After falling on the opening day of the Tour de France, Alberto Contador (Saxo-Tinkoff) safely negotiated stage two to Ajaccio, although he warned that he would face a tougher test of his recovery on Monday’s third and final Corsican leg to Calvi.
“I feel good and I was lucky enough to have slept well last night [in spite of the crash],” Contador told ASafter stage two. “My teammates were phenomenal all day long and we got through another difficult day. As my body warmed up and we got into the race, my wounds didn’t bother me so much, although it was a bit uncomfortable sometimes, especially in the neck and back.”
Contador was one of a number of fallers in the chaotic finale of Saturday’s opening stage but was awarded the same time as the main peloton. Although he dismissed his injuries as being superficial, Contador said that he expects to continue feeling the effects of the crash on Monday, a rugged day along the Corsican coast with the second category Col de Marsolino just before the finish.
“48 hours after a fall is usually the worst day and when it hurts the most,” he said. “We’ll have to see if there are any complications and if I’m in top condition for the team time trial in Nice.”
Although Chris Froome (Sky) briefly went on the offensive on the final climb of Sunday’s stage, Contador opted to maintain a watching brief. Contador was grateful simply to emerge from the opening weekend without losing any time, having conceded over a minute when he crashed on the opening stage of his last Tour appearance two years ago.
The new deal is estimated to be worth four million Swiss francs per year and would keep Cancellara with Trek until the end of the 2016 season. Blick also reports that Cancellara has reached an agreement to continue his association with Trek after the end of his racing career. Cancellara later confirmed the news.
"There was a lot of speculation around my professional future in the last couple of weeks - even months,” Cancellara said in a press release. “That's why I'm really happy to confirm that I will stay with the Trek family. Trek has been very close to me over the last three years, for example in the development of the Domane. This is a big opportunity for me as a bike rider and it will allow me to develop even more on the sporting side. Because that's what I'm in for: winning bike races, not sitting out until I retire. I'm motivated to get the maximum out of my career and I'm really proud it's going to be on a Trek!"
Current RadioShack manager Luca Guercilena will continue as general manager of the Trek squad, and it was announced last week that Trek would look to “conserve a large part of the existing roster,” although Blick notes that the team is seeking to lower Andy and Fränk Schleck’s salaries significantly.
After dominating the cobbled classics, Cancellara has this year opted to sit out the Tour de France for the first time since 2006. The world championships road...
The general consensus was that Corsica was likely to exact a significant toll on the Tour de France peloton. Chris Froome no doubt spoke for many when he said he was looking forward to getting to mainland France, where the race should settle down, especially following tomorrow's team time trial in Nice.
Froome's Team Sky teammate Geraint Thomas will be happier than most to put Corsica behind him. After hitting the deck hard on stage one into Bastia, the Welshman has ridden the last two days with a small fracture in his pelvis. At today's finish in Calvi, he described the last two days as "probably the worst I've ever had on a bike". Thomas, though, is refusing to quit, for now at least.
Speaking to the press after the finish in Calvi, Thomas declared he is determined to go as far as he can, having striven so hard to prepare himself for the Tour. "I've done so much to lose weight and get fit for this, so I'm not just going to give up straight away. The experts have said it's not going to get any worse. I'm going to give it a few days and see if the pain comes down," he said.
He added: "My mum doesn't want me to, but it's the Tour. It's not your average race. I'm definitely going to keep fighting. It felt a lot better today than yesterday, and it also felt a lot better at the end than it did at the start. But I've got a crack on my bone, so it's going to hurt, isn't it."
Thomas admitted the timing of the injury was particularly frustrating. "I was really looking forward to team time trial, but it's just turned into a case of survival now over these first few days."
The 33-year-old Australian thanked Daryl Impey for his impressive lead-out but seemed to lose hope of having won after the race officials left him to go in search of Sagan. Then suddenly they returned, as Robbie McEwen and other Orica-GreenEdge staff arrived. A radio suddenly crackled. "Gerrans a gagne!" Gerrans had won. He and everyone started celebrating and cheering.
"It's unreal to have won," Gerrans said after hugging Impey who had lead him out so well in the sprint and waited to see if he had won.
"I just followed Daryl and he delivered me at 200m from the line. I saw Sagan coming up beside me and we were drag racing towards the line. I wasn’t sure who won at first, there was only a tyre in it. That’s why I didn’t want to celebrate the win too early. But it's great to get it."
It was Gerrans' second stage win at the Tour de France after winning a mountain stage from a breakaway in 2008. However it was the first for the Orica-GreenEdge team and so a historic moment for Australian cycling.
"It’s a fantastic win for the team," Gerrans said.
"We had a very good start to the season last year but we missed a stage at the Tour de France. It was our big objective this year and so I'm really happy to have done that on stage three.
"Last year I came into the Tour hoping I would improve throughout the Tour de France with the objective at the races at the back of the Tour, whereas as this year I aimed to be in top form at the first few stages."
Marco Pantani’s parents have written an open letter to the UCI, the Italian Cycling Federation and Tour de France organisers ASO in response to speculation surrounding the retrospective analysis of urine samples from the 1998 Tour as part of a French Senate doping inquiry.
The French Senate Commission is set to release the results of its inquiry on July 18, and it is believed that the report will include a list of riders from the 1998 Tour who tested positive for EPO when the French Anti-Doping Agency (AFLD) re-examined the samples for research purposes in 2004. A test for EPO did not exist in 1998 and was only introduced three years later.
“The news leaves us stunned,” Tonina and Paolo Pantani said. “Without getting into the merits of how the samples or other evidence were stored, we are forced to draw your attention to the fact that these tests were performed after Marco’s death and this has deprived him of the most basic rights of defence, such as the request of counter-analysis or the nomination of an expert to observe it. It’s superfluous to remind you but we need to do so: only in the case of a positive B sample is it possible to speak of a positive case.”
Saxo-Tinkoff manager turns up at the Tour de France
After being mysteriously absent from the start of the Tour de France in Corsica, Saxo-Tinkoff team owner and manager Bjarne Riis was seen at the start of stage three in Ajaccio and was immediately pursued by the Danish media.
Riis revealed that the Anti-Doping Denmark has begin an investigation into his past in the sport and possibly his links with Tyler Hamilton, Jan Ullrich and Laurent Jalabert, who have all become embroiled in doping scandals. He said he did not travel to the Corsica for the Grand Depart because he was on a cycling holiday with his children.
Riis won the 1996 Tour de France but in 2007 he confessed he used EPO and other doping products to boost his performance during his career. He has managed a successful team since 1999 but his incumbent past has raised the question if should remain in control of a major professional team.
"People have a right to say what they want and even say I shouldn't be in the sport anymore. But I think I've done a lot for cycling in the last few years," he told Cyclingnews.
"I think I have the right to be here at the Tour de France. I've done a lot for cycling and I still want to continue doing that. Of course it's been difficult for me because I don’t want to put pressure on the team and take the focus off what has to be done in the next three weeks. Hopefully we can win this Tour de France."
Riis insisted he was not worried about the outcome of the investigation by Anti-Doping Denmark.
"They're looking into past events in Danish cycling. I respect it and we'll see what happens. I'm not concerned about it," he said with a typical Riis-esque shrug of the shoulders followed by a long silence.
Cyclingnews understands, however, that Riis is making...
That was the last big box we wanted to tick, says White
In the absence of the peloton's team buses, which were being ferried to the mainland, the area beyond the line in Calvi had the feel of a late 20th century Tour de France stage finish. As riders collected their bags to go and get a shower in the nearby sports' hall, fans stopped them for autographs, while for Orica-GreenEdge post-stage celebrations were conducted in the middle of a dusty road alongside the town's airport.
Leading the way were DS Matt White and team boss Shayne Bannan, who hugged each other ecstatically after the photo finish had confirmed Simon Gerrans had held off Peter Sagan on the line. For White, the win was particularly significant as it came less just a fortnight after his return to the team having been stood down from his role in October last year having admitted using performance-enhancing drugs as a rider. White was reinstated halfway through the Tour of Switzerland, making the Tour de France his first full stage race since his return.
"We chased really hard for a stage win last year and we came up just short. To get one this early in the Tour is very gratifying," said White. "That was the last big box we wanted to tick. We've won at the Giro, Vuelta and now the Tour, as well as a Classic. Now we can set ourselves some more goals to aim for."
White revealed the team had spoken in the team briefing about working for Gerrans if the stage looked likely to finish with a sprint, and the team's strategy was based around that. Simon Clarke took the pressure off for most of the day by getting into the break, and when those riders were reeled in the Aussie team worked hard to ensure Gerrans got his...
Points Classification leader talks after another second-place finish
Peter Sagan (Cannondale) finished as runner-up for the second consecutive day on Monday at the Tour de France, admitting that a crash on the opening stage has taken a toll. There was some cause for celebration however, with the Slovakian taking the lead in the Points Classification.
"After the crash I don't feel very good and I need to recover a little bit," he said.
Still suffering from contusions, Sagan only narrowly missed out on victory on Stage 3 with a photo finish showing Simon Gerrans (Orica GreenEdge) had won.
Sagan has now opened up a 17-point lead in the battle for the green jersey over Marcel Kittel (Argos-Shimano). Whether he can keep that lead all the way to Paris, Sagan remains coy, especially after his scare on Stage 1.
Watch Peter Sagan's thoughts on the unpredictability of the Tour and his hopes for the next few weeks by clicking on the video below.