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First Edition Cycling News, Saturday, July 9, 2011

Date published:
July 09, 2011, 1:00 BST
  • Pro cycling plagued by head injuries

    Janez Brajkovic needed medical treatment after his crash
    Article published:
    July 08, 2011, 23:22 BST
    Laura Weislo

    Who makes the decision to continue?

    Professional cycling has been plagued by head injuries this season, and during the Tour de France no fewer than three riders have suffered concussions in just one week of racing: Tom Boonen (Quickstep) and Janez Brajkovic (RadioShack) have dropped out of the race, while it is still to be determined if Chris Horner will continue after finishing stage 7 in a daze.

    The latest spate of traumatic brain injuries (TBI) - the medical term for a concussion - and the fact that both Horner and Boonen soldiered on despite being obviously affected in terms of cognitive ability, has raised the issue of who should be the one to determine whether a rider can keep racing after landing on his head.

    In Brajkovic's case, it was a broken collarbone that ended his Tour, as in all likelihood he would have climbed back on his bike with his head gushing blood if he could have: it's the mentality of a bike racer in the sport's biggest event. Nobody wants to abandon the Tour de France.

    Boonen's directeur sportif left the decision on whether to continue on the rider himself after other riders complained that the Belgian was a danger to the peloton. Horner was allowed to ride to the finish in the presence of the race doctor, but he had no recollection of the crash or how long he had been chasing.

    The sport has been reeling from the tragic consequences of high-speed crashes and head injuries following the death of Belgian Wouter Weylandt in the Giro d'Italia. His head trauma caused instant death, but a subsequent crash by Juan Mauricio Soler left the Movistar still unable to communicate following a medically-induced coma because of a TBI.

    Cyclingnews spoke with Garmin-Cervélo physician Prentice Steffen, who...

  • Tour de France new shorts

    Geraint Thomas at the end of a disappointing day for his Sky team.
    Article published:
    July 09, 2011, 8:41 BST
    Cycling News

    Intxausti continues despite broken arm, Cavendish impressed by Greipel, White jersey another loss for Sky, In the Twittersphere

    Movistar rider Intxausti to continue despite fracture to upper radius

    After crossing the line of the 7th stage of the 2011 Tour de France, Beñat Intxausti was moved to the Centre Hospitalier de Châteauroux in order to take a MRI scan on his right elbow. The Basque rider had been suffering pain since he crashed on the opening stage of this year's Grande Boucle. An earlier inspection of the rider had given him the all clear however as the pain had not decreased at all in the first week the team decided to get the scan.

    The MRI confirmed a broken upper radius.The Movistar rider is however expected to continue riding.

    Cavendish impressed with former teammate Greipel

    "It was incredible to see the speed of his acceleration - I respect him for that - but I knew he couldn't hold it. I know how Greipel sprints as I  try to study my rivals. With the speed he passed me it was obvious he had accelerated from four to five positions back. Unless he's on the best form of everybody here he was always going to fade," Cavendish said.

    The Manxman was able to pass Greipel in the closing metres, as was Alessandro Petacchi, but the signs are promising for the German after a fairly anonymous start to the Tour.

    Wiggins out, and the White jersey relinquished after tough day for Sky

    As if losing captain Bradley Wiggins on stage seven wasn't enough, Sky also gave up the lead in the maillot blanc competition after Edvald Boasson Hagen and Geraint Thomas waited for Wiggins after his crash. The pair lost nearly three minutes and are now sixth and seventh is the classification. The day was a massive change in fortune for the team which had 24 hours previously won their first ever stage of the Tour de France.

    Director SportiB Sean Yates explained after the stage the implications of the Wiggins crash.

    "For the rest of the...

  • Horner will not start Tour de France stage on Saturday

    Chris Horner (RadioShack) lost over twelve minutes in a crash.
    Article published:
    July 09, 2011, 10:05 BST
    Cycling News

    Second scan clear, but team take him out of race

    Christopher Horner will not be at the start of the Tour de France's eighth stage Saturday, after suffering a concussion the previous day.  RadioShack team manager Johan Bruyneel announced the abandon Saturday morning.

    “Update on @hornerakg: doing much better, 2nd head scan ok. Broken nose & big haematoma on right calf. No start. Wish him a speedy recovery,” Bruyneel tweeted.

    Horner crashed with 35 km to go in the seventh stage.   He got back on his bike and finished the stage, coming in last, 12:41 down on stage winner Mark Cavendish (HTC-Highroad).

    The American was obviously confused when he arrived, not aware of what was going on.  Even as he was being loaded in the ambulance he was asking what was happening.

    Later, his family tweeted on his account:  “hornerakg: Chris spending night @ the hospital 4r observation, but doing better. Thanks 4 all of the support from fans & @TeamRadioShack”

  • AIGCP weighs in on UCI saddle regulations

    fi'zi:k provides riders with several options for its saddle models. In this case, Tejay Van Garderen (HTC-Highroad) has chosen the TwinFlex carbon shell and braided carbon fiber rails
    Article published:
    July 09, 2011, 10:55 BST
    Daniel Benson

    Decries timing of UCI action

    The AIGCP (Association International des Groupes Cyclistes Professionels) has added their voice to the continued dispute over saddle regulations. The argument erupted during the team trial on stage 2 of the Tour de France. The UCI had deemed a number of saddle positions to be against their regulations and a number of fines were handed out after teams began to dispute the jury at the race.

    In a statement released Saturday, the AICGP stated: “The continued goal of the AIGCP is to have productive relationship with the UCI. Our hope remains that the UCI will recognize our voice in matters such as the saddle inspection issue. With that said, the AIGCP members would like to make a few important points about saddle inspection.”

    The body went on to make three points, arguing that the rules laid down by the UCI were not defined and the “measurements taken are not reliable or repeatable” with the instrument used to measure saddles not accurate. They also argue that trying to enforce riders to adhere to using flat saddles raises risks relating to prostate health and comfort, putting forward that a + or – 5 degree guideline could be a solution.

    The final point raised was over the way in which the UCI have implemented the rule change. The governing body contacted Cyclingnews after the initial dispute, telling the website that teams had been notified of the rule change before the Dauphine in June and that they had been given the chance to meet with the UCI’s commissars at the race in order to avoid and clear up any confusion.

    However the AIGCP countered this: “The UCI has had all year to make these inspections and did not do so. Waiting until the start of the Tour de France, when riders have been riding in the same...

  • Gilbert tips "wounded" Contador for Super-Besse victory

    Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) remains atop the points classification.
    Article published:
    July 09, 2011, 11:33 BST
    Cycling News

    Belgian suffers in intermediate sprints

    After starring on the hilltop finishes of the Tour de France’s opening week, Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) has tipped Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank-SunGard) for victory on the short, stiff climb to Super-Besse Sancy on stage 8.

    With a Court of Arbitration verdict on his Clenbuterol case still pending, Contador was jeered by the crowds at the teams presentation in the Vendée before the Tour, and his troubles were compounded when he was caught behind a crash and lost time on stage one. Contador fought back with a late dig on the Mûr-de-Bretagne on stage 4, and Gilbert predicts more of the same from the “wounded” Spaniard on the Tour’s first day in the Massif Central.

    “It’s a finish for Alberto Contador, he’s the man to beat,” Gilbert told La Dernière Heure. “He’s a real champion, with wounded pride, and that’s always dangerous. He wants to silence his doubters.”

    Gilbert was more circumspect about his own chances on a stage that may provide unexpected surprises on the penultimate climb with 25km to go, the second category Col de la Croix Saint-Robert.

    “I haven’t studied the road book,” he said. “I know that the last climb goes up for a kilometre at 7.6%.”

    Gilbert lost the green jersey to José Joaquin Rojas (Movistar) on stage 7, and the Belgian champion admitted that it was difficult to compete with the fast men in the intermediate sprint. “I was beyond my limits in the first sprint,” he acknowledged. “I needed quite a bit of time to...

  • Garmin-Cervelo looking to finish in Tour de France top ten

    Race leader Thor Hushovd (Garmin-Cervelo) enjoys another day in yellow.
    Article published:
    July 09, 2011, 12:30 BST
    Daniel Benson

    Change focus after taking two stage wins

    With the first week of racing over, Garmin-Cervelo will turn their attention to placing a rider in the top ten on GC at the Tour de France, with Tom Danielson perhaps the man most likely to achieve that ambition.

    The squad came into the race with a number of goals, the first of which was to win their first-ever stage in the race. They achieved that by winning the team time trial on stage two, which resulted in taking the yellow jersey through Thor Hushovd. A day later they made it two from two with Tyler Farrar winning in Redon.

    However today’s stage to Super Besse will see a change in yellow with Hushovd likely to relinquish his slender lead to one of any number of GC contenders.

    “We’ll certainly not going to ride like we’re defending it tomorrow but in Dave you certainly do have a little bit of a wild card,” said team boss Jonathan Vaughters.

    Yet despite their stint in yellow and two stage wins, Garmin’s GC potency has been weakened by a number of crashes and time gaps, with Tom Danielson, Ryder Hesjedal and Christian Vande Velde all losing time during the first week. The latest episode saw Hesjedal – 7th last year – lose over 3 minutes on stage 7, leaving both Vande Velde and Danielson highest on GC, tied at 1:57 behind Hushovd.

    “Ryder is fine, but he’s frustrated that he’s lost more time but that’s how the Tour de France goes. A lot of people lost time yesterday and that’s why you bring more than one GC guy.”

    Asked if he knew which of his riders was best placed...

  • Transfers: Van Impe, Van Hummel and Van Winden

    Kenny van Hummel (Skil-Shimano) was all smiles on the podium
    Article published:
    July 09, 2011, 14:17 BST
    Cycling News

    Rabobank signs two youngsters to Continental team

    The transfer carousel is turning again, and Kevin Van Impe must leave Quick Step, Kenny Van Hummel has decided to leave Skil-Shimano, and Rabobank has re-upped Dennis van Winden and signed two youngsters to its Continental team.

    The 30-year-old Van Impe was not offered a new contract with the Belgian team.  “Apparently they are opting for youth,” he said, according to the Gazet van Antwerpen.

    Van Impe turned pro in 2001 and has ridden with Quick Step since 2006.

    Van Hummel, 28, announced on his website that he is leaving Skil-Shimano after “six wonderful years”.  The Dutch rider indicated that his new team is settled, but didn't yet announce it.  Dutch media speculate that he will be with Vacansoleil-DCM.

    It was a “difficult decision," he said on his website.  “But after six years I am ready for something new, a new challenge. Now I know all the ins and outs within the team. I need a different environment, a little uncertainty about how things go. Just call it healthy tension.”

    This year the 28-year-old won the overall title in the Ronde van Drenthe, after winning the first two stages.  He also won a stage at the Tour of Turkey.

    Young riders at Rabobank

    Rabobank bucked the trend and announced the extension...

  • Soler transferred to hospital in Spain

    Mauricio Soler (Movistar)
    Article published:
    July 09, 2011, 15:51 BST
    Cycling News

    No further updates on Movistar rider's condition

    Mauricio Soler has been moved to a hospital in Spain after three weeks in the intensive care unit of the Hospital St. Gallen in Switzerland.  The Colombian suffered serious injuries in a crash of the sixth stage of the Tour de Suisse last month.

    The Movistar rider was placed in an induced coma, but has since been brought out of it by doctors.  However, this week a hospital spokesman said that while he is able to move his limbs and respond to simple commands, he is unable to speak, has difficulty swallowing and show signs of “serious cognitive deficits.”

    On Saturday morning he was flown with a special medical aircraft and delivered to the Clinica Universitaria de Navarra, in Pamplona, his European home during the season.

    The team had announced earlier this week that “It's going to be a long, slow process yet, so some weeks can go by with no major news.”