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First Edition Cycling News, Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Date published:
July 13, 2010, 1:00 BST
  • Sastre enjoying wide open Tour

    Carlos Sastre (Cervelo TestTeam) finishes stage 6.
    Article published:
    July 12, 2010, 17:50 BST
    Cycling News

    Cervélo TestTeam's Hushovd comfortable in green

    Carlos Sastre, 2008 Tour de France winner, survived a challenging first week of the 2010 race - a hot one that was filled with crashes, cobbles and even some mountains. The 35-year-old Spaniard, enjoying a rest day on Monday, spoke at the Cervélo TestTeam's press conference in Morzine, France.

    Sastre sits contentedly in 12th place after Sunday's stage 8. "I was good enough to be with the leaders [on Sunday]. There was a lot of anticipation for the stage. No one knew what to expect. The first week was full of tension, a lot of crashes, heat, wind. I am tranquil. This Tour is just beginning.

    "I have not set any definitive objectives for this Tour," said Sastre. "I am enjoying the race from a different point of view this year. I am taking it day by day. This Tour is going to be one of resistance. If it stays hot, the Pyrénées are going to be a barbarity. If I have the opportunity, I will try something, but I haven't made any specific plan. I wasn't even sure I was going to be able to start the Tour."

    Sastre referred to back problems that plagued him during the Giro d'Italia, but he says he's no longer suffering any pain.

    He noted that the race is wide open, still with many favorites in contention. "This is the first Tour in a long time where there are so many favorites from so many teams with options to win. It's very wide open.

    "Andy Schleck proved he's the most explosive right now, I don't know if he's the strongest. Cadel Evans is very strong psychologically. It will be very hard to take the yellow jersey away from him."

    Sastre's teammate Thor Hushovd, who won stage 3, is spending his time comfortably in the green jersey of the race's points leader.

    "I won a stage and I have the green jersey, so it's been a fine start to this Tour," said Hushovd. "If I win the green jersey, I will be even happier. If not, I am still very happy with this Tour because I won the stage on the...

  • Contador says he admires Armstrong more than before

    Alberto Contador speaks to the press at the Tour's first rest day in Morzine.
    Article published:
    July 12, 2010, 19:31 BST
    Jean-François Quénet

    Defending Tour champion will play with his adversaries

    Alberto Contador (Astana) lost 10 seconds to Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank) at the first uphill finish of the Tour de France in Morzine on Sunday. That comes in addition to the 20 seconds he lost in the final kilometre of stage 3 after the cobblestones, but the 27-year-old Spaniard isn't worried at all.

    "My sensations are good and I'm very happy with how things are going at the Tour so far," said the leader of Astana who is in third place overall, 1:01 down on Cadel Evans (BMC Racing Team) with Schleck 41 seconds in front of him.

    "We can't draw any conclusion from yesterday's stage because the uphill to Avoriaz wasn't steep and the attacks at the end occurred on a flat road," Contador said at a press conference during the rest day. At the back of his hotel in the mountains, he celebrated the win of the Spanish team at the football World Cup with the jersey of "La Roja" on his shoulders. He also showed that he was able to play football as well - juggling is his forte.

    "I went out to catch almost all the attackers," Contador said. "In the coming stages, I'll have to select which rider I should follow. But my legs were good and my team was very good."

    Contador suffered at the end. His breathing was short but all the people who usually have pollen allergies felt it in Avoriaz. This shouldn't affect him in the Pyrénées.

    "Maybe some riders now think they have more possibilities than before to attack me. Fine! They'll find more motivation. That's not bad for me," Contador said. "Andy Schleck has always been one of the favourites. Maybe he's psychologically a bit higher now but there is a lot of racing remaining. I don't give much importance to what happened yesterday."

    The Spaniard has learnt the game of making friends and enemies in the bunch. Does he suspect some possible alliance of Schleck and Lance Armstrong to make him lose the Tour? In any case, Contador has become very diplomatic with his former biggest...

  • Schleck confident after first week

    Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank) in the white jersey on the road to Morzine
    Article published:
    July 12, 2010, 20:09 BST
    Brecht Decaluwé

    Outlook is good one day after mountaintop stage win

    Luxembourg's young star Andy Schleck currently sits in second overall after the first week of the 2010 Tour de France, trailing leader Cadel Evans by only 20 seconds. During the race's first rest day on Monday, Schleck talked with the press in the team hotel - appropriately named l'equipe [the team in French - ed.]. The leader of the Saxo Bank squad made clear that he is confident that the overall victory in this year's Tour de France is within his grasp.

    During the first mountains stage on Sunday, Schleck managed to shake off general classification rival Alberto Contador (Astana) in the last kilometer. It's been ages since Contador has failed to follow another GC-contender uphill; think back to the edition of the Tour featuring Michael Rasmussen in 2007.

    Though Contador himself felt his performance wasn't a big deal, Schleck gained a lot of confidence from the stage finish, by which he had earned 10 seconds on the Spaniard. When asked what it meant to drop Contador, Schleck passed on the question to his Spanish rival. "You should ask him what it meant to him. Of course, it was a huge boost for my morale because I've not seen him in any difficulty previously. I haven't watched it on television yet, but I heard that he really tried to follow but that he couldn't. I need to get on Youtube and check it out."

    "I was surprised he couldn't follow (me) because the day before,  I had formed an impression of him as strong. The fact that he couldn't follow me means that during the next days, hopefully the same thing can happen again," Schleck said. "It was the first real mountains stage, and also the easiest of the mountains stages."

    "The Tour has started yesterday for me. I'm second overall. Everything is going as we planned, more or less."

    In the general classification, Schleck now has a gap of 41 seconds on the Spanish favorite. Despite realizing that he needs much more or a time gap in advance of the 52km long...

  • Wiggins ready to fight on for good overall result

    Bradley Wiggins (Sky) had a somewhat disappointing time.
    Article published:
    July 12, 2010, 21:01 BST
    Stephen Farrand

    Team Sky leader disappointed to lose time but bullish about rest of the Tour

    The L'Equipe newspaper used the somewhat sarcastic headline "Wiggins, bye-bye podium" after he lost time on the climb to Morzine Avoriaz on Sunday. But on the first day, the Briton refused to admit his hopes of a possible good overall result were over in this year's Tour de France.

    Wiggins lost 1:45 to stage winner Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank) after losing contact in the final kilometres of the climb to Morzine Avoriaz. He is now 14th overall, 2:45 behind race leader Cadel Evans (BMC) but is still bullish about his chances.

    "I suppose I always feel disappointed whatever the result, because I always feel I can give more," he said. "It was one of those days yesterday. It wasn't a bad day and it wasn't a great day. It was one of the days in the middle. If I keep having those middle days, I'm going to be in the ballpark in Paris somewhere in the GC.

    "Losing time is not fantastic. I'm not going to lie. But what can I do? Go home or stay here and battle for the next two weeks and see what happens. The goal now is to get the best out of me every day and we'll where we are in Paris. The Pyrenees is where it's going to be won and lost. I think the time gaps in Paris will be minutes. If we're still 2:45 down in Paris, we're going to be on the podium. We'll see."

    Like all the overall favourites, Wiggins has had to battle through a testing first week, a far harder first week than he faced in 2009. He is hoping for a more usual Tour de France in he remaining two weeks of racing.

    "It's nice to get the first week done and get into the pattern of the race," he said. "There has been a lot of difficult stages in the first week, with the prologue, the crashes and the cobbles. A month ago, if someone had said we'd be in this position time wise, we'd have taken it. There are still two weeks to go and a lot of bike racing to go."

    Of his 2:45 deficit he said, "That's the gap and you take what it is and move forward. I've done a lot...

  • Hesjedal seeks top ten overall in Tour

    Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin - Transitions) rides alone at the front on the cobbles.
    Article published:
    July 12, 2010, 21:27 BST
    Stephen Farrand

    GC contender role "new territory" for Canadian

    Canada's Ryder Hesjedal was able to enjoy the first rest day in the Alps as the best placed North American rider in the Tour de France.

    The lanky Canadian, who rode so aggressively and so well on the cobbles of stage three, is sixth overall, 1:11 behind Cadel Evans.

    He slipped from third overall after losing contact in the final kilometres of the stage but to put his Tour de France into real perspective, he is still ahead of Roman Kreuziger (Liquigas-Doimo), Levi Leipheimer (RadioShack), Michael Rogers (HTC-Columbia) and even Carlos Sastre (Cervélo TestTeam) and Ivan Basso (Liquigas-Doimo).

    Hesjedal, 29, seems laid back and ready to accept whatever he achieves in the Tour de France. However, Garmin-Transitions team manager Jonathan Vaughters confirms that he is determined to try and finish in the top ten in Paris.

    "We'll have to see how he goes in the Pyrenees, but it’s a little bit like with Christian [Vande Velde] two years ago and with Bradley [Wiggins] last year," Vaughters said.

    "He's never been in this position before and so we don't know what he can do. He recovers well day to day and does get stronger in the third week of races. If you combine those two things, he should be stronger in the Pyrenees. I think he will be there. The podium may be a lot to ask but we're hoping he can be up there in the top ten.

    "Ryder really wants it. Some riders have a lot of talent, panache or class. But Ryder's greatest skill is that he really wants it. He wants top ten really, really bad and he's willing to give himself a grave everyday to get it."

    Vaughters suggested on Twitter that Hesjedal hadn't had the confidence or the opportunity to go for overall success in a three-week stage race before.

    "I'm not sure about that comment," Hesjedal counters, revealing his inner confidence. "I've believed in myself a long time. I think he was referring to being in the position that I am now," he said. I...

  • Moreau announces end of career

    Christophe Moreau (Caisse d'Epargne) is the oldest rider in this year's Tour de France
    Article published:
    July 12, 2010, 22:46 BST
    Jean-François Quénet

    Oldest Tour de France rider to retire at end of 2010 season

    Christophe Moreau organised a mini press conference with less than ten reporters attending to announce the end of his career when his contract with Caisse d'Epargne finishes at the end of this year.

    "After sixteen years as a pro, with good and bad moments, I've decided to retire very officially," Moreau said in the presence of his wife and two children. At the age of 39, he's the oldest rider at this year's Tour de France as he was born five months before Lance Armstrong and Jens Voigt.

    Armstrong's crashes during stage 8 have influenced his decision. The day before, he was still hoping that Caisse d'Epargne's team manager Eusebio Unzue would tell him he has found another sponsor and would offer him another contract. "Nobody can be sure to avoid a catastrophe, I wouldn't like to be forced to retire after a crash like Armstrong had yesterday," Moreau said. "I've always ridden my bike for being at the front of the race. During the coming two weeks, I'll look for a last emotion at the Tour."

    Moreau started his career with Festina in 1995 and was a member of the infamous team which was kicked out of the 1998 Tour de France. He won the Dauphiné twice (2001 and 2006) and the prologue of the Tour de France in 2001.

    "I'm turning the page," he said. But former double winner of the Tour de France, Laurent Fignon, was prompt to recall on the radio station Europe 1 that "he already said last year that it was his last Tour, so be careful of a possible change of mind!"

    Moreau considered retiring at the end of his contract with Ag2r in 2007 and every year since. He ruled out the option of becoming a directeur sportif.

  • Australia’s Clarke lands Ag2r stagiaire role

    2009 Canberra Tour winner Will Clarke (Genesys Wealth Advisers) would be disappointed not to have made up the 34 seconds needed to catch Ben Dyball.
    Article published:
    July 13, 2010, 3:32 BST
    Greg Johnson

    Genesys allows rider to chase Euro dream

    William Clarke will ride with AG2R La Mondiale as a stagiaire through to October after the French ProTour approached the 25-year-old, who recently completed a block of racing in Belgium. Clarke’s Australian squad Genesys Pro Cycling has granted the rider permission to pursue his European dream, with team manager Andrew Christie-Johnston almost as excited as Clarke to hear of the offer.

    “This is great for Will, he belongs in the ProTour so hopefully this will see him gain a contract for 2011,” said Christie-Johnston. “Genesys Pro Cycling is a development team - this is what we are all about.

    “We have always been happy to see our riders grow and go on to bigger and better things and it just proves that we are succeeding in our mission and the 10 years of hard work are starting to bear fruit,” he added.

    Clarke is currently in Monaco with one of Genesys’ former riders – now Saxo Bank star Richie Porte. The Tasmanian is in just his first year as a professional with the Danish team, yet is already a household name having worn the Giro d’Italia’s maglia rosa on the way to a seventh overall finish.

    Domestically Clarke has won two stages in Cycling Australia’s National Road Series this year, at the Tours of Mersey Valley and Canberra. He also took a clean sweep at Victoria’s Tour of the Southern Grampians, winning three stages and the overall.

    During his six week block in Belgium Clarke won Londerzeel-Sint Jozef, Waasmunster-Ruiter and Wolvertem. Earlier in the season he performed strongly at the Tour de Taiwan, where he finished third overall.

  • Sunderland expecting Tour showdown on Tourmalet

    Scott Sunderland before the final stage of the 2008 Vuelta a España
    Article published:
    July 13, 2010, 5:15 BST
    Scott Sunderland

    Scott Sunderland's first week analysis

    I'm sure the riders were looking forward to the first rest day of the Tour de France and they must all be hoping it really helps them after a tough first week. It's probably been one of the toughest first weeks in recent history of the Tour.

    The first week used to be all about the sprinters and breakaways, but this year they've faced the pressure and the rain of the prologue, the wind and dangers of the coast road in the Netherlands, the climbs and crashes in the Ardennes, the blast over the cobbles and then the heat and the climbs of the last few days. There was drama, chaos and even discussion. It's added up to a big and brutal first week.

    We thought losing Christian Vande Velde was a big moment but now even Lance Armstrong is out of contention. Yet at the top of the general classification, things are really tight and really intriguing.

    It would be fascinating to really know how the overall contenders are feeling and what they're thinking. I haven’t been able to see many interviews on television and on the internet but I used to really try and see the riders body language and listen to see what they were saying to try and work them out.

    Of course the general classification doesn't lie either and showed that Andy Schleck is riding well. His confidence must be sky high now and while the loss of his brother might be a problem for him psychologically, I think it will also make him mature and give him the freedom to really take the race by the scruff of the neck.

    It's also going to be fascinating to see How Cadel Evans and his BMC team ride in the next few days. Evans is a different rider thanks to his new team but now we will see if that is good enough. Keeping yellow all the way to Paris is a big ask for him and the team, considering the strengths of his rivals but the Pyrenees will be the real test of his form.

    I have to say that Alberto Contador...