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First Edition Cycling News, Sunday, July 10, 2011

Date published:
July 10, 2011, 1:00 BST
  • Stellar climbing keeps Hushovd in Tour de France lead

    Thor Hushovd (Garmin-Cervelo) rode gallantly to retain yellow at Super-Besse.
    Article published:
    July 09, 2011, 18:13 BST
    Daniel Benson

    Norwegian credits mountain training near Monaco home

    Thor Hushovd (Garmin-Cervélo) retained the leader's yellow jersey after one of his best ever performances in the Tour de France. The Norwegian hung tough with the peloton over the second category climb of Col de Croix Saint-Robert and hung on during the final climb to Super Besse in the stage 8 finale, keeping his one-second general classification lead over Cadel Evans (BMC).

    "To be honest, like what I said after the stage yesterday, I didn't think I could stay in yellow after this stage, even if deep inside I had plans to try. I also said I would do everything I can to defend the jersey," he said after pulling on the maillot jaune again.

    "But you know I have good form – the best form I've ever had – and that allows me to go really deep and get everything out of my body and of course that's what I did again today. It gives me motivation again to keep the yellow jersey on my back. "

    Coming into the stage, it was expected that Garmin-Cervélo would relinquish their grip on yellow, which they took after the team time trial on stage 2, and the American ProTour squad did little work on the front of the bunch during the stage, profiting from the work of the likes of BMC, Astana and Omega Pharma-Lotto, who were all within touching distance of the lead.

    Finishing 16th on the stage, Hushovd was given the same time as Evans and GC contenders Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank Sungard) and Andy Schleck (Leopard Trek), but had an anxious wait before he was confirmed as the race leader.

    "It's not that I didn't care, but I have been happy with my Tour de France so far and since I didn't expect to stay in yellow after the stage, if I lost it I would not be disappointed. I gave everything again today...

  • Gilbert moves back into green at Super-Besse

    Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) made a late drive to finish second.
    Article published:
    July 09, 2011, 19:01 BST
    Brecht Decaluwé

    Belgian launches another uphill attack to finish second

    On the category 3 climb towards the ski resort of Super-Besse in the Sancy massif, Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) showed that he's planning to keep playing a major role in the 2011 Tour de France. The Belgian champion blasted away on the final climb just as he did during his winning move on the Mont des Alouettes on stage one. Although he failed to catch stage winner Rui Costa (Movistar), he put three seconds into the peloton, which was led home by Cadel Evans (BMC), and Gilbert is now back in the green jersey.

    “That finish was perfect for me,” Gilbert said while gasping for air right after crossing the line. It turned out that during the last kilometres he had a mechanical problem that kept him from attacking earlier.

    “This climb to Super-Besse isn't too steep and you can ride it on the big ring. Twice I tried to accelerate,” Gilbert said. “The first time I did it on the small ring but I couldn't shift to the big ring because due to the bad weather some dirt must have gotten into my derailleur. That's why I had to sit back to shift and attack at full force. That shift worked and I was gone.”

    Gilbert’s consistency in the Tour’s opening week has seen him move back into the green jersey, and he acknowledged that he has enjoyed fine form throughout 2011.

    “For a few months in a row I have been in super form,” he said. “But sadly Rui Costa was too far away and anything more than a second place wasn't possible today.”

    Had the peloton been a little closer to Costa at the foot of the final climb, the stage win could have been a possibility, but Gilbert’s teammate and general...

  • Schleck brothers confident after Super-Besse showing

    Andy Schleck (Leopard Trek) broke even with Alberto Contador at Super-Besse.
    Article published:
    July 09, 2011, 20:09 BST
    Daniel Benson

    Leopard Trek duo respond to Contador's attacks

    Both Andy and Fränk Schleck (Leopard Trek) came through the first medium mountain stage intact and able to handle the accelerations of Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank). The stage saw the Spaniard launch several attacks on the climb to Super-Besse but each time he was matched by his rivals and at the finish Fränk Schleck pointed out that Saturday had been more of a psychological battle than one of pure climbing prowess.

    “After six days in the big ring there’s quite a change today going onto the small gears on the climbs but it went pretty well. There was no big danger for us and we could keep on the wheel of the attacks,” Schleck said, after stepping off the Leopard Trek team bus, showered and changed.

    “We never thought about attacking. It’s encouraging heading into the mountains. Me and Andy were on his wheel and it brings us a lot of confidence. So far it’s a mental game and so far so good.”

    Andy Schleck was the first to react to Contador’s shots across the Leopard bow, gluing himself to the Spanish stern in the closing kilometres and looking comfortable in the process.

    “I felt good as well,” Andy Schleck said, echoing his older sibling. “It wasn’t a really difficult stage but you had to pay attention on the wet roads. It wasn’t a surprise to me that Contador attacked because he needs to take every opportunity he gets and it shows to me that he’s nervous.”

    Contador still lies over a minute down on each of the Schlecks and Andy acknowledged that the defending champion is the one that must go on the...

  • Riis: there was no chance to see who was weak

    Damiano Cunego (Lampre-ISD) leads home Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank-SunGard), with the yellow jersey of Thor Hushovd (Garmin-Cervelo) in the background.
    Article published:
    July 09, 2011, 21:25 BST
    Daniel Benson

    Saxo Bank Sungard manager pleased with Contador's showing on Tour de France stage 8

    Saxo Bank Sungard manager Bjarne Riis declared himself happy with the outcome of stage 8 of the Tour de France despite the fact that Alberto Contador was unable to recoup any time on his nearest challengers for the yellow jersey. The finish at Super-Besse saw the Spaniard try a number of attacks, helping him rise to 20th overall, but he still lies 1:28 behind his main challenger Andy Schleck (Leopard Trek).

    "I'm happy for us and it was okay," Riis said at the finish.

    "I think we didn't see much today from the main favourites. I think for the last final rise we should have seen a bit more pressure put on the bunch for the final 5 kilometres and I don't really think we saw that. So everyone came to the last kilometre fresh. There wasn't much of a chance to see if there were any weaknesses out there," he told Cyclingnews.

    "Overall this is about what I expected but this isn't the real mountains."

    In the overall standings, Thor Hushovd (Garmin-Cervelo) kept his slim one second lead over Cadel Evans. However, the Australian's team expended a lot of energy by spending long spells of stage 8 on the front of the bunch. Riis refused to speculate on the exact reasons behind BMC's use of men, especially as they failed to dislodge Hushovd from yellow, but he hinted that their efforts were helping his own team keep their powder dry for later in the race.

    "Their tactics? I think it's fine. It's great," he said through his characteristic smile.

    "They have a plan and I won't interfere in that because it's none of my business and as I'm not on that team, how would I know what they're doing? They're confident in Cadel and that's fine.”

  • Lelangue defends BMC tactics

    Cadel Evans (BMC) looks to be the most in-form of the overall contenders so far.
    Article published:
    July 09, 2011, 22:20 BST
    Pierre Carrey

    Team misses out on Tour stage win, overall lead after working all day

    A brilliant piece of support for Cadel Evans or a huge waste of energy? Team BMC's lead-out to Super-Besse was certainly the most commented upon subject on Saturday at the Tour de France. The American squad offered a strong show of power for the whole stage, until Garmin-Cervélo and Astana joined forces with them at the front of the bunch about 50 kilometres from the finish.

    Team manager John Lelangue was obviously delighted by his troops’ attitude. “We had a very nice and very peaceful day,” he said.

    Asked why his riders had decided to control the peloton, the Belgian explained they “had to do that” because of Cadel Evans's second position overall, one second behind Thor Hushovd. “We knew Garmin-Cervélo was not going to do that work, as there were a very small possibility that Hushovd would save his jersey. So it was our responsibility to ride.”

    Lelangue also said that he was concerned by Tejay Van Garderen (HTC) being in the breakaway. “He's a very good rider and we couldn't give him 20 minutes like that.”  The young American was 8:06 down on GC this morning and he lost three minutes on the final haul to Super-Besse once the peloton caught him in the very last kilometres.

    Amaël Moinard gave another reason for why BMC led the peloton. “It was good to support Cadel,” the French domestique explained. “We trust him and now he knows he can trust us. What we did is pretty encouraging for the next stages.”

    The team weakened in the last 20 kilometres, however, and couldn't close the gap to breakaway winner Rui Costa (Movistar), nor could they prevent Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) from slipping clear on the climb. As a...

  • Gesink loses time, motivation and sight of the podium

    Robert Gesink (Rabobank) had a disappointing day.
    Article published:
    July 09, 2011, 23:09 BST
    Brecht Decaluwé

    Disappointment for Dutchman at Super-Besse

    Dutch cycling star Robert Gesink (Rabobank) still hasn't recovered from the back injuries sustained during his crash on the fifth stage of this year's Tour de France, and conceded further ground on Saturday’s stage. Gesink was understandably disappointed following his performance during the Tour's first medium mountain, stage which finished on the category 3 climb to Super-Besse, as he lost 1:08 on the other general classification riders, although he remains in the white jersey of best young rider.

    “I was afraid that this would happen,” Gesink said afterwards. “When the legs don't want to do what you want them to do then it's difficult to keep up. I’m still suffering a lot from that crash. It means that I can't perform at the level I'm used to. This isn't a small stage race in which you can recover. The Tour is tough and physically demanding. This [the injuries] makes it even harder. I think I'm a better rider than what I've showed today.”

    With another medium mountain stage coming up on Sunday ahead of the first rest day, Gesink could end up losing even more time during stage 9. When asked whether he might pull out of the race, Gesink’s response suggested that he had taken that decision certainly into consideration.

    “This way there's isn't much fun to it,” he admitted. “A whole day long I was sitting in the wheels and when Vinokourov accelerated on that second category climb I got dropped like an old lady. I'll have to talk this through with the team this evening but to ride the Tour this way isn't fun. I'm wearing the white jersey though so that makes it different.”

  • Cipollini thinks Cavendish is not yet in top form

    Mario Cipollini visited the Tour de France on Wednesday
    Article published:
    July 10, 2011, 1:37 BST
    Daniel Friebe

    Italian predicts more agony for sprinter’s rivals

    The most prolific sprinter of his generation, Mario Cipollini, believes that his successor Mark Cavendish is currently operating at "not even 70 per cent of his capacity" and that "there’s trouble ahead for Cavendish’s rivals in the remaining sprints in this Tour".

    Speaking to Cyclingnews at the Tour de France, where Cipollini is working as a advisor to the Katusha team, the Italian called Cavendish "the best sprinter of his epoch" - then reaffirmed his long-held opinion that the Manxman could do even better.

    Cipollini won twelve stages in Tours de France in the 1990s and amassed a total of 189 victories between 1989 and 2005. With yesterday’s win in Châteauroux, Cavendish took his career tally in the Tour to 17 and in all pro races to 71.

    "Cavendish is great talent, a real champion. He’s the best sprinter of his epoch, but I think he still needs to learn to manage himself," Cipollini commented in Dinan on Thursday. "At the moment, with the team he’s got, the sprints in this Tour shouldn’t even be a contest, but I don’t think his form is even 70 per cent of what it should be."

    The self-styled "Lion King" elaborated: "I think it’s a cultural problem. Someone who’s grown up on the Isle of Man can’t have been steeped in cycling. Living in Tuscany is bringing him something that he probably didn’t have before. I mean, there’s a lot of interest in him, a lot of attention, the money is flowing in very easily – and I’m glad that it is – but all of this has perhaps made him lose some of his equilibrium because of that lack of cycling culture."

    If this all sounded like mild criticism, Cipollini’s admiration for Cavendish was also evident.

    "At 100 per cent fitness, he has no rivals," the...

  • Van den Broeck satisfied with first week

    Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Omega Pharma-Lotto) after his stage win
    Article published:
    July 10, 2011, 5:29 BST
    Brecht Decaluwé

    Belgian climber had a 'bad day' on Super-Besse

    Though podium contender Jurgen Van den Broeck (Omega Pharma-Lotto) said he wasn't feeling good on Saturday he easily stood tall in the group of favourites that finished 15 seconds down on stage winner Rui Alberto Costa (Movistar). One week into the Tour de France the Belgian rider is sitting in twelfth in the general classification, 39 seconds behind leader Thor Hushovd (Garmin-Cervélo).

    In contrast to last year Van den Broeck seems much more relaxed. The increased media attention no longer seems that much of a problem while last year Van den Broeck often acted irritated, especially during post-race interviews. On Saturday Van den Broeck cursed his way from the finish line to the team bus and for a brief moment the old VDB seemed to be back.

    "I had a bad day," Van den Broeck clarified of his comments yesterday.

    "I really didn't have good legs in the finale which is a pity but I was still there and that's most important. I know that I always have a bad day in the Tour. Last year it happened on the Madeleine and then I got dropped while this time I was still up there. Having bad legs can always happen. Gesink probably had it too and others as well. We're not robots, we're humans,” he continued.

    "The door was certainly wide open at the back and we knew that could happen today. I knew I just had to cling on and do nothing more than that at the moment. I'm just keeping up with the favourites," the Belgian said. "The Pyrenees and certainly the Alps will be more important. Worries? Why would I worry. I was there. Panic? I wouldn't know why I should panic."

    The accelerations from team-mate Philippe Gilbert increased the speed in the lead group in the final kilometer, but that didn't put Van den Broeck into the red. The Belgian played down any issue with the stage one winner...