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First Edition Cycling News, Sunday, July 18, 2010

Date published:
July 18, 2010, 1:00 BST
  • Procycling's daily Tour de France dispatch - stage 13

    Juan Antonio Flecha leads the breakaway on stage 13.
    Article published:
    July 17, 2010, 18:57 BST
    By:
    Cycling News

    Flecha, Armstrong, Contador, Equal rights, Fines

    Did I really say that?

    12.22pm: Waiting for the start of stage 13 in Rodez, Sky Team Principal Dave Brailsford tells Procycling, “We’re not putting anyone in a break today. What’s the point? It’d just be a waste of energy. Cav and HTC are well up for it, so it’ll all come back for a sprint.”

    12.52pm: In the village of Flavin, 5km into today’s route, three men break away from the peloton, including Team Sky’s Juan Antonio Flecha.

    5.03pm: The break is caught.

    5.43pm: Brailsford apologizes and says we’d better ask Flecha why he attacked.*

    (*In fairness, Brailsford was smiling at the time, and said Flecha had probably ridden clear almost by accident, simply by virtue of following Pierrick Fedrigo and Sylvain Chavanel’s wheels. For a more comprehensive explanation/alibi from the Sky grand fromage, tune in to Stage 13’s Procycling podcast.)

    Echoes of Armstrong

    Lance Armstrong has not only vanished from the spotlight and the upper echelons of the general classification, but also from the press-room. Until Armstrong’s calamitous journey through the Alps in this Tour, and after every stage of last year’s Grande Boucle, former Astana press chief turned RadioShack mouthpiece Philippe Maertens made nightly visits to the media centre bearing recordings of Big Tex’s post-race interviews.

    Maertens’s cameos had become an event in themselves, heralded by the jovial cry of “LANCE ARMSTRONG!” in tones which suggested a past life as a bingo caller or town crier, and invariably provoking a stampede of journos to wherever Maertens’s laptop was positioned.

    As of about five or six days ago, though, the ritual is no more, and we’re left mourning the demise of a brief but somehow cherished Tour tradition.

    A novel take on Contador versus...

  • Cavendish takes pride from second place in Revel

    Mark Cavendish (HTC-Columbia)
    Article published:
    July 17, 2010, 19:38 BST
    By:
    Stephen Farrand

    HTC-Columbia ready for possible green jersey showdown in Paris

    Mark Cavendish (HTC-Columbia) was disappointed not to win in Revel after he and his HTC-Columbia team rode strongly on the late climb. But he was able to take pride from again proving that he is the fastest finisher in the Tour de France whenever sprinters face off at the line.

    HTC-Columbia team manager Rolf Aldag claimed Cavendish handled the last climb as well as he handled the Poggio when he won Milan-San Remo in 2009.

    In Revel he beat Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre-Farnese Vini) and Edvald Boasson Hagen (Tam Sky), but finished 13 seconds behind stage winner Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana).

    "It was disappointing not to win the stage after going that hard over the climb, but it was an incredible ride by Vino, so he deserves it," Cavendish admitted.

    "The team worked incredible today, we took it on from the go. It was a hard stage and we got the group back, but Vino was riding strong. When he went it was incredible."

    Cavendish moved up to third in the points competition thanks to scoring 30 points for second place in Revel. Petacchi took back the green jersey and now has 187 points, two more than Hushovd. Cavendish is 25 points behind Petacchi with a total of 162 points.

    He rued the points he lost early in the Tour and admitted he will not fight for intermediate points during the mountain stages.

     If he is able to close the gap on Petacchi and Hushovd in the points competition, he will do in sprints in Bordeaux and Paris.

    "In the last week it’s going to be the same three guys sprinting and so it's not worth using the team to go for the intermediate sprints," he explained.

    "I'm not the same kind of rider as Thor (Hushovd), who is able to get the points in the mountains. I've got to rely on the sprints."

    Aldag believes green is still possible

    Aldag is convinced that Cavendish still has a chance of snatching the green jersey, perhaps even in the final...

  • Spanish contenders ready for Ax-3 Domaines

    Alberto Contador (Astana)
    Article published:
    July 17, 2010, 21:18 BST
    By:
    Peter Cossins

    Contador and Euskaltel boss Igor González de Galdeano look ahead to Pyrenees

    Stage 14's stage from Revel to Ax 3 Domaines marks the start of the final battle that will decide the winner of the 2010 Tour de France and the two riders who will flank him on the final podium in Paris. Speaking before the start of stage 13 both Astana leader Alberto Contador and Euskaltel team manager Igor González de Galdeano refused to be drawn on their tactical approach to these key stages, but did admit that the first of them is likely to see big time gaps opening up between the overall contenders.

    Contador confessed he was happy with his position 31 seconds down on race leader Andy Schleck, particularly after striking what he described as "a pretty good psychological blow" by cutting 10 seconds from the Luxembourger's lead on stage 12's finish at Mende. Looking ahead to four hard days in the Pyrenees, he admitted his biggest fear was "having a bad day" and said he would take the Pyrenees cautiously – at least to start with.

    "In the Pyrenees, because of the difficulty of the climbs, the key thing will be not to fail rather than thinking about gaining time," said the Spaniard.

    As a much stronger time triallist than Schleck, Contador knows that he is likely to win the Tour even if his deficit on the Saxo Bank rider is still 31 seconds when they exit the Pyrenees. "My position is good. If I don't see myself gaining a significant advantage I won't attack, because I don't need to take risks. Of course you always prefer to be ahead and if I think I can manage that I'll go for it, but I have the advantage of the time trial if I need to recover some time."

    After looking well below his best on the opening stage in the Alps, Contador believes his best form is coming. "I hope to have good sensations because every day I'm feeling better. I hope to take advantage of what are very tough stages and if possible gain some time and get ahead of Andy Schleck," he explained.

    Analysing the Pyrenean stages, Contador said:...

  • Evans hopes to make it through the Pyrenees

    Cadel Evans (BMC) had an easy day today
    Article published:
    July 17, 2010, 22:00 BST
    By:
    Stephen Farrand

    World champion rides on despite fractured elbow

    Cadel Evans (BMC) is out of overall contention at the Tour de France but the world champion is battling on in the race and will try to get through the Pyrenees and reach Paris, despite riding with a fractured elbow.

    The tough Aussie rode the stage from Rodez to Revel with his left arm again covered in a crisscross pattern of black taping. It stops him bending his arm and aggravating the part of his elbow that is fractured, but makes it difficult for him to ride out of the saddle.

    He finished safely in the peloton in 29th place in Revel, but knows it will be much tougher to reach Ax 3 Domaines on Sunday.

    "Every year I have a Tour de France of experience and stories. Some of them are great and memorable but some of them aren’t," he told
    Cyclingnews philosophically on Saturday.

    "The important thing is that I'm still in there. That's what counts now. I'm not risking my health and so there's no reason to stop. If you take yellow when you've got a broken arm, in your head you can go on."

    Evans is 18th in the general classification, 8:08 behind Andy Schleck. It is a long way from where he hoped to be, but he knows he may lose more time before the Tour ends in Paris in a week's time.

    "It's going to be hard on the climbs and I'm nowhere near my best even if my legs are good," he said.

    "I had a little bit of a test on the climb to Mende and I was 15th on the stage. It's a long way off where I hoped to be and the climbs in
    the Pyrenees are a lot longer. They will be far greater a test."

    "I'll try and stay up there but when you've only got 60% of your strength in one arm and you're not able to extend your arm, it's a
    problem."

  • Reactions from the Tour's 13th stage

    Thor Hushovd (Cervelo TestTeam)
    Article published:
    July 18, 2010, 4:01 BST
    By:
    Cycling News

    Unlucky for some, brilliant for Vinokourov

    Thor Hushovd (Cervélo TestTeam) - eighth on stage, 128th overall @ 1:38:16: I am just a little bit disappointed and confused that I am not sprinting as well. Two months ago I broke my collarbone and haven't done any sprint training, and I am paying for this now.

    I think it will be difficult [to gain more points in the mountains], because the intermediate sprints come in the flats early in the stage or after the big climbs. I am climbing well, but I think it will be difficult.

    Gerald Ciolek (Team Milram) - 11th on stage, 147th overall @ 1:51:29: We purposely made the race hard on the last climb, in the hopes of dropping some of the sprint competition. I felt quite strong on the climb.

    Looking back, it might have been better to go with the attack. But as a sprinter you always think of the mass finish. The team supported me quite well today. As a sprinter, I am disappointed of course, that I couldn't top off the team's good work with a top placing.

    Carlos Sastre (Cervélo TestTeam) - 69th on stage, 15th overall @ 7:34: When we previewed the Pyrénées before the Tour, we knew it was going to be hard. I am trying to stay calm. I don't know what to expect. I felt good on the climb at Mende and the team is riding well.

    Tomorrow is a true mountain stage, so that will tell us a lot. I am taking it day-by-day. Anything is possible. I have good memories of Ax-3-Domaines from my victory there [in 2003]. This Tour has been hard, with a lot of heat, stress.

    Now we have the Pyrénées, and the climbers will have a chance to do something. It's all about having good legs and good sensations at the right moment.”

    Samuel Sánchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) - 14th on stage, third overall @ 2:45: We passed another day and we're close to the Pyrenees. My teammates did a good job and we saved another day.

    I'm...

  • Schleck sure-footed ahead of Pyrenees

    Andy Schleck awaits the start of stage 10.
    Article published:
    July 18, 2010, 7:53 BST
    By:
    Brecht Decaluwé

    Young leader prepares for scintillating showdown

    On the eve of the first in a series of four brutal mountain stages in the Pyrenees race leader Andy Schleck seemed very relaxed when he talked with the press in Revel after the 13th stage.

    Some would be feeling less comfortable when knowing they'd be fighting for the overall victory in the Tour de France on a stage that features a hors categorie climb and ends on Ax 3 Domaines, a first category ascent.

    "I have to admit that I'm a bit nervous for tomorrow because it is the first stage in the Pyrenees, even though I know that I'm in top form and that I'll be in the front because I made it my goal," said Schleck. "I'm feeling good and confident enough but there's a little bit of nervousness.

    "Tomorrow's the first stage in the Pyrenees, so that might be hard, also because there's the long descent after the big climb [Port de Pailhères] before climbing five or six kilometres. The Tour hits the final week, it's the most important one," he added.

    A bonus for Schleck on Saturday was that his Saxo Bank teammates were able to take a day off, because some of the sprinters' teams took control of the peloton in order to restrict the progress of the breakaway group. "Today it was one of the last chances for the sprinters so it was up to them to control the race. Lampre and Columbia worked which was good for our team," said Schleck.

    It's not a secret that the younger of the Schleck brothers is good friends with his most important rival Alberto Contador. On Saturday they were seen chatting once again, making people wonder about what the pair could be talking.

    "Today I told him that he took the 10 seconds back from Morzine-Avoriaz. We agreed to take it easy today and that tomorrow the battle would start again," explained Schleck. "My plan is to keep the jersey and maybe take some more time on him. He wants the jersey of course so we'll see a good race.

    "On the descent of the Madeleine we worked well together. I...

  • On the start line in Revel

    Revel was the starting point for the series of Pyrenean mountain stages
    Article published:
    July 18, 2010, 14:54 BST
    By:
    Cycling News

    Tension in the air as Pyrénées loom

    The atmosphere at the start of the Tour de France's 14th stage in Revel was a bit less relaxed than on previous days. The riders were staring down the barrel of two gigantic climbs at the end of the stage followed by several very difficult days in the Pyrénées.

    Those who haven't shown their faces so far would be under pressure to get into the early breakaway, while the GC men would be praying their legs would cooperate with the steep gradients.

    More hot weather and sunny skies combined with a stiff breeze would make it another difficult day even without the climbs. The race has reached its crux!

    Enjoy this gallery from the start in Revel.

  • Euskaltel face loss of ProTour status

    Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi)
    Article published:
    July 18, 2010, 15:34 BST
    By:
    Peter Cossins

    A potential budget cut may relegate Basque team to Pro Continental status

    Miguel Madariaga, the president of the Fundación Euskadi that backs the Euskaltel team, has revealed that the team is a facing a significant budget cut that may force it to give up his ProTour status. Speaking to Basque paper El Correo, Madariaga revealed: "The team will continue [in 2011], but we don't have all the budget we need."

    Euskaltel's budget for 2010 is approximately 5 million euros. However, 2011's commitments from Basque telecommunications company Euskaltel and the Fundación Euskadi are one million euros short of that figure. The team have yet to find a new backer to plug that gap.

    "It would not be a trauma for the team to drop down a category," said Madariaga. "I'm not saying that we are going to leave the UCI ProTour. What I am saying is that the team is either going to continue on the right footing at that level or it will do so as a Pro Continental outfit."

    As well as leaving the team needing invites to the major races on the international calendar, a drop in budget and status could also result in some of the team's key riders leaving the Basque squad. Olympic champion Samuel Sánchez and Beñat Intxausti are two of their key riders who are out of contract at the end of this season.

    Sánchez has indicated he wants to stay where he is, but may rethink if the team can't guarantee him access to the sport's biggest events. Intxausti, meanwhile, is described by Madariaga as having "one foot and half the other" out of the team.

    There is some good news for the Basque Country as El Correo has also reported that the Vuelta a España will return to the region in 2011 after an absence of 33 years. According to the paper, the Basque regional government and Vuelta organizers Unipublic have reached an agreement to feature some of Basque cycling's "mythical places" on next year's route.

    The last time the Basque Country featured on the Vuelta's itinerary, back in 1978, the...