A close-up look at the Australian's purpose-built ride
Australian's 2015 Tinkoff-Saxo team bike
Winner of the 2015 Tour Down Under
New and old kicks and lids seen at WorldTour race
Six-minute deficit for the French FDJ climber
Thibaut Pinot didn’t stop on the finishing line of Ax 3 Domaines to comment on his mediocre showing in the first mountain stage at the Tour de France but the feeling of devastation was visible on his face.
"I spoke with him," FDJ team manager Marc Madiot said. "He's very disappointed, for himself, for his teammates. He didn't want to talk tonight. It was time to evacuate from different kinds of pressure, including the one from the media."
Madiot reassured the 23-year-old as they spoke about his weakness in the downhill. He got dropped riding down from the Col de Pailhères. At the bottom of the final climb to Ax 3 Domaines, he needed a bike change after his earpiece connection got stuck in his back wheel - he wanted to get rid of it because of the stress he encountered.
"The Tour de France is a long affair," Madiot told him. "A lot of riders are already very tired but you're not."
"This kind of stage is very difficult for a rider like Thibaut who gets scared at high speed", FDJ directeur sportif Thierry Bricaud noted. "Today it was very fast, sometimes between 90 and 100km/h. He's actually not that bad going downhill, he has improved but he still needs to improve more. He's very disappointed but the Tour is far from over. The Alps will be difficult. For him to make the top-10, he has to take riders like Cadel Evans as a point of reference, not Chris Froome. And we see that Evans is not far from him. Today Thibaut is not where he should be and he knows it well. We're looking forward to the coming stages because he's got pride. He'll do his best to make it up."
"There are a lot of expectations because he's a Frenchman and he put the level very high last year", Madiot...
Russian businessman ready to become first sponsor in 2014
The Saxo-Tinkoff team owner and manager has kept a low profile this season and especially at the Tour de France. He strangely opted to miss the opening two stages in Corsica and then left the race after the team time trial in Nice.
The Dane has been pursued by the Danish media after yet more revelations about doping under his tenure as team manager. Tyler Hamilton made a series of accusations in is book "The Secret Race" and Laurent Jalabert has been discredited and dropped by French television for the Tour de France after it was revealed EPO was discovered in one of his urine samples from the 1998 Tour de France.
Riis revealed that Anti-Doping Denmark has begun to investigate his time as a rider and a team manager. He used it as a reason not comment further but it seems the investigation could be as thorough as the USADA probe into Lance Armstrong.
Riis was nicknamed 'Mr. 60%' for his alleged sky high haematocrit in the nineties. He confessed to doping in 2007 but insisted to Cyclingnews recently that he deserves to stay in the sport.
Despite the pressure Riis to explain his murky past, he continues to have full support from current second-name sponsor Tinkoff Bank and the Russian...
Luxembourger concedes ground at Ax 3 Domaines
Andy Schleck (RadioShack-Leopard) slid out of the battle for final overall victory at the Tour de France on Saturday’s first mountain stage to Ax 3 Domaines but the Luxembourger remained optimistic about his chances of making an impact later in the race.
Schleck was with the leaders at the foot of the final climb but he was one of many riders dropped when Sky’s Richie Porte took over on the front to set up stage victory for his teammate Chris Froome. Schleck finished the stage in 21st place, 3:34 down on Froome.
Given his travails over the past two years, RadioShack had downplayed Schleck’s chances before the Tour began although his solid negotiation of the tricky early week provided some grounds for optimism.
“I had to let them go, but I was happy to be in that small group at the bottom of the last climb,” Schleck told his team website. “The rhythm was a bit too hard for me, though; I can’t deny that. I decided immediately to do the climb in my own pace. Some people hoped for a ‘from zero to hero’ moment from me but we didn’t get this scenario. I will not win this Tour de France but I knew before the start I was not a favourite. There are still good moments to come in this Tour.”
Schleck paid tribute to the efforts of Froome and Porte, who finished first and second on the stage and have seized control of the overall standings, although he warned that they could pay for their efforts later in the race.
“I give big respect to Sky. They were impressive and deserved this victory, but this is just the first of the mountain stages,” he said.” The Tour is still long. They can pay later for what they do now.”
Schleck was reluctant, too, to write off the chances of his old sparring partner Alberto Contador, with whom he shared a memorable duel on Ax 3 Domaines in the 2010 Tour. “It’s hard to judge him today. There...
Australian debutant abandons ahead of stage 9
Rohan Dennis (Garmin-Sharp) has abandoned the Tour de France ahead of stage 9 to Bagnères-de-Bigorre. The 23-year-old Australian was making his Tour debut with the stated goal of gaining experience and his team took the decision to withdraw him from the race following the opening stage in the Pyrenees.
Dennis was the last rider to cross the line at the summit of Ax 3 Domaines on Saturday, 38 minutes down on winner Chris Froome (Sky) and seven minutes behind the gruppetto, after paying for his efforts in the opening week. The young talent had forced his way into the Tour team with a strong showing at June’s Critérium du Dauphiné.
“Having the opportunity to ride my first Tour at my age was incredible and a huge honour,” Dennis said. “I would have liked to make it a little longer in the race but now it’s time to go home and rest and recover. I'm very thankful for the support of my team and I know the guys will continue to do a great race.”
In a statement released on Sunday morning, Garmin-Sharp paid tribute to the neo-professional Dennis’ efforts in the opening week and said that his participation in the race would have been reviewed on the Tour’s first rest day on Monday in any case.
“We wanted to get him through the first rest day and we're only a day short of that. He did a fantastic job here and we're proud of how he rode for the team,” the Garmin-Sharp statement said. “Now he'll go home, rest, recover, and focus on the rest of his season with the benefit of having ridden his first Tour de France.”
Argos-Shimano rider previews difficult day to Bagnères-de-Bigorre
Rolling across the line more than 30 minutes behind stage winner Chris Froome (Sky) was of no real concern to Argos-Shimano's Koen de Kort who, in this exclusive video with Cyclingnews explained that the stage to Ax 3 Domaines was simply a matter of surviving. Today's stage from Saint-Girons to Bagnères-de-Bigorre however, would not be so simple. The 168.5km stage may not split the GC riders up as much as the previous day but with the stage constantly going up and down and with five categorise climbs; one Cat.2 and four Cat.1's, making the time cut is going to be even harder.
"With such a long flat section to begin with you know you are going to finish in time. So it's not too difficult, it's actually all right today," De Kort told Cyclingnews.
"I didn't really have a role today," added De Kort after stating the main objective for Stage 8 wad to simply "survive". "I guess that's going to happen in the next week when we get the sprinter's stages again."
"Tomorrow [Stage 9] is going to be a pretty tough stage. It's going to be really hard to finish within time cut because it just goes up and down all day. That'll hurt definitely. I'm not looking forward to that."
The Dutchman has enjoyed a busy week looking after the team's sprinters Marcel Kittel and John Degenkolb on the flat stages but intends to chase some personal glory before the race reaches Paris. Starting the three-week race with a minor illness meant De Kort has not been at his usual level but if he can get his normal legs back, he'll look to challenge for a...
Froome sets out for first day in yellow
Chris Froome’s (Sky’s) first day in yellow was in the picturesque Ariege town of Saint-Girons as he prepared for the start of stage 9 to Bagneres-de-Bigorre. With the British team’s powerful display on the first day in the mountains out of the way, the riders got ready for a second arduous day in the Pyrenees: five categorised climbs awaited them and a number of riders could be seen warming up on the rollers in the hope of entering the early break.
Alberto Contador (Saxo-Tinkoff), Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) and Cadel Evans (BMC) were put on the back foot after Sky's twin offensive on Saturday afternoon but as they set off from Saint-Girons on Sunday morning, they were aware that the stage's terrain would provide the opportunity to offer an immediate response.
Sprinters such as Andre Greipel and Mark Cavendish, meanwhile, faced into the day with a degree of trepidation, eager to survive and live on to fight another day after Monday's rest day. Check out Cyclingnews' gallery from the start line here.
Dane sees yellow jersey chase as game over
In the aftermath of Team Sky’s powerful performance on the Tour de France’s first mountain stage, Jakob Fuglsang (Astana) suggested the race for the yellow jersey was already over.
"It’s early, but it looks like its going to be difficult to do anything about it," said the Dane referring to Team’s Sky’s hold on first and second on the general classification.
Chris Froome (Sky) and his teammate Richie Porte placed first and second on stage 8 to the Ax-3-Domaines ski station. By dint of time gained, they took a commanding GC lead too: Froome is 51 seconds ahead of Porte and 1min25sec ahead of Alejandro Valverde (Movistar). Fuglsang lies 17th – almost 3min30 behind Chris Froome (Sky).
"They [Team Sky] were by far the strongest today and they did an impressive ride," added Fuglsang.
"Richie was pulling really, really strong and I think he was the one who blew everyone into pieces."
Fuglsang – lacking team climbing support after Janez Brajkovic and Fredrik Kessiakoff retired through injury earlier this week – said he went into survival mode on the final climb to the Pyrenean ski station.
"On the first part I was trying to hang on there, but at one point I blew myself up a bit. Then it was all about surviving and trying to make my own pace," he said. "I had difficulty even holding the wheels of the guys who passed me."
Despite Sky’s apparent stranglehold on GC, Fuglsang said: "There are still a lot of guys who are going to fight for the secondary spots - the top five and the top ten. There will still be a bike race going on and I think the Spanish will see if they can conquer the Sky guys."
Frenchman on retrospective testing from 1998 Tour Richard Virenque hopes that every rider from the 1998 Festina team is included in the French Senate’s list of positive samples from that year's Tour de France. Speaking after the first mountain stage of this year's Tour, Virenque, who was expelled from the 1998 race after Festina soigneur, Willy Voet, was arrested with doping products, told Cyclingnews that it would be scandal if all nine Festina were not among the positives. The Tour was marred by the seizure of drugs within Festina, hotel raids, and a raft of teams leaving the race. Marco Pantani was eventual winner of the race but UCI president Pat McQuaid has already gone on record stating that the UCI would consider stripping the late Italian of his crown if he was also among those who tested positive. The tests are part of a retroactive inquiry carried out by the French Anti-Doping Agency AFLD in 2004. The retroactive testing was part of a French Senate inquiry into the effectiveness of the fight against doping in France. "There were controls before the start of the 1998 Tour de France and these were all frozen. Fifteen years later I've found out that there were a number of positives. I hope that in the names there are all the Festina riders because if not then it's a scandal because that year we had to leave the race and there were lots of attacks on our team for several years. I got a one-year suspension and they forced me to talk about the truth of doping," Virenque told Cyclingnews. Despite a number of his teammates immediately admitting to doping after the Festina Affair, Virenque maintained his innocence until a court case in 2000, and even published a defence called “Ma Verité” (My Truth) in the intervening period.
Virenque now works for Eurosport as a commentator but said that his situation was different to that of Laurent Jalabert, another French rider who took part in the 1998 Tour. Jalabert left the race...
Frenchman on retrospective testing from 1998 Tour
Richard Virenque hopes that every rider from the 1998 Festina team is included in the French Senate’s list of positive samples from that year's Tour de France.
Speaking after the first mountain stage of this year's Tour, Virenque, who was expelled from the 1998 race after Festina soigneur, Willy Voet, was arrested with doping products, told Cyclingnews that it would be scandal if all nine Festina were not among the positives.
The Tour was marred by the seizure of drugs within Festina, hotel raids, and a raft of teams leaving the race. Marco Pantani was eventual winner of the race but UCI president Pat McQuaid has already gone on record stating that the UCI would consider stripping the late Italian of his crown if he was also among those who tested positive.
The tests are part of a retroactive inquiry carried out by the French Anti-Doping Agency AFLD in 2004. The retroactive testing was part of a French Senate inquiry into the effectiveness of the fight against doping in France.
"There were controls before the start of the 1998 Tour de France and these were all frozen. Fifteen years later I've found out that there were a number of positives. I hope that in the names there are all the Festina riders because if not then it's a scandal because that year we had to leave the race and there were lots of attacks on our team for several years. I got a one-year suspension and they forced me to talk about the truth of doping," Virenque told Cyclingnews.
Despite a number of his teammates immediately admitting to doping after the Festina Affair, Virenque maintained his innocence until a court case in 2000, and even published a defence called “Ma Verité” (My Truth) in the intervening period.