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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

Cycling News Extra for July 12, 2004

Edited by Jeff Jones

Mayo looks forward to rest

A slightly battered Iban Mayo (Euskaltel-Euskadi) said after the end of Stage 8 that today's rest day in Limoges could not have come at a better time. Mayo was involved in crashes in Stage 3 and Stage 6, hurting his elbow in the latter and passing a painful last couple of days. "I'm still suffering with my elbow," he told Europa Press. "I am impatiently looking forward to the rest day. I hope that after Limoges things will be OK."

Tosatto satisfied

Part of the three man breakaway that stayed clear for 139 km of Stage 8, Fassa Bortolo's Matteo Tosatto was happy with the way things went. "I didn't like the rain much and yet in the wet I always do well," he was quoted by Datasport as saying. "Now that we don't have Petacchi any more we have been trying to get in the breaks and we've always been active. [On Saturday] it went well with Pozzato, today I tried. I am satisfied, however."

Boonen tired

Tom Boonen (Quick.Step-Davitamon), winner of Stage 6 into Angers, is glad to get to the rest day today. "Mentally I'm tired," he told Sportwereld. "From Sunday morning I've felt that it really is becoming too much. I didn't start in Lamballe with the aim to beat everybody again. You can't underestimate such a daily stress overdose. But I'm not the only one wanting a day off. Everyone sits like a corpse on the bike. As if we're all riding like we were buried. The rest day in Limoges is coming just in time. Rest, an hour's riding, rest and still more rest. With no journalists around your head."

Baldato decked

Fabio Baldato (Alessio-Bianchi) was one of a few riders who came down towards the end of the eighth stage when a dog ran into the peloton. "I was hurt from the crash which compromised my race," Baldato said to Datasport. "A dog came into the middle of the peloton and various riders crashed, fortunately I stayed in the pedals but I was held back."

French rider Samuel Dumoulin (Ag2r) was another involved in the crash, and he finished nearly 11 minutes down.

Auger determined

RAGT-Semences' Guillaume Auger tried several times to get in the breakaway during stage 8, but was not able to make it up to Tosatto, Piil and Scholz. "It's not that I don't want to," he said. "I certainly do want to stand out form the crowd, except that I haven't been able to yet. When the peloton flies along at more than fifty kilometres per hour, it's a little discouraging. There are two more weeks to go yet. Even if we have to rethink the mountain stretches, we have to be positive."

His teammate Ludovic Martin added, "The leg to Saint Brieuc was the fastest of the Tour. Everyone reckons that we're riding faster than ever before. You have to do what you can to keep up. That's the least you can do. Except you can lose a lot when you play that game. What's reassuring though is that we're all in this together."

The team is hoping to do something in the coming days before the mountains. Directeur sportif Jean Luc Jonrond said, "Overall with guys like Bouvard, Bourquenoud, Rinero, Martin, we not short of good riders. We've got a few days left to shine and then that's it! When we get to the Pyrenees, the super-riders will get into gear and we'll not get a look in. Confidence and lucidity is our motto for this Tour."

Brandt proclaims innocence

Lotto-Domo rider Christophe Brandt, who tested positive for methadone after the Tour's second stage, continues to proclaim his innocence. I want everyone to see that I am not guilty," he told "Methadone, everyone knows that it's a narcotic. I can only say that I have not taken this product, certainly not consciously. It's a matter of waiting until the counter-test. And if that is also positive, then we must examine how the product came to be in my body."

Brandt said that in the last three weeks before the Tour he took nothing. "I wasn't sick, I didn't take any medicine, no cough mixture. Nothing. If the second result is positive again, there is another path to examine. If I lay all the possibilities down, I can't even rule out manipulation from within the team. The longer I think about it, the more I lean towards the latter."

If the counter-test is positive, then Brandt will likely be fired from the team. "But it's not the end, I'll keep fighting," he said.

Piil most aggressive rider

Danish rider Jakob Piil (Team CSC) has spent more than a third of the Tour in front of the peloton in a breakaway, and is thus the most aggressive rider so far, even though the cumulative classification is not awarded until Paris. Of the 1449 kilometres covered so far, Piil has been ahead for 551 of them, recording a second place in Chartres behind Stuart O'Grady. But there has been no stage win yet.

Piil said that his main goal in getting into the breaks is to win, and not to take the most aggressive rider classification. The winner of the long, flat stage into Marseilles last year, Piil has vowed to continue his breakaway campaign.

Ag2r tops prize list

After the first nine days of racing, French team Ag2r-Prevoyance has come away with the most prize money. With the stage wins of Jaan Kirsipuu and Jean-Patrick Nazon, Vincent Lavenu's team has had an excellent start to the Tour and has accumulated €36,774. In second place is Cofidis on €28,925, which recorded a stage win and a few green jersey days with Stuart O'Grady. Fassa Bortolo, whose riders won the prologue and Stage 7, is in third place with €28,096. The next four teams are Lotto-Domo (€24,308), CSC (€24,182) and Crédit Agricole (€23,735).

Spanish Olympic team takes shape

Spanish time trial champion José Iván Gutiérrez (Illes Balears) has been named as the fourth rider in the Spanish men's Olympic team, joining Alejandro Valverde, Igor Astarloa and Oscar Freire. Spanish selected Paco Antequera announced Gutiérrez's selection today, adding that the final place will be probably be filled by another time trialist: Aitor González, Santos González, Igor González de Galdeano, Isidro Nozal or Haimar Zubeldia.

The women's team has also been completed with Eneritz Iturriaga taking the third spot. She joins Joane Somarriba and Dori Ruano, and will ride just the road race.

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(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2004)