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First Edition Cycling News, Sunday, July 14, 2013

Date published:
July 14, 2013, 1:00 BST
  • Evans: No guarantees for Mont Ventoux

    2011 Tour de France champion Cadel Evans (BMC)
    Article published:
    July 13, 2013, 22:00 BST
    Barry Ryan

    Australian still hoping to turn his Tour de France around

    Cadel Evans (BMC) lies 13th overall as the Tour de France returns to the mountains at Mont Ventoux on Sunday but the Australian is hopeful that he can move up the overall standings in the third week of racing.

    Evans' hopes of final overall victory disappeared on the opening summit finish at Ax 3 Domaines last weekend, when Sky's pace-setting shattered the peloton on the final climb, but he recovered sufficiently to finish in the yellow jersey group on the following day's turbulent stage to Bagnères-de-Bigorre.

    "Things turned around there on the stage after Ax 3 Domaines, so hopefully that's a sign of things to come," Evans told reporters. "I'm not going to give a written guarantee at this point because this is sport and this is cycling. I'm just staying patient and not trying to force things. Hopefully I'll keep improving towards Mont Ventoux but obviously the third week could be really interesting."

    The Tour has visited Mont Ventoux just once during Evans' relationship with the race – on the penultimate stage in 2009, when he finished 31st, 5:45 on stage winner Juan Manuel Garate and 5:07 on Tour winner Alberto Contador – but he has climbed the Giant of Provence several times at the Critérium du Dauphiné and Paris-Nice over his career.

    "I'm a bit rational about the climbs in that if I'm feeling good and performing well, I like the climb, and if I'm performing badly I don't enjoy it," Evans said. "Ventoux is long and open, and sometimes the long and open section with the wind can be a factor.

    "It can make people a little bit more conservative with the wind because of the chance of being caught. If you go out alone, that can make it a bit more...

  • RusVelo withdraw from Giro dell'Appennino after asthma drug positives

    The RusVelo jersey
    Article published:
    July 13, 2013, 23:00 BST
    Cycling News

    Further sanction to be decided this week

    RusVelo has announced that it will not be on the start line for the Giro dell'Appennino on Sunday as a consequence of three of its riders testing positive for the asthma medication Fenoterol.

    The Professional Continental team is a member of the MPCC (Mouvement Pour un Cyclisme Crédible), whose rules call for a four-week suspension in the case of three positive tests within a 24 month period.

    In April, Valery Kaykov was provisionally suspended and sacked by the team after failing a test for the new fat-burning drug GW1516.

    Rusvelo confirmed earlier this week that Andrey Solomennikov, Roman Maikin, and Artem Ovechkin all tested positive for Fenoterol after the Russian national championships in late June. The substance is banned for in-competition use by the World Anti-Doping Code.

    The squad will not race on Sunday as "a sign of respect to other teams and according to rules of MPCC," it said in a statement released on Saturday evening.

    A MPCC board meeting is now set to take place this week which will make a further ruling on RusVelo's participation in other races.

    "By this announcement, the Rusvelo Team management reminds once again that the fundamental principle of the team's ideology is zero tolerance to doping," read the statement. "We are in support of clean cycling and fully committed to adhere to this stance in the future."

  • Pinot looks to turn his Tour around on Mont Ventoux

    Thibaut Pinot (FDJ)
    Article published:
    July 13, 2013, 23:10 BST
    Barry Ryan

    Frenchman eager to shine in high mountains

    The old adage says that Tour de France success requires the head and the legs, and nowhere was that more apparent than on the opening mountain stage to Ax 3 Domaines last weekend, where Thibaut Pinot experienced a devastating fear of descending on the Col de Pailhères that day. With very few downhill kilometres preceding the Giant of Provence on stage 15, the Mont Ventoux could be just the place for the young FDJ rider to turn his fortunes around.

    A heavy crash as a junior has meant that Pinot has always been at the cautious end of the descending spectrum, but that problem has exacerbated since the beginning of this year. The Tour de France has the tendency to amplify the effects of any such displays of weakness, and so it proved at Ax 3 Domaines, as Pinot lost over six minutes, and worse was to follow the next day at Bagnères-de-Bigorre, when he conceded another 25.

    "On the way up the Col des Pailhères I was up there with the leaders, always in the first four wheels, so I was feeling very good physically," Pinot told Cyclingnews. "But after that, I had a sort of mental block on the descent, which is penalising me more and more. I hope that I can work on that and find a solution to it very soon."

    Pinot laid bare his phobia of descending in a candid interview with L'Équipe during the week, admitting that he had even asked himself why he was continuing in the Tour. And yet the 23-year-old has a history of bouncing back from early disappointments in major stage races, be it at the 2011 Dauphiné, when he lost his GC hopes immediately only to shine...

  • Hansen extends with Lotto Belisol for another two years

    Adam Hansen (Lotto Belisol) makes a small attack on Mt Buninyong to try and get things moving
    Article published:
    July 14, 2013, 0:02 BST
    Cycling News

    Giro d'Italia stage winner likes squad's "mentality"

    Adam Hansen will continue to ride for Lotto Belisol, extending his contract for a further two years the team announced on Saturday.

    Hansen, currently at the Tour de France and in the midst of attempting to ride all three grand tours for the second year in a row, was pleased to stay with the squad.

    "If you can extend your contract it obviously means you're doing something right," the Australian said. "There are many reasons why I chose to stay with Lotto Belisol."

    Hansen joined Lotto in 2011 from the HighRoad squad, making the move with Greipel.

    The news follows the earlier announcements this week that another key lead-out man for sprinter Andre Greipel, Greg Henderson had also extended his contract with the Belgian-based squad.

    Hansen, 32, broke through for his first victory since 2010 in May when he soloed to the win on stage 7 of the Giro d’Italia.

    "I like the mentality in the team," Hansen continued. "It's nice to have goals in the team when you're going to a race and that you can help riders like Jurgen Van den Broeck and André Greipel. But I also get to go my own chance and that's important to me as well. I love taking part in Giro, Tour and Vuelta and the team gives me the opportunity to do that. And I got a puppy dog last year which I named him Lotto, so that's also a reason why I must stay with Lotto Belisol, because I can't change the name of my dog," he laughed.

  • Bardet relaxed about debut on Mont Ventoux

    Romain Bardet (AG2R-La Mondiale)
    Article published:
    July 14, 2013, 0:06 BST
    Sam Dansie

    Tour de France debutant hopes to improve French fortunes

    Promising young French rider Romain Bardet (AG2R-La Mondiale) will make his first ascent of the fearsome Mont Ventoux tomorrow, but despite the stage being one of the most anticipated of the race, in that it falls on Bastille Day and that hundreds of thousands of spectators are expected to line the 20.8km climb, the Tour de France debutant showed few signs of intimidation this morning in Saint-Pourçain-sur-Sioule.

    "I haven't ridden the Ventoux before so it will be my first experience," the 22-year-old confirmed as he rolled to the stage start.

    "I think it will be a very, very fast start because every French rider will be very motivated for the break because it's [Bastille Day].

    "I don't think that Team Sky can control the race all day and if a breakaway can go with five minutes at the start of the last climb it could be OK," he speculated.

    Bardet – touted as one of France's most promising stage racers – finished ten minutes down on the winner in yesterday's windswept stage. He conceded third place in the white jersey competition to Andrew Talansky (Garmin-Sharp) and is now 20 minutes behind the yellow jersey Chris Froome (Sky).

    He believed the deficit could help his chances should he make a bid to get into a breakaway. He also received some of the loudest cheers at today's stage start which was in the region of his home town of Brioude.

    "It's a real pleasure to start a stage close to my home town and I'm still motivated in this Tour. After yesterday stage I lost a lot of time overall so I think it could be better in the next stages for breakaways."

  • Albasini frustrated after Trentin beats him on the line in Lyon

    Trentin edges out Michael Albasini (R) and Andrew Talansky (L) for the stage win
    Article published:
    July 14, 2013, 1:02 BST
    Cycling News

    Orica GreenEdge rider mistimes sprint

    Just half a wheel was all that separated Michael Albasini (Orica GreenEdge) from stage 14 winner, Matteo Trentin (Omega Pharma-Quick-Step) in Lyon. The Swiss had led the sprint to the line only to be overtaken by Trentin at the very last moment by the narrowest of margins.

    "For the moment, there is a lot of frustration," admitted Albasini. "Maybe after dinner, I can feel a little proud of my performance today, but when you get so close to a win at the Tour de France, the first few moments after will be a lot of frustration."

    Albasini, already with two wins to his name this season including one at Paris-Nice, was part of the 18-man breakaway which formed during the opening hour of the stage. Orica GreenEdge sports director Matt White explained that Albasini was just one of a number of options that the squad had to make the escape, which also included Cam Meyer, Simon Clarke and stage 3 winner Simon Gerrans.

    "Albasini is very, very fast," White said. "We have a lot of faith in him. He's won many times from a group of that size in the technical sort of final we had today. He was the perfect guy to have in the breakaway."

    The 32-year-old launched the first attack along with Garmin Sharp's David Millar with 25km to go, but the potentially dangerous move was quickly shut down by Jens Voigt (RadioShack Leopard). Julien Simon (Sojasun) attacked on the penultimate climb, the Côte de la Duchère with around 15km left to race. The Frenchman gained 20 seconds on his rivals before being brought back to the group with one kilometre to go.

    "It wasn't up to me to chase him," said Albasini. "I was focused on controlling the group behind. I couldn't take responsibility to chase him down, too. He was riding really strong. It was close, but all our attacks brought him back."

    Winner of...

  • Guercilena backs Andy Schleck to win on Mont Ventoux

    Andy Schleck (Team Radioshack Leopard)
    Article published:
    July 14, 2013, 2:56 BST
    Daniel Benson

    Radioshack Leopard confident before Bastille Day

    RadioShack Leopard general manager Luca Guercilena has backed Andy Schleck to win on Mont Ventoux on Sunday.

    Schleck currently lies in 15th overall, over eight minutes down in the race for yellow. A top ten place is still within reach but a win on Ventoux would transform Schleck's Tour de France. A winner of the race in 2010 after Alberto Contador's disqualification, Schleck has struggled to find his best form since an injury plagued 2012. However he has slowly started to improve in recent weeks and has climbed solidly, rather than spectacularly in this race.

    "I feel good, I'm good but ask me tomorrow night how I feel about the climb," Schleck told Cyclingnews outside the RadioShack bus after stage 14.

    Schleck has climbed the mythical slopes of Ventoux in the Tour before, the last time coming in 2009 when the then Saxo rider finished third alongside Alberto Contador and Lance Armstrong.

    "I've done it before and I think I can do something on the slopes tomorrow. I hope to be at the front and to do a good race. We'll see how it goes."

    Schleck's chances depend on how the race unfolds between the true general classification riders in this year's race. Team Sky will be wary of another ambush in the potential cross-winds, while Saxo-Tinkoff and Belkin may well hope to split the peloton in a bid to anticipate an attack from Chris Froome.

    The stage also takes place on Bastille Day and therefore the entire French quarter of the peloton will be looking to attack and form a break.

    "A lot depends on the strategies from they GC teams, Guercilena said.

    "Will they let a break go clear and establish a big gap during the first part of the stage? I think that they can let Andy go because as...

  • Garate recalls Tour de France victory on Ventoux

    Juan Manuel Garate (Rabo) won the last time the Tour de France finished on Mont Ventoux
    Article published:
    July 14, 2013, 5:06 BST
    Alasdair Fotheringham

    Last Tour stage winner on mythical mountain-top finish analyses climb, Belkin teammates

    Four years have passed since Spain’s Juan Manuel Garate won on the Mont Ventoux in the final phases of the 2009 Tour de France, as Lance Armstrong, Bradley Wiggins, Andy Schleck and Alberto Contador battled it out.

    And now, as the Tour reaches the Ventoux once again for the first time since 2009, the veteran Belkin pro has analysed both the climb, his own performance there and the chances of his two teammates, Bauke Mollema, currently second, and Laurens Ten Dam, currently fifth in the battle for the overall.

    “Personally that win was the most important moment of my sporting career,” Garate, now 37 and who has taken stage wins in all three major Tours, tells Basque daily El Diario Vasco from Germany, where he is taking part in a Belkin training camp for their Vuelta participants.

    “Winning on the Ventoux was something unique. We got there after a very poor Tour for the team,” - then Rabobank - “and winning there helped turn things around in a big way.”

    Indeed, as Cyclingnews wrote at the time, "Juan Manuel Garate saved Rabobank’s blushes at this year’s Tour with a stage winning performance on the summit of Mont Ventoux...becoming the first Spaniard to win on the mountain in the Tour’s history.”

    Pointing out that Rabobank had had one of their worst Tours since 1996, Cyclingnews then mentioned that Denis Menchov, recent Giro champion, had sustained multiple crashes and was in 51st place, whilst Robert Gesink had crashed out with a broken wrist and Oscar Freire ‘has been almost invisible in the sprints’. To say that Garate’s win saved the team’s Tour, then, is no...