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First Edition Cycling News, Monday, July 22, 2013

Date published:
July 22, 2013, 1:00 BST
  • Andy Schleck to ride for Trek in 2014

    Andy Schleck (RadioShack-Leopard) reflects on yesterday’s performance on the first mountain stage
    Article published:
    July 21, 2013, 7:54 BST
    Barry Ryan

    Luxembourger proud of "hardest Tour"

    Andy Schleck has confirmed reports that he will ride for the Trek team in 2014. The American bicycle manufacturer recently purchased RadioShack-Leopard's licence from backer Flavio Becca and it appears that Schleck's brother Fränk will also be part of the team, which remains under the management of Luca Guercilena.

    "Next year, it's official that I'll stay with Trek. It'll be a very good team and I hope we maintain the core of the team. It's certain that it will be a very good project," Schleck told reporters after the penultimate stage of the Tour at Semnoz.

    Fränk Schleck has recently finished serving a year-long ban for his positive test for Xipamide at last year's Tour de France but shortly before the expiry of his suspension, he was informed that he would not be rehired by RadioShack before the end of the season.

    He had intended to race the Vuelta a España, and Andy Schleck said that his brother's absence means that he too will miss the Spanish race. "If Fränk had done the Vuelta, I would have liked to have done it with him," Schleck said. "For the moment, I'm pencilled in for the Tour of Colorado and that's a little goal for me. Beyond that, I want to finish the season well so I can start well again in January and February.

    "But right now, I certainly need a break. I didn't finish all the races I've done this season, but at Tirreno and Pays Basque I only abandoned on the last day so I have raced a lot and I need to rest now and recover. I'm starting to feel it...

  • Bad days add up for Contador at the Tour de France

    Alberto Contador suffered on the climb to Annecy-Semnoz
    Article published:
    July 21, 2013, 10:42 BST
    Barry Ryan

    Spaniard slips to fourth overall

    It had been, Alberto Contador admitted, a bad day, and the Saxo-Tinkoff leader duly dropped from second to fourth overall at Annecy-Semnoz, at the end of a Tour de France that has been made up of far more bad days than good.

    Contador began the penultimate stage of the Tour de France 5:11 down on Chris Froome (Team Sky) yet still vowing to carry the fight for the yellow jersey right to the bitter end. However the final climb up to Semnoz dealt the same stark verdict on Contador’s condition as every other summit finish on this Tour, and it soon became apparent that the erstwhile Pistolero was not going to conjure up some of the vim of old.

    A long turn on the front by his former domestique Richie Porte, now Froome’s closest aide at Team Sky, provided the first blow to Contador’s chances on the final ascent of the Tour. When Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha), Nairo Quintana (Movistar) and Froome took it in turns to test one another’s strength with eight kilometres still to climb, Contador was soon distanced.

    “It was a bad day but when you’ve given your all, you can’t do any more,” Contador said. “I can only congratulate the riders who were better. The goal in this Tour was to win but it was impossible because there was a rider who was better than everyone else.”

    Once more, it was a leaden-legged Contador on the final climb, wholly unrecognisable from the spring-heeled figure who accelerated seemingly as he pleased at the 2009 Tour and 2011 Giro d’Italia.

    Up ahead, Quintana and Rodriguez were riding their way onto the podium, while Contador – initially aided by teammate Roman Kreuziger and later joined by Andrew Talansky...

  • Tour de France shorts: Riblon super combatif, BMC try to the end

    Christophe Riblon (Ag2r La Mondiale)
    Article published:
    July 21, 2013, 12:02 BST
    Cycling News

    No penalty for Rolland, Albasini extends with Orica-GreenEdge

    Riblon the Tour's most combative rider

    Each day the Tour de France hands out a red bib number to the rider who has put the boots to the peloton the hardest with the combativity prize. On the penultimate stage, one rider is chosen above all others for riding above and beyond, and this year's winner of the super-combativity award is none other than Alpe d'Huez stage winner Christophe Riblon of AG2R La Mondiale.

    "That's great! I was not selected in 2009 and I think this year I deserved it. I was present in the breakaways on all the major mountain stages, including Ax-3 Domaines and Ventoux, and I was at the front today again," Riblon said.

    The Frenchman has been a fixture in the breakaways in the Tour de France over the past few years, and it has so far netted him a stage win on Ax 3 Domaines in 2010 and one day with the red dossard in 2009.

    "Being designated as the super-combative rider of the 100th Tour de France really means something. This is a great reward for me. I always dreamed of this image, alone on the podium on the Champs-Elysées with the Arc de Triomphe in the background! I really enjoyed this Tour de France and there is still all day tomorrow to enjoy it."

    No penalty for Rolland

    The race jury decided not to penalize French rider Pierre Rolland (Europcar) for his actions at the fourth ranked climb of the 19th stage. The fight for the few mountain points nearly got physical on the  category 3 Col des Pries.

    Rolland came into the stage only one point down on KOM Chris Froome. He was the first to attack and took the points at the first climb. Igor Anton (Euskaltel) was also in the mix for the polka-dot jersey, and joined the lead group to claim the second climb. Rolland again won the third climb.

    At the fourth...

  • Can Cavendish win for a fifth time on the Champs Elysees?

    An ecstatic Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) after winning stage 13 of the Tour de France
    Article published:
    July 21, 2013, 12:37 BST
    Sadhbh O'Shea

    Kittel and Greipel ready for final spring in Paris

    During the 100 editions of the Tour de France sections of road, mountain climbs and even corners become hallowed ground and made history. This year celebratory Tour has included spectacular finishes on Mont Ventoux and Alpe d’Huez, but no Tour de France would be complete without the parade and final sprint on the Champs Élysées in Paris.

    The final day sees the peloton ride the cobbled road in an evening spectacular, with the stage set to finish around 9:30pm local time and then a spectacular light show and fireworks to end the celebrations in style.

    This year race has been particularly tough for the sprinters, who’ve had to battle hard just to make the time cut at the finish of most of the stages. Despite the tough terrain all of the main contenders have made it to the final day, with Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) chasing a fifth consecutive victory in cycling's fastest and most prestigious sprint. Cavendish will be challenged by Marcel Kittel (Argos-Shimano) and Andre Greipel (Lotto Belisol).

    “It’s been difficult,” Cavendish said of his Tour while speaking exclusively to Cyclingnews. “Compared to last year it’s been about 40% more in terms of climbing metres. It’s taken its toll and it's been about survival and it’s been tough for everybody.”

    Kittel is confident

    Three men have dominated the sprints in 2013: Kittel, Greipel and Cavendish. They have won every sprint available.

    Marcel Kittel is leading the standings after racking up three stage wins for his palmarès. The Argos-Shimano rider won on the opening day in Bastia, to take yellow, but his finest win this year came...

  • David Millar hints he could retire in 2014

    David Millar (Garmin Sharp) believes the sport has changed since the US Postal days
    Article published:
    July 21, 2013, 18:47 BST
    Stephen Farrand

    Commonwealth Games in Scotland could be his swansong

    David Millar (Garmin-Sharp) has hinted that he might retire in 2014, with the Commonwealth Games road race and time trial in Glasgow a possible swansong to his 17-year career.

    Millar had previously indicated that he wanted to race until close to his forties. He turned 36 in January but becoming a father for a second time in May has changed his outlook on life and on his career as a rider.

    Millar revealed his emotions and thoughts on retirement in a touching blog for l'Equipe. This year's Tour de France is his 12th participation in the French Grand Tour.

    "I always thought I would stop my career at 39 but I think it will be sooner. One thing has changed: I've become the father of two children who were born quite close together: I've got two children, one is two years old son and the other is two months old. Since then, I have a completely different view of my life as a professional cyclist. My second son was born on May 2 but since then I've spent only 16 days at home. I don't like that," he said.

    "I'm aware that time is passing quickly, too quickly. I turned pro at age 19 and suddenly I find myself as 36 year-old rider that has ridden 12 Tour de France. My sons will be 18 years old before I realise it and I want to be with them."

    Millar praised his wife Nicole, for falling in love with him while he was serving his ban for doping and then helping so much during his comeback.

    "A saying has emerged: behind every successful professional, there's a great woman. I had the chance to meet my wife during my suspension. At that time, I was a bum, on the edge of alcoholism, with no job or salary. And yet she fell in love with me," he said.

    "When I decided to return to the peloton, I told her what my life would be like, of my absences from doing the shopping, the amount of training. She immediately understood but with two sons, it's...

  • Africans inspired by Froome's Tour de France victory

    Christopher Froome with the spoils of victory on the podium in Paris after the 100th Tour de France
    Article published:
    July 21, 2013, 22:22 BST
    Laura Weislo

    MTN-Qhubeka team hoping to follow with Tour appearance

    Christopher Froome stood atop the podium on the Champs-Elysees to accept the yellow jersey of overall Tour de France champion as a Briton, but as a man born in Kenya and educated in Johannesburg, South Africa, he is very much considered an African, especially by the cyclists from that continent whom he inspires to follow in his footsteps.

    South Africa's MTN-Qhubeka team is aiming to follow up Froome's performance with the first appearance by a truly African team in the Tour de France, and for team principal Doug Ryder, the momentum of African success in this year's Tour is buoying his ambitions.

    "The yellow jersey being worn by Daryl Impey, becoming the first South African and African ever to wear it, and then for Chris to take it over and become the first African to win the Tour de France will change the sport on this continent forever," Ryder told Cyclingnews.

    "For our African pro team this a huge milestone as it will heighten the focus of cycling on the African continent which will provide our riders with more opportunities so we can continue to show the world the talent emerging from Africa."

    Ryder and his team partner with Qhubeka, a non-profit that provides bicycles to people in South Africa in exchange for community service, and between this initiative and the development programme of his racing team, he is helping to raise the profile of cycling and the sport in Africa. The Tour victory of Froome can only help the cause.

    "What seemed impossible is now possible and this victory will open the eyes of so many children across Africa who did not consider cycling as a sporting option."

    Ryder is a staunch supporter of Froome, and discounts the speculation that his dominating performance could only have been achieved...

  • Kittel ends Cavendish’s run on the Champs-Élysées

    Marcel Kittel (Argos-Shimano) elated to take a win on the Champs-Elysees
    Article published:
    July 21, 2013, 23:14 BST
    Barry Ryan

    German wins fourth stage of Tour

    The dusk finale on the Champs-Élysées provided a stirring backdrop for the last prize fight down for decision at the 2013 Tour de France as Marcel Kittel (Argos-Shimano) confirmed his status as the fastest man in the race by seeing off André Greipel (Lotto Belisol) and Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) in the bunch sprint.

    It was Kittel’s fourth stage win of the Tour and it was the third time that he has beaten Cavendish in the sprint over the past three weeks. For his part, Cavendish ends the Tour with two stage victories, his lowest total since he began amassing his current running tally of 25 back in 2008.

    Cavendish was generous in his praise of Kittel after he lost out to the German in Tours during week two, describing him afterwards as the “next superstar” of sprinting. While Kittel attested to the mutual respect between the pair, there was no quarter asked or given on the Champs-Élysées, where Cavendish was defending an unbeaten record of four wins from four attempts.

    “I was already hungry before today but it’s always nice to get such compliments from a sprinter like Mark,” Kittel said. “He’s a nice guy and he actually said good luck to me before the sprint today and I like that way of having a sporting competition.”

    The sprint was a fiercely contested affair, and while the Omega Pharma-QuickStep’s Matteo Trentin led under the red kite, it was the Argos-Shimano train that led into the finishing straight. 250 metres from home, Kittel powered his way clear and while Cavendish and Greipel battled to get back on terms, they had no answer to the sheer force of the Argos-Shimano rider.

    “For a lot of riders it’s a tour...

  • Another green day in Paris for Sagan

    Peter Sagan (Cannondale) won his second consecutive points classification
    Article published:
    July 22, 2013, 2:14 BST
    Barry Ryan

    Second points classification win for Slovak

    Peter Sagan (Cannondale) spent so long in the green jersey at this Tour de France that it is easy to gloss over his victory in the points classification but a cursory glance at the final standings demonstrates the full scale of his achievement.

    The Slovak finished some 97 points clear of second-placed Mark Cavendish (409 points to Cavendish's 312) to carry the green tunic to Paris for the second successive season, and he explained that the experience of 2012 had stood to him this around.

    "I was certainly better prepared because I knew the secrets of the Tour de France after my first experience of the race," said Sagan, who dyed his goatee green for the grand finale in Paris, where he finished 4th behind stage winner Marcel Kittel (Argos-Shimano).

    Sagan's Tour got off to a bad start when he was among the fallers on the opening day in Corsica and although he was quickly back in the mix at the business end of bunch sprints in week one, he said that the effects of the crash had an impact on his performance.

    "The crash meant that I didn't enjoy it as much," Sagan said. "It handicapped me through the first week and that explains my many second and third places on stages where I hoped to win."

    Sagan finally got off the mark in Albi on stage 7, after his Cannondale team had worked prodigiously to drop Cavendish, André Greipel and Marcel Kittel midway through the stage. It was to prove to be Sagan's sole stage victory of the race, however, as he was unable to repeat his haul of three wins from his Tour debut last year.

    Instead, the youngster contented himself by all but shoring up the points classification by entering the early break on the stage to Mont Ventoux at the...