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First Edition Cycling News, Sunday, July 8, 2012

Date published:
July 08, 2012, 1:00 BST
  • Froome: Keeping Wiggins in yellow still the priority at Tour de France

    Bradley Wiggins hugs teammate Chris Froome after their successful stage 7 in the Tour de France
    Article published:
    July 07, 2012, 18:34 BST
    Daniel Benson

    Winner of stage 7 hails a great day for British cycling

    After winning the first uphill stage in this year’s Tour de France, Chris Froome reaffirmed Sky’s plan to back Bradley Wiggins in the race for the yellow jersey. Froome set the pace for Wiggins on La Planche des Belles Filles, shedding a number of Wiggins’s rivals before unleashing an unmatched sprint to take his first ever stage win in cycling's most iconic race. Wiggins, who finished third on the stage, just two seconds down, did enough to take the race lead from Fabian Cancellara.

    The 199 kilometre Tour stage from Tomblaine also marked Froome’s first venture into the top ten of any stage he has ever ridden in the Tour, but served as a reminder of the form that helped secure second overall in last year’s Vuelta.

    Sky had set their stall out from an early section of the stage with Bernhard Eisel and Christian Knees on the front of the peloton. Edvald Boasson Hagen took over before the final climb but Sky’s efforts increased dramatically when Michael Rogers and Riche Porte hit the front. One after another, GC contenders began to wilt until only 8 riders remained. Three of them were from Sky with Wiggins led by Froome and Porte. The former took over pace duties inside the final 2 kilometres and when last year’s winner Cadel Evans attacked inside the final 500 meters Froome latched on before accelerating towards the win.

    “When it came to the final section it was really very steep. Cadel [Evans] came underneath me though and I expected that he would put in a bit of an attack. It never came and the finish was coming closer and I thought 'here’s Bradley in a perfect position and he's not going to lose time in general classification, so why not put in acceleration and see what the response was?' I’m really happy with that result,” Froome said.

    Sky not only lead yellow but Froome, after taking maximum points on the final climb, now leads the KOM competition. The team also...

  • More bad luck for Valverde in Tour de France

    Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Movistar)
    Article published:
    July 07, 2012, 19:27 BST
    Cycling News

    Puncture before final climb adds another two minutes for Spaniard

    Movistar's Alejandro Valverde hoped to turn around his 2:40 deficit in the first mountain top finish of the Tour de France, but after being caught up in the crash on stage 6, his luck soured once again with a puncture just before the start of the climb to La Planche des Belles Filles on Saturday.

    Now nearly five minutes behind new race leader Bradley Wiggins (Sky Procycling), the chances for the overall classification have just about ended for the Spaniard.

    "To be honest, it seems like the Tour is not my race at all and, most especially, this Tour is not being the best for me," Valverde said. "Good luck is not at my side, that's for sure. After the two crashes yesterday, I was feeling quite strong today and I had a flat tire in the worst possible moment. just before starting the climb and when the pace was getting to the highest."

    Valverde had teammate Vladimir Karpets - one of only five of his teammates left in the Tour - at his side immediately but the pace was so high in the group ahead that the Spaniard could not rejoin.

    "I was about to enter the group, but they were riding on full steam and I came with my legs really swollen due to the effort. I went on my own pace through the climb and overtook many people, but it was impossible to get to the front. The team was superb, all of them did a great work and we did all we could do. When things go this way, you can't do anything else. Still, not everything is lost, though it's obvious that the GC will be really difficult with so much time lost, even when I think that we can stay with the other riders apart from those three or four at a higher level".

    Movistar's Rui Costa is now the team's highest placed rider in the overall classification, he is 15th at 2:25 from Wiggins.

  • Vos completes domination of Giro Donne

    Giro Donne leader Marianne Vos won stage 8 from a three-rider breakaway to notch her fifth victory of the race.
    Article published:
    July 07, 2012, 19:52 BST
    Cycling News

    Rabobank star on rising form ahead of Olympic Games

    When Marianne Vos fractured her collarbone in May it was a small bump in her preparation for the 2012 Olympic Games in London, but the Dutch rider showed this week that it had no consequence and her form is ever increasing as she dominated the women's Giro d'Italia, the Giro Donne, for the second year in a row.

    Vos came out swinging on stage 1 with a sprint victory over American Shelley Olds (AA, and immediately followed this with a time trial win by five seconds over Clara Hughes (Specialized-lululemon).

    While she conceded half a minute and her maglia rosa to Evelyn Stevens on stage 3, Vos rebounded, using her superior descending skills and new found strength on the finishing climb to Montecatini Alto on the following day to reclaim a lead she would then never relinquish.

    "It was great to start out with a victory and then to also win the TT," Vos said after the final stage in a video interview with "I struggled through the first hills but I was getting better and better throughout the Giro. I'm really happy my shape is improving after my collarbone fracture."

    After regaining the pink jersey, Vos went on to win two more stages and come second on the final stage to Swedish champion Emma Johansson to secure her victory by a stunning 3:27 margin over Emma Pooley with Stevens in third at 6:32.

    "So much happens in such a Giro. You have to keep focussed every day. It seems a long time ago we were in...

  • Wiggins and Sky surprised at stage 7 damage

    Bradley Wiggins hugs teammate Chris Froome after their successful stage 7 in the Tour de France
    Article published:
    July 07, 2012, 20:20 BST
    Daniel Benson

    Few favorites in contention after La Planche des Belles Filles

    Bradley Wiggins was the favourite to pull on the maillot jaune at the end of stage 7 from Tomblaine to La Planche des Belles Filles but even the Team Sky leader was surprised the damage he and his team did to their rivals.

    After just the first mountain top finish in this year’s Tour de France, the battle for the overall looks to down three – four if you count Wiggins’s teammate Chris Froome – riders with Cadel Evans and Vincenzo Nibali still in the hunt and able of challenging Wiggins. After yesterday’s stage to Metz which saw a number of the pure climbers lose time and skin in a crash, the pressure was on Wiggins’s rivals to claw back time ahead of Monday’s crucial time trial.

    "I was just concentrating on Cadel and I didn’t lose any time to him. It worked out ideal but I saw afterwards on the telly that there were only four of us left around that final corner which I was surprise about for sure because I thought there would be 15 guys at the summit. It’s a good sign for us, for sure," Wiggins said.

    In a carbon copy of their success in Paris-Nice, Tour of Romandie, Volta ao Algarve, Tour of Norway, Bayern-Rundfahrt and Critérium du Dauphiné, Team Sky were on the front foot, dictating a pace that not only nullified any attacks but cracked a number of rivals. By the top of the final climb only Nibali and Evans were present, with Denis Menchov, Frank Schleck, Samuel Sanchez, Jurgen Van Den Broeck, Janez Brajkovic and Robert Gesink all losing time.

    Asked if he was surprised that none of his rivals had attacked, Wiggins said: "I was little bit....

  • Taaramäe takes a bow at La Planche des Belles Filles

    Rein Taaramae took over the best young rider's lead from Van Garderen
    Article published:
    July 07, 2012, 21:36 BST
    Barry Ryan

    Estonian up to 4th overall after first mountain stage

    The first summit finish of the Tour de France is the formal introduction to the leading actors who will grace the grandest of stages over the coming two weeks, and while the anticipated main players of Wiggins, Evans and Nibali were duly marked present and correct at La Planche des Belles Filles, there was also a curtain call for potential breakout star Rein Taaramäe (Cofidis).

    Long touted as a coming force at the highest level, the promising Estonian trod the boards with hitherto unseen assurance on stage 7 on Saturday afternoon, as he formed part of an elite group with Sky pair Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome, Cadel Evans (BMC) and Vinenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale).

    While a tired Taaramäe ultimately gave best to the marquee names within sight of the summit, he came across the line just 19 seconds down in 5th place, and now lies 4th overall, 32 seconds off the yellow jersey of Wiggins.

    Taaramäe also took command of the young rider classification, and when he descended from the podium in the white jersey, he told Cyclingnews that he was not surprised to have shared the stage with Wiggins, Evans et al.

    "No, it wasn't a surprise for me," Taaramäe said. "I already have plenty of results on my CV, in races like Paris-Nice and the Volta a Catalunya, Pays Basque and Romandie. Up to now, I've never really repeated that in the Tour. But this year, I'm in better condition than last year and I could sense that in the build-up to the race."

    While Sky's already familiar roll-call of pacemakers at the front on the final climb ran according to the anticipated script, the ferocity of their effort was something of an ad lib. The consensus...

  • Brajkovic satisfied after "terrible climb"

    Janez Brajkovic (Astana) fought hard to keep his losses to 46 seconds
    Article published:
    July 07, 2012, 22:10 BST
    Peter Cossins

    Astana rider hopes to get back into the battle for the GC

    Janez Brajkovic described himself as "satisfied" with his eighth place finish at the La Planche des Belles Filles summit finish. The Astana leader felt that his performance wasn’t perfect, but hopes that it will provide him with a platform for his goal of a high finish at the Tour de France.

    "It wasn’t perfect but it wasn’t bad. I’m pretty satisfied with my performance today. There were no crashes today so that was something different. Hopefully I’ll get a little bit better and get into the GC again," he said.

    He said he was not in the least bit surprised by the performance of Team Sky’s riders. "That was expected," he said. But he was surprised by the pace heading into the final climb.

    "Leading into the climb we were doing 480 watts. It was really incredible how fast we went. The good thing is that this climb was nothing like most of the climbs we’re going to be on over the next two weeks. This climb was terrible," said the Slovenian.

    "After a few kilometres I started to go at my own rhythm in order to avoid blowing up. Near the top I ran out of gas a little bit, but in the end I think I did a pretty decent climb."

    Brajkovic now lies 17th overall, just over three minutes down on race leader Bradley Wiggins, but hopes he can move closer to the top 10 during the mountain stages in the coming days.

  • Nibali: Froome was the most impressive

    Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale) had a relatively good day, losing only a handful of seconds
    Article published:
    July 07, 2012, 23:15 BST
    Barry Ryan

    Italian moves up to 3rd overall at La Planche des Belles Filles

    Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale) was one of the happy few able to withstand the ferocious pace set by Team Sky on the final climb to La Planche des Belles Filles on stage 7 of the Tour de France, and the Sicilian ended the day in 3rd place overall, 16 seconds off the yellow jersey of Bradley Wiggins.

    In recent seasons, the opening mountaintop finish of the Tour has tended to be a rather tentative affair, and beforehand Nibali said that he anticipated more of the same this time around. Instead, in an echo of the extremes of the Lance Armstrong era, Sky set to work from the foot of the climb and scattered the peloton to the four winds.

    "It was a big effort," Nibali said as he propped himself against a barrier shortly after crossing the line. "They made an infernal rhythm until the end. The tempo was really high from the bottom to the top."

    Just six kilometres in length, La Planche des Belles Filles had a far greater impact on the Tour than anyone could have anticipated, and inside the final two kilometres, only five men remained in contention – Nibali, Cadel Evans (BMC), Rein Taaramae (Cofidis) and the Sky pair of Wiggins and Chris Froome.

    "I didn't expect such a big selection," Nibali admitted. "The first mountain is always a bit of an unknown, and often people are a bit worried about it. Sky really did something big, and it was a good selection, but that’s good for the stages to come."

    Although Nibali succeeded in hitching a ride on the Sky locomotive to the summit, he was unable to jump the train as the road reared up to almost 20% in the final 200 metres. He couldn't match Evans’ initial acceleration, and came home in 4th place, 7 seconds...

  • Poels to be transferred to Maastricht intensive care unit

    Poels is all smiles on the winner's rostrum
    Article published:
    July 08, 2012, 0:00 BST
    Cycling News

    Internal injuries for Vacansoleil rider

    Dutch rider Wout Poels (Vacansoleil-DCM) came into the Tour de France as one of the most promising young riders in the peloton, with a queen stage victory in the Tour of Luxembourg in his recent palmares. He left the Tour, however, as one of the most severely injured riders after a high-speed, massive crashed forced the abandon of a dozen riders on stage 6.

    Poels will likely be transferred on Monday to the intensive care unit of the University Hospital in Maastricht after a stay since Friday night in a hospital in Nancy, France. He is suffering from a host of internal injuries: a ruptured spleen and kidney, a bruised lung and three broken ribs.

    According to team doctor Peter Lagrou, Poels is in stable condition, but is in a great deal of pain.

    Remarkably, after crashing with 25km to go with half the peloton, Poels got back onto his bike and rode 10km before finally abandoning stage 6 definitively.

    Poels has been visited twice by the team manager Daan Luijkx, who says barring complications his rider will be transferred on Monday to the hospital closer to his home in The Netherlands.

    "He needs to rest a lot and he said he has a lot of pain. He is not currently Wout as we know him," said Luijkx.