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Second Edition Cycling News, Thursday, July 21, 2011

Date published:
July 21, 2011, 1:00 BST
  • Long course challenge ahead at Tour of the Murray River

    No mail today as the 2010 Elgas Tour of the Murray River speeds by.
    Article published:
    July 21, 2011, 8:01 BST
    Cycling News

    Race three of the Scody Cup gets underway next month

    Course planners for the 2011 Tour of the Murray River road cycling classic have produced the most expansive and challenging route in the event's 16-year history. The 847 kilometre tour will start in Yarrawonga on Sunday, August 28, and conclude with its traditional 66 kilometre kermesse in Mildura on Sunday, September 4.

    The tour will embrace seven municipalities – Moira, Campaspe, Gannawarra, Swan Hill, Balranald, Yarriambiack and Mildura – and is backed by Tourism Victoria and the New South Wales Government. Cities and towns to also feature in the 15-stage tour will include Cobram, Numurkah, Nathalia, Echuca, Kyabram, Rochester, Kerang, Swan Hill, Lake Boga, Robinvale, Euston, Ouyen, Patchewollock, Merbein and Red Cliffs.

    Tour director John Craven described the course as "tremendously exciting" and said he expected the eight-day race to be one of the most fiercely-competitive for some time.

    "Early expectations are that we will again have a top-quality field, with strong representation from all Australian states and territories and New Zealand," he said. Craven said the course contained many mysteries for the riders, especially with the opening two days being held for the first time in the Moira Shire.

    Moira will host four stages – criteriums in Yarrawonga and Numurkah, and testing road races from Yarrawonga to Cobram, and Numurkah to Nathalia.

    "Expansion into the Moira region will make this event a true Tour of the Murray River, with fresh challenges and the retention of traditional courses such as the Kerang, Robinvale, Euston, Ouyen and Merbein criteriums, and the Ouyen-Patchewollock road race," Craven said.

    "I expect to see a lot of weary bike riders at the end of this race." Craven reinforced the view that the tour continues to unearth the future stars of Australian cycling.

    Canberra's Michael Matthews, winner of the...

  • Sanchez still aiming for Paris podium

    Fearless descenders Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) and Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank Sungard) tried to put time into their GC rivals.
    Article published:
    July 21, 2011, 10:10 BST
    Cycling News

    Spaniard warns that Contador can turn GC on its head

    Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) has formed a potent alliance with Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank-SunGard) in the third week of the Tour de France, and the Olympic champion is hoping that the two stages over the Galibier can help him finish on the podium in Paris.

    Already a stage winner at Luz-Ardiden, Sanchez now approaches the final difficulties of the Tour in a relaxed frame of mind, and pointed out that there are other riders who are under more pressure to attack on the Galibier on Thursday afternoon.

    “I’m in a waiting position and my contract is already practically fulfilled,” Sanchez said, according to L’Équipe. “I’ve done my work. The two stages to come should suit me. But there are others who have more reason than me to inflame the race.”

    “These stages are already nervous enough, there’s no need to take additional risks.”

    Sanchez went on the offensive with Alberto Contador on the descent of the Pramartino on Wednesday afternoon. Although the Spanish pair, who share a trainer in Pepe Martì, were swallowed up by Cadel Evans and the Schleck brothers just short of the finish line, their effort caused behind in the yellow jersey group behind.

    “You have to try everything, you can’t leave anything behind,” Sanchez said. “We did the descent that needed to be done and behind there was certainly some panic. They fought hard to get back to us.

    “I lost a lot of time in the first week and it’s a pity. But nothing is insurmountable.”

  • Australian public holiday if Evans wins the Tour?

    Cadel Evans (BMC) on the attack in the finale of stage 16.
    Article published:
    July 21, 2011, 10:47 BST
    Jane Aubrey

    Federal MP rallies community support

    Watching the Tour's 12th stage to Luz-Ardiden on Saturday, Australian Federal Member of Parliament Ed Husic told Cyclingnews via Twitter that he would push for a national holiday if Cadel Evans goes on to wear the yellow jersey in Paris. Evans would be the first Australian to claim the honour.

    The bold, but not impossible plan is steadily gaining momentum thanks to Evans' performance on Tuesday into Gap with the Australian taking advantage of a tricky descent off the Col de Manse, gaining three seconds on the Alberto Contador as well as 21 seconds on his general classification rivals, including current leader Thomas Voeckler. Meantime Evans' move cost 2010 runner-up Andy Schleck 1:09 on the BMC rider.

    Husic hit the airwaves in Melbourne on Wednesday morning to raise awareness of his latest cause.

    "Someone like Cadel, when you think of all those hours that he's put in and the mental hurdles he's gone through, I'm just a big fan of people doing well overseas – particularly in tough sports like that," the Federal Member for Chifley told sports radio station SEN.

    Husic went on to explain that whether Australians ride to work on Monday or if a national day of ‘rest' is called in Evans' honour, we should all just take a moment to recognise "the work of an Aussie who's done a lot of hard yards."

    It's an idea that does have precedence, which Husic drew on during the interview, with Prime Minister Bob Hawke claiming "Any boss who sacks anyone for not turning up today is a bum," when Australia II became the first successful challenger for the 1983 America's Cup.


  • Tour of Beijing will be a tough race, organiser says

    Pat McQuad, Christian Prudhomme, Yan Shi and Alain Rumpf at the Tour of Beijing press conference.
    Article published:
    July 21, 2011, 16:04 BST
    Pierre Carrey

    Course details revealed for newest WorldTour event

    Pocket climber John Gadret (AG2R-La Mondiale) said after the Giro d'Italia that his next goal would be the Tour of Beijing, the new WorldTour event, from October 5-9. The course unveiled on Monday may not suit pure climbers like him, but key stages include a 11-kilometer opening time trial and a hilly third stage.

    "The overall winner will be a climber who's strong in time trial or a time trialist who climbs well," Alain Rumpf, the Director of Global Cycling Promotion (GCP) told Cyclingnews.

    GCP, a private management sports firm founded in 2009 and linked with the UCI is the organiser of Tour of Beijing, with several supporters including a local committee in Beijing and the Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO).

    Asked by Cyclingnews to compare his race with a well-known one in Europe, Rumpf cited another WorldTour race, the Tour of Poland. "The Tour of Beijing is not flat but it's rather accessible," he said.

    For its first year in the top calendar, the Chinese race faces several obstacles like the jetlag, the late date in the schedule and the logistical problems to carry people from Europe to Beijing's center.

    One of the solutions to making the race more appealing is short stage distances. The average of the four road stages is 150.75km,  and the longest is 189.5km. "It grants a good show and suits the riders who will race in a late date of the calendar," Rumpf said.

    About jetlag, the GCP Director noted, "It's about seven hours, the same than in GP Quebec and GP Monteal. To support riders' adaptation, they will arrive three days before the start."

    The route drawn by Alan Rushton [the former organiser of the Tour of Langkawi and Tour of Ireland] will explore the major sites of the 2008 Olympic Games. "We wanted to praise the Olympic heritage," Rumpf said. "The sites' proximity is also an asset for short transfers".

    The "Bird's nest" stadium will host the start of stages 1 and 2 and...

  • Rabobank confirmed for Colorado's USA Pro Cycling Challenge

    Riders might be able to take in this view from the prologue in Colorado Springs
    Article published:
    July 21, 2011, 18:21 BST
    Cycling News

    Eight ProTeams to compete in first-year event

    The USA Pro Cycling Challenge today announced the final list of teams to compete in the Colorado event from August 22-28. Rabobank will join seven other ProTeams, including Saxo Bank-SunGard, Leopard Trek, Team Radioshack, Garmin-Cervelo, BMC Racing Team, HTC Highroad and Liquigas-Cannondale.

    The sport's top tier teams are joined by two of the top three UCI Americas Tour squads from 2010, as required by UCI rules. Colombian teams EPM-UNE and Gobernacion - Indeportes Antiquia will race alongside Continental US teams Jelly Belly, Bissell and Team Exergy.

    Previously announced UnitedHealthcare, Team Type 1, Skil-Shimano and Spidertech-C10 fill out the 17-team list from the Professional Continental ranks.

    "We have some of the world's best teams in professional cycling competing in Colorado," said Stacie Lange, spokesperson of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge. "Rabobank's participation is a clear indication of the high caliber of our race."

    "We are very happy to be coming to Colorado in August," said Rabobank manager Erik Breukink. "We've been hearing the buzz that has built up around this race and we realize that this is one we do not want to miss."

    UCI Pro Teams: Team RadioShack , Team Garmin-Cervelo , HTC-Highroad , BMC Racing Team , Rabobank Cycling Team (Netherlands), Saxo Bank-SunGard, Liquigas-Cannondale, and Leopard Trek.

    UCI Professional Continental Teams: UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team , Team Type 1-sanofi aventis , Skil-Shimano and Team Spidertech Powered by C10.

    UCI Continental Teams: Jelly Belly Cycling , Bissell Cycling , Team Exergy , EPM-UNE and Gobernacion

  • Voeckler makes it twenty days in the yellow jersey

    Another day, another yellow jersey for Thomas Voeckler (Europcar).
    Article published:
    July 21, 2011, 18:42 BST
    Jean-François Quénet

    Epic ride on the Galibier sees Frenchman keep overall lead

    Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) has saved the yellow jersey on Thursday by an even smaller margin than he had done in 2004, when he preserved a 22-second lead over Lance Armstrong ahead of stage 15 to Villard-de-Lans. On that occasion, he eventually lost the jersey on the eve of the uphill individual time trial to l’Alpe d’Huez, but seven years on, the Frenchman will climb the famous 21 curves in yellow, as he maintained an advantage of fifteen seconds over Andy Schleck (Leopard Trek) following stage 18 of the Tour de France.

    It’ll be Voeckler’s 20th day in the yellow jersey in his career, as he matches the ten days of glory he already had in 2004. In the past twenty years, only three riders have spent more days in yellow than Voeckler: Lance Armstrong (83), Miguel Indurain (60) and Fabian Cancellara (21). Alberto Contador has worn yellow on 17 occasions, while the all-time list is led by Eddy Merckx (111).

    “I saw that Andy attacked very early,” Voeckler commented at the finish at the top of the Galibier. “I didn’t even try to follow him. The previous days in the hills, I’ve tried to react to some accelerations and it wasn’t a good thing to do. Today, I decided to follow Cadel Evans. He was very strong. He’s the favourite for the final victory.”

    Voeckler admitted that he had suffered like hell in the last 300 metres of the stage, as he strained to preserve his lead. “I lacked oxygen, it was hard for me to recover, my legs hurt badly,” he said. “On three occasions, I lost some seconds but from different riders, that’s why I’m still in yellow. I wasn’t aware of the time gaps when I was climbing the Galibier. I got to know at the top that I was three minutes behind Schleck with 3km to go. It was my goal...

  • Andy Schleck: I wasn't afraid to lose

    Stage winner Andy Schleck (Leopard - Trek)
    Article published:
    July 21, 2011, 19:40 BST
    Hedwig Kröner

    Luxembourger relishes Galibier victory

    Andy Schleck (Leopard Trek) may well have delivered the ride of his life on Thursday when he took off unexpectedly on the legendary Col d'Izoard with 62km still to race on stage 18 of the Tour de France.

    The 26-year-old’s assault on his general classification rivals was risky, as he was racing into a headwind and he still had the lengthy climb to the finish atop the Col du Galibier to follow. But in the end, Schleck rode himself into second place overall, just 15 seconds shy of the yellow jersey.

    "I'm very happy with my stage, I took matters into my own hands. I told myself this morning 'either this works out or it doesn't' - and it did," a tired but satisfied Schleck said at the cold finish on the Galibier.

    "I had this in my head for a while. I mean, I'm not going to ride to get fourth in Paris. I'm really happy for me and my team. They all worked hard for this and I have to thank them."

    A stiff headwind throughout the stage and especially on the Col du Lautaret made his rivals believe that the Luxembourger would eventually fade and get caught without them having to chase very hard. But Schleck, in the company of a handful of other riders, actually extended his lead to almost four minutes at the foot of the final climb.

    "I felt super good this morning, and I wasn't afraid to lose," he said.

    The chase group, which included overall leader Thomas Voeckler (Europcar), was hesitant in its pursuit and reacted too late. Cadel Evans (BMC) eventually led the group on the Galibier, and with 1.5km to go, defending champion Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank-SunGard) was dropped.

    "Today, we saw that Alberto is beatable," Schleck continued. "I was out for 60 kilometres, so in the end I could do no more. I rode à bloc to take every second I could. When I passed the...

  • Cavendish loses 20 points on Tour de France queen stage

    Mark Cavendish (HTC-Highroad) holding onto the green jersey.
    Article published:
    July 21, 2011, 20:17 BST
    Hedwig Kröner

    Time limit penalty moves Rojas 15 points closer to green jersey

    Mark Cavendish (HTC-Highroad) saw his lead in the points classification slashed after he was docked 20 points for being one of a number of riders to finish outside the time limit on stage 18 of the Tour de France.

    With the time limit fixed at 33:07, Cavendish came home in a sizable gruppetto of 88 riders, 35:50 adrift of stage winner Andy Schleck (Leopard Trek). Joining Cavendish in arriving hors délai were Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto), Thor Hushovd (Garmin-Cervélo), Fabian Cancellara (Leopard Trek) and Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre-ISD), but the size of their group meant that they were not eliminated.

    The race jury did, however, deduct 20 points from the riders in the group, dealing a blow to the green jersey hopes of Cavendish, Gilbert and Hushovd. This was good news for Movistar's Jose Joaquin Rojas, who led the first gruppetto home inside the time limit and thus retains all of his points. Cavendish remains in the green jersey, but his total has been reduced to 300 points, and Rojas is now only 15 points behind in second.

    "It's disappointing," Cavendish said after the finish. "We thought we were way out of the time limit with quite a long way to go but it was a lot closer and had we known it might have made a difference. We just have to think about tomorrow now."

    Hondo casts doubt on Cavendish’s climbing

    Speaking to Cyclingnews before the start of stage 18 in Pinerolo, Italy, Danilo Hondo (Lampre-ISD) discussed allegations that Cavendish had been hanging onto cars in the Pyrenees in a bid to avoid elimination. Similar accusations were levelled at Cavendish following the Etna stage of the Giro d’Italia in May. Hondo raised his eyebrows when asked if he thought...