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First Edition Cycling News, Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Date published:
July 19, 2011, 1:00 BST
  • Video: Farrar looking ahead to final Paris sprint

    Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Cervelo) before the stage.
    Article published:
    July 18, 2011, 21:18 BST
    Stephen Farrand

    Garmin-Cervélo sprinter still feeling strong

    Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Cervelo) finished a close second behind Mark Cavendish in the sprint in Montpellier on Sunday but hopes to have one last shot at another stage victory at the Tour de France in Paris on the Champs-Élysées next Sunday.

    Farrar was happy to admit that HTC-Highroad rode a perfect sprint on the technically difficult run-in to Montpellier. Farrar managed to come up to Cavendish just before the line but could not stop the Manxman from taking his fourth stage victory at this year's Tour.

    Immediately after the finish in Montpellier, Farrar talked about Cavendish's "remarkable comeback after being dropped by the gruppetto for about 70km' during the stage to Plateau de Beille. He said he now regrets speaking in the heat of the moment.

    Farrar confirmed that he is still feeling strong and recovering well as the Alps loom on the horizon. He is confident he can get to the finish of the Tour in Paris and fight for what he describes as the "crown jewel of all sprints."

  • Flecha won't be surprised if Voeckler wins Tour de France

    Juan Antonio Flecha (Sky) speaks to the press on the second rest day at the Tour de France.
    Article published:
    July 18, 2011, 22:07 BST
    Hedwig Kröner

    Spaniard asserts Contador will be back in Tour's third week

    The second rest day at the Tour de France is a time for reflection, going into the all-decisive final week of the race. Team Sky's Juan Antonio Flecha was no exception - looking back at the first weeks of racing the Spaniard provided his perspective as to what happened until now, and what may still be to come.

    Flecha was badly hurt in the freak accident that occurred on stage nine from Issoire to Saint Flour, the stage that saw current race leader Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) take the yellow jersey. Together with Johnny Hoogerland of Vacansoleil-DCM, the Spaniard was hit by a car from French television and has been riding under great pain since then.

    "I've improved a lot the last couple of days but I really had a hard week," Flecha told Cyclingnews in the lounge of Team Sky's rest day hotel. "Because of the crash, I couldn't really stretch my arm because of the impact on my elbow. Then I have a wound on my knee with a couple of stitches but it's not healing well. And because the knee is painful, I've been pedalling more with the right side of my body so this caused really tight muscles in my back and leg and everywhere..."

    Still feeling slightly disappointed with the behaviour of others after the crash, Flecha said that neither France Televisions nor the driver of the car had apologised to him so far. But he was also disappointed by the attitude of one of his fellow riders - Thomas Voeckler who was with him in the escape.

    "Looking at the replay of the crash, his first reaction was to go faster, he didn't even stop...

  • Vacansoleil-DCM needs more money for new captains

    The Vacansoleil team is presented on stage
    Article published:
    July 18, 2011, 23:58 BST
    Cycling News

    Dutch team in danger of losing ProTour licence for next season

    Vacansoleil-DCM needs a new team leader to get points to retain its ProTour licence in 2012.  Unfortunately, team manager Daan Luijkx has a big problem:  no money.

    Luijkx is looking to get more money from his two title sponsors and hoping to add a third one as well, according to De Telegraaf.

    He has some extra money since releasing Riccardo Riccò, but he needs that to hold on to his current riders.  "Our first task is to maintain the young nucleus for the team. Riders like Thomas De Gendt, Wout Poels, Pim Ligthart  and Rob Ruijgh perform fantastically, but because of that they have become more expensive. The money which was budgeted for Riccò I now need to keep these young people."

    In order to maintain its ProTour licence, the team must have a certain number of points based on race results.  At the moment, however, the team is dead last on that ranking, in 18th place with only 93 points.  In comparison, the 17th ranked team, Quick Step, has 260 points while HTC-Highroad tops the ranking with 628 points.

    The Dutch team started its first ProTour season with three leaders:  Riccò, Ezequiel Mosqeura and Stijn Devolder.  Riccò was released in February for "violating internal rules" and is now facing a lifetime ban for doping.  Mosquera has been held out of competition pending the resolution of doping charges by the Spanish federation.  Devolder has not ridden up to expectations this year.

    Losing its top-ranked licence "would be a tragedy. Then we would not be sure of starting opportunities in all the major races," Luijkx said. "First we must have additional funding coming. Only then can I strengthen the team to...

  • Tour de France to just avoid snow on Galibier

    On Alpe d'Huez near corner 14.
    Article published:
    July 19, 2011, 3:29 BST
    Pierre Carrey

    New snowfall expected Tuesday but then, the sun might help the race

    On Sunday, around 200 cyclists had to be rescued from the Col du Galibier while on a "Brevet alpin de cyclotourisme." Dressed for summer conditions, they bore the brunt of 3°C temperatures before reaching the top of the pass, which was covered by snow. Cyclingnews understands new falls of 15 to 20cm of snow over 2,500m are expected Tuesday in Galibier, which peaks at 2,645m.

    It could be that the Tour de France faces a serious problem as it will climb these roads twice, Thursday to a mountaintop-finish and Friday on the route to Alpe d'Huez.

    The race might avoid the snow, however.

    "The Tour is pretty lucky," forecaster Yan Giezendanner told Cyclingnews. "Imagine if the snow would fall Thursday and Friday instead of Tuesday and last Sunday: the road would certainly be blocked."

    A Météo-France meteorological expert, specializing in mountain climates, Giezendanner says the "sun will melt the snow" before the stage on Thursday. "There might be only some ‘névé' on the climb but nothing that will adversely affect the race," he adds, referring to the patches of residual snow which have been partially melted, refrozen and compacted.

    Thanks to the warmth of the sun, the temperature at the top of Galibier might be sustainable for the riders, both Thursday and Friday.

    In the same area, Tour de France organisers in 1996 were been forced to cancel the main part of stage 9 from Le Monêtier-les-Bains to Sestriere, because of the iced rain in the Col d'Iseran and the 100km/h wind in Galibier. The stage was reduced from 189 to 46 kilometers and only held on the Montgenevre and Sestriere climbs. Bjarne Riis took the yellow jersey that day, taking the first steps of his overall victory.

  • Goss chasing last chance at stage victory in Gap

    Renshaw and Goss chatting before the start of stage 11
    Article published:
    July 19, 2011, 6:35 BST
    Jane Aubrey

    HTC-Highroad looking to sure up green jersey for Cavendish

    HTC-Highroad's Matt Goss was aiming high in his Tour de France debut, the Milan-San Remo winner's eyes firmly fixed on "a jersey, whether it be yellow or green or white," on the Grand Boucle's opening days.

    "We've had some success with Cav – he's been flying," Goss told Cyclingnews on the second rest day, summing up his experience to date. "I was a little bit disappointed not to get a stage win when I came second, but it has still been pretty successful for my first Tour."

    Stage 1 saw Goss crash two kilometres out from the finish, the Australian however is non-committal as to whether the incident - one of many in the opening week caused by a nervous peloton - cost him a win. He finished the stage six seconds off the pace.

    "I know I was feeling really good that day," he said. "I don't think I would have any answer to Cadel [Evans] or [Philippe] Gilbert. It would have been nice to have had a crack that day and maybe have been in that bunch there with Thor and work on something from there."

    The bottom line is that Goss' ambitions were on the back foot from the outset, but he was just one second away from the white jersey for stage 2 and 3, and five seconds off the general classification lead until stage 4 when the Australian moved back over four minutes down in both competitions. Goss then finished second to Sky's Edvald Boasson Hagen on stage 6. Close, but not close enough.

    "There's a lot of what if's and could be's and maybe's - every rider and every team has them and it's just the way it works out," he...

  • Gerrans eyeing Gap and Pinerolo to stretch his legs

    Simon Gerrans and Mark Renshaw do this every morning
    Article published:
    July 19, 2011, 8:33 BST
    Alex Hinds

    Australian recounts a difficult week, as team forced to change focus

    For Simon Gerrans (Sky) the Tour de France has not panned out quite as he'd planned. The loss of Bradley Wiggins to a broken collarbone on stage 7 forced Sky to completely rethink their tactics for the second two weeks of the race. While it has been a massive loss, the team's revised stage-win focus has allowed Gerrans a little more freedom to ride for his own back.

    "The day after [Wiggins' crash] we had a meeting and we said we need to put that behind us and focus on what's ahead – there was still a long way to go in the race," Gerrans explained to Cyclingnews of the race-altering incident. "Since then we've focused on being much more aggressive in the race."

    As a team, Sky have embraced their new race strategy, featuring in every key move off the front since.

    Xabier Zandio, Juan Antonio Flecha, Geraint Thomas and Edvald Boasson Hagen have all put themselves in moves; the one man conspicuous by his absence being Gerrans. The Australian hinted that his chance may be just around the corner.

    "It's not from lack of trying," Gerrans admits. "If you look at the race so far there's really only been two days where getting in a break has been really worthwhile - and we had guys in both of those moves [Flecha on stage 9 and

  • Thomas to fly Sky’s coop?

    Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) on the Tourmalet
    Article published:
    July 19, 2011, 9:19 BST
    Cycling News

    Welshman will sacrifice Tour in 2012 to win Olympic gold

    Despite being happy riding for Sky, Geraint Thomas says he is open to offers of employment, even if 2012 is an Olympic year with a repeat of his gold medal success his ultimate goal. The Welshman's contract with the British outfit comes to an end at the conclusion of the current season.

    "I'd love to do the Tour again, it's the biggest bike race in the world," he said. "But at the same time the London Olympics is massive, there's nothing bigger than that. I wouldn't want to jeopardise the Olympics for anything. I'd miss the Tour to give myself every opportunity of winning in London."

    Speaking on the Tour's rest day, Thomas said he'd been buoyed by the recent interest in his future.

    "There's definitely been a few teams interested," Thomas confirmed. "It's great for your confidence when there's a few teams that really want you to join them. To have that respect amongst the teams is great and gives you a little buzz when you go out there racing."

    As reported last week, Thomas will undergo physiology testing following the Tour to see how he reacts to the stresses of the three-week race, with the proximity of the London Olympics front of mind.

    Thomas is of the belief that a move away from Sky would not hamper his goal of defending Britain's team pursuit title on the track.

    "A couple of the teams I've spoken to said they'd be happy to let me ride in the Games," he added. "It means a lot to a lot of people. Just because I'm British it doesn't mean 100 per cent I'd stay. I'm definitely not going to discount them [other offers]. I'd listen to anyone really."

    Thomas then said via Twitter...

  • Uran's all white for Tour de France

    Rigobert Uran (Sky) is best young rider after stage 15
    Article published:
    July 19, 2011, 10:12 BST
    Daniel Benson

    Ellingworth adds structure to climber's training

    Rigoberto Uran (Sky) came into the Tour de France as one of Bradley Wiggins' mountain domestiques but after the British rider crashed the Colombian has become the team’s leader, and with six stages left looks a strong candidate for the white jersey.

    Uran sits in 11th place overall and leads Rein Taaramae (Cofidis) by 1:07 and Pierre Rolland (Europcar) by 1:25.

    “Once Brad went we revaluated it and white was a realistic goal,” Sky’s Rod Ellingworth told Cyclingnews.

    Uran was signed in the off season and despite knowing virtually no English at the time has immersed himself in Sky’s environment.

    “His English is coming on and he’s a great character to have around in the team. He’s always messing around and joking,” said Ellingworth.

    But the Colombian wasn’t signed from Caisse d'Epargne for his good humour alone, and according it to Ellingworth, who has nurtured a hub of British talent through the GB’s system, Uran’s potential as a stage race rider was what really marked him out.

    What Ellingworth and Sky’s backroom staff have been able to add to Uran’s promise is a far more structured training environment, support and sports science. Now, instead of long training riders in which Uran could decide for himself how hard he pushed his body, Ellingworth ensures that his prodigy is working along more refined lines.

    “He’s super talented but before he never had a structure other than just racing and doing whatever in between and that’s the difference that we’ve been able to give him this year, a bit more structure and direction in between. He’s done time trial work and just general structure and he’s really enjoyed that because he’s not having to wonder if...