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
NADA asks for anti-doping investigation of three riders
Three riders from the Continental Team KTM Gebrüder Weiss have been shut out from the upcoming Österreich Rundfahrt. The Austrian National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) has asked that the three be investigated for violating anti-doping regulations. .
On July 28, the NADA asked that an investigation of Michel Knopf, Josef Kugler and Hannes Gründlinger be opened. No specific charges have yet been made public. The three have apparently now been suspended by their team.
The race management said that it took the step to exclude the riders as “the next step in the fight against doping,” and “to ensure a doping-free cycling sport.”
Knopf confirmed to Austrian broadcaster ORF that the team had suspended him. He declared himself “shocked” at the events.
“Two cyclists telephoned one another and were overheard by the police. My name is supposed to have been mentioned in this conversation. I don't know what exactly was said,” Knopf claimed. “I am very shocked, that an investigation has begun based purely on speculation.”
15-year-old Miguel Indurain junior delights his dad as he starts racing bikes
Twenty years after Miguel Indurain’s first stage victory at the Tour de France, the five-time Tour de France winner’s eldest son, who is also called Miguel, has started racing bikes. As with his father, 15-year-old Miguel junior has joined the CC Villavés club, based near Pamplona in north-east Spain, where the two Miguel Indurains are now often seen out training together.
“I’m delighted that he’s opted to race bikes,” Spanish cycling legend Indurain told Marca. “He’s tried out other sports like football and karate, and we’ve always supported him in what he’s wanted to do. But now he’s decided to try cycling and I can’t conceal how happy that makes me because it’s the environment I’ve always been involved in.”
Asked whether he’s seen any talent in young Miguel, Indurain senior admitted: “He’s still not developed physically, and there are other kids of his age who are much more developed. But I was also a late developer, so much so that I didn’t win my first Tour until I was 27. But he’s got big legs and really handles the bike well.”
There’s no word yet on whether the Pamplona-based Caisse d’Epargne team have sent their scouts out to check on young Miguel, whose father brought them so much success in their previous guise as Banesto.
Receives UCI licence in time to ride Tour of Austria
Team Vorarlberg-Corratec will be able to ride the Österreich Rundfahrt that starts on Sunday. The Austrian team today announced that the International Cycling Union has awarded it a licence as a Continental team. The team's Professional Continental licence was withdrawn last month due to difficulties with the riders' contracts.
“I am very happy that we could finally clear up the ambiguities and now can do what we do best – namely ride races,” new team manager Harald Morscher said.
The team now has 11 riders, with three still deciding on their future. Thomas Kofler has moved from team manager to assistant team manager and “team patron”. Morscher and Gregor Gut are now the team managers.
Three riders have asked for additional time to consider whether they want to stay with the team: Rene Haselbacher, Hubert Schwab and Sebastian Siedler. Andreas Dietziker has left the team and signed with the German Continental Team NetApp, and Silvere Ackermann has announced his retirement.
The team will now be able to ride its homeland race, the Tour of Austria, which starts on Sunday, July 4. It will be led by Reto Hollenstein, with German Rene Weissinger going for the sprints. They will be supported by Philipp Ludescher, Josef Benetseder, Clemens Fankhauser, Christoph Sokoll, Dominik Hrinkow and Piergiorgio Camussa.
Arenberg will be first major rendezvous of race
Lance Armstrong is convinced that the sections of cobbles during next Tuesday's third stage of the Tour de France could play a more for critical outcome in this year's race than has so far been predicted.
Armstrong and number of the other major contenders for Tour de France stopped to sample the cobbles on their way to the start in Rotterdam. A pedal may not yet have been turned in anger, but the psychological warfare began in earnest, when Lance Armstrong decreed via Twitter that stage three is “Going. To. Be. Carnage.”
Armstrong tested the seven sections of cobbles that punctuate the last 65km of the stage to Arenberg accompanied by his RadioShack teammates.
Speaking to La Gazzetta dello Sport after the ride, the Texan was enthusiastic about the stage. “It’s going to be a critical day. I predict that there’ll be twenty or thirty riders left in front. There’s no comparison with the stage to Wasquehal in 2004: there are more sectors of pavé, they’re harder and they’re closer to the finish.”
If past form is anything to go by, Armstrong and RadioShack can be expected to attack on the road to Arenberg in a bid to distance some of his rivals, with Alberto Contador the top of the list. In 2004 Tour, Armstrong used the cobbles to end Iban Mayo’s challenge in the opening daysof the race. He made similar gains on the Passage du Gois in 1999 and in the crosswinds en route to La Grande-Motte last year.
Armstrong denied suggestions that he is a man under pressure, given that it is his last Tour and his last chance to add a final chapter to his legacy.
“Pressure? The opposite. Less pressure”, he told La Gazzetta. “I feel excited, I feel ready, and it’s going to be great to try and win the Tour for the eighth time. These are three weeks in which I want to enjoy myself”.
Armstong went on to refer obliquely...
American takes on fifth consecutive Grand Tour
Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Transitions) will start his second Tour de France on Saturday full of confidence and has targeted a debut stage win as his biggest objective. The American sprinter has started five straight Grand Tour and despite not winning a stage in last year’s Tour, took a stage in last year’s Vuelta and two in this year’s Giro.
“Last year was my first Tour and I was a little less confident but I’ve proven than I’m good enough to race for the win. The experience of already having done it in the Giro and Vuelta certainly helps,” he told the press.
Farrar has steadily improved as a sprinter in the last two years but in 2010 he has been the most consistent and certainly least troubled sprinter. While the likes of Mark Cavendish, Oscar Freire, Thor Hushovd and Edvald Boasson Hagen have been affected by illness, injury and a lack of form, Farrar has racked up placings in the Spring Classics, a superb win in Scheldeprijs, and two stage in the Giro.
However the 26-year-old hasn’t’ let the pressure or level of expectations get to him. “I don’t feel like my life is changing,” he said. “At the end of the day it’s just sport and I love racing my bike and winning races. Maybe things will change if I win a stage at the Tour but we’ll see.”
The US haven’t had a realistic sprint contender at the Tour since the days of Davis Phinney, but with the Tour being a global event – the biggest cycling event on the planet – Farrar is aware how much a stage win would mean back home.
“The Tour is the race that everyone watches in America. Cycling fans know the Giro but the average person in America, they don’t really know what it is. So if you can say you’ve won a stage at the Tour that goes a long way,” he said.
One area that Garmin-Transitions need to resolve is the order of their lead-out train....
Schlecks brothers agree not to discuss their future until after the Tour
A defiant Bjarne Riis tried to dampen speculation about the future of his Saxo Bank team, as he and his nine riders faced the press ahead of what could be their last Tour de France together in Rotterdam on Thursday.
Riis, flanked by Andy and Fränk Schleck, admitted that he has yet to secure a sponsor to replace Saxo Bank, who is withdrawing their backing at the end of the season. There was no hint that any announcement was imminent. “Everybody who works in business knows it takes patience and a lot of work,” said Riis. “I can tell you that we’re working on different scenarios, but I have to keep my cards tight to [my chest].”
“The day we have something to announce, we’ll announce it,” he continued. “But I believe this team will go on in the future - I’m not afraid.”
Riis acknowledged recent rumours, fuelled by the surprising departure of his directeur sportif, Kim Andersen, of a new Luxembourg-based team that would almost certainly be led by the Schleck brothers.
“Concerning the rumours about a new team and riders leaving,” said Riis, “I want to make it clear: we’re here to do the Tour and we won’t get into discussions during the Tour about any speculation or rumours.”
“We have talked internally in the team, and I’ve talked with Andy and Frank, and things are clear between us,” Riis continued. “We are here as a team to win the Tour. We’ve made an agreement not to talk about anything else during the next three weeks. The team is sharp and well prepared, and I think we have our strongest team ever at the Tour de France.”
Two team leaders
As last year, Saxo Bank will start the Tour with two nominated leaders, but without fear of the kind of internal squabbling that caused problems last year between Lance Armstrong and Alberto Contador in the Astana...
Sunshine in Rotterdam for pre-presentation rides
The clock is counting down to the start of the Tour de France, and all of Rotterdam is ready for the sport's biggest event. The sun was shining on the riders as they took to the streets of the host town of the Grand Départ.
In the morning ahead of the team presentations and pre-race press conferences, the Schleck brothers took some time to try out their new time trial gear which will be used for the 8km prologue on Saturday.
Radioshack also went out for a spin, with Lance Armstrong drawing plenty of attention as he pedaled along the bike path alongside commuters on their much more utilitarian townies.
Defending champion Alberto Contador looked relaxed and ready to try for his third Tour title, and was accompanied by his entire Astana team for the ride where he also tried out some new time trial equipment that will be debuted on Saturday.
Enjoy the photo gallery from AFP and Contador's press agency, and look for more photos of the team presentation later today.
Photo gallery of the 22 teams in this year's race
The 22 teams riding this year's Tour de France showed their final starting line-ups at the official team presentation on Thursday evening, with some of them revealing the new look jerseys they will wear during the race.
The presentation was held in the shadow of the Erasmus bridge that will also feature in the 8.9km prologue time trial course on Saturday. The last Dutch Tour de France winner Joop Zoetemelk, opened the parade of riders, wearing the yellow jersey he pulled on in Paris in 1980. One of the 198 riders who rode onto the stage will pull on this year's winner's yellow jersey in Paris on July 25.
Cavendish first on stage
The HTC-Columbia team was the first team to ride onto the stage, just as they hope to be in the sprints. They showed their new minor-sponsor Skype on the arms of their usual yellow, white and black jersey, with Mark Cavendish leading his teammates as they rode on stage.
"The Tour de France always comes round quickly. You finish one and you want the next to come as soon as possible," he said.
Christophe Le Mevel led the Francaise des Jeux team on stage, revealing the team's new jersey design which maintains the mostly-white kit but adds a blue stripe up the side. He was the best French rider in 2009, finishing tenth, 14:25 behind Alberto Contador.
Fabio Felline is just 20 and a neo-pro but is part of the very young Footon-Servetto team in this year's Tour de France and could be the surprise in this year's sprint.
Robbie McEwen is at the other end of the age spectrum and has just celebrated his 38th birthday. But he seemed just as motivated to win as Felline.
"I'm just going to keep going and going. If I can win stage one to Brussels there's no better inspiration for another year," McEwen said.