> Can anybody tell us whether de las Cuevas could take the pain?
Ah! the pain! Just the cue I needed to move into my crude-translations-
from-L'Equipe mode. The short answer is no, he couldn't. L'Equipe reported
[Stage 4] "The scene began to unfold 40km from the start at Mondolfo,
along the Adriatic coast. With the sun shining weakly, Fabrizio
Bontempi rode on alone, with more than eight minutes advance on the
peloton, which quickly gobbled up the little climb of Agugliano,
scarcely 500 metres above sea level. All that is but Armand De Las Cuevas who
found it a bigger mouthful. And again 10 kilometres later.
On the climb of Offagna, 309 metres above sea level, a commonplace
sand castle, the Castorama leader became thoroughly unhooked from the
"I'm not well, I feel cold," he said to Bernard Quillen, the Casto
directeur-sportif. Quillen understood he was serious. DLC usually
never complained about anything. But he managed to get back to the
tail-end of the peloton which was still letting Bontempi have his
head: 13 minutes lead at 80km. Laurent Madouas, who was looking out
for the return of his team-mate to the peloton, asked him how he was.
"I'm not going to get much further," he replied. "I'm shivering, and I
can't ride out of the saddle [je ne peux pas me mettre en danseuse]."
From them on DLC's kilometres were a count-down. He made exactly 95.
At the Costabianca feed he stopped -- his Giro had lasted less than
four days and 480km. There were another 3,400 to go to reach Milan.
"My gamble was completely mad, I know it, but I couldn't stand the
prospect of staying at home. I had put in a lot of preparation for the
Giro. My problem is that I'm not recuperating properly. Normally, when
I wake up, my pulse is between 35 and 40. Since the start it's been more than
60, the rate it's at when I'm ill. It's proof that my body is struggling to
get things together and hasn't done so yet. "
He counts on his fingers. Today, it's 11 days since he was operated on
for the fractured left collar bone broken in the Quatre Jours de
Dunkerque. The next day, under the curious gaze of the doctors and
nurses who mounted guard around him, he worked out on the rollers on the
balcony of his hospital room. A real "case", that Armand De Las Cuevas.
But his optimism had spread to the whole Castorama team over the course
of the days. Bernard Quillen: "We also came to believe in a miracle. He got
through the first two days without the least problem. But finally
nature got the upper hand. Maybe it's for the best, when I saw him
pedalling in an unbalanced way, I said to myself that no good could come of it."
The truth is that Jacky Dubois, his masseur, had already noticed the
beginnings of muscle elongation in his right thigh and contractions of
all the muscles in his right side. "I was at risk of getting a
good case of tendinitis, " scoffed Armand. "Perhaps my body was telling
me it was time to stop."
His face worn, cold sweat running down his back, he got into the second
Castorama team car which dropped him off on the first passage of the
finishing line [ there was a finishing circuit of 23km]. It was five
past three. On the finishing hill, Via Sisto, the peloton was finally
putting on a spurt. But the febrile De Las Cuevas had only one
thought: sleep. His last words before stretching out in the Castorama
camping car: "It's become clear to me that I've lost a vast amount of
power in the last eight days. Today I had the greatest difficulty
pushing a 53X13. On one occasion, on a downhill false flat, I switched
into the 12-tooth as a reflex action. And I had to get out of it. It was
impossible to roll it round."
The man from Bordeaux held his shoulder, looking contrite: "I had to
come here, it was very important for me. I've lost, but I regret
nothing." In eight days, if all goes well, he'll be at the start of the
Midi Libre (24-29 May), then he's off to the Dauphine Libere (4-11