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The Helper
When asked what were his goals for the 1999 Tour, the first words out of the mouth of U.S. Postal Service veteran Frankie Andreu were: "I figure I've ridden seven tours, each with 21 days, so that's 147 opportunities to win a stage. I have no Tour wins, so I need to change my track record." Over the years, Andreu, 31, has come close to stage wins, but his main duties always have been to protect his team leader and help lead out their top sprinter.

And when he has been in position to bid for a stage win, the tall Michigan man often has acted unselfishly-like in the long Tour stage to Autun last year, when Andreu sat back as French teammate Pascal Deramé attacked from the 13-strong break they were both with. Andreu chased down all the counterattacks, giving Deramé the chance to bid for victory-which eventually eluded him.

So Andreu is realistic about his chance of a first stage win. "There are bigger fish to fry," he said. "With Lance (Armstrong), Kevin (Livingston), Tyler (Hamilton) all going for the overall, it will take a lot of sacrifice to keep them fresh and in the front during the Tour."

The same goes for most of the flatter stages that could be "winnable" for Andreu: "As much as I have personal goals to win, my job will be to do leadouts for Glenn (Magnusson) and George (Hincapie), and keep our G.C. guys in contention. You can't do well without help, and I am the helper."

Tour de Luxembourg
June 10-13
5 day stage race UCI ranking 2.2

Stage 1 - Luxembourg to Dippach - 178 km
Stage 2 - Wormeldange to Bertrange - 195 km
Stage 3 - Dudelange to Beckerich - 127 km
Stage 4 - Leudelange to Bettembourg - 7.6 km Time Trial
Stage 5, Diekirch - Diekirch - 190 km

stage place time gc overall
1 29 4:56 29 4:46
2 54 . 27 4:58
3 71 :03 26 4:58
4 26 :29 24 5:27
5 23 :09 21 5:27

1999 Tour of Flanders
click here to go to the Phil O'Connor website
photo © 1999 Phil O'Connor

Frankie Andreu: One Of The Watchdogs

"A good partnership." That's how US Postal Service rider Frankie Andreu sums up his long-time working relationship with Lance Armstrong. Ever since Armstrong joined the professional ranks after the 1992 Olympic Trials, he and Andreu have been virtually inseperable.

For every great champion, it is said, there is a great watchdog, and Andreu has fulfilled that role perfectly. Not so long ago, it seems, Andreu was a young professional himself--and one with plenty of promise. On numerous occassions, he has nearly won a stage in the Tour de France. But once he hooked up with Armstrong, things changed.

"First we were roommates in Italy. I quickly dedicated myself to him because I saw what Lance was capable of doing." Now in his eighth Tour de France, Andreu's experience sure comes in handy with Armstrong in the yellow jersey. Throughout Stage 1 and Stage 2, Andreu has become a familiar face at the front of the peloton, as he has set the tempo for the team and sheparded Armstrong.

Andreu was with Armstrong when the young champion won the 1993 World Championships, and he was also there when Armstrong won that memorable stage win in the 1995 Those counted as his greatest moments. "Yeah, but this Tour de France is right up there," he is quick to point out as he gets prepared for Stage 2 in Challans. "Having the yellow jersey and being able to defend it is just incredible. Coming into the race I was still hoping to win a stage myself. But with Lance in yellow, it just doesn't have the same importance." Such selflessness it seems, is a prerequisite for being one of the watchdogs to the stars.

Of course Andreu and his Postal teammates hoped to hold onto the jersey for another day, but he knew that Jaan Kirsipuu was closing in. By the end of the day, the Estonian did win all of the bonus sprints and finished second on the stage to grab Armstrong's yellow shirt by 14 seconds. But such matters will soon be chalked up as minor details. Kirsipuu, a born sprinter, has no chance of taking the jersey to Paris, but Armstrong does. And for that, Andreu knows his services will be in demand again soon enough.

1999 Tour de France

Frankie's Diary
What would the day be like?

July 1, 1999

I was wondering what today would be like. For eight years I have done the token medical tests that the Tour gives its riders each year. It consisted of a two-minute EKG, weight, height, fat test, blood pressure, pulse, and lung capacity test. That was it, the whole procedure had the riders in and out in under ten minutes. This year because of all the past doping problems and the French crackdown on doping I was expecting something different. I was wrong, it was the same test as usual -- only quicker. George did get into a bit of trouble at the medical testing with our director. Johan jumped out of his seat saying, "George what the hell have you been doing?" He saw George had no tan lines when he took off his shirt for the EKG testing. You're supposed to be training before the Tour, not hanging out at the beach.

There are always a few hiccups while traveling to the start of Tour. The Gerona boys -- George, Christian, Tyler, and Johnathon -- had a delayed flight leaving Barcelona and they missed their connection in Nice. They were supposed to arrive in Nantes at the team hotel around 5 p.m. Instead, they didn't show up till 11:30 p.m. Another hiccup happened when Mark Gorski and his crew arrived at Paris-Orly from America. I will know more details tomorrow, but they were delayed about three or four hours in customs. They were bringing some T-shirts for the team but a problem arose with customs because they had the Tour logo on them. I think it was some kind of trademark infringement thing.

The morning training consisted of the usual tinkering and adjusting of our new team bikes. Some guys changed handlebars while other changed the cleats on their shoes. Its funny how some guys hop on the bike and go while others sit outside for hours measuring every piece on the bike that can be measured. Some guys even changed their shoes. Everyone has a different idea about what can be tinkered with before a big race and what is completely off limits.

The team Fiat cars were waiting for us at the airport. Because the Tour is sponsored by Fiat we are not allowed to use our team Volkswagens. The staff flew in a couple days early and went to Paris to pick up the cars. The cars come already equipped with radios and televisions in them. The TV's are placed in the rear of the car to help cut down on unnecessary accidents. In the past, directors would be so busy watching the TV that they would slam into the cars in front of them. Of course every director thinks this only happens to other guys. That's why we have already jimmy-rigged our car to have a TV in the back of the car and in the front. Instead of having to fly to Paris pick the cars up a team can also arrange for their team Fiat's to be delivered to their team hotel at a certain date. If you did this you wouldn't have time to fine-tune your cars.

When we got on the plane Kevin was bragging to Lance and I how he had packed everything under the sun to bring to the race. He said he could live out of his suitcase for a year if he wanted to. When we landed we discovered Kevin might have packed everything under the sun but he forgot to pack his team tennis shoes. Lance got these shoes for everyone for one reason -- the team presentation. Luckily, the team had a spare pair of shoes in the truck. Even better luck was that they were exactly Kevin's size.

Read the rest of Frankie's 1999 Diary

After stage 14:
"Again we worked to let the right break go, and it wasn't easy, because there were a lot of attacks at the beginning. But once the group did get away, we settled into a tempo. Mostly Christian Vande Velde, George Hincapie and myself did the work. We're trying to save Kevin Livingston and Tyler Hamilton for the mountains and Pascal Deramé needed a break. But so far, things are going well. Now we're just worried about getting through the Pyrenees."

photos by Phil O'Connor
photo © 1999 Phil O'Connor

stage finish g.c.
P 46 46
1 164 49
2 72 72
3 117 70
4 48 70
5 148 70
6 152 70
7 62 70
8 73 52
9 107 76
10 71 75
11 125 78
12 101 76
13 68 78
14 78 79
15 51 70
16 66 66
17 43 65
18 116 65
19 93 65
20 137 65

"When you have the yellow jersey on your team, it inspires everybody,"

American Frankie Andreu, Armstrong's teammate since the start of his career six years ago, said his strong character had helped him to get over cancer and also win the Tour.

click here to go to the Phil O'Connor website
photo © 1999 Phil O'Connor

Palmarès de Frankie ANDREU (Etats-Unis)
8 Participations


Tour of Denmark
August 10-14 
5 day stage race - UCI ranking 2.2 

Stage 1: Aalborg - Århus (185 km) 
Stage 2: Odder - Grindsted (170 km) 
Stage 3: Esbjerg - Vejle (190 km) 
Stage 4a: Odense - Sorø (120 km) 
Stage 4b: Ballerup (19 km Time Trial) 
Stage 5: Frederikssund - Frederiksberg (160 km) 

stage place time gc overall
1 75 4:45 75 4:32
2 80 s.t. 89 4:45
3 91 3:31 84 8:16
4 58 :15 . :
5 82 :17 74 10:07

La Vuelta a España
September 4-26

Frankie's Vuelta
day stage  route kms place time @* g.c. overall*
Sat. 4 Sep. Prol. Murcia - Murcia (time trial) 6 59 7:19.273 :20.8 59 :20.8
Sun. 5 Sep. 1 Murcia - Benidorm 179 98 4:38:13 s.t. 62 :23.0
Mon. 6 Sep.  2 Alicante - Albacete 206  133 4:46:05  s.t.  65  :23.0
Tue. 7 Sep.  3 La Roda - Fuenlabrada 230 170 6:04:45 1:55 169 2:32
Wed. 8 Sep.  4 Las Rozas - Salamanca 186 164 4:24:27 2:45 162 5:41
Thu. 9 Sep.  5 Béjar - Ciudad Rodrigo 160 86 4:15:34 22:38 157 27:59
Fri. 10 Sep.  6 Salamanca - Salamanca (time trial) 46 91 1:00:10.6 6:38.3 153 34:37
Sat. 11 Sep.  7 Salamanca - León 217 154 4:40:32 :57 152 35:34
Sun. 12 Sep.  8 León - Alto del Angliru 176 91 4:52:04 26:36 123 1:00:26
Mon. 13 Sep.  9 Gijón - Los Corrales de Buelna 186 109 4:44:32 10:52 121 1:08:04
Tue. 14 Sep. Rest              
Wed. 15 Sep. 10 Zaragoza - Zaragoza 183 36 4:24:25 :28 97 1:08:04
Thu. 16 Sep. 11 Huesca - Val D'Aran 201 111 5:27:50 26:13 97 1:26:49
Fri. 17 Sep. 12 Sort - Andorra 147 122 4:50:46 32:05 98 1:56:13
Sat. 18 Sep. 13 Andorra - Castellar del Riu 149 130 4:19:43 25:09 99 2:20:44
Sun. 19 Sep. 14 Barcelona - Barcelona 141 105 2:36:33 1:52 97 2:20:44
Mon. 20 Sep. 15 La Senia - Valencia 193 2 4:31:45 :00 79 2:07:58
Tue. 21 Sep. 16 Valencia - Teruel 200 119 5:41:12 20:31 88 2:15:50
Wed. 22 Sep. 17 Los Bronchales - Guadalajara 225 103 5:50:38 17:24 86 2:16:40
Thu. 23 Sep. 18 Guadalajara - Alto de Abantos 166 114 4:42:36 23:57 86 2:39:42
Fri. 24 Sep. 19 El Escorial - Avila 184 114 5:14:06 19:48 88 2:59:10
Sat. 25 Sep. 20 El Tiemblo - Avila (time trial) 46.5 87 1:16:54 11:57 88 3:11:07
Sun. 26 Sep. 21 Madrid - Madrid 163 115 4:07:23 :57 88 3:12:04

"I started sprinting after Ekimov, who now had two bike lengths...I should have realized I was chasing EKIMOV not some jaboff. He passed the Euskaltel rider with fifty meters to go and I came up to a bike length from him. Ekimov - 1st, Frankie- 2nd" Read Frankie's Vuelta Diary. Visit the Vuelta Gallery
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