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First Edition Cycling News, Thursday, June 30, 2011

Date published:
June 30, 2011, 1:00 BST
  • Memory of Tondo spurs Intxausti on

    Beñat Intxausti (Movistar) in action during Liège-Bastogne-Liège.
    Article published:
    June 29, 2011, 21:52 BST
    Peter Cossins

    Movistar Tour debutant aims to contend for best young rider title

    Movistar's Beñat Intxausti is going into his first Tour de France with his sights set on contending for the white jersey of best young rider and the aim of dedicating the title to his teammate Xavier Tondo, who died little more than a month ago.

    "I would like to dedicate the white jersey to Xavi, who told me before he died that I could win it," Intxausti told El Correo. "Xavi and I went through the list of my possible rivals for the white jersey," Intxausti said, adding that Astana's Roman Kreuziger and Sky's Rigoberto Urán were two of those mentioned. "I'm not saying I'm going to win it, but I am going to contend for it."

    Intxausti and Tondo were on a high-altitude training camp at Spain's Sierra Nevada resort in late May when Tondo was tragically killed when he became trapped between the door of an underground car park and his own vehicle. Intxausti was sitting inside the vehicle when the accident occurred. His teammate died in his arms.

    The tragedy has affected him profoundly. "I wasn't able to train for several days. Going to his funeral helped me, as did being there with my teammates. I was able to say goodbye to him there," Intxausti said.

    "I will be going to the Tour with a great deal of respect," said Intxausti, who had high hopes of producing a good performance at last year's Vuelta for his former Euskaltel team, but ended up quitting the race on stage 15. "I prepared for it well but it didn't go well for me at all. I want to do well in a Grand Tour, but I'm relaxed. I'm not obsessing about it."

  • Hincapie set for record-equalling Tour de France

    George Hincapie (BMC) will start his 16th Tour de France this year.
    Article published:
    June 30, 2011, 1:50 BST
    Laura Weislo

    16th start for American matches Zoetemelk

    American George Hincapie is on the verge of starting his 16th Tour de France - a feat which has only been matched by one other rider, Dutch legend Joop Zoetemelk. While Zoetemelk was one of the more successful Tour riders in history - winning once and finishing second overall six times - Hincapie has been partly responsible for eight Tour victories: seven by Lance Armstrong and one by Alberto Contador.

    When asked by Cyclingnews what the significance of equalling Zoetemelk's record held for him, Hincapie replied, "It's more about how I feel a certain amount of respect from the peloton because of it. People know how hard I've worked over the years. And certainly the BMC Racing Team knows, too."

    "It's really kind of an honor for me to be a part of [the Tour]. When I first became a professional, I had hoped to do 10 years and would have been happy with that. Eighteen years later and getting ready to start my 16th Tour, I'm still enjoying it and not taking anything for granted."

    At age 38, Hincapie is not the oldest rider to compete in the Tour de France - that honour belongs to Jens Voigt, who turns 40 in September - but he is certainly the most experienced of Tour riders. For the second year in a row, his job will be to protect Cadel Evans and help him win the Tour, and few riders know how to do that better than Hincapie.

    "In a race like the Tour de France, there are a lot of variables, so it's important to have a team that knows how to keep its leader out of trouble. We have one of the best teams in the world for Cadel. But there are a lot of things you have to be ready for, too.

    "We're going to have a strong time trial team. A lot of the GC guys will be nervous about that day because time differences can be made. We also have a...

  • BMC soigneur implicated in drug investigation

    The BMC riders await the start
    Article published:
    June 30, 2011, 7:11 BST
    Cycling News

    Team plays down role of 'Sven S'

    A BMC soigneur has been arrested after a long-running investigation into his connection with a shipment of drugs seized at Brussels airport in 2009. The investigation has taken 18 months and ultimately led to the arrest of 'Sven S.' according to Belgium newspaper Het Nieuwsblad. Several other media have reported that the package contained 200 doses of EPO.

    Details of the arrest are still unclear, though the soigneur is reported to still be in custody after being arrested on Monday. He as admitted to police that the shipment was for him but is insisting the drugs were for his own personal use.

    The BMC team has tried to play down their links with Sven S. Belgian directeur sportif John Lelangue did not want to comment, while team manager Jim Ochowicz has said that he doesn't know 'Sven S'.

    "A part-time soigneur for us? His name means nothing to me. I also don't know anything about an arrest. This is the first I've heard of it," he said.

    Greg Van Avermaet also denied any soigneur by that name working for BMC.

    "Sven S.? Yes, that name sounds familiar. I don't think he work for BMC though. I've never seen the guy at a race."

    However the BMC official website lists Belgian soigneur Sven Schoutteten as part of their staff for the recent Giro della Toscana one-day race and the Skoda Velothon race in Berlin on May 22 , where Lelangue was directeur sportif and Van Avermaet was part of the team.  

    On Wednesday it also emerged that former Silence-Lotto rider Wim Vansevenant is caught up in an investigation after Belgian custom officials intercepted a package containing the banned drug TB-500.

    Vansevenant claimed the veterinary drug was for his own use and not for riders at the current Omega Pharma-Lotto team. He was due to drive VIP guests for the team at the Tour de France but the...

  • €3.5 million up for grabs in Tour de France

    The 2010 Tour de France podium
    Article published:
    June 30, 2011, 7:57 BST
    Cycling News

    Winner in Paris nets 450,000€

    There is a lot at stake for the riders of the Tour de France: fame, glory, prestige - but on top of that is a total prize purse of nearly €3.5 million.

    Cash prizes exist for almost every rider who finishes the race when it hits Paris on July 24. The prizes for the final general classification start at €450,000 for the winner, €200,000 for the runner-up, €100,000 for the third spot and on down to €400 for 91st-150th place.

    Every time a rider dons that yellow jersey after a stage, he's also putting €7,000 in his pocket. Yet even with all of the daily bonuses and prizes in Paris, the general classification only uses up €1,005,000 of the overall purse.

    Stage winners earn €8,000, but there are more reasons for a rider to keep sprinting even if he's not going to win, as not only do the points on a flat stage go down to 15th place, the cash goes down to 20th.

    When you see Mark Cavendish gunning for an intermediate sprint, it isn't just that he's competing for the 20 points available for first place, he also stands to earn €1,500 - plus an additional €6,000 per day if he pulls on the green jersey of points classification winner. If he can hold that green jersey to Paris? That's another €25,000 in it for him, but even the 8th place rider in that competition gets paid.

    The same goes for the mountains classification - there are hundreds of euros up for grabs atop the 51 classified climbs (9 HC, 5 category 1, 9 category 2, 14 category 3 and 14 category 4) - from €800 for a hors categorie summit to €200 for a category 4. The best climber on the day gets €6,000 and overall top mountain man will get €25,000 in Paris.

    There are two extra prizes on tap again this year: the Souvenir Jacques Goddet, named for the Tour's director of 50 years,...

  • Danielson ready for his Tour de France debut

    Third place Tom Danielson (Garmin-Cervelo) after a champagne shower.
    Article published:
    June 30, 2011, 9:19 BST
    Daniel Benson

    Garmin-Cervelo climber taking it day by day

    Tom Danielson (Garmin-Cervelo) has had to wait a long time but on Saturday he will line up on the Passage du Gois for the start of his maiden Tour de France. The 33-year-old turned professional nearly a decade ago and despite competing in several other grand tours, has always been overlooked when it came to the biggest race of all.

    "It’s been a long time coming so I’m really excited about doing it. I have to say that even though I’m 33, I feel like a little kid here and it’s really exciting for me," Danielson told Cyclingnews.

    "We got here early. Normally when I’m at a bike race early the time goes by slowly but here it’s just been really different. We rode the last 110 kilometres of the first stage and seeing the bikes by the side of the road, imagining what it’s going to be like with all the people, you can just feel it in the air. This race is just totally different."

    Danielson secured a place in the Garmin-Cervelo team after a strong start to the season. He has finished third in the Amgen Tour of California and ninth in the Tour de Suisse. His versatility in time trials and in the mountains cemented his place, while his pedigree over three weeks improved last year when he finished 9th in the Vuelta.

    "I’ve never done the Tour. I’ve done the Giro and Vuelta so I know I can handle the three week element but I haven’t done the Tour. I don’t know any of the climbs or the roads so the plan is about taking it day-by-day and worrying about the team’s goals," he explained.

    "I know my form is good and that I’m in good...

  • Schleck ready to take on Contador at the Tour de France

    Andy Schleck (Leopard Trek) at the start in Santa Clarita.
    Article published:
    June 30, 2011, 9:53 BST
    Hedwig Kröner

    Leopard Trek leader has not forgotten last year's chaingate incident

    With this year's Tour de France just days away, race favourite Andy Schleck has recalled the so-called 'chaingate' incident that marked last year's race and his chances the overall lead.

    On stage 15 to Bagnères-de-Luchon in the Pyrenees, while he was wearing the yellow jersey, Schleck attacked Alberto Contador on the Port du Balès climb. But as he was opening up a gap, his chain jammed, and the Spaniard took advantage to attack and went on to gain 39 seconds - exactly the amount of time that separated the two riders on the final podium in Paris.

    "I wouldn't have done that (attack)," Schleck said in an exclusive interview published in French newspaper L'Equipe on Thursday. "He said he didn't see it. But he looked like this [turning his head and looking over his shoulder - ed.] and then he attacked."

    "A great champion doesn't do a thing like that. When Ullrich crashed into a ravine, Armstrong waited. When Armstrong crashed on the way to Luz-Ardiden (on stage 12 of the 2003 Tour), the other riders agreed to wait for him. That's what makes a champion. I was really very disappointed by his attitude that day."

    "On the day after it, he came to say he was sorry. I told him in English: 'I forgive but I don't forget'. I think he understood."

    A Tour de France rematch

    Schleck is looking forward to a rematch against Contador at this year's Tour de France, saying he is happy that the 2010 Tour winner is riding despite his ongoing Clenbuterol doping case.

    "I am happy that he is here: I want to beat him on the road," he said. "I want the challenge, I want a man-against-man battle!"

    The 26-year-old

  • Garmin-Cervelo reveals new jersey for Tour de France

    Garmin-Cervelo Tour de France jersey
    Article published:
    June 30, 2011, 11:31 BST
    Stephen Farrand

    US team returns to white argyle design

    The Garmin-Cervélo team has unveiled a new jersey design on the eve of the Tour de France, replacing the mostly black jersey with a white and blue argyle design.

    Main sponsor Garmin is prominent across the chest of the jersey and on the side panels, while the Cervélo é dominates the back and shoulders. The upper part of the jersey is white, with a blue argyle pattern covering the lower part. The clothing is made by Italian company Castelli.

    “We’re really excited about the Tour de France kit,” team manager Jonathan Vaughters said in a press release. “The lighter colour is perfect for hot weather and our signature argyle is more prominent.”

    Team Sky changed its colours from blue to green for the Tour de France to help promote a campaign to raise funds to save the rainforest.

    This is the third time Castelli has introduced new clothing at the Tour de France, using to the event as a marketing ploy as well as giving their riders clothing that helps deal with the summer heat of France. The riders will also have a special skin suit for the time trials and a special lightweight jersey for the mountain stages.

    “We consider the Tour de France a very special event that deserves a special design,” Castelli Brand Manager said Steve Smith said in a press release.

    “This team is rider-centric, and Castelli has done its part to make sure the riders have the most comfortable and technically advanced clothing for this big event. Racing in hot weather is physically demanding, that’s a given, and despite the fact that Castelli makes some of the lightest and coolest fabrics in existence, wearing a lighter colour will make a big difference, both psychologically and physically, to a rider’s well being.”

    The limited...

  • French champion's jersey motivates Chavanel for Tour de France

    Sylvain Chavanel happy on the podium
    Article published:
    June 30, 2011, 13:35 BST
    Hedwig Kröner

    National champion excited to be at Grand Depart

    2011 French champion Sylvain Chavanel arrived at the start of the Tour de France excited to ride his tenth Tour in the distinctive red, white and blue French national champion's jersey.

    Since his spectacular win last Sunday, the Quick Step rider has chosen to lay low at his home, not answering his phone and coming to the Grand Départ on his own, in his personal car, savouring a few moments of normal life before the Tour madness begins.

    "At the moment, it's all still a bit unsettled in my head, I don't understand what's happening," he told L'Equipe when asked how it felt to be at the start of the Tour de France as national champion.

    Chavanel had been targetting the jersey for a long time and to win it this year, after a frustrating spring, felt like a consecration to him.

    "I wanted it at all costs. It was this year or never. I had imagined myself with it so many times," he admitted. "Now, I try to visualise the team presentation (on Friday afternoon), it will be special to be on the podium with this jersey. The thought is already gives me goose bumps."

    The Frenchman won two stage at the Tour last year and also wore the yellow jersey for two days. Being the French national champion has further boosted his ambitions for this year's race.

    "I know that winning races wearing this jersey will mean even more. When I left home in my car, I started getting excited about it... But I won't change anything in my behaviour. I'll remain focused on my objectives."

    In 2010, his Tour de France stage victories counted amongst the best moments in his career, and Chavanel is eager to repeat his success. "I remember the