PIC BY TDWSPORT.COM
July 7 was a day to remember for Christophe Mengin and Francisco Mancebo for very different reasons. The Frenchman almost pulled off the coup of the race so far by holding off the bunch on the sodden roads into Nancy, only to suffer disappointment by sliding out of contention and into the barriers on the very last corner. On the other hand, the Spaniard spent a soaking day in the bunch warmed by the news that his first child, a daughter, had been born that morning near Madrid.
Mengin ended the day with a large lump under his left eye as a reminder - as if he needed one - of the unfortunate end to his 150km break. Winner of Francaise des Jeux's first Tour stage way back in 1997, Mengin admitted that he felt goosebumps as he led the race through his home region of Lorraine.
"I didn't have super legs, but I did have really strong morale," the 36-year-old French rider told Reuters. "When I managed to get clear of Jaan Kirsipuu on the cte de Maron, 13 kilometres from the finish, I gave all I had. I knew every metre of the final sections and on the final bend, knowing that Vinokourov was on my wheel, I knew that my chances of the stage win had gone and I didn't take any risks.
"Frankly, the whole day went like a dream, until the last bend."
FDJ team manager Marc Madiot was reduced to tears when he saw what had happened to Mengin. "He didn't deserve that. Christophe is an exemplary rider. I've worked with him for nine years now and we've never fallen out. I don't cry often, but I feel really sad for him."
Mengin, though, offered a word of self-consolation, pointing out that Saturday's stage to Grardmer passes through his birth place of Cornimont. No doubt he will be looking to be at the front again.
Another man in tears yesterday was Mancebo, although his were of joy after he heard at nine in the morning that his first child, Paula, had been born. "I got up as normal not knowing that I was getting up as a father," Mancebo told AS. The Illes Balears rider was not told that his wife, Luisa, had been taken into hospital last Tuesday because they didn't want him to be even more nervous while racing.
PIC BY TDWSPORT.COM