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First Edition Cycling News, Sunday, July 22, 2012

Date published:
July 22, 2012, 1:00 BST
  • Brailsford: Wiggins showed that he was the strongest

    Never in doubt: Wiggins seals his Tour win with a win in the final time trial
    Article published:
    July 21, 2012, 21:30 BST
    Barry Ryan

    Sky manager hails Tour de France win

    After mounting speculation as to who was the strongest rider in the Sky team, Bradley Wiggins provided his answer by defeating Chris Froome by 1:16 in the penultimate day time trial of the Tour de France from Bonneval to Chartres.

    Froome had consistently appeared more at ease than Wiggins in the high mountains of the Tour, and had been forced to slow and wait for the yellow jersey on the summit finishes at La Toussuire and Peyragudes.

    As the last major rendezvous of the race got underway on Saturday with the final overall standings already effectively decided, the only question that remained was whether Froome would take some of the lustre of his master's Tour win by bettering him in his fiefdom of the time trial.

    While Wiggins would insist after the stage that he and Froome were always in harmony, he will doubtless have been pleased to have reaffirmed his leadership of both the Tour and the Sky team by winning the final 53.5km test.

    "It was a nice way for Bradley to demonstrate that he's the strongest rider in the race," Sky team principal Dave Brailsford said as he stood by the finish line in Chartres. "A lot of questions had been asked about whether he was the strongest rider in this race and I think that when you can ride 52k in the time that he's just done, it puts everything to bed as far as I'm concerned. It was a majestic performance to cap off a majestic race by a majestic rider."

    Wiggins was already 12 seconds up on Froome after 14 kilometres of racing, and he would go on to outpace his teammate at a rate of over...

  • Pinot defends top 10 position in Tour's final time trial

    Stage 8 hero Thibaut Pinot (FDJ-Big Mat)
    Article published:
    July 21, 2012, 22:32 BST
    Hedwig Kröner

    Tour's youngest rider caps off impressive Grand Tour debut

    Thibaut Pinot (FDJ-BigMat), whom many see as this Tour de France's biggest revelation, has been able to save his top ten overall placing during Saturday's time trial in Chartres. Under pressure by AG2R's Nicolas Roche (11th overall at the start, trailing Pinot by 1:08) and especially RadioShack's Andreas Klöden (12th), the 22-year-old Frenchman did well enough not to lose his tenth place on the overall classification.

    Pinot, the Tour's youngest rider and winner of stage eight, limited his losses on Klöden, and finished more than one minute in front of Roche, who may have been paying for his breakaway efforts on Friday's stage to Brive-la-Gaillarde. The top ten result was what Pinot had been aiming for going into the time trial, but it exceeded his pre-Tour expectations by far.

    "This is a great satisfaction, it's just awesome," Pinot said at the finish. "We're going to Paris with two stage wins and this tenth placing, it's also super for the whole team."

    With his teammate Pierrick Fédrigo having scored victory in stage 15, FDJ's outcome at this Tour is indeed more than satisfactory.

    "I remained concentrated on my objective to stay in the top ten, and I was able to save my placing," Pinot continued. "It makes me quite proud of myself, as well as of my team - because without a team, you're nothing in cycling. They've protected me for three weeks and without them, this wouldn't have been possible."

    Having been so successful, the future Grand Tour...

  • Horner gives everything as RadioShack clinches Tour team title

    Chris Horner (RadioShack-Nissan) at the finish of stage 1 in Seraing, Belgium.
    Article published:
    July 22, 2012, 0:02 BST
    Mark Robinson

    Silver lining after months of storm clouds for Luxembourg outfit

    RadioShack-Nissan will take an unassailable lead in the team classification of over six minutes into tomorrow's final stage at the 2012 Tour de France after they consolidated their position at the top of the standings in Saturday's 53.5km time trial from Bonneval to Chartres. With Sunday's final stage set to end in the traditional bunch sprint, there is no realistic chance of the second-placed outfit in the standings, Team Sky, catching them.

    Top-20 performances in the stage from Andreas Klöden (19th) and Jens Voigt (20th) meant that the absence of star time trialist Fabian Cancellara wasn't felt as keenly as it might have been. Cancellara, who won the prologue here and held the yellow jersey for seven days, returned home midway through the Tour to be present at the birth of his second child.

    Veteran American rider Chris Horner was high on emotion and adrenaline after crossing the finish line here in Chartres and revealed that the team had vowed to put last week's shocking withdrawal of team leader Fränk Schleck behind them and protect their position at the top of the standings through to tomorrow's concluding stage on the Champs-Élysées in Paris.

    Horner, who was a late inclusion in the RadioShack team for this Tour, has belied his 40 years by competing strongly and consistently over the last three weeks. He lies in 13th place in the overall GC with just one day of racing to go and he put everything he had on the line today in the time trial.

  • Froome ‘chuffed to bits’ to maintain British 1-2 after final Tour time trial

    Chris Froome leads teammate Bradley Wiggins at the end of stage 17.
    Article published:
    July 22, 2012, 1:30 BST
    Sam Dansie

    Sky rider proud of team achievement

    Chris Froome (Sky) conceded almost a minute to his team leader Bradley Wiggins in the final Tour de France time trial, but his performance was still enough to take second on stage 19 and consolidate his runner-up spot on the general classification. Barring a bad crash, Froome is likely to finish the race just under three minutes clear of third placed Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale) tomorrow on the Champs-Élysées.

    In the crush of fans and media that greeted the 27-year-old at the finish in Chartres, Froom said: "Today was a big test and again still on a day like today anything could have gone wrong for myself or Bradley, so to be in the same standings as we were this morning - that was the objective and I’m chuffed to bits with that."

    Froome, who’s only other Tour appearance was in 2008 when he finished 81st, said the magnitude of his achievement was yet to hit home.

    "I don’t think it’s really sunk in yet but I’m sure it will in the next week or so. Still, obviously we’ve got to get into Paris tomorrow. I’m just looking forward to finishing it off now. The response we’re getting from everyone and the support we’re getting from the public and the fans is just unbelievable."

    When asked if he could have imagined British pre-eminence at the Tour in his lifetime, the Kenyan-born British citizen said: "Maybe within 10 years of starting it [a British team] but not in the third year of Sky being a ProTour [ProTeam] team - that’s quite an achievement," he said.

  • Video: Outgoing Tour de France champion Evans fights to the end

    Cadel Evans (BMC)
    Article published:
    July 22, 2012, 2:35 BST
    Mark Robinson

    Stricken Australian says BMC's work for next year "starts on Monday"

    The punishing final few hundred kilometres of the 2012 Tour de France have been painful to watch for followers of the 2011 champion Cadel Evans. The BMC rider has been struggling with illness over the closing days and has slipped down to seventh in the general classification ahead of tomorrow's final leg to Paris. On the eve of a stage that a year ago acted as a glorious coronation for the Australian, a gap of over fifteen minutes to race leader Bradley Wiggins would have seemed unthinkable a month ago.

    Since illness struck ahead of stage 16's brutal Pyrenean mountain stage from Pau to Bagnères-de-Luchon, Evans has had the air of a battered boxer who fights on gamely with only his pride and competitive instincts stopping him from quitting on his stool. At times many who have watched him over the last few days have called for his cornermen to mercifully throw in the towel. There are no hiding places at the Tour.

    To his eternal credit Evans hasn't looked for one. He has fought on to the end and it isn't just his team that have looked on in awe. His loyal band of Australian supporters, who have followed him to the other side of the world, were present at the BMC bus to greet him and offer their unconditional support as he returned from today's stage 19 time trial looking utterly spent.

    Evans, who has consistently proved over the last decade that time trialling is one of his strengths, had suffered the ignominy of being passed by his young American teammate Tejay van Garderen with well over 20km to go. When Bradley Wiggins, Evans' anointed maillot jaune successor and the last man out today, crossed the line and...

  • Sørensen awarded super combative title at Tour de France

    Chris Anker Sorensen (Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank) turned himself inside out to ultimately finish second on stage 16.
    Article published:
    July 22, 2012, 3:35 BST
    Cycling News

    Dane toughs it out to maintain position on general classification

    Chris Anker Sørensen’s (Saxo Bank-Tinkoff) ability to finish the Tour de France was thrown into uncertainty during the 17th stage when a momentary lapse in concentration led him to attempt to remove a newspaper that was caught in his front wheel. This poor decision after 18 days of racing didn’t end well. The Dane got himself caught-up in the process and suffered deep cuts to his hand. He visited the doctor, was bandaged as best as possible and finished the stage – protecting his 14th-place on the general classification.

    The prospect of him starting the following day’s stage was uncertain but stage 18 began with Sørensen in the bunch. He rode out the stage and then cemented his top-20 GC spot in the final time trial, holding off the next place rider Denis Menchov (Katusha) in the process.

    "It was a tough time trial today that seemed endless out there on the long flat stretches with severe headwind but I managed to get through with a good feeling and without as much pain in my hand as I feared and now, it seems like I can maintain 14th overall," said Sørensen.

    It was this kind of resolve that Sørensen’s "super combative" award was finally decided by the race directors. He was up against his own teammate Michael Morkov, polka-dot wearer Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) and Rabobank’s Luis León Sánchez. All of these riders have shown their faces multiple times at the head of a stage but Sørensen’s unfortunate accident and his ability to continue was perhaps a blessing in disguise.

  • Video: Tour de France Stage 19 Highlights

    Never in doubt: Wiggins seals his Tour win with a win in the final time trial
    Article published:
    July 22, 2012, 4:32 BST
    Cycling News

    Bradley Wiggins in a class of his own in final time trial

    Bradley Wiggins (Sky) punched the air as he crossed the finish line into Chartres after another dominating display in the time trial. It was his second TT victory of the Tour de France and while he didn't need to win the stage, he appeared to be on a mission to silence the critics who believed he was possibly not the strongest rider in the race. Wiggins will become the first British rider to win the Tour when the peloton rolls into Paris for stage 20.

    Wiggins had the fastest splits through each of the time checks, which had only minutes before been decimated by his determined teammate Chris Froome. Froome was clearly having another great day in the time trial and would go on to finish in the position he’s become accustomed to during this Tour – second place. Wiggins and Froome were again a level above the remainder of the field with Luis León Sánchez (Rabobank) the rider to hold the fastest time for much of the day until the Sky duo rolled down the ramp of the 53.5km course. Sánchez finished in third, 1:50 down on Wiggins.

    Sky finished the day with three in the top-ten as Richie Porte put in a great ride for fifth place, 2:25 down on his team leader. It wasn;t enough to topple the RadioShack-Nissan team however, from securing the teams classification ahead of the final stage.

    The wearer of the young-rider classification jersey, Tejay Van Garderen (BMC) showed why he could one day win a grand tour...

  • Sánchez put his form on show in final Tour time trial

    Luis Leon Sanchez (Rabobank)
    Article published:
    July 22, 2012, 5:39 BST
    Cycling News

    Result is a "nice confirmation" ahead of Olympic Games

    Luis León Sánchez probably didn’t expect much from his Tour de France after he was involved in a heavy fall during the first road stage of the race. He was seen patrolling the rear of the peloton with Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-Quickstep) as both riders struggled through day after day, nursing their injuries. Sánchez didn’t have any fractures and if anything, this may have allowed his legs to ride into the Tour without too much pressure on a result. As his wrists healed, he began searching for a victory - which he finally captured at the end of stage 14 from Limoux to Foix.

    He tried his luck again in finale of stage 18 however, Mark Cavendish (Sky) ensured that the Spaniard would not collect his second Tour victory. If it wasn’t for Cavendish’s amazing turn of speed, Sánchez would have likely walked away from the 2012 edition with two stage wins.

    "I did not expect it to go so well. Apparently I had recovered quite well from the difficult stages yesterday and the day before yesterday. Of course I’m really sorry that I just didn’t make it, but Cavendish was no match for anyone today," Sánchez said following stage 18.

    His run of strong showings was completed in the final time trial when he held the quickest time for most of the day. Rider after rider fell short of his time until Sky’s Chris Froome and