A close-up look at the Australian's purpose-built ride
Australian's 2015 Tinkoff-Saxo team bike
Winner of the 2015 Tour Down Under
New and old kicks and lids seen at WorldTour race
Third place finish puts Garmin-Transitions rider in points jersey
After taking third place in the prologue of the Tour de France in Rotterdam on Saturday, David Millar is poised to start the first full stage in another distinctive jersey, coming 10 years after his first stint in the maillot jaune.
This time, Millar will not wear the famous yellow tunic, but the green of the points classification. Winner Fabian Cancellara will have the yellow en route to Brussels of course and runner up Tony Martin will carry the white of best young rider.
Millar did well in the first half of the 8.9km prologue as he scored the third fastest time nine seconds slower than Cancellara. He was twenty seconds down on the powerful Swiss at the end.
"I was feeling good," Millar commented. "I felt strong. When I was on the starting ramp, I thought of what happened ten years ago."
"I haven't taken too many risks," Millar said. "But it is my strongest point to ride fast when it rains. However, I had in my mind that I crashed earlier this year during the time trial of the Tour of Algarve. But today, when I raced, the road wasn't slippery at all. It was a very nice road and a great course."
At the age of 33, Millar remains more motivated by the Tour de France than any other race although he has approached the Grande Boucle with the spirit of a pure domestique this year.
Two months ago he came seventh in the prologue of the Giro d'Italia in Amsterdam. The French event obviously thrilled him just like in his good old days.
"We're lucky at Garmin-Transitions to have two great leaders with Tyler Farrar for the sprints and Christian Vande Velde for GC," Millar said. "When Christian is thin and we see his triceps, it means he'll make the top 10..."
Australian GC contender finishes 14th
Michael Rogers (Team HTC-Columbia) began his Tour de France with a credible performance in the prologue in Rotterdam, on Saturday. The Australian finished 14th, 35 seconds down on winner Fabian Cancellara (Saxo Bank) but told Cyclingnews that he was pleased with his performance.
"It wasn't too bad," Rogers said. "I didn't exactly have dry roads so I lost a bit of time on the corners but I'm happy with the ride. It's the start of a long road and it wasn't a bad start."
Rogers comes into the Tour de France a real contender for the top-ten after possibly the best start to his season of his career. The 30-year-old Australian won his first stage race since 2003 at the Ruta de Sol in February and followed that up with second at Critérium International and the overall at the Amgen Tour of California. Rogers also quit the Tour de Suisse mid-way through the race in order to fine-tune his engine for the Tour.
"Prologues aren't my forte and I think I can be pretty happy with it," he added.
Before the prologue Team HTC-Columbia hedged their bets, with time trial specialist Tony Martin setting off amongst the early riders in a move to avoid the rain. Rogers, on the other hand, was saved for a later send off sandwiched between the majority of the yellow jersey contenders.
"The team set Tony off early because of the weather conditions and it paid off well. Unfortunately I couldn't go a little bit early and we had to put one of our top riders in the last few. A lot of guys had worse conditions that I did," he said.
While Rogers lost out to the likes of Lance Armstrong (RadioShack), Alberto Contador (Astana) and Levi Leipheimer (RadioShack), he did put time into all his other rivals for the yellow jersey. While seconds could count for little once the race reaches Paris, an early blow in the time trial could give the Australian a vital psychological edge. However he played down any such talk as he warmed-down on the...
Fifth Tour de France stage win for Swiss Saxo Bank rider
"The engine, that's me," said Fabian Cancellara at the Tour de France prologue finish in Rotterdam today, when officials proceeded to scan his bike for a hidden motor. The day's winner could not have chosen a better demonstration of power to those who doubted his performances: he completed the 8.9km-course in exactly 10 minutes, averaging 53.4 km/h, topping what seemed an almost unbeatable feat by German Tony Martin (Team HTC-Columbia) who had led the time trial almost from beginning to end.
"This morning, I thought about the time that I could do on an almost 9km-course, and told myself - maybe 10 minutes. I just hope the battery will last those ten minutes..." Cancellara said, still feeling a tad bitter about recent allegations. "My body worked at 100 percent for exactly ten minutes, and I think that was a nice job.
"As a prologue specialist you always give the very best of yourself, so that was my goal. I felt really good this morning and then the whole day. I had a bit of a hard time in the bus when I came to the start, seeing the rain outside the window. I was praying that the yellow, or the sunshine, would come out, and it finally did, bringing me luck. In the end, finishing in exactly ten minutes is what made me even more happy."
The 29-year-old Saxo Bank rider once again showed that he is the fastest over very short time trial distances, so if his bike was taken to a [negative] scan at the finish today, he reckoned the way in which he had won today's and other prologues in the past was proof enough that he did this without electric power.
"I don't really need another demonstration, do I?" he said. "I win all the prologues in this way, so if there's a scanner in the finish or not, it doesn't faze me. I think they'd better spend the money on something else. But that's the way it is. If somebody thinks Cancellara has a motor in his bike, then that's his problem, not mine. In the end, I am calm, and proud, because I win in this...
42-second deficit to Contador same as 2009's opener
Andy Schleck was so furious with himself when he finished the prologue of the Tour de France that it was his elder brother Fränk who talked to the press. "Not now", said Andy as he was asked for comments.
Later on www.team-saxobank.com, he said: "The rain made the course completely different from the one we trained on yesterday but I had to give it everything in order not to lose too much time. I have done all I could to be prepared for the race and it's too late to do anything else than just to do the race and I am very excited about it."
On Twitter, besides his congratulations to his winning teammate Fabian Cancellara, Andy Schleck said, "I had a real shit day!" Schleck's result of 122nd position, 1:09 down on Cancellara, doesn't match his status of number one challenger to Alberto Contador and the two general classification rivals are actually separated by exactly the same gap as one year ago: in the 15.5km long Monaco time trial, Schleck (17th on the day) also finished 42 seconds down on Contador (2nd place).
However, it remains a surprise to see the younger of the Schleck brothers behind. Fränk is ranked higher than him in 79th place as he rode 12 seconds faster. They both spent some time together on the Saxo Bank team bus after they completed their prologue but Fränk was the one to comment about his race.
"I'm not a specialist of the prologues", Fränk said. "I knew I'd lose 10, 15 or 20 seconds to the leaders [it's 35 seconds to Lance Armstrong, ed.]. The change of weather conditions with a dry road for Contador doesn't favour us much. It's not a secret that it's easier to ride on a dry road than on the wet, you see it in a car as much as on a bike. I didn't have any words to say about our starting time and order. Our directors take care of that."
"The gaps will be enormous at the Tourmalet, I know the Tour will be decided in the Pyrénées", Andy told Luxemburg daily newspaper Le...
Rain in Rotterdam makes for an interesting day
Cadel Evans (BMC Racing Team) - 23rd on stage, 23rd overall @ 39 seconds: "All the corners where you wanted it to be dry, it was wet, so I took it pretty conservatively. That might have cost me a couple seconds. Nine or 10 seconds behind the GC guys isn't where I really wanted to be but it's still the early days."
Carlos Sastre (Cervélo TestTeam) - 70th on stage, 70th overall @ 54 seconds: "For me it was nice to start the Tour de France after these hard four weeks with the back problems that I had. I could not do intensive training like I normally do so I didn't know how I would be today.
I am happy because I did not have pain in my back. That's the most important thing. There are 20 days of racing ahead of us, so anything can happen."
Samuel Sánchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) - 75th on stage, 75th overall @ 56 seconds: "The Tour is now underway. It was a great prologue for sprinters; if the road hadn't been wet you wouldn't [need to] touch the brake. Some corners I took carefully, always trying to measure the risk but take enough risk.
"I am satisfied with the time I recorded, I'm practically on the same time as Sastre, Menchov, Wiggins and Frank Schleck, people who have much to say in this Tour de France. The race has only just begun and we expect some very difficult days. Tomorrow it's the same; the journey is very complicated, so we have to go day by day."
Thor Hushovd (Cervélo TestTeam) - 157th on stage, 157th overall @ 1:19: "I didn't want to take too many risks. The most important thing is to be ready tomorrow for the stage and try to take the green jersey. There are no time bonuses anymore, so it's hard for the sprinters to try to take the yellow jersey with time bonuses."
Alberto Contador (Team Astana) - sixth on stage, sixth overall @ 27 seconds: "I'm happy with the result. I'm ahead of virtually all the...
German settles for second again in search of first Tour win
At the 2010 Tour de France prologue in Rotterdam, HTC-Columbia's Tony Martin again confirmed that he is one of the most talented young riders in the peloton by coming second to Fabian Cancellara (Saxo Bank). It's the second runner-up placing for the German at the French Grand Tour, and one that has put him back in touch with the best young rider jersey that he wore last year.
However, after waiting in the hot seat of the fastest rider for three hours, Martin had to eventually give way to Cancellara, missing out on his first Tour de France victory again, having been beaten by Juan Manuel Garate on Mont Ventoux last year.
"In the first minutes, I was very disappointed, as I had realistic hope of getting the yellow jersey," Martin told Cyclingnews after the podium ceremony. "But then, I expected Fabian to show off a great performance here again today; in the end I'm happy about my second place. I can only reiterate: I'm still very young, I can ride here a few more years, so at one point I hope things will go my way for a victory."
Martin raced the prologue as one of the first riders, after it had just stopped raining and the roads weren't too wet. Later, the rain increased, but when Cancellara set out, conditions were about the same as they were for the German. "The road was a bit wet, not completely," he said. "I think we had the same conditions, so he won it fair and square."
While on the hot seat, the German time trial champion expected something special from Cancellara, so when the Swiss took out the Tour opener it came as no surprise. "There was the possibility, or even more a probability, that he was going to ride faster than me. You have to say that he is the best prologue rider in the world, and in that respect, I can accept my defeat," he acknowledged with true sportsmanship.
Had it not been for slightly slippery roads, the 25-year-old trained policeman would have maybe improved his time a little, but not...
Prologue ride sees talented American better old hands
Brent Bookwalter might not be a household name in world cycling circles yet but after finishing second in the Giro d'Italia prologue the BMC rider was a dark horse coming into the Tour prologue in Rotterdam.
The American finished a creditable 11th, 35 seconds down on winner Fabian Cancellara (Saxo Bank) but did manage to beat a number of established names such as Bradley Wiggins (Sky), Michael Rogers (HTC-Columbia) and Andreas Klöden (Radioshack) over the 8.9 kilometre course.
"My ride was okay but it wasn't blistering," he told Cyclingnews at the finish.
"Prologues are all legs, lungs and power aero position. I didn't have the legs that Martin and Cancellara had today but I'm a little stale coming out of the Giro and I'm just getting going again."
Bookwalter was only called into the Tour de France team a week ago, having ridden the first Grand Tour of his career at the Giro in May. He rather unsurprisingly took a break from racing in order to prepare for a crack at the Tour.
"It's funny; people seem to think I'm a prologue specialist but I've never really specifically trained for them or targeted them. In the US I've been good at them but at the Giro I had no specific preparation, it just came through on the day," he said.
"I've always enjoyed time trials and the further I go in my career the more I'd hone in on that but it seems that that time is arriving now."
For the rest of the Tour Bookwalter will turn us attention to gaining experience as well as helping out general classification contender Cadel Evans.
"I want to experience the Tour for the first time and do it with a real general classification contender like Cadel and on a team where you're really rallying around a true contender," he said.
Evans moved from Lotto to BMC at the end of 2009, buying out his existing contract in the process, and according to Bookwalter: "He's teaching the young guys and he's really...
Lance Armstrong get a new lid in Rotterdam
Lance Armstrong (Radioshack) and a few select others were helped around the wet Rotterdam prologue course by a new Giro time trial helmet - further development of the experimental TT-284 lid we saw at last year's Tour de France.
As before, the new helmets sport a shortened tail that is considered more aerodynamic than the traditional long shape, when taken into consideration that the rider's head doesn't stay glued in one position all the time.
The removable visor carries over as well, along with the lower rear cover that's already been proven in the wind tunnel to be very effective.
Interestingly, the helmet does not display any external vents whatsoever - not even in the tail like before - which suggests to us that Giro has further progressed its internal channeling system.
The rear ends of the helmets differ between riders. Armstrong's is distinctly more rounded and sports a far sharper tip. It is a fully custom-built helmet made especially - and only - for him. It is called the 'LAX'.
In order to create the optimum helmet for Armstrong's physiology and unique, humpback riding position - and to get around the Texan's vigorous travel schedule - Giro's recently formed Advanced Concepts Group actually went so far as to take laser scans of his head and torso, then built a model that could be used for wind tunnel testing. Giro says it tested up to 100 prototypes in total.
According to a press release sent by Giro, the company has no plans whatsoever to bring the helmet to production; only that certain design features will eventually find their way into future aero models.