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Tour de France News Extra for July 14, 2004

Edited by Jeff Jones

Landaluze hesitates too long

Iņigo Landaluze (Euskaltel-Euskadi) could mark down Stage 9 as a missed opportunity for his first pro victory. The Basque rider was away with Filippo Simeoni (Domina Vacanze) for much of the stage, only to be caught in the last 50 metres by the flying peloton. Afterwards, he regretted the fact that he waited too long to sprint, and didn't realise that the peloton was so close.

"I did not look behind, only with a kilometre to go," Landaluze told Todociclismo. "I thought that we had enough of a lead. In the last 400 metres I put myself on Simeoni's wheel and with 150 to go I jumped, but at no time did I think that the peloton was so close. If not, I would have tried from further out because I had the strength."

Landaluze described the stage as "quite difficult at the start. We were interested in being attentive and if a large group formed, to be in it. Shortly after the start I got in a group of 7 or 8 that I thought was going to succeed. Then the race leader got in it and immediately we were caught. Then Etxebarria tried. There was a moment that the pace began to flag in the peloton and I took advantage of my opportunity. I felt good, I tried, then Simeoni caught me. We worked together well."

Quick.Step and Lotto-Domo at odds

After Quick.Step-Davitamon and Credit Agricole took on the bulk of the responsibility to chase down Simeoni and Landaluze yesterday, Lotto-Domo came away with the prize when Robbie McEwen took the stage win in Gueret. Lotto-Domo joined in the chase late in the piece, and with fewer men than Quick.Step. Afterwards, Quick.Step's director Serge Parsani expressed his frustration at his rival DS.

"Claude Criquielion gave me the middle finger when I asked him to put a few men in front to chase the breakaways," Parsani told Sportwereld.be. His thoughts were echoed by Quick.Step's team manager Patrick Lefevere, who said, "Work doesn't pay. McEwen got a nice present really. Don't work and still win, that's what you should do."

Claude Criquielion responded in disbelief. "Surely you don't mean that? Indeed I put my middle finger up for fun. That was meant as a joke. Half a minute before Parsani came alongside, Vansevenant and Marichal were working in front and later Moerenhout also came up. Parsani is really a con, a simpleton. What a bad loser. I'll immediately ring Patrick Lefevere. This doesn't bother me."

Mayo hopes for La Mongie

Iban Mayo
Photo ©: Caroline Yang
Click for larger image

Iban Mayo (Euskaltel-Euskadi) is hoping to give the Basque fans something to cheer about on Friday in the 12th stage that finishes in La Mongie. Mayo, who lost around five and a half minutes to his GC rivals in stages 3 and 4 said, "If I could choose, I would choose to win at La Mongie. For me, for the team and for the thousands of Basque fans that accompany us so closely and who are right now preparing themselves for another invasion, it would be incredible. But it will be tough, because many people want to win this stage."

A sad day for Hamilton

Tyler Hamilton (Phonak) didn't have the best of rest days on Monday, after learning that his dog Tugboat has cancer. "My best friend, my dog, I've had him for nine years - he has cancer really bad," Hamilton said after Stage 9. "I just found out late last night. We're going to have to put him to sleep tomorrow. For me it's a very sad day...he's like a child. I am going to see him tonight and I'll say good bye and that's it. That's life. I've had many great years with him. I met my wife after seven years, but I had two years with my dog and then I met my wife. She was growing to be super close with him as well. Just my dog and my wife and I, it's kind of a regular family here.

"It's hard. It's very sad and I'm not afraid to say that I cried a lot last night. Maybe people don't understand but for me and my dog...I'm so close to my dog. Him and my wife are everything to me. Tomorrow I'm going to lose one of my family members and it's sad...We've treated him like a king, that's for sure. He's travelled all over the world and has had a great life."

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