By Jean-François Quénet in Fiorano Modenese
Finnish champion Jussi Veikkanen is one of the foreigners on Française des Jeux who usually shares space at the back of the bus while the Frenchmen gather in the front. But he's been left alone since South African Ian McLeod and New Zealander Tim Gudsell were forced to pull out.
The latter will have to spend a second night at the hospital of Borgo San Lorenzo, where he was supposed to stay for only one night. "I will have to stay away from my bike for at least six weeks," said a bitter Gudsell said while his directeur sportif Martial Gayant explained that the Kiwi will return home to recover before returning to Europe in mid-August for the end of the season.
FDJ is now reduced to only five riders since an exhausted Cyrille Monnerais pulled out in the middle of stage 8. "I'm now the only foreigner, and I'm also the only Finnish rider in the Giro," Veikkanen said. "I would have liked to be able to speak with my compatriot Kjell Carllström, but I understand that Liquigas is keeping him for the Tour de France. I did the Giro last year already. I finished it. I really like this race. It's the right time of the year for cycling, the atmosphere here is great, the people are very enthusiastic."
Veikkanen is in 67th place for now, but he aims for a higher spot on the general classification. "I came here with the idea of riding for (the) GC. I went all right in the hills we've had so far. I also prefer the Giro to many other races because the repetition of the hills suits me better than the big roads and the crosswind. We'll see how it goes in the mountain. If I don't secure an interesting position on GC, then I'll concentrate on one stage."