Sunday, July 8, 2012

Stage 8 recap, unexpected happenings, riders holding on and perservering

Gusev injures shoulder, looses time

Vladimir Gusev (Katusha) took a spill in the eight stage when he failed to avoid a traffic island. Gusev sustained an impact to his right shoulder in the opening minutes of the stage and while he managed to remount and continue again, he was in pain. He took some time with the race doctor with a fear that he may have broken his collarbone.

Gusev had been  holding 22nd place, 3:26 behind race leader Bradley Wiggins, previous to the start of stage eight but the pain of his fall was too much for the Russian. He ended the stage in last place - over 23 minutes behind the stage winner Thibaut Pinot (FDJ-Big Mat).

The Katusha rider "suffered a strong contusion to his right shoulder. Tomorrow, Gusev will be able to take part to the individual time trial before trying to recover completely during the rest day" according to his team.

Lloyd crashes in the neutral zone, avoids group crashes.

The day's first crash occurred before the race had properly begun. Matthew Lloyd (Lampre-ISD) fell in the neutral zone, however, he was back on his bike quickly and after a short delay by the race officials, the flag was dropped and racing could continue. This was his second crash of the Tour and both were inside the neutral zone. Fortunately, He hasn’t been involved in any of the huge pile-ups.

"I haven’t come down at all during the race but I did have one crash in a neutral zone and that was my fault. No one else fell but just...losing interest," he told at the beginning of the stage. "I’ve become interested now and the profile today helps with the motivation. It’s all good. We’ll let it roll and see what happens," he said.

Lloyd has a bruised elbow and a number of abrasions according to his team. He finished the stage in the groupetto, 22:19 behind the day’s winner.

Martin hoping for good results at the time trial

Tony Martin’s (Omega Pharma-Quickstep) injuries appear to be getting better. Even with a broken wrist he was able to get through the rigorous stage without too much concern. He wasn't able to ride with the leaders, however he was only dropped with a couple of climbs remaining. He finished in a 20-man group including David Millar (Garmin-Sharp), and Jens Voigt (RadioShack-Nissan). Martin in looking forward to stage nine’s time trial where he hopes to put in a descent performance.

"Today was a hard day in the mountains. The hand was also painful, but ok. I have passed two mountain stages now. I am focused on the time trial tomorrow. Tonight I will try to fix my position a little on the [time trial] bike. We will try to find a good position with the mechanics to tune things up and have a perfect set up for tomorrow. I will try to do my best tomorrow, but it won't be easy for me," said Martin.

Yates and Wiggins : yellow jersey defence, day of truth tomorrow.

It was a common sight seen over the past six months; Wiggins in yellow, lead by a full army of strong domestiques. Calculating and drilled, the team defended Wiggins’ 10-second lead to Evans. Team director Sean Yates commented on his team’s performance following the stage.

"Whichever way it panned out it was always going to be hard, not just for us but for everyone else. You can see that by the damage done and the time gaps between the groups it was not an easy day."

"The boys coped well with the attacks early on. We knew it was going to be full gas from the start. Christian [Knees] was great today along with Eddy [Boasson Hagen]. Brad [Wiggins] and [Chris] Froomey were up there at the end when it kicked-off. There were only five or six guys together over the top of the final climb."

"Tomorrow is the race of truth and the truth will be told"

Wiggins is unquestionably a very different rider from his track days. Only four years since the Beijing Games, Wiggins has gone from being a multiple Olympic Games individual pursuit champion to one of the top favourites to win the Tour - or any other major stage race he enters.

"At the Olympics in Beijing, I weighed 82 kilos for the individual pursuit, and now I'm around 71 kilos. It's diet, training - it's very important. But more than that, it's a lifestyle: I drink nothing now. Before, in 2004 [in Athens], I was almost an alcoholic after the Olympics," he said.

Leipheimer's form not what he expected

Levi Leipheimer (Omega Pharma-Quickstep) hasn't shown the similar form of recent years and stage eight was no exception. Leipheimer was hit by a car in mid April while training and has been rebuilding his form slowly since. He wasn't able to follow the strongest over the top of the final climb up the Col de la Croix and ended in 20th spot, 1:25 behind the winner. He retained the top spot in the general classification (GC) for his team but he hadn't expected the stage to be so difficult.

"I think everybody was just suffering. It was a really hard stage. I didn’t expect it to break up as much as it did. I was surprised by the climbs, they were really, really tough here. These last few days have been harder than anyone expected. What can you say? It's been a great race," he said.

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