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First Edition Cycling News, Monday, July 13, 2009

Date published:
July 12, 2009, 19:00
  • Teams petition against race radio ban

    Alberto Contador speaks to Johan Bruyneel on the radio during last year's Giro d'Italia - ADISPRO International says this is an important part of modern racing.
    Article published:
    July 12, 2009, 09:05
    By:
    Susan Westemeyer

    UCI stands fast on its decision

    Johan Bruyneel of Team Astana is leading a movement to have race radios restored to stages 10 and 13 of this year's Tour de France. Fourteen of the 20 teams in the race are said to have signed a petition supporting the radios.

    The International Cycling Union has said that its decision to prohibited radios stands. "The 10th stage will be raced without any communication device between the riders and their sports directors," the UCI's race jury said in a statement on Saturday.

    "The Tour de France is not the place to have an experiment or a test," Bruyneel told the New York Times. "I think you should do it first in training rides or less important races. So, we can't accept that."

    Tour spokesman Christophe Marchadier noted that the recent French national championships were held without radios without any problems.

    "It's old-time cycling, where the riders will think more about the race and talk more to each other," Marchadier said. "They won't just be machines listening to people tell them what to do. It's like in American football, if the player doesn't receive information on the radio from the head coach."

    Team management and riders are concerned about safety, for example, that riders would not be warned of dangers on the course.

    "In the Tour de France, there are lots of people on the roads, maybe crashes, or a truck on the road, or something like oil on a descent. Radios could save our skin," said Jens Voigt (Saxo Bank). "You could also have two days without a helmet. How about that? Or two days where we cut the cables from the brakes."

    Marchadier clarified the riders could still use their race radios, but only receive the race channel, which provides safety information.

     

  • Another bad break for Arndt

    Judith Arndt (Team Columbia HTC Women) and Claudia Hausler (Cervelo TestTeam) battle for the stage victory. Arndt takes the fast, downhill finish in the end.
    Article published:
    July 12, 2009, 10:14
    By:
    Susan Westemeyer

    Third broken bone of the year

    Judith Arndt crashed and broke her upper arm in the Giro Donne stage race Saturday in Italy. It was the Columbia-HTC rider's third broken bone of the season.

    Arndt, 32, was second overall in the race when she crashed during stage eight. Medics took her to to the hospital, where x-rays confirmed the break. She is scheduled to return to Germany Sunday for further examinations.

    There is no indication how long she will be out of competition.

    Arndt broke her collarbone while training in Australia in March and broke her wrist in her first race back in April. Prior to Saturday's crash, she won five times, including stage six of the Giro d'Italia Femminile.

  • Basso hit in the back in podium crash

    Ivan Basso
    Article published:
    July 12, 2009, 10:52
    By:
    Gregor Brown

    Liquigas rider escapes unharmed

    Italian Ivan Basso was struck in the back Friday by part of a podium's frame that fell due to wind. He was speaking on stage during the presentation of Tre Valli Varesine race in Varese, Italy.

    "I can say that I am lucky because the incident could have been much more serious," said Basso. "Apart from the knock on the back and the shock, I am okay."

    Basso left the incident in Varese for Livigno, Italy, to prepare for the three-week Vuelta a España, August 29 to September 20. He finished fifth in the three-week Giro d'Italia stage race in May and he is preparing to win the Vuelta a España.

    He will train for 15 days at high-altitude in Livigno. Teammates Valerio Agnoli, Kjell Carlström, Francesco Chicchi and Ivan Santaromita are with him for the training camp.

    "It will be a period of hard work for the Vuelta a España."

    Basso won the Giro d'Italia in 2006. He placed three times in the top ten of the Tour de France, but has never raced the Vuelta a España.

    He plans to return to racing at the Tour of Poland in August.

  • Martin holds on to white jersey

    Tony Martin (Columbia-HTC) is in white.
    Article published:
    July 12, 2009, 11:33
    By:
    Hedwig Kröner

    "Surprised" Columbia rider highly motivated

    Team Columbia's Tony Martin has surprised many observers, and also himself, ever since he took the white jersey of best young rider from Czech Roman Kreuziger (Liquigas) on stage three to La Grande-Motte. Speaking after the Tour's second mountain stage to Saint Girons, he said he thought he would not be able to hold onto the jersey in the mountains, where Saxo Bank' Andy Schleck was expected to overtake him.

    "I really wanted to defend the jersey in the stages leading to Spain, but I'm surprised to still have it in the Pyrenees," Martin told Cyclingnews. "But this also shows that I managed to keep my form from the Tour de Suisse quite well. I still feel very good."

    German Martin, 24, has built a solid palmarès since last season, adding stage wins at the Tour de Suisse and the Critérium International to his second overall placing in Switzerland last month. Martin is focused on retaining the white jersey as long as he can, and his Columbia team is fully backing him.

    "The white jersey is a great motivation to me, it helps me ride up these mountains. If I explode at some point, then so be it. Still, I have the full support of the team as long as I have the white jersey," he said.

    Martin knows that he might be unable to keep the classification lead until Paris up against an overall contender such as Andy Schleck, as well as Liquigas' Vincenzo Nibali and Roman Kreuziger. Today's stage nine is the last high mountain day until the Alps next week.

    "It might be to my advantage that it is another downhill to the finish [today]. I'm hopeful to keep the jersey and look forward to a quiet rest day. I'll be watching Andy Schleck, as he is my greatest rival in the mountains. But I think I've shown that I'm able to hold on when Saxo Bank attacked [yesterday]."

    He explained he will shift his focus in the third week of racing. "In the mountains, our leader still is Kim Kirchen. He has much more experience than I do, and I think that he will be a bit stronger than me in the third week."

  • Nocentini hopes to hold yellow for another week

    Rinaldo Nocentini (AG2R La Mondiale) collects another golden fleece
    Article published:
    July 12, 2009, 18:58
    By:
    Richard Moore

    Italian moves out of the shadows and into the spotlight

    After defending his yellow jersey for a second day in the Pyrenees Rinaldo Nocentini (AG2R La Mondiale) said in Tarbes that he believes he can now keep it for another week, until Sunday’s summit finish at the Swiss ski resort of Verbier.

    "It’s a dream to get to Verbier with the yellow," he said. "The next few days are good for me, and I have a great team with me to help out, so I hope to keep it as long as possible."

    The 31-year old was second in the world under-23 road championship in 1998, behind Ivan Basso (and ahead of the third-placed Danilo Di Luca), but he has hardly set the cycling world on fire since then, until this Tour. Why not? "I won two stages in Malaysia [the Tour of Langkawi] in my first year as a professional," said Nocentini. "But then I had to work for others, because I was in a team of great champions [Mapei], and I lost a bit of condition."

    As for whether his spell in yellow had attracted the attention of Franco Ballerini, who will select the Italian team for the world championships, Nocentini said he wasn’t sure. "I got a lot of phone calls but I didn’t recognise the numbers," he joked. "Maybe he did call, but I wouldn’t have recognised his number…"
     

  • Wiggins happy after coming through Pyrenees strongly

    Garmin-Slipstream teammates Bradley Wiggins (L) and Christian Vande Velde climb to the finish.
    Article published:
    July 12, 2009, 17:17
    By:
    Richard Tyler

    Vande Velde pleased to have Wiggins for company on GC

    Bradley Wiggins breezed through the third mountain stage of the Tour, maintaining his overall position of fifth, just 46 seconds behind Rinaldo Nocentini, ahead of the rest day and with the Alps looming at the end of the week.

    "It was a pretty steady day," said Wiggins in Tarbes. "Andy Schleck [an attacker the previous day] controlled himself a bit better. All in all it was another good day for me.

    "I’ll take it day by day," continued Wiggins, "I keep telling myself that. If it’s hurting me, it’s bound to be hurting the other guys as well."

    Sandwiched between the Alps and the penultimate stage to the summit of Mont Ventoux is the longest individual time trial of this year’s race at Annecy – which could be as crucial in determining the overall placings as the much vaunted Ventoux finish. It could suit Wiggins, a specialist at the discipline, even if his recent weight loss has turned him into an excellent climber (and explains a newly acquired nickname – The Twig, a variation on The Wig, or Wiggo).

    "If I’m still close on general classification [at the time of the time trial] then it’ll obviously work in my favour," said Wiggins, "but it’s still quite a way off that. I keep saying, I’m taking it day by day, and not getting too excited."

    Wiggins is aware that his apparently dramatic breakthrough could give rise to suspicion, but he sought to reassure his followers on Sunday morning, posting on his Twitter site: "Keep the faith people, I ain’t no Bernhard Kohl" – a reference to the Austrian who was the surprise package of last year’s Tour, finishing third overall and winning the King of the Mountains classification before testing positive for CERA.

    Another revelation of last year’s race was Wiggins’s Garmin-Slipstream team-mate Christian Vande Velde, who placed fifth in Paris, and who said at the finish in Tarbes on Sunday that he isn’t surprised at all by his British teammate. "I’m surprised by how calm he is and how well he’s taking it all in. He’s in a situation I was in last year, which is kind of funny to see."

    Vande Velde continued: "We’re helping each other out quite a bit, and it’s really nice to have someone there with me. It’s huge having him there; mentally it makes everything easier, when you look over and see a team mate, and can give each other water."

    And he didn’t hesitate to name him as being, on the basis of the three days in the Pyrenees, one of the world’s best climbers: "You can’t say he’s climbing with the best climbers in the world – he is one of the best climbers in the world. And he’s one of the best time triallists in the world, so there is no reason why Brad can’t do an amazing result here."

    To many observers there appear to be two Wiggins: the intensely focused rider and, off the bike, the laidback and wag, whose impersonations are the stuff of legend. "In the race he’s really serious," said Vande Velde. "But after the race he’s never serious. He’s the world’s best impersonator, so you’re always scared to leave the bus in case you’re next. He’s a really intelligent, funny guy. His best impression is of Cav."
     

  • Fedrigo takes home stage

    Pierrick Fedrigo (Bbox Bouygues Telecom) celebrates his second career Tour stage win.
    Article published:
    July 12, 2009, 18:31
    By:
    Hedwig Kröner

    Fast finisher out-sprints Pellizotti

    On Sunday evening, the party will be on in the Bbox Bouygues Telecom team hotel in Limoges. Not only is tomorrow a rest day, but the French squad just nailed its second victory in this Tour de France with Pierrick Fedrigo outsprinting Italian Franco Pellizotti (Liquigas) in the finish of stage nine in Tarbes.

    Fedrigo, a native of the Lot-and-Garonne department close to where the stage ended, scored the third French victory of the race in a very impressive fashion. Being a member of the day's breakaway that suffered its way over the day's two spectacular climbs - the Col d'Aspin and the Tourmalet - he not only made it over the mountains that made many riders drop back, but he also took the better of Pellizotti in a strong finale.

    Approaching the finish line, the Liquigas rider was on Fedrigo's wheel and overtook him once he charged with 200 meters to go. But the fast finisher Fedrigo was able to come back on the climber's wheel and still out-sprint him for a deserved victory.

    Both riders had targeted this particular stage, and second-placed Pellizotti was a fair loser. "I knew there was one last bend with 200 metres to go, so I anticipated it. I hoped that the finish line was going to be a bit closer, but Fedrigo rode well and clearly won," the Italian praised his rival.

    Fedrigo, 31 years of age, took his second career Tour stage victory. He first won in the race in 2006, when he out-sprinted Salvatore Commesso in stage 14 to Gap, much in a similar fashion than today. Asked which win felt better, the former French champion said, "both are great. It's the Tour de France, it's the most beautiful race in the world. In the finale, I had the same feelings as in 2006. Moreover, the race unfolded in the same way: a breakaway of many riders at first, then a finish with only two riders."

    After teammate Thomas Voeckler took the first victory for the outfit in stage five, Fedrigo had marked this day on his personal calendar. "There are stages that suit me, and others don't. Therefore, it doesn't make any sense to spend energy to become 25th at seven seconds - it's better to finish in the gruppetto at 15 or 20 minutes to keep some reserves, as the Tour is a long race. Today, I was in front, and the forces that I saved on previous stages allowed me to win," he explained about his overall tactics.

    It's the third French win in this Tour so far, with Agritubel's Brice Feillu taking stage seven in Andorra - a great outcome for the nation which had been longing for more success in its home Grand Tour in recent years. "Maybe French riders have more self-confidence now," said Fedrigo when asked how come the French riders' results improved.

    "Some teams are here to win the Tour, and others to win stages. The French are off the front as every year, they get into breakaways and long escapes and sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. You have to believe in it."

    Fedrigo did, and so did his escape mate Pellizotti, with whom he resisted the chase group and the peloton over the last 80 kilometres of the stage. The bunch got close, with teams Caisse d'Epargne and Rabobank working for their sprinters, but with four kilometres to go, the gap stabilized around 40 seconds - enough to stay away.

    "We spoke in the last kilometres, and encouraged each other to give it everything. We believed in our chances, and remained calm. That was the key to our success," said Fedrigo, whose list of victories is growing: Two stage victories in the Tour, one in the 2009 Dauphiné Libéré, one in the Volta a Catalunya and the 2008 GP de Plouay, to name but a few.

    Asked what the next step in his career would be, he cautiously replied, "I don't know, maybe the Worlds. I discussed it with [French team selector] Laurent Jalabert, and the objective of the rest of my season will be Mendrisio.

    "In the past, once it was August or September, my focus sort of slipped. But now I am older, and I have more responsibilities, which is why this year, I wanted to to set myself another goal. I hope that this will take my career to another level."

  • Tourmalet fails to shake GC

    Christian Vande Velde (Garmin-Slipstream) looks relaxed before the start of stage five.
    Article published:
    July 12, 2009, 17:38
    By:
    Richard Moore

    Vande Velde reflects on strange day in the Pyrenees

    Sunday’s third day in the Pyrenees was similar to Saturday’s second, with no shake-up of the overall classification, despite the route featuring some major climbs.

    While the Col du Tourmalet has traditionally been one of the Tour’s battlegrounds, on Sunday’s tenth stage it was inconsequential – apart from to give the riders sore legs. With a run-in of 70km to the finish, the climb was effectively neutralised – there was little point in a climber such as Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank) launching an attack, and giving the thousands of fans the spectacle they craved.

    It begged the question: what was the point? Christian Vande Velde (Garmin-Slipstream), who maintained his eighth place overall, seemed to agree. "A 25mph average for a stage that included the Tourmalet?" he said. "It’s weird.

    "You still suffer up the Tourmalet," he added, "but it was a strange day, very strange."

    As for the organisers’ motives in featuring such classic climbs so far from the finish, Vande Velde speculated: "I think they wanted to get in these climbs without making it a pure climbers’ race, because they’ve made the third week so heavy. I think they feel obliged to do these Pyrenean stages, to put in the mountains but with no mountain top finish… but it is weird."