Rasmussen falls to the curse of Saint-Etienne

Few riders would have experienced a day as bad as Michael Rasmussen's in the stage 20 time trial in Saint-Etienne. Two crashes, one puncture, and three bike changes saw him lose 7'47 to Lance Armstrong and plummet from third to seventh on the general classification. Surprisingly, there was a precedent, as cycling historian and author Benjo Maso recalled on the rec.bicycles.racing newsgroup.

"It's the curse of Saint-Etienne that strikes again. The Tour de France of 1956, the TT starts in Saint-Etienne. Third on the GC: Wout Wagtmans. He's very optimistic, but after five minutes all his hope seems to be shattered when he crashes. 20 km later a second blow: he has a flat and loses a lot of time because the mechanic brings a front wheel instead of a back wheel. 15 km before the finish, he is overtaken by Stan Ockers, who started six minutes behind him. Wagtmans finishes 61st at 8'26 and the following day, drops to sixth place on GC."

Benjo also noted that both Wagtmans and Rasmussen were 11'33 behind the race leader after the time trial. Cue Twilight Zone music...

That's not to say Michael Rasmussen's Tour was a failure. On the contrary, he won the polka-dot jersey and took a very impressive stage win, both of which were his main goals coming into the Tour. He'll be back.

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