Saturday, July 14, 2007

Early-onset mountain fever

It's reported that Spaniard Oscar Freire of Rabobank will not be starting today, due to a cyst in his saddle area, and presumably also some kind of allergy to mountains. He only finished one Tour, in 2003, and pulled out in his other two Tours, in 2002 and 2006. He had been in third position in the sprinter's competition for the green jersey, and 5th overall.

Two previous Lanterne Rouges of this Tour, Ruben Lobato of Saunier Duval-Prodir (DNS) and Enrico Degano of Barloworld (withdrew), are also out of the 2007 Tour. We will have a new Lanterne Rouge at the end of the day and no more than 180 riders will cross the finish line.

There has already been some talk of other sprinters quitting Le Tour now that it is entering the Alps, but we'll wait and see who is listed when the official withdrawal list is updated. Maybe they'll tough it out until the rest day Monday and then not show up for work on Tuesday.

Update: Mark "Cannonball" Cavendish, the British rider for T-Mobile, is our new Lanterne Rouge in 180th position in the General Classification. Cavendish will only serve a short time in this role, since he has already been scheduled to leave the Tour after Sunday's stage. In yesterday's finishing sprint he was briefly in trouble as Tom Boonen's pedal or derailleur got tangled in his wheel and tore out a few spokes. Earlier in the Tour he was involved in a couple of crashes.

Update 2: Lobato had withdrawn due to the death of his maternal grandfather, and flew to Madrid to be with family. Our condolences to him.

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