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First Edition Cycling News, Monday, July 21, 2014

Date published:
July 21, 2014, 1:00 BST
  • Porte vows to reach Paris after illness wrecks his Tour de France ambitions

    Riche Porte (Sky)
    Article published:
    July 20, 2014, 14:21 BST
    By:
    Stephen Farrand

    Tasmanian hopes his teammates can fly the Team Sky flag in the Pyrenees

    Team Sky's Richie Porte has vowed he will continue to fight on at the Tour de France despite losing more than 13 minutes in the overall classification during the two Alpine stages; stage 13 to Chamrousse and stage 14 to Risoul.

    The Tasmanian was lying second overall and seemed set to fight for a podium place behind race leader Vincenzo Nibali. He suffered in the heat on Friday, however, and began a course on antibiotics after picking up some kind of virus. He is now 15th overall at 16:03, leaving Team Sky without an overall contender after winning the Tour in 2012 and 2013.

    Porte sounded weak and was clearly disappointed that his hopes of doing well had disappeared but true to character, he promised to fight on before stage 15 from Tallard to Nimes.

    "The last week hasn't been great and in the last few days I've started a course of antibiotics. It's not really ideal but the race goes on. I'm trying to get through today and into the rest day," he said at the start.

    Porte's lowest goal is to reach Paris next Sunday, with a hope of regaining full health before the big mountain stages in the Pyrenees.

    "Not to make excuses but my health hasn't been great. At the end of the day not all is lost. The Pyrenees stages are an opportunity and I hope to get through there and have another go," he said.

    "It's the Tour de France, the goal is to get to Paris. Even yesterday (Saturday) when I wasn't great, I still made it in before the gruppetto, so it's realistic to try and finish the race."

    Team Sky has been decapitated twice in this year's Tour, with team leader

  • Virenque: A new generation is coming through at Tour de France

    Richard Virenque riding for Domo in 2002
    Article published:
    July 20, 2014, 17:33 BST
    By:
    Alasdair Fotheringham

    French Tour podium finisher analyses his country’s options

    France's most recent Tour de France podium finisher, Richard Virenque, believes that there is a very real chance that his compatriots will now re-conquer the Grand Tour's top three - for the first time in 17 years.

    Now a TV commentator, Virenque finished second in the 1997 Tour de France, since when Christophe Moreau in 2000 and Thomas Voeckler in 2011, had both taken fourth. But this year, Virenque - speaking before the end of stage 14, after which there were French riders in third, fourth, sixth and tenth overall - is convinced they can go at least one better.

    "Thanks to the absence of [Chris] Froome (Sky) and [Alberto] Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo), the Tour is a very open one," Virenque told Cyclingnews. "The French are up there, and on top of that we're holding onto the Best Young Rider's jersey and the Best Team Classification."

    "The podium is still on the cards, for sure.... You can't rule out that Nibali has a bad day, either, too, even if he's going very strongly. It's maybe this year or never for the French."

    An editorial in L'Equipe recently argued that the French riders had become collectively decomplexé, which translates roughly as 'unhibited' - i.e., their levels of confidence have risen dramatically and suddenly. But Virenque sees it differently.

    "I don't agree, I think there's a whole generation of young riders - climbers, sprinters and so on - who have suddenly and simultaneously staged a breakthrough. That means here on the Tour, for example, that the chance of a podium is very real indeed."

    Amongst French society in general, Virenque - who says he is a fan of Thibaut Pinot, currently fourth overall and Romain Bardet, who is lying third - "is beginning to wake up to the fact that they've got a lot of good cyclists. I think we'll see a big increase in...

  • Bauer heartbroken to miss Tour de France stage win at Nîmes

    Jack Bauer crosses the finish line after losing out on the victory
    Article published:
    July 20, 2014, 18:41 BST
    By:
    Stephen Farrand

    "I thought I had it, but then I realised in the last 50 metres that I had nothing"

    Jack Bauer slumped to the ground after crossing the finish line in Nîmes, suffering more from the disappointment and despair of being caught and passed in sight of the finish and denied Tour de France glory, rather than the pain of spending 222km on the attack in search of a first ever stage victory by a rider from New Zealand.

    Several of Bauer's Garmin-Sharp teammates stopped to console him in what he later described as a "meltdown" and the moment his "world came crashing down" and he tried to overcome the heart break of missing out on an important victory.

    Later he spoke in detail about how the team had targeted victory and the emotions of coming so close, of believing he was about to win only to be passed on the line.

    "I really gave it absolutely everything and as you could see from my meltdown at the finish line, I came away empty handed," he said.

    "It's a childhood dream to win a stage of the Tour, and especially for a domestique like myself because I'm normally working for others. It's especially true for Kiwi riders. Not many of us get the chance to turn professional and not many of us get the chance to start the Tour de France."

    Bauer shared the road and the effort virtually from kilometer zero with Martin Elmiger of the IAM Cycling team, and they knew they had a chance of victory when a strong crosswind sparked echelons in the peloton and then the rain slowed the chase.

    "This was my first chance to be up the road and with the wind and the weather, me and Martin realised we had a chance for the win. We didn’t plan it to be just two riders but we managed it well," Bauer explained explaining his race.

    "I thought I was stronger than Martin but maybe I waited too late. I faked being tired but felt I had more...

  • Kristoff celebrates second Tour de France stage win

    Alexander Kristoff (Katusha)
    Article published:
    July 20, 2014, 19:02 BST
    By:
    Ellis Bacon

    Katusha rider aiming for Champs-Elysees victory to complete a "perfect Tour"

    Stage 15 of the 2014 Tour de France produced a thrilled Norwegian and a bitterly disappointed New Zealander. This race can be a cruel mistress.

    While Kiwi Jack Bauer was being consoled by his Garmin-Sharp teammates, having been caught only a few metres from the finish line after a day-long breakaway with IAM's Martin Elmiger, Norway's Alexander Kristoff was receiving more than a few pats on the back from everyone in his Katusha squad, having taken his second stage win at this year's race.

    "It's a pity for the two breakaway guys," said Kristoff, gamely. "They were really strong, and all respect to them for what they did today. It must have been really hard for them to have been caught."

    First Elmiger, and then Bauer, were swamped by the fast-finishing bunch, but it was Kristoff who emerged victorious from the chaos in a rain-soaked Nîmes to beat Elmiger's teammate, Australian Heinrich Haussler, and green-jersey holder Peter Sagan (Cannondale).

    "I was concerned that the breakaway would be able to stay away all the way to the finish, as there were a lot of roundabouts in the final few kilometres, which made it difficult for anyone to organise a good chase, giving the break the advantage," explained Kristoff. "But there were some strong pulls on the front at the end by the Giant-Shimano team, and, although it turned out that I had the best legs, I still wasn't sure that I was going to be able to win until 100 metres from the finish."

    Kristoff – who took the biggest victory of his career when he won the Milan-San Remo one-day Classic in March – admitted that he hadn't really expected to beat Giant-Shimano's Marcel Kittel and Lotto-Belisol sprinter André Greipel, but that perhaps he had come away from the two previous...

  • Kittel's Tour de France train derailed in Nîmes

    Marcel Kittel (Giant-Shimano) hardly got a hair out of place in the hectic sprint
    Article published:
    July 20, 2014, 20:22 BST
    By:
    Cycling News

    No fourth stage win for Giant-Shimano sprinter

    Marcel Kittel and his Giant-Shimano lead-out train ran full steam ahead in the first week of the Tour de France, ushering him to three stage wins in the first four days of racing, but since then there have been few opportunities for the sprinters. Stage 15 to Nîmes was one of the rare flat days in the second half of the Tour, but the Giant-Shimano team came up short.

    Kittel was blunt about the stage, taking to Twitter to say, "Yeah, well, it was shit today."

    In the team's press release, he was a bit more diplomatic, describing the chaotic final kilometer, where Omega Pharma-QuickStep succeeded in reeling in the escapees in the final dozen meters, but then a sheaf of sprinters launched off the front of the field and hurtled toward the line in a bullseye grouping.

    "In a situation like that where it is kind of every rider for himself, it is near impossible to see who will be in position," Kittel stated. "You just have to focus on finding a good wheel. The team did a good job and worked hard to get me to the front at the end and in position but it didn’t work out for me today."

    Kittel had a crash on Friday's stage 13, but felt no ill-effects from the fall.

    "I am feeling good though and feel fine after falling the other day which is promising for the final week. First though, we have a rest day which will be a welcomed break before the mountains start again."

    Just what happened to Giant-Shimano's train is something the team will be examining before they have another opportunity to get the cars back on the rails on stage 19 after the Pyrenees.

    Roy Curvers also felt the stage was chaotic, with an intense storm descending upon the field in the...

  • Yates heads home early after a successful Tour debut

    Simon Yates (Orica-GreenEdge) in the day's breakaway
    Article published:
    July 20, 2014, 21:30 BST
    By:
    Cycling News

    Orica-GreenEdge explains reason for pulling Englishman from the race

    Orica-GreenEdge has withdrawn its rider Simon Yates from the Tour de France before the second rest day of the race, ending the Englishman's hopes of reaching Paris on his Tour debut.

    Yates finished stage 15 between Tallard and Nîmes in a small group, 2:05 behind stage winner Alexander Kristoff (Katusha), and was lying 83rd overall. He twice went on the attack during the race – most notably on stage 14 to Risoul in the Alps – but the Australian team opted to send him home to safeguard his long-term development as a rider.

    "It's been really good," said Yates. "It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, with the start in Yorkshire – almost home training roads, basically – and I think that's something I'll never really forget for the rest of my life. And since we got over to France, it's been non-stop, really; it really has been surreal. But a really good experience, and hopefully I'll be back in the years to come."

    Yates and his twin brother, Adam, turned professional with Orica-GreenEdge this year, and Simon was a late call-up for the Tour after Daryl Impey tested positive for Probenicid.

    Orica-GreenEdge directeur sportif Matt White gave Yates' Tour performance "ten out of ten".

    "For a 21-year-old neo-pro, he contributed every day, [doing] everything he could do," White said on the team's website. "Making one break in the Tour de France is an achievement, but to make a couple, and the way he has gone about the whole Tour experience, is a great sign for the future.

    "It would...

  • BMC hope van Garderen can flourish in third week of Tour de France

    Tejay van Garderen (BMC) meets the press after stage 14
    Article published:
    July 20, 2014, 23:50 BST
    By:
    Barry Ryan

    American in fifth overall ahead of second rest day

    There are, so the adage says, no easy stages at the Tour de France, and after fighting the effects of bronchitis earlier in the second week of the race, Tejay van Garderen (BMC) is pleased to reach the second rest day still resolutely in the hunt for a place on the podium.

    Sunday's 222-kilometre haul to Nîmes brought the peloton out of the Alps, but any hopes of a peaceful day on the flatlands of the Rhône delta were thwarted by the crosswinds and thundershowers that buffeted the peloton in the final two hours of racing.

    Van Garderen's team briefly threatened to split the peloton into echelons when they hit the front en masse with 60 kilometres remaining, but the American admitted afterwards that he was simply glad to survive the day intact and alongside his fellow overall rivals in the main field.

    "It was looking like today was going to be just a day for sprinters but the wind and the rain made it a day where you had to be mentally switched on and bring your game face," van Garderen said as he soft-pedalled towards his team bus after the finish. "I'm glad the rest day is tomorrow."

    Van Garderen treated his bout of bronchitis with a course of antibiotics during the second week of racing, and wondered whether the illness had blunted his ability to respond to accelerations in the Alps. Even so, he performed well at Chamrousse and Risoul, and now lies fifth overall on general classification, 5:49 minutes down on Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) and just 59 seconds off a place on the podium.

    "The body feels good, that's for sure. Tomorrow, I just want to recover, do a little FaceTime with the family," he said. "Tomorrow, is all...

  • Nibali: I've always been a standard-bearer for anti-doping

    Vincenzo Nibali (Astana)
    Article published:
    July 21, 2014, 0:50 BST
    By:
    Barry Ryan

    Italian glad to avoid echelons on road to Nîmes

    By this point, Vincenzo Nibali has probably been asked as many questions about doping questions as questions about doping itself. Such is the lot of the maillot jaune of the Tour de France in an era of uncertainty.

    At Saint-Étienne on Thursday, Nibali was asked to justify his decision to ride for an Astana team with a lengthy rap sheet of past doping offences. At Risoul on Saturday, Nibali was asked about the 2009 allegation – later retracted – that he had been coached by Dr. Michele Ferrari.

    On each occasion, Nibali responded at length. After successfully defending the overall lead on the road to Nîmes on Sunday, the Italian said that he's not irritated by doping questions, acknowledging that they are a natural consequence of cycling's insalubrious recent – and not so recent – past.

    "These questions are there because we're paying the price for what's happened in years gone by, so I'm trying to respond in the best way possible," Nibali said. "I was asked these questions at the Giro last year, too, and I looked to respond as best I could. Now we're here at the Tour, questions have been asked and I've tried to give the best responses and clarification.

    "I've always been a standard-bearer for anti-doping. People ask these questions because they want to understand my story, my past and how I've developed year-by-year. With all the wins and my progress in the big tours, I've always improved step-by-step."

    Italian handles crosswinds with diligence

    Out on the road, at least, Nibali seems to have answered every question already, as testified by his haul...