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Second Edition Cycling News, Friday, July 20, 2012

Date published:
July 20, 2012, 1:00 BST
  • Hondo working on creation of new top level team

    Danilo Hondo (Lampre-ISD)
    Article published:
    July 20, 2012, 6:06 BST
    Hedwig Kröner

    German sprinter may continue pro career in 2013 despite long-term project

    As the season's peak, the Tour de France, is getting into its final days, the talk about a new German World Tour team being brought to life by shampoo producer Alpecin seems less and less believable. Time is running out to finalise the necessary paperwork to apply for a World Tour licence, and the hypothetical team's leaders, the Schleck brothers, are both busy with other difficulties at this point.

    However, German national Danilo Hondo, currently with the Italian Lampre team, has been working on a concrete project for several years, and this could become a reality on the long term. For German cycling, a new top level team would be a salvation after years of drought following the disintegrations of T-Mobile and Gerolsteiner over doping affairs.

    "The plan of creating a new team is real, and I'm actively working on it, together with those who are also interested in the project," Hondo confirmed to Cyclingnews at the start of stage 17 in Bagnères-de-Luchon. "Our group of people who have engaged in the project, and those who want to become our partners, is growing. But all of them realize that it is a long-term project, that needs a strong and stable foundation to be set up."

    The 38-year-old did not hide the fact that he would certainly retire from racing within the next few years, and the new team is also meant to secure his own professional future on a management level. Hondo's contract with Lampre runs out at the end of the season, but at this point in time, the German did not say whether that meant he'd be able to fully commit to the new project as soon as next year. "I've had talks with Lampre and with other teams to continue my career as a rider next season, too. So we'll have to see what happens after the Tour," he said.

  • Nibali falters at Peyragudes

    Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas - Cannondale)
    Article published:
    July 20, 2012, 7:05 BST
    Barry Ryan

    Italian has to settle for third overall

    After two and half of weeks of carrying the fight to Bradley Wiggins and Team Sky at the Tour de France, Vincenzo Nibali's stout resistance finally petered out on the final mountain stage to Peyragudes on Thursday as he lost a further 18 seconds to the yellow jersey.

    Deep down, the Liquigas-Cannondale rider must have sensed that his was long a losing battle, but he gamely refused to lay down arms as the race entered the Pyrenees. Even after failing to make any inroads into Wiggins' lead in the "circle of death" the previous day, Nibali stepped into the breach once again as stage 17 got underway.

    Shrouded in mist and low cloud, the descent of the day's first climb, the Col de Menté, was in theory a chance for Nibali to trouble Wiggins. In practice, with a long valley to follow and almost 120 kilometres still to race, Nibali's attack proved little more than a pleasant early distraction in a deadlocked stage.

    Zipping clear of the yellow jersey group, Nibali made it across to the day's early escapees who were just 40 seconds up the road. Perhaps mindful of the history of the Col de Menté - Luis Ocaña's Tour challenge dramatically ended in a crash there in 1971 - Wiggins and Sky only tightened the leash on Nibali once the road began to flatten out.

    The early escapees, meanwhile, were flustered by Nibali's compromising presence, with eventual stage winner Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) imploring him to relent.

    "They were pulling behind and they brought the gap down from 40 seconds to 20, so I was disturbing the break a bit," Nibali said afterwards. "I stayed with them on the descent but then I sat up."

    Though Nibali's hopes of a day-long war of attrition thwarted, he still...

  • Froome resigned to his role

    Chris Froome leads Bradley Wiggins (Sky)
    Article published:
    July 20, 2012, 10:37 BST
    Barry Ryan

    Sky rider waits for Wiggins at Peyragudes

    In a Tour de France defined by the constricting strength of a single team, perhaps it was inevitable that its greatest drama would be provided by an internecine struggle, even if it was a battle that never truly began.

    On the road to Peyragudes on Thursday, Chris Froome gave another stark demonstration of his superiority over the yellow jersey Bradley Wiggins in the mountains and another overt illustration of his role within the Team Sky hierarchy.

    Three kilometres from the finish, as the road reared up for the final time towards the line, Froome surged to the front, pulling Wiggins clear of his remaining rivals, and it briefly looked as though the first and second-placed riders overall would simply cruise away from the rest of the field.

    Gradually, however, a gap began to yawn open between Wiggins and Froome's rear wheel. Froome looked around and checked his pace accordingly, allowing Wiggins to latch back on. The scene would repeat itself three more times before the pair reached the summit, as Froome adjusted the tautness of the invisible elastic that was keeping Wiggins in touch.

    Had Froome not been forced to soft-pedal to wait for his leader, he may well have taken his second stage win of the race, for Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) held on to win by just 19 seconds over the Sky duo.

    In the same mountain range where Greg Lemond was ordered to relent in favour of the maillot jaune of Bernard Hinault in 1985, however, Froome seemed a less reluctant domestique deluxe than the American had done, at least in his post-race comments.

    "That was the plan today, to work for Bradley and to protect the yellow jersey," Froome said softly after reaching the summit.

  • Boonen "optimistic" about Olympic prospects

    Tom Boonen drives the breakaway
    Article published:
    July 20, 2012, 12:27 BST
    Cycling News

    Belgian confirmed to start at Tour de Wallonie

    Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) has resumed training after fracturing his sixth rib on his right side.

    Boonen crashed with around three kilometres left to race on Stage 1 of the Tour of Poland and continued several more days before abandoning. After the confirmed diagnosis, the Belgian Olympic road race hope observed three days of rest before training again on Thursday where he rode 100 kilometres.

    "The three days of rest did me a world of good," said Boonen in a media statement. "During the workout I didn't feel any particular pain to my rib, just a slight discomfort."

    Boonen deliberately avoided racing both the Giro d'Italia and Tour de France, in the lead up to the Games, and recently admitted that it was also unlikely that he will ride the Vuelta a España prior to an attempt at a second world title to add to his 2005 crown. He will now participate in the first three stages of the Tour de Wallonie which starts on July 21 before zeroing in on London.

    "Right now I'm more optimistic regarding the Olympics, but it will be important to see how I react in a racing situation, in which my body will undergo a different type of stress and more intense effort than in training."


  • Fränk Schleck doping positive confirmed

    Frank Schleck (RadioShack-Nissan)
    Article published:
    July 20, 2012, 15:51 BST
    Cycling News

    RadioShack-Nissan rider vows to find source

    Fränk Schleck has announced that the counter-analysis of his anti-doping control B-sample has confirmed the presence of Xipamide, a diuretic banned under the World Anti-Doping Agency code.

    The UCI has requested that the Luxembourg cycling federation open disciplinary proceedings.

    The RadioShack-Nissan rider pulled out of the Tour de France after learning of the initial positive test, and stated today that he witnessed the B-sample test at the AFLD laboratory in Châtenay-Malabry.

    "The result of the counter test was positive but for me nothing changes: I just know that I did nothing wrong," Schleck said in a press release. "I will therefore continue my search to find out how the substance could have entered my body."

    Schleck contends that he the innocent victim of "poisoning".

    "At the moment we are analyzing minute by minute what exactly I have been doing, eating, drinking on the days before the control and on the 14th of July itself, whom I met, what materials I came in contact with, what nutritional supplements I took...

    "The medical world states that this product, when performing in extreme conditions such as in a cycling tour, is very dangerous; it can even cause death. Therefore I really need to find the cause that clarifies how this product ended up in my system: since I didn’t take anything, I assume it must have been given to me by someone, or it could have happened through an accidental contamination, or it could be caused by something that is not yet known to me since we are still undertaking a...

  • Roche rues lost ground as Tour de France edges to conclusion

    AG2R-LaMondiale's Nicolas Roche
    Article published:
    July 20, 2012, 17:10 BST
    Mark Robinson

    AG2R-LaMondiale rider regrets major setback in the Alps

    Nicolas Roche (AG2R-LaMondiale) lies just outside the top 10 in 11th position as the 2012 Tour de France heads towards its final weekend, but the Irishman, who celebrated his 28th birthday on stage 3, had revealed that regardless of how he performs over the final three stages he will leave with a lingering sense of "what might have been".

    Roche lined up for the start of stage 11 in the Alps in ninth position in the general classification, just 5:29 behind the malliot jaune. By the time he had reached the end of the stage at La Toussuire, that deficit had more than doubled. It's been a case of a recovery mission ever since.

    "I was obviously very happy for the first 10 days until La Toussuire where I took a major setback in my top 10 [aspirations], losing six minutes - which was more than I had lost in the entire first 10 days - and now I am slowly but surely making my way back up. But I gave myself a big disadvantage," Roche told Cyclingnews as the Tour headed north towards Toulouse for the start of today's 18th stage.

    Roche attacked late in the day in Brive this afternoon, launching a dramatic bid for a stage victory that was ultimately thwarted by a trademark burst of decisive acceleration by world champion Mark Cavendish (Sky). Roche eventually crossed the line in fifth and was unable to take any time out of those ahead of him in the GC. He admitted that he will be looking over his shoulder in tomorrow's time trial at Andreas Klöden (RadioShack-Nissan), who is only just over a minute behind him in 12th place overall.

    "I gave it my all [today] without reflecting," he said. "I’d promised that I’d attack once. I wasn’t able to able to do it in the high mountains, which was a disappointment. Today it suited...

  • Cavendish gets his 22nd Tour de France victory

    World champion Mark Cavendish (Team Sky) punches clear to take the win
    Article published:
    July 20, 2012, 18:05 BST
    Hedwig Kröner

    Sky team gives world champion "gift" of lead-out

    Mark Cavendish returned to the forefront of the Tour de France by unleashing a surge of power in the finish to win stage 18 in Bive-la-Gaillarde, taking the better of his fellow sprinters in superior fashion. The World Champion, who up until today put his Tour ambitions on the back burner in favour of working for overall leader Bradley Wiggins, took his 22nd career victory at the race by out-sprinting the remainder of the breakaway, Luis Leon Sanchez (Rabobank) and Nicolas Roche (AG2R) in the very last meters, as well as fellow bunch sprinters Matt Goss (Orica-GreenEdge) and green jersey leader Peter Sagan (Liquigas).

    Cavendish proved to be not only the fastest but also the smartest of the sprinters. As the remaining attackers Sanchez and Roche persisted in the final 200 metres before the finish line, the Manxman sensed just the right moment bridge up to them and overtake them with an incredible finishing speed.

    "I'm very very happy with this victory," the Sky rider said. "We didn't know if it was going to be a sprint today, it was a hard stage. It would have been easy for my guys just to cruise to Paris after the mountains, but on the bus this morning, I was like 'can I have a sprint, please, just let me have a sprint' and Brad supported me."

    Sky sheltered Cavendish through the transitional and hilly stage, and it was the wearer of the yellow jersey himself who led the bunch out to catch the remaining attackers up the road once the race entered the town of Brive.

    "We decided to put the train back on the rails, as the finale was very dangerous," Wiggins explained on French TV. "It was better to protect our overall positions and it was useful to Mark. This way, we were able to help him a bit, and he won - it's my gift to him."

  • Froome: final time trial is not a race against Wiggins

    Christopher Froome (Sky)
    Article published:
    July 20, 2012, 19:02 BST
    Barry Ryan

    Sky rider looks forward to Paris

    After reining in his efforts in the mountains in order to shepherd yellow jersey Bradley Wiggins, Chris Froome (Sky) will have the freedom to chase stage victory in the final time trial of the Tour de France from Bonneval to Chartres on Saturday.

    The Sky pair isset to occupy the top two steps of the podium, and on the past three occasions that riders from the same team have done so, the final time trial has been won by the man who would finish second overall.

    In 1996, Jan Ullrich soundly defeated his Telekom stable mate Bjarne Riis at Saint-Émilion, while in 1986, Bernard Hinault beat Greg Lemond in Saint-Etienne, which was the reverse of the previous year’s concluding time trial in Lac de Vassivière.

    Regardless of the historical precedent, Froome insisted that his aim over the 53.5km course was simply to defend his overall position rather than to inflict a time trial defeat on Wiggins.

    “I’m not looking it as me against Bradley,” Froome said in Brive-La-Gaillarde on Friday. “I’m just looking to finish it off and get to Paris. It would be great if we could keep our standings on general classification, let’s just touch wood that nothing goes wrong. Everyone’s tired after three weeks of racing and I think everyone’s just looking forward to getting there.”

    Froome and Wiggins dominated proceedings in the race’s first long time trial in Besançon on the eve of the opening rest day, finishing first and second ahead of no less a figure than Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack-Nissan). With both Cancellara and world time trial champion Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) already out of the Tour, the two...