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First Edition Cycling News, Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Date published:
July 17, 2012, 1:00 BST
  • Valverde most popular rider for fan mail in Tour

    Alejandro Valverde (Movistar)
    Article published:
    July 16, 2012, 8:19 BST
    Alasdair Fotheringham

    Spaniard leads 'by long way' on rider correspondence

    The Tour's internal post office - run by Docapost, a branch of France's national postal service system - reports that whilst Thomas Voeckler is, perhaps unsurprisingly, the local rider receiving most fan mail ahead of Sylvain Chavanel, Alejandro Valverde is currently the leader on the international standings, well ahead of the Frenchman.

    Usually it's the top favourites who get the most post. In 2010, Lance Armstrong received the most messages of encouragement - 327, whilst in 2011 Voeckler finished ahead of Andy Schleck and Alberto Contador with 275.

    Docapost has been delivering fan mail to the Tour de France riders since 1992 and receives roughly 4,500 letters for the pro's each year. Correspondence can be sent via email or postcards.

    This year it is Valverde who is in top spot in what is one test of riders' popularity.

    "It's a bit of a surprise, because he's not having a great Tour, but he gets loads of emails and he's ahead by a long way," says Jean Marc Campana - who has run Docapost's Tour post office together with co-worker Sylvain Forre for the last three years.

    "Alejandro doesn't get many letters, though - if it wasn't for the emails, though, he'd be a long way back."

    The Tour's Post Office, unsurprisingly, is as mobile as the rest of the race. The two Docapost employees operate out of the back of a large lorry parked up for most of the day next to the Tour's press room, which has all sorts of mailing paraphernalia in the back: scales, stamps, postcards (for Tour followers who want to send any correspondence, although there is also a postbox at the Tour's 'village' at each start) and a sorting system with each of the teams' names on its own pigeon...

  • Riis denies he is trying to lure Cancellara to Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank

    Bjarne Riis clutches Fabian Cancellara as the Swiss bursts into tears after winning Paris-Roubaix
    Article published:
    July 16, 2012, 9:57 BST
    Cycling News

    Swiss also linked to ProContinental project

    Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank boss Bjarne Riis has rejected claims in the Swiss media that Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack-Nissan) will once again ride for the Danish team.

    Cancellara abandoned the Tour de France last week ahead of the birth of his second child, while speculation as to the financial stability of his current team continues to grow amid allegations of non-payment by holding company Leopard SA and unhappiness within the roster.

    The Swiss powerhouse led an exodus from Saxo Bank to Leopard-Trek at the end of the 2010 season, leaving Riis unashamedly hurt. Cancellara reportedly apologised to Riis last September.

    "I always tell my riders not to burn their bridges when they leave," Riis told the Ritzau news agency. "And I think he did that last year, but the world is not so big that you don't meet again.

    "I think the people who know me know that I am always open to a dialogue with people who have turned their back on me."

    On Sunday, Swiss newspaper NZZ am Sonntag reported that Saxo Bank is one of two options for Cancellara should he leave RadioShack-Nissan - despite the fact that his contract does not expire until the end of 2013.

    "We have become both wiser and older," said Riis to the Swiss newspaper.

    "All teams will be interested in getting Fabian Cancellara. But for now he has a contract."

    The report also speculated that Cancellara is entertaining offers from the Swiss-based IAM Cycling project, which recently announced that it was looking to create a ProContinental outfit. In April, IAM founder...

  • Mørkøv wants Breschel and Fuglsang back with Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank

    Michael Morkov (Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank) remains in the lead of the mountains classification.
    Article published:
    July 16, 2012, 14:27 BST
    Cycling News

    Fuglsang to choose soon from amongst three offers for 2013

    Michael Mørkøv likes the idea of riding with fellow Danes Matti Breschel and Jakob Fuglsang again, and hopes that the two return to Team Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank in the coming season. However, Fuglsang has several suitors for his hand, and the only certainty is he will change teams for the 2013 season.

    Mørkøv, who has been in numerous escape groups in his debut Tour de France and wore the mountain jersey for several stages, is not afraid of standing in the shadow of the other two, but instead looking forward to working with them.

    "I would really like to team up with Matti. I rode for two years on teams with him and I never got to ride a big race with him. But I have ridden the Worlds with him, and he's a great captain, I would like to help.

    "The same goes with Fuglsang, who is also a great captain, as I know from the Tour of Denmark," Mørkøv told the Ritzau news agency. 

    Mørkøv has been with Bjarne Riis' team since 2009. Breschel was with the team from 2005 to 2010, then he left for Rabobank. Fuglsang also left the team after 2010 to join Leopard-Trek, now RadioShack-Nissan.

    The Danes should be together on one team, Mørkøv said. “I think that these two riders belong on this team. For it is the best cycling team, and they are two of the best cyclists. This is where they can show off.”

    Three suitors for Fuglsang

    Three teams look to sign Fuglsang for the coming year, and according to his manager Moreno Nicoletti, the decision will be made this week.

    Fuglsang has...

  • Video: Garmin rally after bad luck hits Tour de France bid

    Jonathan Vaughters (Garmin-Sharp)
    Article published:
    July 16, 2012, 18:51 BST
    Daniel Benson

    Vaughters walks Garmin line on anti-doping

    After their Giro success it would have perhaps been easy for Garmin to sit up and tap gently into Paris due to the bad luck that befell them in this year's opening week of the Tour de France.

    Both Ryder Hesjedal and Tom Danielson crashed out leaving the team with no GC prospect for the first time since their Tour debut in 2008, while Tyler Farrar also crashed and sustained injures to rule him out of the sprints.

    It forced the team to change strategy and on the stage to Bellegarde-sur-Valserine both David Millar and David Zabriskie escaped in the main break of the day. The team missed out on the stage win but repeated attacks on consecutive days finally paid off when Millar won in Annonay Davézieux.

    Before the start of stage 15 in Samatan team boss Jonathan Vaughters praised his riders' spirits and hinted that there was more to come from his team. And sure enough Christian Vande Velde joined the stage break, taking second behind Pierrick Fédrigo.

    Away from racing, Garmin have also had to deal with questions relating to USADA's investigation into Lance Armstrong and several other members of the US Postal team. Unfounded allegations were printed in the opening week stating that members of the team had testified in order to secure immunity but had received sanctions.

    Vaughters, himself named as one of those who had testified, said that the team had held to their anti-doping philosophy throughout the experience, and that while his riders would cooperate with any investigation, they...

  • Fédrigo wins on happy hunting ground in Pau

    Yes! Pierrick Fédrigo (FDJ-BigMat) on the podium after winning Tour de France stage 15.
    Article published:
    July 16, 2012, 19:41 BST
    Barry Ryan

    Frenchman back on target after suffering from Lyme disease

    Pierrick Fédrigo (FDJ-BigMat) returned to one of his happiest hunting grounds and came away with stage 15 of the Tour de France slung over his shoulder after he outsprinted Christian Vande Velde (Garmin-Sharp) in Pau on Monday.

    It was the canny Fédrigo's second time winning a stage in Pau, following his triumph over Sandy Casar in the shadow of the Pyrenees two years ago. On that occasion, he had traversed the Tourmalet en route to victory, but while the route was somewhat flatter this time around, Fédrigo's qualities as a finisseur were again key to his success.

    After spending the stage off the front as part of the six-man break of the day, Fédrigo bided his time in the finale before firing off a clinical attack with six kilometres to go. Only Vande Velde could follow and though the American contributed richly to help the duo fend of the remnants of the group, the sprint on Rue Michelet was a formality for a marksman of Fédrigo's instincts.

    "I knew the finish well and I knew that I would be able to do the sprint by leading it out, so I went in the same place as the last time," Fédrigo said afterwards. "It's incredible to win here again after two years."

    Fédrigo's victory was the fourth of a distinguished Tour career, a haul that is testimony to his remarkable capacity to poke out opportunities regardless of the terrain. 34 years old in November, Fédrigo admitted that it was becoming more and more difficult to win at La Grande Boucle.

    "It's hard now, especially as I'm getting older," he said. "I'm touching 34 years...

  • Video: Vande Velde comes close to first Tour stage victory

    The leading men (L to R): France's Samuel Dumoulin, Belgium's Dries Devenyns, Belgium's Christian Vande Velde and France's Pierrick Fedrigo ride in a breakaway past fields of sunflowers
    Article published:
    July 16, 2012, 20:41 BST
    Daniel Benson

    Garmin-Sharp rider talks about the team's aggressive strategy

    Garmin-Sharp's new and aggressive approach to stage racing almost won the team a second Tour de France stage victory in less than a week, with Christian Vande Velde finishing second to Pierrick Fedrigo in Pau on stage 15.

    The pair attacked with Thomas Voeckler (Europcar), Dries Devenyns (Omega Pharma-Quickstep) and Samuel Dumoulin (Cofidis), with Nicki Sörensen (Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank) joining the break later.

    The group appeared to be in check with the Sky-led bunch holding them at around five minutes, but without any assistance from rival sprint teams and with bigger ambitions ahead Sky called off its efforts and left the stage to the six attackers.

    Vande Velde looked capable of matching David Millar's win from Annonay Davézieux as he shared the work and when he jumped with Fedrigo six kilometres from the finish, it looked as though the American was in with a shout of taking his maiden individual Tour de France stage.

    However, Fedrigo, who won here in 2010, when he put a group containing Lance Armstrong and Damiano Cunego to the sword, was simply too good for Vande Velde, opening up a sprint that the American could not match. Unlike with Millar's win in Annonay Davézieux, this time it was the Garmin-Sharp rider who was the prey pounced on by the French hunter.

    In this video, Vande Velde, who confirmed to Cyclingnews last week that he would ride beyond his current contract, explains how he and his team have gone on the offensive in this year's Tour and that he and his remaining teammates will look to attack further before next Sunday's finale in Paris.

  • Voeckler salutes Fédrigo Tour de France stage win

    Stage 10 winner Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) crosses the finish line in third place, 12 seconds behind Fédrigo and Vande Velde.
    Article published:
    July 16, 2012, 21:36 BST
    Barry Ryan

    Europcar rider finishes third in Pau

    With one win to his name already, Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) was in bonus territory on stage 15 of the Tour de France, and the Frenchman could hardly be described as despondent after he came home third behind Pierrick Fédrigo (FDJ-BigMat) in Pau on Monday.

    The former Bouygues Telecom teammates were part of a six-man break that formed 50 kilometres in, and the sextet's fluid collaboration - allied to the general fatigue in the peloton on a day of searing heat in the southwest - allowed them to help themselves to a generous 12-minute lead on the final run-in to the finish.

    The break's détente was broken by a pair of attacks from Chris Anker Sørensen (Saxo Bank-Tinkoff), which also prompted Voeckler to try a couple of tentative digs, but he was left flat-footed when Fédrigo clipped away six kilometres from home with Christian Vande Velde (Garmin-Sharp) for company.

    "It was all a bit tactical in the finale," Voeckler said afterwards as he leaned against the Europcar team bus and held court before a small cluster of reporters. "I attacked a couple of times, but when Pierrick attacked he really went with a lot of power."

    Given that Voeckler and Fédrigo both emerged from Jean-René Bernaudeau's Vendée academy, it was tempting to put two and two together and wonder if there had been a tacit accord between the pair. Voeckler shook his head as the idea was put to him.

    "No, no, it wasn't like that," he said. "When he went, I tried to get back up to him, but I wasn't going to do all the work. That wasn't to favour Pierrick, but I didn't want to bring someone else across to win either. Still, I'm happy that a friend and former...

  • Video: Tour de France Stage 15 highlights

    Pierrick Fédrigo (FDJ-BigMat) outsprinted Christian Vande Velde (Garmin-Sharp) to earn the fourth Tour de France stage win of his career.
    Article published:
    July 17, 2012, 0:50 BST
    Cycling News

    Fédrigo scores another victory in Pau

    Pierrick Fédrigo (FDJ-BigMat) prevailed after a day-long breakaway to secure his second career Tour de France stage victory. The Frenchman made it to the finish line in Pau on one of the 99th edition's shortest road stages just ahead of Garmin-Sharp's Christian Vande Velde (Garmin-Sharp) as the duo left their four breakaway companions behind 6.5km from the finish. Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) closed out the podium 12 seconds back.

    With the peloton 12 minutes in arrears, Andre Greipel led the bunch over the line with the classification leaders safe ahead of the rest day on Tuesday.