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First Edition Cycling News, Monday, July 2, 2012

Date published:
July 02, 2012, 1:00 BST
  • Hincapie sets new Tour appearance record

    George Hincapie (BMC) gets set for his 17th Tour de France
    Article published:
    July 01, 2012, 18:10 BST
    Peter Cossins

    17th consecutive start for veteran BMC pro

    He may be 39 and heading into the last few months of his professional career, but George Hincapie didn't give any indication he is taking his foot off the gas when he ripped around the 6.4km prologue circuit in Liège on Saturday. He finished 22nd on the day, just three seconds down on his BMC Racing Team leader Cadel Evans, and in doing so established a new record for Tour de France appearances. This is his 17th consecutive start in the race since he made his debut in 1996.

    "It's great to beat the record. When I was getting on the podium I should have been thinking more about my effort, but I was thinking how incredible it is that this is my 17th Tour," Hincapie said just after completing his prologue ride. "I think the keys to getting this far are to take of yourself – and I've had 20 or almost 30 years of doing that – and to feel that you are still enjoying yourself.

    "Motivation is not so much of a problem as it's easy to stay motivated when you're making history. My priority is to help Cadel and I was honoured to make history last year in helping Cadel become the first Australian to win the Tour de France. Now I want to help him make it two."

    Asked about the possibility of 15-Tour veteran Stuart O'Grady eventually beating his record, Hincapie responded: "I know that Stuey is not too far behind me. The first thing I would say about him is that he's a good friend, but he's also a very hard worker and he's been a great champion. Whichever one of us ends up with the record is certainly going to deserve it."

    Following his retirement from racing, Hincapie is likely to stay closely connected with the top level of the sport via his eponymous clothing company....

  • Video: Sagan leaves early mark on Tour de France

    Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale) celebrates his win.
    Article published:
    July 01, 2012, 18:42 BST
    Brecht Decaluwé

    Slovak sprints to victory on stage 1

    As expected young super talent Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale) didn’t take very long before powering to his first win in his Tour de France debut. One day after his somewhat disappointing prologue in Liège, the 22-year-old Slovak set things straight by sprinting to the victory in the first road stage, a 198km long loop from Liège to the neighbouring town of Seraing.

    “I’m very happy that I won today and it was more special because of the bad luck I had yesterday in the prologue,” Sagan said. During the prologue, Sagan went fast through a roundabout but was unable to hold the line and started slipping, clicking his foot out of the pedal and coming to a near stop. “Yesterday I was not feeling good and it wasn’t a parcours for me. I’m happy I didn’t crash. In Switzerland it was a completely different course that went up and down. Here it suited the real specialists like Wiggins and Cancellara.”

    On Sunday, Sagan was the only rider who was able to keep up with race leader Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack-Nissan) on the steepest part of the 3km long finishing climb, the Côte de Seraing. Edvald Boasson Hagen (Sky) bridged up a little later but the Norwegian had nothing left for the sprint. Sagan easily won the sprint, with the peloton following on the trio’s heels.

    “Today I felt better than yesterday. I’m very happy that I have won,” Sagan said. When crossing the line Sagan didn’t throw his arms in the air as a rider traditionally does but made a bodybuilder-like pose. “After the Tour de Suisse I returned home to recover a bit. I talked with my friends about what I would do if I won and that was it.”

    It turns out that Sagan...

  • Brajkovic looks for Tour de France confirmation

    Janez Brajkovic (Astana).
    Article published:
    July 01, 2012, 19:40 BST
    Daniel Benson

    Astana leader pleased with opening weekend

    When he outshone Alberto Contador at the 2010 Critérium du Dauphiné, it looked as though Janez Brajkovic had arrived as a stage race contender. However, it's been two years since and the early promise he showed in Sorgues and on Alped'Huez has been followed by a trail of frustration and injuries.

    Now 28 and with a new start at Astana, Brajkovic believes that he has turned a corner, matured into the role of a team leader - something he perhaps struggled with at RadioShack - and regained his confidence.

    In this year's Dauphine, he finished a solid 7th – not the same calibre of performance he showed in 2010, but an indication that his peak form may arrive in July. He followed that up with victory in his home race, the Tour of Slovenia, two weeks before the Tour de France began.

    After two days of racing, Brajkovic lies in 14th place, just five seconds off last year's winner Cadel Evans.

    "This the Tour," he replied when Cyclingnews asked if this year's race was a pivotal moment in what has so far been a stuttering career.

    "I'm on a new team, I'm the leader and the guys are helping to protect me. This is my Tour and I have to be as good as possible and show that I'm capable of riding with the best.

    "At the Dauphiné last month, let’s just say I was consistent. I'd just come back from altitude training and I was pretty happy with my condition. But this isn't the Dauphiné and I have to survive the first week here. If things go well I can go top ten here and maybe hope for something a bit more."

    On stage one to Seraing, Brajkovic paid close attention when the pace of the peloton picked up, and was close to Wiggins...

  • Video: Cancellara happy despite loss to Sagan

    Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack-Nissan) attacked on the final climb with Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale) in tow.
    Article published:
    July 01, 2012, 19:59 BST
    Peter Cossins

    Reveals that he looked over Seraing stage after winning yesterday’s prologue

    Fabian Cancellara may have missed out on the stage win in Seraing, Belgium today, but the RadioShack-Nissan rider said he had gained a huge amount of confidence from his performance. Having maintained his grip on the yellow jersey after the first stage of the Tour de France, he said his goal now is to keep hold of the jersey until the race reaches France. He even hinted that he would like to hang on to it until the Tour reaches his native Switzerland at the end of this week.

    Cancellara revealed that he had looked over the closing sections of the Seraing stage after winning yesterday’s prologue. “Just 20 hours ago I looked over the course with my team director, Alain Gallopin. I noticed that there was a section of cobbles and looked at the climb up to the finish,” he admitted.

    “When I saw Albasini and Chavanel attacking on the hardest part of the climb, I was thinking about the fact that we’d spent the day defending the jersey. I’d seen the work my teammates had done all day with absolutely no help from the other teams and I decided the best form of defence is attack. Of course, I missed a chance to win another stage, but it still gave me a lot of confidence.”

    Pressed on why he had continued his effort up to the line despite the lack of cooperation from Peter Sagan, the Swiss rider explained: “I’m not the kind of guy who gets to a point 500 metres from the line and decides he’s going to stop his effort. That’s not me. When I attack I go all the way to the finish. Of course, I’ve ended up second.”

    He later reflected: “You never know...

  • Video: Mixed fortunes for Sky during Tour's first road stage

    Norwegian road champion Edvald Boasson Hagen (Sky) digs deep to cross the gap to Cancellara and Sagan.
    Article published:
    July 01, 2012, 21:12 BST
    Peter Cossins

    Wiggins and Boasson Hagen impress, bad luck hits Froome and Rogers

    Team Sky left Seraing, Belgium generally happy with the way their day had gone after Edvald Boasson Hagen went close to winning the Tour de France's first road stage and team leader Bradley Wiggins kept his main rivals in check. Chris Froome and Mick Rogers weren't so fortunate, however. Froome punctured when the bunch was in full cry with 15km remaining and finished 1:25 down, while Rogers fell with 22km but recovered to finish in the front group.

    Team boss Dave Brailsford explained he was generally happy at the end of what he described as "a sketchy stage". "All in all it was important that Brad didn't lose any time. Froomey punctured with about 15k to go, which took him out. Mick crashed with about 20k to go, which was disappointing, but he'll be all right. It got really nervous once that first crash happened. But we've come through it. The first stage is done and we're still here to fight another day."

    Brailsford was particularly impressed with Boasson Hagen and Wiggins. "Eddy was going to go for the stage and I think he bridged across really, really well, but I think by the time he got there he'd just about run out of legs. It was a good effort," he said of the Norwegian champion.

    Asked why Wiggins had been seen a long way back in the bunch during the closing kilometres of the stage, Brailsford said: "I think Brad just drifted back a little bit and then he was with Bernie [Eisel]. They knew on that flat final straight with a tailwind that he would just come around. It was easier to move up on the climb than on the flat because he had the tailwind, so he just waited for that and moved up very easily on the climb. As everyone was going full-gas up there he was going...

  • Horner helps Schleck avoid losing time in Seraing

    Frank Schleck (RadioShack-Nissan) in Liege for the start of stage 1 at the Tour de France.
    Article published:
    July 01, 2012, 22:25 BST
    Brecht Decaluwé

    RadioShack-Nissan director Demol pleased with outcome of stage 1

    The Tour de France couldn't have started better for the RadioShack-Nissan team with the prologue victory from Fabian Cancellara and his successful yellow jersey defence during stage 1. While stage wins are important, there's also the part of the team that's focused on a good result in the final general classification in Paris. Andreas Klöden made it through the opening weekend of the race well while teammate Fränk Schleck is struggling to control the damage. Klöden is currently eleventh overall at 12 seconds from top favourite Bradley Wiggins (Sky).

    The prologue in Liège on Saturday wasn't Schleck's preferred battleground and he ended up losing 31 seconds to GC favourite and prologue runner-up Bradley Wiggins (Sky). One day later Schleck nearly lost time again in the stage that concluded with a 2.4km long uphill finish in Seraing but he managed to salvage things. He is now 45th in the general classification.

    "We controlled the race in the beginning [for Cancellara] but in the finale it was tricky," Schleck told Cyclingnews right after the finish line in Seraing. "It was pretty nasty on the finale there, but in the end I had Chris [Horner]. He got stuck, with me, behind and he brought me up there (to the front). Once I knew I was going to be in the first break it was cool. The team did a good job for Fabian."

    For Horner, though, the efforts to bring Schleck back resulted in a loss of time during the final kilometre and he eventually crossed the line 55 seconds behind the lead group. Horner received a late...

  • Injured Martin to make decision on continuing before Stage 2

    An injured Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) finishes stage 1 but heads straight for the bus
    Article published:
    July 01, 2012, 23:38 BST
    Cycling News

    X-rays on wrist for German while Pineau also in doubt

    Tony Martin's Tour de France has gone from bad to worse. After a puncture knocked him out of competition in the prologue, a crash near the beginning of the first stage sent him to hospital for x-rays. His Omega Pharma-QuickStep teammate Jerome Pineau also went to hospital after being hit by a spectator.

    "We take a decision until Monday or even Tony will come at the start of the second stage," said Alessandro Tegner media officer for Omega Pharma-QuickStep. "We wait to see what the night brings, and how Martin recovers from his injuries."

    After only 11 kilometres, Martin and three others crashed, but all continued. The world time trial champion paid numerous visits to the race doctor's car, getting pain pills. His official diagnosis from the race doctor was a bruised leg and an injured wrist. He also had visibly lost skin on his left elbow.

    Martin has made clear that his main priority this summer is the London Olympics, and not the Tour. A serious injury now would put an end to his dreams for 2012.

    "My hand hurts and riding along I felt every pothole," he told after the stage. He didn't think of abandoning, though. "If necessary I would have come to the finish as the last rider." It wasn't necessary – in fact he finished in the same time as winner Peter Sagan, which gave team manager Patrick Lefevere reason to hope. "It can't really be that bad. He rode strongly in the finale."

    It might really be that bad, though. Team doctor Helge Riepenhof examined him in the team bus and said, "I am usually optimistic, but it doesn't look good."

    "I hope that it is only a bad bruise and not a...

  • Video: Tour de France Stage 1 highlights

    Up and running: Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale) opens his Tour de France innings with a win.
    Article published:
    July 02, 2012, 0:56 BST
    Cycling News

    Sagan takes the win everyone has been waiting for

    Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale) scored his maiden Tour de France victory in a scorching battle against yellow jersey Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack-Nissan) on Sunday.

    In a battle of the strongmen, Sky's Edvald Boasson Hagen was third.

    There was drama aplenty in the final 25km of the 198km stage to Seraing, with Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-QuickStep), Luis Leon Sanchez (Rabobank) and Michael Rogers among those to come to grief just as the peloton started to put on the pace.

    Cancellara retained his overall lead, while some of the time trial specialists dropped out of the Tour's top 10.