Saturday, July 09, 2005

Stage 8: They made it!

The former maillot jaune wearer, # 29 Dave Zabriskie of the USA riding for CSC, finally arrived at the finish line last in Stage 8 after a difficult ride, 51:12 after the stage winner. He was within one minute of being eliminated. That moves him from first overall at the start of the Tour all the way down to the penultimate position, 179th place in the General Classification. He must still be experiencing the aftermath of his dramatic fall during the team time trial. He described his symptoms: "It's stiff. It's a little hard to breathe, my knee is painful.... That's what happens when you fall off."

Martin Dugard described Dave's day in Stage 8: "David Zabriskie, who was experiencing the ultimate cycling high by winning the yellow jersey a week ago, had a wretched day today. He finished so far behind the field that Lance Armstrong had already changed out of his cycling shoes, answered preliminary interview questions, and completed the length[y] podium ceremony. Zabriskie looked scared before the start today, as if he would rather be anywhere else in the world than here. A few more finishes like today, and he may be."

Other finishers in the back of the pack in Stage 8, perhaps experiencing some difficulties on the climbs today, were Jean-Patrick Nazon (A2R); Jaan Kirsipuu (CA); and Luciano Pagliarini (LIQ).

Returning to the Lanterne Rouge position, in last place overall in the General Classification, #194 Iker Flores of Spain riding for Eukaltel Euskadi. He crossed the Stage 8 finish line at 46:05 after the stage winner. It was reported before Stage 4 that he has some hip and knee injuries. Flores was off the front of the peloton for a while about 5 km into the stage in pursuit of the two breakaway riders, but was caught again within 3 or 4 km.

Former Lanterne Rouge #127 Janeck Tombak of Estonia, riding for Cofidis, despite being a sprinter showed some ability in the mountains and made up time, crossing the finish line in 142nd place for the stage, 17:41 after the stage winner.

Even better, our first Lanterne Rouge #87 Leonardo Piepoli of the Saunier Duval team had an outstanding day in the hills, showing off his climbing skills by finishing in the first pack (along with his American teammate Christopher Horner, Lance Armstrong, Jan Ullrich, et al.) only 27 seconds behind the stage winners.

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