Monday, September 10, 2007

a good day for de Nederlanders

Today's stage of the Vuelta was a grueling one. Long and mountainous, finishing at the top of the highest point in the race. The Rabo team worked hard to protect the race leader, Denis Menchov. The work paid off as he took the stage and added to his overall lead. Joost Posthuma was one of a handful of racers who rode at the front of the pack to pull back a group that escaped early on. The overall speed was higher than expected, around 25 mph. Temperatures reached a high of about 85 deg. f. on the flats and dropped to the mid 50s at the top of the climbs.

You'll recall that Rabo's Michael Rasmussen was leading the Tour de France when reports of his failure to appear for drug tests caused him to be fired from the team. I hope the Vuelta doesn't experience a similar fiasco.

There is a hint of scandal, though apparently nothing very serious. Spaniard Carlos Sastre, who was fifth in the stage and is fourth overall, has accused Menchov of collaborating with Leonardo Piepoli, a rider on another team. There would be nothing illegal or even particularly irregular if true so long as there was no payment involved. In any event, Menchov has denied the accusation. Here's part of the account in Reuters:
Menchov, however, said: "Piepoli has his own style of attacking, we didn't talk on the stage, there was no agreement.

"It's true we are friends but nothing more than that. If other riders get dropped when Leo attacks, they get dropped."


Piepoli's team director Joxean Fernandez said on the Tour of Spain Web site: "There is no pact between Rabobank and Saunier Duval. Saunier Duval race for Saunier Duval."

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