The Belgian rider has his eyes set on stages two and five as possible places to realise his ambitions. Both stages encompass two of Van Avermaet's favourite areas in the calendar, the cobbles and the Ardennes. The second day from York to Sheffield has been described as a mini-Liège-Bastogne-Liège, while Simon Gerrans likened it to Amstel Gold.
"It's a little bit between Amstel and Liege," Van Avermaet told Cyclingnews. "It's a course that suits me. I hope to have a stage victory here in the Tour and that's the main goal. If I can take a stage victory then you can go for yellow, but at the moment you can't think about that just going for a good result in the first week."
This is only Van Avermaet's second Tour de France, after making his debut in 2008. He hasn't ridden a Grand Tour since the 2011 Vuelta a España. The 29-year-old won the points classification at the 2008 Vuelta, but this year's Tour de France gives him a chance to add a much more illustrious jersey to his collection.
Van Avermaet had a good start to the Tour de France, avoiding the final kilometre crash and finishing 13th on the opening stage. The good placing means that the yellow jersey is still within his grasp, although he says that it is not his priority.
"It would be great, but everybody is thinking this...
Spanish crank manufacturer Rotor will soon have a left-crank-only power meter called the Power LT. At the 2014 Tour de France, Lampre-Merida riders are using Rotor cranks with Power2Max spider-based power meters and Rotor Power left cranks on their bikes.
"We are developing a left-crank-only power meter and are using Power2Max to compare the data," Rotor president, Ignacio Estellés, told BikeRadar. "The team is part of the process. But pro riders don’t want to try prototypes; they need gear that works. We know Power2Max is 100 percent accurate, so we are happy to work with them.
"The new Power LT will be announced in the next week," Estellés said.
The power meter market has exploded in recent years, with left-crank-only Stages jumping into the game along with Garmin Vector, and PowerTap lowering its prices. Rotor currently has a power meter, the Rotor Power, that measure left- and right-leg power.
Rotor Power is currently a left/crank meter. Soon there will be a Power LT, a lower-cost option
"We will continue to have our first level power meter, Rotor Power, with left/right measurement," Estellés said. "And with Power LT, we can be competitive with some of the other products out there. It will be good for us to have a family of power meters."
He came down with Simon Gerrans in the sprint finish to Harrogate and although he crossed the line, he was taken to hospital where it was revealed that he had underlined ligament ruptures with an AC-joint dislocation.
“Mark is out of the race, he will not start,” a spokesperson from Omega Pharma-QuickStep told Cyclingnews before the start.
“Yes, he will be with his team at the start but there’s no way that he’s going to start the race. It’s very unfortunate.”
The injured rider traveled with the team to the start, where he spoke briefly with the media.
Cavendish came out from the team bus with his arm in a sling and confirmed that he and the team had taken the decision to pull out at breakfast.
"We knew last night and I knew straight away because normally in crashes I bounce back straight away. This was the first time in my career that I knew something was up, but I wanted to finish and I was able to do that, but I was in pain," he said.
"I had some optimism that the swelling would go down overnight but it’s not possible to start today. I’m absolutely devastated. The Tour is in the UK for anther two days and secondly we have incredible team."
"They rode incredibly yesterday and they will for the next 20 days and I wanted to be part of that success."
"I spoke to Gerrans at the finish and then I called him at his hotel last night too. We both went for Sagan’s...
Gerrans at the start; Kittel doesn't see royalty; Fans must stay off road, riders say; and Ten Dam's eating preferences
Yellow bike for Kittel
Marcel Kittel set off on the second stage resplendent in the Tour de France leader's yellow jersey and riding a special yellow version of his Giant bike.
Kittel rides the Propel Advanced model of Giant bike. It is the company's aero model, with a sleek shape, compact rear triangle, level top tube, shielded rear wheel, clipped down tube tail, and integrated direct-pull brakes.
It also helps Kittel put his huge amount of power down on the road in sprints. Instead of the usual black and yellow look, Kittel's bike has yellow graphics, a yellow rear triangle and bright yellow bar tape.
Kittel also wore yellow and black shorts, a yellow helmet and yellow sunglasses to go with his race leader's yellow jersey.
"I'm pretty sore at the moment. Last night I couldn't believe how I got away so lightly after the crash but I'm a bit stiff and sore. I still hope to come away with something from the stage though," he told Cyclingnews before the start.
"It's so difficult to win stages in the Tour so to try and win when carrying injuries makes it more difficult. Realistically I don't rate my chances that highly but I have high hopes all the same."
The Australian said that he had heard from Mark Cavendish. "He called me last night and apologised and said it was all his fault, that was nice for him to acknowledge. He's out and I'm not going to make decisions for the jury but the fact that he's out is a huge shame for him."
Garmin-Sharp rider working for television after not being selected due to illness
David Millar is at the Tour de France but not as a rider. Following the decision of his Garmin-Sharp team not to select him due to illness, the Scot is working with British television channel ITV during the British stages of the race.
He interviewed Simon Gerrans just before the start and then talked to Cyclingnews. He seemed happy to be at the race, but he still angry that he was not able to ride the Tour de France for one last time.
Garmin-Sharp manager Jonathan Vaughters explained before the start of the Tour that the team's strict selection criteria of not including rider who were ill, meant that there could be no place for Millar, despite his experience and love for the Tour de France.
Garmin-Sharp was understandably worried that Millar would struggle to perform and help team leader Andrew Talansky if he was ill and lacking fitness. Millar was replaced by Ramunas Navardauskas, with the Garmin-Sharp's decision perhaps vindicated after the Lithuanian finished third on stage 1 in Leeds.
"I think it's better being here than not being here. I'd obviously rather have a number on my back and be racing but Cest La Vie," Millar told Cyclingnews.
"I think I'm over it. I'm still angry, but I'm trying to move on. I'm going to training camp next week and I'm going to get ready for the end of the season. The Commonwealth Games is my next ace and after that the Vuelta a Espana. That's all for that now. I'm still fit. I've had a few days off the bike, and then I'll be back into it."
Millar admitted that he understood the team's decision. However it may have caused irreparable damage to Millar's relationship to the team and with team manager Jonathan Vaughters. Millar and Vaughters created the team together after Millar returned...
Omega Pharma-QuickStep directeur sportif Rolf Aldag described his team as a "body without a head" after the departure of its leader Mark Cavendish from the Tour de France. The Manx missile announced this morning that he would abandon the race, due to a dislocated AC joint he suffered in his stage 1 crash.
"It's probably comparable to if Sky lost Froome. It's a super functional body without a head. The body is super strong, but we just need to find our head and that might take a day or two to be fair to the others," Aldag told Cyclingnews ahead of stage 2.
Cavendish is still with the team in Yorkshire, but will leave before the race reaches France. The sprinter will undergo an MRI scan to assess the full extent of the damage to his shoulder before undergoing surgery. Then the team will be able to plan his return to racing. There is hope for Cavendish. Fellow sprinter André Greipel suffered the same kind of injury, also called a dislocated collarbone, at the end of March and was back to racing within a month of having surgery to re-attach two ligaments.
The Belgian team had put almost all of their resources behind Cavendish for the sprints, as he aimed to take the Tour's yellow jersey in his mother's hometown in Harrogate. Aldag admits that his departure will have an impact on the remaining riders, but says that they will still be as strong as ever.
"I think we have to realise that we lost him, because it takes a little while," he said. "As a team we do 280 race days, and we only do 80 with Mark, so we do 200 without him. So we have an idea of what to do without him. Is it ideal? No. Of course it won't be our perfect Tour de France, but we're still here with eight great riders, and we just...
Garmin leader says setting the pace was the best way of staying out of trouble
The series of climbs known as the Strines that lead into Sheffield were always likely to split the peloton asunder, but no one predicted the amount of damage they inflicted, largely thanks to the fiercely insistent pace set by the Garmin-Sharp team. At one point, the American team’s Dutch flyer Tom Jelte Slagter reduced the front group to just 15 members, while shielding his leader Andrew Talansky at the same time.
At the finish, Talansky was delighted with the way the stage had panned out for him and his team. Of their tactics going through the Strines he said: "I just wanted to make the race as hard as possible by keeping ourselves up at the front and out of trouble. Often the best way to do that is to control the race.
"Maybe we were missing one guy to keep the pace on. But Tom Jelte Slagter rode it down to 15 guys just two days into the Tour de France – that’s pretty impressive."
Having gained a huge confidence boost by winning the Criterium du Dauphiné last month, Talansky said he’d got another one today by staying with his GC rivals over terrain that doesn't usually suit him.
"It's no secret that days like today are not my speciality with short, punchy climbs all day," he said. "My speciality is 20-, 30-, 40-minute climbs. But it's mission accomplished. I got through it and am feeling good."
Asked about the main GC contenders duking it out so early in the Tour, Talansky said: "I don’t think we've really seen anything yet. Everybody looks good. We're all at a pretty similar level. Nobody could get away from the rest up the hill. But we're only two days in."
Were the favourites for the yellow jersey playing mind games with each other over the closing 40km, he was then asked? "There may have...
Tejay van Garderen described the Tour de France stage into Sheffield as “brutal” and “crazy”, but said that finishing with all the other yellow jersey contenders showed that he’s in very good condition after battling back from the effects of his crash at the Tour of Romandy in late April.
“It was slow going getting back into racing at the Dauphiné, but I really feel I’m coming into the Tour with all systems go,” said van Garderen.
“I kinda had to get my ass kicked at the Dauphiné to be in good shape here, but I’ve trained well and I’m happy with where I’m at. I think I showed that here today and I think I’ll show it all the way to Paris.”
The American said he was glad to have got through the day “with all my skin and in the same time [as my rivals].” He explained: “The entire stage was crazy with the fans and with just how technical and narrow the roads were. I’m glad to have that day behind me. It was brutal, just brutal.”
He admitted he knew what he was in for having done a recce of the stage. “It was an attritional day – man, it was hard!” he said. “I’m just happy to make it through, but my legs are pretty empty right now.”