Debate continues over the incident between Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-Quick-Step) and Tom Veelers (Argos-Shimano) during last week's 10th stage to Saint Malo. Movistar's Jose Joaquin Rojas, who in previous years hasn't at all minded getting involved in sprint controversies, added his two cents worth. Rojas even went so far as to suggest a case of double standards from race officials in scrutinising the clash which left Veelers on the tarmac.
"I prefer not to get involved in what happened, but if I had done that I would have been disqualified," Rojas told Spain's Cadena Ser radio according to AFP. "If it were up to me, Cavendish should have been disqualified."
Ten Dam's winning anyway...
The records will show that Laurens ten Dam (Belkin) finished ninth on the Tour's 15th stage to Mont Ventoux, but what you probably didn't know was that the Dutchman set a couple of Stava records along the way.
"Every rider has to show his respect to this brutal mountain," ten Dam said of Ventoux on his twitter feed. "Today he was nice to me."
Ten Dam achieved some new KOMs on a few segments along the way on Sunday. You can check them out here.
To gift, or not to gift?
As Chris Froome (Sky) and Nairo Quintana (Movistar) battled it out and shared the odd word over the final kilometres of Mont Ventoux, crowds and television audiences worldwide were taken back to the year 2000, when Lance Armstrong and Marco Pantani infamously went head-to-head. While the Italian was gunning for the stage, Armstrong of course had his eye on the overall win and the American would go on to tell reporters that he...
After an afternoon on the offensive in the white heat of Mont Ventoux, Chris Froome (Sky) was back on the defensive during the rest day of the Tour de France as the yellow jersey faced the press in Orange on Monday morning ahead of a training ride with his teammates.
“I can only be open and say to people that I know within myself that I have trained extremely hard to get here,” Froome said when asked about doubts surrounding the legitimacy of his performances. “All the results I get are my own results and the product of my own training and determination. It’s really been a long effort for me to get to where I am now. I know what I’ve done to get here and I’m extremely proud of what I’ve done.”
Comparing the champions of different generations based on their performances on the great climbs has always formed part of the folklore of cycling, but in the post-Lance Armstrong era, the echoes of history can have an uncomfortable ring.
Froome’s pursuit of Nairo Quintana on the slopes of the Ventoux prompted comparisons with Armstrong’s duel with Marco Pantani on the same climb in 2000, but he clarified that he had not declared himself “honoured” to be compared to the American in an interview in the mixed zone after Sunday’s stage.
“I’m not sure I said I was honoured, I said I would only take it as a compliment,” Froome said. “Obviously...
Euskaltel climber said Contador told him he couldn’t assist with pace-making
Up until the Ventoux stage, Euskaltel-Euskadi’s Tour de France had been newsworthy largely because of the team’s confirmation that it is battling to find a new co-sponsor for the next three seasons or face the prospect of abandoning the sport at the end of his year. However, Tour debutant Mikel Nieve’s third place on Mont Ventoux gave the Basque team reason to hope for a change of fortune going into the race’s mountainous finale.
The 29-year-old Nieve, who has a stage win and a top 10 finish to his credit in both of the other grand tours, described himself as “happy” with his performance, acknowledging there was no way he could follow the pace set by Chris Froome or Nairo Quintana. “It was important for me to finish third on this mythical summit. This is my first Tour and to be at that level – third on Mont Ventoux – is good reason to be happy,” said Nieve.
Speaking to the Basque press immediately after the finish, he revealed he went into the stage knowing his only hope of success was a long-range attack. “I couldn’t wait for the last moment to attack with the kind of people there are in this race. I played my card and tried to get a gap early on the climb in order to give myself some options. When Quintana caught me my only thought was to stay with him, but I realised he was stronger than me and that was impossible. I focused on climbing at my own constant rhythm. I wanted to finish third and I managed to do that,” he said.
Nieve described stage winner Froome as being “on a higher level. He’s had a very good year and today he’s been at that level. It was impossible to stay on his wheel.”
The Basque climber ended up with Alberto Contador,...
Sky principal calls on media to help find a solution
Given the demolition Chris Froome handed out to his rivals on the slopes of Mont Ventoux, it was almost inevitable that Sky's rest day press conference in Orange would be dominated with questions surrounding doping. The race itself, Froome's rivals and all talk of yellow took a back seat as the race leader and Dave Brailsford faced questions over their integrity and credibility. The morning edition of L'Equipe, which ran with the headline, 'Froome Naturellement' only raised the issue up the agenda even higher.
Brailsford has repeatedly stated that he welcomes and accepts questions over doping but there was more than a tinge of frustration hidden behind his answers.
"Bottom line is, it's a rest day. It's 10 o'clock in the morning and I'm trying to defend someone who has done nothing wrong. I'm happy to do it and more than happy to try and convince you guys that we're not doing anything wrong but we need a bit of help," he said.
That help, according to Brailsford, would transpire with the media grouping together and then relaying their ideas back to the team principal and his back room staff. 'How can we convince you we're clean?' RSVP by Paris.
"Why don't you collectively have a meeting, get yourself together, get organised, and you tell me what could we do so we wouldn't have to ask these questions. Because you're asking me to come up with some sort of novel idea to satisfy you but instead of asking me get your heads together and then come to me and say this is what we would like to prove without reasonable doubt. I know what we're doing but I haven't got a magic wand to help come and convince you guys so help me out."
A brainstorming weekend away in the Cotswolds with the cycling media may not provide more than just the typical topics of discussion but the tactic from Brailsford...
Valverde to help Colombian prior to racing the Vuelta
Talking to reporters in Avignon during the second rest day of the Tour de France, Colombian rookie Nairo Quintana said he realized he’s an overall winner in the making. “It won’t happen this year,” he warned. “Chris Froome is too strong to be beaten. I need to improve my time trialling and be able to create bigger differences in the climbs. I came to the Tour for learning anyway. For now, it’s too difficult for me to target the yellow jersey but within two years, I believe I can win.”
Since he won the Tour de l’Avenir in 2010, the Movistar rider has the profile of the next pure climber to win the Tour de France, something that has yet to be seen for the first time for Colombia, even though the South American country has been a task force at the French event for three decades. To date, the only Colombian to have worn the yellow jersey was not a real climber, but Lance Armstrong’s teammate Victor Hugo Peña in 2003 after the team time trial. Quintana has two jerseys in sight: polka dot and white.
“It’s super important for Movistar that he’ll make the top three in Paris and I’ll help him to do so,” his teammate Alejandro Valverde indicated. “As for myself, I’d like to win at l’Alpe d’Huez. My situation at the Tour could be better. I’ve been unlucky. Up to the Mont Ventoux, I couldn’t do any better. Normally, my heart rate can go as high as 190 bits/minute, but yesterday I reached a maximum of 180. However, the hardest part of the Tour de France is yet to come. The climbs in the Alps are harder than what we’ve done up to now.”
Quintana admitted that he doesn’t know any of the climbs...
Bradley Wiggins is set to ride the Tour of Britain rather than the Vuelta a España as he prepares for his principal end-of-season target of a gold medal in the World Time Trial Championship. According to a report in Marca, the 2012 Tour de France champion has committed to his national tour, which begins on 15 September, the same day that the Vuelta finishes in Madrid.
Wiggins last rode the Vuelta in 2011, finishing third behind Juan José Cobo and Sky teammate Chris Froome. Sky have acknowledged they did consider the Vuelta as an option for Wiggins as he builds towards the Worlds, but may have been deterred by the extremely mountainous nature of the route, which features only one individual time trial of 38 kilometres.
Wiggins has not raced since abandoning the Giro d’Italia with a knee injury in mid-May. He is slated to return to competition on July 27 at the Tour of Poland.
Meanwhile, 2010 Vuelta and 2013 Giro champion Vincenzo Nibali will return to Spain’s national tour with a very strong Astana line-up. Team director Giuseppe Martinelli has confirmed to Spanish news agency EFE that Nibali will be backed by Italians Paolo Tiralongo, Alessandro Vanotti and Valerio Agnoli, and Kazakhstani Andrey Zeits. Slovene Jani Brajkovic will also start assuming a full recovery from the knee injury that forced him to quit the Tour de France during its first week. Martinelli is also considering taking Jakob Fuglsang to the Vuelta, although the Dane’s participation will depend on how well he comes out of the Tour, where he currently lies seventh on GC.
On the second rest day of the Tour de FranceChris Froome faced several questions from the media relating to doping, with the race leader asked to reassure the press corp that he was riding and winning the Tour clean.
The questions have turned up a notch after Froome’s win on Mont Ventoux, while Sky’s somewhat understandable hesitation to release their data have fanned the flames.
Froome, himself, understands why questions have been raised given the nature of the sport and the rampant doping that has distorted races and results for years.
The British rider remained adamant, though, that he is clean and in this video talks about his stance on doping, winning on Mont Ventoux and the pressures of leading the biggest bike race in the world.
The UCI announced on Monday that it had provisionally suspended Tour of Turkey winner Mustafa Sayar for a doping violation.
The decision was made in response to a report from the WADA accredited laboratory in Châtenay-Malabry indicating an Adverse Analytical Finding of EPO in a urine sample collected from Sayar in a competition test during the Tour of Algeria on March 11, 2013.
According to the UCI, the provisional suspension of Sayar will remain in force until a hearing panel convened by the Turkish Cycling Federation determines whether he has committed an anti-doping rule violation under Article 21 of the UCI Anti-Doping Rules.
Sayar has the right to request and attend the analysis of his B sample.
Citing the World Anti-Doping Code and the UCI Anti-Doping Rules, the UCI said it was unable to provide any additional information at this time.