Thursday, July 13, 2006

Today is Sinko de Mayo

Iban Mayo's sunk. The highly-regarded Spaniard, leader of the Euskaltel-Euskadi team and once thought to be a podium contender, abandoned about 3:40 PM local time, after struggling all day yesterday and in the first part of today's stage. "The Spanish team said earlier on Thursday that Mayo had caught a cold on the plane from Lorient to Bordeaux on Sunday." It was also reported that he had knee problems.

Another interesting account: "Euskaltel team leader Iban Mayo showed his anger at a cameraman tracking his progress on Thursday afternoon as the Spaniard was unable to keep pace with the peloton. Apparently unwilling to be filmed abandoning the race, Mayo instructed the cameraman tracking his progress to continue up the road, before eventually stepping down off his bike. The 29 year-old has been suffering from a sore throat for the last couple of days, reportedly brought on by air conditioning in his hotel room." Gosh, I forgot that air conditioning is so rare at the riders' lodgings that when it's encountered it carries the threat of disease.

Giovanni Lombardi, an Italian on the CSC team also abandoned earlier in the day. Additionally, Wilfried Cretskens, Belgian rider on the Quickstep-Innergetic team, abandoned today. No news yet on the reasons for these withdrawals. (CSC cycling is usually prompt with their news updates, but nothing about Lombardi yet. Nothing new has been posted on the Quickstep team site for an entire week! Jeez, help us out here!) (Update: CSC's site says now that Lombardi had stomach problems.)

That leaves 165 riders still in the 2006 Tour.

The final finisher of this monster stage was Cristophe Mengin, French rider on the Française des Jeux team, at a colossal time gap of 46:13 behind the stage winner. Our former Lanterne Rouge and his teammate, Sébastien Joly, finished well up at 107th place at 35:47 today.

That allowed Joly to move up one place in the standings and means that we have a new Lanterne Rouge: Wim Vansevenant, a Belgian rider on the Davitamon-Lotto team. He finished in the autobus today at 44:20 for the stage. He actually had been in 166th place yesterday and moves UP to 165th, but with the three abandons today that gives him the greatest aggregate time of the riders remaining in the peleton. He finished the 2005 Tour in 154th place, the penultimate position.

Stage finish positions for the other previous Lanterne Rouges of the 2006 Tour: Rubén Lobato 28th (7:22), Aitor Hernandez 108th (35:47), Filippo Pozzato 109th (40:32), Magnus Backstedt 140th (44:20).

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Oh...I knew that was going to be the title to this post...
I remember reading in one of those "Lance books" that these guys are scared to touch the buttons in elevators! Apparently, their bodies are putting so much into cycling that their immune systems just aren't working. I think catching a cold is as scary for them at this point as a broken vertebrae (at least you can race with that, right?)
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