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Second Edition Cycling News, Saturday, July 10, 2010

Date published:
July 10, 2010, 1:00 BST
  • Quick Step signs 20-year-old time trialist Vermote

    Belgian U23 time trial champion Julien Vermote is one of the favourites for the Tour de Bretagne
    Article published:
    July 10, 2010, 9:41 BST
    Cycling News

    Extends with Cataldo for one year

    Team Quick Step is preparing for the coming season, signing 20-year-old Julien Vermote to his first professional contract. It has also extended the contract of Dario Cataldo for one year.

    Vermote currently rides for Team Beveren 2000, Quick Step's ”satellite” team. He is a time trial specialist who last year won the national U23 time trial title.

    The Belgian ProTour team also extended Cataldo's contract for one year, activating a one-year extension option. The 25-year-old Italian turned pro with Liquigas in 2007, and joined Quick Step in 2009. This year he rode the Giro d'Italia and finished second in the Italian national time trial championship.

  • Hincapie and Hamilton approached by federal investigators

    Article published:
    July 10, 2010, 10:33 BST
    Barry Ryan

    Former US Postal riders rumoured to speak with Novitzky

    George Hincapie (BMC) and Tyler Hamilton are among the riders who have been asked to cooperate with the federal investigation into doping practices in American cycling at large and the US Postal Service team in particular, according to the Wall Street Journal.

    The criminal investigation, led by Food and Drug Administration (FDA) special agent Jeff Novitzky, is focused principally around Floyd Landis’ recent allegations of systematic doping practices at the US Postal Service team.

    George Hincapie’s lawyer Zia F. Modabber told the Wall Street Journal that he had spoken to Novitzky on behalf of his client. He refused to comment on the reports that Hincapie will speak directly with Novitzky when he returns to the United States after the Tour de France.

    “My desire is to let George do his job with as few distractions as possible,” Modabber said.

    Hincapie rode in the US Postal colours from 1997 to 2004, and was a teammate of Lance Armstrong in each of his seven Tour de France victories. He is currently riding his fifteenth Tour de France.

    Meanwhile, it is also reported that Tyler Hamilton is among the riders who has been approached by Novitzky. Hamilton rode for US Postal from 1995 to 2001, and was in 2004 the first rider to test positive for the type of blood doping outlined in Floyd Landis’ allegations.

    Hamilton responded by e-mail to Wall Street Journal reporters’ questions, saying “I am aware that there is an investigation of other people in progress, and if I am subpoenaed to provide information, I will provide my full cooperation.”

    The team was managed by Johan Bruyneel and led by Lance Armstrong in the time period covered by Landis’ allegations.

  • Milram struggling to find new sponsor

    The Milram boys descend like rockets.
    Article published:
    July 10, 2010, 12:35 BST
    Barry Ryan

    Van Gerwen confirms no agreement has yet been made

    Team Milram’s search for a new sponsor for 2011 has thus far been unsuccessful, and team manager Gerry van Gerwen has acknowledged that the team’s existence will probably be reliant on the continued support of Milram’s parent company Nordmilch AG.

    The Germain dairy concern had announced last December that while it would no longer continue as sole sponsor beyond the 2010 season, it would consider operating as a co-sponsor under certain conditions. Van Gerwen has approached a number of potential sponsors, but confirmed that no agreement has been reached yet.

    “I have not given up hope. We’re carrying out a lot of discussions and all of this takes quite some time. But in Pau [on the second rest day of the Tour], we will let you know how it goes,” van Gerwen told the Sueddeutsche Zeitung.

    However, it seems that Milram’s continued support is crucial to the survival of the project. “The only one who can help us in the short term is Milram. There are still discussions ongoing. More than that I can’t say. It’s not easy,” van Gerwen said.

    Should negotiations between team and sponsor break down, Sueddeutsche Zeitung links leader Linus Gerdeman with a potential move to the new Luxembourg team headed by Brian Nygaard, whose 2011 line-up is assumed to include the Schleck brothers. Meanwhile, the paper suggests sprinter Gerald Ciolek may return to the HTC-Columbia fold, where he would replace his compatriot Andre Greipel, who is expected to leave the team.

  • Yates pleased with Team Sky's first week at Tour de France

    British champion Geraint Thomas (Sky) put in an impressive performance.
    Article published:
    July 10, 2010, 15:55 BST
    Richard Moore

    Thomas in white and second overall

    Team Sky's sports director, Sean Yates, says he is "very pleased" with the British squad's opening week in its debut Tour de France, and believes that Geraint Thomas could return one day and target a high placing on general classification.

    With the departure of Scott Sunderland in May, Yates is the only member of the Sky back-up team with the job title "sports director". He is also the only staff member wtih experience of finishing the Tour de France, though head coach Shane Sutton started the 1987 race.

    Yates started 12 Tours and finished nine, winning a time trial stage in 1988 and enjoying a spell in the yellow jersey in 1994.

    "I'm very pleased," said Yates as he looked ahead to Saturday's seventh stage. "It was a bit of a mess in the prologue with the weather, and that put a bit of dampener on things. But G [Thomas] did a good ride."

    In a calculated gamble, Bradley Wiggins, the team leader, started early in the prologue in Rotterdam, to try and avoid the forecast rain, but in the end, suffered arguably the worst of the conditions.

    "After what he did in the Giro [where Wiggins won the first time trial] the prologue wasn't ideal," said Yates. "I was in the car behind him, and it wasn't just the speed he was taking the corners, it was the way he was taking them. He was not in it at all. C'est la vie."

    Tuesday's third stage, over the cobbles, saw the team's fortunes begin to turn around. "We got through the Roubaix stage," said Yates, "and at the end of the week we've had a second place, a couple of thirds, and we've got G in white and second overall.

    "It was a major thing getting through that third stage. A lot of guys were bricking it beforehand, but, in our team, everyone did a great job."

    "In my opinion, this Tour won't be decided by seconds as it was last year, certainly among that top five," said Yates. "Last year it was all very close, but I think this year there'll be bigger time gaps."

  • Roche passes first mountain test

    AG2R's Nicolas Roche will be happy when this stage is over
    Article published:
    July 10, 2010, 18:08 BST
    Daniel Benson

    AG2R captain exhausted after staying with favourites

    Nicholas Roche (AG2R) continued his fine Tour de France, finishing in the group of yellow jersey favourites on stage 7 from Tournus to Station des Rousses. The Irishman crossed the line in 11th in a group containing the likes of Alberto Contador and Lance Armstrong and moved up to 8th overall after the Tour's first foray into the mountains.

    "I passed the test but I'm exhausted," Roche told Cyclingnews as he ground to a halt after the finish line.

    After downing a bottle of water, the 26-year-old looked up and gave his impression on day that saw all the yellow jersey contenders finish together.

    "I was feeling good but I guess there was a big group at the finish. It just proves that it's going to be pretty tough to stay with these guys," Roche told Cyclingnews.

    Before the final climb of the day Roche's AG2R team helped set a fast pace, but according the Roche the young French team are riding more on gut feeling and passion than experience. "The team did the maximum. We're not a big team but we're decent, with a lot of young guys who are really motivated. There are only four of us who rode the Tour last year and for a lot of them it's just their first or second Tour. We haven't got a lot of experience but everyone is pretty focussed on doing what we can."

    With an even harder stage in the Alps to coming tomorrow, Roche is under no illusion that today's result will mean anything unless he can back it up on the climb to Morzine. However, if his attitude is anything to go by he is at least talking like a contender for the top ten.

    "We've been through a few hard days already and there are so many hard days to come. Every bit of strength and energy has to be saved and calculated. It's just this Tour seems to be one of the hardest with a lot of tricky stages. Tomorrow is another day but it'll be a bit quicker and I don't think Astana will let anyone get away."

    Asked about his own form after the first...

  • Riccò's Tour of Austria in question after time trial crash

    Riccardo Ricco was a gruesome sight as he crossed the line covered in blood.
    Article published:
    July 10, 2010, 18:32 BST
    Cycling News

    Italian suffers bloody nose, unsure of contesting final stage

    Riccardo Riccò is uncertain for the final stage of the Tour of Austria, which he leads after being injured in the stage 7 time trial on Saturday. The Ceramica Flaminia rider plowed head first into a parked motorcycle during his time trial, but managed to finish despite bleeding profusely from a suspected broken nose.

    The accident happened 17km into the 26.3 km time trial. Due to the heavy wind, Riccò, like the other riders, was riding on the right hand side of the street. He was apparently more focused on the overall win than on where he was, and crashed into the motorcycle, which was properly parked. He came away with injuries to his face and left leg, as well as a broken bike frame.

    Riccò changed bikes and continue on, although his nose and knee were bleeding heavily. He finished 51st on the stage, 2:54 down, but still defended his overall lead.

    He was immediately taken to the Eisenstadt hospital. It is not yet known whether he will be at the start of Sunday's final stage. His directeur sportif said, “Riccardo told me on the team bus: I want to win this Tour, if it all possible!”

    The stage win went to Rabobank's Joost Posthuma, in a time of 30:47. Second was HTC-Columbia youngster Patrick Gretsch in 30.58. They were the only two to break the 31 minute barrier, as third placed Artem Ovechkin of Katusha was 46 seconds back.

  • Procycling's daily Tour de France dispatch - stage 7

    Fabian Cancellara melted in the heat, losing his GC lead by many minutes.
    Article published:
    July 10, 2010, 18:45 BST

    Cancellara, Bernaudeau, Heat, Borders, Garmin, Moore

    Vasseur revs up

    Those who expected a more robust yellow jersey defence from Fabian Cancellara on stage 7 of the Tour might want to consider whether an article in this morning's L'Equipe put Spartacus off his game.

    The former Tour maillot jaune and president of the Professional Cyclist's Association (CPA), Cédric Vasseur, alleged in the paper today that the UCI had "hidden certain things in the build-up to the Tour", clearly referring to the recent storm over motorised doping. "It may seem unfair to discredit Fancian Cancellara with no proof, but his performances and numerous bike changes in the Tour of Flanders are at the centre of a big debate," Vasseur said. "I was surprised that he didn't defend himself when the story broke, and that Saxo Bank didn't open the doors of its service course so that we could see inside the bottom bracket of one of his bikes."

    If that wasn't enough to make Cancellara choke on his birchermuesli, we don't know what would be.

    Bernaudeau's alpha mails

    Reports in France on Saturday suggest that Bouygues Telecom could be replaced by the French postal service, or "La Poste", as title sponsors of Jean-René Bernaudeau's team. Should negotiations be successful, Bernaudeau's boys would extend a tradition previously upheld by US Postal Service and Post Swiss – and presumably sport yellow-and-blue, La Poste's corporate colours.

    Turning up the heat in Tournus

    The first mountain stage of this year's Tour was made harder by the warmest day of the race so far, with the mercury at the Stage 7 start in Tournus in the low 30s Celsius and rising. With little cloud cover and humidity clammier than a sticky date pudding, Procycling spotted a lady taken off by stretcher at the Village Départ. Seeing that, we hit the Vittel water stand hard to stave off the threat of dehydration.

    French or Swiss?

  • Leipheimer keeps an eye on Vinokourov

    Levi Leipheimer (Radioshack) takes control on the final climb.
    Article published:
    July 10, 2010, 18:59 BST
    Daniel Benson

    RadioShack racer predicts upcoming Contador-Armstrong battle

    Levi Leipheimer's task during stage 7 of the Tour de France was to mark Alexander Vinokourov (Astana). The RadioShack rider, who finished alongside Vinokourov in the lead group of GC contenders, said that the Astana rider was too dangerous to escape without company from someone on Lance Armstrong's Radioshack squad.

    "I really had to keep my eye on Vino on the last climb because we can't afford to let him go without one of us and my job is to look after him," said Leipheimer at the finish.

    "This is the kind of climb where you expect Vino to attack. He throws caution to the wind and he's got the power to fly up these shallower climbs, but in the end it was just too easy for him to go."

    The stage to Station des Rouses saw Sylvain Chavanel take back the yellow jersey he lost in Arenberg, but behind the Quick Step rider, Astana set the pace on the final climb, with RadioShack paying close attention just behind.

    As for the both team's respective leaders, Leipheimer was unable to make a call on who looked the strongest after a week of racing. "Contador looks good, Lance looks good, but apart from that everyone seemed to be hurting. Those two look really good though. It's the battle we're expecting," he said.

    Leipheimer's form could be crucial if Armstrong is going to challenge for his eighth Tour title. The former podium finisher crashed out of last year's Tour with a broken wrist. After one day of climbing so far in this year's Tour, he was content with his form.

    "I felt pretty good. On the fourth climb, I felt like I was melting but then when they accelerated, I thought I felt not bad and in the last part, I felt pretty good and that makes me happy."