One of the serious rivals of Lance Armstrong three years ago, Iban Mayo, has struggled with a bit of bad luck lately. During the first days of the Tour de France, the team leader of Basque Euskaltel crashed in the finale of stage 4, and it was only with the help of his team that he was able to come back onto the peloton before the sprint.
"Somebody tried to ride where there wasn't any space and several of us went down," Mayo told Todociclismo. "I looked at my bike quickly, and there was something wrong with it so Iñigo Landaluze gave me his. Like this, I didn't lose much time and we saved the situation. The distance to the finish was short; there wasn't any time to lose! My teammates waited for me and took me back to the group without problems. I fell on my right side, but it wasn't bad."
But it wasn't the only mishap the winner of the 2003 stage to L'Alpe d'Huez encountered until now. "That makes two days where I've had problems; it's bad luck," he continued. "The day before, I punctured at 25 kilometres from the finish, and had to make an extra effort, too. Finally, I lost 12 seconds, but I don't give that a lot of importance." Mayo knows from experience that it could have been worse: "With the help of my team, I got out of these situations without losing much time," he said. "If you can't avoid ill fortune, I'd rather have it like that. These first Tour stages are always nervous; there's still a lot to come and you notice it in the rhythm of the race. The guys go strong, but it has only just started. It's a different Tour this year, but as always, it will be very hard."
As for his options in the race, Mayo plays it low. "It's a test every day, and we have to take it step by step," he commented. "The most positive thing is that I feel good."