Eki the ageless wonder
June 23, 2005 9:55 PM   Subscribe

Team Discovery has announced its roster for the 2005 Tour de France. Sadly, team member, Russian Cyclist of the Century, Olympic Gold and Silver Medalist and “ageless wonder” Viatcheslav Ekimov (b. 1966) was injured recently while training with Lance in Texas (free reg. req.) and will not compete in his 15th Tour this July. Eki, age 39, domestique to both LeMond and Armstrong, and a three-time stage winner at the Tour, is just two Tour-finishes shy of the record: 16.
posted by RockyChrysler (11 comments total)
What does domestique mean, in this context? Is it some form of understudy?
posted by jonson at 10:03 PM on June 23, 2005

domestique--a rider whose primary role is to support the team leader, as opposed to winning individual honors.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 10:12 PM on June 23, 2005

it connotes a role like that of a maid... a domestique cares for the other riders on his team... he can perform many tasks, from carrying food to giving up his bike if his captain's bike malfunctions. it is an important role, but a subservient one.
posted by RockyChrysler at 10:13 PM on June 23, 2005

A Signifcant Other focuses on the experience of Victor Hugo Peña, domestique to Armstrong and surprise stage winner (and short-lived race leader) in 2003.
posted by cbrody at 10:53 PM on June 23, 2005

Too bad for Eki, he's a very classy guy and what I've read this might be it for him. There are several Americans who are likely to be very competitive. The list includes former Posties Floyd Landis and Levi Leipheimer, Bobby Julich and the always smiling Chris Horner.

Re domestique: In Italy they are sometimes called gergarios. One of the best cycling films ever made, Stars and Watercarriers, calls the helpers, well, watercarriers.
posted by fixedgear at 3:09 AM on June 24, 2005

Great post Rocky. Reminds me that I have to start clearing space on the Tivo for Tour broadcasts.

It's worth noting that in Team Discovery's case the domestiques don't only carry water. There's a strategic order where certain riders are the pacesetters for certain sections. Setting a brutal pace over 6 hours of riding in the mountains is Lance's basic strategy.

PS: I have no idea who will win the Tour, but I don't think Lance (or Landis, Leipheimer, Julich or Jan Ullrich) will win.
posted by turbodog at 11:18 AM on June 24, 2005

>>>I have no idea who will win the Tour, but I don't think Lance (or Landis, Leipheimer, Julich or Jan Ullrich) will win.

I have no idea how Lance will lose (unless he's injured or gets stomach problems a la Basso in the Giro). He gave a glimpse of his form in the Dauphine when he launched an explosive acceleration in the mountains & easily dropped Landis. He's no doubt been saving himself for the Tour and actively playing his usual mind games with the competition.

With the addition of Salvodelli (who won the Giro) along with Hincapie and his usual domestiques I don't see how any other team will be able to keep up with the pace. While Ullrich rode well in the Swiss Tour, he once again was dropped when the road got steep and shouldnt be much of a factor.

I'm not a big Lance fan and very much look forward to next year's Lance-less Tour, but I still don't think anyone can match him or the pace kept by his team.
posted by birdsong at 11:40 AM on June 24, 2005

Yeah, Armstrong's total domination of le tour has not been very good for the tour, but barring something unforeseen (like the Alps splitting open and swallowing him) I also don't see how he can lose. Disco is built around delivering him to the Champs. Who cares what the pro Tour standings are, Disco is the team for the tour and the rest can fight for scraps. Ulrich is like that turbo diesel, steady power but just can't match the accelerations that Armstrong can deliver when the road points up. 2006 will be a free for all, that is for sure.
posted by fixedgear at 1:14 PM on June 24, 2005

Armstrong's domination of the tour might be pissing off a few, but there's no hate like the hatred aimed at Jeannie Longo.
posted by m@ at 3:13 PM on June 24, 2005

I've always loved Le Tour if for no other reason than it gave me an opportunity to see the French countryside for an hour in the evening for a few weeks each year. One thing about Armstrong is that because of his bout of cancer and his domination of the event, people like myself who would probably have little or no interest in a professional cycling event become deeply interested. It's often the case in many fields of endeavour in life. When there is someone who is all conquering, they get press for themselves and their area of interest and it pulls in a wider cross section of the population. So I've gone from a person who just likes France to someone who is now quite interested in the race/tactics/participants and this is in large part due to the interest surrounding Lance Armstong.
(But: Go Robbie!)
posted by peacay at 4:02 PM on June 24, 2005

What peacay said is Armstrong's lasting legacy, I think. LeMond sort of put cycling on the map for a nanosecond, cover of Sports Illustrated and Wheaties box. Six tours is a whole 'nother level, and there is a mini-boom in road cycling that is due mostly to Armstrong and the publicity he's given the sport.
posted by fixedgear at 5:13 PM on June 24, 2005

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