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Second Edition Cycling News, Monday, July 19, 2010

Date published:
July 19, 2010, 1:00 BST
  • Rabobank jubilant after first stage in Pyrenees

    Denis Menchov (Rabobank) set out to gain time.
    Article published:
    July 19, 2010, 6:47 BST
    Brecht Decaluwé

    Menchov confident, Gesink leaps over Leipheimer

    After the performance of Denis Menchov and Robert Gesink on the first mountain stage in the Pyrenees, the Rabobank team was pretty pleased with the day's results: Its two team leaders were able to defend or strengthen their position in the general classification, with Menchov still in fourth and Gesink gaining a spot. He is now sixth after Levi Leipheimer (Radioshack) lost almost a minute on the last climb to Ax-3-Domaines.

    While Alberto Contador (Astana) and Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank) watched each other, Menchov attacked and ended the stage fourteen seconds ahead the yellow jersey, but was unable to distance third overall Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel). "I had to gain some time and it worked. Finally. It's good for my confidence. Too bad I couldn't shake off Sanchez," Menchov said after crossing the finish line.

    Of course Menchov noticed the games between Contador and Schleck but he wasn't impressed at all by their manoeuvres. "I was riding my own race. I was battling to gain some time in the general classification. I heard in the radio that I had a gap," Menchov said. When asked by Cyclingnews which riders he regarded as his main rivals Menchov came up with a surprising answer.

    "Samuel Sanchez and Schleck," Menchov said. One might assume that Menchov included Schleck because he feels that he can still close the current gap on the Luxembourger in the 52-kilometre long time trial. "Winning the Tour de France will be difficult though. I'm looking at the general classification day-by-day. Every stage is a different story. It was a difficult stage, really tough, but I showed what I'm capable of," Menchov said.

    Teammate Gesink was riding a completely different race at the back of the group. Early on the Dutchman struggled to keep up with the pace set by Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana) at the foot of the final climb. "After descending twenty kilometres you're reaching the foot of that climb. Vinokourov showed yesterday that he's...

  • Houanard extends with Skil-Shimano

    Steve Houanard (Skil-Shimano) appeared deep in thought before the start.
    Article published:
    July 19, 2010, 13:01 BST
    Cycling News

    Frenchman signs up until end of 2012

    Steve Houanard has signed a two-year contract extension with Skil-Shimano that will keep him in their line-up until the end of the 2012 season. The 24-year-old Frenchman is in his second season with the Dutch-based squad.

    Chambery-born Houanard first signed for Skil-Shimano as a stagiare in late 2008, and impressed sufficiently at the Circuit Franco-Belge to be offered a full contract. His best result in his first full season in the professional ranks in 2009 was 10th overall at the Driedaagse van West-Vlaanderen.

    This season Houanard has used his fast finish to good effect, placing in the top ten on four stages of the Bayern Rundfahrt and the Tour of Luxembourg, and he was also one of the principal aggressors at the Dwars Door Vlaanderen in March.

    In recent weeks, Skil-Shimano have also signed Tom Veelers to a new two-year deal and announced the arrival of young French hope Thomas Damuseau as a stagiare from August 1.

  • On the startline in Pamiers

    Lance Armstrong (RadioShack) heads out for another stage of his last ever Tour de France
    Article published:
    July 19, 2010, 14:04 BST
    Cycling News

    The peloton gathers for another big day in the Pyrenees

    It's day two in the Pyrenees and the Tour enters its final week. There was palpable air of tension at the start village in Pamiers ahead of what could well be a decisive day for a number of riders' Tour ambitions.

    Andy Schleck's yellow Specialized was waiting for him outside his team bus before the start and the Luxembourger will no doubt hope that it will still be there waiting for him tomorrow morning. Liquigas-Doimo pair Ivan Basso and Roman Kreuziger took to the line knowing that today would be a key day if they want to improve on their overall standings, while others such as Lance Armstrong and David Millar bore the haunted look of men counting the days to Paris.

    Enjoy this gallery from the start in Pamiers.


  • Schleck promises fireworks on the Tourmalet

    Alexander Vinokourov (Astana) looks back to check out the situation as Andy Schleck has a mechanical
    Article published:
    July 19, 2010, 18:41 BST
    Brecht Decaluwé

    Luxembourger unhappy with Contador's move

    During the fifteenth stage of the Tour de France towards Bagnères-de-Luchon the odds turned against race leader Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank) as his chain dropped while attacking on the Port de Balès. Some might say that there's an unwritten rule that one doesn't attack the yellow jersey when he's running into bad luck, but Alberto Contador (Astana) maneuvered past Schleck and went on to gain 39 seconds on the race leader at the finish, taking over the yellow jersey by eight seconds.

    As a visibly angry Schleck slowed down after crossing the finish line he noticed an Astana soigneur and sarcastically said to him, "Bravo". Schleck rode further on, waved away the awaiting media scrum that was awaiting him, before heading towards the podium area where he would receive the white jersey for best young rider in the Tour de France. The way he was riding to the podium it seemed like he was looking for a fight.

    Afterwards, on French television, Schleck apologized for his behaviour at the finish line but he didn't hide that he was more than unhappy about the way he lost the yellow jersey to Contador.

    "Shit happens, what can I say. He went full gas when he saw that I had a mechanical," said Schleck. "It's not up to me to decide but I would not have attacked the yellow jersey. I would not attack the race leader like that. If he would have dropped me it wouldn't have been a problem for me, but not this way.

    "I guess we all have different cultures. Personally I wouldn't ride like that. My stomach is full of anger. I'm going to take my revenge on the Tourmalet."

    Although it seemed as if Schleck had his mechanical when he switched gears, the now former yellow jersey said he didn't know what happened. "I don't know the reason, I only know that I dropped the chain," said Schleck. "I wasn't happy, of course. It is how it is. That's cycling."

    Schleck reached the top of the Port de Balès trailing the Contador group by...

  • Contador defends his attack on the Balès

    Alberto Contador (Astana) leads the other favorites, sans Andy Schleck, up the mountain
    Article published:
    July 19, 2010, 18:55 BST
    Peter Cossins

    Spaniard admits he can understand why Schleck is disappointed

    At the 2003 Tour the question everyone was asking after a key stage in the Pyrenees was, "Did he wait or didn't he?" Seven years on, after another equally crucial stage in the Pyrenees, the question that was repeatedly directed at new race leader Alberto Contador was, "Should you have waited?"

    Pressed in all kinds of different of ways about whether he should have ceased his attack once he had found out that Andy Schleck had been halted when he dropped his chain, the Spaniard stuck rigidly to the same line. It basically boiled down to insisting that he didn't immediately know what had happened to his main rival for the yellow jersey as they raced towards the summit of the Port de Balès, but whatever had happened was simply part of racing.

    Soon after receiving his first yellow jersey of this year's race, Contador was quizzed about the incident on French TV. "We'd been marking each other and I was starting to think about attacking. I was told after I did attack that there had been an incident, but when I launched the attack I didn't have any idea about what the incident was," Contador said. "When I did find out what had happened we already had a big advantage and it was too late to do anything about it as we were all riding hard."

    French TV diplomatically avoided asking about the jeers that could be heard when Contador received his yellow jersey on the Tour podium, but he was immediately asked about it in his press conference. "Some people understand what happened and others didn't understand. Those are the circumstances of racing and I knew there would be some debate about this incident. I attacked before he had a problem with his chain and was a long way ahead when I heard what had happened," Contador said.

    "I realise that this is a delicate situation and that there is going to be a lot of debate about it. But as I said before, at the moment I attacked I didn't know what had happened to him, and when I found out I was...

  • Riis preaches calm in aftermath of Schleck's disappointment

    Article published:
    July 19, 2010, 19:06 BST
    Richard Moore

    Dane refuses to criticise Contador's attack

    While Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank) had “anger in his belly” following stage fifteen of the Tour de France, when Alberto Contador (Astana) took advantage of his mechanical problems on the climb of the Port de Bales to claim the yellow jersey, the Luxembourger’s team director, Bjarne Riis, appeared to have ice in his.

    Riis was characteristically cool and undemonstrative as he discussed Schleck’s mishap. “It’s sh*tty for him and for us it’s just bad luck,” shrugged Riis, who appealed to his rider to find an outlet for his anger on the bike. “That’s the way to handle it,” he said. “Take it out on the pedals.”

    To the thorny question of whether Contador should have waited for Schleck as he attempted to fix his chain, Riis shrugged again. “I would have hoped he would have waited, and I think I would have waited... I think he did wait at the beginning but then it was a while before Andy was on the bike again.

    “I don’t know. Was it possible for Contador to wait in that situation, with [Samuel] Sanchez [Euskaltel] and [Denis] Menchov [Rabobank] attacking? He has to follow those guys, for sure. He might not need to pull [with them] or attack, but he has to follow those guys.

    “[Andy] needs to stay calm, to focus and do the right thing. We’ll talk about it and we’ll make a plan - I think that’s the only thing we can do. There’s a lot of anger right now. I think that's normal and it’s okay. You have the right to let that out. But then he has to settle down again and regain his focus and do the right things.”

    Riis attempted to play down any problems between Schleck and Contador, saying: “I don’t want to create a polemic [argument] here because these were the circumstances of the race, and sometimes it’s like that. A lot of guys crashed today and nobody helped, nobody waited. It’s...

  • Armstrong refuses to criticize Contador

    Lance Armstrong (RadioShack) finishes stage 15
    Article published:
    July 19, 2010, 19:40 BST
    Stephen Farrand

    Texan helps RadioShack retake lead in team competition

    Lance Armstrong refused to criticise Alberto Contador for not waiting for Andy Schleck after his mechanical problem.

    Armstrong recalled when he waited for Jan Ullrich in 2001 and when Ullrich waited for him in 2003. However he pointed out that the race was 'on' and so the unwritten rules of fair play and sportsmanship do not count in the heat of the moment, when other riders are attacking and other placings and jerseys are at stake.

    "I didn't see exactly what happened because I was a bit behind," Armstrong said immediately after finishing the stage. "But if Alberto attacked when he saw that Andy was behind, then it's probably not correct but I have to see the images first. But it's a shame if he didn't get back up and so lost the jersey.

    "It's true [that Ullrich waited in 2003] and in 2001 I waited for Ulrich, when he went down. It's better to wait but this is different. This was the last climb of the race and the race was really on. I don't want to make a harsh judgment without having seen the images."

    RadioShack leads team competition

    Armstrong looked much stronger on the stage and was only distanced when the race exploded in the final kilometres of the hors catégorie Port de Bales climb. He went on to finish 23rd in Bagneres de Luchon, 4:08 behind Thomas Voeckler (Bbox Bouygues Telecom) but was only 1:18 behind Contador.

    With Levi Leipheimer 17th and Andreas Klöden 22nd just ahead of him, RadioShack retook the lead in the team classification from Caisse d'Epargne. RadioShack now leads the Spanish team by 4:27 after Ruben Plaza, Christophe Moreau and Luis Leon Sanchez all finished behind Armstrong. Leipheimer held onto to seventh overall and is now 5:35 behind Contador.

    It seems that Armstrong will climb on the final Tour de France podium in Paris after all. Not for an eighth Tour de France victory but as he had hoped but part of the best team in the race. "It was a...

  • Voeckler talks up his team after Luchon win

    Thomas Voeckler (Bbox Bouygues Telecom) made France proud with another stage win.
    Article published:
    July 19, 2010, 20:12 BST
    Peter Cossins

    French champion plugs the Bbox squad to potential sponsors

    Stage 15 stage-winner Thomas Voeckler admitted that he had been on the verge of quitting the race when stomach problems that affected him through the Alps reached their worst point in Gap. It was, he said, the experience gained through participating in 12 major tours that enabled him to continue. With that experience has come the knowledge that his fortunes could change and that better form would come.

    Voeckler's form started to come back as the race headed into the Massif Central. He almost made it across to Alexandre Vinokourov on the final hill before the drop into Revel two days ago. Today, the French champion's jersey looked like the one to watch when he got into a break of 10 riders 87km out from Luchon.

    "I've had some really bad moments during this Tour. Everyone will have seen me at the back of the peloton on many occasions. But in the last two or three days I've felt better. When I got into the break today I had Sébastien Turgot with me, a rider who's in his first Tour de France. He's not a climber at all, but he's a great sprinter and has finished 6th in three bunch sprints. He worked really hard to make sure the break got clear," said Voeckler, who made his decisive move on the final climb of another tough stage run in baking conditions.

    "I know the Port de Balès very well from the Route du Sud. I was looking at [Sergei] Ivanov , [Johan] Van Summeren and [Alessandro] Ballan and I knew that they would be watching me because I was the best climber. I waited until the steepest sections of the climb and went for it. From there on the fans gave me massive encouragement," he said.

    Yellow jersey for 10 days in 2004 and a stage-winner last year, Voeckler described having a different feeling to that success in Perpignan. "That was special because I had gone for a lot of years without ever winning a stage, and it came as kind of a relief for me. This year I've felt proud to have won a stage in the French champion's...