The crashes that littered this year's Tour de France are one of Sean Kelly's overriding memories of this year's race; however, the former rider believes that Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) is a well-deserving winner after the Italian dominated the race.
Nibali saw his two main pre-race rivals crash out with Chris Froome (Team Sky) throwing in the towel on stage 5 and Alberto Contador (Tinkoff Saxo) following suit just days later.
"Nibali was exceptional but unfortunately we lost Froome and Contador. It would have been a great battle but the question is whether Nibali would have caused them problems. It looks like he could but it's difficult to compare if they're not there. There's always that what if," Kelly told Cyclingnews at the finish of stage 20.
"People will say Contador wasn't there and Froome wasn't there but as a rider if you win the Tour de France, you don't care."
Kelly won four green jerseys in the Tour de France spanning a time frame between 1982 and 1989. At the time he faced questions over his accomplishments whenever his main sprint rivals were absent.
"Some of the green jerseys I won you could possibly say that there wasn't that many great sprinters in the race, but for me I won four green jerseys and that's it. You beat who is in front of you and that's it because it's in your palmares."
"If you look at Nibali, I think he's a rider who was getting places in the Tour, the Vuelta and the Giro and he's won all three. He's a rider who has made progress over many years and you can't take away from that."
While Nibali wrapped up the overall with relative comfort the battle for the final podium places went down to the wire with Peraud and Thibaut Pinot rounding out the top three in the time trial on stage 20. For...
Wiggle-Honda not necessarily expecting a sprint finish
La Course by Le Tour is "pretty much a dream come true" for Rochelle Gilmore, manager of the Wiggle-Honda team. The race will give the women's peloton a huge moment of glory and visibility on the Champs Elysees, only hours before the men's Tour de France finale in the French capital.
"To have a race on the Champs Elysees, you don't get a sporting event that has more people on the side of the street and cheering people on, so I think it’s a really big achievement for women in cycling,” Gilmore said in this video interview."
Her team is ready for a mass sprint with former world champion Georgia Bronzini "one of the strongest sprinters in the world."
However, the current world champion may put an end to those plans. Gilmore said she doesn't really expect a sprint finish, "because Marianne Vos has said she wants to win his event, and who can blame her?"
Click here to subscribe to the Cyclingnews video channel.
The ride transfer market officially opens at the beginning of August, with riders and teams able to register new deals with the UCI. While a number of high profile deals have already been agreed before or during the Tour de France, Patrick Lefevere has told Cyclingnews that he will hold off making any new signings.
At the time of the interview Lefevere was standing outside the Omega Pharma-QuickStep team bus at the Tour de France. Without having every name at the top of his head he walked towards the side of the bus, where the team list their riders and nationalities.
“Bakelants, Steegmans, Fenn, Pauwels, Petacchi, and Verona,” he said as he listed off the riders still without deals for 2015.
New deals have been confirmed for Serry, Maes, Vermote and Kiesse but Lefevere has to juggle his current crop of riders and his shopping list of riders with the UCI’s plans to reduce WorldTour teams to 22 riders by the start of 2017.
“The problem is that nobody wants to leave but unfortunately I can’t renew every contract because with the new project of the UCI that means we can have 22 riders by 2017,” Lefevere told Cyclingnews at the Tour de France.
“We don’t have to drop everyone but next year I’ll go to 25 or 27 and at the moment we have 30. Next year I’ll go down to around 25. I don’t know who will leave yet as I’m still negotiating with riders.”
Jan Bakelants, who joined the team from RadioShack last year on a...
Doug Ellis excited about the American team's future
Doug Ellis has told Cyclingnews that Slipstream Sports, the owner of the Garmin-Sharp team, hopes to announce its new sponsorship package in August, with the team set to change title sponsors for 2015.
Ellis would not comment on the speculation that the team would merge with a segment of the current Cannondale team with the American bike brand rumoured to become the team's title sponsor. However it is known that Sharp will cease sponsorship at the end of the year although Garmin will have a financial investment within the team.
"All I can really say is that we have a program for next year and that we're really excited about it," Ellis told Cyclingnews. "There's going to be some change and some change on the sponsorship side but it's all good."
The team will remain at UCI WorldTour level and recently announced that Andrew Talansky has tied his future to the team. However Ellis refused to be drawn on the issue of sponsorship.
"I can't really talk about that because we have so many different moving pieces at this time of the year. I just can’t talk about what our sponsorship set up will be for next year. We hope to have complete information in August."
Cervelo's contract with the team runs out at the end of this year with the Canadian manufacturer linking up with the MTN team for 2015. Cervelo joined up with Garmin via a merger of sorts at the end of 2010 with a handful of the Cervelo TestTeam riders moving over to create the Garmin-Cervelo team. A relationship with Cannondale may well create a similar proposition with several riders from the current Canndondale team expected to be part of the move.
Last month OlegTinkov suggested on Twitter that Garmin may have reached a deal with Cannondale. He wrote: "@Vaughters good deal with...
Vincenzo Nibali will ride into to Paris on a special yellow Specialized bike to celebrate his success at the Tour de France.
Nibali has avoided wearing yellow shorts and other accessories, even wearing the same yellow jersey whenever possible during the race to avoid any bad luck.
However the special bike for the final stage has special yellow graphics, yellow lever hoods and yellow bar tape.
Bad day for Belkin
The time trial certainly didn't go the way that Team Belkin had hoped but they still managed to salvage top ten placing overall for Laurens ten Dam and Bauke Mollema.
Mollema had gone into the stage in seventh overall but made the mistake of using a bike he had not sufficiently trained on. "The bike is great, but I didn't use the TT bike in training too often this year and so I just wasn't really used to the position. After ten kilometres, I started to feel cramps and after that, I couldn't really put enough power on my pedals," he said on the team’s website.
He finished 140th on the stage, losing 9:26. It dropped him to 10th overall. Ten Dam dropped only one position, from eighth to ninth.
"Perhaps I started a little bit too cautious," he said. He still did significantly better than his teammate, coming in 55th at 6:03.
NetApp's very good day
It was a great time trial for NetApp-Endura. The German Professional Continental team once more proved that its wildcard invitation to the Tour de France was justified as it placed two riders in the day’s top five, was the best team on the day, and moved Leo König up to seventh place overall.
Tim Kerrison, the leading coach behind Team Sky’s two Tour de France wins, has told Cyclingnews that the team’s evaluation of their 2014 performance has already begun and that the team are fully focused on winning back the yellow jersey in 2015.
Team Sky’s Tour de France fell apart on stage 4 of the race when defending champion and pre-race favourite, Chris Froome, crashed. He fell twice more during the following stage and abandoned the race as a result. Although the squad rallied around Richie Porte the Australian’s inconsistent form and an illness in the second week saw their second leadership overall bid fail.
The team were forced to hunt for stage wins thereafter but came up short and they leave the race with their poorest performance to date since forming in 2010.
“The key moment for us was when we lost Chris. Initially, Richie stepped into his shoes and did a good job for the first half of the race. Then he got a bit sick and I think everyone could see that there was a huge change in his performance from the first half to the second half of the race. It proved to be quite difficult for the whole team once something we’d been working for all year wasn’t there anymore,” Kerrison told Cyclingnews.
At the finish of stage 20 Porte told Cyclingnews that Team Sky’s performance at the Tour hadn’t been on the cards despite a less than ideal preparation. The team have been plagued with bad luck and issues all season. Question marks over their exclusion of...
Vincent Lavenu has been managing teams at the Tour de France since 1993, but never has he known a year like this one. In twenty previous attempts under the respective banners of Chazal, Casino and Ag2r-La Mondiale, the team's best finish in Paris was Cyril Dessel's sixth place overall in 2006.
This time around, Lavenu's men have matched that achievement with Romain Bardet and bettered it with Jean-Christophe Péraud, who at 37-years-of-age, finished a remarkable second overall at the Tour. For good measure, the squad has claimed the team classification for the first time in its history.
"At 37-years'-of-age, we have to ask how much more he can progress, but it's still only his fifth year as a professional on the road," Lavenu said of Péraud. "He's gained serenity and confidence. Now he positions himself better in the peloton, he doesn't make useless efforts.
"He has above-normal physical qualities, truly exceptional. If he had started racing on the road sooner, who knows where he'd have ended up but he's really exceptional as it is."
Péraud’'s origin story is like few others in the professional peloton. A silver medallist as a mountain biker at the Beijing Olympics in 2008, he alerted the world to his potential on the road the following year, when he upset Sylvain Chavanel to claim the French national time trial championships. Surprisingly, no French team was moved to take a punt on Péraud, and so the then 33-year-old went to Belgium in 2010 to make his belated professional debut on the road with Omega Pharma-Lotto.
"He always raced on the road on the amateur level and was even French champion. Then one year, he was French time trial...
As usual, the Frenchman was relaxed and jovial. This year, Prudhomme's race has rekindled the French public's interest, with their own thrust back into the spotlight: Jean-Christophe Péraud (Ag2r-La Mondiale) secured second place overall after the time trial, Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) sewed up third, and Péraud's Ag2r teammate, Romain Bardet, after an exceptional second Tour for a 23-year-old, was sixth.
Even if a Frenchman winning the Tour for the first time since Bernard Hinault in 1985 still seems like a little way off – 2014 Tour champion Vincenzo Nibali's advantage over Péraud was 7:52, and 8:24 over Pinot – there was nevertheless much to celebrate, and not just the French riders' performances.
“It's been an emotional Tour de France,” said Prudhomme. “Not just today [after the time trial], but during the whole race. There have been a lot of great surprises along the way – good and bad. Almost every day, something happened that no one expected – the abandons of Chris Froome and Alberto Contador, for example – and it became a race in which riders didn't seem afraid to go on the attack. There was no single, overly powerful team that 'blocked' the race, which made for a very interesting Tour.”
Prudhomme hasn't forgotten the Grand Départ in Britain, three long weeks ago, either, and clearly won't any time soon.
“We've never had as many people come out to watch a stage as there were at the ones in Yorkshire, and on the third stage between Cambridge and London. I...