Underneath the well-known names of the Tour, a few taps of the 'page down' key on the results below the Schlecks, Evanses and Valverdes of the world, you'll find the heart of cycling's peloton. These workers, like taxi drivers or waiters, perform essential jobs for their teams all the while dreaming of their day on the big stage.
One such rider, Juan José Oroz, emerged briefly from obscurity when he launched a brave attack on stage 12. Cyclingnews' contributors Peter Hymas and Monika Prell learned more about this Basque rider.
You'll be excused if you've never heard the name of Euskaltel-Euskadi pro Juan José Oroz Ugalde. The third year professional does not have any victories in his palmarés, photographs of him outside the confines of Euskaltel-Euskadi's web site are downright J.D. Salinger-esque in their rarity, and unfortunately for Oroz the most attention he's received in 2008 ignominiously involves surrendering the mountain leader's maglia verde on the final day of Tirreno-Adriatico.
Even when Oroz launched an attack up the unclassified climb of the Col d'Extreme on stage 12 of this year's Tour in order to bolster a floundering two-man break on a sprinter's stage, the photographers failed to capture his 45 kilometres at the front of the world's biggest bike race. Even the television commentators could not come up with a single thing to say about the man in orange.
Unfortunately for 'Juanjo', any report on his feat was overshadowed by the news of Riccardo Riccó's positive. However, it's not as if Oroz hasn't made a concerted attempt to escape from obscurity.
Riding in his first Grand Tour, Oroz said that he found the first few stages to be stressful. "The pace was very high, and there were many attempts to break away until one group was finally able to escape," he said of the stage starts. "It's difficult on the body, so if you have been in a breakaway group during one stage, the next day you are only able to ride in the last part of the peloton. But slowly you are able to get accustomed to the rhythm, even if you notice the fatigue, and surely we will notice it even more in the next two weeks."
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