Lancaster says Napolitano behaved like an 'amateur'
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Sunday, July 5, 2009

Lancaster says Napolitano behaved like an 'amateur'

by Agence France-Presse at 7:21 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France
As bunch sprints go, it could have gone much better for Australian Brett Lancaster and his Cervelo team on the Tour de France on Sunday.

While yellow jersey contender Cadel Evans expressed his relief at avoiding one of several crashes on the second stage from Monaco to Brignoles, Lancaster was left frustrated with what he called the 'amateur' antics of Italian sprinter Danilo Napolitano of Katusha.

"We got Thor (Hushovd) right up there and then typical Napolitano just smashing people like he's in an amateur bloody under-19 race. It's just disgraceful," Lancaster told AFP.

"The guy needs to pull his head in."

An Olympic champion with Australia's track pursuit team at Athens in 2004, Lancaster's road job is now to drag Hushovd in at as fast a pace as possible before the powerful Norwegian launches a solo bid for victory at the finish line.

But being part of the Cervelo team's four-man sprint 'train' is still a work in progress for Lancaster, and an altogether new job for his New Zealand teammate Hayden Roulston.

Roulston has come into the race knowing his ability to wind it up to 60km/h in the closing kilometres could come in handy when he, Lancaster and Australian-born German Heinrich Haussler attempt to guide Hushovd through the mayhem.

But putting theory into practice, especially with spills splitting the peloton, riders losing rhythm and your own riders making potentially decisive judgements, is harder than it sounds.

Roulston came a cropper on Sunday when he crashed with 70km to go, according to his team, then he missed a split second decision which meant he didn't pull as planned in the lead-out.

Lancaster said he then had to brake hard to avoid Napolitano, who had braked hard in front of him, slowing him down and forcing him to relaunch his bid to get Hushovd to the line.

In the event, Hushovd finished a commendable fourth as Cavendish easily held off American Tyler Farrar of Garmin.

But Lancaster suggested an overwhelmed Roulston's hesitation had perhaps cost Cervelo a possible victory.

"Hayden wasn't there," added Lancaster when asked what had become of their sprint train.

"It's his first Tour and it is hectic out there but you've got to take... not risks, but, it's just dangerous. That's the way it is.

"You've got to think you might fall, you might not. It's just part of the Tour de France."

Any frustration Lancaster was feeling soon dissipated, however, with the knowledge that they will get a chance to make amends.

"He's got the horsepower, and he'll be alright in the coming days," added the Australian.

Cavendish looked almost unstoppable, the 24-year-old holding Farrar off with relative ease on the way to his fifth stage win after an impressive four, on only his second participation, in 2008.

Farrar's own lead-out man is Kiwi Julian Dean, who used to do the same job for Hushovd when the pair raced with Credit Agricole.

Despite praising Dean's efforts, the 25-year-old American admitted he has yet to find the secret to beating the man known as the 'Manx Express'.

"I don't think I did anything wrong today. He just beat me," said Farrar.

"Like I say, there's no trick you can pull to beat him (Cavendish). You just have to sprint really fast. That's all there is to it."

Two-time race runner-up Evans meanwhile was happy to stay out of the carnage and finished with a smile on his face and still in fifth place only five seconds behind yellow jersey favourite Alberto Contador of Astana.

"Like myself, everyone was concerned for the roundabouts," Evans said.

"They all crashed in the turn afterwards but it was a real high speed one, and I guess that's where the ambulance is going right now."

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