those bricks it messes you up. Your knees, your hips, everything hurts. It's bad. Real bad."

"But this year it was literally impossible to ride. I mean, you were coasting. You were pedaling. Guys were just falling everywhere. I just tapped my brakes and swoosh! Join the crowd. I was down. I mean, there were guys that would get back up, start pedaling and boom, they were back down. The best line was behind the spectators on this dirt path. The problem was that they have put up a fence to separate the crowds from the riders. I got about two/thirds of the way down before I finally found a gap in the fence where I could cut across, because all the spectators were standing in the gaps."

"And that was just one section. Strangely, after the Arenberg Forest, I was till in a pretty good group. Guys like Tchmil (Andrëi) were still behind me. There was one group in front of us and then my group. A couple of sections after the forest I started having no legs. I went down again. I flatted. I was just over my limit for too long. The legs just blew. And that was the end of that. Finally, I just couldn't stay with a wheel any more."

"This was by far the most treacherous Paris-Roubaix I have done. The last Paris-Roubaix I did in the rain was nothing like this. Much more slippery, many more people going down. It was crazy. It was nuts."

Casino's Vinokourov takes Dunkirk

This report filed May 13, 1998

By Steve Wood
VeloNews European Correspondent

Cyclists from the former Soviet Union swept the 44th edition of the Dunkirk's famed Quatre Jours -- the Four Days of Dunkirk -- led by a young neo-pro from Kazakhstan, Alex "Vino" Vinokourov.

The 24-year-old Casino team rider stood on the final podium May 10 in the pink leader's jersey as the race's first non-European champion.

The main honors went to Vinokourov, who has quietly progressed this year from a second place overall at Spain's Tour of Murcia and overall victory at France's pro-am Circuit des Mines. The young man from Kazakhstan said his next major race -- following France's two-day Tour de l'Oise May 16-17, and after a short period of -- would be the eight-day Dauphiné Libéré in the French Alps.

May 5-10, 1998.

Stage 1: 112. Frankie Andreu (USA), U.S.P.S.
Stage 2: 105. Andreu, at 34:05.
Stage 3: 78. Andreu, at 3:27.
Stage 4: 29. Andreu, 34:03.
Stage 5: 67. Andreu, all s.t.

Final overall: 1. Vinokourov, 1050.9km in 24:52:29 (42.786 kph); 2. Kasputis, at 0:34; 3. Berzin, at 1:00; 4. Vierhouten, at 1:42; 5. Ekimov, at 2:01; 6. Bäckstedt, at 2:11; 7. Bruno Thíbout (F), Cofidis, at 2:31; 8. Piziks, at 2:47; 9. Sivakov, at 3:13; 10. O'Grady, at 3:15; 11. Aus, at 5:03; 12. Barthe, at 6:34; 12. Gontchar, at 6:54; 13. Daniele Nardello (I), Mapei-Bricobi, at 9:31; 14. Enrico Cassani (I), Polti, at 9:40; 15. Hoffman, at 9:48; 16. Hvastija, at 9:51; 17. Francis Moreau (F), Cofidis, at 9:53; 18. Fabio Sacchi (I), Polti, at 10:20; 19. Pretot, at 10:30; 20. Baffi, at 10:37.

164 starters; 84 finishers

1998 Corestates

Veteran professional Frankie Andreu jumped from a group of three riders with 2km to go to win the 91-mile First Union Invitational road race Tuesday.

Andreu (U.S. Postal Service), 31, made the decisive move in the last lap, getting the edge on breakaway teammate Lance Armstrong and Polish rider Cezary Zemana (Mroz).

"It was great to win here. Itís important to get U.S.Postal to the line. but itís my first race back in the U.S. and Iím just very glad to win it," Andreu said.

Andreu, of Dearborn, Mich., made his key move earlier in the race about 63 miles into the 13-lap event, breaking from a group of six riders who were off the front but being caught by a chase group of 10 riders.

"I was just trying to keep Norm Alvis from Saturn and the others from coming up. I really wasnít trying to go off. It was on the back part on a climb. I looked back and me and Cezary were off and then I saw Lance bridging up," Andreu said.

The group of three then built a steady lead of up one minute and four seconds on the chasing field that was quickly breaking into smaller groups.

A field of 143 riders started the Invitational, with 43 finishers. The race, the first event in the First Union Cycling series, had a total purse of $15,500, with $2,500 going to first place.

Armstrong, 26, of Austin, Texas, said he was glad to see Andreu win.

"Frankie is like the Bart Simpson of pro cycling," Armstrong said. "A strong engine, but you donít see him win very much. It was gratifying for me."

Lancaster, 147.5 kms:

1. Frankie Andreu (USA) US Postal Service 3:23:17
2. Lance Armstrong (USA) US Postal Service :07
3. Cezary Zamana (Pol) Mroz :12
4. Salvatore Commesso (Ita) Saeco 1:13
5. George Hincapie (USA) US Postal Service 1:13
6. Morten Sonne (Den) Acceptcard 1:13
7. Raimondas Rumsas (Lit) Mroz s.t.
8. Gabrielle Valle (Ita) Mobilvetta-Northwave s.t.
9. Trent Klasna (USA) Navigators s.t.
10. Chann McRae (USA) Saturn s.t.

Stage 2
March 8, 1998

Team tactics of the day dictated that U.S. Postal members Viatcheslav Ekimov and George Hincapie were the protected riders of the stage. But things quickly took a turn for the worse when Hincapie flatted just as the race was breaking into echelons. Like his teammates, Armstrong waited to try and bring Hincapie back to the front. For over 80 kilometers he took his turn fighting the wailing wind. According to his teammate Frankie Andreu, "Lance was taking the hardest pulls, he was pulling like mad. But we all had to dig so deep and I think it was just too much for him. I mean it was hell out there, pure hell. I know he is committed to a comeback, but today we were barely surviving. We were dying. Frankly I'm delirious, so I don't blame him one bit for dropping out."

Stage 7
March 14, 1998

U.S. Postal rider Frankie Andreu - who has been riding at the front all week - had one of the best seats for the sprint. "About 600 kilometers from the line, 'Eki'(teammate Viatcheslav Ekimov) took a flyer. But soon a wave came around him and it was just crazy. For a while I was on Tchmil's (Andrëi) wheel, but he is just flying now and he just took off."

June 15, 1998

Tour Of Luxembourg

Frankie Andreu, won today's stage following a solo attack with 30 km to go. The victory was Andreu's second of the season and the team's sixth win in the last 16 days.

Lance Armstrong claimed the race lead by taking the opening stage on Thursday and held it through Friday's second stage, but lost the lead to Casino's Lauri Aus following yesterday's double-stage day. However, Armstrong and the USPS team forced the action to the Casino team from the gun today, eventually cracking Aus, who lost more than nine minutes and fell out of the overall top 10. Just two seconds behind Aus entering today's stage, Armstrong quickly regained the lead on the road by winning a bonus sprint early in the stage. Teammates Andreu, Hincapie, Marty Jemison (10th overall) and Tyler Hamilton all played key roles in protecting Armstrong's lead.

Armstrong, who just 20 months ago announced he had testicular cancer, finished 21st in the fifth and final stage, comfortably winning the overall classification by 3:06 ahead of Erik Dekker of Rabobank.

Postal went on the offensive early putting four men (Frankie Andreu, Armstrong, Marty Jemison and Tyler Hamilton) in an early break. The lead group motored along and steadily gained time on the main field, with Aus and crew desperately chasing. A quick intermediate sprint bonus regained the leader's jersey on the road for Armstrong, but Postal's captain wasn't done yet. At 30 kilometers to go a frisky Frankie Andreu decided he still had some reserves in the fuel tank and took off on a solo flyer, leaving Armstrong and mates with a comfortable lead over Aus, who was cracking badly and being towed by his team.

At the finish in Diekirch, Andreu notched his second win of the season (he won the Lancaster Invitational at First Union Week), his second win in two weeks, and his first big European victory. Armstrong and the chase pack cruised home at 1:21 behind their jubilant teammate.

The full extent of the damage wasn't known until nearly 11 minutes after Andreu cleared the line, when a spent and battered Aus crossed the line in 32nd position. Next up for the sudden world-beaters at Postal is the Vuelta a Catalunya, a final pre-Tour de France warmup for the team.
Stage Five -Diekirch to Diekirch - 179 km
  1. Frankie Andreu (U.S. Postal Service) 4:19:49
  2. Christian Andersen (Home-Jack and Jones) @ :37
  3. Torsten Schmidt (Chicky World) @ same time
  4. Dirk Muller (Telekom) @ :39
  5. Erik Dekker (Rabobank) @ s.t.
  6. Bert Dietz (Telekom) @ 1:21
  7. Stuart O'Grady (Gan)
  8. Sergei Ivanov (TVM-Farm Frites)
  9. Andrei Tchmil (Lotto)
  10. Rolf Huser (Post Swiss) all same time
Final Overall Standings
  1. Lance Armstrong (U.S. Postal Service) 17:14:29
  2. Erik Dekker (Rabobank) @ 3:06
  3. Dirk Muller (Telekom) @ 3:16
  4. Stuart O'Grady (Gan) 3:51
  5. Jo Planckaert (Lotto) @ 4:10
  6. Torsten Schmidt (Chicky World) @ 4:11
  7. Alberto Elli (Casino) @ 4:12
  8. Rolf Huser (Post Swiss) @ 4:16
  9. Tristan Hoffman (TVM-Farm Frites) @ s.t.
  10. Marty Jemison (U.S. Postal Service) @ 5:02

1998 Tour de France

After stage one:
I think a...Cippolini's gonna be takin' care of that today, you know? He's gonna be goin' like mad to try and get that jersey and if...the bonus sprints on the way and if George is able to manage to get in there or for the finish then hey, try and take advantage of it but...when you're spintin' against the best guys it's, it's hard to get top 3, to get those time seconds so, I think, today, I think Saeco's just gonna do everyting for Cippo."

Before stage 4:
"Later on once the races start you can't even really gear it around anybody 'cause the attacks are so much and so aggressive you just gotta share the responsibility of goin' with the moves and so you know, in the end, Ekimov's goin' good, George, you know, myself, we'll see what happens but right now it's just, the speed gets so fast at the end for the sprinters it's hard for a group to stay away but I mean, if a group is goin' we're gonna be there, I mean, we want a guy in the break and we just gotta see how the race plays out."

click here to go to the Phil O'Connor website
photo © 1998 Phil O'Connor

After stage 5:

"You know we really did our best, but that was a very tough stage," Andreu said. "You know, I've been within five seconds of the yellow jersey myself, but it was impossible to get." --Frankie Andreu

U.S. Postal teammate Frankie Andreu has done the lion's share of the work, especially in Thursday's final sprint, when he led out Hincapie. Andreu, the American veteran in the peloton racing in his seventh Tour, said the jersey is important. "It's rare that you're ever on a team that has a chance to snatch the maillot jaune, so we're gunning it out there," Andreu said. "It makes for a lot more work, trying to win these points sprints. You've got to take advantage of the circumstances. We weren't really thinking about winning a stage until the second week, but when George got in that break, you have to go for it when the chance comes up."

After Stage 19:

"I've been waiting for an opportunity like this for the whole race," said Andreu, who crossed the line 11th. "I've been getting into breaks, but they were the wrong breaks. At that category-four climb, guys were attacking like mad. Then Pascal (Derame) had a big run-in and those guys started working together. Then I could just sit back and do everything I could to shut things down. Had we gotten any closer, I was going to go for it, and I knew (Stuart) O'Grady would be on my wheel. We're getting close. It's so hard to win here."

Read Frankie's 1998 TDF Diary

click here to go to the Phil O'Connor website
photo © 1998 Phil O'Connor

"I'm just trying to get to Paris in one piece," said Frankie Andreu of the U.S. Postal Service team. "It's been kind of hard, mentally."

Frankie Andreu of Dearborn, Michigan, finished just 58th but it was the seventh consecutive time that Andreu had started and finished the Tour. "Frankie is the guy that keeps the staff and the team directors and all the other riders on their toes," Gorski said. "He has been around so long that he knows exactly what we have to do."

Frankie Andreu

stage place g.c.
prologue 11 11
1 82 14
2 116 16
3 62 26
4 124 28
5 48 28
6 56 29
7 82 72
8 80 75
9 88 71
10 78 78
11 114 95
12 103 92
13 146 101
14 76 101
15 61 94
16 96 90
17 - -
18 83 69
19 11 60
20 58 58
21 19 58

«« 199719981999 »»

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