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A look at the school, the races and the future of this unique 'sport'
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A tough day in the saddle for Christophe Le Mevel
Millar praises the Frenchman's "character" and "panache"
Christophe Le Mével had been the virtual pink jersey of the Giro d'Italia for a long time before being brought back by the group of the favourites towards the very end of stage 11. He was extremely disappointed to have missed out on taking the lead in Castelfidardo, while his team-mate David Millar was full of praise for his courageous action.
"The pink jersey doesn't want me!" the climber from Garmin-Cervélo repeated a few times on the finishing line. "I love this jersey; I wanted to honour it as much as I could. After the stage on the Etna, I thought it wasn't possible to get it anymore because I was too close and they wouldn't let someone who is third on GC breaking away. But at the start of today's stage, I spoke with Richie Porte and he told me that Saxo Bank wouldn't do anything to keep the pink jersey, so I was most welcome to go and look for it. However, it was more of an instinctive move that propelled me to the front group."
"I've given a lot," the Frenchman continued, "and what do I get at the end? I lose 13 seconds because of a split in the bunch. Despite all the efforts I produced earlier on, I still went deep at the end to avoid this split but it was really at the max. When the favourites accelerated with 500 metres to go, I exploded. That's life. I've dreamt and believed that I'd get the pink jersey but Saxo Bank isn't the only team in this race. A lot of teams rode behind us with different interests."
Successively, Androni Giocattoli-C.I.P.I. and Lampre-ISD put an end to Le Mével's dream in pink. "Now it's finished," the Breton rider sadi regretfully. "This is not the year I'll lead the Giro. I have good legs but I'm not winning. All the coming stages are either for sprinters or climbers. At least I can say that I've tried everything for the jersey and I still want to make the top 10 overall."
Millar arrived in Castelfidardo 10 minutes after Le Mével and was full of praise for what his team-mate attempted. "That's what bike racing is all about," the Scotsman told Cyclingnews. "We're not here for just sitting in the peloton," he added looking at his bruises as he crashed while trying to bridge to the breakaway and called it "a driver's error".
"It was a good try by Christophe today," Millar insisted. "This is our style of racing at the moment. He could have been in pink. He's got incredible form."
Le Mével wasn't scared of paying later the efforts he made on stage 11. "Tomorrow is a day for sprinters, so I'll have time to recover before the big mountains," he predicted. The Frenchman's confidence is boosted by the depth and dedication of his Garmin-Cervélo team even though the Colorado-based outfit has to deal with some hiccups at the Giro. Super domestique Matt Wilson is now maglia nera – the Italian virtual black jersey for who is dead last overall – after developing a bad infection in his hip and backside. He is being treated with antibiotics.
"I've also lost most of the skin off my right palm so am effectively riding one handed," Wilson told Cyclingnews. "But I'll keep doing everything I can for Christophe and the team."