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First Edition Cycling News, Friday, July 22, 2011

Date published:
July 22, 2011, 1:00 BST
  • Contador's Tour de France victory hopes dashed on Galibier

    Alberto Contador just didn't have it in him to stay with the favourites on the Galibier.
    Article published:
    July 21, 2011, 20:49 BST
    By:
    Hedwig Kröner

    Defending champion suffering fatigue, knee pain

    After having made promising come-backs in the battle for general classification the last two days, Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank-Sungard) today probably lost every chance of taking the yellow jersey in stage 18 of this year's race.

    Like the other race favourites, the Spaniard did not respond to Andy Schleck's attack on the penultimate climb of the Izoard, but then got dropped from the group of yellow jersey Thomas Voeckler with 1.5km still to go on the final climb of the Galibier.

    "It wasn't a good day for me, I just didn't have the strength in the last 10 kilometres," he said in the finish. "I felt a terrible weakness. The last few kilometres were really hard. I don't know if I just blew up - I was able to follow wheels but in the end, I decided to climb at my own rhythm."

    Finally, Contador conceded 3:50 to stage winner Andy Schleck and another minute and a half on Voeckler. He is now 4:44 down on general classification and admitted that an overall victory was "practically impossible" for him at this point.

    "It's going to be very difficult now to win the Tour for him, certainly," his team manager Bjarne Riis agreed. "Alberto wanted to try to attack, but he didn't have the legs today and he suffered from his knee."

    In the beginning of the stage, the Spaniard had to get some anti-inflammatory treatment for his right knee from the race doctor.

    Still, Contador was not overly upset with what happened today. "I am already used to experiencing a variety of situations and today was not the saddest day to me."

    The Spaniard congratulated Andy Schleck on his stage-winning 60km raid and already turned the page. "Evans, too, did an incredible job and revealed himself. Now, it's important to recover and...

  • Video: Ten Dam presses on toward Paris in Tour de France

    Laurens Ten Dam (Rabobank) putting in the big ones late in the race.
    Article published:
    July 21, 2011, 22:30 BST
    By:
    Cycling News

    Rabobank rider looking forward to racing up Alpe d'Huez

    The end is in sight for Rabobank's Laurens Ten Dam, after a scary crash on stage 14 of the Tour de France. He landed face first in a ditch going down the Col d'Agnes and had to get eight stitches afterward, but he kept on racing.

    Several days later, he is focused on making it through the Alpe d'Huez stage on Friday.

    "I feel tired, of course, after three weeks of the Tour, but to recover from the injuries is hard. I haven't found the legs I had before the crash. I'm staying strong and tough and I'll try to get to Paris. That's the most important thing to me right now."

    Ten Dam was determined to soldier onward after his crash. "If I was at home right now, I'd be depressed while everyone else was in the Alps."

    Going up L'Alpe d'Huez will be especially meaningful for Ten Dam, where thousands of Dutch fans dress in orange and cheer like mad for their hometown heroes. "I know it will be crazy on Alpe d'Huez," he said. "I was there before as a small kid and to go there again as a pro will be a dream come true."

    Ten Dam said normally he'd being going better on the climbs, but his injuries have slowed him down. If he can help it, though, they won't keep him from reaching Paris.

    "If I make Alpe D'Huez, for sure I'll make Paris. Then it's just the time trial and the last stage."

    Ten Dam is in 61st in the general classification.

    The Tour de France will finish on Sunday, July 24 in Paris.

  • Craig Lewis faces long road to recovery

    Craig Lewis (HTC-Highroad)
    Article published:
    July 21, 2011, 23:00 BST
    By:
    JP Partland

    HTC-Highroad man expected to be back for Canadian races

    For the past seven years, Craig Lewis has been living his dream as a professional cyclist, but this July he is also recovering from another nightmare. The HTC-Highroad rider is stuck at home watching his teammates race the Tour de France as he recuperates from a broken left leg suffered at this year's Giro d'Italia. He's only just getting back on the bike almost two months later.

    "I've started riding outside this past weekend and I have been cleared to start putting more pressure on the leg," Lewis told Cyclingnews.

    Out was his date with the Dauphiné, as was using July to build to another peak in August for the Tours of Utah and Colorado (the USA Pro Cycling Challenge). Instead, he's slowly building back up to his normal level.

    "For now, it is hard to say how soon I will be back racing. In just a few short rides I have improved greatly, so if this trend continues I hope to be back for the Canadian races," he said of September's GP Montreal and Quebec. "I think a start in Colorado would be possible, but I'd rather make sure that I am ready before I jump back into things. I am just focused on a steady build up over the next couple of months and then I hope to be fit and ready to race out the remaining of the season."

    In an era of wall-to-wall Grand Tour coverage, Lewis' crash was obscured by epic racing, bad weather, and trees. He was flying downhill on the Giro's Stage 19, riding with teammate Marco Pinotti in support of team leader Kanstantsin Sivtsov, in one of Sivtsov's last opportunities to make up time on Contador, fifth on the general classification that day.

    Going at about 50kph, he didn't see an unidentified...

  • Evans surprised with Tour de France rivals' tactics

    Cadel Evans (BMC) leads Thomas Voeckler (Europcar)
    Article published:
    July 21, 2011, 23:29 BST
    By:
    Laura Weislo

    BMC's contender limits losses in calculating performance

    If Andy Schleck's winning ride on the Galibier was the most courageous performance of the Tour de France's queen stage, that of Australian Cadel Evans was the most calculated.

    The BMC team's leader chose not to follow the Leopard Trek rider when he attacked on the Col d'Izoard, instead looking at the situation in the general classification and the conditions that lay ahead in the next 60 kilometers when deciding to wait.

    "I was sitting right behind [Andy Schleck] watching him get ready to do an attack. I was ready, but more looking at the time gaps and the numbers," Evans said.

    "I can't control the attack from everyone when if Andy comes back, Fränk's probably going to go away. For me, having Andy away, at least there's only one I have to control in the final.

    "They put it all on the line, and they really had to with a long-range attack there," Evans said of Leopard Trek, who placed two riders, Maxime Monfort and Joost Posthuma into the early breakaway so they could be present to help Schleck on his voyage through the valley between the Izoard and the final climb up the Galibier.

    In ideal world, Schleck's attack should never have gained as much as the more than two-minute gap he enjoyed at the top. Evans described the obstacle the slight Luxembourger faced, even with help from the remnants of the breakaway.

    "On a numbers basis, [it was] 20-30km of block headwind [in the] upper valley... we're 40 and they're four riding at the front, with one to nine guys riding behind. They rode incredibly fast in front, I don't quite understand how they made so much time."

    Schleck got help not only from Monfort, but also Quick Step's Dries Devenyns who put in some...

  • Damiano Cunego moves up to fifth overall

    Damiano Cunego (Lampre-ISD)
    Article published:
    July 22, 2011, 0:56 BST
    By:
    Stephen Farrand

    Italian on same time as Ivan Basso

    Damiano Cunego (Lampre-ISD) lost contact with the front group of overall contenders a kilometre from the spectacular summit finish on the Galibier but dug deep to finish just 26 seconds behind Frank Schleck.

    With Alberto Contador and Samuel Sanchez finishing almost a minute and half behind, Cunego rose to fifth place overall, 3:46 behind Thomas Voeckler but only 2:38 behind Frank Schleck and a possible place on the final podium in Paris.

    Cunego is locked in a personal battle with fellow Italian Ivan Basso. The Liquigas-Cannondale team leader managed to finish 22 seconds ahead of Cunego and so they are at the same time in the overall classification.

    "The queen stage of the Tour lived up to expectation and I'm very happy to be up there to play my hand with the best riders in the race, Cunego said after returning down the Galibier climb to the Lampre-ISD team bus.

    "I suffered like hell but I was worth it after moving up to fifth overall. Being so high up is going to give me even more motivation for the final stages, starting with L'Alpe d'Huez tomorrow. It'll be important to recover quickly the energy we spent today because the stage is short but will be very hard. That's a tough mix to handle."

    Cunego will hope to gain more time on the finish to L'Alpe d'Huez to build a cushion before Saturday's time trial in Grenoble. He currently leads Alberto Contador by 58 seconds and probably needs double that to hold off the Spaniard.

     

  • Video: Boasson Hagen buoyed by Norwegian support

    Edvald Boasson Hagen tastes sweet revenge after taking second on the previous stage.
    Article published:
    July 22, 2011, 1:39 BST
    By:
    Cycling News

    Sky rider talks to Cyclingnews prior to stage 18

    Talking before stage 18, Edvald Boasson Hagen (Sky) was still buzzing following his second win for the Tour at Pinerolo on Wednesday.

    The 24 year-old told Cyclingnews that he and his teammates from Sky had enjoyed a small celebration the night before, but more was in the offing following Sunday's finale in Paris.

    "[We had] Dinner and a small glass of champagne, but there's not much time to celebrate too much and there's also more stages left of the Tour so after the Tour do France we can celebrate more," he said.

    The roads have been lined with Norwegian flags since the race left the Vendee, with both Boasson Hagen and Garmin-Cervelo's Thor Hushovd now claiming two stage wins each – and giving their country much to get excited about.

    "It's really nice to be here in France with all the Norwegian people it's really amazing," said Boasson Hagen.

    The Sky rider admitted that although he was fatigued, he didn't feel worse off than anyone else with the battle over the Alps still to play out.

    "I was feeling good yesterday and of course I'm feeling tired with almost three weeks of racing but I think everyone is tired so it's just important to save as much energy as possible," he explained.

  • Basso moves up to sixth but admits yellow is out of reach

    Ivan Basso (Liquigas-Cannondale)
    Article published:
    July 22, 2011, 6:02 BST
    By:
    Stephen Farrand

    Italian warns of more time losses at L'Alpe d'Huez

    Ivan Basso (Liquigas-Cannondale) was yet again consistent and strong on stage 18 to Galibier, finishing fourth, just behind Frank Schleck (Leopard Trek) and Cadel Evans (BMC) but acknowledged that his hard work and suffering had earned him little in terms of time.

    The Italian moved up from eighth to sixth overall after Samuel Sanchez and Alberto Contador cracked. He is one place behind Italian rival Damiano Cunego (Lampre-ISD) but both are 3:46 behind Thomas Voeckler (Europcar).

    Knowing of his poor time trialing ability, Basso conceded that the yellow jersey is now out of reach but predicted that the last mountain stage to L'Alpe d'Huez on Friday could cause further changes to the GC standings.

    "I'm happy with my performance because I finished with the best riders at the end of a really, really difficult stage, where some other riders suffered," Basso said from inside a team car after descending from the summit of the Galibier.

    "We didn’t get a lot out of the stage in terms of a result but the important thing was to be up there today and show that I can be there when the road kicks up."

    "I think I've got to admit I can't win the yellow jersey but I'm still very motivated for a place of honour. I've done as well as I possibly could and keep doing that in the final three stages."

    Basso was not afraid to praise Andy Schleck on his courageous attack that won him the stage and lifted him to second overall, just 15 seconds from the yellow jersey.

    "The strongest and most courageous rider won today and we can only praise Andy for his attack and stage win," Basso said graciously, before warning that the fatigue of the Galibier finish could leave...

  • Boswell hopes for Mt Bachelor victory at Cascade Cycling Classic

    Ian Boswell (Trek-Livestrong) working hard to hold onto his GC position.
    Article published:
    July 22, 2011, 6:57 BST
    By:
    Kirsten Frattini

    Under 23 rider thrives in home-town stage race

    Trek-Livestrong's Ian Boswell is hoping to put forth a strong performance during the ‘queen' stage three at the Cascade Cycling Classic. The Bend native will have the home-town advantage and plenty of cheering support when the race heads up the final ascent to the top of Mt Bachelor Ski Resort.

    "Cascade Classic is a hometown race and I always wanted to do well," Boswell told Cyclingnews. "I was training hard the last couple of weeks and looking at all the stages. "I could try and go for a stage win or go for the mountaintop finishes."

    Boswell had a good start to the Cascade Cycling Classic placing fourth during the stage one Mackenzie Pass Road Race that finished atop a lengthy ascent to Three Creeks Snow Park. RealCyclist.com teammates Cesar Grajales and Francisco Mancebo placed first and second respectively ahead of Alex Howes of Chipotle Development in third.

    He is a likely stage three podium contender because of its elevation gain. It will start at the Summit High School in Bend head up an opening 24 kilometre ascent. The race will pass one smaller climb before hitting a nearly 30 kilometres of a predominantly uphill drudge to the Mt. Bachelor Ski Resort. Boswell is not the only climber on the team and pointed to his teammates George Bennett and Carter Jones as possible threats. The team lost one of its strong climbers, Dale Parker, to a crash in stage one.

    Boswell had a head-turning season last year with a strong performance at the Navada City Cycling Classic and a third place finish atop Mt. Nebo at the Tour of Utah's second stage, behind Levi Leipheimer from RadioShack and Francisco Mancebo who is now racing for RealCyclist.com.

    This year he has spent...