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Second Edition Cycling News, Thursday, June 30, 2011

Date published:
June 30, 2011, 1:00 BST
  • Contador faces doping questions at Tour de France press conference

    Alberto Contador and Bjarne Riis talk to the media at their pre-Tour press conference.
    Article published:
    June 30, 2011, 14:56 BST
    Stephen Farrand

    Spaniard forced on the defensive

    Alberto Contador was forced on the defensive during his pre-race Tour de France press conference after being quizzed about his still-undecided doping case from the 2010 Tour de France and his stance against doping.

    In a packed room at the media centre in Le Herbiers, Sunday Times journalist and former professional Paul Kimmage lead the string of questions. He suggested that every team Contador has ever raced with has been implicated or associated with doping. He suggested Contador would be racing under a cloud at this year’s Tour de France.

    Contador said Kimmage was mis-informed.

    “My tolerance against doping is 100 percent but everyone can believe what they want,” he said bluntly.

    He dismissed the idea that he could win the Tour de France and then be suspended and so lose his victory just a few weeks later.

    “I’m able to concentrate. I’ve done it for several years. I’ve done lots of press conferences and stayed focused,” Contador said.

    “There always a lot of pressure at the Tour, you can see that by the number of journalists here. The outside pressure is greater than the inside pressure. I’m able to stay focused and know that my objective is to enjoy riding my bike.

    “The idea that I could lose the Tour seems ridiculous. I’ve undergone a lot of (anti-doping) controls and during my career because I’ve won a lot. It’s ridiculous that I could lose the Tour. I’m confident in the outcome of my case.”

    Riis defends his team leader

    Bjarne Riis tried to defend Contador, insisting that people should question the drawn out procedure that has resulted in him starting the 2011 Tour de France, while still not knowing if he will be banned for testing positive...

  • Video: Geraint Thomas ready to support Wiggins at Tour de France

    Ben Swift, Bradley Wiggins and Geraint Thomas.
    Article published:
    June 30, 2011, 15:21 BST
    Cycling News

    Welshman primed for team time trial

    Team Sky is riding a wave of high morale following a successful lead-up to the Tour de France.  Bradley Wiggins won the Critérium du Dauphiné followed by a Team Sky sweep of the podium at the British road championships two weeks later, featuring Wiggins' solo to victory.

    A key component to Sky's Tour de France team is Geraint Thomas, who's making his third start in the French Grand Tour and recently finished as silver medalist behind Wiggins at the British road nationals.

    The 25-year-old Welshman, one of the revelations of the 2010 Tour de France, is coolly confident in advance of this year's Tour and is looking forward to assisting Wiggins for his general classification ambitions, particularly in stage two's team time trial.

    "It's pretty much the Dauphine team plus Swifty (Ben Swift), and if it goes the same as the Dauphine that would be alright, wouldn't it?" said Thomas. "It's all about working for Brad. After the team time trial I'm not really thinking about myself."

    Thomas talks about his first two Tours and the atmosphere unlike any other in cycling. "At the end of the day it's the sport in all it's glory," said Thomas.

  • Boasson Hagen to ride the Tour de France

    Edvald Boasson Hagen (Team Sky)
    Article published:
    June 30, 2011, 16:38 BST
    Stephen Farrand

    Norwegian recovered from shingles

    Team Sky has confirmed that Edvald Boasson Hagen will ride the Tour de France after recovering from a recent bout of shingles.

    The Norwegian won his national time trial by over two minutes last week but then missed the road race championship on Sunday after picking up the illness.

    His ride in the Tour de France was in doubt but he travelled to the Vendée region on Wednesday and has been confirmed in the final Team Sky starting nine that includes Bradley Wiggins, Simon Gerrans, Geraint Thomas and Juan Antonio Flecha.

    "I never really felt sick; I just had a bit of a rash on my back but that's gone now and I feel just as good as I did before,” Boasson Hagen said in a statement from Team Sky.

    "The doctor said I had to take it easy for a little while and get a bit of rest in order to recover as quickly as possible. I'm happy it's all worked out and I can focus on the Tour de France."

    The 24-year-old, multi-talented rider is expected to play a key role helping Bradley Wiggins. He doesn't expect his enforced rest to make much difference to his form.

    "I was feeling really good at the Dauphiné. I worked hard on my climbing there and it was nice to see that I could go in that front group and really help Bradley,” he said.

    "Despite the rash, I haven't felt bad at any point since then so I'm really looking forward to the Tour where I'll be doing everything I can to help get a good result for the team, that's the main thing."

    Team Sky will target victory on the first stage to Mont des Alouettes with Ben Swift and Boasson Hagen and then hope to put a rider in the yellow jersey with success in Sunday’s second stage team time trial...

  • Teams train on TTT parcours

    The Saxo Bank Sungard team does a training session on the Tour's stage two team time trial parcours.
    Article published:
    June 30, 2011, 18:07 BST
    Cycling News

    Collective test could prove decisive for Tour de France lead

    One by one, the teams that have arrived in Western France for the Tour de France start on the Atlantic ocean have been reconnoitering the course of the team time trial scheduled for Sunday. The collective race against the clock could be decisive for a team to take the early overall lead in the event, and will put a first order in general classification.

    American ProTeam Garmin-Cervélo is especially keen and wound up for stage two, as the 23km-course seems a perfect opportunity for the strong rouleurs to score their first Tour de France stage victory. Jonathan Vaughters and his men trained in Les Essarts on Tuesday, completing several laps of the course and fine-tuning their train.

    "I had to make sure that our alignment is perfect and that the rider order we chose is the right one," Vaughters told L'Equipe.

    Throughout the week, the argyle team was followed by more squads visiting the course which, even if it is only short, could mean a the yellow jersey. Rabobank trained on the course on Thursday morning, RadioShack, Leopard Trek, Omega Pharma-Lotto and Liquigas-Cannondale on Wednesday.

    "It's a little too short for us," said RadioShack director Alain Gallopin. "It's a pity, as there will be no gaps and it will be more dangerous. The teams will take more risks," he feared.

    The Luxembourg team around the Schleck brothers also completed two laps and time trial specialist Fabian Cancellara advised his teammates to ride closer to each other's wheels. "We have to tighten our line, leave less space to get more fluidity in the relays," he said. "We have to...

  • Trek reveals custom Madone designs for Tour de France

    Trek says the predominantly white design was inspired by RadioShack's 2011 clothing
    Article published:
    June 30, 2011, 18:35 BST
    Cycling News

    Preview of Cancellara, Schleck brothers and RadioShack's bikes

    Trek has unveiled a special collection of Madone 6.9 SSLs which will be used by the RadioShack and Leopard Trek teams during the upcoming Tour de France.

    Andy and Fränk Schleck, Fabian Cancellara and the entire RadioShack team will ride bikes with colours "inspired by the riders themselves". That means Spartacus-inspired graphics for Cancellara - also applied to his Speed Concept 9.9 time trial bike - a Luxembourg theme for the Schlecks and a clean white, red and black look for the American squad.

    Each colour scheme will be available to buy through Trek's Project One custom bike programme from 1 July. Check out the gallery for a closer look at the designs.

    Fabian Cancellara's

    Fabian Cancellara's "Spartacus" Madone 6.9 SSL.

    This article originally appeared on BikeRadar

  • BMC to investigate Schoutteten doping accusations

    BMC Racing Team president Jim Ochowicz has helped the organization grow into a reputable UCI Pro Continental team. This was a busy morning for him following the Floyd Landis declarations the previous night.
    Article published:
    June 30, 2011, 19:06 BST
    Stephen Farrand

    Ochowicz admits Belgian soigneur worked part time for BMC

    The BMC team has announced it will take immediate action to investigate what involvement part-time soigneur Sven Schoutteten might have had with riders and staff during his interaction with the team.

    Schoutteten is alleged to be part of a doping investigation in Belgium that stems from 2009. Customs officials in Liege airport discovered a package containing 195 vials of the banned blood boosting drug EPO.

    BMC team manager Jim Ochowicz initially denied knowing Schoutteten to Belgian media but has since claimed he misunderstood the question when speaking to a Belgian journalist. It emerged that Schoutteten worked for the BMC team as recently as mid-June at the Giro della Toscana one-day race.

    In the team statement Ochowicz said: "This is very disturbing news. Although he was only picked up to work when we didn't have enough regular therapists to support the races (he worked two days this year and 13 in 2010), we want to make sure his interaction with our team was nothing out of the ordinary.

    “We do not believe there were any improprieties happening during his time with the team, but we want to make sure. He was not scheduled to be at this year's Tour de France, of course."

    Schoutteten was arrested on Monday and questioned by Belgian police but conditionally released on Thursday.

  • Video: Martin puts sponsor troubles aside during Tour de France

    German Tony Martin fulfilled his promise in the Paris-Nice time trial
    Article published:
    June 30, 2011, 19:46 BST
    Daniel Benson

    German dialled in on top ten success

    Tony Martin (HTC-Highroad) will be gunning for a top ten in this year’s Tour de France but doesn’t believe his performance will have much of an affect on the team’s search for a new sponsor.

    The German won Paris-Nice this year and finished second in the Tour de Romandie and will spearhead HTC’s quest for a high position on GC. With Peter Velits and Tejay Van Garderen to support him in the mountain the 26-year-old believes that he has the opportunity to finally crack it as a Grand Tour rider.

    However, despite his recent good form and the fact that HTC have won more races than any other team since the 2008 season the American outfit are struggling to find a sponsor for next year. Martin admitted that the timing was less than perfect and told Cyclingnews that he and the rest of the team were focused on the job at hand.

    HTC could land an early blow against their rivals during the opening weekend. The first stage from Passage du Gois La Barre-de-Monts to Mont des Alouettes Les Herbiers could play into the hands of Matt Goss while the following day's team trial will see the team excel.

  • Photo gallery: the Tour de France team presentation

    Alberto Contador looking distraught over the crowd's boos
    Article published:
    June 30, 2011, 20:11 BST
    Cycling News

    Contador booed by crowd in Puy du Fou arena

    The 198 riders set to compete in this year’s Tour de France attended the official team presentation held in a fake Roman arena at the Puy du Fou theme park on Thursday afternoon.

    The 22 teams entered the arena one at a time with some being pulled in carriages and others appearing from a rising platform like a boy band.

    Most of the riders were cheered by the crowd but Alberto Contador was booed loudly as he stepped on to the stage. Earlier his team manager Bjarne Riis had defended the Spaniard’s right to race because his Clenbuterol positive from last year’s Tour de France has still to be considered by the Court of Arbitration for Sport. However, the crowd’s disapproving reaction indicates Contador is not welcomed by many of the French spectators at this year’s race.

    New jerseys

    The riders climbed on stage wearing their racing kit, with Garmin-Cervelo showing off their new white and blue argyle design. New national champions such as Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky), Sylvain Chavanel (Quick Step), Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Movistar), Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) and Fabian Cancellara (Leopard Trek) proudly donned their new jerseys.

    “It’s a great place for a gladiator," Cancellara said with a wry smile confirming he would be targeting a spell in the yellow jersey despite the Tour de France starting with a road race stage on Saturday.

    “I’m motivated. It’s the first time there’s no prologue for me but we’ll still aiming for the...