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First Edition Cycling News, Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Date published:
July 08, 2014, 1:00 BST
  • Tour de France Grand Départ surreal for Simon Yates

    Simon Yates , Orica-GreenEDGE working hard to catch the two leaders.
    Article published:
    July 07, 2014, 20:31 BST
    By:
    Sadhbh O'Shea

    Orica-GreenEdge rider hopes to improve as race develops

    Just over a week after Simon Yates returned to the UK for the British National Championships, he leaves in the midst of his first Grand Tour. Yates was a late addition to Orica-GreenEdge’s Tour de France team and is the only English rider in the race’s peloton.

    The 21-year-old from Bury has been a very popular man with the huge crowds that have turned out to cheer on the riders over the past three days. “[It’s been] absolutely surreal. Especially yesterday, with it being pretty close to home, there was a lot of support out on the road for me,” Yates told Cyclingnews.

    “I just appreciated it so much and it really does spur you on. I was suffering up these climbs and I could hear people shouting my name. Then I thought ‘ah, I can’t let them down, I need to keep going.’"

    Yates’ team manager Matt White described the scenes on stage 2 as being like the top of Alpe d’Huez nine times over. A wall of noise has greeted the peloton wherever it has gone. The noise has been so loud that the riders have often struggled to hear their directeurs sportifs in their radio earpieces.

    “I had it (his race radio) turned up to almost max and I could only just about hear it,” Yates laughed. “I think I’m still a bit deaf from the day before and I think it was a bit of a knock-on effect. The crowds have been phenomenal, 10 deep all the way around.”

    Mixed emotions

    While the huge crowds and resounding support has left Yates on a bit of a high, he waves goodbye to England with a tinge of disappointment. Despite riding his first Grand Tour after only turning professional at the beginning of this season, Yates has put pressure on himself to...

  • Tour de France: It was a war out there, says Coquard

    Bryan Coquard (Team Europcar) keeping the green jersey warm
    Article published:
    July 07, 2014, 21:39 BST
    By:
    Cycling News

    Europcar rider hoping to challenge Sagan for green

    Europcar's Bryan Coquard was once again knocking on the door of victory during stage 3 at the Tour de France. The Frenchman added another fourth place to his results in the rain-affected sprint in London.

    Coquard is making his debut at this year’s race and takes encouragement from being able to mix it with the big guys. “It was a nice finish and fourth place, it’s not bad. I couldn’t sprint at 100 per cent because I couldn’t find an opening until late but it’s encouraging for what’s to come,” he said at the finish.

    The result didn’t come easy for Coquard, who had to fight from a long way out to get back into the bunch. “I made an error in the Olympic Park. I took a cycle path where there were people blocking it at the end, so I lost time and energy. With the rain, you could feel your tyres slipping at times. It was really on the limit.

    “Another rider in the finishing straight would have been nice but that’s how it is, my teammates did a lot of work for me before that. I was on Kittel’s wheel in the final kilometre but I lost my place to Sagan. I was on the limit of slipping and he managed to get in there because he was going quicker. He’s really impressive in his bike handling.”

    Coquard has demonstrated his own impressive bike handling skills on a few occasions at this year’s Tour de France. On stage 1, he showed the tremendous skills he has developed in his time on the track, where the riders are used to riding without brakes. They came in handy on stage 3 too, as the slick roads made the...

  • Giant-Shimano celebrate another sprint victory at the Tour de France

    Team boss Iwan Spekenbrink (Argos Shimano)
    Article published:
    July 07, 2014, 21:57 BST
    By:
    Stephen Farrand

    Team's future assured despite rumours of an Alonso takeover

    Riders and staff from Giant-Shimano again exchanged high fives, hugs and big smiles after Marcel Kittel won his second stage at this year's Tour de France on Monday in London.

    The boys in black and white again proved they are the sprint kings of the Tour de France after producing a perfect high-speed lead-out on the streets of central London so that Kittel could use his immense power to win from the front on The Mall, and with Buckingham Palace in the background.

    "It was another great day for us," team manager Iwan Spekenbrink told Cyclingnews proudly after congratulating his riders and staff.

    "A sprint is always a fight and you need a very good sprinter to win but a sprinter can never win at this level without a good team to help. You need to be fresh and in a good position. This win was a victory for a sprinter and his team."

    Giant-Shimano dominated the lead-out, hitting the front in the final three kilometers of stage 3 and setting such a pace that no other team was able to pass them. They gave Kittel an armchair ride to the finishing straight and he finished it off by sprinting to victory from the front.

    "I was a little scared that they went to the front a little too early but they kept going and going and going, and they were strong enough," Spekenbrink said.

    "It's impossible to lead out sprints from a long way now. Timing is important and the sprinter has to be fresh. You also have to be prepared to lose. Today they kept pulling for three kilometres. Omega Pharma tried to come up to us but then they were gone. It was beautiful to watch."

    Future assured thanks to Giant

    Spekenbrink is part of the new...

  • Gallery: Crowds swarm stage 3 at the Tour de France

    Crowds on stage 3 of the Tour de France
    Article published:
    July 07, 2014, 22:25 BST
    By:
    Cycling News

    Crowd estimates hit five million for first three stages in the UK

    The Tour de France’s Grand Départ in the United Kingdom was hailed as being the most successful start in the event’s history with spectator numbers that exceeded five million during the first three stages. Crowds of cycling fans packed the streets to watch the nearly 200 participants, again during stage 3, in what the Tour de France organizer, Christian Prudhomme has called “amazing, unforgettable, and the grandest Grand Départ ever.”

    The Guardian reported that Chief Executive of Welcome to Yorkshire Gary Verity has discussed with Prudhomme the return of the Tour de France to Yorkshire in the future. “I am already trying to persuade him,” Verity told The Guardian. “It’s been a perfect few days but I’m already looking at what we could have done differently and what would work even better next time. I am going to write a dossier and deliver it to Christian by the end of the week.”

    Stage 3, the final stage in the UK, started in Cambridge and took the peloton on a 155km route to London, riding by the Olympic stadium, then along the River Thames, before finishing on The Mall, in front of Buckingham Palace.

    It was the flattest of the three days in Britain and was almost certain to end in a bunch sprint. Fans crammed the sides of the route to watch as the peloton ripped through the capital and end the race in a bunch sprint won by Marcel Kittel (Giant-Shimano).

    "Today was one of the best finish lines I have ever seen, with the amount of people lining the roads it was incredible, Kittel said. “It was awesome. I’m really really happy I could win in front of Buckingham Palace.”

    World-class bike racing is not new to London streets with stage 3 being the fourth big race finish on The Mall. The first...

  • Vaughters confirms sponsorship change for 2015

    Jonathan Vaughters (Garmin-Sharp)
    Article published:
    July 08, 2014, 0:36 BST
    By:
    Daniel Benson & Stephen Farrand

    "The team name will definitely change next year," says Garmin-Sharp boss

    The start of the Tour de France has marked the beginning of a series of reports, rumours and denials in relation to team sponsorships but one confirmation is that Garmin-Sharp will change title in 2015.

    Speaking at the end of stage 3 of the Tour, team manager Jonathan Vaughters, told Cyclingnews that, “Garmin has a contract with the team next year but not as a title sponsor. The team name will definitely change next year, yes.”

    Garmin began sponsoring the Slipstream set-up in 2008 and has backed the team as the title sponsor ever since. As a squad they have won the Giro d’Italia, Paris-Roubaix, Liege-Bastogne-Liege and several other high profile races. During their sponsorship they have also sat alongside co-sponsors including Transition and Cervelo.

    A change for 2015 could see Sharp become the team’s lead sponsor, however Vaughters would not be drawn on that, or whether another main sponsor would come onboard.

    Asked if Sharp would be the team’s lead sponsor next year Vaughters said “that remains to be seen. We have a financial situation where we have a lead partner but we’re not talking about it until the Tour de France is over.”

    Asked if the team had a sponsor to sit alongside Sharp, Vaughters replied, “We aren’t going to discuss that until after the Tour de France.”

    The American team, who are at the Tour de France with Dauphine winner Andrew Talansky in their ranks, have yet to confirm their bike sponsor for next year. They currently have a deal with Canadian firm Cervelo, a partnership that formed at the end of 2010 and began on the road in 2011.

    “There’s no contract for Cervelo next year. There is one until the end of this year though," said Vaughters.

    With bike brands becoming team owners and title sponsors in recent years the importance of bike brands has increased significantly. Several major...

  • Porte: We're in a good position as Tour de France leaves UK

    Richie Porte (Team Sky)
    Article published:
    July 08, 2014, 10:48 BST
    By:
    Daniel Benson

    Team Sky rider suggests Astana could weaken as they defend race lead

    Despite a fall on the Tour de France stage from York to Leeds Richie Porte believes that he and his Sky teammates have made it through the opening stages of this year’s race relatively unscathed. Team leader and defending champion Chris Froome sits comfortably inside the top ten, while the team as a whole have worked to keep Froome out of trouble and harm's way.

    “It was nice to get through the UK stages without any really big incidents. I was happy not to lose times,” Porte said at the end of stage 3 in London as he warmed down on the rollers.

    Stage four sees the Tour return to more familiar surroundings with a stage from Calais to Lille. Stage five, however, will put the peloton under serious strain with nine sectors of cobbles from Paris-Roubaix included. Porte acknowledged that he would be glad to get to the mountains.

    “It almost feels like they’re going to be straightforward after the first few stages and then the cobbles. We’re sitting in a good position at the moment."

    Porte fell mid-way through stage two. He picked up a few cuts and bruises but was lucky to escape relatively unharmed. The fall saw Team Sky send several teammates back to help the Australian, before he finally made contact on the final set of climbs before the finish.

    “It was just one of things and I was taken out from the side. I ended up taking out Nicolas Roche and breaking his new Specialized Tarmac. So there are only 249 of them left in the world. The arm is fine though, I’m not feeling anything bad with it but I was lucky.”

    “We’re happy with how it’s gone so far but once we get through stage 5 and then into more familiar terrain in the mountains, we’re going to be a lot happier.”

    Froome sits just two seconds down on race leader and...

  • Quintana ready to share leadership with Valverde at Vuelta a España

    Nairo Quintana (Movistar) all dressed in pink
    Article published:
    July 08, 2014, 13:10 BST
    By:
    Cycling News

    Giro winner to return to Europe for Vuelta a Burgos

    Nairo Quintana has said that he does not envisage any problems in sharing leadership duties of the Movistar team with Alejandro Valverde at the Vuelta a España. Valverde is currently in action at the Tour de France, a race Quintana skipped after landing victory at the Giro d’Italia in June.

    “The outcome of the Tour doesn’t affect anything. Alejandro is going very well and could possibly be on the podium of the Tour if nothing extraordinary happens,” Quintana said in a press conference in Bogota on Monday, according to Biciciclismo.

    “We’ll go with two leaders to this Vuelta, which is so important for the team. We’ll work together, and I think the stronger rider at the time will have the support of the other. I don’t think it matters that he is a Spaniard at the Vuelta a España because the team has made it clear that we’re working for Movistar Team, and not for a Colombian or a Spaniard. Depending on how the race goes, we’ll see who is stronger and who takes the lead.”

    Quintana is the grand absentee from this year’s Tour after taking second overall, the king of the mountains title and a mountaintop stage win at the 2013 edition of the race. His Movistar team opted to send the veteran Valverde to the Tour as outright leader this time around, while Quintana has eyes on capturing a Giro-Vuelta double before returning to La Grande Boucle in 2015.

    “I want to do a very good Vuelta,” Quintana said. “I don’t know if I’ll win but I’m very motivated and I want to put in a good showing. The idea is to win.”

    The last rider to win the Giro and Vuelta in...

  • Andy Schleck out of the Tour de France through injury

    Not a great day for Andy Schleck in the end
    Article published:
    July 08, 2014, 13:22 BST
    By:
    Cycling News

    Trek Factory rider fails to start stage 4

    Andy Schleck (Trek Factory Racing) has been forced to abandon the Tour de France after the injuries he sustained in a crash on stage 3 ruled him out of starting Tuesday’s stage to Lille.

    In a statement on Twitter, his team said: "We are sad to announce that Andy Schleck cannot take the start in @letour today. The ligaments and meniscus in the right knee are too severely damaged from his crash in yesterday's final. He will travel to Basel now for examination and a possible operation."

    Schleck came into the race hoping to help his brother Fränk in the general classification and although he had struggled for form and fitness this year, he remained an important part of the Trek team.

    However he crashed heavily inside the final 30 kilometres on stage three to London and lost over a minute. After the stage he talked to the media outside the team bus and appeared in pain.

    Schleck also took to Twitter on Tuesday to confirm his abandonment. “Very disappointed to let you know that i will not be able to start. My knee is too damaged from the crash. This is a huge blow for me,” he wrote.

    “This is a huge blow for me. I went on the rollers as soon as we arrived in Le Touquet, to get the muscles and tendons warmed up, but the pain is too much. I believed until that moment that I would start. I think I ignored the pain somehow, hiding it in the back of my head," he later said on the team's website.

    Schleck will now head to Basle, Switzerland for further tests.

    “Andy will undergo an MRI-scan of the knee and we will subsequently decide if an operation is necessary. He’s clearly in a lot of pain and starting would be a very bad idea. We tried all treatments that we have at our disposition in competition, but the injury is too severe to have him racing,...