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First Edition Cycling News, Thursday, July 21, 2011

Date published:
July 21, 2011, 1:00 BST
  • Video: Andy Schleck again critical of Tour descent

    A tired but satisfied Andy Schleck at the finish
    Article published:
    July 20, 2011, 20:59 BST
    Stephen Farrand

    Leopard Trek leader confident in control of attacks

    Andy Schleck (Leopard Trek) managed to chase down Alberto Contador and Samuel Sanchez after the high-speed descent of the Cote de Pramartino to hold onto his fourth place overall. Yet he was still angry that such a technical descent was included in the finale of the stage.

    He was criticised for his comments about the dangers of the descent to the finish to Gap on Tuesday, but was just as critical of the tree-lined descent to the finish in Pinerolo.

    "I'm happy that I'm healthy and back in the bus," he said.

    "It was really dangerous descent. Today we had sun but I don't know how we would have gone down in the rain. We were lucky in the weather."

    In the video he also talked about how he saw Contador attack on the descent but preferred to pace his descent, knowing that there was enough flat road to chase down any attacks.

    "He went really fast on the descent and even Sanchez went off the road, Thomas (Voeckler) twice. So I went behind. I went down quick but without risking anything. There are more important days to come. I knew the last few kilometres and they didn't have big gap. We were OK and we controlled it."

  • Contador considers Galibier more important than Alpe d'Huez

    Three-time Tour de France champion Alberto Contador puts in a massive attack on the day's final climb.
    Article published:
    July 20, 2011, 21:27 BST
    Stephen Farrand

    Spaniard rediscovers confidence as Alps loom

    Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank-SunGard) went on the attack yet again in the Tour de France, this time on the final descent near the finish in Pinerolo of stage 17, as he continued to try to pull back every possible second on his rivals and fight for overall victory.

    Contador was delayed by a crash at the very foot of the Pramartino climb but quickly regained position at the head of the peloton and made two sustained surges.

    When these efforts failed to split the lead group, he charged down the twisting descent and opened a gap with fellow Spaniard Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi). That sparked a pursuit match, with the Schleck brothers and Cadel Evans (BMC) catching them just before the finish. Only Thomas Voeckler lost out, finishing 27 seconds further back, following a near-crash.

    "It was a very dangerous descent. I was at the front, I saw I had a chance to attack, so I did. The important thing is to pull back time every day," Contador said of his attack.

    "It was very difficult to gain time because there were a lot of riders chasing us and so it was easier for them. But it was important to try. It seems as though the Schlecks are awaiting me to attack, but I'm just riding my own race. Voeckler is a great rider and whatever time I can pull back on him is good."

    Contador is now 3:15 behind the Frenchman and less than two minutes behind Evans and the Schlecks. The race is wide open as the two big Alpine stages loom large on the horizon.

    Alpine showdown

    Contador seems to have rediscovered his confidence and his climbing strength after the second rest day.

    He believes Thursday's

  • Danielson loses valuable seconds in battle for top ten spot

    Christian Vande Velde paces Garmin-Cervelo teammate Tom Danielson on the Côte de Pramartino.
    Article published:
    July 20, 2011, 22:02 BST
    Sam Dansie

    American has an off-day in Pinerolo

    Garmin-Cervelo leader Tom Danielson saved his ninth position on GC on stage 17 of the Tour de France but lost valuable seconds to three riders challenging him for a top ten in Paris.

    The 33-year-old Tour de France debutante, who finished 4:53 down on the winner Edvald Boasson Hagen, said he suffered an off-day, but was happy to minimise the losses before the race heads into the Alps tomorrow.

    Danielson lost valuable GC seconds to Rigoberto Uran (Sky), Jean-Christophe Peraud (AG2R) and Kevin De Weert (Quick Step) who are all directly behind him on GC.

    At the end of the stage between Gap and Pinerolo, he now leads his closest challenger, Uran, by just over 1:30, after 17 seconds was trimmed off his lead.

    Danielson, who laid the groundwork for a high-placed finish on the first mountain stage to Luz Ardiden, said he was now looking forward to a series of giant ascents in the Alps like the Galibier and Alpe d'Huez, many of which he hasn't ridden before.

    "Yesterday I felt amazing and today I felt like I was taking a nap out there – I couldn't get in the groove and get the burn going. In every Grand Tour you have an off day, but I'm real happy to get through today minimising the losses."

    Danielson's group also included yellow jersey holder Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) and Ivan Basso (Liquigas-Cannondale). He said the final descent, which saw several riders crash or overcook corners, was horrifying.

    "I did the descent in the Giro in 2009, so I knew it was really, really bad. If it had been wet I don't know how we would have got down. Every day I have a terrifying experience...

  • Video: Fränk Schleck says everything is still open

    Fränk Schleck (Leopard Trek) handles a tight turn on the descent to Pinerolo.
    Article published:
    July 20, 2011, 22:32 BST
    Stephen Farrand

    Older brother admits time lost in Gap was a wake up call

    Like his brother Andy, Fränk Schleck was again critical of the dangerous descent the riders faced in the finale of the Tour de France stage to Pinerolo but he was more upbeat about his performance during the stage.

    Fränk is still third overall, 2:36 behind Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) and just four seconds behind Cadel Evans (BMC). His brother Andy is a further 1:14 behind.

    Schleck admitted the time they lost during the stage to Gap served as a wake up call, but he insisted that Leopard Trek will still follow a two-leader strategy in the two decisive mountain stages on Thursday and Friday.

    "It's going to be very hard stages. It's going to be exciting for cycling. It's a great Tour de France. We're in the last three days of the Tour de France but everything is still open."

  • Tour rookie Péraud targets top ten

    Jean-Christophe Peraud (AG2R La Mondiale)
    Article published:
    July 20, 2011, 23:14 BST
    Hedwig Kröner

    Former mountain biker enters circle of favourites on first try

    If it wasn't for Thomas Voeckler, the French media would be all over Jean-Christophe Péraud as the nations's best-placed rider on the Tour de France general classification. Indeed, the AG2R-La Mondiale rider has been riding an impressive race so far, currently sitting in eleventh position behind the leader. For his very first try at the French Grand Tour, it's an amazing result.

    "Thank you, and I hope there will be more to come," Péraud told Cyclingnews ahead of stage 17 to Pinerolo. The former mountainbiker and Olympic silver medallist rode himself into the position of sole leader of his team on the Pyrenean stage to Plateau de Beille, and looks set to realise his initial goal of a top ten placing as the race enters its decisive phase in the Alps.

    "The Galibier and Alpe d'Huez will be the key moments of the last week, together with the time trial. That's where the general classification will be decided," Péraud continued.

    "We reconn'ed the climbs with the team, but I already know them well. Especially Alpe d'Huez, wich is a climb I know from doing lots of mountain biking there and which I particularly like. But everything will depend on my form that day."

    Péraud felt less powerful in the rain and cold stage 16 to Gap, but still managed to get into the finish in the same group as race leader Thomas Voeckler.

    "I was underneath the level of the other favourites, but I hope to find back the form I had on the Plateau de Beille. I think I stand good chances of a top ten placing in Paris if I come back to that state of form."

    Instead of aiming at a stage victory, widely regarded as more prestigious and...

  • Last try for Chavanel

    Sylvain Chavanel flew the colours of the French champion in the breakaway
    Article published:
    July 21, 2011, 1:54 BST
    Hedwig Kröner

    No regrets as French champion gives in to stronger Norwegian

    Sylvain Chavanel was one of the protagonists in Wednesday's stage finale to Pinerolo, but he was finally beaten by Edvald Boasson Hagen from Team Sky. It was no surprise to see the French champion in the main breakaway of the day, as it was the last stage that offered opportunities for tenacious attackers.

    Chavanel attacked out of the breakaway in the biginning of the final climb of Pramartino, a narrow and twisting ascent through the woods which culminated at only eight kilometres before the finish. His bid for the stage victory looked good as the Frenchman has improved his climbing and is a well-known descender and rouleur, who could have made it to the line on his own. But Norwegian Boasson Hagen had paid close attention and eventually bridged up to him before dropping him with a decisive jump.

    "When you don't win, you just lack the strength," he admitted to Cyclingnews in the finish. "I feel better and better on this Tour, but the Norwegians are very strong, and Boasson Hagen was again really powerful. He checked me out a lot in the escape, because at one point I stopped riding because De Weert was riding in the back for his GC placing. Finally, in the climb, there were some percentages that were just a bit too high for me."

    Chavanel was still satisfied, as he is feeling much better than in the first part of the race when a shoulder luxation due to a crash made him suffer and barely hang on.

    "I'm still happy, I spent a day in front," he continued. "Of course I would have liked to get that first French stage victory at the Tour, it was the last opportunity for breakaway specialists like me..."

    He denied that may have jumped too early on the...

  • Pereiro predicts Galibier as decisive

    Andy Schleck (Leopard Trek) put in some probing attacks
    Article published:
    July 21, 2011, 3:28 BST
    Hedwig Kröner

    2006 Tour de France winner tips Evans for the final victory

    As the Tour de France waits for its final two summit finishes coming up, Oscar Pereiro continues his work as an advisor for Spanish radio. Like everybody, the 2006 Tour de France winner is looking forward to the expected showdowns between the overall favourites, and has his own ideas on when the attacks will take place.

    "I think it's going to be on the Galibier," he told Cyclingnews. But contrary to other obeservers, the Spaniard thought that it could be the ascent via the Télégraphe, mid-way through stage 19 to L'Alpe-d'Huez, and not Thursday's final ascent that will serve as a battlefield for the overall classification.

    "To me personally, that seems the best location to attack, because the total of the stage is so short," he said. "I think it will be the most important climb at this Tour. It's 30km long - if you go really hard into it with your team for the first 15 kms, there are still another 15 km for you to make the differences to the other riders."

    Pereiro did not feel that the climb was especially hard compared to others, but he said its main challenge was its length. "It's just so long. To me, the hardest climb this year is the Col Agnel, but the Galibier is just legendary. The Télégraphe is a Cat. 1 climb, and after the descent it's still really long."

    The former rider, who has now become a soccer player with Spanish club Coruxo FC, was still impressed with overall leader Thomas Voeckler, whose situation reminded him of his own back in 2006.

    "The siuation is similar. He has less time difference. But when you have the yellow jersey, your mindset changes. You become more focused. It's a great experience, and I think it's still possible for Voeckler to win because of that. I feel that he is strong...

  • Chipotle Development and Trek-Livestrong out of Utah and Colorado

    The Trek-Livestrong team was very active in the breaks today.
    Article published:
    July 21, 2011, 6:47 BST
    Kirsten Frattini

    UCI steps in to remove development teams from racing according to 2.2.001

    The International Cycling Union (UCI) will not permit Continental teams Chipotle Development and Trek-Livestrong to compete at the upcoming Tour of Utah and USA Pro Cycling Challenge, both held in August. The decision was based on code 2.2.001 that involves the teams' affiliation with participating ProTeams Garmin-Cervelo and RadioShack.

    "The rule refers to teams being in the same race with the same paying agent," Chief Operating Officer of USA Cycling Sean Petty told Cyclingnews. "In May, the UCI initially approved the two teams competing however, on July 12 the UCI said that upon review they would not allow the teams to compete because of the relationships between RadioShack and Trek-Livestrong, and Garmin-Cervelo and Chipotle Development."

    "It is disappointing because we went for so long under the assumption they would be racing and subsequently those teams made plans and started their training," he said. "They were leading up to them in anticipation of them and now here we are in July and that decision was changed. We feel bad for the team, sponsors and riders."

    Trek-Livestrong, managed under Austin-based Capital Sports & Entertainment that also runs RadioShack, accepted the invitation to both the Tour of Utah and the Pro Cycling Challenge. Chipotle Development, managed under Boulder-based Slipstream Sports that also runs Garmin-Cervelo, declined their invitation to compete in the Tour of Utah in order to compete in the overseas Volta ao Portugal, however, the team did confirm its start at the USA Pro Cycling Challenge.

    "Capital Sports and Entertainment made an initial request, and question regarding the rule, to the UCI in May...