Mangel: Fr (v): (mnggled) 1. To mutilate or disfigure by battering, hacking, cutting, or tearing. 2. To ruin or spoil through ineptitude or ignorance. 3. To lose a sprint in a cycle race by prematurely raising your hands in victory.
Yesterday's Tour Méditerranéen Cycliste Stage 1 provided the latest in that long running tradition of premature finish line salutes being deflated by a good ol', well timed bike throw. One of my favorite moves in cycling. It's the cycling version of soccer's nutmeg. Timeless. It's good that as much as cycling changes, some things about the sport never change.
Cafesupporter favorite Thomas 'the Tank Engine' Voeckler showed he's also one canny barodeur by taking this breakaway sprint with a perfectly executed final lunge to the line, effectively deflating a premature victory salute by Saur's Laurent Mangel. You can almost hear the dismissive 'bof' being whoof shrugged out of his D.S. Stephane Heulot. Cue trombones: Whummp whumpp whaaaaa.... You can bet a lot of Pastis was consumed in Provencal cafes replaying this one well into the evening yesterday.
Ah, don't fret Laurent, you're in presigious company. Here's five examples of great champions who've made the same gaffe. And just think, none of them scored the honor of having the move named after them!
1. The Great Eddy Merckx himself raised his arm too early on the line in a short 1972 Alpine 28km stage up Mont Revard. Guimard was suffering from a mangled knee that barely let him walk, but Eddy was the one that mangled the sprint. Not that it mattered, Merckx was dominant that year, had the Tour wrapped, and barely seemed to care. Check out the video of the sprint here.
3. Erik Zabel lost the 2004 Milan San Remo on the via Roma to Oscar Friere. Losing a stage of the Tour of the Med is one thing... but la classicissima? Good thing Zabel had already snagged a handful of victories there already...oherwise we might be calling this move a 'zabel.'
4. Oscar Friere is a specialist at the late acceleration on the line. Here he pulls the same stunt on World Champion Mario Cipollini.
5. The comment for this one should come from Sporza's Michel Wuyts, who uttered the perfect phrase when Cancellera broke away from Tommeke in Paris Roubaix last year: "Oh..oh, Balen, we have a problem!"
Tommeke still wishes he had this one back, I'll bet. "I didn't see Mark beside me."