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First Edition Cycling News, Sunday, July 1, 2012

Date published:
July 01, 2012, 1:00 BST
  • Van den Broeck ready for a three-week podium battle

    Jurgen Van Den Broeck will lead the team at the Tour de France
    Article published:
    June 30, 2012, 12:08 BST
    Brecht Decaluwé

    Lieutenant Vanendert targets Seraing, La Planche des Belles Filles and La Toussuire

    Belgian riders Jurgen Van den Broeck and Jelle Vanendert from the Lotto-Belisol team didn't hide their ambition for the upcoming three weeks of the Tour de France. During the Lotto-Belisol press conference on Friday afternoon, Van den Broeck stated he was ready to seize his moments to be in the mix for the podium in Paris. Vanendert said he hoped to receive the go ahead to chase a stage win.

    Jurgen Van den Broeck has high ambitions for the general classification. Back in 2010, he showed off his talent by finishing fifth, later moving up to fourth after the positive clenbuterol test from winner Alberto Contador. Last year, the Belgian was on course to be in the mix for the podium until a massive crash in the descent of the Col de Pas de Peyrol during stage 10 to Saint-Flour took him out of the race.

    "I'm not as nervous as last year. I learned from that crash that it can soon be over. I did the maximum, I couldn't do more. I lived for it and trained for it so I know that I'm ready. If it doesn't work out then I can't blame myself, if it does work out then that's fantastic.

    What's 'it'? A nice goal, a nice result. The podium?

    "I don't have to hide that this would be the best outcome, if not then that's a stage win. From third to tenth place anything is possible and even the first two are not certain because also they can have a bad day," Van den Broeck said.

    This year Van den Broeck arrives in perfect shape to the start of the Tour de France which kicks off in his home country Belgium. After last year's crash, tackling tricky descents turned out to be a tough task on the mental front and that might be one of his weakest points. In contrast to that are his climbing skills and his improvement on the time trial...

  • MTN-Qhubeka aims to be first African team in Tour de France

    Jacques Janse van Rensburg
    Article published:
    June 30, 2012, 14:59 BST
    Cycling News

    South African team to seek Professional Continental status in 2013

    MTN-Qhubeka plans to be the first African team in the Tour de France. Sponsor MTN has said it will pursue “the African dream,” whilst the South African team announced it will register as a Professional Continental team next year.

    “As proud sponsors of Team MTN-Qhubeka, we are pleased to announce our pursuit of the African dream to get the first African cycling team, with predominately African riders to race in the Tour de France,” said Serame Taukobong, Chief Marketing Officer of MTN SA, in a press release. “This dream has the potential of unlocking vast opportunities for cycling in South Africa and in the entire continent.”

     “To register Africa’s first UCI Professional Continental Team is great for the riders on our team who have worked so hard in building their performance to this higher level of racing which shows in their results over the last 12 months,” said Team Principal Doug Ryder.

    “The plan is to race a dual program in 2013, one in Europe and the other in events that span the other continents, with the intention of raising the awareness of cycling on the African continent and how, through Qhubeka and World Bicycle Relief, we are mobilising change one bike at a time in Africa.”

    The team has 22 wins so far this season, both in Africa and Europe. South African Janse Van Rensburg has 14 of those wins, including the national time trial title and the 1.1 ranked Ronde van Zeeland Seaports earlier this month.

    Anthony Fitzhenry, founder of Qhubeka, said, “We are thankful to MTN for their support of the team and Qhubeka, and we will put all our efforts and resources into helping the team to continue to achieve their impressive goals, including an African Tour de France team and mobilising many more children on bicycles throughout Africa,” he says.

  • Evans concedes 10 seconds to Wiggins in Tour de France prologue

    2011 Tour champion Cadel Evans (BMC) started his title defense with a 13th place prologue time trial result.
    Article published:
    June 30, 2012, 18:32 BST
    Brecht Decaluwé

    Defending Tour de France champion content with time trial result

    Cadel Evans (BMC) was the last rider to get underway in the 99th edition of the Tour de France which began today in Liège, Belgium with a 6.4km prologue time trial. Last year's winner went smoothly through the few sharp corners and developed a lot of power on the twisting course through the crowd-packed Belgian town. Halfway into the parcours the Australian was even one second ahead of GC-rival Bradley Wiggins (Sky) but he couldn't keep up that high rhythm through to the finish.

    Evans faded towards the finish line at the Parc d'Avroy and eventually lost ten seconds on his British rival for the general classification, finishing 17 seconds behind stage winner Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack-Nissan).

    "This isn't really my thing," Evans said while cooling down on the rollers. "It's not my speciality. I didn't want to lose time and it wasn't too bad. I expected to lose time on GC-riders. I've lost a couple of seconds on specialists like Wiggins. This was good to normal to me.

    "We've got the Tour started. That's the first thing and now I've got to keep going."

    On Sunday the peloton will tackle a mini-edition of Liège-Bastogne-Liège in a stage that finishes on a slightly uphill finish in Seraing, a town in the heavily industrial area southwest of Liège. Due to his time loss on Wiggins the Australian might opt to make a first effort to gain some seconds back on the Sky-rider but Evans stated that the outcome of the prologue didn't do much to the team's original plans.

    "It doesn't change much. We're a bit away from the yellow so we're a bit calmer in that regard. We'll take the stage like...

  • Wiggins happy with second in Tour de France prologue

    Bradley Wiggins (Sky) in full flight.
    Article published:
    June 30, 2012, 19:39 BST
    Peter Cossins

    It was the ideal start for the team, says Sky boss Brailsford

    After all the talk, you could sense the release of tension all around the Tour de France as the racing finally got under way today, and nowhere more so than at Team Sky, who have been the centre of so much attention in recent days. The British squad had a great day all round, with Bradley Wiggins finishing second, Edvald Boasson Hagen fifth and Chris Froome 11th, and with no mishaps to report on what was a tricky prologue course tackled in gusty conditions.

    Tour favourite Wiggins said he was glad to get the opening day's racing out of the way, and happy that it had gone so well for him. "I finished second, which is a good start. Physically, I felt fantastic out there," said the Briton, who gained at least six seconds on all his likely GC rivals and half a minute on some of them.

    Wiggins said that after doing recon of the Liège prologue course in the morning, he noticed that there were several tricky sections and decided not to take any major risks. "I concentrated on physically doing everything we've been training for," he said. "There was a cobbled section and a few drains on the way out, there was an off-camber roundabout where again I didn't take any major risks.

    "There's a commitment in that kind of race for the stage win and there's a commitment thinking of the three weeks, and I took the second option. I didn't go across the first section of cobbles on the tri-bars – I came off them for safety reasons. I felt in control during the first half and then just stepped it up."

    Asked about Sky boss Dave Brailsford's post-stage comment that the team didn't want the yellow jersey, Wiggins said: "I wouldn't say I didn't want the yellow jersey. I would have taken it....

  • Video: Van Garderen takes white jersey on opening day

    Tejay Van Garderen (BMC) is best young rider.
    Article published:
    June 30, 2012, 20:31 BST
    Daniel Benson

    Young American looks to learn from Evans

    If America needed further proof that a new generation of riders had arrived then it was cemented with Tejay van Garderen's display in the Tour de France prologue. After Taylor Phinney won the prologue at the Giro in May the BMC all-rounder finished fourth, 10 seconds behind Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack-Nissan) in Liege, doing enough to sneak into the white jersey.

    The 23-year-old is the only American in the Tour under the age of 28, and with compatriots Tom Danielson, Levi Leipheimer, Christian Vande Velde and Dave Zabriskie all over 30, Van Garderen's display was all the more important.

    "I gave it my all and I’m very happy with my performance. Hopefully my form is pretty good. I prepared well for this and I just hope it means I'm going to be strong support for Cadel come later in the Tour. [The white jersey] is not something that's a team goal. We came here with one goal and that's to get Cadel on the top step of the podium in Paris, but anything can happen," Van Garderen said.

    As he made his way to the Tour podium, he added: "It's going to be incredible. I've got chills waiting to go up there and get it. I've had this white jersey in mind for a while because normally I go pretty well in prologues so I gave it a go and now I'm just so excited."

    Van Garderen has already tasted Tour success, having pulled on the King of the Mountains jersey during last year's race, the first American to ever wear the jersey [Greg LeMond held the jersey in his career but wore yellow during that spell – ed.] However, Van Garderen's biggest challenge lies ahead, and defending the white jersey will become irrelevant in the coming days as the battle for yellow intensifies. Van Garderen is Evans' most talented climbing support on the BMC...

  • Dan Martin: “Now I’m a Tour rider”

    Daniel Martin (Garmin-Barracuda) set his own tempo on the climb
    Article published:
    June 30, 2012, 21:22 BST
    Peter Cossins

    Irishman says his task is to learn during his first Tour appearance

    Few riders were beaming more broadly than Garmin-Sharp’s Dan Martin when they finished their Tour de France prologue rides in Liège on Saturday. The stats say that he finished 24 seconds down in 55th place on the day, but of far more importance to the Irishman was the fact that his Tour de France career was under way after some dashed hopes in the past.

    “When I set off I was concentrating so hard on my effort that I didn’t notice the people around the course at first. But then I became aware it was a tunnel of noise,” said Martin. “I feel like a Tour de France rider now. It’s actually one of the first prologues I’ve ever done as the other grand tours I’ve done have started with team time trials.”

    The Irish climber admitted he was happy to put the prologue behind him and be able to focus on something more in his line during the opening road stage to Seraing on Sunday. But don’t expect to see him in the thick of the action just yet. “My aim now is to relax and stay out of trouble in the first week and count time down until we reach the Alps. I’ve always thought that the mountains are what the Tour de France are all about and that a lot of people tune in to see that stunning French countryside and us suffering our arses off in it,” he said.

    Martin says his role is very much one of a support rider to Garmin-Sharp’s Giro d’Italia winner, Ryder Hesjedal. “I’m definitely in the race to help Ryder, I’ve got no GC ambitions at all. My other role this year is very much to see the Tour as a learning experience. My chance of riding for the GC will come next year.”

    Asked whether he had any last-minute advice from his cousin,...

  • Van den Broeck not bothered by Tour prologue time loss

    Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Lotto-Belisol)
    Article published:
    June 30, 2012, 22:22 BST
    Brecht Decaluwé

    Lotto-Belisol rider appreciative of fan support on home soil

    The Belgian hope for a high placing in the Tour de France received somewhat of a knock as Jurgen Van den Broeck (Lotto-Belisol) finished a distant 77th place in the prologue on home soil. Van den Broeck lost 21 seconds on top favourite Bradley Wiggins (Sky) in the 6.4km long time trial in the city of Liège.

    "Twenty seconds is negligible," Van den Broeck said. "We'll see at the end of the Tour de France but I don't have to look at others but at myself. It's important that I don't lose twenty seconds on a man like [Robert] Gesink,"

    While losing 11 seconds on defending Tour de France champion Cadel Evans (BMC), Van den Broeck lost only two seconds on Robert Gesink (Rabobank) who has similar climbing qualities as the Belgian.

    "I think I can improve and the legs are not good yet, so it wasn't bad. I know the rhythm has to come but I'm confident it'll come."

    The performance from Wiggins didn't surprise Van den Broeck. "It was to be expected. In the Dauphiné you could tell he's riding on another level in this discipline. My goal was to clock a time of 7:30, that would be good for me and it is 7:41. I think that all in all I can be satisfied. I hope to do better [in the long time trials]," said Van den Broeck.

    According to the Belgian, riding on home soil in the Tour de France resulted in a special atmosphere as the huge amount of fans – probably mainly Belgians – cheered him on when he rode on the course in sunny Liège.

    "It was fun, it gave a kick but maybe not good enough. I didn't expect that my legs would already be super in the prologue, right after altitude training. I think I was further back in the past. I cannot be...

  • Video: Tour de France Prologue highlights

    Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack-Nissan) motors to the win.
    Article published:
    July 01, 2012, 0:12 BST
    Cycling News

    Cancellara superb as the Swiss master takes first yellow jersey

    It was a case of history repeating for Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack-Nissan), as he won the Tour de France 6.4km prologue in Liège just as he had eight years ago.

    While Cancellara's performance was flawless; the same could not be said for rivals Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) or Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale) who both struck their own brand of trouble on the technical course. In the battle for general classification glory, Bradley Wiggins (Sky) struck the first blow against defending champion Cadel Evans (BMC) with 10 seconds separating the pair.