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The BMC Teammachine of the American GC hopeful
Hyper-aggressive position for the sprint lead-out
How much air pressure pros use at the Tour de France
National theme bike for Tour's lone Japanese rider
Sprick unhappy with Sanchez in Stage 13 finale
Argos-Shimano gave themselves plenty of opportunities for the win at the Tour de France on Saturday with Roy Curvers in the early break and Matthieu Sprick escaping with Rabobank's Luis Leon Sanchez with a kilometre left to race on Stage 13.
Sprick and Sanchez were chased down by a reduced field, led somewhat surprisingly by maillot jaune Bradley Wiggins (Sky) who was attempting to deliver Edvald Boasson Hagen to victory.
While Sanchez blamed Wiggins for his failure to stay away, Sprink believed that responsibility lay his fellow escapee.
"But Sanchez didn't cooperate", Sprick said afterwards on the team website.
"I don't know if he was tired or just thought that we would stay away anyway, but I knew that we had to pull hard to make it. I also knew that the last two kilometres were slightly uphill. That was a possibility for me, because I don't stand a chance in a sprint with guys like André Greipel, Peter Sagan and Boasson Hagen. We had to work together in order to make it."
Sprick was quickly swallowed up and crossed the finish line in 21st position on the same time as stage winner, Greipel.
Sprick is riding his sixth Tour de France, and last week extended his contract with Argos-Shimano through until the end of 2013.
But RadioShack-Nissan boss can't see race leader cracking
Great Britain currently occupies the top two spots in the general classification at the 2012 Tour de France, with Bradley Wiggins just over two minutes ahead of his Team Sky colleague Chris Froome. And RadioShack-Nissan's Johan Bruyneel can't see anyone making a sustained or significant challenge to their dominance as the Tour enters its final week.
Bruyneel is currently on holiday with his family on the Spanish island of Mallorca. Normally he would be with his team at the Tour but he has kept a distance following his implication in the USADA/Lance Armstrong dpoing affair. Bruyneel was the sporting director of the US Postal team that guided Armstrong to unprecedented levels of success at the Tour de France and that success has now been called into question by the doping charges levelled at Armstrong, his doctors and other members of his team and staff.
"Will Bradley Wiggins crack in the Pyranees or will he not? Personally I can't see it happening. He has the strongest team," Bruyneel told Sportwereld.
"He has been very comfortable in yellow and the penultimate stage is a time trial. I expect the Englishman to be one-and-a-half or even two minutes faster than [Vincenzo] Nibali, [Jurgen] Van Den Broeck and [Cadel] Evans."
Bruyneel reserved some special praise for Froome, arguing that, if his team enabled him to be, he could be a real threat to Wiggins. But according to Bruyneel Froome knows his place and will not be allowed to challenge his more experience teammate.
"[Froome] is actually the most dangerous opponent," he said. "He is also fresher than Wiggins, who has been at the same level since Paris-Nice. Froome only started at this level at...
BMC rider still suffering from season-long viral infection
The viral infection that has plagued Thor Hushovd all season continues to affect him. The BMC Racing Team rider was forced to abandon the Tour of Poland, and his participation in the 2012 London Olympics is now in question.
The Norwegian is still ill and “the body is not working properly,“ his personal trainer, Atle Kvålsvoll, told Procycling.no. “There was no point in pushing more.”
The 2010 World Champion has struggled all season. Before Poland, his last race was the Giro d'Italia which he abandoned on the sixth stage, saying he had “nothing to give.” He was not named to ride the Tour de France, which he had ridden every year since 2002.
After his long break from racing, it was thought his health had been restored, but it has become apparent that this is not the case.
Hushovd was named as road captain for the five-man Norwegian Olympic road race team and the Olympic committee has already informed of the sitution. A decision as to his participation is expected early next week, and it may well be that he does not attend.
“Yes, it can be like that. Poland did not go as we had hoped, and we have to look at the consequences. Samples shall be taken now and then he will be followed up closely by the BMC doctors before taking a decision,” Kvålsvoll said.
Sky rider sacrifices 2012 chance for Wiggins, but looks to lead team in 2013
It is not easy for Christopher Froome to be number two in the 2012 Tour de France. He wants to be number one, but knows that this year that is not possible, as it is his duty to support Sky captain Bradley Wiggins. He sees his chance as team captain perhaps in the coming year.
“This is a very, very large sacrifice,” he told L'Equipe. “I know that I can win this Tour – but not with Sky. We made our plans around Wiggins and everyone respects that.”
But that is “difficult” because “you don't often have the chance in life to win a Tour. But that is my job.”
Why Wiggins this year and not Froome? “This Tour has more than 100 kilometers of time trial, so we made the internal decision that I would accompany Wiggins in the mountains with an even temp and that he would build up an advantage in the time trials and that way we will win the Tour.”
Froome hopes that it will perhaps be the other way around next year. The course for the 2013 Tour has not yet been announced, but as the 100th running, a challenging course is expected. “If if is mountainous, I hope that Sky will behave fairly and put all my teammates at my service. Wiggins is an honourable guy, he will pay me back for my work – I know that he will help me.”
According to Froome, climbing “is not ... (Wiggins') strength”, which opens a possibility for Froome this year. “If I have the feeling that we are losing the race, I will follow the best, whether that is Evans or Nibali,” he said. Not for himself, but “to keep our chances intact” and “to secure Sky's presence at the very...
Confusion reigns as Evans punctures on Mur de Péguère descent
The complex unwritten rules of the peloton had to be consulted on the hoof during the descent of the Mur de Péguère on stage 14 of the Tour de France, as Cadel Evans (BMC) suffered a series of punctures after tacks were strewn across the road ahead of the yellow jersey group's passage. As the defending champion stood at the roadside waiting for a replacement wheel, the bunch was caught in two minds as to whether to wait for him or to continue on its course.
To the apparent agreement of the other overall contenders, race leader Bradley Wiggins's Sky team had slowed the pace at the beginning of the descent on learning of Evans' misfortune, but an attack from Pierre Rolland (Europcar) saw the détente in the peloton quickly dissolve.
First the Lotto Belisol team of Jurgen Van Den Broeck (5th at 4:48) and then the Liquigas-Cannondale squad of Vincenzo Nibali (3rd at 2:23) gave fierce chase to Rolland, who they considered a threat given that he started the day in 9th place, 8:31 off the pace. All of this, while Evans – 4th at 3:19 – was engaged in his own desperate pursuit of the rear end of the peloton, a task complicated by the three punctures he suffered on the way down.
When the impetuous Rolland was eventually brought to heel, however, both Lotto and Liquigas reined in their efforts, and Evans was eventually able to latch back on to the 80-strong main peloton as it approached the finish in Foix. After all the drama of the descent, the situation among the favourites remained unchanged at the day's end.
On crossing the line, Vincenzo Nibali was keen to stress that his team had acted only to shut down Rolland rather than to distance Evans, although he acknowledged that there was confusion in the peloton as the long...
Spaniard slips away for traditional win
Sanchez has now won four stages in the past five editions of the Tour, a remarkable haul for a non-specialist. The sequence began when he triumphed in Aurillac in 2008, and he repeated the feat at Saint-Girons the following year. A 10th place overall finish in 2010 limited the Spaniard's freedom to sniff out his usual winning break, but he returned to the podium at Saint-Flour at the end of the opening week last year.
Opportunities for the escape artists have been somewhat limited at this year's Tour, but amid all the brute force on show – André Greipel, Peter Sagan and the powerful Sky team have dominated proceedings to date – there was still just enough scope for a rider of Sanchez's finesse to sniff out an opening on the rugged road to Foix.
"This year it just seemed impossible to win a stage, but eventually we succeeded," Sanchez smiled after the finish, although the Spaniard was referring more to his travails and that of his Rabobank team than to the general tendency of this year's Tour.
From a personal standpoint, Sanchez's Tour began disastrously when he suffered a heavy fall on the first road stage in Liège and while he was struggling on the back of the peloton during a crash-marred opening week, his Rabobank team's general classification challenge was falling apart.
In spite of his wrist injury, Sanchez managed to raise himself to enter the race-winning break on the road to Bellegarde-sur-Valserine last week, but...
Respects Wiggins for waiting on Evans
Fränk Schleck (RadioShack-Nissan) was in a prime position on stage 14 of the Tour de France to witness first hand the damage created by tacks on the road. A number of riders, including defending champion Cadel Evans and several of Schleck’s teammates suffered punctures on the top of the Mur de Péguère.
It turned a mundane stage as far as the race’s GC was concerned into a full tilt chase between BMC and the front of the race.
Coming the top of the climb and with Evans still waiting for a new wheel Pierre Rolland (Europcar) attacked. The Frenchman later denied any knowledge of the punctures behind but his acceleration had prompted Liquigas and Lotto to chase in a bid to defend their GC aspirations.
In this exclusive video for Cyclingnews Schleck recounts the attack from the Europcar rider and his praise for Sky and Bradley Wiggins who organised the peloton’s wait for Evans before reeling in Rolland.
With speculation that RadioShack-Nissan could fold at the end of the year under financial pressure and that Jackob Fuglsang is suing the parent company for unpaid wages, Schleck, who sits 12th in this year’s Tour was also asked if the rumours were true and if he himself had been paid his salary. Watch the video here.
Evans hoping for karmic justice against saboteurs
Stage 14 of the Tour de France came to life for the wrong reasons when a number of riders fell victim to a spate of tacks strewn across the road on the final climb of the day.
At the summit of the Mur de Péguère and with the GC battle seemingly shelved for another day, Cadel Evans was the highest profile rider to suffer an untimely puncture. With his rivals racing down the descent and to the finish in Foix, Evans had to wait what seemed like an eternity before assistance came. Only when it did arrive in the form Steven Cummings, Evans was greeted by a teammate with a puncture in each of his wheels.
The wait went on but finally, after much remonstrating on the side of the road, Evans was able to give chase. However, another puncture on the descent cost the defending Tour champion even more time. Help was still at hand when Jim Ochowicz leapt from the BMC team car but his footing gave way leaving the team manager sliding into the ditch and Evans once again cursing his luck.
The comedy of errors was finally put to rest when Evans was joined by a number of his teammates and eventually made contact with the peloton before the finish, in part due to race leader Bradley Wiggins calling for a truce.
When asked about those who had thrown tacks on the road, Evans said, "The world’s full of people like that unfortunately. Well, not full, but abundant. When you’re in a bike race and people see something they can gain whether it’s a protest or something they can gain from you as someone who is reasonably well-known. That’s the way it goes, hopefully in life karma comes around."
The Australian said he had no way to avoid the small, sharp upholstery tacks, which caused punctures for dozens of riders.