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Latest Edition Cycling News, Friday, July 17, 2009

Date published:
July 17, 2009, 1:00 BST
  • Armstrong's stressful second week

    Lance Armstrong (Astana) gets ready to start stage 11.
    Article published:
    July 17, 2009, 13:11 BST
    By:
    Gregor Brown

    Leipheimer falls victim to atypical second week

    Lance Armstrong faced a stressful second week of his first Tour de France since 2005. He lost key helper Levi Leipheimer due to crash in Thursday's stage to Vittel.

    "It is stressful with the crashes. A stage like this, with nothing to gain, you would hate to lose everything because of a crash or a split in the group," Armstrong said yesterday morning.

    "You have to constantly pay attention. I try to give myself a little space to have a little extra time to brake. But when they start fast on those narrow roads there are going to be crashes."

    Leipheimer crashed in the final moments of the 211.5-kilometre stage from Tonnerre to Vittel. He has multiple bruises and road rash on his back and hip, and, it was discovered on Friday morning, a fractured wrist.

    He finished stage 12 but abandoned before Friday's stage to Colmar. The stage may be decisive with the Col du Firstplan coming 20.5 kilometres before the finish.

    "It is not really typical for the second week, normally things would be settled down a little bit and the breaks go," Armstrong said yesterday morning. "But we had a rest day and then a day that was probably not that demanding - guys were fresh with tailwinds and on small roads."

    Armstrong, a seven-time Tour winner, returned to racing last fall after a three-year retirement. He is currently third overall, eight seconds behind leader Rinaldo Nocentini. His Astana teammate and 2007 race winner, Alberto Contador, is second at six seconds back.

    Armstrong will have a more relaxed schedule after the Tour de France. He will race the three-day Tour of Ireland,  from August 19-23 and participate in a three-day cancer awareness summit afterwards.

    "A lot of good beer there? I will already be enjoying beer before that," he said

  • Schleck hopes to seize opportunities in Tour's Colmar stage

    Luxembourg's champion, Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank)
    Article published:
    July 17, 2009, 14:30 BST
    By:
    Gregor Brown

    Saxo Bank gains advantage with Leipheimer's abandon

    Andy Schleck and his Saxo Bank team face the first mountain stage in five days of the Tour de France today. At eighth overall, Schleck could take time from his rivals over the day's final climb of Col du Firstplan.

    "If there are opportunities we will have to take them," he said. "We've done two weeks into of the Tour de France, people start getting tired and maybe will have to take that opportunity."

    Saxo Bank may seek to take advantage of Astana's overnight loss of Levi Leipheimer. He crashed in the final three kilometres yesterday with Cadel Evans. X-rays revealed a broken scaphoid bone in his hand, and he will have surgery to repair the bone today.

    Leipheimer was fourth overall and one of the key helpers for Alberto Contador and Lance Armstrong, who sit second and third overall. The team still has Andreas Klöden, now moving into fifth overall.

    "I saw Levi crash yesterday in the finale, it was a stupid crash – shit happens. Of course it will weaken their team, but they are still strong and have three guys for the climbs," said Schleck.

    Saxo Bank had a similar loss on Wednesday's stage to Saint-Fargeau. Norway's Kurt-Asle Arvesen crashed and fractured his collarbone.

    Schleck's key supporter in the mountains is his older brother, Fränk. Andy is 1:49 back behind race leader Rinaldo Nocentini, Frank 12th at 2:25 back.

    The two were principle riders in the 2008 Tour de France. Fränk held the leader's yellow jersey and Andy won the young riders' classification. The team won the race overall with former rider Carlos Sastre.

  • Armstrong admits "tension" within Astana

    Lance Armstrong follows Contador on stage after the team won the TTT.
    Article published:
    July 17, 2009, 14:58 BST
    By:
    Hedwig Kröner

    Texan pleased with cancer awareness generated by Tour

    For the first time, Lance Armstrong publicly admitted that there is a certain degree of rivalry between him and teammate Alberto Contador. Speaking in the sports show Stade 2 on French television on Sunday evening, Armstrong responded candidly when asked about his relationship with the Spanish three-time Grand Tour winner.

    "The honest truth is that there is a little tension at the dinner table," said the seven-time Tour de France winner. "Alberto is very strong, very ambitious, and I understand that. I've won this race a lot, and if he wins the Tour de France and I get second or third or fifth, I would say 'It's okay'. Honestly, I would like to win, but if he turns out to be the best rider in the race, then there's nothing I can do. So I try to relax, try to keep the atmosphere as calm as I can. Not only with Alberto, but with all the team, the members of staff. This Tour might be halfway through, but in terms of selection, it is only 25 percent done."

    The rivalry between the two Astana leaders was especially tangible when Armstrong forced the pace in a wind echelon on the way to La Grande-Motte last week, taking 41 seconds from his Spanish teammate who was trapped in the chasing bunch. Contador, on the other hand, took some sort of revenge when he attacked on the Tour's first mountain summit stage to Arcalis in Andorra, pulling back 21 seconds in the process.

    "The other riders, the Schleck brothers and Evans were chasing behind, so there was nothing I could do," commented Armstrong on that particular moment in the race. "A lot has been said about the team politics, but he's my teammate, so I can't do anything other than follow. That was the case in Andorra, and if that happens in Verbier or on the Mont Ventoux, I have to make the same choice. I can't break the rules of the team. I will always follow the orders of the team."

    The American is now third on general classification, two seconds down on Contador. Asked if he...

  • Boonen says all sprinters have the same problem

    Tom Boonen (Quick Step) is having the curse of the Belgian champion's jersey this Tour.
    Article published:
    July 17, 2009, 14:59 BST
    By:
    Susan Westemeyer

    The problem in two words: Mark Cavendish

    Tom Boonen of Quick Step had to to go court to be allowed to ride in this year's Tour de France, but so far the Belgian sprinter hasn't been able to accomplish anything. “All the sprinters are having the same problem and that has two words: Mark Cavendish,” Boonen said.

    Cavendish of Team Columbia-HT has won all four of the mass sprints in the race so far. Former World champion and current Belgian champion Boonen has not finished higher than 16th.

    Earlier in the week, team manager Patrick Lefevere had criticized his sprinter, telling Sporza “we can forget the green jersey.” Boonen was not pleased with the implied criticism, saying, “Did Patrick Lefevere say I'm not good enough? Then he can sprint himself.”
     

  • Wrolich out of Tour

    Peter "Paco" Wrolich (Team Milram) and Bernhard Eisel (Team Columbia - High Road) leading the peloton.
    Article published:
    July 17, 2009, 15:00 BST
    By:
    Susan Westemeyer

    Intestinal infection knocks Milram rider out

    Peter Wrolich of Team Milram has abandoned the Tour de France on Friday as a result of an intestinal infection.

    Wrolich completed stage 12 of the race, but will not start the 13th stage in Vittel on Friday.

    “I have a stomach and intestinal infection,” he told Cyclingnews. “I simply can't do it any more. I just don't have any strength left. I am really sorry, but there is no other choice.”

    It was the fifth Tour for the 35-year-old Austrian. He had been at the Tour de France to help set-up sprints for Gerald Ciolek.

  • Bruyneel responds to Leipheimer's departure from Tour

    Johan Bruyneel says Leipheimer's exit from the Tour has weakened Astana
    Article published:
    July 17, 2009, 15:10 BST
    By:
    Daniel Benson and Richard Tyler

    Astana director says he expects attacks from rivals

    Johan Bruyneel has responded to Levi Leipheimer's departure from the Tour de France, on Friday, with a broken wrist.

    Speaking to Cyclingnews on Friday morning in Vittel, the Astana directeur sportif expressed his disappointment at losing one of the team's key riders.

    "He had a bad night so we took him to the hospital, where we saw the fracture this morning," he said. "Obviously it's disappointing and for us it changes a lot. He was fourth on GC and he's one of the guys that could have won the Tour."

    Bruyneel said the loss of Leipheimer - who had been 0:39 adrift of Rinaldo Nocentini's (AG2R La Mondiale) yellow jersey lead - would encourage rivals in the race for overall honours to make their move.

    "We'd wanted to keep our options open and this morning we lost one of those options. Strategically we are now weaker and it is likely to motivate the other teams to attack us today."

    Speaking specifically about Friday's hilly stage 13 from Vittel to Colmar, Bruyneel expects other teams to attempt to take advantage of Leipheimer's absence.

    "I don't know if it will determine the outcome of the stage as the climb [of the Col du Firstplan] is a long way from the finish, but it will weaken us as we'll have one less guy. I expect attacks today.

    "That's the race, you know, we'll have to deal with the situation," added Bruyneel.
     

  • UCI suspends Landaluze and Serrano for CERA use

    Ricardo Serrano Gonzalez (Fuji - Servetto) on the podium for winning stage one
    Article published:
    July 17, 2009, 15:11 BST
    By:
    Daniel Simms

    Updated: Landaluze accepts responsibility for positive

    Spaniard Inigo Landaluze (Euskaltel-Euskadi) accepted responsibility for a doping positive in a statement issued Friday. He absolved the Fundación Euskadi and all members of his team of any involvement.

    Landaluze and compatriot Ricardo Serrano (Fuji-Servetto) were provisionally suspended by the UCI after testing positive for the EPO derivative CERA.

    The riders have the option to request that the B-samples be opened and tested.

    Landaluze tested positive twice, the UCI said. He returned positive controls on June 7 during the Dauphine Libere and on June 16 at an out-of-competition control.

    The 32-year-old tested positive for testosterone during the 2005 Dauphine Libere. However, he was allowed to return to racing after the case was dismissed for procedural errors.

    In a statement released Friday afternoon, his Euskaltel-Euskadi team said that if the charges were upheld, it would take appropriate legal action against the rider.

    Serrano's positive control came during the Tour de Suisse, on June 13. CERA was also found in a blood sample that he supplied for the biological passport programme before the Giro d'Italia on May 7.

    “Although no B sample was collected for this test, the UCI believes that the report, which confirms the presence of CERA, adds evidence to the assertion that Mr. Serrano has committed an anti-doping rule violation,” the UCI said.

    Serrano had already been suspended by Fuji-Servetto after it was announced on June 18 that he was one of the first five riders found to have abnormal blood values under the biological passport programme.

    “The results of these analyses will be added to the evidence already provided to the Spanish Cycling Federation relating to the abnormal blood profile of Mr Serrano,” according to the UCI.

    The two Spaniards will remain suspended until the Spanish Cycling Federation holds hearings and makes a determination as to...