Weather and crashes take toll

The wet weather has caused a sudden rash of crashes, but could, says Iban Mayo, also have a more lon

The wet weather has caused a sudden rash of crashes, but could, says Iban Mayo, also have a more lon

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A bloodied and bruised Iban Mayo on Friday night predicted that the inclement weather which was at least partly to blame for his fall on the Col du Hantz on stage 7 of the Tour could "have lasting repercussions" when the Grande Boucle enters the Alps on Tuesday.

Mayo was one of a host of fallers on another rain-affected Tour stage. The Basque sustained cuts and road rash to his left knee, hip and shoulder as he slid on a patch of oil. "I was very frightened for a split second," the Euskaltel climber told journalists shortly after crossing the line in Karlsruhe. "There were plenty of crashes today and I can't help feeling that I got lucky. I don't think that the knocks will cause me any trouble in the days to come."

Despite playing down the likelihood of significant attacks on Col de la Schlucht, 15km from tomorrow's stage finish in Gerardmer, Mayo tonight warned that "we can expect surprises in the mountains next week". The Spaniard, still struggling in 111th place on GC, 5-48 down on Lance Armstrong, believes that some riders could encounter muscular problems as a result of the cold and wet weather which has stalked the peloton over the past three days.

Mayo himself expects to peak in the Pyrenees as the race enters its third week. Reflecting on an opening time trial in which he lost over three minutes last Saturday, Mayo revealed how, watching at home on TV, his father could scarcely believe his eyes. "He didn't recognise me - he said that my pedalling style looked completely unfamiliar to him," Mayo said.

One man who won't be relishing the prospect of Tuesday's 192.5km stage to Courchevel is Tom Boonen. The Belgian, who today pushed his lead in the green jersey competition to 11 points over Thor Hushovd, was left nursing road rash and cuts to his left elbow, hip and lower back after a spill 23km into today's stage. A Quick Step spokesman said that Boonen would receive treatment from team-doctors and that he was "unlikely" to be taken to hospital.

Later in today's stage, Boonen hinted that he had been unaffected by the crash as he powered to second place behind escapee Fabian Wegmann at the intermediate sprints in Brumath and Rastatt. Boonen was denied a chance to test his legs a third time when lead-out Guido Trenti went missing in the closing kilometres, leaving him exposed to the wind in finishing straight. His seventh place on the line nonetheless earned him a further 19 points - enough to comfortably retain the green jersey.

The Lampre rider Alessandro Spezialetti suffered a much worse fate as he was rushed to hospital in Epinal after falling at the 25km mark. Spezialetti broke one tooth and sustained deep wounds to both upper and lower lips. Needless to say, the Italian was forced to abandon what was his first Tour de France.

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