Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Stage 5: Estonian Lanterne

TombakIker Flores has relinquished his position as Lanterne Rouge today to rider #127 Janeck (or Janek) Tombak, the blonde Estonian rider on the Cofidis team - due to that little crash not far from the finish line, which caused him to have to replace his bike's chain on international television and pedal in alone. It must have been outside the 3-km mark, since his final stage time was longer than the peleton. He holds Lanterne Rouge position by a 43-second margin.

The Daily Peleton said of him earlier, "Former Estonian champion Janek Tombak will also be helping “Stuey” [sprinter Stuart O'Grady] while still concentrating on his own race. A competent sprinter, the Tour de Picardie winner had several sprint top tens last year, and will be looking for the same kind of finishes this time round, though he is still capable of infiltrating a breakaway. However, with his speed, he is a good leadout man and will have no qualms about helping his Australian captain in the final kilometre."

Unfortunately today also saw the first rider abandon the 2005 Tour, Constantino Zaballa, a Spaniard riding for Saunier Duval, a teammate of our first Lanterne Rouge Leonardo Piepoli. We previously mentioned that Zaballa lost time in Stage 3. says Zaballa "attempted a final attack in the second kilometers of Wednesday's stage, but was soon caught by the pack, after which he called it a day. The abandonment comes as a surprise, as Zaballa was one of Saunier Duval's most influential riders this season, with a third place in the final classification of Paris-Nice as most notable result."

Later update: reports that Zaballa had a knee injury in the team time trial, and was suffering throughout the previous night.

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