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Second Edition Cycling News, Thursday, July 23, 2009

Date published:
July 23, 2009, 1:00 BST
  • Cadel Evans comments on another bad day at Tour de France

    Cadel Evans (Silence-Lotto)
    Article published:
    July 23, 2009, 10:58 BST
    Gregor Brown

    Last year's runner up at a loss over performance on Tour's stage 17

    Australian Cadel Evans was at a loss to explain his current form after he lost nearly 30 minutes in the Tour de France's Alpine stage to Le Grand Bornand yesterday. He is 32nd overall with four days left until the Tour's final stage in Paris, where he finished second overall in 2008.

    "I don't really have an explanation. It was the first time in the Tour I where I spat nearly a half-litre of phlegm," said Evans.

    Stage 17 from Bourg St Maurice to Le Grand Bornand covered five categorised climbs in 169.5 kilometres.

    Evans lost ground to the race favourites on the first climb of the day, the Cormet de Roselend. "I was able to return to the main group, but I was only at the back. It is not what I am used to."

    He lost contact with the favourites again on the third climb, the Cote d'Arâches, and ended the stage with the main chase group in 81st, 29:43 back from stage winner Fränk Schleck. Wednesday's result contrasted starkly with his previous visit to Le Grand Bornand, where he finished with the overall favourites at the 2007 Tour de France.

    "What else can I do? Should I kill myself to arrive 25th in the general classification? That is not why I am riding the Tour, my ambitions here are far higher."

    Evans has never finished outside of the top ten in the Tour de France, he has placed second in the last two editions and wore the leader's yellow jersey for five days in 2008. His first disappointment in this year's Tour came on stage four in Montpellier, when his Silence-Lotto team lost 2:35 in the team timetrial.

    He has been with the Belgian team since 2005 and has one more year left in his contract. He may look to leave the squad after 2010. "There are stress and politics in the team," he admitted after yesterday's stage.

    Evans plans to race the Vuelta a España three-week race in September. He finished fourth at the race in 2007.

  • Vincenzo Nibali fights to hold on to top ten Tour spot

    Lance Armstrong (Astana) and Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas) finish together.
    Article published:
    July 23, 2009, 13:43 BST
    Gregor Brown

    Italian finds ally in Lance Armstrong as the two seek to limit losses

    Vincenzo Nibali fell one place to seventh overall yesterday in Tour de France's stage 17 to Le Grand Bornand. He lost ground when rival Carlos Sastre attacked at the base of the Col de Romme, 38 kilometres before the finish.

    "We are in the third week and these accelerations do damage," said Nibali (Liquigas). "The Romme has a lot of very steep grades, I suffered a lot. I was able to respond easier to the attacks yesterday, but not today."

    Nibali, 24, started the Tour de France as an outside favourite. In only his second participation in the race Nibali has performed well during the first 16 days and lost only 2:18 yesterday.

    "Pellizotti came back and helped me re-enter the main group. I found my rhythm from there forward and I could stay with the others until the finish."

    Nibali re-entered a group with Lance Armstrong and Bradley Wiggins on the final climb of the day, the Col de la Colombière. The three then pursued a group containing Andy Schleck, Fränk Schleck, Andreas Klöden and race leader Alberto Contador.

    Nibali proved stronger than Wiggins as the Italian set off behind Armstrong, after the American attacked in the final kilometres of the Colombière. He used his strong descending skills to catch the seven-time tour winner on the 15 kilometre run down into Le Grand Bornand.

    "On the descent we worked together, to lose as little less time as possible," said Nibali after crossing the line alongside his temporary ally, Armstrong.

    Nibali was able to pull back nine seconds on Andreas Klöden and 49 seconds on Wiggins. He now sits seventh, 5:09 behind Contador in the overall classification, 25 seconds behind Klöden and 16 seconds behind sixth-placed Wiggins.

    The race ends on Sunday in Paris. For Nibali there are two critical days beforehand: Today's 40.5-kilometre time trial in Annecy and Saturday's stage to Mont Ventoux.

    Nibali is likely to lose time to...

  • Voigt plans to ride Tour again in 2010

    Jens Voigt (Saxo Bank) is always popular
    Article published:
    July 23, 2009, 14:47 BST
    Susan Westemeyer

    Riis wants to keep German with team

    Jens Voigt (Saxo Bank) is already planning to ride the 2010 Tour de France. “This would be a bad way to stop,” he said from his hospital bed in Grenoble. The German suffered a fractured right cheekbone and a severe concussion in a crash in the 16th stage of the Tour on Tuesday.

    He told the German news agency dpa that he felt quite good and hopes to fly home to Berlin on Friday. Voight said he will remain in hospital until then, “because they want to scan my head again. There was a small blood clot as a result of the concussion.”

    The 37-year-old doesn't have any recollection of the crash itself. “I was thinking on the descent that it was going very well for me, that I could still work a bit for the Schleck brothers – and then I woke up on the stretcher in the ambulance.”

    Voigt got a vote of confidence from his boss, team manager Bjarne Riis, who offered not only to extend his contract but also to employee him after he ends his riding career. “Of course we will consider him for the next Tour,” Riis said. “Jens is good not just on the bike. I would like to continue to work with him.”

  • Radio Shack joins forces with Livestrong

    Lance Armstrong wears the Livestrong brand
    Article published:
    July 23, 2009, 16:56 BST
    Richard Tyler

    American company confirmed as sponsor for Lance Armstrong's new team (UPDATED)

    RadioShack has been confirmed as the sponsor of a new American ProTour squad, to be led by Lance Armstrong in the 2010 season.

    "RadioShack has agreed to partner with us on this venture and ensure that this partnership and this team stays alive for years to come," said Armstrong in a video posted on

    The consumer electronics company confirmed its sponsorship of the squad, called Team RadioShack, on Thursday evening.

    "RadioShack Corporation is proud to announce a partnership with seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong to form a new American ProTour cycling team," RadioShack said in a statement.

    "To be able to compete for an American team comprised of the world's top cyclists, supported by the best coaches and staff - I couldn't be happier to partner with RadioShack, a truly iconic American brand," said Armstrong.

    Armstrong - who is currently racing for Kazakh team, Astana, at the Tour de France - is the only rider to be confirmed as a member of the new squad. Armstrong's long-time director sportif, Johan Bruyneel, indicated on Tuesday that he may leave Astana at the end of the current season. At this stage there has been no confirmation as to whether Bruyneel will follow Armstrong to Team RadioShack.

    RadioShack indicated that Armstrong will also compete for the team in sporting events outside of cycling. "Beginning in 2010, Lance Armstrong will compete for Team RadioShack as a cyclist, runner and triathlete in events around the world, including the 2010 Tour de France," it said.

    In the United States RadioShack employs 35,000 people across its 6,000 stores. The company plans to use its large workforce to further the goals of Armstrong's Livestrong foundation.


  • UCI won't oppose Rasmussen's return

    Michael Rasmussen was in yellow when he was yanked from the 2007 Tour de France by his team following contradictions about his reported whereabouts...
    Article published:
    July 23, 2009, 17:19 BST
    Susan Westemeyer

    Pending CAS decision on one-year's salary fine payment

    The International Cycling Union has said that it will not oppose the return of Michael Rasmussen to the peloton, at least pending a further ruling by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

    Rasmussen's two-year suspension expires on July 25, and he has announced his intention to return to cycling as soon as possible. He was suspended for falsely reporting his "whereabouts" in the time leading up to the 2007 Tour de France.

    The UCI noted that Rasmussen had signed the "Commitment to a new cycling", under which he agrees to pay a fine equal to one-year's salary if he were to be suspended for anti-doping violations. He has not paid this fine.

    The one-year's salary fine requirement is currently under review by the CAS. The court ruled that Alexander Vinokourov, who was also suspended on anti-doping charges and is preparing to return to racing this month, would be allowed to return to competition pending its decision. Rasmussen has also appealed the requirement to the CAS.

    The UCI noted that, while it will not oppose the return of the two riders, it "strongly rejects the attitude displayed by Messieurs Vinokourov and Rasmussen; despite committing serious violations of the anti-doping rules, they have rejected any form of reparation by refusing to contribute to the costs of anti-doping procedures."

  • Fabian Cancellara speaks out at preferential treatment for Alberto Contador

    Fabian Cancellara (Saxo Bank) powers along on the stage 18 time trial.
    Article published:
    July 23, 2009, 18:32 BST
    Daniel Benson

    Olympic champion questions proximity of motorcycles during time trial

    Fabian Cancellara finished second in today’s Annecy time trial, but he was first to speak out at what he felt was preferential treatment for stage winner Alberto Contador. The final rider to start the stage, the Spaniard completed the 40.5-kilometre test three seconds faster than Cancellara.

    According to the Swiss Olympic champion, who was quick to share his frustration with journalists at the team’s hotel, Contador had received help from race motorcycles during the stage.

    "I did everything I could. It’s always hard, but when you start late you have an advantage of being informed about everything, but if you look [at the results, you] can’t say if he was stronger or not," Cancellara said from his team hotel, consolation beer in hand.

    Contador was 15 second ahead of Cancellara at the 37 kilometre mark but slowed in the closing stages. "On TV it looked like his bike was too close. My bike was very far away. For me the day is over and I’m looking forward to helping my teammates as much as possible until we get to Paris. Everybody was cracking, but those small details count and maybe he had the small details on his side. Both physically and mentally it would have helped him."

    Cancellara, who won the race’s opening time trial in Monaco, added: "But that’s bike racing. You sometimes have the same in the Classics. Contador had it the same when he went away on Andorra. But I’ll drink my beer and I’ll be happy."

    For images of stage 18 click here

  • Wiggins moves up in Tour de France GC

    Bradley Wiggins (Garmin-Slipstream) finished sixth and dropped to fourth on GC.
    Article published:
    July 23, 2009, 19:11 BST
    Daniel Benson

    Solid time trial boosts Garmin-Slipstream rider two places

    Britain's Bradley Wiggins moved up in the general classification of the Tour de France by two places from sixth to fourth after finishing sixth in the Tour's 40.5 kilometre time trial in Annecy, France, on Thursday. The result leaves Wiggins 11 seconds behind Lance Armstrong (Astana) and two ahead of Andreas Kloden (Astana).

    Garmin-Slipstream's Wiggins had the second fastest split times at the 18- and 28.5-kilometre check points, but he struggled in the final parts of the stage with a strong headwind and cramp to finish 43 seconds behind stage winner and race leader Alberto Contador (Astana).

    At the finish Jonathan Vaughters, Wiggins' director sportif, said that his rider had paced himself well and could still make the podium in Paris. "Bradley paced it well and hit the hill really hard. I think there might have been a weather change and a headwind on the way in. It was an all or nothing performance for him and he was going for the win," he said.

    Vaughters also revealed that Wiggins wasn't given any time checks during the time trial and that Saturday's stage, which will finish at the top of Mont Ventoux, will be crucial in deciding the battle for podium places.

    "It's not going to be as hard for him as the stages in the Alps. Brad is an athlete who is going to be better at one effort rather than multiple efforts, but to what degree, I don't know."

    As for race tactics, Vaughters wouldn't be drawn on whether his Garmin team would plan any surprises. The team's Christian Vande Velde, who will likely be available to support Wiggins, is neatly placed in eighth overall. "Tactics on the Ventoux will be minimal. You've either got it or you don't. Of course you need to be well positioned at the bottom but he's either going to have it or he's not. If he's got the legs he'll move into third. I was worried after yesterday when he went through a bit of a rough patch but he's recovered fine. He’s a robust rider."

    So far...

  • Contador extends Tour lead with stunning time trial win

    Bang! Alberto Contador shoots down the competition in the TT.
    Article published:
    July 23, 2009, 19:20 BST
    Gregor Brown

    LeMond questions credibility of Contador's climbing

    Spain's Alberto Contador further secured his win in the 2009 Tour de France with a win in the 40.5-kilometre time trial in Annecy today, besting two-time world and Olympic champion Fabian Cancellara.

    "I am really surprised by the time differences," said Contador in the post-stage press conference. "I took it easy in the final two kilometres yesterday with my mind already on today's time trial. That was an important factor in today's win."

    Contador won the stage by three seconds over Cancellara and 1:45 over Andy Schleck, his nearest rival in the overall classification. He now leads the overall classification by more than four minutes over Schleck. His Astana teammate Lance Armstrong slipped into third place overall, now 5:25 down on Contador.

    The performance was one of several remarkable rides by the slim Spaniard, and not the first to raise eyebrows, most notably by three-time Tour de France winner Greg LeMond.

    LeMond, who writes an opinion piece in France's Le Monde newspaper during the Tour, questioned Contador's performance on the final climb to Verbier on stage 15, which the Spaniard won ahead of Andy Schleck by 43 seconds and took over the race lead. The climb came at the end of a 207.5-kilometre stage that also held five other categorised climbs.

    "Alberto Contador established a speed record: he went up the 8.5 km climb in 20:55. How to explain such a performance?" wrote LeMond. "He would have required a VO2 max [maximal oxygen consumption] of 99.5 ml / min / kg to produce the effort. To my knowledge, this is a figure that has never been achieved by any athlete in any sport.

    "It is like a Mercedes sedan winning a on a Formula 1 circuit. There is something wrong. It would be interesting to know what's under the hood."

    Two journalists, one from Le Monde newspaper, asked Contador his VO2 max. Contador refused to answer the questions.

    LeMond based his article...