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First Edition Cycling News, Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Date published:
July 07, 2009, 1:00 BST
  • Sky is the limit for Brailsford's budget

    British Cycling performance director Dave Brailsford
    Article published:
    July 06, 2009, 15:48 BST
    Richard Moore

    Speculation grows after Cavendish wins and figures fly

    After Mark Cavendish’s first stage win in Brignoles on Sunday the French newspapers were speculating as to whether the new British squad, Team Sky, might sign him for 2010.

    Since Cavendish is contracted to Columbia-HTC until the end of 2010, with an option on 2011, that seems as unlikely as the figure reported to be the Team Sky budget. In one newspaper the sum was estimated at 33 million Euros – over what timescale, they didn’t say.

    The budget for the new team, which has a four-year deal with Sky, has not been revealed – and according to Sky sources, it is not going to be made public. Estimates have ranged from six to 33 million Euros – the actual figure is likely to be closer to the first than the second. The deal between Sky and British Cycling covers grassroots cycling as well, though, again, the sum being invested by the satellite broadcaster is not being made public.

    A contingent from British Cycling, including performance director Dave Brailsford, was in Monaco for the Tour’s Grand Départ. With Brailsford was the new Team Sky operations manager, Carsten Jeppesen, who spent eight years by Bjarne Riis’s side at CSC and signed with Sky in April.

    Brailsford admitted that his visit was connected to the Team Sky set-up, though he was playing his cards close to his chest and wouldn’t reveal the nature of his business. He left the Tour on Sunday evening but is planning to return on a date still to be confirmed, when he promised to elaborate on the new team's plans for 2010 and beyond.


  • Differing accounts from Cavendish and Rogers on stage 3

    Mark Cavendish and his Team Columbia-HTC teammates.
    Article published:
    July 06, 2009, 18:29 BST
    Richard Moore

    Columbia-HTC and Armstrong seize their opportunity

    Mark Cavendish claimed that there had been no Columbia plan and no attack as the wind whipped off the Mediterranean and blew across the Camargue marshlands. But the stage three winner’s version of events was contradicted by his Columbia-HTC teammates Michael Rogers and George Hincapie, who were both key protagonists in the great escape.

    According to the rider himself, it was Rogers who instigated the move that forced the split. "The other teams weren’t going to help us close the gap [to the break] but with 40km {actually at 32km to go - ed.] to go we made a right [turn] and the wind was coming from the left hand side,” explained the Australian. “I asked the guys to just do 5km as hard as they could. We opened up an echelon and the rest was done."

    This area is notorious for vicious crosswinds – two years ago, on a stage into Montpellier, the Alexandre Vinokourov-led Astana team adopted an identical tactic on these pan-flat, wind-battered roads. On that occasion there was only one big loser, Christophe Moreau.

    Two years on, despite the fact that the wind was a light breeze compared to last time, there was carnage, with Alberto Contador, Cadel Evans, Carlos Sastre and the Schleck brothers among the overall favourites to concede valuable time.

    Columbia-HTC seemed to find willing allies in Astana, despite the fact that Contador and Andreas Kloden were missing. Lance Armstrong, though, was there, prompting speculation that he might have had prior knowledge of the attack.

    Hincapie, who rode by Armstrong’s side for all seven of his Tour wins, was asked that question, and he responded initially with a blank expression, as though weighing his words carefully. “I saw Lance,” he shrugged. “I mean, he was obviously excited [to be in the move] but we were there, just doing our job.

    "We had Mick Rogers there," Hincapie continued, "and people were just sitting back [not helping...

  • Second victory for 'Cav' and Columbia-HTC

    Mark Cavendish (Team Columbia-HTC) in the green after two stage wins.
    Article published:
    July 06, 2009, 19:25 BST
    Hedwig Kröner

    Manxman takes two for two

    In what looked like a perfect training ride for the collective race against the clock in Montpellier on Tuesday, Team Columbia-HTC impressively delivered Mark Cavendish to the line for his second Tour de France stage victory this year.

    Today, the Manxman did not only reiterate his supremacy in fast finishes but his team showed that it had the power to split the bunch in two, isolating Cavendish from his rivals with 30 kilometres to go - well before the finishing straight.

    Chasing the day's early breakaway, the outfit managed by Bob Stapleton put on a fierce pace along the Mediterranean coastline, strung out in front of the peloton. When the direction changed, the wind took many riders by surprise, and those who hadn't paid attention had to settle for the second group.

    "There was no tactic to split the field," Cavendish said in the finish in La Grande-Motte. "We knew it was going to be windy, so it was a case of staying in the front. Saxo Bank rode all day, they did a perfect job, and there was no other team of sprinters who wanted to take the race on. It was lucky for us."

    Cavendish insisted the split had not been part of the team's objectives for the day. "We didn't plan it, it just so happened that we were at the front when the wind changed. At that time, it seemed like the perfect moment, so we went. But it wasn't planned 10 minutes before, or even 30 seconds before, it just happened at the right time and that's when we hit it."

    The man who scored his sixth Tour de France victory today couldn't help but smile, enjoying another well-deserved moment. "The other sprinters' teams were saving themselves for the team time trial tomorrow," he supposed.

    "You could really appreciate how strong we were as a squad and we took a lot of time out of the guys behind. In the end, if you take it on, you're going to succeed. And that's what we did. We were riding for the win, and we can be content now. It makes it all the more...

  • Armstrong gains time on Contador, team dispels talk of rivalry

    Lance Armstrong (Astana) made the split with the lead group when the going got tough in the cross winds.
    Article published:
    July 06, 2009, 20:02 BST
    Richard Moore

    7-time winner was smart, lucky

    Lance Armstrong (Astana) was arguably the only overall favourite to benefit from the crosswind-inspired attack mounted by all nine riders in the Columbia-HTC team with 32km remaining of Monday's third stage of the Tour de France. Despite speculation from the pundits, the Astana team insists Armstrong's gains on Alberto Contador were not taken due to a power struggle within the team

    Contador was missing from the move, and the supposed team leader had been sitting second overall at the start of the day. Yet also absent from the front group were rivals Cadel Evans (Silence-Lotto) and the Schleck brothers (Saxo Bank), to name just three overall contenders.

    And that, said Armstrong and manager Johan Bruyneel afterwards, explains why the two Astana riders in the front group, Yaroslav Popovych and Haimar Zubeldia, were sent to the front to assist the Columbia effort to distance the chasing group.

    Bruyneel added that the presence in the front group of the yellow jersey, Fabian Cancellara, was another a factor in his tactics. "Strategically it would be a good situation for us if Cancellara could stay in the jersey," said the Astana director. "That would help us a lot in the days after [Tuesday's] team time trial."

    Armstrong: Why wouldn't you ride at the front?

    Yet the tactic inevitably raised eyebrows. Is it the first sign that Armstrong could usurp the Spaniard as team leader, if other situations favourable to the American arise? Are there echoes of 1986, when Bernard Hinault went back on his promise to help Greg LeMond by initiating attacks, and gaining time whenever he could, before eventually the young American prevailed?

    Armstrong insisted not, and that he had merely been in the right place at the right time. "You know what the wind's doing, you see a turn [in the road is] coming, so it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that you have to go to the front," he said at the finish.


  • Zirbel takes men's NRC lead

    Article published:
    July 07, 2009, 1:55 BST
    Daniel Simms

    Powers continues hold on women's title

    Despite missing out on victory at the weekend's Fitchburg Longsjo Classic, Tom Zirbel (Bissell) moved into USA Cycling's National Racing Calendar lead. The rider from Boulder, Colorado holds a 17 point lead over Sebastian Haedo from Colavita-Sutter Home. Alison Powers (Team Type 1) continues to lead the women's individual standings over Kristin Armstrong (Cervelo TestTeam), who has contested her final race on home soil and will likely drop down the order as the season progresses.

    Zach Bell (Kelly Benefit Strategies) won the men's pro overall in the USA Cycling National Racing Calendar's 16th event, the Fitchburg Longsjo Classic. Evelyn Stevens (Team Lip Smacker) pulled out the women's pro overall victory in Fitchburg. Without claiming a stage victory, both Bell and Stevens used consistent performances to grab the overall after four stages.

    Men's Individual Standings 1 Tom Zirbel (Bissell) 847 2 Lucas Sebastian Haedo (Colavita-Sutter) 830 3 Rory Sutherland (OUCH-Maxxis) 785 4 Ben Jacques-Maynes (Bissell) 421 5 Alejandro Barrajo (Colavita-Sutter) 403 
    Men's Team Standings
    1 Colavita-Sutter Home 2229 2 Bissell Pro Cycling 1815 3 Ouch presented by Maxxis 1372 4 Team Type 1 812 5 Jelly Belly Cycling Team 801
    Women's Individual Standings
    1 Alison Powers (Team Type I) 1145 2 Kristin Armstrong (Cervelo-Lifeforce) 905 3 Shelly Olds (Proman) 532 4 Catherine Cheatley (Colavita-Sutter Home) 487 5 Katherine Carroll (Team TIBCO) 459 Women's Team Standings 1. Team Type 1 1730 2. Team Tibco 1477 3. Colavita-Sutter Home 1445 4. Webcor Builders Women's Team 1202 5. Valuact...
  • Ciolek: "Cav not unbeatable"

    Gerald Ciolek presented with Team Milram, Wednesday, January 7
    Article published:
    July 07, 2009, 1:58 BST
    Hedwig Kröner

    Milram sprinter to seize his chances

    Amongst the handful of fast men waiting for bunch sprint finishes at this Tour de France, Germany's Gerald Ciolek is one of the challengers of stage winner Mark Cavendish (Columbia-HTC). The Milram rider is back at the Grand Tour after his first participation last year, when he was still a lead-out man for the Manxman, racing with him at Columbia.

    In today's stage three through the flat marshes of the Camargue region, Ciolek got trapped by the crosswind and his former team's impressive drive towards the finish on the waterfront of La Grande-Motte - but he was right up there with his former teammate on Sunday when 'Cav' took his first stage win at the Tour this year.

    "Yesterday, my team rode a perfect finale for me, and I was in a really good position in the end," the former German and U23 world champion told Cyclingnews before the start of the stage in France's second capital, Marseille. "Unfortunately, I got delayed because of the crash in the last bend - and then it just wasn't enough for a better placing any more." Ciolek finished sixth in Brignoles the day before.

    His good result comes after several months of setback. After winning the Trofeo Calvia in Mallorca early this year, the German wasn't his former self during quite a while. "I had a difficult season start," he admitted. "I got ill with the flu before Tirreno-Adriatico, and then just didn't get really healthy again for quite a while. So I never got up to a good level again and this overshadowed the whole spring. I just didn't have the necessary shape at the races."

    Ciolek's lack of results then weighed on his confidence. But he managed to overcome his difficulties by the month of May, and now feels well.  "I came out of the Tour de Suisse and the Tour of Bavaria in good shape, and therefore I think I had a good preparation for the Tour."

    Even though Mark Cavendish's supremacy at the race may seem out of reach at this point, Team Milram supports...

  • Wind, attacks and the ascension of an old stager

    Lance Armstrong (c) made the split as the stage neared its end in La Grande Motte.
    Article published:
    July 07, 2009, 2:06 BST
    Daniel Simms

    Reaction from stage three

    Thor Hushovd (Cervelo Test Team) - second on stage, 40th overall @ 2:02

    "Today was a perfect opportunity for us. I was closer, but I will have to take a bigger chance if I want to beat Cavendish. I've started this Tour in good shape, but Mark is just faster right now. But I hope that I get the possibility to beat him in this Tour de France, because Cavendish is not unbeatable."

    Fabian Wegmann (Milram) - seventh on stage, 55th overall @ 2:12

    "Shortly before the group got away, I told Linus that we should move up to the front. With that extreme wind condition I expected an attack. A few seconds later I turned around and we were away. In the break, I did everything for Linus, so that he could make up time in the overall rankings."

    Carlos Sastre (Cervelo Test Team) - 94th on stage, 26th overall @ 1:47

    "I committed an error by staying back at the least opportune moment and my teammates stayed back with me to wait for me. It wasn't a dangerous situation, because I was in the second group, but we could have easily all moved together at the front.

    "I was thinking to myself that I just have to forget about it when I looked around and saw all the important general classification riders back, except Armstrong. I didn't give too much importance to the situation and I finished the race surrounded by my teammates, turning my attention towards the team time trial, which is very important for the coming days.

    Cadel Evans (Silence-Lotto) - 32nd on stage, eighth overall @ 1:04

    "How I feel? Poor. But that's the Tour, every day something may happen. The most dangerous days are those on which you do not expect [anything]."

    "It is unfortunate that throughout the day we were on the front and then everything happens in a few seconds. Lance Amstrong, the men of Columbia say thank you. He had perfect allies to suddenly turn 'alive and kicking'. I...

  • Armstrong tactics leave Contador reeling

    Alberto Contador missed the move that split the field with 30km remaining.
    Article published:
    July 07, 2009, 2:38 BST
    Richard Moore

    Spanish hope stranded during stage three finale

    Alberto Contador cut an anguished figure at the finish of stage three, having conceded 41 seconds to one of his main rivals for overall victory at the Tour de France - his Astana team-mate, Lance Armstrong.

    While Armstrong and Johan Bruyneel, the Astana director, played down the significance of the move - which saw Astana domestiques Yaroslav Popovych and Haimar Zubeldia on the front, driving the escape - Contador was clearly unhappy. To add to his woes, he had a near miss with a rival team car, which almost squashed him against a team bus as he made his way to the Astana compound.

    "I don't want to express an opinion on the tactics of the team," said Contador. "I'll let everyone draw their own conclusions. In any case, the Tour is not going to be decided by what happened today. It was just another race situation."

    It's a testing time for Contador, who has been forced to deal with constant speculation that Armstrong - with six more Tour de France titles than the Spaniard and over 10 years difference in age - wants the Astana leadership in an attempt to win his eighth Tour crown.

    Yesterday's move was seen by many as a not-so-subtle attempt to convey this message, although Contador refused to be drawn into publicly airing any grievances against the American's presence in the move initiated by Columbia-HTC.

    "When the split occurred I was riding back to the front with a team-mate, and suddenly we were in no-man's land," explained Contador. "In front, Columbia got organised very well, as they have a super strong team. We weren't too badly represented as we had three riders there, but the responsibility was on the others."

    The resulting time differences, said Contador, are "insignificant - they might give me more space to manoeuvre."