Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Backstedt new Lanterne Rouge

Bradley Wiggins, a British rider on the Cofidis team, and Aitor Hernandez, Spanish rider on the Euskaltel-Euskadi team and Stage 2 Lanterne Rouge, finished at the back of the pack today, 2:54 and 3:06 behind the stage winner. Wiggins had been part of a 180-km breakaway group that got caught 2 km before the finish line. [Wiggins interview.] Hernandez was likely kept busy today with his domestique duties after team leader Iban Mayo crashed.

In the overall standings, however, Magnus Backstedt, the big Swedish rider on the Liquigas team, and perennial favorite of Clydesdale athletes worldwide, has accumulated a gap of 29 minutes 9 seconds behind the Tour leader by finishing 52 seconds back in Stage 4. This puts him in 172nd place in the general classification. The Lanterne Rouge from the previous day, Filippo Pozzato, moved up by finishing in the front group with a 0:00 time gap for the stage.

Backstedt had reportedly suffered severely from yesterday's heat and may still be bouncing back. He was also working hard at the very front of the peleton today with 7 km to go to the finish line, in support of sprinter teammate Luca Paolini.

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