Giro winner recovering well from Tour de France injuries
Winner of the 2012 Giro d’Italia, Ryder Hesjedal was one of the unfortunate victims of the crash-marred first week at this year’s Tour de France and had to retire from the race before his Giro-Tour double ambition could really begin. He was however, one of the few riders not to break any bones and with merely heavy bruising and abrasions to his body, he could return to training relatively soon after his departure from the Tour. Hesjedal went out for his first training ride early last week.
"He went out for a training ride [on Monday 9 July] and is feeling better. So, he's pretty upbeat and pretty optimistic that he'll be 100 percent sooner rather than later, because he has to redirect his training," said his coach Gord Fraser.
With the Olympic Games just one week away, it has been a battle against time to ensure his condition is optimal for the 250km race. Hesjedal is the single participant for the men’s road race so he’ll have to play off the other ‘complete’ teams if he’s to be in the running toward the end of the event.
Following on from his Olympic campaign, Hesjedal is confirmed for the two one-day WorldTour rounds in Québec and Montreal. The Garmin-Sharp rider will take to the start line at both the Grand Prix Cycliste de Québec and Montreal one-day races.
"I love competing all over the world, but there is something extra special about racing at home, I look forward to these races all year and am proud and excited to compete at home in Canada," said Hesjedal.
Organisers received the news early this month that the WorldTour licenses to hold both events has been renewed up until 2016.
Vacansoleil-DCM looking to strengthen spring classics roster
Juan Antonio Flecha (Sky) has never been a prolific winner during his thirteen-year professional career but he has won a stage at the Tour de France (2003) and finished on the podium of the cobbled monuments - Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix on more than one occasion.
Flecha fell short of a podium spot at this year’s Paris-Roubaix with a fourth-place finish but when it comes to spring racing, he’s a solid performer for both his team and himself, when given the opportunity. Paris-Roubaix is a race he is determined to win.
Given his track record during the early part of the season, it’s comes as no surprise that a number of teams may be interested in acquiring his services for the coming year. Vacansoleil-DCM is rumoured to be one those after his signature for 2013. According to De Telegraaf, Flecha’s manager Alex Carrera has been in discussions with a few potential teams.
"Team Sky, Liquigas-Cannondale and Movistar have shown interest. At Sky he will, however, work for Edvald Boasson Hagen and Geraint Thomas, while Liquigas has Peter Sagan. With Vacansoleil he would take a leadership role. This speaks to him," said Carrera.
The Vacansoleil-DCM team suffered a major setback this season when their number one classics rider, Björn Leukemans injured himself in the lead-up to some of the major spring races. While he could finish Tour of Flanders, he had to
When he unveiled the 2012 Tour de France route to the world late last year, race director Christian Prudhomme would have envisaged stage 19's 53.5km individual time trial from Bonneval to Chartres having a more decisive impact than it's likely to.
With Bradley Wiggins in a near unassailable position, the stage looks to be more about how much more time the TT specialist can put into his rivals.
In the video below, Daniel Lloyd of Team IG - Sigma Sport rides the penultimate stage Bonneval to Chartres.
Dutchman looking forward to Contador's imminent return
Despite the outstanding form of Bradley Wiggins and Team Sky here at the 2012 Tour de France, there is little doubt that, had he lined up, Alberto Contador would have been the pre-race favourite and the man to beat. He always is - the two-time winner is widely recognised as the best Grand Tour rider of his generation. The Spanish superstar was ruled out of this year's race in February – and stripped of his 2010 Tour title and the 2011 Giro d'Italia crown – following a six-month ban for a positive test for clenbuterol at the 2010 Tour.
Contador's absence from this year's event has been felt at many levels: by the fans, the sponsors, the media and by his Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank team, which has spent much of the 2012 season trying fighting for WorldTour scraps at the back of the peloton. But according to Dutch rider Karsten Kroon, Saxo Bank can be proud of their performances over the last couple of weeks, where they have been conspicuous on the majority of the stages.
Michael Mørkøv and Chris Anker Sørensen have both been involved in multiple breakaways; Mørkøv held the polka dot jersey for the first six stages and Sørensen is certain to finish third in the mountains classification. And despite being unable to resist talking up Contador's imminent comeback to the sport at the Eneco Tour, Kroon told Cyclingnews that the team has defied some lowly expectations here without Contador in its...
"It's a treat," the 23-year-old said about his success. "If you had said at the beginning of the Tour that I was going to be fifth, I would have said you're crazy. I'm super happy."
But at the same time, the American was thoughtful of the shooting tragedy that occurred in Colorado on Friday, killing 12 people and injuring 59. Asked how he would feel riding onto the Champs-Elysées on Sunday, Van Garderen answered, "It's going to be incredible. But I want to dedicate this success to all the people that lost their lives in Colorado in the shooting. It was devastating news. It happened close to my home. I just wanted to say that my thoughts and feelings are with them. I'll be thinking about them when I'll arrive in Paris tomorrow."
Van Garderen also thanked his team and hinted that there would be "something prepared" for George Hincapie in Paris tomorrow. The BMC veteran will be concluding his final Tour de France before taking a well-deserved retirement from the sport.
Such has been the dominance of Team Sky during the 2012 Tour de France that the race had been long since divested of all suspense long before Bradley Wiggins sealed the yellow jersey by winning the final long time trial in Chartres ahead of his teammate Chris Froome.
Throughout the past three weeks, Sky’s men in black have dictated both the pace at the front of the peloton and the narrative of the race itself, to such an extent that Wiggins’ win has at times seemed as much a collective triumph as an individual one.
Asked in his post-race press conference if he was concerned that his Tour win would be remembered as boring, however, Wiggins said that the manner of his victory was simply a product of its times and stressed his belief that the great individual feats of yore were simply no longer possible in the current climate.
“I think the Tour is a lot more human now,” Wiggins said. “If people want to see incredible 220km lone breaks in the mountains, well maybe that’s not realistic anymore, as wonderful and as magical as they were to watch. I remember in the 90s watching people like Virenque, but maybe the sport’s changed now.”
Sky’s cerebral but romance-free approach has hardly thrilled the neutral over the past three weeks, but Wiggins looked to place his win in the context of the ongoing fight against doping. “When we were riding on the front at 450 watts or whatever, someone would attack and Mick Rogers would say ‘just leave him, he can’t sustain it,’” Wiggins said.
Faced with Sky's catenaccio approach to racing in the mountains, Nibali attempted to counter with a more expansive outlook during this Tour de France, but found himself repeatedly thwarted by the offside trap. Nonetheless, his final third place finish offers some reward for his consistently aggressive showing.
"I wanted to put a bit more spectacle into this Tour but there wasn't a lot of space in the mountains to do that," Nibali said. "But in the end, that's how it was, it was hard every day.
"I think I have to be happy, what can I say. Maybe I could have done with some more climbs in this race but in the end, I have to be happy that I was up there with the best of them. I think I can still improve and for now, I'll just content myself with this nice placing."
Nibali now becomes the first Italian to finish on the podium of the Tour de France since Ivan Basso finished second to Lance Armstrong in 2005, a result overshadowed by Basso's subsequent implication in the Operacion Puerto blood doping investigation.
After winning the 2010 Vuelta a España and finishing on the podium of the Giro d'Italia in both 2010 and 2011, Nibali's Tour performance reaffirms his standing as one of the most consistent Grand Tour...