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First Edition Cycling News, Thursday, July 19, 2012

Date published:
July 19, 2012, 1:00 BST
  • Nibali unable to break Sky duopoly on Peyresourde

    Sky teammates Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome have neutralised the attack of Vincenzo Nibali on the final climb.
    Article published:
    July 18, 2012, 20:40 BST
    Barry Ryan

    Sicilian consolidates third place

    It may well have been his best chance to break up the Sky duopoly at the head of the general classification of the Tour de France, however Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale) was held at arm's length by Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome on the road to Bagnères-de-Luchon on stage 16.

    Wednesday's queen stage marked only the sixth time in the history of the Tour that the fearsome quartet of the Aubisque, Tourmalet, Aspin and Peyresourde were tackled on the same day. The desolate roads of the "Circle of Death" – not to mention its treacherous descents – seemed the perfect stage for an offensive from Nibali, but as the shadows lengthened on a sweltering afternoon in the Pyrenees, he found that he was tilting at windmills.

    Emerging from doping control afterwards, Nibali was unsure whether he was contented or frustrated by a day that saw him break even with the Sky pair but distance Cadel Evans (BMC). "We seem to be set for a place on the podium but there's a bit of disappointment because today I thought I would do something a little better," he admitted.

    The Liquigas-Cannondale offensive began on the penultimate climb of the Aspin. After an anonymous Tour to date, Ivan Basso took on the role of gregario di lusso. His tempo, resolute rather than rasping, managed to shed Evans from the leading group but the primary aim was to strip Froome and Wiggins of their support ahead of the final ascent.

    "Ivan's acceleration was a bit to skim off a few Sky riders, as the team is very strong," Nibali explained. "We saw that the strength was high in the group although Evans did suffer."

  • Van Garderen becomes BMC's Tour de France co-leader

    Best young rider Tejay van Garderen
    Article published:
    July 18, 2012, 21:41 BST
    Hedwig Kröner

    "Bad day" for Evans, but white jersey to defend

    Stage 16 from Pau to Bagnères-de-Luchon may have put an irreversible end to any of Cadel Evans' dreams of defending his 2011 Tour de France crown or even get onto the podium in Paris, but the day also had its positive side for the American BMC team: Tejay van Garderen was able to consolidate his leading position in the young riders classification, gaining almost two minutes on his closest rival, Frenchman Thibaut Pinot (FDJ-BigMat).

    Evans had to let go of the 'groupe maillot jaune' on the Col d'Aspin, the third ascent of the day, losing 30 seconds on his overall rivals at the summit of the climb. He eventually re-integrated the bunch, but got dropped again - this time hopelessly - on the last climb, the Col de Peyresourde. That was when Van Garderen was given the green light from team management to continue his own race and not wait for his leader.

    "Cadel, I think was suffering from the heat," the 23-year-old American said. "He just had a bad day. When he dropped back the first time, directors asked us to bring him back and that it was perhaps just a bad moment, and that he would bounce back once he was in the peloton, but it was pretty evident that he was just having a bad day."

    It was also on the Peyresourde that the second-placed on the young rider classification had difficulties following the group, but Van Garderen was able to press on, finally improving his GC standing from seventh to sixth - one placing in front of Evans. But the BMC rider did not confirm that this new position also made him the new team leader.

    "I think it's more of a co-leadership because he's still only 11 seconds behind me on GC. He could easily bounce back on the next...

  • IG Pro Cycling Index: Peter Sagan the world's third best rider?

    Points classification leader Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale)
    Article published:
    July 18, 2012, 23:05 BST
    Cycling News

    Standings updated after Tour of Poland

    It has been a week since the last update to the IG Pro Cycling Index. During that time six Tour de France stages and the Tour of Poland (Tier 2) have taken place. These once again have had a big impact on the rankings with Tour de France star Peter Sagan being the highest mover to number three overall.

    At the top Tom Boonen had the chance at the Tour of Poland to overtake Joaquin Rodriguez in top spot. He was unable to take it due to crashing in stage 1 and then withdrawing before the race finished. Boonen has been diagnosed with a broken rib and is struggling to regain fitness for one of his big goals of the year; the Olympic Road Race (Tier 1).

    The sprint stages at the Tour de France have been dominated by Peter Sagan and André Greipel. Both have climbed the rankings as a result. Sagan started the Tour de France is sixth place but is now third. Greipel was in 21st position but is now in 14th.

    Mark Cavendish is the rider who has missed out. He has had to sacrifice his chances in order to work for his team leader Bradley Wiggins's pursuit of the yellow jersey. Cavendish has only won one stage so far which is far below his norm for the race, hence his drop in the Index to fifth place. He could slip further down by the end of the race as he will not defend his green jersey win from 2012. The pressure will be on for him to repeat his victory on the Champs-Élysées from the last two years.

    The stage winners from the past week at the Tour have all seen a boost in their standing overall. Pierrick Fedrigo won his fourth Tour de France stage and is rewarded by reaching a career high in the Index of 68th place. David Millar’s stage win meant that all of the British road team for the Olympic Games at the Tour de France have won a stage. It was the Garmin-Sharp rider’s fourth Tour de France stage win and lifted him to 76th in the Index. Pierre Rolland won stage 11...

  • Andy Schleck: Fränk has never taken anything illegal

    Andy Schleck at a press conference on Wednesday in Luxembourg where he confirmed he won't be competing at the 2012 Tour de France.
    Article published:
    July 19, 2012, 1:00 BST
    Cycling News

    Younger brother speaks out following diuretic found

    Andy Schleck has reiterated his brother's innocence after Fränk returned an Adverse Analytical Finding to a urine test on July 14 at the Tour de France.

    The elder Schleck yesterday asked for testing of his B-Sample after the WADA accredited laboratory in Châtenay-Malabry detected the presence of the diuretic Xipamide in his system which he claims is due to "poisoning." RadioShack-Nissan has withdrawn Fränk Schleck from the race.

    Andy, currently recovering from a pelvic fracture has told Luxembourg media that he and his family are all behind his brother.

    "This is a huge blow for us because Fränk has never taken anything illegal," Andy Schleck stated in an interview with Le Quotidien. "I swear on my mother's head! You know, we train together all the time, we are preparing together all the time, we race together all the time, even if it's a little less true this season. And I can tell you and you repeat that we have never taken anything. Now we have to wait but if the B sample is positive, the complaint is ready to be filed. Now, you just wait for further developments. But we are determined to defend ourselves."

    Schleck explained that he has been left both angry and confused over the findings and said that his older brother is "in shock" following the events of the past 24 hours.

    "Today I can tell you that I am disgusted with cycling," Schleck said. "I love this sport more than anything but now it's really hard for me and for the whole family."


  • Video: Kessiakoff left stunned by "superb" Voeckler

    Fredrik Kessiakoff (Astana)
    Article published:
    July 19, 2012, 2:30 BST
    Mark Robinson

    Astana rider "could do nothing" about losing KOM lead

    Despite losing the polka dot jersey to stage winner Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) with just one more mountain stage left to go, Astana's Frederik Kessiakoff had no hesitation in recognising that everyone present had witnessed something very special at stage 16 of the 2012 Tour.

    On a memorable afternoon in the Pyrenees, Voeckler conquered four climbs shrouded in Tour de France folklore, the rest of the peloton and stiflingly hot temperatures to storm to victory. Amazingly he also picked up all of the top climbing points on offer to take the lead of the mountains classification ahead of tomorrow's final high mountains stage from Bagneres-De-Luchon to Peyragudes.

    "I'm really disappointed to have lost the jersey but if you look at the way Voeckler took it from me, I could do nothing," Kessiakoff told Cyclingnews at the finish.

    "He had a superb race and it seemed like he must have taken every point that it was possible to take today. It didn't matter whether I was feeling good or not – the way he did it, it was just ‘chapeau'."

    As this Tour has progressed the battles for yellow, green and white have looked increasingly like one horse races, with Bradley Wiggins (overall), Peter Sagan (points) and Tejay Van Garderen (best young rider) seemingly tightening their grip on each one over the last week of racing. With ink already dry on some coronation pieces for those classifications – prematurely, it must be said, given the history of this great race - it is the tussle for the polka dot jersey as king of the mountains that is still...

  • Video: Tour de France Stage 16 highlights

    Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) emerged from an early 38-man break to win alone at the end of stage 16.
    Article published:
    July 19, 2012, 3:33 BST
    Cycling News

    Voeckler takes solo victory

    Frenchman Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) rode to his second 2012 Tour de France stage victory on Wednesday, prevailing on Stage 16 to Bagnères-de-Luchon after 197km.

    Voeckler also took the lead in the king of the mountains classification, getting the better of Fredrik Kessiakoff (Astana) with the Frenchman holding a narrow four-point lead at day's end.

    General classification hopeful Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale) did his best to put a dint in the overall lead of Bradley Wiggins (Sky) but his attack was unsuccessful. Wiggins, teammate and second-placed overall teammate Chris Froome along with the Italian finished the stage together meaning the virtual podium remains unchanged for another day.


  • Froome in no mood to rock the boat

    Chris Froome (Sky) would once again be the right hand man to team captain Bradley Wiggins.
    Article published:
    July 19, 2012, 5:05 BST
    Barry Ryan

    Sky duo combine on Peyresourde

    As Cadel Evans' guttering challenge was snuffed out and Vincenzo Nibali's attacks failed to discommode Bradley Wiggins, all eyes turned to Chris Froome (Sky) on the Col du Peyresourde on stage 16 of the Tour de France.

    Second overall and 2:05 off his teammate's yellow jersey as business resumed on Wednesday morning, Froome and Sky had spent the rest day in Pau insisting that the their two strongmen would continue to operate in harmony as the race entered its endgame in the Pyrenees.

    Even so, the temptation to dig out the comparisons to Hinault and LeMond or to Roche and Visentini remained as the yellow jersey group traversed the daunting "Circle of Death" on a muggy day that saw the Tour finally bask in the white heat of a French July.

    Whatever his chances of taking yellow himself, Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale) had the unwitting role of potential kingmaker as the favourites hit the final climb of the Peyresourde. An attack from the Sicilian was a nailed on certainty, but if he could drop Wiggins, then Froome – apparently the stronger climber – would be left with the dilemma of deciding whether to pace his teammate or follow the move.

    Four kilometres from the top, Nibali duly delivered his lines, punching his way clear of the yellow jersey group. He immediately opened a gap, but his staccato pedalling was soon reined in by the metronomic tempo of Froome, who dutifully brought Wiggins across the gap. Even as recently twelve months ago, it would have been hard to believe that the Sky pair could be so dominant in the mountains of the Tour de France.

    "He can attack but he may not,"...

  • Tour shorts: Why Nibali has no regrets

    Vincenzo Nibali rides amidst his Liquigas-Cannondale teammates.
    Article published:
    July 19, 2012, 7:04 BST
    Cycling News

    A tumultuous day in the Pyrenees

    More laughs at Liquigas

    Before clashing swords in the Pyrenees, Vincenzo Nibali and Bradley Wiggins crossed paths on Mount Teide earlier in the season, as both their Liquigas-Cannondale and Sky teams have a penchant for lengthy collective training camps on the volcano in Tenerife.

    Nibali famously came close to signing for Sky in the winter of 2009, but he told Gazzetta dello Sport that he didn't regret his decision to stay put, reckoning that Liquigas riders simply have more fun.

    "From the outside it seems to me like a bit of a "cold" team where maybe they communicate via email instead of by phone," said Nibali of Sky. "Even when we came across them on Mount Teide, their tables were a lot more silent than ours." (BR)

    Hot, hot heat!

    Stage 16 was tough-going but for a measure of just how tough, look no further than Sky's Mark Cavendish.

    "Today's stage can be put into perspective by the fact that by the end I didn't care that I was just puking over myself. Hills+Heat=Suffering," he said following the stage on Twitter.

    In response, David Millar reported from the Garmin-Sharp bus:

    "@MarkCavendish We could've been puking on each other and we wouldn't have cared. DZ puked all the way home in the bus. It's just wrong." (JA)

    Out, then in again

    Jan Ghyselinck (Cofidis) crossed the finish line on Stage 16 in Bagnères-de-Luchon four seconds outside the time cut and he believed his Tour de France was over.

    The Belgian, riding the Tour for the very first time at age 24, had suffered like much of the...