- Article published:
- June 29, 2013, 19:12 BST
- Alasdair Fotheringham
47 years after Rudi Altig, another German claims opening Tour stage
25-year-old Marcel Kittel has already taken 11 wins this season before today, but there could be no doubt the Argos-Shimano pro valued his 2013 victory number 12 the most, saying that netting his first ever Tour de France stage win made Saturday's triumph ‘by far the greatest day of my life.’
“I’m speechless, I’m still trembling,” Kittel, who captured his first Grand Tour stage win in the Vuelta in 2011 but who was poleaxed in last year’s Tour debut by stomach problems and abandoned on stage five, said afterwards. “This is something really outstanding, I have to thank my team and so many people who have helped me net this success.”
Kittel was also responsible for history repeating itself: 47 years after Rudi Altig took the last flat opening Tour stage, back in 1966, the next time the Tour's first stage ended on similar terrain, thanks to Kittel it was another German netted the win and the yellow jersey.
However, the Argos-Shimano pro could hardly have taken it in more different circumstances, with a major pile up in the closing kilometres leaving him and a reduced field of riders ahead of the bulk of the pack - with several key challengers, including top favourite Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), as well Peter Sagan (Cannondale) and Andre Greipel (Lotto-Belisol) stranded behind by the crash and out of the fight through no fault of their own.
“It was a nervous stage, that was why the crash happened,” Kittel said. “Everything was chaotic and when I saw the crash was happening, I looked around for Greipel and Cavendish.”
“That was the moment when we decided to take the lead even if it was a bit early and it worked well. Then when I saw [Alexandre] Kristoff [Katusha] going for it, about 200 metres to go, I went full...
- Article published:
- June 29, 2013, 19:49 BST
- Pete Cossins
Brailsford thankful top two men still standing
The first stage of the Tour de France didn't start as Team Sky were hoping. Even before the riders had reached the end of the neutral zone, Sky leader Chris Froome took what team boss Dave Brailsford called "a bit of a tumble". But the British squad were ultimately happy with the way their day went as all nine of their riders emerged from the crash-hit finale without sustaining any serious injuries, although there were initial concerns about knocks taken by Geraint Thomas and Ian Stannard.
"I thought the stage was going to be all right because when RadioShack started to ride hard with about 35km to go, it got really frantic. But then Jensie [Voigt] came to the front and with a guy of his age there, everyone seemed to relax and calm down," said Brailsford as he stood by the team bus with his riders warming down behind him.
"It looked like it was going to be a pretty bog standard run-in. Then we had the bus incident. The first bit of information came out that we were going to have a finish with 3km to go, so that changed everything. Then there was the crash, then there was chaos, then they managed to shift the bus, and it was business as usual."
Brailsford said everyone knew there were going to be crashes in the opening days of the Tour. It was, he added, just a question of when. "They didn't know when it was going to happen, how it was going to happen and who it was going to happen to, but we knew it was going to happen in some form or other, and it has. The important thing for us is that our two main guys are still standing, are unscathed and haven't lost any time, which was the objective this morning," he said.
Brailsford revealed that Stannard had gone down hard and...
- Article published:
- June 29, 2013, 20:25 BST
- Peter Cossins
Spaniard’s concern over how injuries might affect TT position
After being patched up by Saxo-Tinkoff’s medical staff, Alberto Contador emerged from his team bus to detail the extent of his injuries, which he was glad to relate were not as bad as they could have been considering the impact he had when he crashed 3km from the finish. He described his injuries as “superficial” and said his principal concern is the possibility that they might make it uncomfortable for him to ride in a time trial position during Tuesday’s team test in Nice.
“It was a complicated day but that’s the Tour de France. Sometimes the crashes catch you and sometimes they don’t. It’s a lottery because you don’t know if they will happen on the left or on the right. I got caught up but I hope it’s nothing serious,” said the two-time Tour champion.
Contador explained he had injured his sides, sustaining cuts to his elbow on one flank and to his right knee on the other. “But it’s just superficial and I hope that’s it. Now I’m going to put some ice on them and recover over the next couple of stages for the team time trial. Let’s hope I don’t have any problems resting on my elbows,” he said.
He admitted he had been relieved to hear that the commissaires decided to give all of the riders the same finishing time as a broken shoe plate had meant he had been unable to pedal properly coming into the finish. He also explained what he thought had happened to him when the pile-up occurred.
“I think that someone hit me from behind – if they hadn’t I might have got through unscathed. Now the important thing is to continue on as if I hadn’t fallen, sleep as well as I can and tomorrow will be another day,” said the Spaniard.
“We all want to be up at the front and...
- Article published:
- June 29, 2013, 22:04 BST
- Stephen Farrand
Garmin-Sharp rider blames roadside barriers for crashes
Ryder Hesjedal arrived at the Garmin-Sharp team bus after stage 1 of the Tour de France in a state of shock after being "crashed" yet again. The Canadian said that he was not caught up in the big crash that left at least 10 riders battered and bruised and Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) almost certainly out of the race. Hesjedal was taken down before that, as riders hit intermittently placed barriers and other riders crashed into them from behind.
Hesjedal crashed out of the 2012 Tour de France in the big pile-up near the end of the stage to Metz. A virus and a subsequent lack of power forced him to quit this year's Giro d'Italia, and he also crashed out of the more recent Tour de Suisse. Since winning the 2012 Giro d'Italia, he has been unable to shake off the crash karma.
He managed to pick himself up, get back in training and be ready for this year's Tour de France, but admitted he is getting tired of collecting road rash for crashes which he has been unable to control or avoid.
"You try to avoid things, but guys don't react in time and you get crashed. I'm getting a little bit tired of it," he said when he arrived at the Garmin-Sharp bus immediately after finishing the opening stage in Bastia.
"I fell on my left side. My ribs are kind of sore - that was the first thing I noticed. I went down on bikes and guys. My shin's swelling up too," he said.
The confusion caused by the Orica-GreenEdge bus blocking the finish and the race organiser's late decision to change where the stage would end sparked much of the chaos. However Hesjedal blamed the use of intermittent roadside barriers and poor bike handling skills of his fellow riders.
"The roads are fine, but the guys were crashing into the barriers. They were there and...
- Article published:
- June 29, 2013, 22:30 BST
- Brecht Decaluwé
Omega Pharma - Quick Step rider said it could have been worse
The first stage of the 2013 Tour de France was supposed to be a day of glory for Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma Quick Step). The stage would inevitably end in a bunch sprint that suited the fresh British champion perfectly. However, a bus that got stuck under the finish line arch turned things around. The finish line was moved back 3km while the peloton was a short distance away. When the bus eventually got free, the finish line was put back to its original position. A little later, there was a huge crash in the peloton and Cavendish was blocked. That meant no win, no yellow jersey and no green jersey for the Manxman.
Cavendish's reaction to the stage contrasted with that of the happy stage winner Marcel Kittel, who shouted out loud and jumped into the arms of his teammates. Cavendish congratulated Kittel and then headed for the bus. His wife and daughter awaited him there where he learned what damage the crash had done.
Several teammates were licking their wounds. Then Tony Martin lost consciousness, twice. Gone were the thoughts of a missed win. Cavendish made space and left the bus, once again greeted his family and took off, offering a quick word to the awaiting press as well.
"It wasn't too different to a normal Tour de France stage," Cavendish said. That was until the finish line was put at the 3km mark where the organizers had a photo finish system set up. "What caused the problems was changing the finish. Like we heard in the radios at literally 5km to go that the sprint was in 2km. Then a kilometre later, no, it's at the finish. Then it was carnage," Cavendish said.
Before the race, there were high expectations, but Cavendish explained he wasn't the only rider who didn't realize his dream of winning the stage and taking yellow. "I'm...
- Article published:
- June 30, 2013, 0:25 BST
- Pat Malach
Race director searching for replacement to gaurantee coming editions
After a 13-year relationship, Nature Valley has decided it will no longer sponsor its namesake US National Race Calendar event in Minneapolis, Minnesota, race director David LaPorte told Cyclingnews.
The five-day race's most recent deal with the granola bar company owned by General Mills expired this year and will not be renewed beyond 2013. But LaPorte said the race has enough funds on hand to continue for one more season while it searches for a replacement sponsor.
"Unfortunately, their brand has changed directions," LaPorte said of Nature Valley. "When they signed on, they were positioning themselves as a nutritional supplement for recreational athletes. We were a perfect fit with that position."
But Nature Valley recently changed its marketing focus to position the product as "a nutritious snack that you can take along while you're enjoying nature," LaPorte said.
"Their tagline has gone from 'The Energy Bar Nature Intended' to 'We Love Nature and Having Fun In It.' Competitive events are no longer a fit," he said. "They're refocusing their sponsorship portfolio to reflect their new position, and we're one of a number of competitive events to be cut."
LaPorte said the race organization is currently in "hyperdrive" looking for a new sponsor, and an outside agency helping with the search is optimistic.
"There's been some interest," LaPorte said. "We had a couple of prospects that attended this year's event. Nobody has signed on the dotted line yet, but discussions are ongoing."
The Minnesota race started in 1999, and Nature Valley signed on as the title sponsor two years later, placing the event in the center of a two-week bicycle festival that opens with a track race at NSC Velodrome in nearby Blaine.
The Nature Valley Grand Prix was the top-ranked race on the NRC schedule until this season, claiming multi-time...
- Article published:
- June 30, 2013, 1:25 BST
- Cycling News
Omega Pharma - Quick-Step rider yet to decide on Stage 2 start
It was in the opening road stage of the Tour de France in 2012 that Tony Martin crashed hard, breaking his scaphoid before enduring a long battle through to stage nine's time trial where he eventually withdrew from the race. Twelve months on and the reigning world TT champion finds himself in a similar situation but this time there are no reported fractures.
Martin was one of many who crashed inside the final kilometers of the hectic first stage on Corsica and while many came away with superficial wounds, the Omega Pharma - Quick-Step rider's injuries gave reason for concern.
"Tony Martin crashed during the final kilometers of Tour de France Stage 1 on Saturday. He finished the race, but after the finish he was transported to the General Hospital of Bastia, where he passed a few examinations," read a team statement.
Following his post-crash check-up Martin was cleared of any fractures. He will however, have a few difficult nights ahead of him - if he does decide to continue - as his body attempts to recover from its wounds. The decision to start Stage 2 from Bastia to Ajaccio will reportedly be made on Sunday morning.
"He has a concussion and a contusion on his left lung. He also has soft tissue damages on his hip, chest, left knee and shoulder, and also on his back. Furthermore, he has a very deep wound 5cm wide on his left elbow that reaches his muscles, which causes a lot of pain and a problem moving his arm," continued the statement.
"Any decision on his...
- Article published:
- June 30, 2013, 3:45 BST
- Daniel Friebe
Riders and team manager react after last minute finish line changes
Crashes and confusion marred the finale in the first stage of the Tour de France in Bastia on Saturday. Tony Martin, Peter Sagan, Geraint Thomas, Mark Cavendish and Alberto Contador were among the illustrious names who either fell or were delayed. Martin, the reigning world time trial champion, was later rushed to hospital with a suspected fractured collarbone and deep wounds.
While some riders - notably Martin's French Omega Pharma - Quick-Step teammate, Jérôme Pineau - maligned the chaos caused by GC riders forcing their way towards the front of the bunch in the closing kilometres, most anger was directed elsewhere. The reason was an incident already assured of its place in Tour folklore: the Orica-GreenEdge team bus wedging itself under the finish-line gantry and blocking the road as the peloton sped into the last 12 kilometres.
Faced with an emergency, after a brief discussion with Tour competitions director Jean-François Pescheux, the president of the race jury, Vicente Tortajada Villaroya, decided that the finish-line would be moved to the three kilometre-to-go mark. As this was being announced over race radio, with 10 kilometres remaining, Villaroya received news that the vehicle had finally been moved and spoke again to Pescheux. With the bunch now seven kilometres from the line, a new announcement was made to say that the original finish had now been reinstated.
The crash which put Martin's start to stage 2 in jeopardy - and many others out of contention for the stage victory - happened only minutes later, four kilometres from home.
Interviewed on French television after the finish, the FDJ manager Marc Madiot made no effort to conceal his disgust at the to-ing and fro-ing. ...