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First Edition Cycling News, Friday, July 23, 2010

Date published:
July 23, 2010, 1:00 BST
  • Contador not ready to celebrate yet

    Alberto Contador (Astana) attacked Andy Schleck inside of 4km to the finish.
    Article published:
    July 22, 2010, 19:29 BST
    Peter Cossins

    Yellow jersey admits that he’s ridden conservatively during the Tour

    Mission accomplished summed up Alberto Contador's day at the Tour de France. The Spaniard is one day closer to Paris. He still holds an 8-second lead over Andy Schleck. Assuming that lead is maintained on Friday's flat stage to Bordeaux, it will ensure the Astana leader goes off last in the crucial final time trial to Pauillac, giving him the advantage of knowing how his rivals are performing ahead of him.

    Contador said that he had felt good throughout the Tourmalet stage - "as good as on the stage to Mende," he said. "Andy was very strong for the whole climb and set a very fast rhythm. I knew that he wanted to create some gaps on the riders behind, but it was easier for me because all I had to do was to watch him. The stage victory was not really so important, I was thinking more of the general classification."

    Contador explained that he attacked Schleck 4km from the summit of the Tourmalet "because I wanted to show him I'm here and that I had good legs". Asked what the pair had spoken about after Schleck had closed down that attack and the pair continued on towards the finish, the Spaniard said: "Things that are said in the race have to stay within the race."

    He denied that his form has not been as good as last year, saying that this year's Tour has been far harder. "It has been so tough this year and I have ridden more conservatively without attacking so much or needing to. I can confirm that I've got the data that says my form has been as good as last year. Today I felt very good, like I did on the stage to Mende. But the most important thing throughout has been to be in position to win the Tour on the final day in Paris."

    After a moment, he joked about his suggested drop in performance: "Also, I'm getting older."

    Looking ahead to Saturday's 52km time trial, Contador said: "Going off last gives me a huge amount of confidence. It's a clear advantage because you can get the time gaps to your rivals. My form today was...

  • Hesjedal reaches new heights

    Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin - Transitions) put in a fine performance to finish fourth.
    Article published:
    July 22, 2010, 20:00 BST
    Richard Moore

    Canadian enjoys best day on the Tourmalet

    Fourth on the most eagerly anticipated mountain stage of the 2010 Tour de France represented a new peak for Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Transitions), one of the revelations of this year's race.

    "It's my best day on the bike," he said afterwards, which perhaps wouldn't have been a sentiment shared by many on a day that featured atrocious weather, with rain and cold making the conditions as treacherous as they were unpleasant.

    Yet it was an indication of how focused the Canadian had been on riding his own race, and tackling the Col du Tourmalet at his own pace, that he didn't know whether there had been any survivors from the break ahead of him at the finish.

    No, he was told at the summit, there were only three riders in front of him - the leading duo of Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank) and Alberto Contador (Astana) just over a minute ahead, with Joaquin Rodriguez (Katusha) nine seconds ahead of him in third.

    As news of his fourth-place finish sunk in, Hesjedal's smile seemed to express as much surprise as satisfaction. "It was awesome, unbelievable," he said as he drew breath at the summit. "It was an epic day. I've been getting ready for this for the last few days, and I felt really good. I was happy with the way I rode."

    Later, after changing into warm clothing on the team bus, Hesjedal reflected again on his "best day on the bike."

    "Fourth on the Tourmalet, in the context [of how hard the stage was], sure, it's my best day on the bike," he said.

    "I felt great, and I've been feeling better every day. I knew I was going to have a good day. I just stayed calm all day and that was it - I was able to follow and be comfortable all the way up the climb, then I was able to put a good move in at the end.

    "As soon as the first attacks went from Alberto and Andy, and all the guys broke up behind, I was just super comfortable and was able to bridge up to the first chasers. [Robert] Gesink was doing most of the work and I...

  • Schleck: I accelerated 15 times

    Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank) and Alberto Contador (Astana) were locked in a head-to-head duel on the Tourmalet.
    Article published:
    July 22, 2010, 20:30 BST
    Peter Cossins

    Saxo Bank leader hasn't given up on yellow jersey yet

    Andy Schleck refused to admit his challenge for the yellow jersey is over despite his failure to gain any time on race leader Alberto Contador during an epic stage to the misty summit of the Col du Tourmalet. The Saxo Bank rider had said on the rest day that whoever was in the yellow jersey after the Tourmalet stage would win the Tour, but declared in his post-stage press conference: "I changed my mind when I crossed the finish line today. I will give my maximum in the time trial and I'm sure I will go well. I can still see the yellow jersey in front of me so I've recently changed my mind about what I said yesterday."

    The Luxembourger said he had tried everything possible to drop Contador on today's stage, but admitted the Spaniard had the legs to match him. "I can show the SRM data that reveals that I accelerated 15 times. It's maybe not so obvious on TV, but I did accelerate a lot. I made a lot of short accelerations, but it simply wasn't possible to drop him because he was very strong today.

    "I know that he attacked to show me that he was strong, that his legs were good. In the end it wasn't possible to drop him but I was very happy to win the stage. It may have looked one-paced but it wasn't like that and I hope that Alberto can confirm that." Not long before, Contador had sit in the same interview seat and confirmed exactly that.

    Asked just as Contador had been what the pair had talked about during the final kilometres of the climb, Schleck was more candid, explaining: "I asked him to take a turn on the front. I wanted to be behind him so that I could attack him, but he was very smart today and knew that he just had to follow.

    "I said to myself this morning that I was going to give everything I had today because on some of the other stages I didn't do that due to the way the race went. But today I did and Alberto did the right thing. He's a great professional and did exactly the right thing for him today."

    And what...

  • On the finish line of the Col du Tourmalet

    Mark Cavendish (HTC-Columbia) made it to the summit finish and can look forward to possible sprints in Bordeaux and Paris.
    Article published:
    July 22, 2010, 20:45 BST
    Stephen Farrand

    A gallery of photos from the Tour's highest point

    The Tour de France reached is climax, both physically and symbolically at the summit of the Col du Tourmalet, as the race celebrated the centenary of the Pyrenees in La Grande Boucle.

    A stage of the Tour de France finished at the 2,115 metre high summit once before in 1974, climbing from the La Mongie side. However, the Tour de France celebrates the Pyrenees in 2010 by climbing from the much harder Bareges side.

    The duel between Alberto Contador and Andy Schleck ended with Schleck winning the stage and Contador almost certainly winning the yellow jersey. Yet their legendary summit finish was also the scene of 169 other battles, as all the other riders in peloton fought to finish the stage. Only Simon Spilak (Lampre-Farnese Vini) failed to finish. Everyone else can be proud to have conquered the Col du Tourmalet.

    The riders crossed the finish line individually or in little groups. They suddenly appeared through the mist and desperately looked for their team soigneurs. The soigneurs were also looking for them and ran to help them, hold them up, congratulating them on having made it to the finish and then helping them pull on warm clothing.

    The riders' faces showed all the pain of the Tour de France and of the long climb to the summit of the Col du Tourmalet. Some were ill and suffering with bronchitis but they had wanted to finish the stage and want to make it to Paris.

    Now they face just three more days of racing: Friday's flat stage from Salies-de Bearn to Bordeaux, Saturday's 52km time trial from Bordeaux to Pauillac and then the final stage on Sunday to Paris with the finish on the Champs-Élysées.

    The mist reduced the visibility to less then a hundred metres but from the summit of the Col du Tourmalet, riders could see Paris.

  • Charteau seals Tour de France King of the Mountains title

    Anthony Charteau (Bbox Bouygues Telecom) will take his polka-dot jersey through to Paris.
    Article published:
    July 22, 2010, 20:54 BST
    Peter Cossins

    Bbox rider will be first Frenchman on Tour podium since 2004

    Normally one of the most dogged of domestiques, Anthony Charteau can look forward to becoming the first Frenchman to win one of the Tour's four jerseys since Richard Virenque took the King of the Mountains title in 2004. The Bbox Bouygues Telecom rider may not have wrapped up his own mountains success with the same swagger as Virenque, but his success was a victory for the Tour underdogs, for the riders who rarely feature in the limelight.

    "I knew had enough points to take the polka dot jersey when Christophe Moreau was dropped early on the climb of the Tourmalet," said Charteau after stage 17. "I knew then that I just had to finish."

    Charteau revealed that he had spent a very nervy rest day, but was buoyed up by his teammates. "They helped me a lot in keeping calm, as did my family who were with me during the rest day."

    He thanked his teammates for the support they have given throughout the Pyrenean stages, and particularly during the Tourmalet stage. "The entire team went to the front on the approach to the Col de Marie-Blanque, which was important mentally as we wanted Moreau to see that the whole Bbox team was there and that we really wanted that jersey. We neutralised the pace in the bunch, which enabled the break to stay clear and take the points on the climbs," said Charteau.

    Asked for his thoughts about appearing on the Tour podium in Paris on Sunday assuming he can avoid any mishaps, Charteau said, "It will be very special being up there with some great champions. Today I did the last kilometre of the climb on my own - just me with the fans. Everyone was shouting my name and I really appreciated this moment."

    Charteau's success plus the stage wins taken by Thomas Voeckler and Pierrick Fédrigo will do Bbox's chances of finding a new sponsor no harm at all. Team boss Jean-René Bernaudeau told Cyclingnews this morning in Pau that he is confident of finding a backer, especially as next year's...

  • Riis believes in Schleck

    The Andy and Alberto show on the Tourmalet.
    Article published:
    July 22, 2010, 22:06 BST
    Brecht Decaluwé

    Saxo Bank manager hopes for good time trial on Saturday

    After Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank) failed to drop race leader Alberto Contador (Astana) and gain back time on the Col du Tourmalet, the Luxembourger remains eight seconds behind the defending Tour de France champion.

    With Saturday's 52km time trial as the main obstacle left before Paris there seems little chance for Schleck to win his first Tour de France. Schleck's team manager Bjarne Riis, however, felt there was still a chance for his rider to claim the yellow jersey.

    "Normally it's game over but it's only finished when we're in Paris. You've got to believe in it, try whatever you can and remain focused," Riis told Cyclingnews.

    While Riis realized Schleck normally wouldn't be favoured against Contador in the race of truth, the Dane did defend his rider.

    "He's doesn't do a bad time-trial," said Riis. "You'll see. He's strong and in good condition. He'll do the best he can. He did a great Tour. It's not over yet as we still need to get to Paris."

    When asked whether he was disappointed or would be disappointed if Schleck couldn't clinch the overall win in Paris, Riis felt there was no reason to do so. "If you tried all you could and gave everything you had, one shouldn't be disappointed. We had good and bad moments in this Tour. We have had our chances, just like Alberto had his chances," Riis said when looking back on the past three weeks.

  • Horner climbs into top-10 overall

    Chris Horner (Radioshack) rode himself into the Tour's top 10 with a strong ascent of the col du Tourmalet.
    Article published:
    July 22, 2010, 23:27 BST
    Brecht Decaluwé

    RadioShack rider downplays performance

    An eighth place finish from Chris Horner (RadioShack) today during the Tour de France's final day in the mountains was enough to move the affable American into 10th place on general classification. Despite the fine performance, Horner downplayed the result while recovering from his efforts on summit of the Col du Tourmalet.

    "I don't have any personal ambitions," Horner told Cyclingnews. "I just have ambitions for the team. I'm trying to benefit the team the best and what benefited the team most was the team classification so that was what I was going for."

    When reflecting on his ride up the monumental climb in the Pyrenees Horner was typically effusive. "It took me a bit of time to get a rhythm going but once I got a rhythm that was a bit more comfortable. The bottom hurts but nothing hurts like the top. That was inhuman, but that's the Tour. That's what everybody wants to see and it's what everybody wants to do.

    "At this level, with this calibre of riders, you have to have something like this in order to explode the field. That's what the Tour is all about: exploding the field and really pushing riders to their limit to see what they can do both physically and mentally."

    The 38-year-old American has had a strenuous Tour de France, the fourth in his career.

    "You've got to dig really deep to get through the three weeks and stay motivated, and get through all the aches and pains," said Horner. "I've certainly had my share of aches and pains, a lot of them because I'm almost forty and a lot of them because we're three weeks in the Tour. The combination of both of them has certainly been hard."

  • Starnes fractures hip in Cascade Classic

    Allison Starnes (TIBCO) rounded off the podium today with her third place
    Article published:
    July 23, 2010, 1:27 BST
    Kirsten Frattini

    Worlds selection potentially hampered by injury

    Alison Starnes (Tibco-To the Top) fractured her pelvis in two places following a crash during stage one of the Bend Memorial Clinic Cascade Cycling Classic on Wednesday.

    “It was a compressed fracture,” said team directeur sportif Emma Rickards. “She landed on her hip and the ball of her femur put stress onto the bottom part of her pelvis that caused two hairline fractures.”

    Starnes crashed inside the first 30 kilometres of the professional women’s 116-kilometre road race from Bend to Three Creeks Snow Park. She was airlifted to the St Charles Medical Centre in Bend where doctors confirmed two hairline fractures on the right side of her pelvis, according to Rickards.

    “She started to drift back in the group on a descent because the number on her frame was irritating her,” Rickards said. “There was a crash in front of her, she got through it but someone swerved, crashed and she went into the gravel and she crashed too.

    “She can get back on the bike in four to six weeks,” she added. “She got out of the hospital last night. She was very emotional and she was in and out of shock and on a lot of pain medication.”

    Starnes placed third in the opening prologue behind stage winner Alison Powers (Vera Bradley Foundation) and Tara Whitten (Keller Rorhback Cycling Team). She was in promising contention to maintain her place amongst the top three in the overall classification heading into stage two’s 25-kilometre Skyliner Rd Time Trial, an event she won the previous year.

    “She was fighting hard with me to get back on the bike to continue racing and she was really focused on the time trial,” Rickards said. “She has come into some good form with her time trial and wanted to do well. We know she could have climbed well in that road race as well. In the short term, she was really disappointed about the missing the time trial and long term,...