"For us, the Giro is the biggest race of the year, and there is nothing that comes even close to comparing to it," said Abbott. "The two times that I have won the Giro, I have raced on the National team, and it is so exciting to be going this year with a group of girls who have been racing together all year, and to be able to enjoy the level of support that we have already had on the team throughout the season.
"Each time I race the Giro, it is an experience far beyond explanation of challenge, presence and emotion. I am thrilled to begin this again."
The 2014 edition begins with a short 2km prologue in Caserta which is followed by nine stages, totalling 953 kilometers of racing over ten days.
During the race, Abbott will be supported by Katie Hall, and Sharon Laws who won the Queen of the Mountains title at the 2014 Women's Tour of Britain in the mountain stages. Multiple-time collegiate national champion Coryn Rivera and Powers will shepherd Abbott through the flatter stages while Ruth Winder and British national criterium champion Hannah Barnes will look to cover moves...
Name of backer to be announced on Tour de France rest day
A German company is set to take over title sponsorship of Team NetApp-Endura from the beginning of next season, the squad announced on Thursday. The new sponsor, which will be unveiled on the first rest day of the Tour de France at Besançon, has signed a five-year contract with holding company Ralph Denk pro cycling GmbH.
In a statement on Thursday morning, NetApp-Endura team manager Ralph Denk welcomed the new sponsor as an opportunity to guarantee the Pro Continental team’s long-term future. The news comes on the eve of the team’s first appearance at the Tour de France.
“Although the withdrawal of the main sponsor usually causes a major crisis for a cycling team, for us it has opened up a brand new chance,” Denk said. “We jumped at the opportunity and secured for ourselves long-term stability up until 2019. Of course, I’m especially happy that we’ve managed to do that with a German company. For me, it’s a very clear message for the sport of cycling in Germany.”
The new backer’s arrival will mark the first time that a German company has been involved as the title sponsor of a professional team since Milram ceased its involvement at the end of the 2010 season. Gerolsteiner (2008) and T-Mobile (2007) had previously pulled out of the sport in response to doping scandals, while terrestrial German television stations also ceased broadcasting the Tour live in 2007.
Though already registered under a German licence, Denk’s squad currently has American (NetApp) and Scottish (Endura) sponsors, and an international identity, with riders from the Czech Republic, Ireland, Italy, Great Britain,...
Valverde was in a great position last year coming out of the Pyrenees, lying second overall. However, a mechanical incident on stage 13 saw him squeezed out of the fight for the top places overall.
In the twelve months since, the veteran Spaniard has not only picked up another podium placing in the Vuelta a España last autumn, as well as a bronze medal in the world championships, but so far this season he has taken nine victories.
The big difference as Valverde eyes the Tour this time around is the make-up of his team. He will be without Nairo Quintana, who took second overall last year before tackling – and winning – the Giro d'Italia this season, and also without former teammate Rui Costa, who has moved on to Lampre-Merida. However, the Spaniard is optimistic that Movistar will have a strong enough line-up to back his bid for the podium – at the least – in this Tour.
"We're a real band of warriors in Movistar, and even compared to last year, collectively we're strong," Valverde told Cyclingnews earlier this year. "We’re not a team that asks other squads to race and then improvises on that. These days, Movistar makes the races. And if we're lucky and things pan out in our favour, then we win."
Although Valverde is going for a top three finish in the Tour, that does not mean he will be riding more defensively. "I don't rule out anything, it's much more a question of what the race decides. If I have to attack, I...
Trek Factory Racing announce Samsung as a new sponsor
The Trek Factory Racing team was the first of the Tour de France teams to hold their official pre-race press conference on Thursday morning, with Fabian Cancellara, Andy and Fränk Schleck, Danny van Poppel and Haimar Zubeldia facing questions before their training ride, after the team announced Samsung as a new minor sponsor and People For Bikes as a cycling advocacy partner.
The US-registered team has the youngest and oldest rider in the Tour de France with Danny van Poppel (aged 20) and Jens Voigt (42). Team manager Luca Guercilena played down their hopes of overall success, saying stage victories where their first goal.
"I think we've got a competitive team, full of strong riders. Our main goals are to be competitive for single stages. We really believe we have Fränk in good shape and with support of Haimar Zubeldia we can perhaps get a top ten result overall. Andy will be there to support them," he explained.
"I think we can be competitive on climbs and we also have some chances on the cobbled stage. With Markel Irizar, Jens Voigt and Gregory Rast we'll be going for breakaways, then Danny van Poppel is a young sprinter and showed in past that he's been super good."
Cancellara warns about the cobbles
Fabian Cancellara was the first rider to speak for the team, hinting heavily that he will go on the attack on the cobbled stage to Arenberg next Wednesday.
"It's a special scenario when you have a cobbled stage in the Tour de France. It's good for me and I will and we will go for that," Cancellara warned in his unique version of Swiss-English.
"When people ask if it's safe or not, I say that we're in the Tour de France and it's part of racing. This (stage) is a benefit for me. The Tour de...
Tejay van Garderen (BMC) has had a tough build up to this year’s Tour de France. The American fractured his hip during the prologue of the Tour de Romandie at the end of April. The injury had a knock-on effect on his training, which, in turn, impacted on his form at the Critérium du Dauphiné.
Van Garderen will head the nine-man BMC squad at this year’s Tour de France. After the roller coaster ride leading into the start in Yorkshire, he is happy to have made it and is realistic about his chances at the three-week race. “There’s some nerves and excitement, a bit of confidence and also some modesty,” he said at the pre-race press conference in Leeds on Thursday.
“I’m not expecting to ride out of my skin and drop Chris Froome on the first mountain. If you look at the progression from last year, I don’t expect any miracles. If I can stay consistent, calm and to just ride within myself and then I think I will ride really high into Paris.”
This year will be the American's first tilt at the Tour de France as the sole team leader. In the past he has had to share the duty with the more experienced, 2011 Tour de France winner, Cadel Evans. However, the team cut the race completely from Evans's schedule. Van Garderen now has an opportunity to shoulder the weight of the team’s ambitions.
After underperforming last season, the pressure is on for tthe 25-year-old to pull something out of the bag. Van Garderen isn’t feeling the heat, despite his struggles over the past couple of months, “Pressure is just a made up thing. When it comes down to the last couple of kilometers on a summit finish, it’s about if you have the legs or you don’t have the legs. As far as pressure goes, there’s not any more or less,” he said with a note...
Commitment for three-day event runs for four years and includes a one-day women's race
Tour de France organisers ASO have confirmed their backing for a three-day race provisionally titled "The Tour of Yorkshire", with the first edition set to take place on 1-3 May next year subject to approval from the UCI.
Also backed by Welcome to Yorkshire and British Cycling, the new race will have 2.1 status, which should guarantee a high-class field. Speaking to packed crowds at the Otley Circuit Races that were also attended by Tour boss Christian Prudhomme on Wednesday evening, Welcome to Yorkshire chief executive Gary Verity said the new race will visit parts of the county bypassed by the Tour, mentioning the resort town of Scarborough and Hull as potential stage towns.
"When we bid to host the Tour de France we did so in the knowledge that this would be the start of a long relationship with ASO. So I am delighted to be able to announce this exciting new race for Yorkshire. Our county is a new cycling heartland of Europe and we look forward to welcoming back some of the world's best riders in Yorkshire in less than 12 months' time," said Verity.
Prudhomme was effusive in his praise for the county and its Grand Départ, declaring it the greatest ever. "Yorkshire boasts breathtaking scenery worthy of any of the cycling season's major events. It therefore seems perfectly natural for Welcome to Yorkshire, British Cycling and ASO to continue working together in this new land of cycling, through the Tour of Yorkshire," said Prudhomme.
Full details on the women's race have yet to be finalised, but Verity stressed Welcome to Yorkshire's focus on developing this event alongside the men's race during ASO's initial four-year commitment.
The Tinkoff-Saxo team unveiled a new look just two days ahead of the Tour de France, swapping the more muted yellow with a fluorescent shade that will distinguish themselves from the maillot jaune of the race leader.
After arriving in Leeds in the private jet of team owner Oleg Tinkov, overall contender Alberto Contador and his fellow Tour de France teammates were joined by the Russian oligarch on their training ride.
The team's official press conference takes place this afternoon.
Contador is one of the race favourites, along with defending champion Chris Froome. In stage races this season, Contador has not finished lower than second place - winning Tirreno-Adriatico and the Vuelta a País Vasco.
Defending champion Chris Froome doesn’t class himself as the outright race favorite heading into this year’s Tour de France but he’s confident that he could be a main contender with the help of his eight carefully selected Team Sky teammates. The Kenyan-born Briton is looking forward to the Grand Depart from a home crowd on July 5 in Leeds, Yorkshire.
“I wouldn’t necessarily see myself as the favorite but I do see myself as one of the main contenders,” Froome told Cyclingnews. “It’s a huge privilege for me to be starting in Yorkshire as the defending champion with the support of a home crowd to send us off on the upcoming three weeks.”
He has a tough fight ahead from rivals contenders like Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo), Vincenzo Nibali (Astana), Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), world champion Rui Costa (Lampre-Merida), Jurgen van den Broek (Lotto Belisol), Bauke Mollema (Belkin), Michal Kwiatkowski (Omega-Pharma QuickStep) and Andrew Talansky (Garmin-Sharp), among others.
In our latest video, Froome speaks with Cyclingnews about the strength and depth of Team Sky’s nine-man roster, all picked for specific roles to play on the road during the three-week Grand Tour. He also discussed how his crash during the sixth stage of the Critérium du Dauphiné affected his training heading into the Tour, and how it may have turned into blessing.
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