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First Edition Cycling News, Thursday, July 15, 2010

Date published:
July 15, 2010, 1:00 BST
  • Schleck enjoys his first day in yellow

    Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank) and Lance Armstrong (RadioShack).
    Article published:
    July 14, 2010, 21:17 BST
    Brecht Decaluwé

    Quiet Bastille Day for the Luxembourg rider

    Stage ten saw Luxembourg's Andy Schleck enjoy his first ever day in the yellow jersey at the Tour de France. After a fast start marked by a litany of Bastille Day breakaway attempts from a variety of French riders, Schleck's Saxo Bank team eventually allowed a small breakaway to go clear and there was a relaxed tempo in the peloton thereafter.

    Unlike his older brother Fränk, Andy Schleck had never had the honour of wearing the yellow jersey before today. After the stage, Schleck spoke about his experience in yellow on Bastille Day.

    "It was a nice day," Schleck said. "The race went fast right from the start but once we had the breakaway there wasn't a lot of stress for us. There was even time to look around at all the fans along the road side. Hopefully tomorrow the sprinters' teams will take things in hand so my team will be spared a bit."

    Once again temperatures on the Tour scarcely dropped under 30 degrees, but Schleck thinks that he is coping well with the heat. "There are riders who have a hard time breathing when it's too warm. I'm not one of them, because I feel good in the heat," he said. "Of course if the weather continues like this in the Pyrenees, then it'll have its consequences. It could decide the Tour de France."

    Another opportunity to decide the race comes in two days with a stage finish atop the climb to Mende, the so-called Montée Laurent Jalabert. The short but selective climb also featured in Paris-Nice. Back then Alberto Contador managed to shake off his rivals on its slopes, but Schleck wasn't worried that it would happen again.

    "We already saw in Paris-Nice that the climb can create gaps. It's a climb that suits Contador well. But we're in July and my form is better now. I don't think he'll be able to drop the main favorites there, also because it's quite short. I predict that we'll see about five riders together at the top," Schleck said.

    Schleck sees Contador...

  • Procycling's daily Tour de France dispatch - stage 10

    Damiano Cunego (Lampre) was aggressive again, but did not have enough for a stage win.
    Article published:
    July 14, 2010, 21:30 BST

    Nudity, Bernard, Cunego, Martin, Kreuziger, Gerdemann, Millar

    HTC-Columbia laid bare

    We've heard of team soigneurs, directeurs, principals and even psychiatrists, but until now no ProTour team had taken the bold step of employing their own streaker/stripper (or should that be strippeur?). That all may have changed in Gap, as a young lady (formerly) clad in HTC-Columbia kit treated the crowds to a racy Bastille-day treat alongside the finish-line. While Procycling averted its eyes, debauched fellow hacks feasted theirs on the most captivating action of stage 10.

    An official HTC-spokesperson/spoilsport tonight denied that the female in question was a team employee. Someone, not us, said she should be.

    Bernard's Gap year

    It's been 24 years since Tour debutant Jean François Bernard won stage 16 of the 1986 Grande Boucle into Gap – but considerably less since Bernard got shot of the Porsche that La Vie Claire owner Bernard Tapie bought him as a reward for his victory. "I loved that car. Kept it for years…" Jef told Procycling this morning. Quizzed on Tapie's retreat from the public eye and professional sport, Bernard smiled enigmatically. "I don't think it'll be too long before we see Tapie again…" he said finally.

    Cunego's confidence trick

    Damiano Cunego's stingy contribution to the break which brought Sandy Casar victory in St-Jean-De-Maurienne on Tuesday appalled many and mystified the rest of us. If, as his agent Alex Carera had told us on Monday, Cunego was struggling with a pulled muscle, what was the Piccolo Principe doing in a breakaway in the biggest Alpine stage of the Tour, particularly if it meant ripping off those in the break who did their share of the toil? Also, if Cunego's sprint to take third seemed a tad half-hearted, was it because he was simply too embarrassed to win?

    We politely requested an explanation from Lampre directeur sportif Valerio Tebaldi in...

  • BMC's Evans confirmed for Canadian ProTour races

    World champ Cadel Evans (BMC)
    Article published:
    July 14, 2010, 21:38 BST
    Kirsten Frattini

    Hincapie to lead squad at Tour of Utah

    BMC Racing Team confirmed rosters in two of North America's late-season events. Current US national champion George Hincapie will lead the team at the National Racing Calendar (NRC) Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah from August 17-22 and world champion Cadel Evans will contest Canada's two ProTour race held in Quebec City on September 10 and Montreal on September 12.

    The Tour of Utah is known as America's toughest stage race for its grueling route held through the mountains surrounding Salt Lake City, Utah. It recently replaced the Tour of Missouri as the last top-level stage race on the US calendar. Hincapie will lead a well rounded five-man team that includes 2008 winner Jeff Louder, Chris Barton, Chris Butler and Simon Zahner.

    "I'm excited to be able to do another race in the US," said Hincapie in a recent press release. "From what Jeff [Louder] and other racers have told me, The Tour of Utah is well organized and very demanding."

    For the second year, USA Cycling's Chief Operating Officer Sean Petty appealed to the International Cycling Union (UCI) on behalf of BMC Racing Team to release it from UCI code 2.1.009 that prohibits ProTour and Professional Continental teams from competing in national level events. The appeal followed the team's advance request to enter certain US-based events in 2010.

    Following the Tour of Utah, BMC Racing will head north to contest the two Canadian ProTour events held in Quebec City and Montreal. World Champion Cadel Evans will lead the team, however the final roster is yet to be confirmed.

    Race organizer Serge Arsenault announced that all 18 ProTour teams will be obliged to attend the two Canadian events. Those teams include AG2R-La Mondiale, Astana, Caisse d'Epargne, Euskaltel-Euskadi, Footon-Servetto, Française des Jeux, Garmin-Transitions, Lampre-Farnese Vini, Liquigas-Doimo, Omega Pharma-Lotto, Quick Step, Rabobank, Sky Professional Cycling Team, HTC-Columbia, Katusha, Milram,...

  • Petacchi threatens Hushovd's green jersey

    Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre - Farnese Vini) narrowed the points deficit to green jersey holder Thor Hushovd.
    Article published:
    July 14, 2010, 21:40 BST
    Jean-François Quénet

    Norwegian must remain vigilant in every sprint

    Thor Hushovd (Cervélo TestTeam) maintained his lead in the points competition of the Tour de France but there's a renewed threat in the form of Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre-Farnese Vini). The veteran Italian had ruled out the option of riding for the green jersey after his second stage win in Reims but has now taken up the challenge.

    "Yesterday I didn't pay enough attention to Hushovd," Petacchi said after stage 10 to Gap. "He entered a breakaway and gained precious points. Today I didn't repeat the same mistake. I feel good, so it's my duty to try and fight for the green jersey. I want to look for results in the coming sprints, if there is any, we'll see if things go well. Anyway, there'll be a fight until Paris."

    It's now clear that Petacchi is motivated to ride the whole Tour de France. He won't cross the Alps just to go back home, as he did in 2003 after winning four stages. He won the first intermediate sprint over Hushovd and Robbie McEwen (Katusha) after 19.5km of racing in La Buissière. Petacchi also finished ahead of the Norwegian for 10th place in Gap where Mark Cavendish (HTC-Columbia) won the bunch sprint.

    Following the incidents of the first week and Hushovd's win in Arenberg on the cobblestones stage, it looked like a formality for the Norwegian to keep his green jersey until Paris for the third time in his career. But now he has to count the points on a daily basis.

    "Today was a horrible day," said Hushovd. "The course was hard and the heat made it twice as hard. These aren't conditions for a Scandinavian! I suffer a lot. I guess it's the same for everybody.

    "I'm going to try and win another stage, that would be the best way to secure the green jersey. I think tomorrow it's gonna be a bunch sprint. If so, I'll try to sprint as well as I can. The intermediate sprints are very important, too."

  • Farrar finds strength to continue sprinting

    Tyler Farrar (Garmin Slipstream) is interviewed
    Article published:
    July 15, 2010, 2:10 BST
    Richard Moore

    Garmin-Transitions fast man resumes role as leader

    Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Transitions) expects Thursday's 11th stage of the Tour de France, finishing in Bourg-lès-Valence, to see the only bunch sprint of the Tour's second week, with the American keen to resume his role as the team's protected sprinter.

    The fractured wrist suffered by Farrar on stage two initially saw him swap roles with his lead-out man, Julian Dean. He said on Wednesday evening, at the finish of stage 10 into Gap, that he expects to be able to challenge Mark Cavendish (HTC-Columbia), Thor Hushovd (Cervelo Test Team) and the other top sprinters however, thanks largely to the anaesthetising effects of adrenaline.

    Being the team's main sprinter, said Farrar, "was the plan coming in to the Tour, so I would assume it's the plan tomorrow.

    "The wrist is okay," he continued. "It's still broken but it's holding up alright. We've been taping it up and doing everything we can with therapy. It's not going to get better during the race but at least we can maintain it, and look after it.

    "I can get out of the saddle okay - at least for a few moments at the end of the race, with the adrenaline flowing. I feel it afterwards, but in the heat of the moment I'll be fine."

    While his teammate David Millar's lonely struggle to finish stage 10 has been well documented, Farrar also had a difficult day on Tuesday. "Dave had an epic but it was just a really hard day for everyone," he said.

    "It's always a little strange after a rest day, and we hit the [Col de la] Columbiere and the body just wasn't firing on all cylinders yet. Things came round later in the stage for me, but it was a rough day for sure.

    "I've looked at tomorrow's stage in the race book," Farrar explained, "and I think it's probably the only opportunity in the second week for a bunch sprint. I'll certainly be trying for a stage win - it's what we came here for."

  • Evans survives another day in the Tour

    Cadel Evans (BMC) enjoyed the day in the sun
    Article published:
    July 15, 2010, 2:22 BST
    Barry Ryan

    Australian untroubled by fractured elbow on road to Gap

    Cadel Evans (BMC) finished stage ten to Gap safely with the peloton, and the Australian appears hopeful that the fractured elbow he sustained on Sunday will not prevent him from finishing the Tour de France.

    In spite of his injury, Evans put up a heroic defence of the yellow jersey on stage nine before ultimately succumbing on the Madeleine. The World Champion had a considerably less dramatic time of it on Bastille Day. “I felt much better today but obviously it wasn’t nearly as difficult a stage as the Madeleine,” a relaxed Evans said after the stage.

    Evans’ morale had been helped by a conversation with a Tour veteran. “Speaking with my manager Tony Rominger last night he said that the Madeleine was the hardest climb in the world for him so that made me feel a little better about everything yesterday,” Evans explained.

    Evans refused to contemplate withdrawing from the race at this point. “I think I’ll have to have some more x-rays in a couple of days to see if there’s any displacement. It’s a question for the radiologists, but feeling better today is a good sign,” he said. “It’s only a small fracture but obviously riding the Tour de France isn’t the easiest thing in the world.”

    Evans also revealed that while he lost the Tour on the climb of the Madeleine, the descents of stage nine did not help his cause.

    “The thing that was difficult yesterday [due to the fractured elbow] was the descents and on the rest day, I couldn’t go training because we were staying up in the mountains and we could only ride downhill."

  • Cavendish set to overtake his mentor

    Mark Cavendish (HTC-Columbia) on the podium
    Article published:
    July 15, 2010, 3:07 BST
    Stephen Farrand

    Briton could move past Zabel with 13th Tour win in Valence

    Mark Cavendish could overtake his mentor and sprint coach Erik Zabel if he wins the expected bunch sprint at the Tour de France in Bourg-les-Valence today.

    Zabel won 12 stages between 1995 and 2002. Cavendish already has 12 wins in three years after taking four stages of the 2008 Tour, a massive six in 2009 and two this year.

    Cavendish still has a long way to go to equal Zabel when it comes to green points jersey, however. He has a slight chance of taking his first maillot vert this year if he can score more points than main rival Thor Hushovd (Cervélo TestTeam) but Zabel won six green jerseys during his career - the record for the points competition at the Tour de France.

    Zabel revealed he was encouraged by the way Cavendish handled the three tough stages in the Alps and will be the first to congratulate him if he wins in Valence and moves one win ahead of the respected German former pro.

    "We've talked about it and I told him that he had won enough already," joked Zabel.

    "But I think if everything goes perfect for us, he'll be one ahead of me on Thursday. He needs to win in Valence if he wants to be in a position to fight for the green jersey. He needs the 35 points that are awarded to the stage winner."

    Cavendish and Zabel have become very close in the last three years but Zabel also has huge respect for Thor Hushovd, particularly the manner in which he won last year's green jersey and how he has again carefully accumulated points in early sprints, often by going on the attack.

    "If there's a sprinter like Mark, who was virtually unbeatable in the sprints, and you still manage to beat him to win the green jersey, then you must have done something pretty special," said Zabel of Hushovd.

    "Last year Thor won his green jersey in the intermediate sprints in the mountains. I've got a lot of respect for that. So when he got in the first break on the stage to Saint Jean de Maurienne, and got the...

  • Rolland reacts to black day in the Alps

    Pierre Rolland (BBox Bouygues Telecom)
    Article published:
    July 15, 2010, 6:50 BST
    Jean-François Quénet

    French riders couldn't capitalise with a win in Gap

    Despite joining compatriot Maxime Bouet of Ag2r-La Mondiale in yesterday's day-long breakaway to Gap, Bbox Bouygues Telecom rider Pierre Rolland couldn't make it a French win on Bastille Day.

    "During the whole stage, I thought it could be my day," Rolland said as soon as he got off his bike. "I dreamt. I believed I could win the stage but the last climb was too difficult for me." None of the French riders were able to follow the attack of eventual stage winner Sergio Paulinho and runner up Vasil Kiryienka.

    Rolland finished fourth and was best young rider for the stage but that's still far away from his initial ambitions at the beginning of the Tour de France.

    "Yesterday I finished very far down and I was extremely disappointed," he continued. Rolland completed the previous day's Alpine stage after the rest day in 167th position, almost 35 minutes behind Française des Jeux's Sandy Casar.

    This is definitely not what was expected from the rider promoted to the media and potential sponsors by team manager Jean-René Bernaudeau as someone who would finish in the top 10 of the Tour de France overall. Rolland's rising promise two years ago with Crédit Agricole led to a significant raise in his profile amongst the French cycling fraternity.

    He has the pride to match that 'champion' status, too, which is why he went on the attack the day after losing so much time. "I came to the Tour to ride the general classification," he explained. "I've cracked. But I hope I'll make myself seen again before the end of the Tour de France.

    "Compared to last year when I rode it for the first time [when he finished 22nd overall - ed], it's a much harder race this year. It's much more demanding. Two days ago I was more tired than during the third week of the Tour last year.

    "Fortunately, there's great enthusiasm from the crowd on the roadside and I heard the TV audiences are very good too, so it motivates us for...