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Second Edition Cycling News, Friday, July 25, 2014

Date published:
July 25, 2014, 1:00 BST
  • Wiggins to step away from road racing

    Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky)
    Article published:
    July 25, 2014, 14:38 BST
    Sadhbh O'Shea

    2012 Tour de France champion to focus on the track

    Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky) has said that he will take step back from road racing as he looks to close out his career on the track. A couple of hours after taking silver in the team pursuit at the Commonwealth Games, Wiggins told reporter Jill Douglas that any road racing he would do would "have to compliment what I want to do on the track." 

    "The road will have to take a back seat, we will use the road to compliment it but the priority will be the track. I said at the end that it would probably be the end for grand tours," he told the BBC. "I can't imagine doing that with what it's going to take to get up to speed with these guys. I've kind of been and done it, thanks God, this has to take priority if we want to take golds."

    Wiggins said that on top of an increased training programme on the track, he would have to make physical changes. The 2012 Tour de France champion explained that the demands of the track would require him to gain weight. His decision comes as a surprise after he recently stated that he had secured a new contract with his road outfit Team Sky. Wiggins admitted that a move to the track may place his position in jeopardy.

    "Team Sky has become so competitive now and winning grand tours and places are scarce. Whether or not they have a place for an ex-grand tour winner to just use the racing to prepare for the track. That's to be discussed and we're in discussions at the moment about it," said Wiggins.

    "I want to make sure that I build the road programme around it. I don't want to miss things on the track because of my commitments on the road so it would have to complement what I want to do on the track." 

    Wiggins began his career on the track and became national champion in the...

  • Rojas objects to "unjust" expulsion from Tour de France

    José Joaquín Rojas (Movistar Team)
    Article published:
    July 25, 2014, 15:41 BST
    Cycling News

    Movistar rider claims no advantage from drafting on Tourmalet

    After being kicked out of the Tour de France for prolonged sheltering behind his team car, José Joaquín Rojas (Movistar) has declared the decision by the race jury as "unjust" and stated he had no advantage from sheltering behind his team car while descending the Col du Tourmalet on stage 18.

    "I have gone from surprise to outrage and indignation to not understand anything. At no time have I grabbed onto the car nor received any benefit in the descent from the Tourmalet. It would be impossible to hang onto cars while descending a mountain at 80 kilometers per hour. Climbing, I would understand, but [descending], it would be stupid and reckless. It is true that I could benefit a while from the slipstream of the cars, as we all do it every day, but that is not enough to expel a rider. If they applied the same standard in every case, there would be no riders left in Paris."

    Rojas says that by the time he was climbing the Tourmalet, his team leader Alejandro Valverde was already away in a group with 30 riders or so, with teammates ahead. He had done his work for the day and was just riding his own pace to finish the stage.

    "I was not going to dispute anything or defend any classification. I would have understood that if I held onto the car they might impose a penalty or a fine, as happens a thousand times in any race, but they expel me three days before the finish? I just don't understand it. It was very unfair."

    The sprinter has never been disqualified from a race in his nine years as a professional, and said the decision hurts. "I have always raced in a sporting and professional manner. It cost me a lot to reach the Tour in good condition because I had to recover from two injuries. To be kicked out of the race three days...

  • Degenkolb misses out on Tour de France stage win for second time

    John Degenkolb (Giant-Shimano) leads home the chasing group
    Article published:
    July 25, 2014, 17:55 BST
    Daniel Benson

    Paris the last chance for the sprinters

    Opportunities have been hard to come by for John Degenkolb (Giant-Shimano) in this year’s Tour de France and for the second time in the race the 25-year-old was left frustrated. On the road to Oyonnax in stage 11 Tony Gallopin held off the peloton to claim the stage, with Degekolb taking second. Replace Gallopin with Ramunas Navardauskas and the scenario was repeated as Degenkolb once again finished second in Bergerac.

    Once showered and dressed the German plunked himself down on the steps of the Giant-Shimano team bus as he tried to explained the day's events.

    With the Pyrenees a distant shadow, the stage to Bergerac held huge importance in this year’s race. It may not have included a profile with a threat to the overall contenders, but with a long time trial and the final day's sprint into Paris, Bergerac was a last roll of the dice for a number of teams.

    Giant-Shimano had begun this year’s Tour with gusto and success – Marcel Kittel won three out of the four opening stages. Today was Degenkolb’s chance though, and in the pouring rain he almost made it.

    "The weather was really bad and not normal. My whole team were focussed on trying to do a good job to support me and I was really happy to get this chance. We said we’d go for it," he told reporters.

    "In the final a lot of guys crashed and I was very lucky that I didn’t crash, but I lost all my teammate because they had problems with crashes - either they crashed by themselves or they had punctures. I’ve never seen so many punctures in a race, it was like fifty flat tires at least."

  • Horner: Now I go to the Vuelta to win

    Chris Horner (Lampre-Merida)
    Article published:
    July 25, 2014, 18:42 BST
    Daniel Benson

    American to ride Tour of Utah for training

    Since a training crash in April left him with a punctured lung, broken ribs and a cut to his head, Chris Horner has had to alter his racing season dramatically. The American understandably missed the Giro d’Italia in May but is on course to finish the Tour de France – only his second race back since his accident – on Sunday, before targeting a defence of his 2013 Vuelta a Espana crown.

    "I'll come back for Spain and be a lot fitter, a lot healthier and I'll see if I can win again," he told Cyclingnews.

    "I have to go back to the US and recover, and maybe now I'll just do the Tour of Utah for training. If they race really fast there, maybe I'll drop off because I need to rest next week. Then I'll look to come into Spain a little bit lighter, a lot fitter and 100 per cent healthy."

    He also told reporters that he would be fully focused on winning the Vuelta. If he succeeds, he will break his own record as the oldest-ever Grand Tour winner in cycling.

    "I go to the Vuelta for the win. That's for sure. Once you've won before, that’s all you want. It’s a race that’s designed for my type of riding," he said.

    The Lampre-Merida rider came into the Tour de France looking for form and fitness. He was dealt a severe blow when he picked up an illness in the first week but he carried on, and on the final mountain stage to Hautacam, he showed his improving pedigree with a brief attack.

    It was short-lived as Vincenzo Nibali powered clear of the American before taking the stage.

    "I'm still lacking some power so once I saw Nibali with me I thought I would be towing him before he jumps me," Horner told reporters.


  • Nibali: This is a different Astana

    Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) dons yellow jersey number 17.
    Article published:
    July 25, 2014, 19:02 BST
    Barry Ryan

    Italian on Vinokourov's management and the stage 20 time trial

    Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) has answered every question asked of him on the road at this Tour de France, and in his post-stage press conferences, too, he has engaged with doping questions at greater length than some of his predecessors in the maillot jaune.

    The issue of riding for a team with Alexandre Vinokourov as general manager continues to linger, however. On Monday – the seven-year anniversary of his positive test for blood doping at the 2007 Tour – Vinokourov refused to discuss whether he had learnt anything from his expulsion and subsequent ban, telling reporters, "2007 is in the past."

    It is an attitude that is hardly in keeping with the supposed new era of openness and truth that cycling is attempting to enact, and it jars with Nibali's own professed stance as a standard-bearer for anti-doping. In his press conference in Bergerac on Friday, the yellow jersey was asked if he would like Vinokourov to speak more openly about his doping.

    "I think he's already done it, he's explained and he's paid for it too. He's served his suspension and come back," Nibali said. "Astana is a new team, with a new staff and a new group of riders, much younger than before. It’s a different team to before.

    "I can only say that currently Vinokourov is team manager and the principal sponsor, Astana, has tried to give a change in direction to the whole team, and is trying to have its name proudly carried throughout the...

  • Navardauskas turns Garmin's Tour de France from tragedy to triumph

    Ramunas Navardauskas (Garmin-Sharp)
    Article published:
    July 25, 2014, 19:15 BST
    Daniel Benson

    Lithuanian's solo stage win a reason to celebrate after race of woe

    Garmin Sharp turned their Tour de France from tragedy into triumph with a supreme team performance capped by a win for Ramunas Navardauskas on stage 19 to Bergerac.

    The Lithuanian, who controversially took the place of an ill David Millar just days before the race started, attacked on the final climb of the 208 kilometre stage and managed to hold off the chasing bunch by a mere seven seconds. For a team that had seen their main hope for glory in Andrew Talansky abandon, it was a hugely welcome boost.

    Since the American left the race Garmin would have taken any win that came their way but what made Navardauskas’ stage all the more special for the squad was that it needed the backing of their entire team, a point Navardauskas made in his post-stage press conference.

    "From the beginning we had this plan to attack," he said.

    Part one of the plan saw Tom-Jelte Slagter infiltrate the main break of the day while the rest of the team protected Navardauskas back in the peloton.

    Slagter had been part of breakaways throughout the race, but unlike in those previous forays, he was the strongest rider in a group that contained Cyril Gautier (Europcar), IAM Cycling’s Martin Elmiger, and Arnaud Gérard for Bretagne-Seché Environnement.

    Slagter attacked with 30 kilometres remaining, distancing the rest of the break and then attacking as a slingshot for Navardauskas once he leapt clear of the peloton on the cote de Monbazillac with 13 kilometres remaining.

    "Tom was really aggressive today. Then he did an amazing pull for me near the top of the climb. He’s a really brave guy and a really strong guy. This was our team’s plan from...

  • Bardet hopes to bounce back after late crash in Bergerac

    Romain Bardet (Ag2r) tried to claw back time on the top three today
    Article published:
    July 25, 2014, 19:28 BST
    Ellis Bacon

    Frenchman aims to give stage 20 time trial "absolutely everything"

    Romain Bardet escaped serious injury on stage 19 of the Tour de France on Friday after he was brought down in a crash in the closing kilometres.

    Sixty-five million Frenchmen – or thereabouts – would have held their collective breath as they watched the television images of the delicate figure in the brown shorts slip and slide along the rain-soaked tarmac on the outskirts of Bergerac, but would have breathed a sigh of relief as their new hero dusted himself down, remounted his bike, and rode the remaining two-and-a-half kilometres to the finish.

    "I didn't see the riders crash in front of me, because it was on a corner, so I couldn't do anything to avoid them," Bardet explained back at his Ag2r-La Mondiale team bus. "But I'm fine. I've got just a few cuts and bruises, which you'd expect after a crash like that.

    "It was very nervous in the bunch in the last part of the race," he continued. "It was quite nervous all day today, actually, as there was quite a lot of wind, and a lot of rain."

    Around 30 riders were affected by the crash on roads made slippery by heavy rain, but no serious injuries were reported afterwards, and all 164 riders still left in the 2014 Tour are expected to start the individual time trial in Bergerac on Saturday.

    Bardet was in no great hurry to get going again; as the crash had happened inside the last three kilometres, the race rules state that any riders involved will be credited with the same time as the group of riders they were with when the incident happened.

    The Frenchman therefore finished the stage in the same time as second-placed John Degenkolb, who led the bunch home seven seconds behind the day's winner, Garmin's...

  • Pinot: The strongest riders will be on Tour de France podium

    Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) in the white jersey
    Article published:
    July 25, 2014, 19:54 BST
    Barry Ryan

    Frenchman looks to fend off Péraud and Valverde in the time trial manager Marc Madiot breezed into the mixed zone in Bergerac after stage 19 of the Tour de France, perhaps as much to seek shelter from the rain as to talk to a group of radio reporters, but he was happy to give his two cents' worth all the same.

    "They said it was going to be a transition stage but it was anything but a transition stage," Madiot said of a rain-soaked afternoon that will have done little to calm nerves and soothe legs ahead of Saturday’s time trial to Périgueux.

    When Madiot's young charge Thibaut Pinot reached the same point a little while later, he seemed rather less concerned than his manager about the exertions of the 208-kilometre haul from Maubourguet, and cheerfully noted that he was simply glad to avoid the crash that took place in the finale.

    "You needed to be very attentive because I knew it was going to be a very complicated stage. You had to be well-positioned all day long," Pinot said. "The crash happened quite close to me and it was just a question of luck really that I wasn't caught up in it. It was a tense finale again.”

    A different kind of tension awaits Pinot over the next 24 hours. The youngster is on the brink of becoming the first Frenchman to finish on the podium of the Tour since Richard Virenque in 1997, but a mammoth 54-kilometre time trial in the Dordogne lies between him and the acclaim of the Champs-Élysées.

    Pinot is just 13 seconds ahead of Jean-Christophe Péraud (Ag2r-La Mondiale) and 15 clear of Alejandro Valverde (Movistar). While he is all but assured of bringing the white jersey of best young rider to Paris, he risks sliding off the podium that he really covets.

    "The mental...