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First Edition Cycling News, Friday, June 29, 2012

Date published:
June 29, 2012, 1:00 BST
  • Nibali cautious but confident of Tour de France podium chances

    Liquigas-Cannondale's Peter Sagan, Ivan Basso and Vincenzo Nibali (l-r) at the team's pre-Tour de France press conference in Liege, Belgium.
    Article published:
    June 28, 2012, 18:16 BST
    By:
    Daniel Friebe

    Liquigas pins hopes on Sicilian, Basso and Sagan

    Vincenzo Nibali on Thursday shrugged off his indifferent form in the run-up to the Tour de France, reaffirming his general classification ambitions.

    Flanked by teammates Ivan Basso and Peter Sagan at Liquigas-Cannondale's pre-Tour press conference in Liège, Belgium, Nibali said that the 14 minutes he lost to Bradley Wiggins at the Dauphiné in June will count for nothing over the next three weeks. Nonetheless Nibali acknowledged that Wiggins is "the man to beat".

    "I took ten days off after the Classics, then came back at the Tour of California. The Dauphiné was just another stepping-stone towards the Tour. Now I'm here I feel that the work I've done has paid off. I was in the mix last week at the Italian national championships and my legs feel good," Nibali said.

    On Wiggins' peerless form so far this year, the Sicilian was magnanimous but also bullish.

    "Yes, Wiggins and the Sky team we've seen so far this year are extremely strong, but not every race is the same. There are also a lot of other riders that we shouldn't discount: Gesink, Van den Broeck, and also Menchov, who people shouldn't ignore."

    After a disappointing fifth place in the Giro d'Italia, lieutenant de luxe Ivan Basso isn't among many pundits' fancied riders. The two-time Giro champion agreed today that Wiggins deserves his favourite's billing, while also backing Nibali to score what would be his first Tour de France podium finish at age 27.

    "He can definitely believe in his podium chances… As for...

  • Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank can surprise at the Tour, says Riis

    The new Saxo Bank Tinkoff team kit
    Article published:
    June 28, 2012, 19:11 BST
    By:
    Cycling News

    Dane admits it is not “strongest team in the world”

    Team Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank won't be sending “the strongest team in the world” to the start of the Tour de France in Liège on Saturday, but team owner Bjarne Riis says his team can be a “positive surprise”.

    “I expect that maybe we can go out and surprise a bit. Now I've seen that people think we have a bad team. So we can only be a positive surprise,” he told the Ritzau news agency.

    “I am as well aware that we do not have the strongest team in the whole world, but it does not mean that we can't do something,” he said, adding that the team is motivated to deliver results.

    “It matters to me that we have great motivation and drive. We need at least to try.”

    The team will look to Argentinean Juan Jose Haedo in the sprints. He will have a sprint train to support him “and then JJ can turn it on and take a chance. We make some top three spots or thereabouts – those count too.”

    Riis knows that “anything can happen” in the mass sprint finishes. “We should try to fight. There be advantages and disadvantages, and perhaps all of a sudden we will have a chance.”

    The team is going into the Tour without its top star but with a new name co-sponsor. Alberto Contador is still serving a doping-related suspension. Tinkoff Bank was announced earlier this week as the new co-sponsor.

  • Mondory out of AG2R Tour de France team

    Grand Prix de la Somme runner-up Lloyd Mondory (AG2R La Mondiale)
    Article published:
    June 28, 2012, 19:38 BST
    By:
    Cycling News

    Frenchman will be replaced by Hinault after knee problems

    Two days before the start of the Tour de France, the AG2R-La Mondiale team has announced that Lloyd Mondory will not be at the start line in Liège. The 30-year-old is suffering from tendinitis of his right knee.

    Although Mondory has received treatment for the condition over the past two weeks, the team's chief medical officer Eric Bouvat today determined that Mondory is not able to compete in the Tour.

    Mondory will be replaced by Sébastien Hinault, 38.

  • Gallery: Tour de France team presentation

    Marcel Kittel (Argos-Shimano) rode in on his newest team bike
    Article published:
    June 28, 2012, 21:10 BST
    By:
    Cycling News

    Liège, Belgium rolls out the red carpet

    With the start of the Tour de France just two days away, the formalities have begun in Liège, Belgium, the host of Saturday's kickoff prologue time trial. Starting at 6:30pm local time, each of the 22 teams contesting the 99th edition of the Grand Boucle rode their bikes onto the stage in Liège's Place Saint-Lambert square for the team presentations.

    A live band on stage provided music for each team's arrival and exit, while veteran Tour announcer Daniel Mangeas introduced each rider on stage and bantered with many of the expected stars for the next three weeks.

    One of the real stars of the peloton was the favourite Bradley Wiggins of Team Sky. The British rider – the winner of Paris-Nice, the Tour de Romandie and Criterium du Dauphiné this year – was the man in demand both on the stage and with the media assembled in the courtyard Palais des Prince-Evêques. When asked about his chances in the race, Wiggins said that last year it was all over for him after seven stages and that this year, if he is not in hospital before the first long time trial (stage nine) it “could be good for me”.

    The last team to appear on stage was BMC, with the defending champion Cadel Evans. The American-registered squad with an international cast received arguably the loudest applause for two reasons: the presence of the Australian who's back to seek a second Tour title, and the fact that the world’s number-one ranked rider from 2011, Philippe Gilbert, is also in the line-up.

    Gilbert was raised near Liège and is a popular crowd favourite. He explained that, when the Tour started here in 2004, he thought that he may have missed the chance to...

  • Voigt: Morale in RadioShack is good at Tour de France

    Jens Voigt (RadioShack-Nissan)
    Article published:
    June 28, 2012, 23:25 BST
    By:
    Daniel Benson

    German denies pay problems

    A Tour de France can rescue a season and it can even define a career but for the entire RadioShack-Nissan team this year's race provides vital opportunities to demonstrate both a united front and a platform for success – two items it has been sorely lacking in 2012.

    The Luxembourg team’s season has read like a comedy of errors, lurching from disaster to disaster, often in full view of the press. In just the last few weeks Johan Bruyneel has been sidelined from the Tour, Jakob Fuglsang has been told he’s ineligible for the any top level racing and a number of staff are rumoured to be short of pay. Not to mention the fact that both Schleck brothers and Fabian Cancellara have been linked with new teams for 2013.

    However, Jens Voigt, one of the team’s most experienced riders, is long enough in the tooth to know that while problems have been numerous the squad’s Tour could provide both welcome relief and the chance to resurrect a disappointing season.

    "I got more people asking me about the morale in the team than anything else but we’ve been here for two and half days and it’s really good. We train together and it’s a good group of riders we have here. We’re looking forward to finally starting and it’s good," he told Cyclingnews.

    "I don’t think there’s any problems that we can’t solve or that we should be bothered or make us too concerned to stop us riding the Tour de France. The perfect situation is very hard to create and probably no team has it. Sometimes you have to...

  • Jelle Vanendert at the service Van Den Broeck

    Jelle Vanendert and Jurgen Van Den Broeck
    Article published:
    June 29, 2012, 5:11 BST
    By:
    Cycling News

    Last year's stage winner backs his team leader for the Tour

    Jelle Vanendert enjoyed a break-out year at the 2011 Tour de France, winning stage 14 to Plateau de Beille and taking third overall in the mountains classification. This year however, he will be at the disposal once again, of his team leader Jurgen Van Den Broeck and is unlikely to enjoy the same feats as the previous edition.

    "I will be much more in his service, but that does not mean that I completely forget about my ambitions" he said on lavenir.net.

    Last year Vanendert jumped at the opportunity presented to him when his team leader Jurgen Van Den Broeck was forced out due to a terrible crash on stage nine. Van Den Broeck suffered a collapsed lung, three broken ribs and a broken shoulder blade.

    Vanendert quickly filled his lost teammate’s spot by coming close to winning the stage up to Luz-Ardiden, following Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) until the final moments when the Spaniard got the better of him. He continued his aggressive ways by winning stage fourteen and rode into Paris with a respectable 19th overall in the general classification.

    This year he’s stated that he will support Van Den Broek completely but if he’s given the chance, the mountains jersey may be a target.

    "Assisting Jurgen means that in the mountain stages I have to try to go with him as long as possible. This means I will collect points automatically. I'm not going to focus on the polka dot jersey, but I want to participate and go for a stage victory. If I am not too high in the standings, I should be able to slip into a breakaway" he said.
     

  • BMC climbers put to the test at Tour of Austria

    Marco Pinotti (BMC)
    Article published:
    June 29, 2012, 7:01 BST
    By:
    Cycling News

    Eight-day race offers a testing route

    BMC is sending a team to the Tour of Austria "built on climbers" says Team Assistant Director Michael Sayers. The tour presents a number of challengeing stages along the 1,153km route while also giving the sprinters and time trial specialists a chance to shine.

    The team is pinning their hopes around three climbers including Brent Brookwater, Steve Morabito - fresh back from a crash in stage two at Tour of California and Ivan Santaromita. Morabito appears confident after joining Cadel Evans on an altitude training camp but is unsure if the 1,670m Kitzbüheler Horn mountaintop finish will be too much for him. This stage will no doubt determine most of the placings in the general classification.

    "It's a very steep climb so I hope I don't lose too much against the lighter climbers to make a difference in the time trial" said Morabito.

    Marco Pinotti returns to racing following his third-place in the time trial at the Italian national championships. Pinotti won the final time trial at the Giro d'Italia and will be the one to watch during the Tour's 24.1km time trial stage, held on the penultimate day.

    Australia’s second-year neo pro, Tim Roe has been included in the eight-man roster and looks to build his form after being prescribed with a lighter program this season. The lightweight climber experienced a difficult end to last season with a hip injury but appears to have recovered sufficiently to race again.

    "We have some guys who have something to prove so I'm hoping they step their games up and have a good race" said Sayers.

    The Tour of Austria begins on 1 July with 153km circuit race.

    Brent Bookwalter (Usa), Yannick Eijssen (Bel), Steve Morabito (Swi), Marco Pinotti (Ita), Tim Roe (Aus), Ivan Santaromita (Ita), Johann Tschopp (Swi), Danilo Wyss (Sui).

  • Samuel Sanchez to remain with Euskaltel-Euskadi?

    Olympic champ Samuel Sanchez happy for his compatriot's win.
    Article published:
    June 29, 2012, 8:10 BST
    By:
    Cycling News

    Spaniard says the team should adopt a "Rabobank model"

    Samuel Sanchez is heading into this year’s Tour de France with the confidence his team will continue for years to come. The 34-year-old is racing his 13th season with the Basque squad - the team has been his home since his professional debut in 2000.

    The reigning Olympic champion spoke to The Courier about his plans for the coming seasons: "[I have] no shortage of offers but my intention is to continue [with Euskaltel-Eusakadi]". While no contract renewals have been mentioned it would be a surprise if the Spaniard moved to another team.

    Sanchez is aware of the changes set to take place at his team and offered his opinion on what the squad needs to be successful for the upcoming seasons. Euskaltel-Euskadi is currently run under the Fundación Euskadi but the new structure will see a change in management, headlined by the major sponsor Euskaltel.

    "There should be a model similar to Rabobank, with seventy percent of their cyclists trained in their development team and then reinforced with outside brokers" said Sanchez.

    As for his Tour ambitions, Sanchez was clear about his goals for the 2012 edition but also hinted about his life after cycling, where one could expect him to remain within the team.

    "My main objective is to verify that I have the legs of other years, my goal is to have presence in the race, look for the podium and stages."

    "Rather than as a director, I'd be the bridge between cyclists and directors. Share my experience. A sort of technical advisor".