Blow for Mayo as he loses team-mateClose
The Tour hasn't even started yet and Iban Mayo already finds himself a man down on Lance Armstrong.Iban Mayo's Tour de France has yet to start, but the Euskaltel team leader has already suffered a significant blow with the announcement that his team-mate Gorka Gonzalez will have to sit out the race after his haematocrit level was measured at more than 50 per cent. Gonzalez, 26, will be forced to 'rest' from competition for two weeks and Euskaltel will begin the Tour with eight riders instead of nine. Initial reports suggest that Gonzalez's red blood cell count may have been raised by an extensive period of training at altitude in the Pyrenees in preparation for the Tour. Euskaltel team manager Miguel Madariaga told Europa Press: "The UCI did a haemoglobin test and just a few tenths over the parameters laid down by the UCI." Madariaga further explained that Gonzalez, who was called into the Euskaltel Tour team when Mikel Artetxe injured an elbow, "had been in the Pyrenees training [when Artetxe got injured]. The UCI itself says that may have been the cause because if you have been at altitude you have to allow more than six or seven days before undergoing this kind of test." Earlier this season, Euskaltel's David Etxebarria was forced to sit out the Bicicleta Vasca race when his red blood cell count exceeded permitted levels after a bout of gastroenteritis. All of the other 189 riders tested were given the OK to start the Tour on Saturday.