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First Edition Cycling News, Monday, June 21, 2010

Date published:
June 21, 2010, 1:00 BST
  • Danielson riding well in Tour de Suisse

    Article published:
    June 20, 2010, 9:52 BST
    Shane Stokes

    American hoping to make debut Tour de France

    Saturday’s penultimate stage of the Tour de Suisse saw a strong ride by Garmin Transitions' Tom Danielson, who made it into the move of the day and was involved in the fight for the victory in Liestal.

    The break went clear inside the first half hour of the 172.4 kilometre stage and, according to Danielson’s team manager Jonathan Vaughters, it was the first time that he had been in such a long move.

    While Danielson was tailed off slightly on the run-in to the finish and was seventh across the line, he explained afterwards that because of injuries he suffered in the run-up to the Tour of California, he was unable to go as deep as he wished. As a result, he was pleased with his placing.

    “It was a really tough day and I am happy to be in the front,” he told Cyclingnews. “I never felt in difficulty, it is just for me overcoming a bad injury. I am happy with it…we were a really strong breakaway. Obviously you look at the peloton behind, there were only about 20 guys left in the front from that. So I am happy. “

    Danielson’s accident happened when he hit a pothole on a training ride in May. He damaged his hip, his pelvis and his L5 vertebra. “I did everything I could to get through that,” he said, when asked how his recovery is going. “I rode through it and really suffered a lot. Now I’m still in some pain but not as bad.”

    “It was a tough final for me with the broken L5….I can only ride steady, I can’t do the jumps right now as I start hitting a nerve. That makes my leg go numb,” he explained. “So I just rode as smart as I could and stayed steady. If the guys [in his chase group] rode a little more consistent instead of trying to jump across, I think we could have caught those ahead.”

    Heading into the final stage, the 32-year-old is sitting 25th overall, 6’58” behind race leader Robert...

  • Roche aiming for strong time trial performance

    Nicolas Roche (AG2R)
    Article published:
    June 20, 2010, 12:21 BST
    Shane Stokes

    Irishman pleased with Tour de Suisse showing

    Ireland's Nicolas Roche has shown an encouraging return to form after a recent month-long break from racing, and is eighteenth overall heading into today's final stage of the Tour de Suisse.

    The 25-year-old Ag2r-La Mondiale rider is aiming to ride as strongly as possible in the concluding time trial, telling Cyclingnews that a decent showing in the 26.9 kilometre test was one of his targets for the race.

    "I am pretty satisfied with the Tour de Suisse. I came here with four stages pinpointed – the first was the prologue, which went okay. The second one was the stage with the steep finish, where I said I wanted to attack or do something. I wasn't sure about the mountain stage but I said that I'd do it 100 percent. I was a bit disappointed as I was hoping for a top 15, but I was satisfied with a top 20.

    "I also wanted to stay focused for the time trial. I think my consistency in time trials is something that can be a drawback at times, so I want to stay focused for that."

    Roche was third-quickest at the intermediate point in the opening time trial, climbing well on the hill there, but was over-cautious on the descent and ended up 21st, 21 seconds behind Fabian Cancellara (Saxo Bank).

    "I was really nervous on the descent, especially the last flat section..the last three corners in the final two kilometres," he said. "I was a bit disappointed with that…the climb was perfect for me and I was hoping to get a top time at the summit and I knew I was not going to make up time on the descent. So there is a bit of satisfaction, a bit of disappointment.

    "When I came here I said I was going to take it day by day, but once you are in there and it goes well, you always want to go better. There are mixed feelings there."

    Roche has been one of Ag2r-La Mondiale's strongest and most aggressive riders this season. He was recently named as one of three riders who were assured of their place on its Tour de...

  • Armstrong pleased with second in the Tour de Suisse

    Lance Armstrong (Radioshack) on the podium
    Article published:
    June 20, 2010, 18:50 BST
    Shane Stokes

    American takes best result since 2009 Tour

    Lance Armstrong may have finished in eleventh place in the Tour de Suisse time trial, but the Team RadioShack rider nevertheless jumped to second overall in the final classification.

    He ended the nine-day ProTour race twelve seconds behind Frank Schleck (Saxo Bank), who racked up the best time trial of his career in the 26.9 kilometre test in Liestal.

    It is Armstrong’s top result since taking a podium finish in last year’s Tour de France, and the 38-year-old was pleased with the effort.

    “I went as hard as I felt that I could go,” he told journalists after the stage. “I think the conditions changed a little bit for some of us later guys, but certainly for Frank and I and Gesink and the other guys, they were similar. It was a hard TT, it was relentless. It gradually went up the whole way and there was no recovery, apart from the downhill.

    “My sensations were good. Probably not related to the result, but I felt solid on the bike, I felt comfortable. Like I said, it was a hard one. There was no real rest, I was pedalling the whole way.”

    Race leader Robert Gesink never got into the right rhythm and ultimately ended the TT back in 40th place, dropping to fifth overall. Armstrong said he was surprised by that, and also by the victory of Frank Schleck. In fact, he said that Schleck himself was taken aback to hear the news.

    “It was unexpected. Speaking to Frankie, he said that he got on the bus and his team-mate said, ‘hey, dude, you are going to win.’ He was like, ‘whaaat?’

    “[Personally] I can’t complain, I felt pretty good. If you lose by eleven or twelve seconds, you always think ‘what could I have done differently? But there is no question that Frank is riding very well. We saw him being very strong in Luxembourg and here he was a factor in the race every day. He was certainly a big animator on the stage over the...

  • Gesink rues poor time trial and lost yellow jersey

    Robert Gesink (Rabobank) didn't have enough in the tank today
    Article published:
    June 20, 2010, 22:03 BST
    Shane Stokes

    Dutchman doesn’t understand loss of pace

    Although Robert Gesink (Rabobank) wouldn't claim to be a time trial specialist, the Dutchman was surprised and disappointed by his time in today's concluding stage of the Tour de Suisse. Over the course of the 26.9 kilometre test, he conceded a total of two minutes and 19 seconds to HTC-Columbia's Tony Martin, and also handed away over a minute to his main rivals.

    The effects on his yellow jersey hopes were terminal; he dropped from first to fifth overall while Fränk Schleck (Saxo Bank) – who is also not known as a time trial rider – had the best TT showing of his career and scooped the win.

    "I don't know why it went so bad today," Gesink told journalists after the stage. "In particular, the first part did not go well, the climb, but the second half went better. My focus was better for that part. I was quite stressed in the last couple of days because I was the leader."

    Gesink certainly looked motivated, rising out of the pedals, driving his bike onwards and pulling agonised grimaces. However he suffered a bad day on the wrong day, and will be left ruing the missed chance to take his first ever ProTour stage race.

    Fortunately he's able to put things in perspective. "Let's not forget that on the stage to La Punt, I left all the favourites for the Tour de France behind me, with the exception of Contador," he said. "Thursday's stage was fantastic, a super feeling. That is what I have to remember about this Tour, although for sure it is hard for me to think about it right now as I would have liked to have won the GC."

    This year's Tour de Suisse was lumpy and stages like Saturday's featured climbs characteristic of those found in the Ardennes Classics. However it lacked the number of major mountain passes as seen in years past, with Thursday's stage being the only one that really played to Gesink's strengths.

    His strong climbing ability will be more of an asset in the Tour de France, where there are...

  • Schleck wins Suisse despite intentions to take race steady

    Eyes on the prize: Frank Schleck on his way to taking the overall at Suisse
    Article published:
    June 21, 2010, 2:11 BST
    Shane Stokes

    Saxo Bank rider takes his biggest stage race win, dedicates it to Kim Kirchen

    Heading into the Tour de Suisse, Saxo Bank’s Frank Schleck decided that he wanted to hold back and not push to hard in the race. To the surprise of many, himself included, he uncorked a surprisingly strong concluding time trial and jumped from fourth to first in the general classification, winning the event.

    “The week before this we did the Tour of Luxembourg. I was good there, getting second,” he said at a post-race press conference. “I said to my friends and to journalists at the race, ‘okay, next week I am going to the Tour de Suisse but I better chill out, so I keep something for the Tour de France.’

    “But then it came to the stage where I won [day two to Schwarzenburg]. Suddenly I was fourth in the overall. Before the race, I’d also had it in my mind to try this stage over the Albulapass. I rode that hard, then when the last day came around, I was still fourth. Then of course you tell yourself, ‘okay, you are fourth in the overall, so you cannot just chill out today.’ And it’s a good test for the Tour. So I gave it a try….yep, it worked really, really well and it gives me a lot of confidence.”

    Schleck’s lack of time trial results in the past meant that most people overlooked him when assessing the potential winners of the Tour de Suisse. Robert Gesink was in yellow and was one of the favourites, while the second and third-placed riders, Rigoberto Uran (Caisse d’Epargne) and Steve Morabito (Astana) were also touted as candidates. Armstrong was himself thinking big and was on the list of those to watch.

    Yet it was Schleck who took it, coming out of nowhere in virtual stealth mode. In fact, even he didn’t realise his showing was so good, according to Armstrong.

    “Speaking to Frankie, he said that he got on the bus and his team-mate said, ‘hey, dude, you are going to win.’ He was like,...

  • Bellis returns to racing

    Jonathan Bellis (Saxo Bank)
    Article published:
    June 21, 2010, 8:20 BST
    Daniel Benson

    Briton back to competition after life-threatening accident in 2009

    Britain's Jonny Bellis completed his first race this weekend since a life-threatening accident.

    Bellis was competing in the Isle of Man road championships, a week before his scheduled return at the British National Road Race Championships on June 27. Although he finished in last place, the Briton was just happy to make a return to racing.

    "I didn't really know what to expect," Bellis told Cyclingnews. "Whether I was last or whatever, the plan was to just finish the race and do a bit after just for training. I managed to do that so I was pretty happy."

    Last September, Bellis crashed his scooter in Italy and suffered serious head injuries. The Saxo Bank rider was kept in an induced coma for several weeks before slowly making a recovery. He has undergone intense physiotherapy but has made a remarkable recovery.

    "It felt pretty good to be back," Bellis said. "It was a really a dress rehearsal before the national championships that are next week. But even just packing my bag the night before the race was a nice feeling. I've not done that for a while."

    Bellis rode the race at his own pace, dropping off on the first serious climb and picking up riders as he went along. He helped to form a group behind the leaders and although all his companions pulled out before the finish, Bellis continued along.

    "I rode up at my own pace. I was one of the first to back off. But I'm happy considering I was almost dead less than a year ago."

    Bellis left hospital just over three months ago but said that it's only been in the last six weeks that he's had the mindset and capability to think and act like a professional cyclist again. The rider has had to face an enormous uphill struggle, made harder my a stomach problem that affected him while he was in hospital.

    "When I came out of hospital I had a week on the turbo and then two weeks on my own. Then I started going out with the group but it wasn't until about six...

  • Kirchen continues in induced coma

    Kim Kirchen (Katusha)
    Article published:
    June 21, 2010, 9:34 BST
    Cycling News

    Teammates visit, Schleck dedicates Suisse victory to landsman

    Kim Kirchen will remain in an induced coma for another 48 hours, team Katusha has announced. His family, including his pregnant wife, is now with him in the Zürich University Hospital.

    Kirchen collapsed in his Tour de Suisse hotel Friday night with a suspected heart attack. Few details over his condition are known at this time.

    Dr. Charles Delagardelle, a cardiologist at the Eicher Clinic in Luxembourg where Kirchen has been medically followed for 15 years, excluded an inflammation of the heart muscle. Delagardelle has been in close contact with the Zürich clinic where Kirchen is being treated. "In a lot of these cases, you never find out the reason [for the cardiac arrest - ed.]," he told the Luxemburger Tageblatt.

    "I can't imagine an inflammation of the heart muscle in his case. Kim was absolutely healthy." But at the time of Kirchen's collapse, his heart did not perform normally. "We speak of cardiac output. Normally it is 60 percent, but with Kim it was only 10 to 15 percent," Delagardelle added.

    According to the team, doctors have said that Kirchen's medical condition is "a little bit improved”, but that they have extended the induced coma. The medical staff has also started increasing his body temperature, which they had reduced to help recovery.

    Kirchen's father was in Switzerland following his son in the Tour de Suisse. His mother, in-laws and wife arrived over the weekend. Kirchen's wife Caroline is due to give birth to twin boys later this week.

    The entire Katusha team visited Kirchen in hospital following the time trial which closed the Tour de Suisse on Sunday.

    Tour de Suisse winner and fellow Luxembourger Fränk Schleck dedicated his victory to his landsman. “My whole family likes him and our thoughts are with him. The last hours were not easy for Andy and me,” he told “After we heard the news about him being taken to...

  • Chavanel satisfied with Suisse performance

    Sylvain Chavanel (Quick Step)
    Article published:
    June 21, 2010, 10:04 BST
    Hedwig Kröner

    Comeback race after accident left Frenchman confident

    Sylvain Chavanel, following his successful comeback to competition after his accident in April, is confident as to his racing form and probable participation at the Tour de France.

    The Quick Step rider returned to racing at the Tour de Suisse, and even if he remained anonymous at the event, he was happy to have finished the race in rising form. Finishing 26th in the ultimate time trial, 1'54" down on race winner Fränk Schleck of Saxo Bank, the former French time trial champion conceded he was "tired, but that is only normal. You have to have hard races like this one to come back."

    Chavanel crashed in the finale of Liège-Bastogne-Liège and suffered a fracture at the base of his skull. He was out of competition for six weeks. "I didn't expect to be at the Tour de Suisse, and even to go as far as I did [in the race]," he told AFP. "I thought I'd suffer more, especially in the Albula."

    The Albula pass was the last climb of the event's queen stage on Thursday. Overall, the Tour de Suisse was a challenging race not only for its ascents, but also for persistanely bad weather conditions.

    Now, Chavanel hopes to be selected to start the Tour de France in two weeks. "Normally, it should be alright," he said as to his chances to ride the Grand Tour, where he scored a stage victory in 2008.