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First Edition Cycling News, Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Date published:
July 16, 2013, 1:00 BST
  • Europcar extends sponsorship for two years

    Europcar presented in Corsica
    Article published:
    July 15, 2013, 18:05 BST
    By:
    Sam Dansie

    Company wants team to have greater visibility internationally

    Europcar has announced that it is extending its sponsorship deal with the team managed by Jean-René Bernaudeau to the end of 2015, putting to an end to speculation that the vehicle rental company was planning to end its link with cycling at the end of this season.

    Speaking at the French team's Tour de France rest day press conference, Europcar's group sales manager, Marcus Bernhardt, said, "We are very proud to continue this great adventure and we have no doubts that the sponsorship will continue to give us complete satisfaction."

    Europcar took over as the principal sponsor of Bernaudeau's team in 2010 following the departure of Bouygues Telecom. In the subsequent period, the team has enjoyed what has undoubtedly been the most successful period in its long history, particularly at the Tour de France, where co-leaders Thomas Voeckler and Pierre Rolland have both been among the principal actors over the past three editions.

    Europcar has indicated that it wants the team to have greater visibility internationally, which is likely to result in a push towards securing a step up from Professional Continental to WorldTour status. According to L'Équipe, Bernaudeau's sponsor would like to see the team competing in next year's Vuelta a España.

    Bernaudeau acknowledged that he is looking at bringing in new faces, but affirmed, "We won't be walking into hotels [at the Tour] with a cheque book. We are not going to buy [WorldTour] points." He said the finance for these new signings is set to come from new sponsors, whose identities will be revealed "before the end of the week". Bernaudeau added, "The project will be extremely innovative."

    According to Bernaudeau,...

  • There is no reason to doubt Froome's performances, says Contador

    Alberto Contador (Saxo-Tinkoff) struggles on the final kilometer
    Article published:
    July 15, 2013, 18:43 BST
    By:
    Barry Ryan

    Spaniard promises to attack in final week of Tour

    On his last appearance at the Tour de France in 2011, Alberto Contador faced repeated doping questions as he rode under the shadow of an impending sanction for his positive test for clenbuterol at the previous year's race.

    Two years on – and after belatedly serving his suspension last season – Contador has returned to France to find that while the questions still remain, they are now directed primarily at his rival, race leader Chris Froome (Sky).

    Contador could scarcely hide his irritation when the first query at his rest day press conference in the Saxo-Tinkoff hotel in Avignon concerned Froome's credibility rather than his own chances of overhauling his considerable deficit of 4:25 in the overall standings, and he immediately looked to bat that line of questioning away.

    "I will give you two questions about doping, no more. I'll just go to my room if you want to ask more than that," Contador said wearily, before continuing. "There is no reason to doubt Froome's performance. He is a great professional. He is at a very high level and has been all year. His performances are because he works hard. Sometimes you are stronger, other times you are less strong, but I believe in his performances. And in any case, there are the controls."

    Contador has been emphatically defeated by Froome on both of the Tour's summit finishes to date, a sequence of events that would have been wholly unimaginable as recently as two years ago. He has acknowledged that Froome is simply on another plane this July, but with two Tour victories to his name (and a third expunged from his palmares),...

  • Fränk Schleck able to race again but has no team

    An unhappy Frank Schleck during the Giro d'Italia
    Article published:
    July 15, 2013, 20:00 BST
    By:
    Cycling News

    Guercilena still hopes for both Schlecks on Trek team in 2014

    Fränk Schleck's doping-related suspension has ended and he is ready to race again. However, he is facing the problem of not having a team. Luca Guercilena has said that he hopes to have both Fränk and younger brother Andy with Team Trek next year.

    Schleck tested positive for Xipamid during last year's Tour de France and was given a one-year ban, which expired this weekend. He had expected to return to Team RadioShack-Leopard, but team owner Fabio Becca said that his contract would not be renewed.

    Becca has also announced that he will sell his WorldTour licence for the team to Guercilena, who will take over the team next year, opening up the possibility that Fränk may again join his brother, whose contract with the team runs through the next season.

    “I would very much like to have them both on my team. We are working on looking at whether it will work out for the coming year,” Guercilena told tageblatt.lu. 

    There have been rumours that Fränk Schleck may find another for which he could ride the remainder of this season and perhaps in the future, with Team Astana being mentioned.

    Guercilena said he could understand Schleck's desire to return as soon as possible, saying. “He is an athlete and wants to ride races. But I still have hopes that we can plan with the Schlecks for 2014.”

  • Mollema hopes to cement Tour de France GC place during mountain TT

    Bauke Mollema and Robert Gesink (Belkin)
    Article published:
    July 15, 2013, 20:13 BST
    By:
    Sam Dansie

    Wednesday's time trial precedes three tough mountain stages

    Bauke Mollema said he hopes that the tough mountain time trial on Wednesday at the Tour de France will be an opportunity to cement his second place on general classification ahead of three tough Alpine mountain stages - including a double ascent of Alpe d'Huez.

    Speaking on the second rest day, the team Belkin leader said the 32km time trial over a pair of category 2 climbs to Chorges could be a platform to distance his nearest rivals.

    Alberto Contador and Roman Kreuziger (both Saxo-Tinkoff Bank) lie less than 15 seconds behind him on general classification.

    Mollema said didn't expect large time differences between on tomorrow's stage in Gap, which finishes with a technical descent of the Col de Manse.

    "Every day is important, but I don't expect a lot of differences between GC riders tomorrow," said Mollema.

    "In the time trial, I hope to gain some time on some riders behind me to have a bit more space in the last three hard stages," he said.

    On yesterday's stage to Ventoux, Mollema was shepherded to the summit with help from teammate Laurens Ten Dam, fifth overall. Mollema said the pair would continue working together and were hopeful of extra support from Robert Gesink.

    "It's really special we are both top five in the Tour," said Mollema. "We are both really happy with our positions and it's important to try to stay here. Maybe we can try to help each other I think because we're pretty equal in the climbs.

    "Robert Gesink is getting better and I hope he can help us more now in the last three days than in the Pyrenees. Then we will see."

  • Danny van Poppel departs the Tour de France

    Brothers in arms. Danny and Boy Van Poppel of Vacansoleil-DCM.
    Article published:
    July 15, 2013, 21:26 BST
    By:
    José Been

    Young Vacansoleil-DCM rider happy with the first two weeks

    Danny van Poppel left the Tour de France today. It is a decision that Vacansoleil-DCM took together with the medical advisor and the rider himself.

    "It's been a great two weeks but it's okay to leave right now," the 19-year-old rider told Cyclingnews today.

    Van Poppel is the youngest rider in the WorldTour and the youngest to start in the Tour de France since World War II. "I am used to the attention I get because I have been the youngest all year. But in the Tour de France everything is bigger. I didn't expect the media attention to be so huge. There were days I had to rush to the start because of all the interviews I did in the morning."

    It was expected that Van Poppel wouldn't make it to Paris. "For a 19-year-old, this is enough. He is a rider who is still developing. You also change young football players at half time, for example. That is what we are doing here too," team doctor Nando Liem told Cyclingnews.

    "He is still fine, both mentally and physically and we like to keep it that way. There are still important races to come and we want to protect him."

    The Tour de France has been a great experience for the young rider. "The first stage to Bastia, where I finished third and could start in the white jersey the next day, is something I will never forget. I felt that I showed the world that I had a reason to be here."

    Of course there were also difficult days like stage 9 to Bagnères de Bigorre. That stage won by Dan Martin after a furious series of attacks by the GC riders, saw many non-climbers suffer. "The pace was so high from the start but I managed to stay with the other sprinters. When I saw that and saw that...

  • Gallery: Tour de France's ninth summit finish on Mont Ventoux

    Marcel Kittel (Argos-Shimano) puts on warmer clothes at the Mont Ventoux summit finish
    Article published:
    July 15, 2013, 22:00 BST
    By:
    Cycling News

    More images from stage 15 on "Giant of Provence"

    With the inclusion of a Mont Ventoux summit finish in the 100th edition of the Tour de France, on Bastille day no less, the stage was certainly set for colossal crowds to bear witness to another historic day of racing at the Grand Boucle.

    In a dominating performance Chris Froome (Sky) added his name to the Tour de France record books as only the second rider in the French Grand Tour's history to win on Mont Ventoux's summit while in the yellow jersey. The first, unsurprisingly, was Eddy Merckx in the 1970 edition during the Belgian's second of five Tour de France overall victories.

    Photographer Pete Goding spent Sunday on the "Giant of Provence" and provided the photo gallery to the right. Relive yesterday's day of racing, be it fans in costumes, spectators paying tribute at the Tom Simpson memorial near the summit, the sprinters' autobus arriving at the summit or the lonely road followed by Jonathan Hivert (Sojasun)- the final rider to arrive on Mont Ventoux more than 50 minutes after stage winner Chris Froome.

  • Video: Vaughters on Garmin Sharp's 2013 Tour de France

    Jonathan Vaughters (Garmin-Sharp)
    Article published:
    July 16, 2013, 2:18 BST
    By:
    Cycling News

    Taking on the biggest race of the year during a transitional phase

    Garmin Sharp general manager Jonathan Vaughters has told Cyclingnews that stage wins remain the team's primary focus in the final week of the Tour de France.

    "We've had some good performances, winning with Dan and some mediocre ones," Vaughters assessed of his team's fortunes of the race so far during the second rest day on Monday.

    Garmin Sharp's highest-placed rider on GC heading into Stage 16 is Dan Martin in 11th place while Andrew Talansky is 13th. Vaughters isn't ruling out the possibility of one of his charges finishing in the top 10 but believes such a result will be due to the team essentially treating the remaining stages as one day races.

    The last week is also important for Vaughters as he will learn whether "the bet pays off" in not bringing a designated sprinter to the Tour.

     

  • Rest day gallery: Haircuts, media conferences and training rides

    Twins? Marcel Kittel and Koen de Kort give the thumbs up to the latter's new look
    Article published:
    July 16, 2013, 3:33 BST
    By:
    Cycling News

    Images from the Tour's second day of recovery

    For some of the Tour's remaining 181 participants, the second rest day meant doing as little as possible. For others, Monday was about getting a haircut having lost a bet. For one, Sky's Chris Froome, the rest day was about fronting the media and later a 50km ride with his team.

    In this gallery, Cyclingnews takes a snapshot of what can be either a very busy, or reasonably quiet day during the biggest race of the year, the Tour de France.

    Just six stages now remain to decide the winner of the centenary edition of the Tour de France, with Froome in the box seat having illustrated his team's strength with victory on Mont Ventoux on stage 15. Sky's team principal Dave Brailsford faced questions over their integrity and credibility, as did the race leader.

    At the opposite end of the scale, Koen de Kort (Argos-Shimano) was getting a haircut having lost a bet with teammate Marcel Kittel that the German powerhouse couldn't win three stages.