Friday, July 08, 2005

Stage 7: Tombak regains LR position

13:18 CEST 56km/172km to go: That cute Steve Zampieri (Phonak), yesterday's Lanterne Rouge, has become the third rider to abandon the Tour, after his miserable day yesterday. According to the Phonak Cycling website he was "suffering from exhaustion". reported that he was suffering the effects of an earlier crash. However, Zampieri had trouble hanging on as early as the Stage 4 Team Time Trial when he was dropped by his team and got to the finish line 1:44 after them.

Also withdrawing today from the Tour de France: rider Allesandro Spezialetti, a 30-year-old Italian cyclist on the Lampre - Caffita team. That's him, sporting those classy Saeco mudflap girls on his cap. tells a sad story: "The Lampre rider Alessandro Spezialetti ... was rushed to hospital in Epinal after falling at the 25km mark. Spezialetti broke one tooth and sustained deep wounds to both upper and lower lips. Needless to say, the Italian was forced to abandon what was his first Tour de France. " tells the story differently: "Alessandro Spezialetti (Lampre) crashed after 50 km of racing. Tour de France doctor Gérard Porte immediately told team director Giuseppe Martinelli to take Spezialetti to hospital because the wound he had on his lip looked to be serious. Spezialetti had to abandon the race but, in the hospital of Epinal, he did not need stitches. He came back to the team hotel in the evening with doctor Marco Pallini and will be back in Italy tomorrow."

That leaves 185 of the 189 original starters left in the 2005 Tour.

When riders drop out without being involved in a big crash, one always suspects a cold, flu, or stomach bug. On top of the daily physical exertion they endure, and cumulative fatigue of riding hard every day, the riders are all under a lot of psychic stress from being in the eyes of the world all day, every day of the Tour, and surrounded by huge crowds of people every waking moment.

However, tomorrow in the mountains we may start seeing our first few devastating cases of "Mountain Fever", which seems to selectively affect the sprinters in the peloton. The Category 2 climbs for tomorrow aren't yet severe enough to take a catastrophic toll on the sprinters, though. The peloton may have an epidemic once it reaches the Alps.

The ongoing process of attrition has brought #127 Janeck Tombak back into the position of Lanterne Rouge today, the Estonian rider on the Cofidis team. Tombak is still paying the price for that overshot turn in the final stretch of Stage Five! Despite finishing in the middle of the peloton today, he is 4:33 below the nearest rider (#107 Sébastien Joly of Credit Agricole) in the General Classification.

Two riders today lost a fair chunk of time from arriving behind the peloton: Illes Balears teammates #36 Vicente Garcia Acosta and #32 Jose Luis Arrieta, both finishing 5:22 behind the stage winner. They were off the back with about 20km to go, after assisting their team leader #31 Francisco Mancebo and getting him back into the peloton after some trouble.

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I am loving the blog - it's nice to know it makes the tour more fun to follow along with others!
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