July 22, 2003
Check out the Rupert Guinness column at VeloNews on the riders who for whatever reason can't hang in the mountains:
The stage was barely a little over an hour old - 1:13 p.m. to be precise - when the first abandon was announced. That was number 52, Italian Leonardo Bertagnolli (Saeco). And Colombian Santiago Botero (Telekom) and Sylvain Chavanel (Brioche La Boulangère) had not even launched their daylong two-up attack.
Not that their move wasn't long from being unleashed. By the time the pair rode off to their fate with a tail wind pushing them toward the Pyrénées, the names of many more riders being dropped from the pack became commonplace.
The dropped riders became more regular as the day wore on and as many of them chased to get back on to groups, were dropped, chased again, dropped, chased, dropped and chased - until finally they reached the mist-covered high-altitude finish line in Luz-Ardiden, hoping that somehow they had made it within the time limit.
A look at who finished in the laughing group at 34 minutes and 44 seconds will tell you who many of the stragglers were. A few surprises too: one of the biggest being Sunday's stage 14 winner and Giro d'Italia champion Gilberto Simoni (Saeco).
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