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First Edition Cycling News, Monday, July 1, 2013

Date published:
July 01, 2013, 1:00 BST
  • Love-hate Tour relationship for wounded Martin

    Tony Martin (Omega Pharma - QuickStep)
    Article published:
    June 30, 2013, 23:31 BST
    Brecht Decaluwé

    Battered and bruised, Omega Pharma-QuickStep rider gets through Stage 2

    After being transferred away in an ambulance shortly after the first stage it was highly unlikely that Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-Quickstep) was going to take the start of the second stage in the Tour de France.

    The German time trial world champion was diagnosed with a concussion, a contusion on his left lung and severe damage on his hip, left knee, shoulder and back. Nevertheless the damaged 'Panzerwagen' got the ok from the team doctor and took the start in stage 2 in sunny Bastia on Sunday morning. The first TV-images showed that the 28 year-old pedalled well. Surviving the four categorized climbs in the Corsican heat would be another challenge. Martin eventually finished the stage in the grupetto with teammate Mark Cavendish at 17:35 from stage winner Jan Bakelants (Radioshack-Leopard). Martin might have been scratched, he clearly wasn't down and out completely.

    After crossing the line at the scenic Pointe de la Parata near Ajaccio it became obvious Martin was in good spirits. He didn't mind to talk with the media though his bloodied clothing clearly showed the signs of a rough day.

    "The blood wasn't there when I stepped out of the bus this morning so it must've happened during the stage," Martin wondered allowed with nonchalance.

    "Actually it's not too bad. First of all I was happy that I was able to start here. My feeling was ok compared to the crash yesterday. I'm happy that I was able to finish today and I'm really optimistic now to continue," Martin said. "I could have stayed in the front but in the end I stayed with Cav. We need all power for him but it wasn't his day. It also helped me to reach the finish without stress and risks. I'm looking forward to an easy night."

    Last year Martin was most unlucky in the Tour de France. He had a mechanical in the opening time trial. He broke his...

  • Evans uncomfortable, but happy with final climb to Ajaccio

    Nicholas Roche and Cadel Evans climb
    Article published:
    July 01, 2013, 0:53 BST
    Cycling News

    Another test on Corsica looms

    2011 Tour de France champion Cadel Evans (BMC) was pleased to have survived the hectic final climb on Sunday's second stage, placed just one second off the overall lead of winner Jan Bakelants (RadioShack Leopard).

    The Côte du Salario, just 12km from the finish of Stage 2 provided a punchy final test for the peloton, with around half the peloton left fighting it out. While race-favourite Chris Froome (Sky) chased down the two men out front, Juan Antonio Flecha (Vacansoleil-DCM) and Cyril Gautier (Europcar), it was Evans leading the charge over the climb for the bunch.

    "It was a little bit uncomfortable at race speed to be honest, but that's normal," Evans said of the effort. "But I had a bigger break from racing than any of my competitors. So that's kind of normal."

    Evans did not race between completing the Giro d'Italia, where his surprise start resulted in him finishing third overall, and the Tour's grand depart on Corsica.

    The 36-year-old finished in 22nd place across the line on Sunday in the bunch which trailed just one second in arrears of Bakelandts. Evans' teammates caught up in Stage 1's carnage, Philippe Gilbert and Tejay van Garderen, also finished in the lead group of riders, along with Amaël Moinard.

    "For the most part we're racing good and trying to get that experience… I've got enough experience now to do the job," Evans continued. "The guys are doing really well, staying out of trouble, all healthy – that's important at this point in the race. I think tomorrow and the day after we'll see the real Tour start."

    Monday's third stage should prove selective with BMC directeur sportif John Lelangue determined to get his team though the day with its 145.5km parcours, along with the following day in Nice, tipped to provide an early settling of the GC.

    "For the...

  • Valverde satisfied to emerge from opening days in Corsica unscathed

    Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) at the start.
    Article published:
    July 01, 2013, 2:54 BST
    Cycling News

    Movistar leader focused on expected "nervous" Stage 3 at Tour de France

    Emerging from the opening two days at this year’s Tour de France has left Alejandro Valverde relieved, ahead of one final test around the narrow and seemingly nervous island of Corsica. The Movistar leader and his squad has been more or less lucky to escape the opening day’s chaos with Rui Costa the only rider to sustain a light injury to his right-hand wrist - when many teams have been left bandaged and bruised after just two days of the 100th edition.

    A hot day under the Corsica sun on Stage 2 was thought to potentially provide another opportunity for the fast men but it was more difficult that initially expected. Valverde was amongst the front-runners on the final Category 4 ascent and said that while the day took its toll on the bunch, he was pleased to make it through another "feared" stage.

    "I'm happy because we made it through another day. It was the first one in proper heat and that's an important marker because you get more tired towards the finish. We saved the day and did not lose time but the truth is that it was quite a demanding stage. It was the first day with mountains and that always feels a little weird but the feelings are still good," said Valverde on his team site.

    Valverde currently lies in 31st-place, a single second behind the new race leader and Stage 2 winner Jan Bakelants (RadioShack Leopard) but with the third and final stage around Corsica offering a more difficult parcour, the Spaniard is all too aware that it will be...

  • Drapac gunning for 2016 Tour de France invite

    Adam Phelan (Drapac) has his game-face on
    Article published:
    July 01, 2013, 4:58 BST
    Cycling News

    I can't see anything that would stop us, says team boss

    Current Australian UCI Continental outfit Drapac Professional Cycling are hoping that next season's planned move up to Professional Continental ranks leads to a start at the 2016 Tour de France.

    Team Principle and financial backer, Michael Drapac has told the Australian Financial Review that the team was aiming high for its second stint at Professional Continental level.

    "Nearly all the Pro Continental teams that have existed in recent years race in the big classic races or the three grand tours – the Tour de France, Giro d'Italia or the Vuelta [a Espana]," Drapac said. "That is our goal and I can't really see anything that would stop us."

    It's a plan that may be easier said than done. In 2013, any wildcard entries given out by the Tour's organisers, the ASO, went to French outfits - Cofidis, Sojasun and Team Europcar. It was the third year in a row that ASO had awarded all of its available wildcards to French squads.

    After the team's one-year stint at ProConti level, in recent seasons Drapac has gone back to racing as a Continental outfit with programs in Australia, Asia and Europe. Since the team's inception in 2004, Drapac has grown to become a substantial force in the region with national titles added to victories in Australia, throughout Asia and Europe.

    The team is currently lobbying for a start at the Australian WorldTour event, the Tour Down Under for next year.

    Cyclingnews understands that a decision is yet to be made on Drapac's previously mooted plans to register in the United States with a final call dependent on where any sponsorship funds come from.

  • Boonen's return to form hit by illness at Tour of Austria

    Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-Quickstep) played his hand in the early breakaway
    Article published:
    July 01, 2013, 6:03 BST
    Cycling News

    Belgian sent to bed by Omega Pharma - Quick-Step doctor

    Coming into the Tour of Austria, after making the decision to skip the 100th edition of the Tour de France, should have given Tom Boonen the chance to finally get back on track after a year interrupted by crashes, infections, illness and tax-evasion payments but the former Belgian road champion has been struck down with another setback: the flu.

    The Omega Pharma - Quick-Step rider has been hit with all the usual symptoms and was reportedly sent to bed by the team doctor at the end of Austria's Stage 1. Boonen arrived in the main group of sprinters that finished over 19 minutes down and now looks uncertain to make it through the remaining seven stages.

    "The doctor has put Tom in his bed, he shivered," said team managed Rik Van Slycke to Nieuwsblad.

    "This morning he got up and he thought he had a slight cold. After the stage it was worse. Hopefully with some rest he should be ok and does not give up."

    Boonen has a difficult day ahead of him at the eight-stage race with the HC climb to Kitzbüheler Horn slotted at the end of the 157.4km stage. The climb ascends to an altitude of 1,670m metres when it will finish but Van Slycke insists that his Belgian star rider should be able to make it all the way.

    "The rest is relatively flat. When he gets to the foot of the mountain, he can ride up at his own pace - just like he did in the grupetto today. It will be difficult however, when his nose is...

  • World champion and teammates herald joker Bakelants

    Jan Bakelants (RadioShack Leopard) wins stage 2 of the Tour de France
    Article published:
    July 01, 2013, 7:00 BST
    Brecht Decaluwé

    Unexpected but magnificent win, says Monfort

    The first career win of Jan Bakelants in Ajaccio during the second stage of the Tour de France made many people smile in the finish area. Of course his teammates of the Radioshack Leopard team celebrated the win, including Andy Schleck but also compatriots Maxime Monfort and world champion Philippe Gilbert (BMC).

    Gilbert was all smiles when he reached Ajaccio.

    "It's super. I ride a lot with him. I like him a lot because it's always fun when he's around. We're always laughing. He's a unique character. You've got to know him to know what it is. It's special... very appealing," Gilbert smiled.

    Meanwhile the teammates from Bakelants were celebrating the win. Monfort was very happy for his compatriot.

    "It's unexpected but magnificent. We came here for a stage win but we didn't expect it to come early and not in this stage," Monfort said. "He showed good form this month but his selection came as a surprise as he wasn't riding in the Tour of Switzerland or the Dauphiné Liberé," Monfort continued. In the past the Radioshack team only chooses its Tour de France riders from those who took part in one of those stage races.

    "Jan is an atypical guy as he doesn't keep his mouth shut. There's always some stupidities going on when he's around. He's a good guy. He wasn't expected in the group thus not completely integrated. A few days we see that he goes well, he claimed his spot and we're happy for him that he won the stage. His win changes the perspective for the remainder of the race. We're motivated to show some more stuff," Monfort said.

    "I know him well and I'm happy for him. He deserves...

  • Tour de France shorts: Better day for QuickStep, a new winner for 1998 Tour?

    Victory for Marco Pantani (Mercatone Uno) atop Alpe d'Huez at the '97 Tour
    Article published:
    July 01, 2013, 8:20 BST
    Cycling News

    GreenEdge bus driver apologises, Boom on a mission, early test for Fuglsang

    Omega Pharma-QuickStep hit back from injury with third, white jersey

    Sylvain Chavanel (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) was denied a birthday victory on Sunday having led the final move that catapulted Jan Bakelants (RadioShack Leopard) to victory. Meantime, the Frenchman's teammate Michael Kwiatkowski's impressive season continued as he took the lead in the young rider classification.

    "I attacked after the group caught Kwiatkowski and Sagan," Chavanel said, who was celebrating his 34th birthday. "I think it was the right moment to move. The other five riders came with me. We were working well together since the last 2km. When Bakelants went I didn't want to take the responsibility to close the gap alone. If you want to win sometimes you have to take a few risks and play tactically. It's a pity because I was strong and a win on my birthday would have been fantastic. However let me congratulate Kwiato for his white jersey, and Tony for the courage he showed today after yesterday's crash."

    Kwiatkowski sprinted to third on the stage with the bunch intent on not allowing too much of a gap to Bakelants. The result was a sign that morale was high in the team despite Kwiatkowski among a host of Omega Pharma-QuickStep riders who came to grief in the Stage 1 pile-up.

    "It's an amazing day," Kwiatkowski said. "I had a plan to finish the Tour de France but I didn't have a plan to have the white jersey. So, I was so happy. Especially after such an unlucky day yesterday. I finished 3rd in the stage today and I took the white jersey. This jersey is well respected. I really don't know how many stages I will be able to keep it, but it will be nice to have it even for one day. My goal in this Tour de France is to learn as much as I can and finish this Tour de France. I don't really think about the white jersey...

  • De Gendt blames stomach problems for Ajaccio time loss

    Thomas De Gendt (Vacansoleil-DCM) has his eye on an Alpe d'Huez stage victory
    Article published:
    July 01, 2013, 10:22 BST
    Cycling News

    Belgian loses 17 minutes, top-20 overall still possible

    Trailing in more than 17 minutes behind the day’s winner Jan Bakelants (RadioShack Leopard) should have spelled the end for Thomas De Gendt and his ambitions for the general classification at the Tour de France but the Belgian who finished third overall in the 2012 Giro d’Italia has not given up hope. De Gendt felt unwell prior to the start of the second stage and cited stomach problems at the finish as the main reason for his time lost on the road to Ajaccio.

    "They just went too fast for me on the climbs," he told Sporza. "I felt this morning that I was not 100%. I have some problems with my stomach."

    The second of the two categorised ascents, the Col de la Serra, proved too much for De Gendt who was already struggling to remain in contact with the main group.

    "At first I was already struggling on the climbs and on the second they just went too hard. I blew myself completely. Maybe it was because of the heat. It is difficult when you have to drink lots and you have problems with your stomach."

    It was at the Giro last year that De Gendt attacked on the penultimate Giro stage that finished atop the monstrous Stelvio and moved himself into podium contention, moving up the GC table from eighth to fourth with just Michele Scarponi and the final TT in his way. With some similar tactics employed at the Tour, he will undoubtedly hope to push himself back up the standings.

    The Vacansoleil-DCM rider planned on achieving a top-20 position prior to the Tour’s start, along with the intention to