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May 01, 2005

Ekimov crash ends '05 Tour hopes, threatens career

Eki, Stage 6, 2005 TdG
Ekimov's last stage? Eki @ TdG, Stage 6, 2005
Photo by Christy Steele - more TdFblog photos.

Eurosport.com | Ekimov out of Tour de France after crash

Discovery Channel's ageless wonder Viatcheslav Ekimov crashed while training with Lance Armstrong near Austin on Thursday. Ekimov suffered "several fractures in his chest and a broken vertebra" (Eurosport says 'a broken vertebrae', but 'vertebrae' is plural).

He remains in the hospital in Austin, but is expected to be flown to St. Petersburg, Russia, as soon as tomorrow for further treatment.

Eurosport quotes Discovery's Dirk Demol:

"In the best case scenario, he'd be back in August or September, but he won't ride the Tour, that's for certain."

Ekimov was expected to ride his 15th Tour de France in July, closing in on all-time leader Joop Zoetemelk, who won the Tour in 1980 at 33, and raced 16 Tours without ever abandoning. At 39, Ekimov has three career Tour stage wins, and took silver at last year's Athens Olympics in the time trial.

Ekimov and Hincapie are Discovery's all-round strongmen. With Eki out, Discovery will have to at least consider bringing Tom Danielson to the Tour. Post your Disco Tour lineup ... I'm thinking:

Armstrong
Hincapie
Azevedo
Rubiera
Beltran
Noval
Padrnos
Savoldelli
Joachim/Popovych/Danielson

Seven returnees, minus Landis and now Ekimov, so at least 2 spots to fill from {Danielson/Joachim/Popovych/Savoldelli}. Longshots: Barry or Hammond. Joachim hasn't made the Tour squad since 2002, but he's a similar rider to Ekimov. It feels like Savoldelli is 100 percent focused on the Giro, but he might be able to contribute in July. If they're worried about Danielson being too young for the Tour, then what about Popovych, who's only 25?

Also:

ThePaceline.com (free reg. req.) | Eki Hurt in Training Crash (older info than Eurosport, details crash)

Posted by Frank Steele on May 1, 2005 in 2004 Olympics, Tour news, Viatcheslav Ekimov | Permalink

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Lance Armstrong loses a valuable team member and takes a hit on his prospects for TDF win #7. [Read More]

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» Bad news for Lance and team from The Fire Ant Gazette
Lance Armstrong loses a valuable team member and takes a hit on his prospects for TDF win #7. [Read More]

Tracked on Aug 29, 2005 11:24:46 PM

Comments

I think Popovych will ride (taking Landis' former role). I think Noval will have to step up to replace Eki and another strong guy like Joachim will come on board to take on Noval's old role. I don't see them picking another climber like Danielson over a strong guy. Too bad for Eki and the Team. He is really one of a kind.

Posted by: Bill Hue at May 2, 2005 12:08:10 PM

My guess is they'll wait until after the Giro to decide who to bring, but won't be surprised if it's Joachim. Hope this doesn't signal the end of Eki's career!

Posted by: vinovelo at May 2, 2005 12:54:46 PM

What a shame. He is a classy guy and this is a very sad way for him to go out.

Posted by: fixedgear at May 3, 2005 12:28:17 PM