Good day, bad day - stage 14
A good day for Spain at last, or at least for those Spaniards who don’t come from the Basque Country
PICTURE BY TIM DE WAELE BAD DAY: Euskaltel: Can’t put a pedal stroke right at the moment. Two riders in today’s breakaway? That must mean another defeat… Two team leaders who love the Pyrenees? They’ll be riding at the back then (or quitting in Haimar Zubeldia’s case). An abjectly poor performance so far will send the bedraggled Basques back to the drawing board as the Alps loom large. Marks out of 10 – a troubled two T-Mobile: What the hell happened to that super team? They’ve got Ullrich for the GC, Zabel for the green jersey and Botero for the breakaways. Hmmm, it’s not going well then, is it Walter? Marks out of 10 – a feeble five (at least they’re trying). Beach bars: There are plenty of them on the Midi coast, but this afternoon, with as many fans flocking to the roadside as have been seen since the 2004 Tour started, business will have been slack. Marks out of 10 – ten for the bloke who bought a big screen telly to keep his punters happy GOOD DAY: Giancarlo Ferretti: One minute he’s irascible and the next he’s charming, but the senior citizen of the elite directeurs will have been pleased to see his big money signing Aitor Gonzalez finally come good. Marks out of 10 – an assertive eight for the reborn Termin-Aitor Spanish cycling: In the doldrums since Iban Mayo fell into a ditch in northern France, this has been a torrid Tour for the Iberian peninsula. Today, Fassa’s man from Alicante went some way to restoring lost pride. Now Heras and Mayo will have some incentive to salvage honour over the next few days. Marks out of 10 – an improving six Average speeds: To anybody’s way of thinking 91 kilometres in two hours is mind-bendingly quick, especially after the traumas of 48 hours in the Pyrenees. “We rode ‘a bloc’ from the start,” said Robbie McEwen. It will set tongues wagging, once again…. Marks out of 10 – a fast-fuelling five for all the conspiracy theorists.