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Second Edition Cycling News, Thursday, July 4, 2013

Date published:
July 4, 2013, 16:00
  • Evans vows to keep fighting as three teammates crash

    Cadel Evans (BMC) made it through the stage unscathed
    Article published:
    July 4, 2013, 02:08
    By:
    Cycling News

    Van Garderen, Bookwalter and Schär all hit the tarmac on Stage 5

    Having lost valuable seconds on key general classification rivals during the team time trial, BMC's bad luck continued on Stage 5 of the Tour de France, with Brent Bookwalter, Michael Schär and Tejay van Garderen all victims of crashes.

    Bookwalter and van Garderen came to grief on the Gineste climb while Schär was caught up in the high-speed pile up 250 metres from the finish.

    Team leader Cadel Evans managed to avoid any mishaps but he was keen to move on after the team's disappointing performance in the team time trial that sees the Australian now 23 seconds back on race-favourite Chris Froome (Sky) and 17 seconds in arrears of Alberto Contador (Saxo-Tinkoff).

    "Yesterday of course I was disappointed to say the least," Evans said. "But you've got to move on from these things. Realistically it might be really costly when I get to Paris. Obviously a repeat of the 2007 result wouldn't be desirable but we'll try to be optimistic and keep fighting right until the end."

    Schär was riding with Evans when the pair saw riders hitting the deck and reacted accordingly, only for the Swiss to have someone hit him from behind.

    "But then, from the back, some guys didn't see it and one slammed into me at 50 kilometers an hour," Schär said. "My elbow and back are bruised, but it's nothing serious."

    Bad timing contributed to the crashes of Bookwalter and van Garderen, with the American's caught out either taking a drink or taking a bottle and riding one-handed when forced to take evasive action due to a crash in front of them.

    Van Garderen, who also came down in the incident on the opening stage on Corsica, admitted it was just one of those things.

    "I was grabbing a bottle from Steve Morabito and then we hit this left corner and people hit the brakes pretty hard," he said. "I had one hand on the bars and lost control. It was completely my fault. Just a lack of focus."

    Bookwalter had similar sentiments.

    "We were a little unlucky today, but we weren't the only ones," he said. "There were other crashes here and there with one and two riders. So it's not like we were super unlucky or doing anything wrong. It's just the usual cluster of the first week."

     

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  • Tour de France: Kittel misses sprint after Marseille crash

    Jurgen van den Broeck (Lotto Belisol) a little worse for wear after his crash on stage 5
    Article published:
    July 4, 2013, 04:22
    By:
    Brecht Decaluwé

    Van den Broeck injured in bunch sprint tumble

    During stage 5 of the Tour de France two crashes took down a lot of riders on their way from Cagnes-sur-mer to Marseille in the south of France. At 15km from the finish line in Marseille, the race was marred by a crash in the middle of the bunch. Sprinter Marcel Kittel (Argos-Shimano), who won the first stage in a bunch sprint was one of the casualties.

    For the German sprinter, it was quite a surprise to be in the peloton at that moment as he wasn't expected to survive the multiple climbs between Cagnes-sur-mer and Marseille. Argos-Shimano originally planned to go for John Degenkolb in the sprint, but was weighing its options when Kittel was still up front.

    "It's such a shame that I came down. Before the race we knew that it would be a difficult stage today with the hills so we decided to go for John, but if I was still be in the bunch we would sprint for me. However, the moment we wanted to change plan I came off and as it was approaching the finish it was impossible to get back up there.

    "Apart from missing skin on my left I am OK. Tomorrow will be another chance, the team is looking good and everybody is focused and motivated. So I am really looking forward to that," Kittel said in a press release.

    In the finishing straight a second crash took down more riders. While Cavendish started his sprint, teammate Matteo Trentin was dropping back after doing his pull in the Omega Pharma-Quickstep lead-out train. It seemed like Nacer Bouhanni (FDJ) didn't notice Trentin and rode straight into the young Italian rider.

    "It was important to be in the front in the last corner. I rode a bit further than I was supposed to go and over hit the corner a bit. Luckily the guy from Lotto [Henderson] took over and then Gert Steegmans. When dropping back, a rider from FDJ rode into my rear wheel," Trentin told Cyclingnews.

    Overall contender Jurgen Van den Broeck (Lotto-Belisol) was one of the victims, and was lying on the ground for a while and eventually walked across the finish line. When the bruised up Belgian eventually reached the team bus, he limped and cursed his way towards the door and struggled to climb up the stairs. Half an hour later sports director Herman Frison gave an update on his status.

    "Jurgen was catapulted over the riders on the ground. He's a bit down-hearted now. He was probably thinking about his crash from a couple of years ago. In one second it can be over. That was the first impression, but it's better now. He's bruised but we don't know how he is on the inside. The doctor was with him and now he's being treated with ice on the bus. It's all swollen right now. Physiotherapist Tim Aerts is staying with him. We'll have to wait [to see] how he is going on the bike tomorrow. Hopefully he can continue his Tour," Frison said.

    In a press release later in the evening team doctor Jan Mathieu said Van den Broeck hadn't broken anything. "He's mainly hurt on his right knee which is severely swollen with a hematoma," Mathieu said. Van den Broeck explained that Bouhanni crashed and before he knew it he was down as well. "My knee hurts a lot. The rest isn't too serious. Some minimal road rash but that heals quickly. I'm curious to find out how I'll wake up. It's a pity because I was happy to survive the Corsican stages without troubles. I've said it before, every days something can happen in the Tour," Van den Broeck said.

     

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  • Strong winds threaten otherwise straight-forward sprint to Montpellier

    Mark Cavendish finishes off his team's work with a win in Montpellier.
    Article published:
    July 4, 2013, 06:14
    By:
    Cycling News

    Will stage to La Grande Motte in 2009 serve as a warning?

    Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) opened his 2013 Tour de France account on Wednesday and he's the likely favourite heading into today's sixth stage to Montpellier but while a sprinter should prevail after the 176.5kms, it's the battle of survival in between which could be crucial for the GC contenders.

    According to meteorologists, the peloton can expect strong cross-winds, including a northerly Mistral with gusts up to 60/70km/h between km 50 and km 140. That augers for the peloton to be in a constant fight for position and as they well-know, not everyone can be up front and out of danger.

    Cavendish was victorious the last time the Tour visited Montpellier. In 2011, he claimed his fourth stage of that race and tightened his grip on the green jersey. His 2009 victory in nearby La Grande Motte could prove to be more significant, though, as that stage came from the same direction as today's. That stage to La Grande Motte will probably still be fresh in the mind of anyone who was there that day, as an internal battle within Astana went into overdrive.

    The early break was caught by a chase group of 28 riders which had fought clear of the main peloton, buffeted by strong winds. Among that group was maillot jaune Fabian Cancellara, the entire Columbia-HTC line-up and Lance Armstrong with teammates Yaroslav Popovych and Haimar Zubeldia in support. Meantime GC contenders Alberto Contador, Levi Leiphimer, Cadel Evans, Carlos Sastre and the Schlecks would finish the race some 41 seconds in arrears.

    Of course, Contador eventually fought back and prevailed to win his second Tour de France, but in 2013 with Evans (BMC) for example already trailing Chris Froome (Sky) and Contador by 23 and 17 seconds respectively, the Australian for one will be no doubt be keeping a watchful eye on proceedings at the front of the bunch.

    As for the sprinters on Thursday, two of Cavendish's main rivals Andre Greipel (Lotto Belisol) and Marcel Kittel (Argos-Shimano) were both victims of bad luck on Stage 5 so they will be eager to put things right. Cavendish quipped following his win yesterday that he was glad to see Orica GreenEdge on the front because they "hardly ever do any work" and with Simon Gerrans' overall lead unchallenged on the stage, the Manxman will surely be pleased to have the Australian team spearheading the peloton for the second day in a row. As was the case on Stage 5, depending on the finishing position of Gerrans and his two teammates Daryl Impey and Michael Albasini who are on the same time as the Australian, the overall lead could change hands within Orica GreenEdge. With that in mind, it's worth noting that South African Robbie Hunter won a stage to Montpellier in 2007 and if the stars align accordingly, Impey could become the first African rider to wear the yellow jersey.

     

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  • Lefevere hails tactical nous that delivered Cavendish victory

    Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma - QuickStep)
    Article published:
    July 4, 2013, 08:28
    By:
    Brecht Decaluwé

    Omega Pharma-Quickstep turn frustration into motivation

    With a perfect lead-out from his Omega Pharma-Quickstep teammates, British champion Mark Cavendish turned the tide for the Belgian team in stage 5 of the Tour de France in Marseille. The four previous stages in la Grande Boucle left the team from Patrick Lefevere with nothing but frustration.

    Tuesday's narrowly loss in the team time trial proved a huge blow. With the Manxman's convincing win, the coin seems to have flipped. The emotions after the finish line in Marseille showed that the tension was building, but now the Omega Pharma-Quickstep team has opened its account for the 100th Tour de France.

    "All the emotions flared up now. The bad luck from the first day, then Sylvain who doesn't win while Bakelants did and yesterday arriving at 0.75 of a second. If you're not frustrated after yesterday then you're never going to be frustrated. We tried to turn it into motivation. Brama [Davide Bramati] is very good at that. Mark [Cavendish] also knew that all big sprinters have won in Marseille. He's keen on joining famous names in the history books. He kicks on that stuff," Lefevere said.

    Cavendish now has 24 wins in the Tour de France which is only one behind third-ranked André Leducq. Eddy Merckx is in sight. The 'Cannibal' captured 34 wins at the Tour. Cavendish also captured his 45th win in one of the three Grand Tours which puts him three wins down on third-ranked Alessandro Petacchi. Merckx tops this list with 64 wins.

    Though it seemed like Omega Pharma-Quickstep was in total control of affairs in Wednesday's stage, it turned out that Lefevere was quite worried about the breakaway during the stage. At a certain moment the breakaway group had more than ten minutes on the peloton and still Omega Pharma-Quickstep was not putting their men at the front. At the finish it was clear that Lefevere had been discussing tactics with sports director Wilfried Peeters, with Lefevre the more nervous of the two.

    "It's not that I have no nerves but there are strong guys who can do the work. We feared the Col de la Gineste [at 12km from the finish]. On Sunday Mark was one of the first riders to get dropped. So if we had chased with the whole team and then lost Cavendish then we'd have looked stupid. That's why we put only one man up front. That way we had enough men for the finale," Wilfried Peeters said. Lefevre noticed that Cavendish was climbing well on the Gineste.

    "He was the best of the sprinters. The team gained confidence and went full gas. This time everything went to perfection," Lefevere said. "With a super De Gendt it would be tight. Of course, riding 200km ahead of the peloton in the Tour de France – with all respect to Thomas – is not the same as Paris-Nice. That under-23 world champion [Alexey Lutsenko (Astana)] was strong too. We knew that we had to get within a minute of the leaders at the Col de la Gineste [at 12km from the finish] and that succeeded. From there we dominated the sprint. Only when that Euskaltel rider moved to the front, the organization was disturbed. Matteo Trentin did a great job there and entered the last corner in first position. That was crucial. The road went from very wide to narrow there."

    "During the final kilometres it's up to the boys and there's radio silence so that they can focus on their task. About two times we feared that things went wrong because they were boxed in but it always opens up. You can't control it completely and it'll never be perfect," Tom Steels said. The latter is sports director and a former sprinter, the team's mastermind for the sprint tactics.

    According to Wilfried Peeters, the key to success now is sticking to the original plans. "After the British championships, Mark got ill and a few days later he needed antibiotics. We kept it quiet but nevertheless it was in his body. Cavendish is someone you have to leave alone at first. After a stage we let things cool down for half an hour and then we visit the rooms to talk with the boys. We just have to let Mark do his thing and eventually the win will come."

     

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  • Van den Broeck abandons Tour de France

    Jurgen van den Broeck (Lotto Belisol) a little worse for wear after his crash on stage 5
    Article published:
    July 4, 2013, 09:25
    By:
    Brecht Decaluwé

    Belgian sustained knee injury in stage 5 crash

    Jurgen Van den Broeck (Lotto-Belisol) will not take the start of stage 6 of the Tour de France. The Belgian general classification contender didn’t recover enough from the injuries sustained during the bunch sprint crash at the end of stage 5 in Marseille. The right knee injury ended up being worse than first thought, and has prevented Van den Broeck from getting on his bike in Aix-en-Provence on Thursday.

    Team doctor Jan Mathieu explained why it was impossible for Van den Broeck to continue the race.

    “This morning there was a lot of fluid in his knee. We removed 85cc out of the joint which indicates an internal injury. Jurgen tried to get on the rollers but that didn’t work out. Further medicals in Belgium will reveal the severity of the injury,” Mathieu said.

    For Van den Broeck and the Lotto-Belisol team, it’s the second time in four years that a crash has ended their GC ambitions. In 2011, Van den Broeck was part of a big crash on the descent of the Col du Perthus, as team manager Marc Sergeant recalled.

    “This is a huge blow for the team. Jurgen has been working extremely hard towards his main target and for the second time in four years he has to abandon the race after a crash,” Sergeant said. “We have to await the medicals before rescheduling the remainder of Jurgen’s season.”

    Despite the departure Van den Broeck’s departure, the Belgian team still has sprinter André Greipel to shine in the 2013 Tour de France. “Often we’re asked if it’s realistic to start the Tour with two leaders. Our goal to get stage wins with André remains intact. In addition other riders will get the chance to get into the picture.”
     

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  • Vande Velde continues at Tour de France

    Christian Vande Velde (Garmin Sharp) on the ground after a crash.
    Article published:
    July 4, 2013, 09:59
    By:
    Cycling News

    American was among fallers on stage 5

    Christian Vande Velde (Garmin-Sharp) was among the starters on stage 6 of the Tour de France on Thursday in spite of the injuries he sustained the previous day in a crash on final climb of the Col de la Gineste.

    Vande Velde hurt his neck and back in the crash and he explained that he had exacerbated old injuries from the 2006 Paris-Nice and the 2009 Giro d’Italia in the process.

    “I stressed my collarbone pretty good and I still have a plate in both sides and now one of the screws is coming out of it. It went into the muscle which has a little haematoma in it,” Vande Velde said at the start in Aix-en-Provence. “That said, my back hurts much worse.”

    Vande Velde went for x-rays on Wednesday and warmed up on the rollers ahead of the start of stage 6 in a bid to increase his chances of surviving the stage. He explained that he would withdraw if he felt his restricted mobility was endangering others.

    “I’m trying to give myself a fighting chance. My biggest concern is my health and that of those around me. If I’m a danger to either, I’ll be out of here. If I’m ok, I’ll push on,” he said.

    Ironically, Vande Velde said that his chances of completing the stage would be far greater if the route were a mountainous one, explaining that the expected battle for position in the crosswinds on Thursday afternoon would prove extremely difficult given his injuries.

    “I don’t know what chance I have. I don’t feel so bad but today is one of the worst days I could have,” he said. “A mountain day would have been fine. This is going to be hard. It’s going to be windy, it’s going to be nervous and there’s going to be a lot of sprinting.”

    Vande Velde is set to retire at the end of this season and this will be his final Tour de France. The American served a six-month ban over the winter following his confession to doping during his time at US Postal, but returned for one more season so as to leave the sport on a more positive note.

    “I’m trying to keep the emotion out of it, and not thinking that this is going to be my last Tour,” he said on Thursday.
     

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  • Tour de France shorts: Flat as a tack, Anderson on Gerrans and EPO on the menu

    Damiano Cunego (Lampre - Merida) signs autographs
    Article published:
    July 4, 2013, 13:15
    By:
    Cycling News

    Cunego compares Basso rivalry to Senna and Prost. Really

    Team Sky sports director Nicholas Portal said following Stage 5 that tacks were to blame for a number of flat tyres experienced by his riders on Wednesday.

    Tacks being thrown on the road at the Tour de France is not a new phenomenon, with it first being reported in 1904. Last year, defending champion Cadel Evans (BMC) was one of around 30 riders who punctured after upholstery tacks were along the final climb of stage 14.

    Portal said that a spate of flats occurred with around 60km left to race.

    "Richie [Porte] and G [Thomas] both experienced flat tyres though, and we think they might have been down to people placing tacks on the road," he explained on the team website. "They were in the tyres when we inspected them after the race, and a few other teams also experienced similar problems. That's a bit of a worry but thankfully nobody was hurt."

    Dubious menu in Cagnes-sur-Mer

    Hosting a Tour de France stage start came be a boon for local business owners but one restaurant in Cagnes-sur-Mer on Wednesday was prepared to go just that little bit further than the rest.

    AFP reports that one such menu featured EPO - Escalope, Parmesan and Olive.

    It is not known if the menu item proved a hit with patrons.

    Anderson full of praise for protege Gerrans

    The first non-European to don the yellow jersey, Phil Anderson, could not have been happier for compatriot Simon Gerrans (Orica GreenEdge) to take the Tour de France lead.

    Gerrans was a neighbour of Anderson's and at the age of 17, took up cycling under the former Peugeot rider's guidance while recovering from a motocross accident which had injured his knee. The 33-year-old is tipped to hold onto the yellow jersey until the weekend and Anderson told Fairfax Media that Gerrans should soak up the experience.

    "Just enjoy it... [With the jersey] you can be too busy thinking about your result and not enjoying the moment. Getting the yellow jersey changed my life... and it will certainly change his."

    Anderson also explained that Gerrans, whose palmares already includes stage wins in all three grand tours, continues to surprise him with results.

    "With every result he gets, I am surprised," Anderson explained. "He is a smart kid, reads the race well, doesn't do a tap of work he doesn't need to. I am so happy for him."

    The power of yellow

    Jan Bakelants' (RadioShack Leopard) two-day stint in the maillot jaune is already having a bit of an upside for the remainder of his career with interest growing in the off-contract rider.

    Bakelants reportedly has the interest of six teams, which has doubled in the last week, according to Nieuwsblad.be.

    Now 27, Bakelants turned professional with the Topsport Vlaanderen-Mercator team in 2009, before a two-year stint at Omega Pharma-Lotto, and then joined RadioShack for the 2012 season.

    Cunego and Basso, the Senna and Prost of the Italian gruppo?

    Cycling history is littered with its great rivalries, but aside from a few choice headlines in the Italian press in the winter of 2004-2005 notwithstanding, it's fair to saw that the Damiano Cunego-Ivan Basso rivalry is not one of them. Not that it has stopped Cunego from making some rather grandiose comparisons as he bemoaned the absence of his old sparring partner at this Tour.

    “I miss Ivan Basso,” Cunego told Gazzetta dello Sport. “I’m sorry that he’s not at the Tour. He and I have been points of reference in many races. When I take a look around the peloton, I find it strange not to find him among faces that I don’t know yet. You think of me and Ivan a bit like you’d think of Senna and Prost – relatively speaking.”

    Er, maybe.

    Cunego, who finished 7th in his last Tour appearance two years ago, hasn’t exactly been motoring so far in 2013, with just one win to his name and, as a scandalised Gazzetta points out, no top ten places in any race since the beginning of April.

    “Cycling has changed an awful lot compared to when I turned professional,” Cunego said. “The Ango-Saxon teams are dominating. They string the peloton out, they ride flat out and they have their own way of managing the race. I don’t say that as a negative thing, I’m just noting the difference. You need to adjust to it.”

     

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  • Stephen Roche: We need zero tolerance of doping

    Stephen Roche on Alpe d'Huez in the 1987 Tour.
    Article published:
    July 4, 2013, 14:18
    By:
    José Been

    Irishman regrets Riis' absence from the Tour de France

    “We need to draw a line and start a zero tolerance policy. I think that time has now come,” former Tour de France winner Stephen Roche said to Dutch sports news website Nusport. “Considering taking Marco Pantani’s Tour title away is getting sick, no it is sick. Where do we stop?”

    Saxo-Tinkoff manager Bjarne Riis left the Tour de France on Wednesday, after Michael Rasmussen told the Danish paper Politiken that the 1996 Tour de France winner knew about doping on the then-CSC team in 2002. Riis is part of an ongoing investigation by the Danish anti-doping authorities. Roche’s son Nicolas is part of Saxo-Tinkoff this Tour de France and Roche Senior is disappointed by Riis' departure. “It’s a big loss to both Nicolas and Alberto (Contador). I think it’s stupid. Does this mean Hinault and Poulidor will have to leave the Tour, too?”

    The 53-year-old Irishman spoke about the matter as being something of a witch hunt. “You can’t keep on living in the past. We have to move on. There comes a time when you have to say up till here and no further.”

    The French Senate started an investigation into the use of substances in the 1998 Tour de France. The report was originally scheduled to be published on the day of the Alpe d’Huez stage but was postponed until the Monday after the Tour de France finishes. “What does this investigation bring cycling? I don’t understand why cycling keeps tolerating this,” Roche said.

    Roche doesn’t take the stance other observers have taken that cycling’s past needs to be cleaned up before the sport can move forward. “Will we have to look at Merckx then? Hinault? Will that do the sport any good? Look at Laurent Jalabert. Everyone thinks now that 99% of the riders in his era were using doping. Why drag one man through the mud then?”

    The 1987 Tour de France winner thinks a line needs to be drawn at January 1st, 2013 and install a zero tolerance policy from that date on with no chance of rehabilitation. “Severe penalties like this are needed to move the sport forward. No more excuses because when one rider gets caught an entire team and their staff lose their job. This is the moment to make clear to everyone involved that cycling needs to move forward."