Shorts: Mayo, Museeuw, Merckx, VDB

ayo puts his poor showing down to illness, Museeuw turns to a plant for his new bike design, Merckx

ayo puts his poor showing down to illness, Museeuw turns to a plant for his new bike design, Merckx

PIC BY TDWSPORT.COM

Iban Mayo put his poor performance in Wednesday's first mountain stage, when he finished in the gruppetto more than 24 minutes down on stage-winner Juan Miguel Mercado, down to "problems with my throat". Mayo added that "I am feeling good, with good legs, but this setback affected my form". According to his Euskaltel team, Mayo "is suffering with pharyngitis that affected his performance".

Mayo admitted he realised on the first climb of the day he was going to struggle. "On the [second climb the] Soudet I was dropped on the first ramps. Unai Etxebarria and Aitor Hernandez were with me but when you're like that any help doesn't help much. From that moment on my only thought was to finish the stage. I wasn't thinking about anything else," said Mayo, who said his goal during the race remained a stage win, preferably at Alpe d'Huez.

- It's not unusual for ex-pros to turn their hand to bike development, but former world champion Johan Museeuw has gone further than most in doing so. Rather than just put his name to a frame produced by someone else, Museeuw is taking a leading role in the Belgian Bike-Stock company, which is developing a high-end frame combining carbon with flax, which has long been used in textile production.

"The major advantage of this bike is that it limits vibration," Museeuw told La Dernire Heure. "A 100 per cent carbon bike doesn't absorb the shock and vibration inherent in top level bikes as well. And the less vibration you can deliver - thanks to the combination of carbon with flax - means greater comfort for the rider. In addition, flax doesn't reduce the rigidity nor the solidity of the bike in spite of it being extremely light. It might not be too long before bikes made completely from flax are produced." Museeuw also pointed out this would have another benefit in as much as the bike would be almost totally recyclable.

- Phonak have announced that Axel Merckx has signed another one-year contract with them covering the 2007 season. "2007 will be my last year, and then I will dedicate more time to my family and to organising my future life having spent so many years competing at the top level," said 34-year-old Merckx.

- Frank Vandenbroucke has been told by his Unibet.com team that he must make contact with them by this coming Saturday or face being sacked. "I think we've shown plenty of understanding and patience towards Frank Vandenbroucke," said Unibet team manager Koen Terryn. "Since his admission to hospital, the day before the Belgian championship, we haven't heard any more news from him. That's not acceptable."

The Belgian rider is thought to be in Italy, but has been out of contact with Unibet and his own manager, Paul de Geyter, for a number of days. "I would like to have a final conversation with him so that we can come to an arrangement that will put an end to our collaboration. But it's impossible in these conditions," added Terryn, who said the link with the tempestuous Belgian is gaining the team publicity, but for all of the wrong reasons.

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