Belkin rider hoping a good result leads to new sponsor
Bauke Mollema is one of the great hopes of Dutch cycling, and the Belkin rider, who finished sixth in last year's Tour de France, is hoping an improvement upon that results could lead to a new sponsor for his team.
Belkin announced last month that it would end its relationship with the Dutch team at the end of this season, and it's a situation Mollema has experienced before with Rabobank's exit. But he's not worried just yet.
"I think we did a really good job this year and last with Belkin as a sponsor," Mollema said. "As riders we should focus on the races and hope to do a really good Tour de France, that's important for possibly a new sponsor. We should also have confidence in the management to find a new sponsors."
The 27-year-old has made steady progress in Grand Tours over the past few years, and last year came in sixth place in the Tour de France. In 2011 he was fourth in the Vuelta a España and in his first Grand Tour in 2010, the Giro d'Italia, he was 12th. He hopes to improve even more in the Tour this year, and a third place overall in the Tour de Suisse showed he's capable of a good result.
"I think I'm the kind of rider who's pretty good in Grand Tours, and I like to do them. My body is good for Grand Tours, I recover quickly, and that's important.
"So far I've made steps every year," he said. "I hope to do a really good general classification like last year [at the Tour]. It's hard to say which position to aim for, I hope to give my all in the hard stages. The first week is really important with the cobble stage and the second stage in Britain. I will give everything every day and we'll see what's the result."
Having raced the last editions of the Giro d'Italia, Team Colombia's general manager Claudio Corti announced the team's intention to race two grand tours in 2015 as the team embarks on a new cycle of planning and development.
Corti, along with the team's riders, are in Colombia planning for the upcoming season.
"The team's project had started with a 3-year cycle, ending in 2014," Corti said having held meetings with the team's institutional partners, starting with Coldeportes and Director Andres Botero.
"But I think there is a common intention to start a new one in 2015, to follow the path of a team that became very popular among Colombians while collecting a great deal of consideration in World Cycling at any stage, and is now ready to face two Grand Tours in a year: our goal will be to deserve another nod for the Giro d'Italia and make our debut at the Tour de France."
Having been founded in 2012, the team have raced Italian WorldTour events including Milan-San Remo, Tirreno–Adriatico and the Giro di Lombardia while several of its riders have gone onto sign for World Tour teams.
"In these three years, we took part in many of the greatest races in the World," Corti said. "Claiming our status as a professional, young and combative team. Our intention is to follow on this path to be at the start of cycling top-events with consistency and improve our results: in order to do so, we are looking to build up a bigger roster – no less than 20 athletes – while adding some non-Colombian athletes as well.
"After three years in the "big leagues", racing next to the most competitive teams in the World, our riders in first place realised what an upside staying close to foreign team and riders with different characteristics can bring, both in...
On the eve of his first Tour de France with Lotto Belisol and fourth consecutive La Grande Boucle, Tony Gallopin is confident that he will start the race in top condition and ready to support his team's objectives for the race.
"I did everything I could to start this Tour with an optimal shape," 26-year-old Gallopin said. "My performances in the Critérium du Dauphiné reassured me about my condition. As the week progressed, I got better. The French championship last weekend didn't take place on a course that suited my capacities, it was cut out for sprinters [ed. Gallopin was 10th.] But the feeling I had along the way did indicate a good condition."
On the flat stages, Gallopin has been tasked with protecting Andre Greipel as part of the sprint train and then stick with the teams GC rider Jurgen Van den Broeck "until the last climb, as I did in the Dauphiné" but he also have opportunities for himself.
"On the other hand I can have a go of my own in certain stages," Gallopin said. "That's when there isn't a bunch sprint on the cards and the course isn't tough enough for the GC riders, like this Sunday on the stage to Sheffield. On such days I will try to get in a break and I can pursue a good result. Also in the Vosges there are opportunities for me."
While the first stage on paper is regarded as one for the sprinters, Gallopin explained that it won't be a straight forward day of racing but is excited by how Yorkshire has embraced the Grand Départ. "We did a recon of the first stage and the course is definitely not that flat, but it's suited for André...
Teams prepare for the upcoming Grand Depart in Leeds
Public excitement surrounding the Tour de France is growing ahead of its start on July 5 in Leeds, Yorkshire. That momentum is pushed along by the event's nearly 200 professional cyclists, who have taken to the streets for pre-race training rides.
Cycling is one of those few sports where the public has almost direct access to the athletes, and as they emerged from the race hotel, fans were there to get photos taken with their favorite riders, autographs and to watch the team mechanics set up the bikes for the morning training sessions.
Click here to view the gallery of photos from the team training rides during the days leading into the Tour de France start in Leeds.
Matthews crashed on Tuesday when sent on a detour from his usual training roads due to road works and hit a speed bump. He had six stitches inserted into his left palm and has bruises on his left-knee from the crash, but is hopeful of starting the race having worked closely with the team's medical staff
"He is bandaged like a mummy at the moment," said the team's sports director Matt White. "They are going to try and loosen him up on the home trainer today and then we will try to pop him on the road tomorrow.
"It's not an ideal scenario for anybody so close to a race but if he can pass the first few days, he will be fine.
"Physically he has a really good preparation and he is ready to go. Certainly, he might not be 100% in the first few stages but if he can push through the pain he is going to be OK."
Meier has been named as the first reserve for the team and having just raced in the Canadian national championships last week, flew from Vancouver to Manchester in order to be ready should he be given the call up for what would be his first Tour.
"Christian in a very reliable rider, he is a great teammate and he will certainly bolstered the team in backing up our plans from day to day," White said.
Huge reception as riders received at the Leeds Arena
Given that the other cultural event making the headlines in the UK at the moment is the Monty Python reunion in London, Yorkshire’s Tour de France team presentation on Thursday evening at the First Direct Arena in Leeds could fittingly have been entitled, And Now for Something Completely Different…
From the riders parading through the crowd-packed streets between Leeds University and the arena, to the glitzy setting within the modernistic venue, almost everything about this team presentation was groundbreaking. In addition to the traditional parade of 22 teams on stage, the show featured some of the highlights from the Grand Départ’s cultural festival, including performances by bike-borne dancers Ghost Peloton in their magical LED light suits, a blast of Bizet’s Carmen from Opera North, and a rousing finale from Brighouse rock band Embrace.
Each of the 22 teams received a huge ovation when they were presented on stage, although the roar that greeted the arrival of Chris Froome and his Sky team-mates left no doubt about who most of the 9,000-strong audience were backing. Froome looked slightly overwhelmed by the reception, admitting it made it extra special to be starting the defence of his title on home ground.
The arrival of Mark Cavendish and Omega Pharma-QuickStep also generated a huge reaction. With his wife, daughter and other family members looking on in the audience, Cavendish paid fulsome tribute to Yorkshire, adding that he expects the reception over the coming weekend to be way beyond most people’s expectations. “So excited by the @letour presentation turnout tonight! The @TdF_FanPark is going to be buzzing if the atmosphere will be like that!” Cavendish tweeted after the presentation.
Many of Cavendish’s peers also praised the Tour’s...
World UCI road champion Rui Costa has signed a contract extension with Lampre Merida, tying himself to the team until the end of 2016.
The former Movistar rider signed a one-year contract with Lampre at the end of 2013 and contract negotiations have been going on for several weeks with the Italian team keen to keep hold of their most successful rider.
In a press release issued Friday morning the team stated that, “the sponsors have pleasure in announcing that the relationship with the world champion Rui Costa will continue for the next two seasons.”
“The two parties have come to an agreement to renew the contract for another two seasons: this is an important step forward for the future of the team.”
Rui Costa is targeting the overall in this year’s Tour de France having won two stages in last year’s race. The world champion comes into the Tour in fine form having sealed his second straight win in the Tour de Suisse last month.
Simon Yates (Orica-GreenEdge) got the surprise of his life earlier this week when his team manager Matt White called to inform him that he had made this year’s Tour de France team. Originally Yates had been pencilled in to ride the Tour de Pologne - which begins on August 3 - but got the good news after returning to the UK for the British national championships last weekend.
“It was a bit of a random phone call,” Yates laughed, clearly still on a high from making the team. “If anything, I though it was going to be talking about going to the Tour of Poland, which is like a month away. It was a big surprise and I’m just looking forward to it.”
Yates has not long come back from the broken collarbone that he suffered at the Tour of Turkey in April. He rode the Tour de Slovenie, at the end of June, before finishing third at the national championships on Sunday behind Sky pairing Peter Kennaugh and Ben Swift. The neo-pro said that the time off may be a blessing in disguise but brushed aside any idea that he may try for his own stage success so early on in his Tour de France career.
“I’m just here purely to help Simon Gerrans and Michael Matthews. We’re targeting the medium mountain days where a sprinter who can climb will get to the finish. Hopefully I can play a big part in that terrain,” Yates told the press after being introduced to the huge crowds in Leeds. “If the opportunity is there then I’ll take it. But the guys that we’ve got here are the best in the world at doing these hilly sprints. I’m just here to help those guys.”
The 21-year-old barely had time to let the news sink in before he was making his way to the Tour’s team presentation on Thursday. Yates turned professional with Orica-GreenEdge at the beginning of last...