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First Edition Cycling News, Sunday, July 25, 2010

Date published:
July 25, 2010, 1:00 BST
  • Freire to undergo nose surgery next week

    Oscar Freire (Rabobank) waves to the crowd
    Article published:
    July 24, 2010, 16:21 BST
    Cycling News

    Rabobank sprinter to have polyps removed

    Oscar Freire will undergo surgery next week to have polyps removed from his nose and sinuses. Rabobank announced Saturday afternoon that the Spanish sprinter would have the operation on the coming Tuesday.

    Freire, currently riding the Tour de France, has had problems with his nose all season. The last few rainy days at the Tour have aggravated the situation, according to team doctor Dion van Bommel.

    “Now is the time to intervene. A useful intervention, especially in view of the Vuelta and the forthcoming World championships, where Oscar is always a contender,” said Van Bommel.

    Freire will only spend one night in the hospital. “The condition is not serious, but especially for a cyclist, it can be inconvenient.” according to the doctor.

  • Sánchez had off-day says Euskaltel boss

    Samuel Sanchez lost his place on the podium
    Article published:
    July 24, 2010, 20:36 BST
    Peter Cossins

    Galdeano offer his congratulations to Menchov on taking third place

    Holding an advantage of just 21 seconds over Denis Menchov going into the Pauillac time trial, it was always going to be difficult for Olympic road race champion Samuel Sánchez to hang on to third place on GC. But Sánchez's Euskaltel-Euskadi team manager Igor González de Galdeano admitted that the team had not been expecting their leader to lose two minutes to the Russian.

    "It was sad, because we thought that he could finish third but it's been snatched away from us," said Galdeano. "But we have to be satisfied with the performance of the team, because this has been the best result that Euskaltel-Euskadi have taken in their history. There's no doubt that Menchov was very strong. You could see that because he gained two minutes and we have to congratulate him because the race is not only won in the mountains, it's won in the time trials as well."

    Galdeano added: "We were a bit surprised by how the time trial went. We knew we were up against a great Menchov but today we thought that we were going to see a great Sánchez. We've seen a great Samuel up to today but for some reason today he wasn't at that level. It's a shame but once again we can only congratulate Menchov."

  • Contador elated but admits he struggled

    Alberto Contador (Astana) fires one off from the podium
    Article published:
    July 24, 2010, 21:11 BST
    Peter Cossins

    "I suffered more today than at any other time this year"

    As he heads towards Paris and his third Tour de France victory, Alberto Contador confessed that there had been moments during the Bordeaux-Pauillac time trial when he had thought the yellow jersey was slipping from his grasp. "I was scared that I might not beat Andy [Schleck] in the time trial. At one point I got information that I was five seconds behind him and I did think, 'Oh my God, this could be over for me,' when he was just a couple of seconds behind me. I had to go through a lot of suffering. But I kept very focused and held it together."

    Asked how he had felt as he crossed the finish line and realised that he had gained some key seconds on Schleck, Contador said, "The truth is there's a lot of emotion. I think it's the first Tour to give me this much emotion. You can't imagine how much I've given. Yes, there were few days when I wasn't in my best form, and that might be why I'm so emotional."

    "The last year has been difficult for all kinds of reasons," the Spaniard said. "This year I've not been at my best all the time and that was the case today. But of course in the end I'm very happy with how the year has now turned out. All the victories this year have been the result of a lot of hard work. It's been said that I've not competed in a lot of races but I've spent a lot of time away from home preparing for this objective."

    Asked why he had struggled, Contador said: "You never really know why things don't work out as you hope after the preparations you've done. There are so many aspects to the sport that you have to take into consideration. Cycling is not like math. You can't plan things exactly.

    "But this year I've not been in my best shape. Today I didn't feel too well. I didn't sleep well and woke up with stomach ache, but ultimately the day turned out pretty well for me, although I suffered more today than at any other time this year."

    He would not be drawn on how far he was below his best or what his worst...

  • Procycling's daily Tour de France dispatch - stage 19

    Bjarne Riis looking grim.
    Article published:
    July 24, 2010, 21:45 BST

    Riis, Guimard, Baroque, doping

    Quote of the day

    “Did Bjarne Riis make good tactical decisions for Andy Schleck at this Tour? I don’t know…I thought it was Cancellara who decided Schleck’s tactics.”

    A mischievous Cyrille Guimard, winner of seven Tours as a directeur sportif, clearly alluding to Cancellara’s controversial role in “Wait-gate, Vol.1” on stage 2 to Spa.

    Time definitely up for bonuses?

    With the battle for the yellow jersey so tight at this year’s Tour de France, we’re not the only ones to have wondered whether the reintroduction of time bonuses might have made for an even more exciting spectacle. Those who share that view, though, shouldn’t hold their breath. ASO Competitions Director Jean François Pescheux told Procycling tonight that his organization wants to see “the rider with the lowest time on general classification win the Tour.” Pescheux added that, although the subject hasn’t yet been broached, it’s unlikely that time bonuses will return to the Tour in 2011 after a three-year absence.

    Bed & Dope-fest?

    The lack of any doping scandals at this year’s Tour has led some to speculate that cycling is winning the war on drugs.The experience of one Dutch journalist earlier this week, though, suggests that conclusion may be a tad hasty. On checking out of his rest-day digs on Friday, the reporter in question got chatting to the owner about a group of American amateur cyclists who had used his bed & breakfast as their base when in Monein, near Pau, to ride the Etape du Tour the previous week. Suffice it to say these weekend warriors were more “amateurish” in some regards than others: among the debris they left behind was, allegedly, a handsome collection of used syringes.

    Baroque in Bordeaux

    Following the calamity that...

  • Menchov finally on the podium in Paris

    Denis Menchov (Rabobank) secured third place
    Article published:
    July 24, 2010, 23:36 BST
    Brecht Decaluwé

    Gesink keeps sixth

    After finishing two minutes ahead of Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel) in the all-deciding time trial from Bordeaux to Pauillac, Denis Menchov (Rabobank) will be the one joining overall winner Alberto Contador (Astana) and Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank) on the podium on the Champs Elysées in Paris on Sunday.

    After finishing the time trial Menchov took his time to freshen up, joining teammate Robert Gesink at the team car. Once that was done the Russian talked with the attending media.

    "It was a hard time trial. It's always hard but today's wind made it really difficult. I had to fight hard. Looking back it was one of the best time trials of my life," Menchov said.

    Before the time trial Sanchez had a twenty-one second lead on Menchov but at the first intermediate point after eighteen kilometres the Russian had already moved past the Spaniard, taking a twenty-seven seconds bonus. "When I saw the course this morning I knew it would be good for me. I felt good right from the beginning and knew I had to start strong in order to make up time [on Sanchez].

    "At the first checkpoint it was already good. The gap was already forty-seven seconds [48]. I knew that I was going well so I knew it was possible," Menchov said.

    At the second intermediate time-check the Russian had extended his lead over Sanchez to one minute and twenty-one seconds. Eventually he finished exactly two minutes ahead of Sanchez, resulting in a1:39 lead in the general classification.

    "It was a very good performance and I'm very happy with it," Menchov said.

    The 32-year-old Russian is one of the few riders who finished on the podium in every Grand Tour. While racing for the Rabobank team Menchov has captured the overall victories in both the Tour of Spain (2005 and 2007) and the Tour of Italy (2009).

    Back in 2008 he finished fourth in the Tour de France but due to the disqualification of Bernhard Kohl the 32-year-old moved up to third place. This...

  • Manx missile fires again on Champs Élysées

    Mark Cavendish (HTC - Columbia) lets everyone know this is his fifth stage victory of the Tour.
    Article published:
    July 25, 2010, 19:06 BST
    Brecht Decaluwé

    Cavendish takes fifth stage win and aims for Melbourne

    For the second year in a row, the sprint festival on the Champs Élysées has been won by Mark Cavendish, the Manxman outsprinting Alessandro Petacchi by five bike lengths on the most famous piece of pavement in the world.

    "Every sprint in the Tour you've got to try and save as much energy as possible. On the Champs Élysées you can't save energy. You just go balls out to the line and that's what I did today," Cavendish said. "Once I was on Petacchi's wheel I knew I could win the stage. We came at the last corner and I just jumped. This is the most beautiful finish in the world. It's been a road full of emotions but if you win here you forget about all the disappointments," Cavendish said.

    The 25-year-old from the Isle of Man is the indisputable - though still uncrowned - king of the sprints in the Tour de France. Despite his fifth stage win Cavendish missed out on the overall victory in the sprint competition. His 232 points were not enough to keep Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre) from holding on to an eleven-point margin in the points classification.

    Still, in only three years Cavendish has cannonballed himself into the history books. Sunday's win in Paris puts him level with the fifteen victories of Freddy Maertens, the legendary Belgian sprinter who also achieved this impressive tally in only three years. The major contrast with the sprinters of the past is that Cavendish fails to convert his domination in the sprint into an overall win in the points classification. Cavendish's mentor Erik Zabel, for example, won 'only' twelve stages but the German carried the green jersey to Paris on six occasions.

    The combination of a bad first week and his decision not to battle for the points at the intermediate sprints brought him defeat in this year's battle for the points, Cavendish explained. "I'm disappointed not to win the green jersey. It was my target for this year but I've had some bad luck during the first...

  • Petacchi emotional about green jersey success

    Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre - Farnese Vini) wins the green jersey for the first time in his career.
    Article published:
    July 25, 2010, 20:09 BST
    Stephen Farrand

    Italian wins points competition ahead of Cavendish and Hushovd

    Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre-Farnese Vini) finished second behind Mark Cavendish (HTC-Columbia) but had plenty to celebrate as he looked up to the Arc du Triomphe after crossing the finish line on the Champs-Élysées. With Thor Hushovd (Cervélo TestTeam) only finishing seventh, Petacchi was confirmed as the winner of the points competition.

    Petacchi was clearly emotional as he climbed on the podium to pull on the special green jersey. He won two stages in the first week of the Tour but has fought off illness, rivalry from Thor Hushovd and Cavendish, and the accusation of doping in Italy to win the special jersey.

    The 36-year-old Italian scored a total of 243 points, beating Cavendish by 11 points and Hushovd by 21 points.

    "This jersey is very special for me because I came to the Tour just hoping to win a stage and never even thought I had a chance to win the points competition," he said.

    "I won two stages and the jersey came along stage after stage. I've got to thank my teammates if I managed to win it, because they played a huge part by helping me so much in the sprints.

    "Since breaking my kneecap in 2006, I've faced a string of major problems. It was a similar story in this Tour but thanks to the help of my family and all the people who have always been close to me, I got through it. It's a pity my son Alessandro isn't here because I wanted to take him onto the podium with me but I took a special good luck charm with me: his first pair of shoes."

    Petacchi is the first Italian to win the green jersey at the Tour de France since Franco Bitossi in 1968.

    "I've known Franco for a long time and I'm honoured to inherit his title of last Italian to win the green jersey," he said.

    "He was great champion. I'm just a rider who has always given his all during his career and I think this green jersey is another important victory of my career."

  • Seventh overall repays Hesjedal for three weeks of suffering

    Ryder Hesjedal poses for a photograph.
    Article published:
    July 25, 2010, 20:58 BST
    Stephen Farrand

    Canadian steps up to fill leader's role at Garmin-Transitions

    Ryder Hesjedal got a special hug from his girlfriend and lots of congratulations from his teammates outside the Garmin-Transitions team bus parked in the Place de la Concorde, just a few hundred metres from the finish line of the Tour de France.

    The friendly but extremely tough Canadian from Victoria in British Columbia secured seventh place overall, 10:15 behind Alberto Contador (Astana) but most of all landed a huge personal victory.

    Garmin-Transitions lost team leader Christian Vande Velde on stage two when he fractured his ribs in a crash but Hesjedal dug deep on every stage and stepped up to take over the leadership role.

    "It's real sweet to finish the Tour de France on the Champs-Élysées, knowing you're seventh overall," he told Cyclingnews.

    "It's been an unbelievable Tour. Now I'm going to enjoy it as much as possible. I was pretty tired after the time trial, physically and mentally, so I didn't really celebrate. We're going to celebrate tonight though.

    "This is only my third Tour. The first one is obviously overwhelming and you can never duplicate that. The second was just a relief of getting back and both times we had great rides as a team and had riders in the top five. This time for me to come back and ride as I did and finish in this position, it's really a dream come true."

    Hesjedal seems to have the desire to succeed in such a tough and testing event like the Tour de France. He has the attitude and the aptitude to do his very best in the hardest moments of the hardest races.

    "I'm so proud of the way I rode. I wasn't scared and had nothing to lose. I just really pushed the limits and see how far I could lose. It worked out really well.

    "I think stage three set the tone for my race but today is right up there too. A lot of people said stage 12 was the hardest stage of the Tour based on what was going on up front. I was proud to be up there that day. Then I think my...