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First Edition Cycling News, Sunday, July 6, 2014

Date published:
July 06, 2014, 1:00 BST
  • Kittel praises team after Tour de France victory

    Marcel Kittel on the podium
    Article published:
    July 05, 2014, 20:36 BST
    Sadhbh O'Shea

    Giant-Shiamano sprinter says day went perfectly

    Marcel Kittel hailed his Giant-Shimano team as they led him to victory on the Tour de France's first stage for the second year running.

    "I'm actually very proud that we won again. I have to say thank you to my boys. They worked very hard for me," Kittel said after he had been up to claim his prize. "I think the advantage for me today was the team. When you look at the last 5km, we were for sure the strongest team. We could do it how we wanted and that was important for the victory."

    A crash between Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) and Simon Gerrans (Orica Green-Edge) left less than a handful of sprinters battling it out to be the first across the finish line. Kittel managed to negotiate the tricky uphill finish into Harrogate perfectly to earn his second stint in the Tour's yellow jersey.

    Kittel was the undeniable winner in last year's opening stage, but the ride to Harrogate would prove to be a different challenge. The three categorised climbs split the bunch on a number of occasions, with Cavendish getting dropped at one stage. Fabian Cancellara (Trek Factory Racing) even tried to upset the apple cart by going on the attack in the final kilometres, but Kittel didn't look like he was in trouble as his team reeled him back in.

    "I have to say that it was perfect for me as a pure sprinter today," he said. "The race was like we wanted to have it. It was fast up hill but not too fast. I think a lot of guys stayed in the peloton. I think on these roads it is very important to stay at the front and that is what we did as a team."

    As an added bonus, Kittel was awarded the jersey by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. It was a nice little aside for the stage winner, who was happy to meet one more than the other. "I really enjoyed that...

  • Sagan satisfied with white jersey after first Tour de France stage

    Best young rider Peter Sagan
    Article published:
    July 05, 2014, 20:42 BST
    Stephen Farrand

    Cannondale leader avoids Harrogate crash

    Peter Sagan (Cannondale) missed out on stage victory in Harrogate, but his Tour de France started well, with him finishing second behind Marcel Kittel, meaning he is second in the green jersey points competition and wears the white jersey of the best young rider. While several riders were left battered and bruised due to the late crash, Sagan climbed on the podium to pull on the white jersey.

    "First of all, I'm happy that I didn't crash, that's the most important thing, looking what happened on the final straight," Sagan said.

    "It was bad luck for some of the guys who crashed. I'm so sorry for Mark (Cavendish). But I think it's normal at the Tour de France. I've done it twice now and there were always crashes. I didn’t see the crash because it was behind me."

    Sagan started his sprint early and was passed by Kittel in the final metres before the line.

    "It was actually better than a normal finish because the guys who were strong where at the front," he suggested.

    "I'm satisfied with the stage result. Kittel did a great sprint, he was the strongest, but I finished on the podium wearing the white jersey and I took important points for the green jersey, my goal for the Tour de France. I'm happy because my Tour started very well. There's still a long way to Paris, but I'll be happy if I can get to Paris."

    In yellow in Sheffield?

    Sagan is second in the overall classification with the same time as Kittel after stage 1. However, he could take yellow if Kittel is left behind on the hilly second stage to Sheffield and Sagan wins the stage or is well placed in the same time as other riders.

    The 201km stage includes nine categorized climbs and dozen other minor climbs. It is likely that Sagan's Cannondale team...

  • Voigt and Cancellara go on the attack at Tour de France

    Jens Voigt on the attack
    Article published:
    July 05, 2014, 21:55 BST
    Stephen Farrand

    Polka-dot jersey for Voigt and nearly a stage win for Cancellara

    Jens Voigt may be the oldest rider in the 2014 Tour de France, but the German veteran wanted to leave his mark on what is his final Tour and went on the attack across the moors of north Yorkshire during stage 1 to win the most combative rider's prize and the polka-dot mountains classification jersey.

    When Voigt's moment of fame ended, and the sprinters took over, Fabian Cancellara threw his hand and produced his trademark powerful late-race attack. He surged away in the final kilometer and was only caught and passed in sight of the line. It was a good first day for the Trek Factory Racing team at the Tour de France.

    "It was a semi-planned move," Cancellara said as he warmed down on the rollers after going deep with his effort.

    "We said we'd try early in the stage and Jens Voigt did a big nice first move. You feel enthusiastic by things like that and after a hard race in the wind and small roads, I was sure I had a chance. I was perhaps placed a little too far back, but I felt good and went for it."

    "As I said, I'm not just here for stage 5 (on the cobbles). We're underdogs here. We have all different kinds of riders and we have nothing to lose. I think it was a good start and things can only get better. There's no point in just sitting in the bunch. You don't win or gets results doing that."

    Voigt rejuvenated by polka-dot jersey

    Voigt seemed rejuvenated after his day out front and after pulling on the polka-dot jersey.

    "I always say, all I have is my desire to go on the attack and I've got a big engine. I'm not a good sprinter, a climber or a time trialist. But I have the desire to go and today that was one of those moments," he told...

  • Gerrans rues missed opportunity after Tour de France crash

    The torn jersey of Simon Gerrans (Orica-GreenEdge)
    Article published:
    July 05, 2014, 22:15 BST
    Sadhbh O'Shea

    Team remain upbeat despite another knock

    Simon Gerrans (Orica-GreenEdge) was left thinking what could have been after a finish-line crash at the end of stage 1 of the Tour de France stopped him from taking - what his team believe was - a clear-cut chance for victory. Gerrans was focusing on the line and suddenly found himself hitting the tarmac hard as the riders came around the final bend.

    "I'm not exactly sure what happened in the crash. I'll be watching the replay when we get back to the hotel. I think it will be replayed a few times. It's pretty unfortunate to get tangled up to a crash like that at the finish," Gerrans told reporters after he had been back to the bus to assess his injuries.

    Gerrans had been about to launch his sprint for the line when he was sideswiped by Mark Cavendish, who later admitted that he was going for a gap that didn't exist. Cavendish was left with a separated shoulder, while Gerrans suffered nothing more than some abrasions. The Australian national champion counted his lucky stars that it wasn't worse, but was still hugely disappointed. "I will be a little stiff and sore tomorrow, and I've lost a bit of skin, but thankfully I am in one piece," he said.

    "I was feeling really good today, feeling pretty comfortable. It was a fairly solid stage and it looked like the sprinters were pretty gnarled coming into the finish. I was looking forward to getting a good result."

    Even if Gerrans had not managed to take the victory on stage 1, the top placing would have put him in prime position for the yellow jersey on Sunday. The nine climbs between York and Sheffield mean that the pure sprinters, such as Kittel, are unlikely to make it to the finish with the front group. The team admit that a second year in yellow is now unlikely for Gerrans.

    "Normally it's out...

  • Yorkshire puts on a show

    Thousands turned out for the start.
    Article published:
    July 06, 2014, 1:30 BST
    Peter Cossins

    They may not have got the victor they wanted, but the fans on stage one still relished the Tour experience

    "All this for a bike race. This isn't Glastonbury, or for the World Cup. This is all for the Tour de France. I can't really believe it, it's absolutely incredible," said Simon Warren of Ilkley-based kit manufacturer Spirit Cycling as he surveyed the thousands sitting in the sun in the Yorkshire town's fan park watching the finale of the stage into Harrogate.

    It was that kind of day in "God's own county". The police estimated that close to a quarter of a million people packed the centre of Leeds for the start of stage one. Three times that number lined the rest of the course through the Dales and into Harrogate.

    For months, the Grand Départ has felt like it would be Yorkshire's Olympic moment. Just as the 2012 Games transformed London, the Tour de France has captured the imagination of Yorkshire folk. There are polka-dot houses, mini Eiffel Towers, sheep painted in all of the race's colours and, best of all, more people on bikes.

    Travelling into Leeds first thing this morning, it quickly became apparent that Welcome to Yorkshire chief executive Gary Verity's prediction that there would be many hundreds of thousands of fans on the roadside would be spot on. Trains coming out of Leeds were so packed that fans waiting at intermediate stations couldn't get on them.

    At Leeds station, thousands flocked through the barriers and headed past the yellow jersey-clad statue of the Black Knight – the hammer of the French at the battle of Crécy in the 14th century! – in City Square and up past Cuthbert Brodrick's magnificent Town Hall to fill the streets around the stage start. As the riders emerged from team buses to sign on and then gather at the start line, they received a huge ovation, which was even more clamorous when the Brits and the sport's biggest names took to the line.

    Out on the road, the first sign that the Tour was approaching came with the...

  • Tour de France: Contador happy to finish unscathed

    Alberto Contador (Tinkoff Saxo)
    Article published:
    July 06, 2014, 3:50 BST
    Cycling News

    Spaniard looking to avoid opening week crashes

    Crossing the line in 22nd place having avoided the crash caused by Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) was happy to get through the first stage of the Tour de France unscathed with the help of his team that "has been really good and that's what's important."

    "We have to be in the front, like today, focused at all times to keep it together, because the peloton will be broken in many groups," Contador said of the challenging stage two route from York to Sheffield. "We'll have to try to ensure that the maximum number of riders from my team stay in front and accordingly, see what happens."

    With the opening stage of the Tour traversing the narrow stone walled roads of Yorkshire packed with fans, Contador was one of several riders who found the day to be a tough stint in the saddle with danger, "not just at the end, but throughout the entire stage, with very narrow roads and perhaps steeper than in the rest of Europe," he said.

    "That makes it much more difficult to brake, but we made it through the day, which was never quiet due to the parcours and falls, and so I'm really happy. Reaching the finish without problems on a stage like this is almost a victory."

    Tinkoff-Saxo's Director sportif Philippe Mauduit reiterated Contador's comments on the importance of remaining upright and avoiding any crashes in the nervous first week.

    "Tomorrow’s stage is, in my eyes, an English version of Amstel Gold Race," said Mauduit after the stage. "It’s...

  • Video: Chavanel leads IAM Cycling into 2014 Tour de France

    Sylvain Chavanel (IAM Cycling) gets into an aero tuck
    Article published:
    July 06, 2014, 5:00 BST
    Cycling News

    Frenchman on joining the Pro-Conti team and ambitions for the Tour

    While Pro-Continental team IAM Cycling makes its Tour de France debut this year thanks to a wildcard invitation from ASO, Sylvain Chavanel makes his 14th appearance at the race having ridden every edition since 2001. The 35-year-old has won three stages at the Tour, wore the yellow jersey for two days in 2010 and twice has been the most combative rider at the race but is still looking for "good results" during La Grande Boucle.

    Having spent five seasons with Quick Step, Chavanel signed for the Swiss team at the end of 2013 and explained why he made the move.

    "Whether it's Pro-Continental or WorldTour, the structure and working of the team is still the same," he said. "I chose IAM Cycling because it's a very professional team, there is a good atmosphere and I feel very good in this team.

    "Now I just hope to embark on a nice adventure over the course of these three weeks and get some good results."

    At the Tour, Chavanel explained the team's dual ambitions for the three-week race.

     "We're looking for a good position on GC with Matthias Frank, who is our outright leader," he said. "Beyond that, we'll be looking for stage wins, especially in the first part of the Tour and, why not, in the stage on the cobbles."

    Asked whether he could take the yellow jersey again as he did in 2010, Chavanel said, "I'll need to see the opportunities and it depends on Sunday, really. It could suit me, but there could be certain points of the stage where the gradients are too steep for a rider with my weight and physique."

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  • Mollema looking to make time on the cobbles at Tour de France

    Bauke Mollema (Belkin) launches an attack
    Article published:
    July 06, 2014, 7:30 BST
    Sadhbh O'Shea

    Belkin rider hopes to improve on career best sixth

    Bauke Mollema (Belkin) is one of the few general classification riders relishing the forthcoming cobbles on stage 5 of the Tour de France. The Dutch rider will be flanked by some of the best Classics riders in the peloton, including 2013 Paris-Roubaix second place Sep Vanmarcke. He hopes to use this to his advantage and put the pressure on his less able rivals on the French pavé.

    "I hope to take time on a lot of guys there, we have a really strong team for that stage," he said at the pre-race press conference on Friday. "When you look at the riders here, Sep and Lars (Boom), and also the other riders who did Paris-Roubaix, we have a really strong team for that stage. For sure it will be really nervous with a lot of crashes, but I have a lot of confidence in this team that we can not only survive that stage, but also make time."

    Mollema will be Belkin's main leader, with Laurens ten Dam also earning a protected role. He made his debut as a team leader at last year's Tour de France and he looked like he may be a surprise podium finisher, but fell back in the final week, eventually finishing a still impressive sixth.

    The 27-year-old arrived in Leeds in good form after finishing the Tour de Suisse in third. He used the same build-up to last year's Tour and hopes that he can match the improved performance this July. "It's not that easy in cycling. We just focus on the Tour and on every stage. We have to go full every stage and then we will see what happens," he said.

    "I think it is harder this year than last year, more uphill finishes. The first week is really hard already with Sunday's stage and the cobbles stage....