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First Edition Cycling News, Friday, July 8, 2011

Date published:
July 08, 2011, 1:00 BST
  • Sergeant downplays talk of strife within the team

    Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) remains atop the points classification.
    Article published:
    July 07, 2011, 22:56 BST
    Daniel Benson & Pierre Carrey

    Omega Pharma DS must juggle ambitions of Gilbert and Co

    Philippe Gilbert and his manager Marc Sergeant have played down talk of discontent within the Omega Pharma-Lotto team at the Tour de France after Jurgen Van Den Broeck and André Greipel had both publicly voiced negative opinions.

    La Dernière Heure-Les Sports reported today there was misunderstanding between Gilbert and Jurgen Van Den Broeck on stage 4 to Mûr-de-Bretagne as the latter decided to launch his own attack in the uphill finish, and then more friction with André Greipel who expected Gilbert's support in the sprint to Cap Frehel on Wednesday.

    Greipel had crossed the line saying, “this is not a team.” Gilbert had countered, saying: “Everybody will get his chance in the team”, suggesting he doesn't want to be the sole leader and that Van Den Broeck, Greipel and the others will get the team's support in the coming days.

    At the finish of stage 6 Sergeant was also quick to play down any friction between his three leaders.

    "I'm happy because we’ve had a great season and a great race so. We’ve worn all the jerseys so far and we’ve still got the green jersey,” he told Cyclingnews.

    When asked about what Greipel had meant with his comments, Sergeant countered: “That was a lot of adrenaline and maybe in his mind he was disappointed with how things went but that’s the Tour. You can plan all you want but the Tour throws that all out of the window and you have to deal with that.

    “Gilbert admitted that he was wrong and he apologised to Jurgen too. He wanted the win but didn’t have the legs and so he said he was sorry....

  • Wounded Quickstep boys complete pilgrimage to Lisieux

    Sylvain Chavanel (Quickstep Cycling Team)
    Article published:
    July 08, 2011, 1:23 BST
    Brecht Decaluwé

    Boonen, Chavanel and Steegmans in the hurt box

    During stage 5 of the Tour de France no less than six riders from the Quickstep team were among the riders who hit the asphalt. Unlucky enough the longest stage of the Tour was planned the next day. In the end all riders completed their journey to sacred Lisieux – France's second-most popular pilgrimage town behind Lourdes - although Tom Boonen, Sylvain Chavanel and Gert Steegmans had to dig deep to make it.

    The Quickstep riders kept the moral high with a masochistic competition in the team bus. "Yesterday we did a small 'who has the most grazed skin' competition which Tom won by a huge margin. Now it's about turning the pedals, avoid thinking about it and riding the bike."

    Team doctor Toon Cruyt explained that three riders had minor injuries while Boonen, Chavanel and especially Steegmans were a major concern. Boonen took much of the crash impact on his head and the former world champion seriously bruised the right side of his body. Chavanel was hurt as well but Cruyt pointed out the French champion's morale was amazing.

    "Chavanel doesn't have a broken collarbone but it might be as painful as that," he explained. "It's remarkable to see that if things are improving only five per cent he's got [good] morale again."

    Steegmans' wrist was seriously damaged, although the doctor couldn't tell how bad it was.

    "Steegmans is the least fortunate," Cruyt said. "His left wrist is very painful and swollen this morning. We'll have to see if he can keep his bike under control today. He has a lot of tape around his wrist. He will not be able to move that a...

  • Vichot finds his right place in the Tour

    Arthur Vichot continues to drive the break near the finish.
    Article published:
    July 08, 2011, 4:39 BST
    Pierre Carrey

    Before he went 6th in Lisieux, FDJ's talent felt lost in the race

    Having crossed the line sixth in Lisieux, Tour de France rookie Arthur Vichot says he felt "reassured". FDJ's puncheur was very disappointed, indeed, to have struggled in the last two up-hill sprints, in the Mont des Alouettes (stage 1) and Mûr-de-Bretagne (stage 4).

    "It took time to find my place in the Tour", the 22-year-old rider confided to Cyclingnews. "My start was bad actually. I'm a beginner in the race and I felt a bit lost among a dozen of teams who were working for a leader."

    Because of this lack of confidence Vichot says he didn't anticipate the sprint in Lisieux well enough. "I didn't believe I could win. At one kilometre to go I was in 30th position. I certainly did a strong sprint but it could have been better if I would have trusted in myself. That's a mistake and I'm sorry, but, at least, now I feel like my Tour has really started and know what my abilities are at such a race."

    Vichot now targets stage stage 8 between Aigurande and Super-Besse, with its perfect finish for puncheurs: a 3.5km climb to five per cent followed by a short downhill and an ultimate ascent of 1.5km to seven-point-six per cent.

    From a physiological point of view, the FDJ rider says he feels pretty fresh. "I crashed early this year and broke my collarbone", he recalls. "I was disappointed to miss the Ardennes but perhaps that break was a good point for the Tour de France."

    The first half of Vichot's season wasn't completely wasted, tough, as he won the Boucles du Sud Ardèche, his second professional success after one stage of...

  • Soler showing signs of "serious cognitive deficits"

    Juan Mauricio Soler (Movistar Team) wins stage 2 at the Tour de Suisse
    Article published:
    July 08, 2011, 6:52 BST
    Cycling News

    Movistar rider unable to speak following Tour de Suisse crash

    Days after being brought out of a coma, Mauricio Soler is showing signs of "serious cognitive deficits" while he is being treated for his injuries in St. Gallen, Switzerland.

    Soler crashed in the sixth stage of the Tour de Suisse and was placed in an induced coma due to severe head injuries and lung trauma. He has been joined by his wife Patricia and her brother.

    The Associated Press reports that the Movistar rider can follow simple commands and move all four limbs but isn't able to speak, according to hospital spokesman Philipp Lutz.

    Lutz said via email on Thursday that Soler is also having trouble swallowing and will require intensive neurological rehabilitation. He says Soler's condition is stable enough to move him to hospital in Pamplona, Spain, soon.

    Soler fractured his skull in the crash, and earlier this week Movistar doctor Alfredo Zúñiga said on the team's website that:

    "The lung problems are completely under control and he doesn't need artificial respiration, he breathes by himself. The rest of his injuries are also going through a positive progress. It's going to be a long, slow process yet, so some weeks can go by with no major news."

  • Wurf says Szmyd's support will be enough for Basso

    Ivan Basso (Liquigas-Cannondale)
    Article published:
    July 08, 2011, 8:56 BST
    Jane Aubrey

    Liquigas-Cannondale Aussie unlucky to miss Tour

    Cameron Wurf came extremely close to a start in the Liquigas-Cannondale squad for this year's Tour de France and believes that team leader Ivan Basso will not be disadvantaged with limited assistance on offer once the race heads into the second and third weeks.

    The Australian was due to ride alongside the Italian at the Tour until a stomach virus returned for a second time at the Critérium du Dauphiné, after it was initially contracted at the Tour of California.

    "The team didn't want to send me unless I was 100 per cent, being still pretty raw – it probably would have turned into a pretty bad experience for me," Wurf told Cyclingnews from his Varese base. "I was coming good, but they decided it was better that I do a good Vuelta."

    The Liquigas team around Basso is not balanced in the Italian's favour, with much of the veteran's support available on the flat rather than the high mountains with the exception of Sylwester Szmyd – but Wurf says it will be enough.

    "Szmyd's probably the best climber and domestique in the peloton," the former Olympic rower said. "In the Giro he was quite crook for a while there, but by the last week he was healthy again and he was the only domestique left with the favourites. I think as far as having him supporting Basso it's going to be fine.

    "There's enough stronger other teams where guys can do the grunt work on the climbs and that shouldn't effect Ivan too much. Once the group gets smaller, Szmyd will come to the fore and the numbers should be reasonably even and from that point of view, he's not going to be disadvantaged."

    Wurf and Basso spend...

  • Saxo Bank will give Riis extra money for more riders

    Bjarne Riis has his say at a meeting of team bosses
    Article published:
    July 08, 2011, 10:27 BST
    Cycling News

    Bank says Contador case plays no role in sponsorship

    Saxo Bank will continue to support Bjarne Riis' team even if Alberto Contador is suspended by the Court of Arbitration for Sport, and also announced that it will give the Dane more money to find more riders for the team.

    The Saxo Bank-SunGard team owner can keep an eye out for more riders to strength the team and support Contador in the future. “If there is a need for it, we have a clause that allows us to come up with an extra sum of money if Bjarne finds the right rider to strengthen the team, Saxo Bank CEO Lars Seier Christensen told

    It could be either a high-profile rider or someone “to enhance the breadth of the team.”

    Riis confirmed the arrangement, but refused to say who he was looking at. “As to the specific riders, it's not certain that we can get them. But it gives us some opportunities to strengthen the team.” He also confirmed that it would be someone to ride at the Tour de France.

    “We have full confidence that Bjarne can always pull a rabbit out of the hat and make sure that the team will always be among the best. It is also consistent with the values that the company Saxo Bank represents,” Christensen said.

    No sponsor withdrawal in case of Contador ban

    Saxo Bank last month announced that it would extend its sponsorship for another year, and Christensen said that the sponsorship would continue no matter what happens with Contador.

    “We are there regardless of whether...

  • Gilbert to lose green jersey in support of Greipel?

    Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) remains atop the points classification.
    Article published:
    July 08, 2011, 12:04 BST
    Cycling News

    Belgian champion ordered to leave stage seven to teammate

    After some internal tension within Omega Pharma-Lotto, Friday's stage seven from Le Mans to Chateauroux will be raced in support of the squad's pure sprinter André Greipel. The perfectly flat parcours provides the last opportunity for the fast men to show themselves in this first week of the race, and team management has apparently decided to focus on the tall German for the victory.

    "The sprint is for Greipel," Philippe Gilbert told HLN prior to the stage. The Belgian, already victorious on stage one and leader of the green jersey competition, revealed that he will not be allowed to mingle in the finale if it comes down to a likely bunch sprint.

    Friction with Greipel had been reported this week as the German had expected Gilbert's support in the sprint to Cap Frehel on Wednesday. But the Belgian played his own card, finishing second and Greipel sixth. The reason for this was the leadership over the points classification, where Gilbert faces constant competition with Spaniard Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil of the Movistar Team.

    On Friday afternoon in Chateauroux, however, "Rojas will take the jersey back, because my team doesn't allow me to sprint," Gilbert regretted. "I may lose many points and the green jersey may be lost entirely."

    At the same time, the dominant Belgian showed understanding for Greipel, who races his first Tour de France after having scored a total of six stages in the Giro d'Italia and the Vuelta a Espana and winning the 2009 Vuelta points classification. "The choice is logical because in this stage Greipel has more chances of winning than I do. And I already have a...

  • Rabobank battered but hopeful in Tour de France

    Robert Gesink (Rabobank) was battered and bruising after his crash
    Article published:
    July 08, 2011, 12:31 BST
    Cycling News

    Gesink, Garate amongst the six injured n Dutch team

    Rabobank took to the sixth stage of the Tour de France on Thursday with six of its nine rider bandaged up. All nine made it to the end of the stage safely, which was about all that sport director Adrie van Houwelingen had hoped for.

    "The day went actually reasonably well under the circumstances. This was the maximum of what we had hoped," he confessed on the team's website. "The team was battered almost collectively. We started the stage with six riders in bandages.”

    Team captain Robert Gesink was one of the patients, sporting gauze wrappings on both arms. “We knew that Robert would be ok mentally, as he is so strong that way. It looks like it has gone well, though it was certainly a very painful process.”

    Gesink was further handicapped by breaking a spoke and having to change bikes twice.

    The worst injured is Juanma Garate, with x-rays showing a hairline fracture in his upper right arm near the shoulder. The 35-year-old is not letting that stop him, although it is slowing him down.

    "The concerns about Garate were the biggest. "He finished and that's pretty gratifying," Van Houwelingen said. "We can use him well, but I think that Garate's recovery will take longer still than that of Gesink.”