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First Edition Cycling News, Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Date published:
July 10, 2013, 1:00 BST
  • Cavendish defends actions in Tour de France sprint

    British champion Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) during stage 9
    Article published:
    July 09, 2013, 19:39 BST
    By:
    Barry Ryan

    Manxman keeps third place after Veelers crash

    A Mark Cavendish victory is a news story but a Mark Cavendish defeat is a news event. Such is the hyper-reality of life at the top of the sprint hierarchy, and so when Cavendish was beaten into third place at the end of stage 10 of the Tour de France – and involved in a finishing straight crash to boot – a vast flotilla of journalists duly dropped anchor outside the Omega Pharma-QuickStep bus in the Breton port town of Saint-Malo.

    The initial fear among our ghastly crew was that Cavendish had simply opted to batten down the hatches, but after showering and changing aboard the bus, he emerged to wade into the tide of microphones, cameras and voice recorders outside.

    "We lost our guys," Cavendish said of a sprint finale where Lotto-Belisol and Argos-Shimano outnumbered his own QuickStep cohort. "Gert [Steegmans] went early and I tried to follow Gert but if I'd have followed his wheel and gone from there, I would have been too early in the sprint so I settled back onto [Tom] Veeler's wheel. When Greipel kicked, I went."

    Cavendish was reluctant to discuss his relative lack of support in the closing kilometres – "We'll talk about it later with the team," he said quietly – and was generous in his praise of stage winner Marcel Kittel, who captured his second sprint victory of this Tour. "I think it's disrespectful to make it out like it's a big loss for us because Kittel's an incredible bike rider and his team rides really well."

    It was, of course, Cavendish's clash with Kittel's teammate Veelers that will dominate much of the post-stage discussion. When Veelers swung off after leading out the sprint, Cavendish brushed his shoulder when...

  • Gilbert extends contract with BMC Racing Team

    World champion Philippe Gilbert (BMC)
    Article published:
    July 09, 2013, 20:15 BST
    By:
    Cycling News

    World Champion to focus on one-day races through 2016

    World Champion Philippe Gilbert will continue to ride with BMC Racing Team with the announcement on Tuesday that his contract has been extended.

    His current arrangement with the team was due to expire at the end of next season.

    "I'm happy I made this choice a few weeks ago," said Gilbert. "For me the most important [races] are the Classics and I have a really strong team for this, so I will focus in the future on them. I think the one-day races are my specialty

    "I can do better than the last two years and my ambition is to win some with this team, BMC."

    Gilbert dominated the Ardennes in 2011 in his final season with Omega Pharma-Lotto, claiming the clean sweep of Amstel Gold Race, Flèche Wallonne and Liege-Bastogne-Liege but with the world championships his primary goal of 2012, he did not replicate that early season form. This year, the Belgian again failed to reach the podium in his favourite events, fifth at Amstel Gold Race, 15th at Flèche Wallonne and 7th Liege-Bastogne-Liege. In fact, since claiming the rainbow jersey, Gilbert is yet to get a win.

    "After the Tour de France, he will focus on the one day ProTour races and his defense of his world championship title," said team general manager Jim Ochowicz. "Our future years together offer many opportunities to capture victories in his favorite races."

    The recently-turned 31-year-old will race the Vuelta a Espana in the lead-up to his quest for back-to-back world championship victories, and if successful, will be the first repeat winner since Paolo Bettini in 2006, 2007.

    "For sure it's a big goal," Gilbert said. "I'm already starting to think about this. My ambition is to finish this Tour with good condition and then go to the Vuelta and come better...

  • Greipel blames Tour de France sprint loss on cobblestones

    Sprinter Andre Greipel (Lotto-Belisol) was cracking jokes and smiling before the stage – which features five categorised climbs
    Article published:
    July 09, 2013, 20:19 BST
    By:
    Sam Dansie

    German champion wasn't properly briefed on finale

    André Greipel claimed he lost the sprint finish in the Tour de France today because team managers failed to warn him about a cobbled section in the sprint finale – but his team manager questioned whether they were cobbles at all.

    The Lotto-Belisol sprinter finished second to Marcel Kittel (Argos-Shimano) on stage 10 to Saint-Malo. Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) finished third and was accused of causing a crash, which he denied.

    Appearing calm after the finale Greipel, said, “I didn’t know that there are cobblestones at the end. I was full gas in this last corner and my back wheel was bouncing. I had to sit down…for sure I lost 3, 4km per hour and I lost it. I had 100m to go and I don’t know how many bike lengths.”

    Asked if he wasn’t briefed correctly, he told reporters, “You can say this.”

    Outside the team bus, Lotto-Belisol team manager Marc Sergeant confirmed that his riders hadn’t been warned about the section, but said, “What was there wasn’t cobblestones,” and suggested it was a smaller type paver. "I haven’t spoken with André so I don’t know what to say, but we lost – that’s disappointing."

    Sergeant struck a concessionary note too. “If that is the reason that we lost – the cobblestones – that’s our mistake. But we thought at 60km/h – 70km/h maybe – it takes you three seconds to go over those 60m. Hopefully we’ll have revenge in two or three days.”

    In the winners’ press conference, Kittel said “I did know that there were cobblestones and I think it’s for everyone...

  • Kittel takes second Tour de France stage win in Saint Malo

    Marcel Kittell (Argos-Shimano) savours his podium time
    Article published:
    July 09, 2013, 21:21 BST
    By:
    Daniel Benson

    First Orica bus, then Veelers crash distract from German's talent

    A debut stage win and a first yellow jersey of a rider's blossoming career were perhaps never more so overshadowed than when Marcel Kittel claimed the opening stage of the this year's Tour de France in Corsica.

    And the German had to wait a further nine days of racing until he could bask in Tour glory as he muscled his way to the win in Saint-Malo on Tuesday. This time there were no team buses caught under the winning gantry and no confusion over the location of the finishing straight. There was a crash, with Kittel's teammate coming together and losing out to the tarmac and Mark Cavendish but overall, this was the win that Kittel wanted, a confirmation of his growing stature as he took on and beat the world's best on the world's greatest stage.

    "I'm very proud that today I could show how fast I am, how strong my team is and how well we work together," he said in his winner's press conference.

    Kittel turned professional with Skil Shimano in 2011, staying with the team through its transformation to Argos-Shimano, and has rapidly become one of the most exciting sprinters on the scene. The German claimed 18 victories in his debut season and although last year's debut Tour was ruined by illness and injury, he has repaid his team in kind this time around.

    "Having a Dutch team working me, I'm just very proud on how we work together, and how we care for each other. Not just on the bike, but also off it as well," he said.

    "I think it's not a matter of being from The Netherlands or being German, or whatever, I'm just enjoying being together with the boys and I'm feeling a bit closer now to The Netherlands since coming to the team."

    Today's win was indeed a credit to...

  • Contador faces up to Tour de France time trial test

    Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank) also lost time to Chris Froome during stage 8
    Article published:
    July 09, 2013, 22:02 BST
    By:
    Barry Ryan

    Spaniard lost almost three minutes to Froome in Dauphiné TT

    The true state of Alberto Contador's form has been something of an enigma thus far at the Tour de France. Although the Saxo-Tinkoff leader struggled on the first mountaintop finish at Ax 3 Domaines, he is still only 1:51 off the yellow jersey of Chris Froome (Sky) and adamant that his condition will continue to improve as the race progresses.

    Long before that tough final week in the Alps, however, Wednesday's 30km time trial to Mont-Saint-Michel is something of an acid test of Contador's Tour credentials. The race of truth did not earn its moniker by chance, and a test of similar length at the recent Critérium du Dauphiné issued a harsh verdict, as Contador coughed up almost three minutes to Froome.

    Saxo-Tinkoff directeur sportif Philippe Mauduit warned against drawing premature conclusions based on what happened a month ago, pointing to his team's strong showing in the Nice team time trial, where they limited their losses to Sky to just six seconds.

    "Alberto will do his best and we will see the figure at the end of the day but anything we say beforehand is just speculation like many people did before the team time trial," Mauduit told Cyclingnews. "Many, many people said that we were going to lose between 20 and 40 seconds, but in the end, we lost only six."

    Predictions, Mauduit reckons, are a mug's game. "Tomorrow is another time trial and there are a lot of things to take into consideration before you can make a prediction of time loss or gain but it's still speculation," he said, and then joked, "The one who can tell us today how much time we gain or lose to Froome, Valverde, Quintana or whoever, I would pay him a kilo of cherries a day for the rest of his life because I'm not able to predict it."

    ...
  • Evans to fight in Mont-Saint-Michel Tour de France time trial

    Cadel Evans (BMC) refreshed after the rest day
    Article published:
    July 09, 2013, 23:42 BST
    By:
    Sam Dansie

    Top five still possibe for Australian former Tour winner

    BMC's best-placed Tour de France GC rider Cadel Evans will fight for every second in Wednesday's individual time trial in the hope of recovering from a lowly 16th place before the finish in Paris, said his team manager.

    BMC Team Manager Jim Ochowicz said the team would come out fighting on the flat 33km time trial finishing in Mont-Saint-Michel in preparation for a tough final week which could deliver a mass shake-up to the GC.

    Currently 3:11 separate the 2011 Tour winner Evans in 16th from Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) in second. Chris Froome (Sky) has a commanding hold on yellow, a further 1:25 ahead of the Spaniard.

    "We don't give up, the placings are going to change," said Ochowicz. "Heck, there's a lot to racing to go. The hardest part of this Tour hasn't started yet. We expect to see again a displacement of the general classification in a way that's unpredictable.

    "The only outcome from this last weekend that was predictable was Chris Froome. Everybody else I think was a mystery, the way they had bad day, good day, bad day, good day."

    Ochowicz said Wednesday's time trial suits powerful TT-riders. Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) has the best chance of winning he added.

    "Tejay [van Garderen] and Cadel are ready for the race - they're going to prepare the race, they've seen the course," he said

    Evans - and van Garderen in particular - had a torrid weekend in the Pyrenees. Van Garderen suffered in the broiling heat and now lies more than half an hour behind Froome (Sky). Evans labelled stage 8 to Ax-3-Domaines the worst Tour performance of his career. He recovered on stage 9 and moved up nine places. He still believes a top five is possible according to Australian paper the Herald Sun.

     

  • Renshaw to ride for Omega Pharma-Quick-Step in 2014

    Mark Cavendish and Mark Renshaw (HTC-Highroad) have built up a wonderful understanding over the past three seasons.
    Article published:
    July 10, 2013, 0:23 BST
    By:
    Daniel Friebe

    Australian ace to be reunited with Cavendish

    Mark Cavendish's much-scrutinized sprint train faltered in stage 10 of the Tour de France to Saint-Malo on Tuesday – but its derailments may soon be a thing of the past.

    Cyclingnews understands that a deal to reunite Cavendish with his former HTC-Highroad lead-out man Mark Renshaw is already in place. Under UCI rules, transfers cannot be announced before August 1, but an agreement that will take Renshaw from Belkin to Omega Pharma-Quick-Step has been sealed.

    Renshaw and Cavendish formed one of the most potent partnerships ever seen in Tour de France sprints. With the Australian as his pilot, Cavendish won 14 stages in the three Tours from 2009 to 2011. Throughout that time, he hailed Renshaw as the "best lead-out man in the world".

    While the Aussie has won two races and collected a number of good results in his eighteen months as one of Belkin's (formerly Rabobank and Blanco) front-line sprinters, he is now keen to revert to his old role as a lead-out man. Belkin surprisingly left the 30-year-old out of their Tour line-up.

    Omega Pharma-QuickStep will certainly benefit from Renshaw's race-craft, speed and positioning in the final 500 metres of races. On Tuesday, Cavendish broke loose from his current lead-out man, Gert Steegmans, when the latter seemed to accelerate too early in the closing kilometre. Steegmans had found himself too far back when Lotto Belisol and Argos-Shimano overtook and overwhelmed the Omega Pharma line with around two kilometres to go.

    "I think it's a question of routine a lot...

  • Castroviejo hoping to shine for Movistar in ITT

    Jonathan Castroviejo (Movistar) about to start
    Article published:
    July 10, 2013, 2:10 BST
    By:
    Cycling News

    Spaniard finished fourth in Dauphiné race against the clock

    Having placed fourth in the individual time trial at the Critérium du Dauphiné last month, Movistar's Jonathan Castroviejo is hopeful of another top-five result at the Tour de France on Wednesday.

    The 31km individual time trial between Avranches and Mont-Saint-Michel may not be quite as flat as what Castroviejo experienced at the Dauphiné but the Spaniard is not deterred. At the Dauphiné, the current Spanish time trial champion was just over a minute off the finishing time of winner Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-Quick-Step) with Rohan Dennis (Garmin Sharp) and Chris Froome (Sky) completing the podium. Castroviejo is still recovering from a crash several days ago where he collided with a banner on the side of the road, leaving him with a suspected broken rib, but he's hopeful that it won't affect his time trial position.

    "I thought it wasn't serious, but day by day, I'm suffering more and more, so we think there's a break in one of my ribs," he explained. "We didn't undergo any X-ray yet because I've been able to deal with the suffering on the bike so far, but should the injury continue to disturb me, I'll do some checks to know exactly what I have and be more calm. When you're riding close to the limit the pain is not as intense, mainly because the legs hurt more. These nervous stages on rough roads are even harder than those with mountains," Castroviejo said after Stage 10.

    Tuesday's stage was trouble-free for the Movistar squad, with the team's sprinter José Joaquín Rojas recovering somewhat to finish in 10th place at the finish having experienced stomach issues before...