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First Edition Cycling News, Saturday, July 2, 2011

Date published:
July 02, 2011, 1:00 BST
  • Video: Goss will not sprint against Cavendish at Tour de France

    2011 Milan-San Remo champion Matt Goss (HTC - Highroad)
    Article published:
    July 01, 2011, 22:45 BST
    Barry Ryan

    Australian to focus on undulating finales

    The HTC-Highroad squad possesses an abundance of sprinting talent, but Matt Goss is certain that he and Mark Cavendish can successfully dovetail their efforts on the Tour de France.

    Goss' cool-headed victory at Milan-San Remo in March confirmed his arrival among the ranks of the world's best finishers, but speaking in Les Herbiers on the eve of the Tour, he explained that the team's sprinters would be able to divide up the stage finishes accordingly to their characteristics.

    "We'll look at each stage and have a decision before the start," Goss said. "If someone feels bad on the road then we'll make the decision to change then, but you're not going to see me and Cavendish sprinting for the line against each other, that's for sure."

    While Goss sat on the steps in front of the main stage and chatted with a small group of reporters after the HTC-Highroad press conference, Cavendish was hemmed in by a veritable armada of television crews behind him.

    The scene offered a stark outline of their respective standings within the team's sprint hierarchy but Goss acknowledged that the undulating nature of race's opening week might present him with his own opportunities to shine, beginning with stage one to Mont des Alouettes.

    "I've had a bit of a quick look through the route," he said. "Tomorrow's obviously one I'd like to have a crack off. There's a bit of extra motivation too with the yellow jersey up for grabs.

    "There are maybe two other stages later in the race where there are 1.5km climbs inside the last 10 or 15 kilometres. So I think there's maybe three possibilities for me to race for myself along with the other ones...

  • Péraud, Tour de France rookie at 34

    Jean-Christophe Peraud (AG2R La Mondiale)
    Article published:
    July 02, 2011, 1:14 BST
    Pierre Carrey

    French former mountain biker is AG2R's co-leader

    At age 34, Frenchman Jean-Christophe Péraud will ride his first Tour de France this year as the oldest rookie in the race. Having turned pro on the road only in 2010, the former mountain biker said he is "very impatient and happy" to be here with his AG2R-La Mondiale team.

    Last year the former Olympic silver medalist on the mountain bike was supposed to race his first Tour with Omega Pharma-Lotto, but he pulled-out because of an infection three weeks before the start.

    "My mind is the same as one year ago: I don't want just to discover the Tour, I'm a hungry competitor," he told Cyclingnews.

    Péraud hopes to be in Top 10 in GC, and this goal inspires mixed feelings: on one hand he lacks experience in grands tours, having only raced the Vuelta once. On the other hand, Péraud showed himself in stage races for two years. He finished twice in the top 10 at Paris-Nice, fourth of the Tour of the Basque Country last year, second at the Tour Mediterranean and seventh at the Critérium du Dauphiné this year.

    Péraud is facing another issue. He was injured last spring in a crash in the Tour of the Basque Country that he was almost winning, and noticed that his time trial abilities have declined since then. Not totally in the shape he expected before the Tour, he explained: "As a perfectionist the situation is stressful. But I saw with the Vuelta how demanding a grand tour is. Perhaps it will be an asset to start here only with 90% of my potential."

    Péraud will share the leadership at AG2R-La Mondiale with Nicolas Roche. Team manager Vincent Lavenu called the Irishman number one and the French number two. Péraud views...

  • Renshaw predicts bigger breaks at 2011 Tour de France

    Mark Renshaw (HTC-Highroad)
    Article published:
    July 02, 2011, 3:50 BST
    Barry Ryan

    Australian on the impact of single intermediate sprint racing

    Mark Renshaw (HTC-Highroad) anticipates that the Tour de France's new structure of just one intermediate sprint per day will lead to larger breaks going clear and that it will take longer for those groups to form at the beginning of each stage.

    "It's uncharted and we don't really know what to expect," Renshaw said in Les Herbiers on Friday. "I think we'll see bigger breaks, with maybe seven or eight riders and longer periods of attacking at the start of the stages."

    The Australian estimated that on some stages, it could take over two hours of high speed racing before the peloton allowed a break to forge clear. "There could be stages where we see 100km of attacking, which we've seen in the past in the Tour," he said.

    Allied to the already high motivation of escapees at the Tour, Renshaw acknowledged that the new tactical situation could make life all the more difficult for HTC-Highroad to bring the race back together for a bunch sprint.

    "At the Tour, riders going for the breaks are really giving it 100 per cent, unlike in some other races where really they're just getting in the breaks to do their jobs," he said. "Here everybody wants success, and if there are more riders in the break then that will make it a lot harder."


    While Mark Cavendish again leads the line at HTC-Highroad, the one-time pretender to his crown at the team makes a belated Tour de France debut in the colours of Omega Pharma-Lotto. André Greipel has not enjoyed the most successful of spells since making the move during the off-season, but Renshaw felt that his former teammate might benefit from his low-key...

  • Porte: Stronger for riding the Giro

    Richie Porte (Saxo Bank Sungard)
    Article published:
    July 02, 2011, 5:30 BST
    Jane Aubrey

    Tasmanian says Contador is ready to defend Tour crown

    For the first time this season, Saxo Bank SunGard's Richie Porte is feeling healthy, having banished his troublesome allergies which dogged the early part of his season. Ahead of his debut at the Tour de France, the Tasmanian says he "pretty psyched."

    "I had two weeks there where I was in the post-Grand Tour ‘mood' but after that two weeks the body starts to recover and now I feel better than before I went into the Giro," the 26-year-old told Cyclingnews. "I'm much stronger than what I was before."

    The decision to start Porte in the Giro had been last minute but it was all in aid of giving the talented Australian more experience at the highest level. Sure, the results were very different to the 2010 edition where Porte wore the maglia rosa for three days and went home as winner of the young rider classification and maintained a position in the top 10 of the general classification for the entire duration of the race, but the decision has given him a certain confident heading into his third Grand Tour.

    "It was an honour to ride in a winning team," Porte said. "Guys go through their whole career without having to do that. It's an enjoyable experience to ride for Alberto [Contador]. He's the best stage racer of his generation and he's happy for you when you ride for him."

    Porte's preparation for the Tour has been all about keeping fresh, both in body and in mind, splitting his training between the French Alps, doing what he calls "mindless climbing" at altitude and around his home in Monaco.

    While there have been some question marks over Porte's teammate, defending Tour de France champion Alberto Contador's ability to string two Grand Tour wins together, particularly given the taxing parcours of the Giro, the...

  • AG2R La Mondiale continues commitment to French cycling

    John Gadret (AG2R) was strong
    Article published:
    July 02, 2011, 6:49 BST
    Cycling News

    Gadret, Bouet, Dupont, Chérel, Kadri extend contracts

    French-based insurance firm AG2R La Mondiale announced that it would be continuing its sponsorship of the French cycling team through until the end of season 2014 on the eve of the Tour de France.

    "We reconfirm our commitment to the formation of Vincent Lavenu whose riders embody the values of solidarity and performance are the same as AG2R La Mondiale.," said AG2R La Mondiale CEO André Renaudin.

    "We announced the renewal of our partnership until 2014 just days before the start of the 2011 Tour de France," added the company's Chief Operating Officer, Yvon Breton. "It is also a way for our group to encourage the riders of this beautiful event by confirming our full support for them. We wish them much success on the Tour and we have no doubt that we will enjoy it again a have a great time!"

    Meantime, the team announced that five riders have extended their contracts, including John Gadret, who finished just off the podium in fourth at the 2011 Giro d'Italia.

    Gadret, 32, who lines up for the team at the Tour, joins Maxime Bouet, Hubert Dupont and Mickaël Chérel in extending his contract through until the end of 2013.

    Blel Kadri will continue his career with AG2R La Mondiale, having ridden with the team since he turned professional in 2009.

  • Horner chasing top five result at Tour de France

    Chris Horner (RadioShack) goes solo and never looks back.
    Article published:
    July 02, 2011, 7:46 BST
    Daniel Benson

    California winner says podium is "doable"

    Chris Horner (RadioShack) believes he has a more than realistic chance of cracking the top five at this year's Tour de France and hasn't given up on a podium place. The American finished 10th in last year's race despite having to ride as a domestique for Lance Armstrong but he burst through as a truly legitimate top five contender after his win at the Amgen Tour of California.

    "On my day there's no one that can drop me other than Contador and Schleck in July but other than that I'm not afraid of any climbers. On my day I'm one of the best climbers out there," Horner told Cyclingnews before the race.

    "Last year I finished 10th and this year I'm in even better form so I'm looking to go top five and maybe even shoot for the podium which I think is doable. But you have to get through the first week and avoid injuries and then by the time you get to the second day in the mountains I'll know where my form is at."

    RadioShack come into the race with four potential leaders for GC. Horner doesn't believe that such an ambition is a weakness and that the second day of the mountains will decide who the strongest rider in the team is.

    "We're coming in with four strong guys and a lot of help with five climbers and lot of help for the flat. We're a good team and we want to put on a show here," he said.

    "We got four riders, we've had Kloden winning the Basque country, me winning the Tour of California and Levi Leipheimer right up there too. We've got Jani coming in and I'm sure he'll be in incredible form and we'll know where we stand as a team after the first set of mountains. We've got four guys who will be protected."

    "We've still got to...

  • Velits says Cavendish could take first Tour de France yellow jersey

    Stage winner Peter Velits (HTC - Columbia) uncorks the bubbly.
    Article published:
    July 02, 2011, 10:05 BST
    Daniel Friebe

    HTC teammate bullish about Manxman’s chances

    HTC-Highroad’s Peter Velits has warned that his teammate Mark Cavendish should not be written off on the uphill finish to the Mont des Alouettes and so could take the first yellow jersey of the Tour de France.

    Cavendish has told the press that he and his team were “not confident” about his chances on the steadily rising final kilometre (five per cent average gradient) at the end of today’s 191.5km opening stage. Consequently, he said, they would “not work to pull back breaks”.

    Velits, though, told Cyclingnews that a team recce of the Alouettes finish in June may have been misleading even for Cavendish.

    “In training it seemed hard but there could be a big difference when we’re racing,” Velits said. “At the speeds you ride at in the Tour, it might take a kilometre on a climb like that to lose the speed you’ve built up before. The way Cav was climbing in the Tour of Switzerland, I definitely don’t think it’s impossible that he could win.”

    Third in last year’s Vuelta a España, Velits himself has had a complicated build up to the Tour. Having missed a month of racing through injury in the spring, the Slovak rider appeared to be back on track before a nasty crash at the Tour of Switzerland two weeks ago left him struggling again. Although the wounds on his left arm and leg still bear vivid testimony to the setback, on the eve of the race he said that he was “starting to feel good again”.

    Cavendish hinted at the HTC pecking order when he said that Velits “wouldn’t be doing his job” if he didn’t devote himself to Tony Martin’s general classification bid at the Tour.

    On Friday, Velits was diplomatic...

  • Gène becomes the first Guadeloupe rider at the Tour de France

    Yesterday's stage winner Yohann Gene (Europcar).
    Article published:
    July 02, 2011, 13:15 BST
    Pierre Carrey

    Europcar rider hopes to get in a break

    Guadeloupe is 6700km from Paris but there is a small piece of France in the middle of Caribbean, and this year the island will be represented at the Tour de France for the first time by Yohann Gène of the Europcar team.

    Football is popular in Guadeloupe but so is cycling: the Tour of Guadeloupe gets live TV coverage and attracts thousands of people who take holidays during the race. Cyclingnews understands the regional cycling federation may apply to host the French road Championships in the next few years, while ASO considered holding the Grand Départ for the millennium edition of the Tour de France, with transfers on board a Concorde.

    “I'm very happy to finally race [the Tour de France], but to be the first one was not really a goal,” Gène told Cyclingnews.

    “I know many people will be happy and proud in Guadeloupe and I will give my best for them. They surely will follow me very closely as cycling is the number one sport there.”

    Gène admitted he “doesn't really know” why cyclists from Guadeloupe hesitate to go to Europe and take their chance. "They perhaps are scared of moving,” he said.

    At home they are considered stars, and are comfortably paid by local clubs, while they have to face bad weather if they sign for a European team. As a result, there are currently only three pro riders from the island: Saur-Sojasun's Rony Martias, Kévin Réza and Yoann Gène both at Europcar.

    Gène moved to Vendée in 2001. He raced for two years with the Vendée U -Jean-René Bernaudeau’s feeder team - and then signed for the pro team, Brioches-La Boulangère, which is now called Europcar.