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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion
Friday, August 29, 2014

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Eddy Merckx Hospitalized for Heart Problems

After suffering bouts of chest pains and low blood pressure that caused him to lose consciousness last weekend, Eddy Merckx has been hospitalized at the University Hospital of Jette near Brussels. It has been reported that Merckx underwent a heart operation Thursday by cardiologist Pedro Brugada. Merckx said that the procedure was to prevent a combination of cardiac arrhythmias and low blood pressure. Merckx has long taken medication for his heart and has an implanted pacemaker.

In the 1970s a cardiologist considered not letting Merckx start one edition of the Giro d'Italia.

Merckx said "It was a small operation and I can already go home this Frday."

During his extraordinary career Eddy Merckx contested more than 1,800 road races and won an unmatched 525 of them. Among his victories are 5 Tours de France, 5 Giri d'Italia, 1 Vuelta a España and 7 Milano-San Remos.

I have a gallery of Eddy Merckx photos posted here.

Eddy Merckx in 2011

Bernard Thévenet, Bernard Hinault, Eddy Merckx and Tour de France boss Christian Prudhomme at the Coppi-Bobet monument on the Col d'Izoard in 2011.

Daryl Impey Clear to Race

Orica-GreenEdge had not allowed Daryl Impey to race after he had been positive for the banned drug probenecid. Impey had been able to show that his ingestion of the drug was purely accidental. Here is Orica-GreenEdge's statement on the matter:

ORICA-GreenEDGE has received confirmation that Daryl Impey is fully eligible to ride after being cleared of all allegations.

“We are extremely happy with the fact that Daryl has been 100% cleared to race and we all look forward to having him back riding for us. Daryl is a key rider for the team and we very pleased with how he has handled his case and the process around it. We will reinstate Daryl in our racing roster as soon as possible,” general manager Shayne Bannan said.

“I’m thrilled to have been given the notification that I’m 100% OK to race again and no sanction whatsoever will be applied. I was confident in my defense and I’m thankful that I was given the chance clear my name beyond any type of doubt. It’s been a tough period to get through, but I’d like to thank my team for giving me the possibility to focus solely on getting this process done properly. All I can think of now is that I get to join my team and race my bike again as soon as possible,” said Impey.

Alberto Contador Surprises

Alberto Contador has been looking far more comfortable in the peloton that his protests about poor condition would lead one to believe. In fact, Contador finished third yesterday, with the same time as stage winner Alejandro Valverde and Chris Froome. Contador is currently sitting in third place in the overall standings, just 18 seconds behind leader Alejandro Valverde.

Here is the statement about yesterday's tough stage six from Contador's Tinkoff-Saxo team:

Before today’s 167.1 kilometer long sixth stage of Vuelta a Espana from Benalmádena to the steep and 4 kilometer long uphill finish to La Zubia, Tinkoff-Saxo’s Alberto Contador was 9th in the overall classification. An exciting duel between the GC contenders was highly expected.

However, Pim Lighthart (Lotto-Belisol) presumably wanted a re-match after yesterday’s failed breakway as he launched the first break of the day along with and Lluis Más Bonet (Caja Rural Seguros). And the escapees managed to create a gap of about 15 minutes before the peloton started turning on the big gears to reel them back in.

Thundering towards the final slope and closing in on the front duo, Tinkoff-Saxo managed to put Alberto Contador in a favorable position for the explosive finale where the top-10 riders started to crumble one by one. Tinkoff-Saxo’s Alberto Contador was sitting quietly behind the biggest favorite today, Joaquin Rodriguez (Katusha)  next to Chris Froome (Sky).

And with 700 meters to go, Rodriguez took off in high pace but he was brought back by a select chase group consisting of Tinkoff-Saxo’s Contador, Froome and Valverde and on the finish line, Valverde had the best sprint of the three and took the stage win while Alberto finished third on the line in the same time as Froome.

Alberto Contador climbed to third overall as Valverde took the lead.

Tinkoff-Saxo's Steven De Jongh was surprised to see Alberto in the top-3 today:

"The goal was to put Alberto in a good position entering the foot of the climb and the boys did a very good job guiding him in the finale. From here, we didn't really know what to expect after his crash during the Tour and the break from racing so I guess he took us all by surprise today and naturally I'm more than happy with this result. However, we still have to go easy and we take the race stage by stage and see how things are going. Tomorrow's stage is probably going to be just as hot as today but I expect a bigger group battling it out between them and we obviously have to keep protecting Alberto," said DS, Steven De Jongh after the stage.

Alberto Contador

Alberto Contador on the final climb of yesterday's Vuelta stage six. Photo ©Sirotti

Theo Bos to MTN-Qhubeka?

The Dutch website ad.nl is reporting that Belkin rider Theo Bos is close to signing with the South African MTN-Qhubeka squad. Bos has had a terrific season starting with winning four stages at the Tour of Langkawi and lately taking the Tour of Poland's third stage. MTN-Qhubeka recently recruited Edvald Boasson Hagen.

Theo Bos

Theo Bos wins stage 3 of the 2014 Tour of Poland. Photo ©Sirotti

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