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Second Edition Cycling News, Sunday, July 4, 2010

Date published:
July 04, 2010, 1:00 BST
  • Team NetApp looking to move up to ProTour by 2012

    The Team NetApp jersey
    Article published:
    July 04, 2010, 10:35 BST
    Susan Westemeyer

    German Continental team applies for Professional Continental status for 2011

    Little German team NetApp is dreaming big. The Continental team is hoping to become a Professional Continental team in 2011, with ProTour status and a ride in the Tour de France the goal after that.

    The team, which is only in its first year of existence, hopes to be in the Tour de France by 2012. “We will set forth our continuing structure and provide a solid financial backing, so that we can ride in every class,” said Andreas König, the European director for the US-based NetApp.

    The team has said it would apply for a 2011 Professional Continental licence this summer. The team, led by former pro rider Jens Heppner and Enrico Poitschke, would have to increase from 14 to 18 riders, but the team doesn't want to aim too high. “A rider like Andre Greipel would not be in our calibre,” according to team manager Ralph Denk.

    If Gerry van Gerwen is unable to find a new sponsor to take over from Milram, NetApp could become the top German team in 2011. “We could be the number one in Germany but I would be happy if Milram continues – that would be good for cycling here,” Denk said.

    The NetApp team takes a strong stance against doping. “We have very hard contracts regarding that,” Denk said. “Our riders must provide DNA samples and their doctors will be released from the confidentiality requirements. Plus our riders will have the UCI's biological passport in the coming year.”

  • Cavendish's Tour starts today

    Mark Cavendish (HTC-Columbia)
    Article published:
    July 04, 2010, 13:53 BST
    Les Clarke

    First sprint stage crucial to HTC-Columbia

    HTC-Columbia advisor and Mark Cavendish confidant Erik Zabel believes that the Manxman's Tour de France starts in earnest today and that the dramas of the previous six months won't matter if he's able to win in Brussels.

    The six-time Tour de France points classification winner told Cyclingnews during a recent interview that today's 223.5km romp to the Belgian capital will be vital to the confidence of Cavendish and the HTC-Columbia team.

    "I think Cav's Tour starts on Sunday morning on the first stage from Rotterdam to Brussels - it's a perfect stage for him," said Zabel. "If everything goes well and he can be in the first group to sprint into Brussels then everything will be good.

    "This first stage is so important for sprinters to have confidence in their teammates and become confident themselves. Winning the first stage would be great for us."

    Zabel, who has been instrumental in Cavendish's recent rise to sprinting superstardom, explained that the drama surrounding his charge - the dental abcess and the headlines about his behaviour on and off the bike - will count for little, especially if the 'Manxman Missile' is successful early in the race.

    "It doesn't matter what has happened to Cav in the last few months - now we are at the Tour and he is so motivated to ride well and do a good Tour," Zabel said.

    "We have Bernie Eisel, Tony Martin, Mark Renshaw and Cav [for the sprints] and maybe Adam Hansen. These guys have to build a train over the last kilometres and I expect that a lot of teams and sprinters will have a good look at these HTC-Columbia guys and will follow them."

    Many observers have been talking about Cavendish's chances in the points classification, which he failed to win during the past two editions of the Tour, despite winning four stages in 2008 and an incredible six last year. While his leadup to this edition hasn't been ideal, the goal is to remain consistent in 2010 and do what he...

  • Stapleton confirms he had merger talks with Riis

    Team Columbia general manager Bob Stapleton
    Article published:
    July 04, 2010, 13:55 BST
    Daniel Benson

    Is HTC-Columbia team owner ready to let Greipel leave?

    Bob Stapleton has confirmed to Cyclingnews that he talked to Bjarne Riis earlier in the season about the possibility of merging their two squads: HTC-Columbia and Saxo Bank. However he downplayed the significance of the conversation saying that no formal negotiations ever took place.

    Stapleton also talked about the prospect of Andre Greipel leaving HTC-Columbia. The German’s long-term future at the team is uncertain after he again missed out on selection for the Tour de France. Media speculation has linked the Greipel with a move to Omega Pharma-Lotto. In April, Omega Pharma-Lotto team manager Marc Sergeant confirmed to Cyclingnews that he was on the look out for a new sprinter and that Greipel was high on his shopping list.

    Rumours that Riis and Stapleton had met to discuss a possible merger had been circulating for a number of weeks, but according to the American it was a third party, and not Riis or himself, who initiated the conversation between the two team bosses.

    “I’m very open minded about talking to a lot of the teams about a lot of different things. Where I come from, mergers and acquisitions are typical, our company was built on hundreds of them,” Stapleton told Cyclingnews, referring to his past in the mobile communications industry.

    “We had a discussion but decided to do our own thing. It was a third party that encouraged us to talk and it was a friendly chat or checking in. There were no negotiations. There are discussions going on like that with lots of parties. It’s a legitimate strategy.”

    Stapleton, like Riis, began his career as a team boss by picking up the pieces of struggling squads. Stapleton rescued T-Mobile while Riis took over at CSC before a number a rebuilds took place. Stapleton admitted that Riis' success is something he has tried to imitate, developing some of the Dane’s more successful moves.

    “I want to...

  • On the startline in Rotterdam

    FDJ riders gather at the start
    Article published:
    July 04, 2010, 15:17 BST
    Daniel Benson

    Photos from stage 1 of the Tour de France

    After yesterday’s downpour, bright skies and sunshine greeted the peloton on the startline in Rotterdam on Sunday. The peloton were already missing two riders – Mathias Frank (BMC) and Manuel Cardoso (Footon-Servetto) were unable to start due to injuries they’d suffered in yesterday’s prologue – but for the rest of the field 223.5km of racing from Rotterdam to Brussels lay ahead.

    Geraint Thomas sported his British road national jersey for the first time and told Cyclingnews that a retro approach involving black shorts was the way forward. Sky will be looking to set up Edvald Boasson Hagen in the expected sprint finish.

    However Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Transitions) and Mark Cavendish will lined up as the favourites for the win. Farrar finished a superb seventh in yesterday’s prologue, while Cavendish won six stages last year and is eager to prove he still has the speed in his legs.

  • Thomas shows off British national champion's jersey

    Geraint Thomas in the British national champs jersey
    Article published:
    July 04, 2010, 15:50 BST
    Richard Moore

    Team Sky rider impresses with fifth in prologue

    Sunday's first stage of the Tour de France saw the return to the peloton of a national champion's jersey that hasn't been spotted in the world's top race for eighteen years.

    Incredible though it may seem, given the recent resurgence in British cycling, the white jersey with its horizontal red and blue bands did not feature in the Tour de France peloton between 1992, when Sean Yates wore it, and Sunday, when Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) pulled it on for the first time since winning the British title last Sunday.

    Yates, who is now Thomas's directeur sportif at Team Sky, was oblivious to the fact that he was the last rider to wear the jersey at the Tour, until Thomas told him.

    On Saturday Thomas came close to wearing another predominantly white jersey, that of best young rider, thanks to his fifth place in the prologue. But another young rider, Tony Martin (HTC-Columbia), finished ahead of him, in second place, to claim the coveted white jersey.

    Had Martin won, Thomas would have worn white by default. "But I'm glad that's not the case," Thomas said. "I don't want to wear a jersey unless I've earned it. I'm more than happy to wear this one. It's about time it was back in the Tour and I really want to do it proud."

    "It feels very special," added Thomas. "I only got the jersey on Friday, and a new helmet, too, with the Union Jack on it. But I'm not getting white shorts, no way. You've got to have black shorts, with a little flag - keep it subtle."

    Sartorial matters aside, it was Thomas's performance on Saturday that stood out. He blasted around the 8.9km course in the fifth fastest time, just a second behind Lance Armstrong (RadioShack) and four ahead of the defending champion, Alberto Contador (Astana).

    "I'd have loved to have beaten Armstrong," said Thomas, who completed his ride before the rain stopped. "It was pouring down," said Thomas, who - according to the team's coach, Rod Ellingworth - took risks on the...

  • Boonen disappointed not to be riding the Tour

    Tom Boonen (Quick Step)
    Article published:
    July 04, 2010, 16:04 BST
    Hedwig Kröner

    Quick Step sprinter tips Farrar to win

    Tom Boonen is still very disappointed not to be part of this year's Tour de France. The Belgian had to skip the event due to tendonitis in his knee, but was at the start of stage one in Rotterdam to greet his teammates before the stage to Brussels in Belgium.

    "It's a bit strange to be here with the other guys, who are getting ready for the stage," he told Cyclingnews.

    "I didn't think it was going to be a problem being here, but it actually is. When you're at home, it is not so difficult because you're busy doing other things. But once you come here, and you see all your teammates prepare for the start... I didn't think it would be that difficult."

    After the start of the stage, Boonen headed to Meise, ten kilometres away from the finish in Brussels, to watch the race at the Eddy Merckx factory. The stage route passes the five-time Tour de France winner's home to celebrate Merckx's 65th birthday.

    "The first stage of the Tour is always difficult," Boonen said of the stage. "Luckily, today, the weather is great, and there is not going to be a lot of wind after all. But it'll be nervous, even if the roads that they take are going to wider than those that were used at the Giro."

    Long finishing straight suits Farrar

    Boonen's favourite for the day's victory is Garmin-Transitions' Tyler Farrar. He thinks the American may be best suited to the Tour's longest finishing straight, which is also slightly uphill.

    "I never did a good sprint on that finish, never! I finished second once, but it is a very hard sprint because you see the line with 900 metres to go. You have to wait a long time before starting the sprint. But as I could see yesterday at the prologue, Farrar is doing really well. He has increased his form in the last 2-3 months and the Tour is his great objective, so I think he's the big favourite today."

    Boonen is still off the bike, and is only allowed to do some swimming to keep in...

  • Farrar misses sprint, determined to fight for green

    Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Transitions) needed some help to make it to the finish
    Article published:
    July 04, 2010, 18:47 BST
    Daniel Benson

    Garmin-Transitions sprinter in the hunt for stage win

    Tyler Farrar was taken out of a stage winning position on stage 1 of the Tour de France in Brussels on Sunday. The Garmin-Transitions sprinter tangled wheels with Lloyd Mondory (AG2R) inside the final 300 meters and was unable to sprint for the line as he dragged the Frenchman’s bike along the tarmac. Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre) won the stage.

    “He did a classic Lloyd Mondory move,” Farrar told Cyclingnews as he dragged his own damaged bike to the team bus. “He decided to try and commit suicide into my back wheel with 300 meters to go when I was with Petacchi and Renshaw.”

    The stage was marred by a number of crashes in the final few kilometres. Stage favourite Mark Cavendish (HTC-Columbia) went down along with Oscar Freire (Rabobank) inside the final two kilometres before another crash in the final kilometre ruled out several other sprinters.

    Leading into the final 500 metres the battle was set to be decided by Farrar, Mark Renshaw, Petacchi and Thor Hushovd, but just when Petacchi swung to the left Mondory and Farrar tangled. “He ran into my back wheel and my derailleur stuck in his front wheel. I dragged his bike 100 meters down the road. I didn’t come off.”

    Despite the late crash and subsequent lack of points for the green jersey, Farrar praised his team for the work they had done during the stage and especially the final few kilometres. “I felt good but the guys were perfect today. They did exactly what they needed to do. You can’t help something like this.”

    The first week of a Grand Tour - especially the Tour de France - is typically sprinkled with crashes and injuries as nervous riders battle for an early win. When asked if the crashes that littered today’s stage were a result of overall contenders being near the front or too little respect for sprinters, Farrar said. “It’s just everyone is nervous it’s the first field...

  • Petacchi back to Tour success after six-year absence

    Italy's Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre - Farnese Vini) won a chaotic finale in Brussels.
    Article published:
    July 04, 2010, 19:37 BST
    Jean-François Quénet

    Italian convinced that he could have beaten Cavendish

    Alessandro Petacchi hadn’t won a stage in the Tour de France since 2003 and surprisingly the most successful sprinter of the last decade has only raced fourteen days (in 2003 and 2004) at the world’s biggest race.

    He won four stages in 2003 but quit the 2004 after stage six and had not returned the Tour since then.
    “It’s been partly my choice that I haven’t come back at the Tour de France for the past six years, partly because of a crash and also for other reasons." Petacchi said.

    The Italian fractured his kneecap on stage 3 of the 2006 Giro d’Italia and that accident almost ended his career. A positive dope test for Salbutamol at the 2007 Giro d’Italia was another blow. He was eventually banned and lost some of his victories. Since then the anti-doping regulations have changed and a high level of Salbutamol no longer sparks a positive test if the athlete suffers from allergies and has a Therapeutic Use Exemption certificate. Petacchi had the Tour de France on his program in 2008 but he lost his CAS appeal and subsequently lost his job at Milram and was banned in July.

    “This morning at the start of the stage, I felt the tension of the Tour de France again”, Petacchi said with a hint of satisfaction.

    “During the stage, the memories of the last two Tour de France I did, came back to mind. It’s wonderful to win again at the Tour. It was a risky sprint. But to win at my age (36) gives me hopes for the future. I’m contracted with Lampre again for next year. This is also a reward for the Galbusera family, who own the Lampre company and for Team Manager Giuseppe Saronni who have believed in my comeback.”

    Petacchi refuted the idea that his win was unexpected and the result of Mark Cavendish’s crash.

    “There’s always a lot of confusion in the first sprint of the Tour”, the Italian said. “I don’t know what...