Australian's 2015 Tinkoff-Saxo team bike
Winner of the 2015 Tour Down Under
New and old kicks and lids seen at WorldTour race
Wiggle Honda team bike of two-time World Champion
Frenchman on the search for sponsors
In October 2010, it took Thomas Voeckler’s last-minute decision to walk away from a contract offer from Cofidis to convince Europcar to come on board as a replacement sponsor for Bouygues Telecom and ensure the survival of Jean-René Bernaudeau’s team.
Three years on, with Europcar’s deal set to expire at the end of the season, Voeckler’s squad is once again in search of a new sponsor but the Frenchman is hopeful that a deal can be wrapped up significantly sooner this time around.
Speaking after his stage win in the Critérium du Dauphiné in Grenoble on Friday, Voeckler told L’Équipe that he wants to stay with Bernaudeau’s team but said that the situation need to be resolved significantly sooner than it was in 2010.
“The situation mustn’t go on endlessly,” Voeklcer said. “Jean-René knows that I’m with him but we can’t wait until the end of September. There need to be guarantees much sooner than that.”
Earlier in the spring, it was rumoured that Europcar would remain and that a co-sponsor would come on board, but so far, the car rental has not made a decision on its sponsorship.
Voeckler’s presence on the team was enough to convince Europcar to enter cycling in 2011 and he has provided value to the sponsor, particularly through his displays at the Tour de France. He finished 4th overall at the 2011 Tour after spending ten days in the yellow jersey, and followed that up with the king of the mountains prize and a brace of stage wins last year.
Elsewhere, Pierre Rolland has emerged to win two mountain stages in the past two Tours...
The race isn't over yet, warns Sky leader
Entering Sunday’s final stage to Risoul, Froome holds a 51-second lead over teammate Richie Porte, and there is a striking symmetry with Sky’s dominance in the same race 12 months ago. On that occasion, Bradley Wiggins claimed overall honours ahead of then-Sky teammate Michael Rogers, and this time around, Rogers – now at Saxo-Tinkoff – is in third place, 1:37 behind Froome.
“I wouldn’t say the race is over yet. Tomorrow is still going to be a really hard climb to Risoul,” Froome said, according to his team website. “If you have a bad day in the mountains you can still lose minutes. It’s still all to race for but I’m feeling confident – especially with Richie Porte in second place. It puts Team Sky in a really strong position."
Froome, who finished fourth overall in last year’s Dauphiné, is leading the Sky line-up this time around and he was able to rely on the support of a solid coterie of men in black on the Col du Noyer. After Ian Stannard and Edvald Boasson Hagen chased the early break in the valley beforehand, Vasili Kiryienka and Geraint Thomas set a searing tempo on the climb itself before swinging off.
Alberto Contador took up the pace-making at that point for Saxo-Tinkoff, and while Peter Kennaugh was dropped soon afterwards, Porte remained on hand to ride shotgun with Froome. The Tasmanian even went on the attack on the final climb to Superdévoluy and although he was unable to catch stage winner Samuel Sanchez...
Rainbow jersey lines up at Tour de Suisse
Although he is still without a win in the rainbow jersey, world champion Philippe Gilbert (BMC) remains confident in his abilities and says that he is taking aim at defending his title in Florence in September.
After claiming a remarkable 18 victories in 2011, Gilbert struggled throughout 2012 before a late-season run of form netted him two stage wins at the Vuelta a España and the world championships in Valkenburg.
Gilbert has been more consistent through the early months of 2013 than he was last year, but he has still been lacking the sparkle of 2011 and has been frustrated in his bid to claim his maiden victory in the rainbow jersey.
“I’m not missing much to go and get that victory,” Gilbert told La Dernière Heure. “There are small details, difficult to explain, that make the difference – circumstances in a race that turn in your favour.
“I remain confident in my quality in any case. I haven’t been plagued by doubt because I know that’s a block on the road to success. In 2011, everything went my way, whereas this year, with the rainbow jersey on my back, it’s gone differently.
Gilbert, who finished fifth at Amstel Gold Race and seventh at Liège-Bastogne-Liège, as well as third overall at the Tour of Belgium, quipped that the rainbow jersey made it more difficult to escape the clutches of the peloton.
“I wouldn’t go so far as to say that people are riding against me but when the world champion attacks, certain riders are more inclined to accompany him.”
Nonetheless, Gilbert is keen to spend another year in the famous tunic and he believes the exacting nature...
Euskaltel Euskadi rider dedicates victory to lost friends
"I am very satisfied. It's important to pick the fruits of so much effort and dedication," said Sanchez, who gave the team its third victory of 2013.
"It will be very good for the team to start the Tour de France after this prestigious victory. Personally, I will not be there, because I will be in a rest period, but because we have not won much this season, it's perfect to achieve this success."
Saturday's queen stage covered 187.5km from Le Pont-de-Claix and Superdévoluy. It included several major climbs: Superdévoluy (Cat. 3), Alpe d'Huez (HC), Col de Sarenne (Cat. 2), Col d'Ornon (Cat. 1) and Col du Noyer (Cat. 1).
Sanchez launched his attack with a little over a mile to the top of the Col du Noyer, an 11.3km climb with grades from 7.2% to 11%. He was joined by Jacob Fuglsang (Astana).
On the final climb up Superdevoluy, Sanchez played his cards perfectly and scored an emotional victory. His success bumped him up from 20th to 12th in the general classification.
"I suffered a lot, especially in the last three kilometers," said Sanchez. "Fuglsang was very strong, but I put everything I had to pass him at the end. The team has worked very well throughout the day, took care of me perfectly, and we achieved the dream ending. "
He dedicated his victory to his friend Victor Cabedo, who died not long ago and another friend, Alejandro, who died barely two weeks ago. "This victory is for them," said Sanchez.
Spaniard works for Michael Rogers in mountains
After a difficult start to the Critérium du Dauphiné, Alberto Contador (Saxo-Tinkoff) has shown signs of improvement in recent days and the Spaniard believes that he is at “75 percent” of his condition with three weeks still to go to the Tour de France.
Contador conceded 2:45 to chief Tour rival Chris Froome (Sky) in the Dauphiné’s stage 4 time trial and was out-kicked by him in the finale at Valmorel the following day. On Saturday, however, Contador was back in front and set the tempo in the leading group on the Col du Noyer and again on the final haul up to Superdévoluy.
“I was working for my teammate Michael Rogers by pulling the front group,” Contador said of his efforts, which saw Rogers move up to third place overall with one stage to go.
“My condition is perfect and I’m where I want to be at this point in time. I reckon I’m at 75 percent of my maximum and I wouldn’t change a thing about the preparation that I have now.”
Contador explained that winning the stage was never an ambition and that he was simply working for Rogers: “The team always work for me and today I had the chance to work for one of them.” It was also, he said, an opportunity to hone his own form ahead of the Tour.
“I wanted to ride on the front and that’s useful as training for me too. The goal was to move Michael up to third overall and we’ve done that. Personally I’m very happy. My legs are going well and I’m sure that I’ll be stronger again at the Tour.”
Contador blamed allergies for his travails against the watch on Wednesday and in that context said that he was pleased with the improvement in his fortunes since entering the high...
Luxembourger lines up at Tour of Switzerland with good morale
Andy Schleck has endured a difficult twelve months since fracturing his pelvis at the 2012 Critérium du Dauphiné and the RadioShack-Leopard man admits that he is unsure of what he is capable of achieving at this year’s Tour de France.
Schleck lines up at the Tour of Switzerland this week as he completes his Tour build-up. His last act was an encouraging showing at the Tour of California, where he completed the race in 25th place overall, and he is hopeful that the work he has done in the meantime will start to pay dividends.
“My morale is very good, I’m coming from a period where I’ve accumulated a lot of training and now, with this Tour de Suisse, I hope that the form is going to come,” Schleck told Le Quotidien. “In any case, I haven’t felt too bad in training, so I hope to confirm my feelings from training in a race.”
In years past, Schleck has often been leaden-legged at the Tour of Switzerland before transforming his fortunes in time for the Tour de France. This time around, he acknowledged that he would like to have a result of significance to boost his morale ahead of July.
“I know from experience that I don’t perform here, but if I’m not on top form, that doesn’t mean that I won’t be come the Tour,” Schleck said. “But I agree that this year is different. I’m looking for something to reassure myself. Although I don’t have any plan in my head if not to do the best I can and continue to work.”
Schleck named Chris Froome as the logical favourite for Tour de France victory, but was reluctant to guess what he might achieve himself in July, given his travails in the early part of the season.
“The truth is that I don’t know where I am,...
Sky rider wins Dauphiné and takes aim at Tour
The Critérium du Dauphiné is a training ground for the Tour de France in more ways than one. Overall winner Chris Froome not only tested his condition and his leadership credentials during the eight-day race, he also faced some of the questions that will doubtless resurface if he takes the yellow jersey at the Tour next month.
Speaking to the press afterwards, Froome politely batted away comparisons between the dominance of his Sky team and that of the US Postal Service squad of Lance Armstrong, and expressed his belief that cycling has changed radically since the halcyon days of the discredited American squad.
“I’m sure that cycling has changed since that period,” Froome said, according to L’Équipe. “All those revelations about Armstrong were a big blow for cycling and all riders were put in the same bracket.”
Froome made a dramatic emergence at the highest level when he finished second overall at the 2011 Vuelta a España, and he has followed that up with second place at last year’s Tour and fourth at last year’s Vuelta. He maintains that his performances are proof of that doping is being eradicated from cycling.
“The fact that I’m able to finish at the front in the mountains and in the general classification means that the sport has changed since 10 years ago,” Froome said. “You learn from the past. The sport is going in the right direction and my results are proof of that.”
Froome won the Dauphiné by 58 seconds from teammate Richie Porte to claim his fourth stage win of the 2013 season. The similarities between his year and Bradley Wiggins’...
Head injury recovery slower than hoped
Specialized-lululemon's Ina-Yoko Teutenberg will take the rest of the 2013 racing season off to recover from a head injury incurred at an early season race.
"I have been talking with the team for couple of days now and we came to the decision that sitting out the season is the smarts thing for me to do," said Teutenberg.
"It is hard to admit defeat to the crash as I have gotten a lot better in the last weeks, but I am just not a the point to be an athlete and resume full training in order to get ready and be competitive. Right now, I am still fighting to be able to do every day life stuff and the main focus is that I get 100% healthy and not risk my health in order to be at a start line."
Team Owner Kristy Scrymgeour said, "Our initial goal was to get Ina back to racing in time for the Giro Rosa, which is due to start at the end of June. We wanted to give her the chance to finish out the season, but unfortunately she is not ready. We've been very careful and conservative with her as the hit to the head was very hard and with the head, you can never be too careful."
"It's been pretty hard for her. She's been racing since she was six years old and she definitely doesn't like being this sedentary. She also hates letting down her team. But she supports them for the sideline, and this will give her a chance to recover fully and then make a decision later in the year if she'll be back for another year of racing next year."
The 38-year-old suffered the injury in a crash at the Drentse 8 van Dwingeloo on March 7. The team is missing its sprinter, but said Teutenberg is still helping out her teammates by giving tactical input.