Xavier Tondo loses Tour de San Luis in spectacular fashion
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Saturday, January 22, 2011

Xavier Tondo loses Tour de San Luis in spectacular fashion

by Jered Gruber at 11:55 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
 
Catalonian bonks and crashes with 15 downhill kilometers remaining: "I was completely empty."

Things couldn't have been going much better for Movistar's Xavier Tondo in Saturday's penultimate stage of the Tour de San Luis. The race leader had dropped his nearest opponent and was at the head of the general classification contenders group, which numbered all of three in total: Tondo, his teammate Mauricio Soler, and the Chilean Marco Arriagada.

At the top of the first category climb of the Cerro El Amago, there were only 15 downhill kilometers to go. A safe arrival in La Carolina would ensure Tondo of his and his Movistar team's first stage race victory of 2011.

But then it all went awry. Tondo bonked over the top of the climb, crashed on the upper part of the descent, then proceeded to lose fifteen minutes!

Just as it seems improbable when reading at home, Tondo's story underlines the spectacularly rare occasion that a stage race is lost by one of the world's best in the final 15 downhill kilometers.

"We had the situation under control over the final mountain," said the former race leader to Es Ciclismo. "Arriaga [who became the leader at the end of the day] had attacked from the bottom, but again, Soler put in a big effort, and the three of us crossed the summit together. In the last part of the climb, I realized that I was a bit off, but knew that, according to the profile, everything was easy heading into the finish. The problem though is that everything before that was rolling hills [and mountains]. In an oversight, I touched the wheel of the Chilean, and then I crashed. I lost a lot of time after that. I was completely empty. I could not go anymore."

After the dust had settled, the Catalonian climber was frank about his day and discussed his melt down in the waning moments of the stage, attributing the massive loss not to his crash, but to a massive bonk.

"I would not say that the fall was what made me lose the race, but it was the last straw. I do not know if it was the heat or the effort of six days as the first competition of the year, or the hardness of the stage, but the moment arrived, and I had no strength left."

In losing, the overall sixth place finisher at last year's Vuelta a Espana gives a lesson in appreciation, humility, and not making any excuses for his implosion.

"There is no getting around it. Cycling is hard, and we are not machines. My body has reached its limit, period…It is unfortunate, and I am sorry especially for the whole team…they have been amazing every day. We must be positive though, and not thing that we are going home empty."

Instead, Tondo sees great things on the rise for his new team: "Now, we must recover and prepare for the coming races. They has only just begun. With this team and the fans behind us, we are sure to have many more happy moments."

With one stage remaining, which should be tailor made for the sprinters, Chile's Marco Arriagada has a 38 second lead over Androni-Giocattoli's Jose Serpa, and 1:31 over Liquigas's Eros Capecchi. Tondo is now in 23rd place overall.

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