A close-up look at the Australian's purpose-built ride
Australian's 2015 Tinkoff-Saxo team bike
Winner of the 2015 Tour Down Under
New and old kicks and lids seen at WorldTour race
Sneak peak at the bike they'll ride in the Tour de France
Their green theme, called Sky Rainforest Rescue and will be used just for the Tour, stems from a partnership with the World Wildlife Fund to help save a billion trees in Brazil. But as far as the team's Pinarello Dogma 60.1 bikes are concerned, it's more than just a new paint job.
Cyclingnews was at the team launch in Kew Gardens where Sky presented three of their star riders, Bradley Wiggins, Geraint Thomas and Ben Swift, along with their new Pinarello Dogma 2, kitted out with Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 electronic shifting and componentry.
Team Sky officials were somewhat secretive of the bike's details - we'll have more of those in due course - but in the meantime, feast your eyes on this lush bit of bike porn and go green with envy. And before you ask, no we weren't able to use Yello's Oh Yeah as the backing track.
This article originally appeared on BikeRadar.
Veterans joined by Danielson, Navardauskas
Team Garmin-Cervélo will be combining its veteran talent with two newcomers to the Tour de France when the race starts on July 2. World champion Thor Hushovd and GC contender Christian Vande Velde will lead the squad, while sprinter Tyler Farrar and lead-out man Julian Dean will look to get the American his first Tour de France stage victory.
Adding horsepower to the squad is Ryder Hesjedal, who, having taken 7th overall, can double as a GC man as well as a mountain domestique and motor for the team time trial. Time trial power will also come from David Zabriskie and David Millar.
Slipstream Sports CEO and director Jonathan Vaughters chose Tour first-timers Tom Danielson and Ramunas Navardauskas over Paris-Roubaix champion Johan Vansummeren, much to the surprise of the Belgian public.
“We needed a team that could give us options in the overall but also for stage wins and with this squad, we have that,” said Vaughters. “With such a strong team, and so many riders going so well all season, this was our most difficult Tour selection yet.
"When you have 15 or 18 riders capable of riding the Tour, it becomes difficult, and its hard to leave guys like Johan home. But, I’m confident that we have found the right mix in this group, and I have absolute faith in these riders. It’s going to be an exciting Tour.”
None of the team's six Australian riders, including 2009 Tour de France stage winner Heinrich Haussler, were selected.
Aussie ready to capitalise on points changes at "big show"
Changes to the green jersey competition may have been made with Mark Cavendish in mind, but it's the Manxman's HTC-Highroad teammate Matt Goss who could really be given the chance to shine in his debut Tour de France.
Goss' 2011 season has been exceptional to say the least, with stage wins in every stage race he's competed in up until the Tour de Suisse earlier this month, where he managed a second place to Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale) on the penultimate stage. Then of course there was that win at Milan-San Remo where the 24-year-old became the first Australian to do so.
A start in the Tour de France had long been on the cards, but even Goss admits there was some relief when he got confirmation of his start from directeur sportif Rolf Aldag.
"Until you get that final phone call, especially for someone like myself who hasn't been before, you're always thinking what if something changes, but it's definitely good to get that in writing now," he told Cyclingnews.
"Maybe it's a little bit of relief but I had confidence that I'd been going well and that there's a lot of stages at this year's Tour de France that will suit my style. Now it's all excitement to get there and to see what the big show's all about and to experience it."
Whereas a lot of riders take on their first Tour with an eye to experience, Goss heads to the Passage du Gois with lofty ambitions for both his teammates and himself. With his rapidly growing palmares, there's a certain pressure in his appearance, but it's something Goss is comfortable with and relaxed about.
Riding back into race form
White, Eisel, Yates, Szmyd, and Denson view the stages
As the Tour de France celebrates its centenary of visiting the Alps, the 98th edition of the Grand Tour will cover 3,430.5 kilometres and Cyclingnews has had a host of experts run their eyes over each and every stage.
HTC-Highroad's road captain for the 2011 Tour de France, Bernhard Eisel will be in the thick of the action in the peloton and takes a typically humorous approach to the opening stage on the Passage du Gois.
"Everybody will say 'I've never seen so many crashes' but of course we have – every year during the first week at the Tour."
While not in the driver's seat at this year's Tour, Australia's Professional Men's Road Coordinator, Matt White has looked over all 21 stages and has offered tactical insights and predictions along the way.
Stage six from Dinan to Lisieux, the Tour's longest stage, has many suggesting it's Philippe Gilbert's (Omega Pharma-Lotto) for the taking but White believes the Belgian will find some resistance in Matt Goss (HTC-Highroad).
No surprises for Luxembourg outfit's debut
The talent-heavy roster of Andy Schleck, Fränk Schleck, Fabian Cancellara, Linus Gerdemann, Maxime Monfort, Jakob Fuglsang, Jens Voigt, Stuart O'Grady and Joost Posthuma had the support of hundreds of fans as the riders were farewelled before a flight to France.
"It is no secret that we go to the Tour to try to win it," said Team Manager Kim Andersen during the team presentation in the city of Luxembourg. "We have high ambitions for this team. We will target the overall and possibly even win some stages on the way to Paris."
The younger Schleck has now finished runner-up to Alberto Contador twice in as many years and this year, with the Spaniard having raced and won a particularly taxing Giro d'Italia in May, it's thought that 2011 may be Andy's best chance yet to take the top step on the podium.
"My brother and I speak for each other so the absolute dream would be for us both to be on the podium this year with Andy winning and me there too," Fränk recently told Procycling magazine.
Six of the team members rode for Contador's current team, Saxo Bank, during last year's Tour de France with Cancellara, Voigt, O'Grady and Fuglsang joining the Schlecks in their new project. Cancellara recently won the Swiss National Road Championship for the second time but it's expected he will be a major player for the yellow jersey in the Tour's first week before the focus switches to the Alps and the Pyrenees.
Package intercepted by customs officials
Retired in 2008, Vansevenant was allegedly to be on the receiving end of a package intercepted at Brussels airport two weeks ago by customs officials. According to reports, the package contained "ultra-modern doping products" designed to increase muscle mass and performance.
Francis Clarysse, Ghent public prosecutor and coordinator of the special combined Hormones Unit investigative team would not elaborate on the case confirming only that: "there is an investigation."
Vansevenant, 39, is due to escort VIP guests of the Omega Pharma-Lotto team at the Tour de France, which begins next week.
The Belgian is the only rider to have finished as lanterne rouge in the Tour de France, three times (2006, 2007, 2008).
Australian Customs and Border Protection Service has been contacted for comment.
Blood abnormality ban over for German speed skater
German Claudia Pechstein, a five time gold medalist in the Olympic speed skating events, is looking to compete at the 2012 Olympic Summer Games in London in track cycling.
The 39-year-old served a two-year ban in her winter sport after tests revealed elevated levels of reticulocytes at the 2009 world championships in Norway, indicating likely blood doping.
Her ban ended on February 8, but Olympic regulations may prevent Pechstein from her top priority, the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia. The 'Osaka Rule' prohibits any athlete who has served a suspension of more than six months from competing in the next two Olympics after the ban.
"My goal is to compete at the London Olympics in 2012. I want to race on the track - as a cyclist," she told the Sport-Bild magazine.
"I will start in the individual pursuit at the German Track Championships from July 6-10 in Berlin. I am also planning to race the individual sprint or the 500-meter time trial. I trust I can do this because as a skater I've trained a lot on the bike. I have nothing to lose. I don't know how this kind of competition works, so this alone is really exciting. "
Despite losing her fight against her doping ban in the Court of Arbitration for Sport, Pechstein insists that she never doped and that her suspension was a "miscarriage of justice, based on a single indicator".
She argued that her abnormal tests were due to a congenital condition, but she was not able to convince the arbitrators of this, and now faces another fight to continue her Olympic career.
"I want the chance to compete at a Games, which was stolen from me at Vancouver," she said. "I will fight for my chance, athletically, diplomatically - and, if necessary,...
Australian anti-doping expert talks to Cyclingnews
News that a package of "ultra-modern" doping products, allegedly bound for retired Lotto rider Wim Vansevenant was imported from Australia, has raised a few eyebrows, with an Australian anti-doping expert telling Cyclingnews that a doping network is most likely responsible.
Doping cases in Australia generally involve products imported from elsewhere around the world, and WADA expert Dr. Ben Lewis was surprised as any by the news.
Two weeks ago customs officials at Brussels airport found a package, addressed to Vansevenant from Australia, containing thousands of dollars of doping products designed to increase muscle mass and performance.
Dr. Lewis works with WADA testing methods on a daily basis, and often creates drug metabolites for use in profiling drug metabolism in hospital patients. He's based in the department of Clinical Pharmacology at Flinders Medical Centre - one of the best Pharmacology labs in the world.
"I wouldn't have thought that we [Australian labs] did or that we do [create synthetic doping products]," he told Cyclingnews.
"I synthesize these kind of things in our labs – we've got the kind of equipment to make drugs, and it can be pretty expensive for us to buy the standard drugs that we use for testing, so it's often easier for us to synthetically create them ourselves."
"I make metabolites occasionally if it's prohibitively expensive or we can't get import permits... For somebody to be doing that – it's obviously someone with a background. Pharmaceutical companies in Australia aren't that big – a drop in the ocean sort of thing."
Dr. Lewis says that with certain knowledge, it's quite easy to obtain the precursor compounds to synthetically make performance-enhancing drugs, and cites the...