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Second Edition Cycling News, Thursday, July 19, 2012

Date published:
July 19, 2012, 1:00 BST
  • Video: Brailsford - This Tour de France isn’t over yet

    Dave Brailsford looks confident as Sky team car heads out behind bunch
    Article published:
    July 19, 2012, 8:14 BST
    By:
    Mark Robinson

    Team Sky on the brink of history after stage 16

    Team Sky boss David Brailsford once again hailed the team ethic of his riders following a brutal 16th stage at the 2012 Tour de France, which saw the positions of Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome remain unaltered at the head of the general classification as they search for a first British win in the race.

    Yet he was also outspoken in his belief that the job they came to do isn't complete and the history that they are trying to make hasn't quite been written. With four stages left there is plenty of talk here that this Tour de France is all over - many are claiming that they have already heard the fat lady start to sing, but Brailsford isn't one of them.

    "We'll wake up tomorrow morning and we'll race as if it's the first day of the Tour de France," Brailsford told reporters at the finish of the gruelling 197km Pyrenean stage from Pau to Bagnères-de-Luchon – a war of attrition that had featured four lung-bursting climbs in temperatures that reached over 30 degrees Celsius.

    "The danger is that as you get closer people start jumping to conclusions about the result and it's probably our biggest threat – to allow that to happen. We need vigilance and to take every kilometre as it comes tomorrow and to keep on racing hard like the guys have done."

    In recent days many have tried to breach the protective wall that Brailsford and his staff have built around his team over the last few months – questioning the unity of the team following Froome's interview with a British newspaper last weekend in which he hinted at his frustration at being limited to a domestique role for race leader Wiggins and...

  • De Gendt looking to 2013 Tour de France

    Thomas De Gendt (Vacansoleil-DCM) solos to a win atop the Stelvio
    Article published:
    July 19, 2012, 9:13 BST
    By:
    Cycling News

    Belgian ready to extend with Vacansoleil-DCM through 2015

    Thomas De Gendt, who finished third in the Giro d'Italia, is on the verge of extending his contract with Vacansoleil-DCM for an additional two years. The Belgian also has his eye firmly on the 2013 Tour de France.

    Appearing on the television show “Vive le Velo”, he said that “the contract is not yet signed, but apart from a few periods and commas, agreement has been reached. I will stay with Vacansoleil until 2015.” His current contract runs through 2013.

    De Gendt catapulted into prominence at the Giro by winning the penultimate stage, the race's queen stage which ended atop the Stelvio. That moved him up to fourth overall, and in the closing time trial, a fifth place finish was enough to move him up to third overall and the podium.

    The 25-year-old did not ride the Tour this year, partially due to the fact that his wedding was held on Saturday, June 30, the day the Tour opened. While he may well ride the Vuelta a Espana later this year, he has made clear that he plans to ride the Tour in 2013.

    “Normally I will put everything on the Tour,” he said. “I think it's wise to plan my winter programme completely around the Tour.”

    His teammate Johnny Hoogerland has predicted a top five finish for De Gendt, who of course agrees. “It all goes well, that should happen.”

    He is not asking to be the sole captain, noting that “with Wout Poels we have someone who is good in the race. Why not go with a duo? After two weeks we can see who is the best and who you turn to.”

  • Bruyneel stands by Schleck

    Johan Bruyneel faces the media
    Article published:
    July 19, 2012, 11:18 BST
    By:
    Cycling News

    Expects to clear his own name in USADA case

    Johan Bruyneel received the “phone call every sports director hates to receive,” and he subsequently had to inform Fränk Schleck of his positive test. The RadioShack-Nissan sport director says that while he believes in Schleck's declaration of innocence, “at the moment there's really nothing more to say on Frank's situation.”

    In his personal blog, Bruyneel said that Schleck's, “voice said it all - shocked, devastated, angry and confused.  And while no director or any other person can fully monitor, control and watch over any one individual athlete - I believe Frank when he declared his innocence. The kind of substance and low quantity justifies the presumption of innocence.”

    Still, it was necessary to pull him from the Tour de France: “To give Fränk every opportunity to concentrate on proving his innocence; To keep the focus of the team on the race itself; And last but not least - To respect the Tour de France, where all attention should be on the competition and battles taking place every day on the road.”

    Looking to the rest of the team still at the race, Bruyneel, who is not at the Tour, said that he was proud of his riders, and especially Jens Voigt. “It's amazing what he continues to do at almost 41 years of age (not going to use the word "old"). And not to mention how he contributes to the overall atmosphere in the bus and at the dinner table.”

    The team will continue to support Haimar Zubeldia. “Currently sitting in fifth place overall, we're setting him up nicely...

  • Two-wheeled disabled campaigner crosses paths with Tour de France

    Spanish cycling legend Miguel Indurain shakes hands with Diego Ballesteros prior to their ride together.
    Article published:
    July 19, 2012, 14:33 BST
    By:
    Alasdair Fotheringham

    Hand-biker en route from Madrid to London Olympics links up with Tour de France

    A Spanish handbiker paralysed from the chest down who is seeking to raise awareness for the disabled by riding from Madrid to the 2012 London Olympics crossed paths with the Tour de France in Pau.

    A keen athlete and bike rider before and after he was hit by a car in Kansas during the Race Across America endurance event in 2010 and partially paralysed, Diego Ballesteros, a 38-year-old from Barbastro, Aragon, has always relished such long-distance challenges - such as from Zaragoza,  Spain, to Beijing’s Olympic Games in 2008 in 100 days.

    “My aim then was to link the biggest event in Spain” - the Universal Expo exhibition in Zaragoza - “heading down the Marco Polo silk route with the biggest sporting event in the world,” Ballesteros told Cyclingnews.

    “I’ve always enjoyed riding as something self-sufficent and a way in which you can get to see other parts of the world.

    “This, though, is part of a personal challenge called 'Cycling To Conquer Disability', my objective  is to ride from Madrid to London’s Olympic Games.

    “My first aim to show that a disability doesn’t have to hold us back from fulfilling our dreams - and the same goes for anybody who goes through tough moments right now can overcome them.”

     After spending the night in Pau with his back-up team who are travelling and sleeping overnight in a specially adapted support vehicle (in which he will return from London to Madrid), Ballesteros rode with the Movistar team when they went out training on their rest day before continuing on his 90 kilometre leg for the day up through France towards Roquefort. Covering between 60 and 100 kilometres a day, he hopes to reach London in a total of 25 days, crossing the Channel by ferry from Dieppe to Newhaven.

    ...
  • Schlecks rumoured to have signed with Astana for coming year

    blank
    Article published:
    July 19, 2012, 15:50 BST
    By:
    Cycling News

    Luxembourg media exposes details of financial squabbles

    Andy and Fränk Schleck are said to have signed for next season with Team Astana, according to Luxembourg media – assuming, of course, that Fränk is not banned for doping. Financial details remain to be worked out, according to lessential.lu, which also disclosed details of the Schlecks' contracts with Leopard SA, which runs the RadioShack-Nissan team.

    At the Tour de France, it was rumoured that Fränk Schleck was scheduled to meet with Astana on the rest day – a day which ended with him leaving the race with a positive doping test.

    The brothers have a contract with Leopard SA, which runs RadioShack-Nissan, through the 2013 season, but the Luxembourg website says that their departure is “assured.” The question at this point, “is whether Leopard SA allows the two Luxembourg pros to go voluntarily or if it will demand a transfer fee,” according to L'essentiel.

    Relations between the Schlecks and Flavio Becca, the team owner and head of Leopard, have gone downhill this summer. The latest financial problems deal with image rights, which have apparently not been paid.

    L'essentiel said that Andy Schleck earns 2 million Euro per year, and Fränk 1.8 million, not including bonuses. In addition, it cited paperjam.lu as saying each has an additional contract for their image rights, both of which pay 600,000 Euro per year. Andy's is paid into a firm called Cyclan and Frank's into Winfrank, and the these companies “are amongst others financially connected to such exotic...

  • Farrar hoping for last chance on Champs-Elysées

    Sprinters like Tyler Farrar suffered in the heat in addition to the punishing climbs on Stage 16
    Article published:
    July 19, 2012, 17:15 BST
    By:
    Hedwig Kröner

    Garmin sprinter recovering from injuries

    Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Sharp) had a terrible start to his Tour de France this year, but the American sprinter is slowly healing from his injuries and now hoping that he can return to being competitive on the final day of the race, the legendary run into the Champs-Elysées in Paris. Even though he did not suffer any fractures, the bruises and scrapes Farrar sustained from his four crashes in the first week of racing affected his riding substantially.

    "It was a horrible first week," the 28-year-old told Cyclingnews on the race's second rest in Pau. "But I didn't want to stop unless I just physically had to. There was a day when it just about happened, stage seven to La Planche des Belles Filles. It was right after the worst crash, and my back was quite messed up. I got through the stage just barely, it was stop and go."

    After the finish, Farrar went straight to the hospital and got a CT scan, which fortunately revealed that there was no fracture.

    "Luckily, the issues I had were purely muscular. So I continued, hoping it gets better, and it has - slowly it's improved. It's hard for your body to heal in the middle of the Tour, as it's just such a hard race. I would have healed a lot faster if I was sitting on my couch at home! But the Tour is not something you quit lightly. So if there's any way to go on, you do..."

    Needless to say, the mountainous stages of the Alps and now the Pyrenees have not been easy to overcome, but Farrar has been able to hang onto the gruppetto with the objective of perhaps being in the mix again in the last two flat stages: Stage 18 to Brive-La-Gaillarde and the final day into Paris. However, of the two stages, only one is practically certain to end in...

  • Van Garderen thrilled with Tour performance

    Tejay Van Garderen continues to lead the young riders classification
    Article published:
    July 19, 2012, 18:37 BST
    By:
    Cycling News

    Best young rider's jersey nearly a lock for American

    With another gutsy ride in the Pyrenees, the best young rider in the Tour de France, BMC's Tejay van Garderen, held fast to the white jersey despite losing 32 seconds to FDJ-Big Mat's Thibaut Pinot.

    The competition has been a two-horse race since stage 11 when Rein Taaramae lost 25 minues. Van Garderen is now holding a lead of 3:16 over the Frenchman, while the next best young rider, Steven Kruijswijk (Rabobank) is over an hour behind.

    In the final kick to the line on stage 17 to Peyragudes, Van Garderen lost contact with the overall race leader Bradley Wiggins and Pinot, but was not disappointed with his performance on the stage. "I was actually pretty happy with how I was riding out there," he said in a post-stage interview with NBC. "The leaders were far above everyone else, they've shown that throughout the entire Tour."

    "To be honest, I'm thrilled with how I've been riding, and I really couldn't ask for more."

    Only a 222.5km transitional stage from Blagnac to Brive-la-Gaillarde and the lengthy individual time trial from Bonneval to Chartres, 53.5km in length, stands between the American and the parade into Paris where he may be crowned as one of the brightest Grand Tour promises ever to come out of the USA.

    "I have great form and I'm going to empty the tank and give it everything I have in the TT," he said, adding that it was impossible to move onto the podium considering he is six minutes behind Vincenzo Nibali, who is third.

    However, Van Garderen is set to post the best American Tour finish since Christian Vande Velde took fourth in 2008 (after the disqualification of third-placed Bernhard Kohl for doping).

    "I was happy to see Zubeldia got dropped, that moved me up a place on GC," he continued with...

  • Valverde takes emotional Tour de France come-back win

    Alejandro Valverde (Movistar)
    Article published:
    July 19, 2012, 19:30 BST
    By:
    Hedwig Kröner

    Movistar team strategy pays off for Spanish climber

    Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) could not hold back the tears after crossing the finish line on the mountaintop of Peyragudes on Thursday afternoon. Following a two-year suspension for his implication in Operación Puerto, the Spaniard has made his come-back to the very top of the sport complete by achieving his fourth Tour de France stage victory.

    Valverde was part of the stage's initial breakaway, and with the help of two of his teammates, the Movistar rider was able to go on a solo move on the day's third of five categorised climbs, with 36 kilometres left to race. He held off the chasers until the very end, despite a dangerously fast race for the yellow jersey unfolding behind him on the last ascent.

    "I was just overwhelmed with the emotion," the 32-year-old said about his outburst of joy and relief in the finish. "It's been such a difficult Tour for me, for the team. Looking back, already my first victory this season at the Tour Down Under was very emotional, but a great victory like this one today triggers even greater emotions."

    Certainly, the weight of mishaps that Valverde experienced at this Tour and the need for his team to win a stage fell off his shoulders once he crossed the line. Due to several crashes in the first week of the race, as well as a puncture just before the final climb on stage 7 to La Planche des Belles Filles, the team leader who was initially eying the overall classification had lost too much time on GC to live up to this goal.

    "It's been a really hard Tour for me as I had a lot of bad luck with crashes and punctures, and lost too much time on the overall classification to be able to come back," he continued. "The only objective left was a...