Cycling News Extra for July 15, 2006
Edited by Jeff Jones & Shane Stokes, with assistance from Sabine
Le Mével, the "invalid" who can race
By Jean-François Quénet in Carcassonne
Christophe Le Mevel (Credit Agricole)
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
Prior to the start of stage
12, Thor Hushovd reminded his French team-mate Christophe Le Mével
of something: "I won on the Norwegian national day (on May 17 in the Tour
of Catalunya), it's up to you today!" The Breton rider from Crédit Agricole
was happy to escape on Bastille Day but he quickly understood there was
no hope for a stage. "Maybe it could have worked if I wasn't the only
Frenchman in that group of four," Le Mével explained. "These
guys were talking a lot!"
He knew that Yaroslav Popovych, Alessandro Ballan and Oscar Freire were
too strong for him to repeat his stage win from the Giro d'Italia last
year. "I didn't feel very good," he said. "My legs were hurting badly.
There were all faster than me in sprinting and I probably had used up
too much power in the first breakaway. I'm from Brittany, I don't cope
with the heat! It's still a positive attitude to be in a breakaway at
the Tour de France but my assessment of the stage isn't a top one. Finishing
fourth out of four is pretty disappointing, actually."
Coming up on
Cyclingnews will cover the 60th edition of
the Dauphiné Libéré live
as of stage 4 on Wednesday, June 10, at approximately 15:00 local Europe
time (CEST)/ 23:00 Australian time (CDT)/ 9:00 (USA East).
WAP-enabled mobile devices: http://live.cyclingnews.com/wap/
Le Mével is a rookie at the Tour de France. He became known for the
fact that his 20th birthday was on September 11th at the 2001 Tour de
l'Avenir. The following year he crashed badly at the Four Days of Dunkirk.
His sciatic nerve was totally severed and his recovery took a long time.
In fact, the French welfare system still rates him as partially disabled
for work. He can't run, for example, but he can cycle.
Photo ©: Sirotti
Last year, he amazed the journalists at the Giro d'Italia when he announced
in a press conference his relationship with Laura, an Italian brunette
who was assisting cycling photographer Roberto Bettini. His family back
home didn't know about that and were informed via the press. Now Laura
still follows him at the Tour de France and the couple attracted a lot
of media attention at the time of the world cup soccer final, Italy vs.
Not surprisingly, Le Mével rooms with Pietro Caucchioli. "Italy is my
second country, he said. But I still love mine as well. It would have
been fantastic to win on Bastille Day, but it was definitely not possible."
Boonen and Peeters play down tension with Davitamon
Tom Boonen and Wilfried Peeters were interviewed before the start of
stage 13. The Quick.Step-Innergetic duo talked about the race and about
reports of tension between Boonen and green jersey Robbie McEwen, particularly
after the latter continued to race yesterday
when the other riders stopped for a toilet break.
"During yesterday’s stage, I consulted Boonen about the choice on team
tactics," Peeters told Cyclingnews. "We decided not to chase the
leaders as Tom wasn't feeling great. Today, for the first time during
the Tour de France Boonen felt better. But it’s a very long stage and
I'm wondering who will take the responsibility to lead a chase.
"Yesterday there were some troubles because Davitamon ignored the sign
of Landis to take a break. But Landis and McEwen have different goals,
so I can understand it. We didn't interfere in the discussion that started
about the rules in the peloton. I guess the fatigue is making it hard
for everyone, as the peloton was riding hard for almost 100 km at that
"Everyone is in a good mood this morning. It's a very long stage today,
with temperatures above 35 degrees. It's going to be a tough one."
Tom Boonen was then interviewed by Radio Donna while signing photos
in the start village. "I feel ok, thanks; I actually woke up Lore [his
girlfriend] earlier, ha! She sounded a bit hung-over, she always has this
great deep voice in the morning.
"I do feel better but I panicked a bit about the pain yesterday. It
didn't really bother me much any more later on during the stage though.
The stomach still hasn't settled completely really but I'll cope. The
heat will be murder again. I hope today a good break goes early so that
we can take it a bit easier. Unlike yesterday."
He was then asked as to his feelings towards McEwen. "No, I'm not angry
at Robbie, I'm just not kindly disposed towards him that's all. But I
assure you I'm not the only one here to feel like that; there were about
180 riders (actually 164 - ed.) thinking the same yesterday. Let me put
it like this: McEwen definitely didn't make any friends in the peloton
Boonen's girlfriend: "Tom never stays angry for long"
Lore, Tom Boonen's girlfriend gave her own view on yesterday's stage
this morning in an interview with Radio Donna. The eroding friendship
between the two Belgian sprinters teams in this Tour is hot news in Belgium.
The fact that McEwen broke the unwritten law that the peloton stops for
a call of nature whenever the Yellow Jersey feels the need might not have
gone down well within the peloton itself, but in Belgian newspapers and
national TV news bulletins the disagreement between Boonen and McEwen
has been built up into a more serious issue.
As usual, Lore isn't really worried about it. "I have to say, I only
saw the last 15km. But I heard something about what happened during the
stage. I only know that Tom was a bit irritated after the stage yesterday;
but he's never angry for long. It's really hard to have a quarrel with
Tom, he doesn't like that at all, it's almost impossible for him to stay
angry with someone. He forgets about it as soon as he turns his back.
"It's true Tom wasn't feeling good on Thursday; but he says he is getting
better now, so that's positive to hear. I thought it was good to see him
beat McEwen again. To see him pull those handlebars like that is great.
We were laughing here in front of the telly, my friend was saying 'look
at it, what a bear of a man Tom is, and on those small tyres!' It sometimes
looks like his bike will fold under his strength."
Gert Steegmans (Davitamon Lotto) also gave a radio interview before
the start of stage 13. He said that he is under pressure. "At this moment
I'm not feeling super; I've got problems breathing," he stated. "The lungs
are a bit infected. Yesterday I thought a few times of quitting the race
as I didn't feel comfortable all day. I felt worthless not being able
to do anything for the team, and especially when the pace was so high.
During the race I tried to motivate myself to keep going. We'll see how
it goes today."
Tour of Attrition
"Have you seen all stars and planets in one afternoon before, in broad
daylight? No? I have!" former lanterne rouge Wim Vansevenant told
the Belgian press after yesterday's stage. "Inhuman," he described the
last few stages of the Tour. Although only eleven riders had abandoned
thus far before Carcassonne, suddenly five more victims were added to
that list yesterday.
"The nature of today's stage is to blame. You can't compare different
Tours de France. One and a half week on the flat roads. It gives you a
bit of time. But to say it wasn't hard until now...The unravelling has
However Davitamon soigneur Dirk Lenaers is quoted in HNB as saying
things aren't that bad. "I haven't got the impression that the riders
are more tired than otherwise," he said. "On the contrary; I haven't heard
them complain on the massage table. Not even after Pla-de-Beret. There
wasn't a Discovery train to make the tempo. The speed of this Tour is
a lot lower than was the case in previous years. Don't forget two teams
didn't make it to the start at all. There's less nervousness, fewer crashes.
"We won't have to wait till the Alps though (to see guys in trouble).
I know those so-called transition stages. For sure the one on Sunday towards
Gap. Murder! Continuously uphill, a descent on rough asphalt. And on top
of that the heat which is common in that area during the summer months.
I would wait to make up an assessment about a Tour which is less hard
and has fewer abandons. Within a few days, a lot can change, watch my
Gerrie van Gerwen (Milram), on the other hand, says the increase in
comfort has made sure the riders are able to hang in longer: "The quality
of the hotels has increased enormously. Our riders have been enjoying
mostly air-conditioned rooms and sleep better in this heat. They are getting
more specialised nutrition and comfortable buses to make the transfers
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2006)