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July 06, 2004

Did the leaders take unfair advantage?

PezCycling News | TDF '04 Stg3: Cobbles, Crashes and Surprises

Frantic paces and chases ensued, and when it was all said and done, Mayo had almost four whole minutes put into him. One wonders if the pre-Tour podium favorite will chastise the others for hitting him while he was down, as it was obviously a concerted effort by the big teams on the right end of the crash to distance themselves from the others.

Perhaps the strangest thing was how long it took for Euskaltel-Euskadi to get a chase going; if that had been Ullrich or Armstrong, their teams would have been strung out 9 strong bringing the leader back or getting smoked trying.

I give credit to the leading teams; that was a pretty good group they rode away from, with plenty of strong riders to effect a bridge, if motivated.

Update: Over at Daily Peloton, Locutus maintains “no foul”:

... Lance had his men on the front hammering for a long time before the crash even happened. Phonak, T-Mobile, CSC, Lotto-Domo, Fassa Bortolo, and Gerolsteiner all helped extend the advantage to the end, playing a bigger role than Postal on the front of the peloton once the cobbles were over. It was a horribly unlucky day for Euskaltel-Euskadi, but lashing out at Lance and his awesome US Postal teammates for that misfortune is just sour grapes.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 6, 2004 in About the Tour, Iban Mayo, Tour news | Permalink


I only caught the second half of the stage (beginning when the second group was only about 1:30 down), but Euskaltel-Euskadi team didn't seem able to mount much of a chase. Terrible luck for Mayo.

Posted by: Dusty at Jul 6, 2004 1:05:23 PM

And then there were three. As a relatively new cycling fan, I am always struck by the random variation of le tour...it is the most cruel aspect of the race. Even the most prepared team/rider can not control for dozens of risk factors.

Posted by: Jason O. at Jul 6, 2004 1:19:32 PM

at what point does the 'gentleman's rule' take effect, i wonder? jan employed it respectably when lance crashed last year, yet it would be laughable for entire teams to wait up for mayo in today's stage.

at what point, one wonders, should rivals be expected to exercise a sporting good gesture?

Posted by: bszob at Jul 6, 2004 2:26:22 PM

Yeah, good question. It seems to be a fluid 'rule.' Perhaps it's more objectively applied when two rivals are racing head to head at a critical... stage of a critical stage?

Posted by: lancefan at Jul 6, 2004 3:39:42 PM

I think it was unfair of the leading teams to take advantage of the crash like that. I don't care if it was Mayo (a contender) or a no-name rider in that group. The entire peleton should have allowed those who crashed to catch up. There would have been plenty of time to catch the break away group anyway.

I've been following cycling since the 80's and I was shocked at the way the head of the peleton rode away. Tsk tsk.

Posted by: fb at Jul 7, 2004 1:48:13 AM

Your all pretty polite, this canuck says "Go Hard...and when your on top....Go Harder"
The front running teams stratigized the cobblestone section, the teams behind have to put up with the dust and the wipe-outs....sorry but too bad. Every second counts in this race, millions are spent for every advantage, this is not a horse race where things are equal. A good day for those who count!

Posted by: roy at Jul 7, 2004 2:00:04 AM

I am sorry that Iban Mayo team wasn't there for him. Cycling is a team sport that is won by indivauls. If I am not mistake Roberto Heras was involved in a crash but do to the good work by his teamates re-joined the peleton.

dslboy, Santa Cruz

Posted by: dslboy at Jul 7, 2004 5:00:20 AM

I agree with those who say the teams at the front should have pressed their advantage. This is a sport after all. I just don't get why it's ok to take advantage of some unfortunate crashes but not others. What are the standards for when you wait up and when you don't?

Posted by: lancefan at Jul 7, 2004 8:44:03 AM

As Eddy Merckx said, "Presents are for birthdays. When you enter a race, you should go all out to win."

Attack when your competition is down, attack in feed zone, attack when nature calls. It's like war. There are only written rules that you must abide and listen to the judges.

Another Eddy Merckx quote: Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades. ROFL

Posted by: asdf at Jul 7, 2004 1:29:00 PM

To those that say it is legitimate to go all out to gain time on rivals when a crash occurs, what do you say about Lance's crash last year on Stage 15? All stages are critical, whether in the mountains or on the flats (as demonstrated by stage 3).

The standards for when to take advantage and when not to depend on the individuals at advantage, and what their ethical standards are, as compared to their will to win at all costs.

I believe that the sport of cycling is enhanced by the commitment of riders to a level of sportsmanship that involves not taking advantage of crashes. If the only basis for action is to win at all costs, what is to prevent riders from blocking or making dangerous moves in the peloton with intention to cause crashes? I prefer cycling over WWF.

Posted by: supernintendo chalmers at Jul 7, 2004 3:44:30 PM

Could someone explain to me why Armstrong felt it was OK to take advantage of Mayo's crash this in the last stage, but bitched and moaned in the 2003 Dauphine Libere when he crashed? I'm open to the suggestion that the two cases are quite different, but to me they seem to suggest hypocrisy.

After the 2003 crash, Lance was quoted as saying:
"I knew I was OK when I got back on the bike and I felt alright. I was a little nervous for about an hour afterward. Normally the bunch relaxes after a crash, but we were attacked by this guy Halgand. That's unacceptable. "

Posted by: five_is_enough at Jul 7, 2004 4:12:33 PM