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First Edition Cycling News, Thursday, July 8, 2010

Date published:
July 08, 2010, 1:00 BST
  • Fuglsang key for Andy Schleck's Tour chances

    Jakob Fuglsang (Saxo Bank)
    Article published:
    July 07, 2010, 19:52 BST
    By:
    Daniel Benson

    Danish TT champ having a solid Tour debut

    Jakob Fuglsang's role at the Tour de France became ever more important after his Saxo Bank teammate Fränk Schleck abandoned the race yesterday with a broken collarbone. The Danish climbing prodigy had been designated to be the final helper in the mountains for both Fränk and younger brother Andy, but with just Andy left in the race, Fuglsang's ability to last the course in the mountains could determine the remaining Schleck's chances.

    "I'm still going to try and be there as long as I can and help Andy," he told Cyclingnews at the finish of stage 4 in Reims.

    "Maybe we'd have had different tactics if Fränk was in the race, but in the end we have what we have and I think we have a really good card in Andy. I still believe we can win this Tour."

    Fuglsang won't be Andy Schleck's only support. Chris Anker Sørensen is a domestique deluxe and along with winning stage 8 in the Giro d'Italia, he helped Richie Porte claim a top-ten overall finish.

    "We'll see who is going the best in the mountains. Maybe Chris and I will have to share the work a bit, but we'll both have to work hard. We have to give everything to stay up there and help Andy."

    Fuglsang's Tour de France debut has already been solid enough. He was part of the Saxo Bank train that derailed so many overall contenders in yesterday's cobbled stage to Arenberg with a superb team performance. However, it hasn't been a totally rosy affair. A clash with Robbie Hunter (Garmin-Transitions) in yesterday's stage saw both riders take swings at each other.

    "He came on the inside where there was almost no space and I shouted at him because it was the fifteenth time in the last three days that he's jumped in a small gap where there wasn't that much space for him," Fuglsang told Cyclingnews.

    "It was just before the cobbles when it was pretty stressful. I was trying to stay behind Andy and do my job and he came and pushed me. I...

  • Tour de Toona reduced to one-day

    The women set to start the criterium final stage in 2007
    Article published:
    July 07, 2010, 20:32 BST
    By:
    Kirsten Frattini

    Budget problems scuttle plans for stage race

    Race organizers of the International Tour de Toona were forced to reduce the seven-day professional women's stage race down to a one-day criterium held on August 29th in Altoona, Pennsylvania.

    "Unfortunately we were unable to secure the funding needed to pull off the seven-day event as well as we wanted to, so we will be hosting a one-day criterium event," said Pam Snyder, event spokesperson. "We are already working towards returning to a stage race in 2011, but we simply got a late start this year and were unable to make up the ground."

    The event will host a 65-kilometre criterium for both the Pro, 1 men and Pro, 1-2 women held on an eight-corner, 1.6-kilometre circuit. Each field will be racing for a cash purse of $10,000.

    After a two-year hiatus race organizers announced the return of the prestigious International Tour de Toona as a women's seven-stage race that was scheduled to take place from August 23-29. A three-day professional men's event was to be held in conjunction with the final weekend of the women's race.

    "I've always loved that race and I'm very disappointed that they couldn't get it back on the calendar, or had it on the calendar but canceled it," said Lisa Hunt, directeur sportif of the Vera Bradley Foundation. "It is one of the best stage races in the country so it is a disappointment. I'm not surprised because they have had such difficulty with sponsorship in the past, but I was hopeful."

    Organizers were expecting a large women's peloton including HTC-Columbia because it offered challenging stages that included an inaugural mountain finish atop the famed Blue Knob ascent. Furthermore, the race had historically highlighted the women's race as the marquee event and offered equal prize money and race distances as the professional men's category.

    "I was hoping to send a full team," Hunt said. "It wasn't in our schedule initially so I was going to have to scramble to come up with the additional funds...

  • Txurruka out of Tour de France

    Amets Txurruka (Euskaltel) could not race the final day due to a broken collarbone from the previous stage.
    Article published:
    July 07, 2010, 21:33 BST
    By:
    Cycling News

    Broken collarbone puts Euskaltel-Euskadi down to 8

    The Euskaltel-Euskadi team confirmed Wednesday that Amets Txurruka has abandoned the Tour de France with a broken collarbone. The 27-year-old Basque rider crashed 30km into the stage to Reims.

    While he continued to the finish, he was later diagnosed with a broken right clavicle, the same bone he broke at the Tour of the Basque Country earlier this year.

    Txurruka has no wins to his name in his five years as a professional, but he is well regarded for his attacking style, and was awarded the prize for most aggressive rider of the 2007 Tour de France in his Grand Tour debut.

  • Procycling's daily Tour de France dispatch - stage 4

    South Africa's Robbie Hunter (Garmin-Transitions).
    Article published:
    July 07, 2010, 21:50 BST
    By:
    Cycling News

    Esperanto, McGee, Thomas, Armstrong, Hunter, Stapleton

    Lost in translation

    Journalists can't be in all places at all times, and sometimes have to rely on the odd team press release for comments from the day's protagonists. The headline used for the third stage from Saxo Bank's press office was a strange one, though: "Ambivalent, Violent And Epic Battle On The Cobblestones".

    Epic, yes; violent, yes – but ambivalent? And this from Alberto Contador's press officer Jacinto Vidarte, where the defending champ was supposed to have said: "With all the tension of pavé, I felt very, very comfortable. With the failure I could not done any relay, could not stand up on the pedals and knew I was spending more energy than normal, but could not stop." What the …?

    From DS to administrator

    While on the subject of Saxo Bank, we spotted its Australian sports director Bradley McGee at the start in Cambrai Wednesday morning, and asked him what he was doing here. "My role? I'm like the administrator – I'm the go-between guy for staff and organisation and timing and schedules and all that sort of stuff," he said.

    "If I do my job properly, then you've got Torsten [Schmidt] and obviously Bjarne [Riis] more concentrated on tactics." McGee added that if he's needed, he's more than ready to step into the director's role, but his primary focus is to make sure the Goodship Saxo Bank sails smoothly to Paris – hopefully with Andy Schleck in the maillot jaune.

    As to when we can expect his protégé and Giro d'Italia revelation Richie Porte at the Tour, he said, "Even though he's a neo-pro, he has proved his qualities are more than that, so it won't be too far into the future."

    Put a, er, bedgown on it

    In the Scottish media the phrase is, "Put a kilt on it." It is a joking reference to the parochial nature of certain media outlets, and their desire to shoehorn a tartan reference into...

  • Gerrans bruised and battered after crashes

    Simon Gerrans (Team Sky)
    Article published:
    July 07, 2010, 22:20 BST
    By:
    Richard Moore

    Australian hopes to stay out of trouble

    Simon Gerrans (Team Sky) resembled a boxer or street fighter who'd been on the end of a good beating in Cambrai on the morning of stage four of the Tour de France.

    The Australian rider’s movements were slow and deliberate, and his face bore witness to some of his injuries: four stitches in his cheek, and extensive bruising around a particularly nasty black eye.

    But there was more. "I lost a fair bit of skin down one side," said Gerrans, who seemed, nonetheless, keen to accentuate the positive. "I've still got one side to sleep on," he shrugged.

    Still, it was no surprise to hear race radio report that Gerrans paid a visit to the Tour doctor during the stage. And, at the finish in Reims, he was one of the most relieved to have remained upright, for the first time since Sunday’s first stage.

    "I've had tough couple of days," he said, "but I'm still here. I'm just going to try and take it easy for the next couple of days, and stay out of trouble. Then hopefully I can be a good help to Brad [Wiggins] in the mountains."

    Gerrans’s first crash was on Monday, as the field descended the Stockeu, where Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank) and numerous others also fell off. "About a third of the bunch came off I think," said Gerrans. "I was near the front, about fifth wheel, and I didn't hit anyone - I just touched my brakes slightly and went straight down."

    Then, on Tuesday’s cobbled stage, Gerrans was up-ended in even more dramatic style, in a crash that was captured by the TV cameras. "The bunch slowed right down and I didn't see them slow straight away, because I was looking around for Michael [Barry] and Bradley," said Gerrans.

    "When I turned back round I saw them slowing down and hit the brakes pretty hard. I went up on the front wheel, and then I got hit from behind, and that tipped me right over. I hit the deck pretty hard, and it all happened so fast, so I didn't get a chance to stick a hand out or...

  • Sanchez feels top five Tour finish in reach

    Olympic champion Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel - Euskadi) rides the cobbles.
    Article published:
    July 08, 2010, 9:48 BST
    By:
    Hedwig Kröner

    Olympic champion relieved to survive Arenberg stage

    Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) limited his losses on the stage to Arenberg that took out an important general classification contender in Saxo Bank's Fränk Schleck. The Basque rider, inexperienced on the cobbles, was relieved the stage was over and happy to have finished it in 37th position, 2:08 minutes down on stage winner Thor Hushovd.

    Sanchez may have lost the same amount of time to his overall rivals Andy Schleck and Cadel Evans but the Spaniard is satisfied with his result. "The stage to Arenberg went OK," he told Cyclingnews. "I had a little mechanic problem as I also got caught in the crash that took out Fränk Schleck, and then my rear wheel broke. I went until the finish like that. But overall, it was fine. I lost two minutes to Andy Schleck, but my position now is OK with guys like Carlos Sastre, Robert Gesink and Ivan Basso behind me on general classification. I am satisfied with the outcome."

    The Olympic champion did not suffer any injuries in the tumble that broke the elder Schleck's collarbone and was happy that the stage was behind him. "I must admit that I was afraid of this stage, yes,” he said. “I'm relieved. I did reconnaissance of the stage in May, but I was very afraid of crashing on the cobbles."

    Sanchez' objectives at this Tour are clear. "I always like to improve my previous performances," he said. "In 2008, I finished sixth on general classification, and got second behind Carlos Sastre in the stage leading to Alpe d'Huez. This year, I would like to win a stage and improve on that overall sixth placing. I know it is going to be difficult, but you just have to fight and have confidence."

    The leader of Euskaltel-Euskadi is starting the three-week race in perfect condition, hoping to realise his goals. "I feel good. I raced the Dauphiné, which was good. Then, the training sessions I did afterwards also went fine. Now, I only lack that final percentage of fitness that will come...

  • Wiggins riding prototype Prologo saddle

    Bradley Wiggins' (Team Sky) custom Prologo Scratch Pro Nack saddle gets a custom cover but also some new tech tricks that help bring the weight well below the 200g mark.
    Article published:
    July 08, 2010, 10:20 BST
    By:
    James Huang

    Custom cover disguising revised design

    Prologo has again provided custom covered saddles to numerous riders in this year's Tour de France but the differences in the one Team Sky captain Bradley Wiggins is riding extend beyond the surface.

    Wiggins' special Scratch Pro Nack uses Prologo's next generation of foam padding, which Prologo claims is not only 15 percent lighter than its next closest competitor but also 20 percent better at damping vibration for a more comfortable ride. Prologo sales manager Salvatore Truglio further says that the shell weight has dropped by about seven percent but without affecting stiffness or durability. Finally, new composite rails using a mix of carbon, alloy, and Kevlar fibers are included as well.

    Prologo claims this latest version will tip the scales at just 170g – 55g lighter than the standard Scratch Pro – and will go on sale this October.

    Wiggins' custom graphics continue on with Prologo's penchant for light-hearted caricatures. According to Truglio, the design was inspired by 60's-era Lambretta and Vespa scooters – and as it turns out, Wiggins owns a 1964 Vespa himself.

    Prologo says limited edition Wiggins replica saddles (with the same look but not the same tech features) are also now available to consumers at a cost of €189.

  • Le Mével recovering ahead of Alps opportunity

    Francaise des Jeux's Christophe Le Mével talks with his agent Andrew McQuaid ahead of Stage 4.
    Article published:
    July 08, 2010, 11:37 BST
    By:
    Jean-François Quénet

    Best Frenchman of 2009 hopes to repeat top 10

    France’s Christophe Le Mével (Francaise des Jeux) felt relieved at the start of the Tour de France’s stage 4 in Cambrai. Having crashed on many occasions this year, Le Mével feared the worst could happen on the roads of Holland, Belgium and north of France in the Tour’s early stages.

    While Le Mével did indeed suffer a crash, it was on the descent of Stockeu where much of the peloton went down, and not the cobblestones of stage three that he’d feared.

    “I’m still in a bit of pain,” he told Cyclingnews, while trying to bend his right arm. “It was a relief to not crash on the cobblestones. I’ve done even better than limit the damage.”

    Conquering the cobbles came with the help of Australian teammate Wesley Sulzberger. The Tasmanian had a bit more pavé experience than Le Mével, as he rode Paris-Roubaix and made the early breakaway that stayed away for a long time.

    Le Mével hopes his solid 10th place finish at last year’s race won’t make him a marked man as this year’s edition reaches the mountains. His result last year gave Francaise des Jeux its first top 10 Tour result since its formation in 1997, something he’s keen to improve on this year.

    “I welcome the few stages before the Alps because the calm can help me recover from the injuries,” Le Mével said. “I want to break away like last year; maybe between the Alps and the Pyrénées but I’m afraid they won’t let me go this time.”

    Le Mével and Sandy Casar - who finished 11th last year - are two cards for Francaise des Jeux to play again this year. They sit in 41st and 38th places, less than three minutes down on the highest ranked general classification rider Cadel Evans.

    “This year we’ll try our best for general classification,” said team manager Marc Madiot....