Monday, July 03, 2006

Stage 2 crash-fest

Today was one of those traditional dangerous early stages in the Tour, where riders are not yet fatigued from the wear and tear of long distances in the saddle, and they wage battle for points and position and take lots of risks.

Aitor Hernandez,
a Spanish rider on the Euskaltel-Euskadi team, is the new Lanterne Rouge of the Tour de France. He's 14:13 back in the overall standings and finished the stage 3:56 behind the penultimate rider, Filippo Pozzato, an Italian on the Quickstep-Innergetic team. He was in breakaway in the first kilometer, achieving a lead up to 11:20 in front of the peleton, and racked up some climbing points, but was caught before the end of the stage. His efforts earned him a 3rd place standing in the King of the Mountains competition with 10 points.

" [spoke] to the manager of the Euskaltel-Euskadi team, Miguel Madariaga, to find out what prompted him to try his luck today. "Aitor has been a professional rider for three years," said the ’directeur sportif’. "It’s his first Tour and he really wanted to do something for the team. We decided to give him the chance to try an attack. "The team’s objective this year is the mountains classification and so, for the moment, we’re pleased that Aitor has been able to win the first two climbs of the stage. We are realistic, however, and know that it will be really difficult to stay in the lead through to the finish of such a long stage. "In a Tour that’s as open as this one, riders like Aitor could make an impression... and today is a good test of his form."

Jimmy Casper, Stage 1 winner and 2-time Tour de France Lanterne Rouge, was involved in a late crash today and finished 172nd for the stage, dropping him all the way to 168th in the overall standings. Rubén Lobato, Lanterne Rouge in the Prologue, has improved his position to 160th in the overall standings.

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