- Article published:
- September 1, 2010, 11:20
- Stephen Farrand
Scot recalls special moments from the 1983 and 1984 Tour de France
Robert Millar and Laurent Fignon both made their Tour de France debut in 1983. And at the time both were perhaps ‘young and carefree’ as Fignon would go on to title his autobiography.
Fignon went on to win the 1983 Tour, while Millar won a mountain stage and was fourteenth overall. In 1984 Fignon won the Tour again and Millar finished fourth overall and won the polka-dot climber’s jersey.
Both were unique individuals but became close because of their idiosyncrasies, while still being fierce rivals on the road.
Here Millar remembers Fignon, who died yesterday from cancer, confirming the Frenchman’s talent and character with revealing anecdotes from the 1983 and 1984 editions of the Tour de France.
“I was lucky that I had the chance to race with Laurent Fignon for most of my career but I was even luckier that sometimes he used to talk to me during the quiet moments in races, the times when you could linger at the back of the peloton and reflect on things.”
“I liked him as a person. Sure I liked how he raced and how he always fought but primarily I liked Laurent the man. He was intense, passionate and demanding when he competed but he was also respectful and fair to his rivals and teammates. And when the race was over it was over so you didn't have to talk about it forever and a day.”
“Others called him difficult and moody but I liked that aspect of his character and I liked that he didn't tolerate fools and shoddy media people either. I liked the fact that he used to hide behind the Credit Lyonnais stand in the Tour village so he could grab five minutes of peace and quiet to read his newspaper without interruptions. Or that if I sneaked off for a real espresso in a small cafe just before the start of an Italian race, I would more often than not find him and a few teammates having a laugh in the corner of the same cafe.”
“I was shocked when he announced he was ill and I resented that he was suffering so much until he passed away. After giving so much of himself he deserved better. He was intelligent, humorous, and truly special as an athlete and a person. He'll be missed.”
Tour de France memories
“A couple of examples of how gifted Fignon really was come to mind as I remember when we raced together.”
“We’re at the 1983 Tour de France and it's the morning of the 50km Dijon time trial, the day before the final stage to Paris. I'm out riding the route to see what it's like, the usual stuff of assessing gearing, wind direction and road surfaces. About forty kilometres into the route and nicely warmed up, we are riding hard to get an idea of how the legs feel spinning a big gear, when Fignon suddenly comes past going considerably faster.”
“We think ‘Ok, showing off are we?’, ‘trying to psyche us out?’ And so we give chase. What a bad idea. I can't remember who I was with but there were three of us going through and off and yet he just disappeared into the distance very quickly. We were totally demoralised when we finally catch him up at the finish area and see he is hardly sweating. We knew who the winner would be that afternoon. Sure enough Fignon wins the time trial and the Tour. The next day I catch up with him and offer my congratulations. We briefly talk about the time trial and he admits in total sincerity that he only changed gear a couple of times during the whole thing. He said he went down from top gear for the harder bits because he felt he ought to, not because he needed to.”
“Another great memory I have is from the year after, 1984, during stage 20 of the Tour de France from Morzine to Crans Montana. It's boiling hot. As we hit the bottom of the final climb to the finish, Pascal Jules from Fignon's team is in front with about a minute lead. There are a few attacks but then Fignon hits the front to calm things down, probably thinking that if he controls the pace then no-one will dare come past.”
“He's not wrong as he's going so fast the talking has stopped in the bunch. After a couple of kilometres I somehow find myself in second position right behind him and start thinking and feeling that the pace he is setting is way too much for my liking. As it becomes more and more uncomfortable to maintain some kind of composure I think to myself that it might be better to slip back a bit and get more shelter amongst the wheels of the group, maybe recover a bit because I know it gets steeper later on. If Fignon had been going slower I might have been able to look round and see there was no group to hide in. We were lined out in the gutter so much that when I pulled over to recover a bit no-one came past. And with that Fignon rode off to catch his friend and win the stage.”
I was waiting for one of the other riders to complain that I had let the wheel go but strangely no-one mentioned it. Everyone knew just how strong Fignon was and knew they would not have been able to hold his wheel either.”
- Article published:
- September 1, 2010, 10:48
- Barry Ryan
Haussler, Klier, Lancaster, Lloyd, Hammond and Rasch join US team
The Garmin team has announced the arrival of six more riders from the soon to be defunct Cervélo TestTeam, as the line-up of the new Garmin-Cervélo for 2011 fills out.
Roger Hammond, Heinrich Haussler, Andreas Klier, Brett Lancaster, Daniel Lloyd and Gabriel Rasch will all join their Cervélo leader Thor Hushovd at the squad for 2011.
Last week it was announced that Cervélo TestTeam would cease to exist at the end of this season and that Cervélo would become bike sponsor to the Garmin team from January 1.
“Team Garmin-Cervélo’s roster will be strong and versatile,” said team manager Jonathan Vaughters of the new signings. “All of these riders bring a lot of experience to what’s already a great team. I’m proud of what we’ve done since 2008, and I’m excited for what we’ll do in 2011.”
With the confirmation of these signings, many of which were first reported in Cyclingnews last week, Garmin-Cervélo look set to boast one of the strongest line-ups for the sprints and spring classics in 2011.
Heinrich Haussler took second place at both Milan-San Remo and the Tour of Flanders in 2009. Roger Hammond has been consistently strong at Paris-Roubaix, where he was 3rd in 2004 and 4th this season. Andreas Klier won Gent-Wevelgem in 2003, while the addition of Lloyd, Rasch and Lancaster to Garmin’s already solid classics roster will guarantee a high level of support and expertise.
A statement from Slipstream Sports, the structure behind the Garmin team, also noted that the creation of Team Garmin-Cervélo is still under development, with more information, including an official team roster, set to be released as it becomes available.
- Article published:
- September 1, 2010, 10:25
- Barry Ryan
Capecchi, Caruso, Borghini, Salerno and Montaguti on the move
The Liquigas-Doimo team has announced the arrival of four new riders for the 2011 season. Italians Eros Capecchi, Damiano Caruso, Paolo Longo Borghini and Cristiano Salerno have signed up for next year.
Capecchi returns to the squad where he began his career in 2006. Still only 24 years of age, he completed his first Tour de France for Footon-Servetto this summer although he is without a win since taking the Euskal Bizikleta stage race in 2008.
“Capecchi’s is a welcome return,” said Liquigas-Doimo manager Roberto Amadio. “He’s a guy with great qualities, and with the maturity he’s gained now, he could carve out an important niche for himself.”
Amadio described the arrival of 29-year-old Paolo Longo Borghini from ISD-Neri as a “guaranteed contribution to the experience of the team.”
De Rosa-Stac Plastic duo Damiano Caruso and Cristiano Salerno have also moved to Liquigas-Doimo. Caruso was Italian Under 23 champion in 2008 and followed that up with a stage win at the Girobio in 2009. Salerno turned professional with Tenax in 2006 and enjoyed his greatest success to date at this year’s Tour of Japan, where he took two stages and the overall classification.
“Caruso is a young rider who has shown his qualities right from his first year as a professional,” Amadio said. “Salerno impressed us with his tenacity and his spirit of sacrifice, as well as with his talent on the bike.”
Meanwhile, another rider leaving De Rosa-Stac Plastic is Matteo Montaguti. The 26-year-old has signed a one-year deal with AG2R-La Mondiale, where he will join his fellow Italian Rinaldo Nocentini. A rider with a strong track pedigree, Montaguti demonstrated his mettle on the road by winning the Giro della Provincia di Reggio Calabria this season.
- Article published:
- September 1, 2010, 06:30
- Greg Johnson
Spaniard loses time to Vuelta contenders
Carlos Sastre (Cervelo Test Team) says he’s still motivated despite a deficiency in form which has led to the Spaniard losing more time to the Vuelta a España’s main general classification contenders. Sastre finished 1:34 minutes behind the event’s stage four winner and was also unable to remain with the group of race contenders.
"I'm not at my best at the moment but I am still feeling enthusiastic and that motivates me to keep fighting on every day - even though I can see that there are a lot of people who have come to the race feeling a lot fresher than myself," he said.
"When I decided to compete in the Vuelta a España, I knew that my decision to ride in three big tours in one season was a difficult challenge, especially in a year in which, for various reasons, I have been on an awkward footing with falls, setbacks and medical problems," added Sastre.
Sastre has contested all three Grand Tours this season, with the Giro d’Italia in May his strongest performance this year. Sastre finished eighth at the Italian race but struggled at July’s Tour de France, where he finished down in 20th place.
"It hasn't been at all easy to reach my goals in the best conditions. But at the end of each race I always feel a special satisfaction and happiness that makes me want to keep on fighting," he said. "That helped me to make this decision and that is why I'm here, competing in the Vuelta a España."
Sastre has been a consistent performer at his home Grand Tour, having finished inside the top five in all five of his past appearances at the race. He has twice been runner-up in the event, finishing second in 2005 and 2007, however it looks unlikely the 35-year-old will repeat that success this year.
Sastre sits 2:15 minutes off the race lead in 22nd place, after losing time to Nicolas Roche (Ag2R-La Mondiale), Denis Menchov (Rabobank), David Arroyo (Caisse d’Epargne), Frank Schleck (Team Saxo Bank), Marzio Bruseghin (Caisse d’Epargne) and teammate Xavier Tondo on yesterday’s stage.
"Tomorrow will be a slightly quieter day and from thereon in we will be back in hard terrain with steep slopes and some excitement at the end of the stage, which is what is making this race spectacular in every sense," he said.
- Article published:
- September 1, 2010, 02:12
- Cycling News
Spanish stage victor anticipates rest of Vuelta
Having finished fourth in this year's edition of La Fléche Wallonne - behind no less than Cadel Evans, Joaquin Rodriguez and Alberto Contador - Igor Antón proved that he's a rider to watch at this year's Vuelta a España with victory in Valdepeñas de Jaén yesterday.
The Spanish rider was too strong for Liquigas-Doimo's Vincenzo Nibali, HTC-Columbia rider Peter Velits and countryman Joaquin Rodriguez (Katusha), in the process putting himself in second overall and attributing his performance to thorough preparation and the experience gained in 'La Fléche'.
"It was a finish that suited me well. We came here to see it [before the race] and we knew it had ramps up to 23 percent," Antón told Spanish news agency Europa Press. "I had in mind to try, but seeing as they was Joaquín Rodríguez and Philippe Gilbert it wasn't all me. Learning the course helped me as did the experience gained in the Fleche Wallonne," he added.
There was another factor in Antón's performance he was quick to mention - the role of Mikel Nieve. His Euskaltel-Euskadi teammate fought off attacks from Caisse d'Epargne to ensure his man would have a safe run to the finale and the best shot at victory.
"If not for him [Nieve] I would not have won. He was key to negating the attacks of both [Rigoberto] Urán and Luis León Sánchez - both from the Caisse d'Epargne," said Antón. "It was a lucky win here at the Vuelta, I did it at Calar Alto in 2006," he explained before adding that now he "aspires to everything".
And at 10 seconds behind overall leader Philippe Gilbert, may well Antón dare to dream of what's possible in this Vuelta. Omega Pharma-Lotto's man in red paid tribute to the strength of his rivals after what was another tough day in the saddle.
"From now on I'm not ruling anything out. My participation at the moment leaves me feeling that I've done the homework," said Gilbert. "The stage was very fast. In the final climb I escaped the group and I became a bit isolated. But after his strength [in the finale] Antón was exultant," he added.
- Article published:
- September 1, 2010, 00:22
- Kirsten Frattini
Rider cuts 2012 Olympic Games dreams short
Having landed on the women’s professional road cycling circuit with a bang, Brooke Miller ended her four-year career with a surprise at the Chris Thater Memorial Criterium on Sunday. The former US National Champion cited untouchable Olympic Games dreams and a need to spend more time at home as her primary reasons for the unexpected retirement.
“I had all my focus on the Olympics and I pretty much realised that I’m not going to be going,” said Miller. “The sacrifices I have to make at this point of my career in order to be competitive enough to go to the Olympics involves things that I’m not willing to do anymore. I would be racing full-time in Europe and I’m just really not happy when I’m on the road for three plus months straight.
“I’m really happy in my real-world life and so I came to the realisation that if I’m not going to the Olympics, which is what I was training for, then I didn’t want to have a half-assed mediocre career,” she added. “My goals were to be overseas and when I realised that the travel was too much on me, and if I’m not going to the Olympics, then it’s not worth the cost in my personal life anymore.”
Miller started racing bikes seven years ago, having previously competed in volley ball at the University of California. She went on to earn a PhD in Evolutionary Biology at the University of California, Santa Cruz, where she won the Division I Road Race at the Collegiate National Cycling Championships. Six-time Canadian national champion Linda Jackson later signed Miller to her California-based Palo Alto team.
The squad transformed into the Tibco Professional Women’s Cycling Team and this year joined the UCI ranks with a focus on Belgium and Netherland races like the Tour of Flanders, Drenthe 8, Unive Ronde van Drenthe and Fleche Wallone. The season was combined with domestic racing on the National Racing Calendar in the US.
“What Linda has done for me was indispensable,” Miller said. “In the first two years it was her and I building up the sponsors for this team, which was really exciting and a lot of hard work. The team built so fast and from day one we wanted to build a strong team. We didn’t want the team to be all about me, I was just the first rider and we wanted to bring in more strong riders.
"Now the team is phenomenally strong,” she added. “I like to think that I’ll be missed but more for comic relief than for my legs.”
Miller put a stamp on American bike racing scene as one of the fastest developing sprinters in the sport during 2006 and 2007. In 2008, she placed on the podium in a series of early season races and capped off the summer with victory in the national criterium and road race championship events.
She went on to join the US National Team where she experienced some success on the European circuit and currently holds more than 50 career wins. Despite her accomplishments Miller says her career highlight was watching her teammate Meredith Miller win the USA Cycling Road Championship last year in Bend, Oregon.
When asked if she felt fulfilled with her professional cycling career, Miller said: “Yes and no. Without question there are a lot of goals that I never accomplished and I had some lofty goals. I don’t feel satisfied in the sense that I set the bar really high, wanting an Olympic gold medal, a World Championship title and to win the Tour of Flanders, and I didn’t clear it. At the same time, now I’m having a different perspective when looking back at my accomplishments that I had dismissed over the last few years.
“All the little things that I didn’t give myself credit for before, in hindsight, I’m now seeing that I did well,” she added. “I had a pretty good run at it. I’m giving myself more credit and permission to be happy with the positive things that I’ve done in the sport and less credit toward the things that I did not achieve. My win on Downers Grove, at the US Criterium Championships, was huge because I had a perfect lead out and it was team effort. The races that stand out in my head are the ones that I did not win on my own.”
- Article published:
- August 31, 2010, 19:36
- Stephen Farrand
Belgian digs deep to stay in the red jersey
Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) managed to hang onto the red leader’s jersey at the Vuelta but suffered on the late climb of Alto de Valdepeñas de Jaén and on the steep ramp to the finish line.
Gilbert won stage three to Marbella and took the lead with a solo attack on the climb to the finish. However he was forced on the defensive on the much tougher day and steeper finish on stage four.
He finished fifth, five seconds down on Anton. The Basque climber took a 20-second time bonus for his stage victory and is now second overall, just ten seconds behind Gilbert.
“I hung on but I suffered a lot,” Gilbert said.
“During the stage my team controlled the four breakaway riders. They weren’t dangerous for GC so it was good for us. I was well positioned before the final climb but Katusha set the pace really high and many riders lost contact. When I passed the Alto de Valdepeñas with my main adversaries, I thought I could keep the jersey but it was close.
“There was nothing I could do against Anton. On a climb like that, everyone ends up where they should be! But the Mur de Huy at the Flèche-Wallonne is harder than this one.
“I wasn’t feeling as good as yesterday. Again I suffered in the heat. I’m some percentage points off my best form and that made the difference between winning and not winning the stage.”
Despite losing time to Anton, Gilbert still hopes to hold onto the bright red race leader’s jersey until the tough late climb on stage eight to Xorret del Catí next Saturday.
“Defending the jersey is a great motivating factor for the whole team,” he said.
“I have some chances to keep it till the end of stage 8 I guess but rain is expected tomorrow and as much as I enjoy being the leader of the Vuelta, I won’t take any crazy risks if it’s dangerous.”
- Article published:
- August 31, 2010, 19:02
- Susan Westemeyer
Australian to join Greipel at Belgian team
Australia's Adam Hansen is following his HTC-Columbia teammate Andre Greipel to Omega Pharma-Lotto in 2011. Hansen will continue to help the German sprinter in leadouts for the next two years, the Belgian team announced on Tuesday evening.
29 year-old Hansen rode for TT3/Continental Austrian teams from 2003 to 2006, before joining T-Mobile in 2007. He has been with HTC-Columbia since 2008.
He was part of the HTC-Columbia team for the Tour de France but had abandon the race after the first stage. He crashed heavily early in the stage but fought the pain to not only finish the stage but even do some lead work in the sprint.
Hansen was subsequently diagnosed with a broken sternum, collarbone and rib. He only returned to racing at the GP Ouest France – Plouay.
The Australian took his first win for HTC-Columbia just before the Tour de France when he won the queen stage of the Ster Elektrotoer stage race and took the overall lead. He held onto that lead on the final day to claim overall victory. Hansen was also the Australian TT champion in 2008, finishing second in the national road race that year.