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Latest Edition Cycling News, Monday, July 20, 2009

Date published:
July 20, 2009, 1:00 BST
  • Evans rues worst Tour day

    Cadel Evans (Silence-Lotto)
    Article published:
    July 16, 2009, 16:45 BST
    Daniel Simms

    Aussie falters as Astana makes its move

    Tour de France hopeful Cadel Evans suffered his worst day in five Tour appearances as Alberto Contador took a commanding grip on the Tour during Stage 15. There were no major mechanicals or accidents to speak of for Evans on the 207.5 kilometre stage, rather the Australian simply lacked fitness.

    "That was the worst day from kilometre zero," Evans told AFP. "From kilometre zero, I was having possibly one of the worst days of my Tour de France career on what is the most important day for the classification.”

    Evans crossed to the lead group, driven by Astana, on the Verbier climb but eventual stage winner Contador had already made his move and was continuing to increase his lead. Evans tried to follow as defending champion Carlos Sastre attacked the group containing Lance Armstrong and Astana team-mate Andreas Klöden, but pulled out just three seconds on the pair to Sastre’s 23 seconds.

    "Sometimes you just have to do what you can and I don't know about the time loss and the placings, but I think I defended well for a guy who was having a horrible day,” added Evans. "It wasn't death on a bike, but it was a real bad day for me.

    "I had a terrible day, there was not much left in my legs at the end," he said.

    "When you hear that, you cannot but wonder how he fought for the stage classification over the last ascent," commented his coach Roberto Damiani on Evans' performance.

    Evans seventh place on the stage saw him lose a further 1:26 minutes to new race leader Contador. Added to time previously lost to the powerful Astana squad, Evans now sits 4:27 minutes behind Contador in 14th place overall.

    "I need to see the doctor now, I don't know what the problem is," said Evans as he walked away.

    Evans hoped to be a serious contender for this year’s Tour title after finishing runner-up in 2007 and 2008 – first to Contador then Sastre. Evans’ Silence-Lotto team has...

  • Nibali doses effort in Tour's Alpine stage

    Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas) finished 3rd on the stage, 1:03 behind Contador.
    Article published:
    July 19, 2009, 22:15 BST
    Gregor Brown

    Nibali jumps from 11th to seventh after Verbier

    Italian Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas) leaped to seventh overall in the Tour de France Sunday thanks to his third place finish at the end of stage 15 to Verbier. Contador won the mountaintop stage and took the race leader's jersey, but Nibali was only one minute back.

    "Contador and Andy Schleck proved to be very strong," Nibali told Cyclingnews. "I did not go immediately with those guys because I was afraid of blowing up. But in the last three kilometres I used up every last bit of strength in my body and it worked out well."

    The stage ended with an 8.8-kilometre climb up to Verbier. Nibali and Liquigas teammate Roman Kreuziger were part of a favourites' group that formed soon into the climb. Contador (Astana) attacked with 5.7 kilometres remaining and Schleck (Team Saxo Bank) soon after, but Nibali remained calm with a group that included seven-time Tour winner Lance Armstrong (Astana) and last year's winner Carlos Sastre (Cérvelo TestTeam).

    Fränk Schleck (Team Saxo Bank) attacked and distanced several riders in the final three kilometres. Nibali, Bradley Wiggins (Garmin-Slipstream) and Sastre joined Schleck and they rode clear of the favourites' group, including riders such as Cadel Evans (Silence-Lotto), Armstrong and Tony Martin (Columbia-HTC).

    "I did not know what to make of it, I was going full force and could not think," said Nibali. "I tried for the best I could and in the end I was able to take a great third place. It would have been too hard to win, but this is great nonetheless."

    Nibali moved from 11th to seventh overall thanks to the third place finish. He will have to manage himself in three more mountain stages and one time trial before he can achieve his goal of a Tour de France top 10.

    Tomorrow is the second rest day of the Tour de France. The race continues with two back-to-back mountain stages and then a 40.5-kilometre time trial. The penultimate day is a mountaintop...

  • Reaction to Stage 15

    Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank)
    Article published:
    July 20, 2009, 8:56 BST
    Daniel Simms

    Contador king as peloton shatters

    Lance Armstrong (Astana) - Ninth on stage, second overall @ 1:37 “Saxo set the tempo from the bottom. They were going all out. I think we were all on the ropes. A few attacks here and there and I tried to go with a couple. When Alberto went he showed he’s the best rider in the race, certainly the best climber. You know, when everyone’s on the limit and you can accelerate again and I’ve been there, that’s how you win the Tour. Hats off to him. Also hats off to the Schleck Brothers, they rode good too."

    Andy Schleck (Team Saxo Bank) - Second on stage, fifth overall @ 2:26 "I am now concentrating on the work ahead of us. This was the most difficult mountain stage of the last week. The review is positive: I booked profits today and may start again Tuesday in the white jersey."

    Chris Anker Sørensen (Team Saxo Bank) - 37th on stage, 31st overall @ 12:06 "It was a tough day where we did everything we could to dominate the race and we can see that the pressure on the competitors at the beginning of the climb made its clear mark on the events in which the front group was reduced to a handful of riders. It was fantastic to see so many Danes on the mountain side who were out to support us."

    Bjarne Riis (Team Saxo Bank director) - “It was a good day for Team Saxo Bank. We launched the attack like we planned. Alberto Contador was simply the best today but we are very pleased with our effort and also the results of our efforts to create the race.”

    José Ivan Gutierrez (Caisse d’Epargne) - 101st on stage, 63rd overall @ 41:45 “I decided beforehand that I had to try and go with a break. Our team has been rather discreet during the last week and it was necessary to try to achieve something. It did not request a big effort from me because I felt very well and I like that kind of start for a...

  • Le Mével holds on to top ten

    Christophe Le Mevel (Française des Jeux), part of the day-long escape, grabs a musette bag.
    Article published:
    July 20, 2009, 9:46 BST
    Daniel Simms

    Hard days to come for the Frenchman

    The new French Tour de France hopeful Christophe Le Mével from Française des Jeux has saved his impressive placing from the first day in the Alps on Saturday. The Frenchman gained some minutes in the general classification after having been in the breakaway of stage 14 to Besançon. The move put him in fifth overall position starting the Tour's second mountain top finish on Sunday, and at the summit in Verbier, he still remained in contention in ninth place, 3.09 minutes down.

    Le Mével said he had difficulties recovering from his escape the day before, but still managed to limit his losses. "On the climb, I gave it everything, and Sandy Casar did an excellent job," said the new leader of Marc Madiot's team to AFP after the stage. "Together, we tried to follow at the foot of the climb. We went flat out, and eventually both of us exploded."

    Le Mével and Casar then found a small group to tackle the climb at a convenient rhythm. "Having been fifth this morning, I didn't want to disappoint myself, nor the people that follow me and support me."

    The Française des Jeux rider was happy with his result, but also respectful of what is still to come in the final week of the Tour. "I remain in the top ten, that's really cool. Now, I have to overcome the Alps - it will be very difficult, but I will try not to tumble down too much in the classification."

    The 28-year-old, who won a stage of the Giro d'Italia in 2005, finished tenth overall at Paris-Nice in March and, more recently, scored the same result at the Dauphiné Libéré.

  • German Fed wants Haussler in Worlds

    Cervélo TestTeam riders sign in , Brett Lancaster, Heinrich Haussler and Andreas Klier (L-R).
    Article published:
    July 20, 2009, 10:45 BST
    Daniel Simms

    But rider not planning to race in Mendrisio

    Heinrich Haussler (Cervélo TestTeam) is caught struggling with the German cycling federation with regard to his participation in the World Championships. Haussler has said that in the future he will only ride for his native country of Australia, instead of his adopted country of Germany. But the German federation (Bund Deutsche Radfahrer, BDR) isn't giving up without a fight and has already nominated him for this year's Worlds taking place in Mendrisio, Switzerland.

    Haussler was born in Australia to a German father and an Australian mother, and has dual citizenship. Now 25 years old, he moved to Germany at age 14 to pursue a cycling career. He has ridden for the German national team in the past, but not in the last two years.

    Haussler has said that he intends to move back to Australia when his career is over and feels more Australian than German. He would therefore prefer to ride for Australia, and will be eligible to do so in 2010, when perhaps not so coincidentally, the World championships will take place in Melbourne.

    The Germans aren't giving up, especially in light of Haussler's win of Tour de France stage 13 last week. “We have a definite appointment. We will talk with him no later than at the Hamburg Cyclassics in August,” BDR vice president Udo Sprenger told the dpa news agency. “I don't think the final word has been said yet,” said BDR president Rudolf Scharping.

    Not so, according to Cervélo team manager Thomas Campana. “The decision has long since been made,” he told the Süddeutsche Zeitung. “And Heinrich doesn't have the World Championship this year in his plans at all.”

    Part of the reason for Haussler's decision is the current atmosphere with regard to cycling in Germany. Haussler made his breakthrough this year, and has too often heard, “now he is winning, that means he must be doping,” Campana said. ...

  • Season ends for Elmiger

    Swiss Martin Elmiger (AG2R La Mondiale) on the start podium.
    Article published:
    July 20, 2009, 11:55 BST
    Daniel Simms

    Swiss rider to have leg artery operation

    Martin Elmiger of AG2R La Mondiale has to end his season prematurely. The Swiss rider will undergo surgery this week to take care of narrow arteries in his right leg.

    “After the operation I can't do any sport for six weeks, so that it heals properly,” he noted on his homepage. “That means I won't be able to ride my homeland World Championships in Mendrisio, which is disappointing, but my health is more important.”

    The 31-year-old said that it was not an easy decision to make, but that his physical problems had worsened in recent races. “If you want to ride with the best in pro cycling, then your body has to simply be 100 percent fit.”

    Elmiger has achieved a number of top finishes this year, including fourth overall in the Tour Down Under. His last races were the Tour de Suisse and the Swiss national road championships.

  • Armstrong's dream of Tour yellow over

    Astana teammates Lance Armstrong and Alberto Contador ride towards Verbier. The Swiss mountain proved to be the first true battleground of the Tour, with Contador coming out on top
    Article published:
    July 20, 2009, 12:49 BST
    Gregor Brown

    Teammate Contador strongest after Verbier stage

    When his younger Astana teammate, Alberto Contador, won Sunday's mountain stage to Verbier and assumed the overall lead, Lance Armstrong knew his hopes of winning the 2009 Tour de France were over.

    "I think today he demonstrated he is the strongest man in the race," said Armstrong after the stage. "I thought I would feel a little better, but I didn't. I gave it everything I had and I wasn't the best... that's life."

    Contador and Armstrong were third and fourth overall respectively ahead of the Tour's second mountaintop finish. Spain's Contador, Tour winner in 2007, attacked with 5.6 kilometres remaining of the 8.8-kilometre climb and distanced his rivals to finish 43 seconds ahead of Andy Schleck and over a minute on other general classification contenders.

    "We were all on the limit and he was able to accelerate again," continued Armstrong. "That means you are the best in the race and you deserve to win."

    The experienced American should know what it takes to win a Tour de France, having secured his seventh title in 2005. On Sunday however, he finished with Astana teammate Andreas Klöden, 90 seconds in arrears of Contador and explained that he wasn't at his best.

    "There might be people out there that expect me to ride like I did in 2004 or 2005, that's not reality. If I do another year and get another season under my belt maybe we could see that condition come back. Right now, I don't have it. At 38 years old I am not sure that should come as a surprise," he said.

    There are six more days of racing before the 96th Tour de France finishes in Paris. The race continues tomorrow after its second rest day with two mountain stages. The other two difficult days are a time trial on Thursday and the mountaintop finish on Mont Ventoux on Saturday.

    "Now it is clear we have the strongest rider in the race. If we play it smart we can have three guys in the top five, and the guy who wins. I think now is time to put...