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First Edition Cycling News, Monday, July 19, 2010

Date published:
July 19, 2010, 1:00 BST
  • Florencio to return to racing this month

    Xavier Florencio Cabre (Cervélo TestTeam)
    Article published:
    July 18, 2010, 15:36 BST
    Cycling News

    Cervelo says OTC medication contained banned product

    Xavier Florencio is expected to return to racing this month, Cervelo TestTeam has announced on Sunday. The team withdrew the Spaniard from the Tour de France at the last minute when it was discovered he had used a product containing a banned product.

    Florencio explained that he had been suffering from “increasingly painful” haemorrhoids after the Tour de Suisse, and bought a common over-the-counter remedy. After using the product he told the team doctor about it on the day before the Tour started. The doctor told him it contained ephidrine, a banned product which could lead to a positive doping control. The team then withdrew him from the Tour squad.

    “The rider did indeed have the ailments as stated. The product he used to self-medicate is the most commonly sold over-the-counter medication to treat this ailment in Spain,” the team said in a statement issued Sunday afternoon.

    Florencio “understands and accepts the steps taken by team management to protect him and the team.” According to the team, the case demonstrated the importance of “a policy to clear any medication in advance with the medical staff.”

    The only remaining hurdle to Florencio's return to racing is his physical condition. As soon as that is cleared up and the medical staff pronounces him fit, he can race again. That is expected to be in time for the Clasica Ciclista San Sebastian on July 31, which Florencio won in 2006.

  • Contador: Andy and I marked each other

    Alberto Contador (Astana) attacked but couldn't lose Schleck
    Article published:
    July 18, 2010, 18:00 BST
    Peter Cossins

    Astana leader not concerned at losing time to Sánchez and Menchov

    Alberto Contador (Astana) appeared satisfied rather than overjoyed with events on the first Pyrenean stage of the race. The defending Tour de France champion admitted that he and Andy Schleck had focused on marking each other, but was not concerned about the time they both yielded to other key contenders by tracking each other so tightly. Denis Menchov and Samuel Sánchez both gained 14 seconds on the two Tour favourites.

    “We went head-to-head and didn’t really watch the other riders too closely,” said Contador. “We controlled each other and I think that the fact that we came in together suits me more than him,” he added, alluding to the fact that the Spaniard will be heavily favoured if his deficit on Schleck remains at 31 seconds going into the Pauillac time trial on the penultimate day of the race.

    “The final climb wasn’t hard enough to distance Andy and that enabled him to stay on my wheel,” said the Astana leader, who at one point almost came to a complete halt on the final climb in a failed attempt to drop behind his Saxo Bank rival. “Once we both realised it was going to be complicated to distance each other, we agreed to work together to recover as much time as we could on the group ahead.”

    Contador described the stage as “hard and quick” and admitted that Schleck’s form had been “very good”. “But this is just the first of four Pyrenean stages so I’m not worried about how things went.

    “The team worked very well again today. They did a lot of work and set a very good pace. I’m not concerned about the time I lost to those behind because it was just a matter of seconds and the gap to them is quite substantial.”

  • Wiggins admits he doesn't have the form

    Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky)
    Article published:
    July 18, 2010, 18:09 BST
    Stephen Farrand

    Sky rider to battle on to Paris

    Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky) has openly admitted for the first time that  he does not have the same form he had in 2009 but insisted he will continue in the Tour and try and secure the best overall result he can.

    Wiggins struggled during the first mountain stage in the Pyrenees. He lost contact with the lead group of 30 riders three kilometres from the summit of the Port de Pailheres. He fought to limit his losses but finished 36th, 4:59 behind stage winner Christophe Riblon (Ag2r-La Mondiale).

    Teammate Thomas Löfkvist finished ahead of Wiggins, in 19th place, at 2:30. Löfkvist is now 16th overall at 9:46, while Wiggins slipped to 18th at 11:30.

    Wiggins has been guarded about his form throughout the Tour de France but the barriers came down and he decided to speak from the heart when asked a question by veteran Australian journalist John 'Iffy' Trevorrow.

    "Do you want me to be honest with you Iffy? I'm f*ked mate," Wiggins admitted after spending a few minutes recovering in the Team Sky camper van at the summit of the climb to X3 Domaines.

    "I just don't have the form. I'm not going to lie to you. So I'm trying my hardest and just battling on, rather than give up. It's as simple as that. I just haven’t got it like last year, it's as simple as that. I don't know why. I just feel consistently mediocre. Not brilliant, not shit, just mediocre. Just sort of plateau."

    "I just haven’t got it right this year. We thought I had, but we haven't. Form is a funny old thing. It's hard to say why. You do everything right and you think you've got it right but I'm just not with the best guys this year."

    Wiggins admitted that his fourth place in the 2009 Tour de France was a fluke.

    "It was fluke in the sense that it wasn't planned. I fell into superb form and was riding on cloud nine for most of the race and held onto fourth place," he said.

    "This is huge learning...

  • Track star Riblon hits the heights

    Christophe Riblon (AG2R-La Mondiale) wins stage 14.
    Article published:
    July 18, 2010, 18:52 BST
    Peter Cossins

    Pep talk by AG2R boss set him up for attack to Ax-3 Domaines

    Christophe Riblon said he had achieved a life-long dream in winning the 14th stage of the Tour de France at Ax-3 Domaines. He also confessed that if someone had asked him about his chances of winning just the night before, he wouldn't have bet a Euro on them.

    The 29-year-old Frenchman stated that his AG2R-La Mondiale boss Vincent Lavenu had been exaggerating when he said that Riblon had been on the verge of quitting the Tour after stage 13. But he acknowledged he felt extremely disappointed with his performance over the first two weeks of a Tour in which he had hoped to take a high overall finish.

    "It's true that I had ambitions for the general classification at the beginning of the Tour. But I didn't feel the way I hoped to during the first two weeks of the race, and the last two or three days were really painful for me. Last night I felt very disappointed because I was expecting a lot more of myself," said Riblon.

    "But Vincent and team director Julien Jurdie came to see me and they really helped me mentally. They said that I'm a better rider in the third week of major tours and said that they really believed in me. That really boosted me up for today."

    The AG2R man said he knew that Astana were riding hard on the front of the yellow jersey group behind his breakaway group, but tried to hold back as much as he could as that group splintered on the climb of the Port de Pailhères, which preceded the final ascent. "I needed to reach the foot of the final climb without having pushed myself too hard.

    "I think I rode the last climb well. When you are at the front with a chance of winning a stage like this you become a different rider. During the final 20km I was thinking: 'I want this stage. I'm going to win it.' But during the last few kilometres I didn't want to take the risk of looking back and seeing other riders coming up behind me. The crowds were unbelievable. I really benefited from the support they gave me."

  • Schleck plays mind games at Ax-3-Domaines

    Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank) and Alberto Contador (Astana) almost came to a standstill as Menchov and Sanchez attacked ahead.
    Article published:
    July 18, 2010, 19:08 BST
    Brecht Decaluwé

    Duel with Contador ends in stalemate in Pyrenean round one

    The first Pyrenean mountain stage turned into a poker game between Alberto Contador (Astana) and Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank). The two contenders, Schleck in yellow, Contador determined to be, were so focused on each other that they ignored the attacks of their closest GC rivals Samuel Sanchez (Euskatel) and Denis Menchov (Rabobank).

    "To win the Tour, sometimes you have to risk something. I'm well aware that it's better to have Armstrong ahead these days than Menchov," said Schleck. "Don't forget that Menchov is far enough down on us in the general classification. For now, Menchov and Sanchez aren't a real threat to us. That means there's a bit of space to [play] poker around," Schleck said.

    The games started early on in the stage when it was the Astana team of Contador and not the team from yellow jersey Andy Schleck that was doing the work in the peloton. Then on the Port de Pailhères, the penultimate climb of the day and the first Hors Category climb of this year's Tour de France, Schleck and Contador weren't even keeping an eye on the front of the main group. "We were both sitting at the back. His whole team was surrounding him and I think by doing so he wanted to give the impression that he was bad, but that wasn't the case; he was really good," Schleck said.

    Schleck held his cards close to his chest on the last climb from Ax-les-Thermes towards Ax-3-Domaines. Halfway up the 7.8 kilometre climb Contador raised the pot three times in a row with some blistering accelerations while Schleck continued to call all those moves.

    "The tactic for today was that I would stick on his wheel. I don't like the last climb too much as it is a bit similar to the one in Mende. It was clear that I should not pass him because he would have attacked me and again gain seconds on me," Schleck said.

    Schleck knows that with the 52km-long time trial in Bordeaux heavily in Contador's favor, he cannot keep up the same tactics through the rest...

  • Armstrong does not want any gifts in final Tour

    Lance Armstrong (RadioShack) had another dismal day
    Article published:
    July 18, 2010, 19:57 BST
    Stephen Farrand

    Texan to end career in Paris, tips Contador to win

    Despite his string of crashes and losing time on every major climb, despite all the accusations and long-distance polemics with fellow US tour de France winner Greg Lemond, Lance Armstrong insists he is still trying to enjoy his last ever Tour de France.

    Armstrong finished 70th on the stage to Ax-3 Domaines, 15:14 behind winner Christophe Riblon (AG2R-La Mondiale).

    The seven-time Tour de France winner would love to win a stage as a final swan song but said he did not want any gifts, just as he always refused to gift any stage victories to his rivals during his seven-year reign at the Tour de France.

    "It's as unique experience for me to ride up the Pailheres with no pressure at all and be able to look at the people and listen to people. I'm not going to win the Tour. There's not going to be an eighth Tour. That's not a news flash. But I'm going out having a good time," he said.

    "I'd still like to get a stage victory but it's hard. They might not let me go early on, so you've got to have your climbing legs and obviously nobody is going to give it away."

    "Back in our heyday, we didn’t give anything away, so I don’t want anybody to say 'Hey, let's let the old man have one,' That's not what this event is about. It's a hard sporting event and the strongest are supposed to win, on a daily basis and on a three-week basis."

    "I've got 25 of them, I don't need someone handing me one. I'll do my best but as everyone knows, we're running out of chances."

    When asked by French television if he will retire, Armstrong responded: "In Paris, yes. I came to the Tour to try and get a good result but I've never been a quitter and I won’t quit now."

    On the fifteenth anniversary of the tragic death of Fabio Casartelli on the descent of the Col de Portet d'Aspet, Armstrong said the loss of his then Motorola teammate was one of the moments that will stay with him after his final Tour de France. He also...

  • Procycling's daily Tour de France dispatch - stage 14

    Robbie McEwen has been suffering since he was knocked down by a TV cameraman.
    Article published:
    July 18, 2010, 21:28 BST

    Schleck, Riis, Armstrong, Punto, Putin, McEwen

    Schleck shocks Fignon…again

    As regular readers of our dispatches know, France 2 co-commentator Laurent Fignon's pearls of wisdom have enlightened us more than once on this Tour. None-too-impressed with Andy Schleck's descending in the Alps last week, Fignon was dumbfounded today when the current maillot jaune fetched his own food and drinks from the Saxo Bank team car high on the Port de Pailhères.

    "I've never, ever seen a captain do that when they've had a teammate in the group. He's playing with fire!" the 1983 and 1984 Tour champion gasped.

    Quote of the day

    "It's another Riis!" - Fignon, later in the stage, on seeing Andy Schleck skulking at the back of the lead group, and casting his mind back to a certain Dane's infamous, insolent performance at Hautacam in 1996.

    Insert footnote NOT rhyming with "Free rope lot" here.

    Armstrong eyes alternative triathlon

    Asked by France 2's Lionel Chamouleau tonight whether a return to triathlon figured in his latest retirement plans, Lance Armstrong smiled ruefully. "You ask me about difficult things like that now! All I want to think about at the moment is having a beer, my family and the beach…"

    Many of us remember Armstrong saying very similar things on his first retirement, in 2005. So does that mean he'll be back again in 2015, perhaps with a pair of stabilizers this time?

    Spirito di Punto

    You can pretty much guarantee that you're going to enjoy a good meal when you sit down in a restaurant and notice that La Repubblica's Gianni Mura is already perusing the menu. Consequently, when Procycling's peckish journos sat down in a lovely little auberge in a village close to Revel and noticed Mura a couple of tables away, we knew that the cassoulet that was the speciality of the house was going to be...

  • Reactions from the Tour's 14th stage

    Christophe Riblon (AG2R-La Mondiale) was emotional after winning at Ax-3 Domaines
    Article published:
    July 19, 2010, 5:19 BST
    Cycling News

    Riblon revives French fans, Andy and Alberto watch each other

    Christophe Riblon (Ag2R-La Mondiale) - stage winner, 27th overall @ 23:29: This is the greatest moment of my sporting career. It's been a long time coming and we worked hard to get there. It's really great!

    It's turned around in the last two or three years as the team sometimes lacked a little luck. Since the start of the Tour we've been looking for this victory, fighting and trying in our efforts with varying degrees of success.

    Nicolas Roche is in a great position overall. I also wanted to do this but I was a bit off and I was very disappointed with my start to the Tour. I really wanted to succeed with a great third week and it couldn't be a better start in the Pyrenees. I am truly satisfied!

    We arrived at the climbs with the right gap. After I managed to ride two good climbs and a good descent and in the final kilometers I gave my maximum. I wondered how last year in the stage to Arcalis, Brice [Feillu] could have won and why we could not catch up.

    In fact, I realised that when we are alone in front and we are playing for the win with an incredible audience, nothing can happen to us. We couldn't be caught up, it would be too unfair!

    Carlos Sastre (Cervélo TestTeam) - ninth on stage, 15th overall @ 8:15: I wasn't able to win again but I'm happy with how I was feeling physically. The Pyrenees have only just begun.

    As everyone was aware, we were reaching a summit where I won a long time ago, in 2003, and I also left this morning with that aim. Volodymir and I attacked at the bottom of the Pailhères but there was a lot of headwind and the favourites didn't give me too much space.

    I wanted to get a good gap that would give me a margin to manoeuvre to be able to take on the last climbs of the Plateau de Bonascre with some guarantees, but we ran into Riblon who was going really strong up in front and behind, a lot was being decided in the general...