Tour Guide Flashback – Euskaltel Team Pages (2011)

RIDE Media has produced the official Tour de France Guide (Australian edition) since 2003. The 2012 edition will be on sale mid-June. During the production period, we will be looking back at certain features from over the years.

In this flashback we look at the commentary on the Euskaltel team from the 2011 Tour preview.


Flashback: 2011 – Euskaltel Team Pages

Podium for Sanchez? It’s possible in a climber’s race

Australians heard all about the post-crash diagnosis of Cadel Evans at last year’s Tour. At first he said he’d be okay but only because he was hiding any weaknesses from his rivals. Soon it became too much to bear and he admitted to a fractured elbow which absolutely halted his campaign for the yellow jersey. He would slide down the rankings from first to 30th after suffering through two weeks barely able to use one arm.

There was another rather nondescript incident – one that seems part and parcel of cycling – that occurred much later in the Tour of 2010. At the 23km mark of the 174km 17th stage, which sent riders up into the mist for the anticipated finish atop the Col du Tourmalet, Samuel Sanchez hit the tarmac hard. He wasted no time in remounting and chased for nine kilometres before returning to the peloton. He consulted the doctor and went about his business: marking rivals and trying to protect his third place on GC. He finished fifth that day, surrendering 1’32” to Andy Schleck and Alberto Contador… but adding another eight seconds buffer to Denis Menchov, the Russian who threatened his podium spot.

The medical communiqué reported “contusion thoracique antérieure” and superficial wounds to his right shoulder. But more would later be revealed. After the Tour, an examination showed a crack in the radius bone of his right arm.

He had only three days to endure the pain but defending third place was a task too much for the 32-year-old Olympic champion. He ended up in fourth overall after his 40th place in the windy time trial in the Médoc.

Much more would have been possible had Euskaltel’s riders stayed on their bikes a bit more. Their habit of crashing caught the attention of Matt Lloyd who offered his thoughts on the race to me prior to stage seven. “The only issue… in the first week is the number of Euskaltel riders crashing everywhere,” he said. “They just fall off. There’s no reason why. You’ll just be riding along and there they’ll be like a bleeding carrot in the middle of the road lying there in pain…”

The quote was posted on and used by several media outlets, including some Basque newspapers. The team was not happy when it heard of the comments. Lloyd was later asked to visit the Euskaltel bus. With all the riders present, he heard their grievances and promptly apologised, explaining that it was just how he saw the week – it wasn’t meant to create offence. “When I left the bus,” Lloyd explained, “I felt like I’d made a few friends. They’re a good bunch of guys.”

The winner of the ‘Fighting Spirit’ award from three years ago, Amets Txurruka was out in the first week, falling twice in a day to end his chances. There were other casualties of the “carrots” including Armstrong, who was brought down at the top of a climb by two crashing Basques in stage eight. But yes, they’re good guys who can put a mate on the podium.

by Rob Arnold


Author: design@ride

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