"The 33"-Road Bike Racing - Dark Horses....
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06-13-04, 02:38 PM
anyone see a dark horse in the upcoming Tour de France by the name of Juan Miguel Mercado? This guy beat Lance on the Ventoux time trial..and then finished with the elite leaders in every crucial stage of the Dauphine'. Not to mention that he is a former stage winner in the Vuelta(at age 22) and is currently only 25 years old. Could this Spaniard be an 'up and coming' Indurain? I seem to remember him almost winning a stage last year in the tour(his 1st) but was dropped by his breakaway man near the finish. The breakaway man was Carlos Sastre...it was the stage with the pacifier.
Quick-Step has quietly put together a young team of future GC contenders for the Grand Tours with Mercado, Pecharroman, and Rodgers. They all look to have great potential.
Pecharroman has had a quiet season this year and may be prepping more for the Vuelta, but I believe Rodgers and Mercado both have a good chance for a top ten finish this year at the TDF. In fact, I have picked Rodgers as one of those who will be competing for spots 8-10. But they are both riding with maturity. Rodger's agressive riding may carry him a bit farther than Mercado this year, but they are both very good.
I suspect they are all learning a little something from Virenque, the seasoned vet of Grand Tour racing.
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