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First Edition Cycling News, Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Date published:
July 09, 2013, 1:00 BST
  • Contador: We have to take a few risks

    Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank) also lost time to Chris Froome during stage 8
    Article published:
    July 08, 2013, 18:09 BST
    Daniel Benson

    Spaniard needs form of old to win Tour de France

    If Alberto Contador is to turn his Tour de France around and overhaul Chris Froome's lead he will have to bank on not just the Sky rider cracking and Movistar failing to capitalise, but also a return to his best form.

    Contador looked unsettled in the Pyrenees last weekend, losing ground on the climb to Ax-3 Domaines before an understandably conservative approach on the final ascent of stage 9. Now lying 1:51 down on Froome, the Spaniard must use his superior team to his advantage but also look to limit his loses in the individual time trials before an all-out assault in the second half of the race.

    "Up until now Froome's been very strong but I will try and do something, everyone's legs are hurting but if you don't think you can succeed you never will. We have to take a few risks," Contador said during his rest day press conference on the French coast.

    Whether they're risks or simply the opportunities born from the race route, Contador will certainly need to be aggressive. His nature means that riding for second or third will not enter his mind, but by the conclusion of the Mont-Saint Michel time trial it's possible that he will be roughly four minutes down on the British rider and with Ventoux more exploitable terrain for Sky's train, Contador may look towards the undulating stage to Lyon to salvage his Tour.

    "It's not the situation that I would like, because I'd rather be at the same time as Froome, but I didn't have good day," Contador said when explaining his post-Pyrenees predicament.

    "Thanks to my teammate Kreuziger I'm still in the race, and next time trial is also better for Froome."

    Throughout the season Froome has had the measure of...

  • Gallery: First nine stages of the Tour de France

    The Orica-GreenEdge bus got stuck under the finish as the pack raced to the finish of stage 1.
    Article published:
    July 08, 2013, 18:15 BST
    Cycling News

    Crashes, sprints and even some mountains enliven early days of the Tour

    The first nine stages of the 2013 Tour de France produced plenty of drama. It all started out with the Orica-GreenEdge bus stuck under the finish line banner as the peloton charged toward the finish of stage 1. Fortunately, the bus was removed just in time, although the finish was moved twice by officials en route.

    It's common for the first part of the Tour to include many crashes as the large peloton nervously establishes its pecking order, but the confusion resulting from the judges decisions on the opening stage caused a massive pile-up. Although all 198 riders were awarded the same time and continued into the race, American Ted King, suffering from a separated shoulder, could not ride in his aerodynamic position and was dropped in the team time trial and missed the time cut on stage 4.

    The crashes continued in the remainder of the opening week, with Janez Brajkovic and Christian Vande Velde among those eliminated after crashes.

    The first nine stages of the 2013 Tour de France gave several men the chance to wear yellow, including Marcel Kittel (Argos-Shimano), a surprising Jan Bakelants (RadioShack), whose solo move on stage 2 upset the sprinters. 

    Simon Gerrans gave Orica GreenEdge its first Tour de France stage win on the next day, then helped drive his team to a narrow victory and the maillot jaune in the team time trial. He later passed the honour along to teammate Daryl Impey, who made history as the first South African to lead the Tour.

    The big-named sprinters of the race took turns winning stages on stage 5 through 7, with Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-Quickstep), André Greipel (Lotto Belisol) and Peter Sagan (Cannondale) each taking turns on the stage podium. Sagan's...

  • Lars Bak earns contract extension with Lotto Belisol

    Lars Bak recovers after winning stage 12 at the Giro d'Italia
    Article published:
    July 08, 2013, 20:20 BST
    Cycling News

    Giro d'Italia stage winner to aim for spring classics in 2014

    A reliable workhorse who isn't afraid to chase opportunities when they present themselves has earned Lars Bak a one-year contract extension with Lotto Belisol. The Dane has been an integral part of the sprint train for André Greipel over the past two seasons, while also picking up a solo stage win in the Giro d'Italia in 2012. His decision was based around the atmosphere in the team where he is happy to support the team's GC and sprint ambitions while also getting the freedom to chase a personal result.

    Bak is currently riding the Tour de France where the team has already launched the 'Gorilla' Greipel to one stage win. With Jurgen Van Den Broeck out of the race with a knee injury, Bak's role will now circle entirely around picking up more stage victories via the German road champion. The team will also attempt to reduce the seemingly insurmountable lead that Peter Sagan holds in the green jersey competition.

    "I'm very glad to continue working with all people of this team. From day one I felt very welcome. The team direction has confidence in me, they have showed that. I didn't have the best start because of my injury last year but they stayed calm and gave me the time to recover, this year as well. The team believes in me and that's nice," said Bak on his team site.

    Looking forward into next season Bak says he'll aim firstly at a return to the spring classics before building once again...

  • Lessons have been learned says Brailsford

    Chris Froome and Dave Brailsford (Team Sky)
    Article published:
    July 08, 2013, 20:32 BST
    Barry Ryan

    Sky manager on Pyrenees and doping questions

    After a Pyrenean weekend of two very distinct halves, Sky manager Dave Brailsford was keen to accentuate the positives at his team's press conference at La Baule on the first rest day of the Tour de France. With the yellow jersey resting firmly on Chris Froome's shoulders, Brailsford has ample reason to view the Sky glass as being half full but there must be genuine concern, too, at how empty so many of his riders had appeared on stage 9 to Bagnères-de-Bigorre.

    Richie Porte, so impressive 24 hours earlier at Ax 3 Domaines, slipped from second to 33rd overall after losing almost 18 minutes, while Vasil Kiryienka struggling so much that he finished dead last and was eliminated for finishing outside the time limit. And yet despite being isolated from his team for over 100 kilometres of racing, Froome withstood Movistar's collective offensive to retain the overall lead.

    "With a boxing analogy, he's taken the biggest right hook on the chin that he's going to take and he didn't flinch," Brailsford said of Froome. "We've learned a lot to take into the rest of the race."

    Porte's collapse captured the headlines on Sunday evening, but Kiryienka's défaillance was arguably equally dramatic. Just how did the Belarus rider, with two mountain stages at the Giro d'Italia on his palmares, fail to keep pace with the gruppetto and wind up eliminated from the race?

    "He absolutely buried himself to try and bring Richie back, and then he blew," Brailsford said. "He thinks that heat is a factor. A lot of guys have suffered from racing most of the season in ridiculously cold situations and now that has flipped totally in the last month or so, and I think that's catching a few people...

  • Team Belkin delighted with Mollema and Ten Dam inside top five

    Belkin teammates Laurens ten Dam and Bauke Mollema
    Article published:
    July 08, 2013, 21:55 BST
    Sam Dansie

    Dutch squad counts the venture into the Pyrenees as an unvarnished success

    On the day that the Tour de France transfers north to Saint-Nazaire, the rejuvenated Dutch Team Belkin have Bauke Mollema and Laurens Ten Dam sitting third and fourth on general classification - both less than two minutes behind yellow jersey Chris Froome (Sky).

    The team's strategy in the early mountains had been to ride prudently. On the first Pyrenean stage to Ax-3-Domaines, Mollema decided not to follow a blistering pace set by Sky and reaped the reward by passing exhausted riders all the way to the finish.

    On yesterday's stage 9, the Dutch pair allowed Team Sky, Movistar, Garmin-Sharp and Saxo-Tinkoff bank to trade blows over the five categorised climbs to Bagnères-de-Bigorre as they sat in the wheels of the yellow jersey group.

    Team Belkin director sportif Nico Verhoeven said the team had not anticipated having two riders so high up on GC.

    "After the Pyrenees we didn't expect we would have two riders in the top four - that's unbelievable," Verhoeven said yesterday.

    "Before the Tour, Bauke Mollema already showed good condition at Tour de Suisse with second place overall. Laurens [Ten Dam] was 13th in the overall and he has improved in the last week, too.

    "We knew that they were good, but we didn't expect them to be as good as that," said Verhoeven.

    Verhoeven said Chris Froome's (Sky) commanding position at the top of the GC aside, a shake-up could be visited on the general classification on Wednesday and the 33km time trial to Mont-Saint-Michel.

    "Froome is a little bit far away, but when you look from Valverde to 15th place there's maybe one minute and 50 seconds - there's not a big gap and in a time trial you can go from third place to...

  • Rodríguez: I expected more from myself in the Pyrenees

    Joaquin Rodriguez (Katusha)
    Article published:
    July 09, 2013, 1:04 BST
    Cycling News

    Katusha leader looks towards first time trial

    Joaqium Rodríguez (Katusha) sits just inside the Tour de France's top-10 and spent the rest day in a positive mood despite a performance in the Pyrenees that he found personally disappointing.

    The Spaniard is ninth overall, 2:31 down on the overall lead of Chris Froome (Sky). In just his second appearance at the Tour, Rodríguez is aiming to better his previous performance of seventh overall in 2010.

    Sunday's difficult ninth stage to Bagnères-de-Bigorre saw Rodriguez finish fifth, having stayed protected in the lead bunch.

    "Honestly, I can say I expected more from myself during the stages of the Pyrenees," he told EFE. "But on a positive side also feel well, I do not feel particularly tired which is good sign for the rest of the Tour. I imagined that after the first half of the race would have some downtime. The last week will be the hardest for everyone and this Tour anything can happen, we saw that yesterday. I think it will be a great race."

    During Monday's rest day, Rodríguez spent an hour on the time trial bike ahead of Wednesday's 33km individual time trial to Mont-Saint-Michel. The 34-year-old has been working on his time trial over the past year with mixed results. At his last hit out before the Tour, Rodríguez lost almost three minutes to Froome.

    Having crashed on the sixth stage and suffered a knock to his left hip, the Catalan wanted to ensure there was no lasting effects.

    "I recovered well from the fall, but wanted to check that I had no discomfort in the time trial position," he explained.


  • Kittel ready to rumble in second week of Tour de France

    Marcel Kittel (Argos-Shimano).
    Article published:
    July 09, 2013, 3:54 BST
    Cycling News

    Stage win and yellow jersey has Argos-Shimano sprinter hungry for more

    Riding into the first rest day at the Tour de France with a stage win and a yellow and green jersey is already mission accomplished for Marcel Kittel and his Argos-Shimano squad but having reached such heights so early in the race has left the German gunning for more as the race hits the flats on Tuesday.

    Last year Kittel was unable to make it past Stage 5 in his debut Tour despite entering his second grand tour with high expectations. This year however, the 6"2' sprinter has made his way through the first week relatively unscathed. A taste of the high mountains through the Pyrenees came and went without too much stress, according to the 25-year-old and the team's trainer Adriaan Helmantel.

    "Marcel is really impressive on the climbs; he doesn't have any problems," said Helmantel while Kittel added "Yesterday I felt really good in the mountains and survived those very easily."

    During the rest day riders from Argos-Shimano were busy with the team's trainer Helmantel and team manager Iwan Spekenbrink analyzing sprints and power files from the first nine stages. Most of the riders, including Kittel have been recovering well and are ready to combat the next six days of racing - before the second day off.

    "Today all our experts were also in the hotel and we had a meeting with them to analyze the sprints of the last week. We saw some improvements, so it should be possible to do something next week....

  • Cavendish not giving up on green jersey

    Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma - QuickStep)
    Article published:
    July 09, 2013, 5:23 BST
    Cycling News

    Omega Pharma - Quick-Step focused on stage wins for British Champ

    Three stages are available to the sprinters of the Tour de France this week and new British Road Champion Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma - Quick-Step) has not given up hope of catching the leader of the Points Classification, Peter Sagan (Cannondale) despite the Slovak's 106-point advantage.

    Cavendish is currently third in the battle for the maillot vert, with André Greipel (Lotto Belisol) second, 93-points back on Sagan. The former world champion won stage 5 before a disappointing sixth stage where he crashed in the finale only to be out-gunned by the lead-outs of Lotto Belisol which delivered a win for Greipel, and Argos-Shimano. While understandably frustrated at the time, Cavendish has gained perspective on the incident.

    "There are no regrets about what happened in Montpellier," he told AFP. "These are just things that can happen and I lost to one of the best guys in the world."

    While it's so far been Sagan's consistency in the stage finishes which has helped to stretch his lead over his rivals, Cavendish is not ready concede defeat when it comes to the possibility of securing the Tour de France Points Classification for the second time, having won in 2011.

    "There's always a possibility I can catch him and I'll just keep going," he said with at least three opportunities for sprinters in the lead in to next weekend, including Tuesday's 197km stage between St-Gildas-des-Bois and Saint Malo.

    "There's no way we'll change anything. Our only focus is on trying to win stages and see what happens from there, but Sagan is a great bike rider."

    While the Tour de France's first week usually comes with...