A close-up look at the Australian's purpose-built ride
Australian's 2015 Tinkoff-Saxo team bike
Winner of the 2015 Tour Down Under
New and old kicks and lids seen at WorldTour race
Briton reflected on 2007 GP Marseillaise
After being hit by crashes, illness and disappointment over the opening four days, Omega Pharma-QuickStep's Tour de France took a big upward swing when Mark Cavendish won today's stage into Marseille. The British sprinter was full of praise for his teammates, revealing they all derived confidence from their performance in yesterday's team time trial in Nice, which indicated the team's Tour was on track even as they missed out on victory by less than a second.
"Yesterday, the result was disappointing, but the way we rode wasn't," said Cavendish. "We spoke about it as a team and agreed that we rode really well considering that one of our guys [Tony Martin] has only got two per cent of his skin left after the first day, and he's got the biggest engine. Plus, Gert [Steegmans] is not in a great way after crashing, and I've been ill. We've given everything again to try for the win and obviously we're really happy."
Cavendish described the final sprint as "not too difficult for me today" and added: "I didn't really do anything. If I'd have lost that I would have let the guys down. Matteo [Trentin] did a massive turn into the last corner and then Gert stayed really, really patient. [Lotto's Greg] Henderson went early and Gert went with him, and Gert went with such speed that I didn't really accelerate off his wheel. I just carried on at the speed that he delivered me at. It was only for the last 150 metres, I left it really, really late."
The British sprinter revealed he is still suffering slightly with a chest infection that has dogged him since the days before the Tour started. But, he said, his health is improving every day. He also admitted to a flashback to his very first pro race late in the stage.
"We put a lot of planning into doing what we...
Norwegian pleased with second place after getting chance to play his own card
Team Sky's mantra may be "All for Froome" at the Tour de France, but Norwegian powerhouse Edvald Boasson Hagen got the chance to go hunting for the stage 5 win in Marseille today, and came up with an impressive second place behind Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma Quick Step). He admitted he didn't get close to overhauling "the best sprinter in the world", but added that his performance all round today showed his form is improving.
"I managed to get a good line into the sprint, firstly by getting on Peter Sagan's wheel and then someone from Lotto, but it's very hard to come past Cavendish. He's the best sprinter in the world, and it's hard to stop him," said Boasson Hagen. "I know that I'm here to help Chris, but I do get some chances in the sprint. I'm very happy with the way it went for me."
Asked about how the first road stage since the race left Corsica went, the Norwegian described the stage between Cagnes and Marseille as being a bit more relaxed than those on the island. "We were pleased the race settled down a bit today," he said. "The team worked well around Chris and we're still on track for our main objective, so that's the main thing for us. I also felt stronger on the climbs today, which is a good omen."
Froome described the stage as "quite grippy on the wheels", but otherwise relatively straightforward. "It's another day down for us. Edvald got to stretch his legs in the final and came second to Cav, which is not bad going at all considering he doesn't have a lead-out train with him. Our objective here objective is the GC here and staying safe, but at least he's had the opportunity to go for the sprint." Asked if he was surprised to see his teammate show so well on a flat dragstrip sprint, Froome said, "Edvald can do whatever he wants...
Laminate flooring company has been sponsoring ten years
QuickStep has said that it would like to extend its sponsorship of the Omega Pharma-QuickStep team. The Belgian company has been a name sponsor of Patrick Lefevere's team since 2003.
"We will certainly continue," CEO Frans de Cock told De Telegraaf yesterday at the Tour de France. "First, of course, we must see how sponsor Omega Pharma and Patrick Lefevere see the future of the team. For 2014 we have a contract, but the coming months is the time to sit around the table to see how we can move forward.”
This season Omega Pharma-QuickStep leads the peloton with 35 victories. Sprinter Mark Cavendish is responsible for 13 of those wins, with Tony Martin claiming another nine.
It boasts former World Champions Tom Boonen, Mark Cavendish and Bert Grabsch, as well as current World time trial champion Tony Martin in its ranks, and is also reigning World team time trial champion.
Corkscrew returns as all-rounders once again favoured
Santos Tour Down Under organisers have announced the race route for the 2014 edition, with Corkscrew Hill returning after a successful introduction this year.
The 2013 edition saw the rising talent of Tom-Jelte Slagter who took out the overall title, while the sprint stages were again dominated by Lotto Belisol's number-one sprinter André Greipel - who took his 100th professional victory in the final stage around Adelaide.
The Australian World Tour event has shifted focus in recent years from a sprinter's race to a greater emphasis on all-rounders and in its 16th year, the trend continues.
"The 2014 race routes will deliver a race that is fought until the very end and for the second time there is a balance between stages that favour sprinters and all rounders," said race director Mike Turtur.
"We return to Nuriootpa for the start of Stage 1 for the first time since the inaugural event, creating a sense of nostalgia. Menglers Hill is back as part of this route and being 14km from the finish will test even the most accomplished cyclist and create an interesting result."
This year's race saw the addition of the 2.5km Corkscrew climb which made good on its promise to provide an early general classification selection - although in circumstances different from what everyone had envisaged - rather than waiting until the Willunga climb on the penultimate day. In 2014, Corkscrew will feature as part of Stage 3 from Norwood to Campbelltown.
Once again, the Tour Down Under's queen stage concludes with a hilltop finish on Willunga.
The race routes for both the People's Choice Classic and Stage 6 will be significantly different in 2014. Due to other major events occurring in Adelaide on those days the two city-based courses...
Bouet out, Bouhanni and several others left battered and bruised in Marseille
A crash on the final climb of the Tour de France stage to Marseille and then a high-speed stack in the finishing straight left several riders injured, with race organisers again including a long list of names on the official medical communiqué.
Christian Vande Velde (Garmin-Sharp) and sprinter Nacer Bouhanni (FDJ.fr) seemed to be the worst injured, but AG2R's Maxime Bouet was the first to be confirmed out of the race with a fractured left distal radius.
Vande Velde went down on the final climb with 15km to go after being behind a touch of wheels from other riders in front, and had no time to react before tumbling off the road. He was examined in a hospital following the stage. The medical communiqué said he had suffered a neck injury and bruising, with a possible displacement of a screw fitted during a previous operation.
Garmin Team Doctor Prentice Steffen gave more detail later. "Christian has plates in his collarbone from previous injuries. After today's crash, an ultrasound and x-ray show a blood clot in a neck muscle (left sternocleidomastoid) and a loosened screw in his clavicle plate. From what we can tell, it is possible that the screw may have jabbed a muscle."
"Preliminary x-rays do not show a fracture but it probably flexed a bit in the crash and disrupted a screw. It's an unusual injury and we will monitor him overnight and make a determination in the morning as to whether or not he will start the stage. Christian's health is the most important thing to us, so we will evaluate him again tomorrow and determine next steps at that time."
Teammate Ryder Hesjedal was also listed in the medical...
Goss misses the sprint but Orica-GreenEdge defends overall race lead
Simon Gerrans started stage 5 of the Tour de France in Cagnes-sur-Mer dressed proudly in yellow, and he kept cycling's most famous maillot for another day after some hard work by his Orica-GreenEdge teammates.
Gerrans emerged from the Orica-GreenEdge team bus with a smile as big and as bright as his yellow jersey. He also had matching yellow shorts and yellow helmet and a yellow SRM power metre unit on his handlebars. He was easy to spot in the peloton and so got plenty of applause and cheers from the roadside.
The Australia team was quietly hoping that Matt Goss could complete a hat trick of stage victories but he was not in the 154-rider front group. Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) took his first win as British national champion in Marseille, with Gerrans finishing 15th. He was only two places behind his teammate Daryl Impey and so remains atop the general classification.
Impey is second, and Michael Albasini, also of Orica-GreenEdge is third, both in the same time. Michal Kwiatkowski (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) is fourth overall and best young rider at one second.
"Today we had two objectives: To try and win a stage with Matt Goss and to keep the yellow jersey. Obviously the first one didn't go so well. Goss got distanced, I think on the final climb. But the second objective went pretty well. I still have the yellow jersey on my shoulders" Gerrans said after pulling on a new yellow jersey.
The Orica-GreenEdge team did much of the work on the front of the peloton during the 228.5km stage, chasing the breakaway. The yellow jersey is prestigious and a highlight of any rider's career but it also comes with responsibility and a need for hard work from the team.
"Ouch that tickled. Big feed needed tonight. Thanks for...
Saxo-Tinkoff rider still dreams of stage victory
Roche spent four years as AG2R-La Mondiale's team leader, but his move to Saxo-Tinkoff means a change in roles. He tells Cycling News HD that 2013 has been about refocusing on what he wants. "It's just a question of putting it back into perspective and changing my goals," he says. "I have to focus myself with other goals and not just riding for GC." In some weird twist of irony, Roche came as close as ever to the Tour's yellow jersey in the team time trial. However, he missed out after the team finished nine seconds down on Orica-GreenEdge.
Despite this, the Saxo-Tinkoff rider still hopes to make an impression. "I hope I can have an affect on the race, when I'm asked to work," he explains to Cycling News HD. "Everyone goes to the Tour de France hoping they can win a stage. I've dreamt of that since my first Tour back in 2009 and I've come close, but unfortunately I haven't been able to do that yet."
For the most part, Roche will be playing the team game on this occasion. His team-mate, Alberto Contador is looking to upset the main favourite Chris Froome to take the overall victory. The Irishman is looking forward to the battle in the mountains.
"We know there's the ultimate favourite, Froome, because he's won most of the races," he says. "Then you have Contador, who says he's going to be there and win it. He's won it before and Froome hasn't. I think we're going in for a good battle." With so much focus on the fight between Froome and Contador, it would be easy to forget some of the other contenders. Roche thinks the challenges for the podium could come from close to home. "We could see riders like [Jurgen] van den Broeck or my cousin Daniel [Martin]," says...
Lotto Belisol's chase efforts cost the team in sprint finale
In the 229km Tour de France stage 5 from Cagnes-sur-mer to Marseille, the Lotto Belisol team took the initiative early to bring back the break. The team was banking on its sprinter André Greipel to bring the first stage win home. But in the final kilometers, Lotto Belisol lacked the numbers to control the sprint, and eventually Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) emerged as victor.
Greipel lost the wheel of his lead-out man Greg Henderson in the final corner and finished fourth. After heading to the team bus and cooling down on the rollers, the German champion explained what happened.
"I think it was [Alexander] Kristoff. Some riders, they just don't care about what is next to them," he said. "I just had to get on my brakes and lost Greg Henderson's wheel."
The German sprinter was disappointed that he was unable to finish the hard work of his teammates. When looking back on the stage, Greipel felt that making the team work to bring the break back cost them the men that were needed in the final kilometres.
"We did a really good job the whole day. We believed in the sprint, and we put three guys in front to bring the breakaway back," he said. "We made it, but that's why we also sacrificed three riders for the lead-out. With four guys in the last kilometres, it was not that easy. There was not a lead-out train like we can do. Still, we were in the front. There was a bit of headwind in that corner, so it wasn't the perfect corner. From there, it was slightly a tailwind."
On a positive note for the day, Greipel easily won the intermediate sprint in the peloton for nine points, however he made it clear that he would much rather would have won the final sprint. "There was only one sprint that mattered so what's the point?" Greipel...