A close-up look at the Australian's purpose-built ride
Australian's 2015 Tinkoff-Saxo team bike
Winner of the 2015 Tour Down Under
New and old kicks and lids seen at WorldTour race
"It's a success story but we have to handle these cases correctly," says UCI head
UCI President Brian Cookson has hit back at criticism and suspicion surrounding the UCI's handling of the Denis Menchov Biological Passport case, insisting he has to balance transparency with legally binding procedures.
News of Menchov's suspension and loss of results from the 2009, 2010 and 2012 Tours de France, broke with the UCI surreptitiously slipping the news into a summary of doping cases that was published on July 10 instead of issuing a press release.
Cookson was at the Tour de France for the presentation of the La Course, the women's race on the last day of the race in Paris and the Tour de l'Avenir. However he was grilled on the Menchov case and his election claims of working with more transparency compared to former president Pat McQuaid.
"The first thing I want to say is that this was entirely in line with normal procedure. In the case of Menchov, he accepted the sanction and when there is acceptance, there is a process that follows and that is what was carried out," Cookson said.
"There's no new policy, change in tactic or strategy. That's what we do. I think we have to keep in mind that a guy who was doping has been caught through the Biological Passport. It's a success story but we have to handle these cases correctly and that's what we did."
Cookson flatly refuted the suspicion that his links to Katusha team backer and UCI Management Committee member Igor Makarov may have influenced the way the UCI handled the case.
"I understand the implications of that but first of all it was reported, it was on the website, it was not hidden at all, that's what we do normally. It might have been better if we'd made a more positive announcement about it but...
Australian confirms new deal
Simon Gerrans has signed a new three-year deal with Orica-GreenEdge.
"I'm really happy to stay at Orica-Greenedge and I want to continue winning with this team," the Australian stated on the team’s website.
The 34-year-old rider from Victoria signed up for the team when it started three years ago after he had been racing with AG2r, Crédit Agricole, Cervélo and Team Sky since his professional debut in 2005.
"I've been able to produce some of the biggest results of my career on this team and I'm thankful and proud of the leadership role they have given me. The last three seasons have been such an incredible ride and I want to personally thank Gerry Ryan for bringing this team into the WorldTour and make it possible for us to have an Australian based team at the highest international level."
With Orica-GreenEdge he won Milan-San Remo (2012) and Liège-Bastogne-Liège (2014) and the Australian national title twice. Gerrans is also a triple Tour Down Under winner and double Tour de France stage winner. Last year he wore the yellow jersey two days before selflessly handing it over to his teammate Daryl Impey.
Gerrans praised that atmosphere within the team, "The camaraderie between the riders and the great support around us has made this the perfect place for me. I look forward to the future, knowing that I couldn't have picked a better team for the next part of my career."
"Simon has been our most important rider in a lot of ways and we're thrilled that he'll be with us for another long part of his fantastic career. He has won some of the biggest races...
Omega Pharma - Quick Step rider out of energy at the end of stage 10
Michal Kwiatkowski (Omega Pharma - Quick-Step) aimed high but lost everything in the third and final Vosges mountain stage of the 2014 Tour de France from Mulhouse to La Planche des Belles Filles on Monday. The Polish rider was unable to profit from teammate Tony Martin's efforts in a long breakaway move in which he virtually took over the yellow jersey. Kwiatkowski lost his white jersey of best young rider to Romain Bardet (AG2R) and tumbled to 13th overall at 4:39 from maillot jaune Vincenzo Nibali (Astana).
Martin seemingly had recovered well from his efforts from the day before, possibly tanking energy from Germany's World Cup football victory. While disaster struck Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) in the peloton, Martin put himself in front of Kwiatkowski, closed the gap to the leaders and then led the lead group for miles and miles over the Vosges climbs while receiving no support from his breakaway companions.
At the Col des Chevrères, the penultimate climb of the day, Martin ended his impressive work for Kwiatkowski and the Polish rider accelerated up the Vosges mountain with only Joaquin Rodriguez marking his move. A little later, Kwiatkowski's high aspirations fell apart when he was dropped by Rodriguez and several others, including race leader Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) who had attacked from the peloton.
"I'm very thankful to Tony. It's just incredible. I just sat on his wheel and he pulled the whole day. I never saw something like that before. Because of him I thought I could win the stage and maybe take even yellow. In the end, I just didn't have the legs so I'm really disappointed I could not finish his work," Kwiatkowski said after finally making it over the La Planche des Belles Filles climb. The young...
Trek rider leaves to prepare for Worlds
The Swiss rider will leave to prepare for the World Championships in Ponferrada in September.
“I will travel home now and take a little break. The season has been long for me, starting back in Dubai," Cancellara said in the team press release. "I have done 59 days of competition this season so far and I have another big goal at the end of this season: the World Championships. It’s not a secret that I’d like to be in my best shape there, so it’s important that I take some rest.”
Cancellara was widely tipped to win stage 5 of the Tour de France, which traversed some of the Paris-Roubaix pavé sectors. He could only manage fifth on the day behind winner Lars Boom (Belkin).
He then made the breakaway on stage 9 to Mulouse, but his time trial rival Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-Quickstep) had long before flown the coop to win the stage solo, leaving Cancellara to sprint for second place.
“It was not only about the cobblestones stage for me. The course for this year’s Tour is very attractive for a rider of my profile, I liked it. There were many opportunities and with a little more luck, I could have gone home with a result in the pocket," he said.
The team will be down to just six riders, after losing Andy Schleck and Danny van Poppel. Haimar Zubeldia is the team's highest placed rider on GC, at 20th place, 8:01 behind Vincenzo Nibali (Astana).
Team manager Luca Guercilena supported the exit of Cancellara. “We brought Fabian to the Tour to be a factor where his...
"We have to attack Nibali," says new Plan A
With the race reaching its first rest day and the Vosges Mountains now firmly behind him, Richie Porte (Team Sky) sits second overall in the Tour de France. It’s an enviable position for all but one of the Tour de France contenders remaining in the race, but the Australian is focused and determined to seize the opportunity that has come his way.
Heading into the race, Porte was labelled as the team’s "plan B": a polite way of saying you’re here to support Chris Froome and unless he falls off and goes home, that’s all you do. Ten days into the race and while no one on the team would see Froome’s departure as good news or a reason to celebrate, Porte finds himself with the chance of a lifetime.
Having missed his main goal of the Giro d’Italia through illness, he has flown under the radar. Unlike the likes of Nibali and Valverde he has not faced a sustained period of pressure-building questions over his Tour credentials. At the Team Sky press conference on Tuesday morning it was perhaps little wonder that the Tasmanian is relaxed and even jovial.
“Anyone is beatable,” he said, cutting straight to the point when asked if he can topple race leader Vincenzo Nibali.
“He’s in a great position and he has a great team that has controlled this race really well. We’ve seen that this Tour throws in surprises everywhere so it’s not over until Paris. We have to attack him now. It’s our race to take to him and I’m sure Valverde and all these guys coming into the Pyrenees will do…we’re going to see some exciting racing.”
Currently sitting 2:33 behind Nibali but ahead of Valverde, Romain Bardet and Tejay van Garderen, Porte has been trust centre stage at Team Sky....
American hopeful about podium possibilities during first rest day
After 10 days of hard racing, van Garderen and his seven-remaining BMC teammates - Colombian John Darwin Atapuma was forced to retire on stage 7 after a crash left him with a broken leg - were taking advantage of the Tour's first rest day to recharge, take stock and plan ahead. The 25-year-old sits in seventh place overall, 3:56 down on race leader Vincenzo Nibali.
"You see a lot of guys who are strong in the first week and then start to fade in the third week," van Garderen said. "I think that if I can just stay consistent, then maybe I can move up a couple of places and... you never know!"
Indeed, you never do know, and this year's Tour has already seen both defending champion Chris Froome (Sky) and two-time winner Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) crash out. There's nothing to say that Nibali couldn't go the same way, too, which would blow the race entirely open, with less than two minutes separating Sky's Richie Porte, in second place, 2:23 behind Nibali, and 11th-placed Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Lotto-Belisol), 4:18 down on the Italian race leader.
But van Garderen can't see Nibali crashing out any time soon.
"Anyone can crash, but I don't expect him to - and neither would I want him to, of course - as he's one of the most incredible bike handlers I've ever seen," said van Garderen. "He's almost like [renowned skilful bike-handler] Peter Sagan in that respect, and can do things that most riders can't. If Nibali gets himself into a bad situation, in which 99 per cent of us would go down, he seems to be able to get out of it."
Out of the Tour de France but looks to next goal
Alberto Contador (Tinkoff Saxo) could make a remarkable comeback and race the Vuelta a España next month. The Spaniard crashed out of the Tour de France during yesterday’s stage 10 and was later diagnosed with a broken tibia. Despite the crash and injury he had attempted to carry on, making it a further twenty kilometres before eventually stopping. The Vuelta a España runs from 23 August to 14 September.
Having flown to Madrid on Oleg Tinkov’s private jet on Tuesday he was given further medical tests at Real Madrid’s clinic.
“He immediately went to the Clinica Centro, in which doctors waited to do a medical examination before deciding what the best course of treatment and if surgery is needed to speed his recovery,” a statement confirmed.
“Alberto Contador chose the Clinica Centro after contact with Real Madrid F.C. and more specifically with Emilio Butragueño, with whom he enjoys a good relationship, who quickly got to talk to the club's medical services and they in turn recommended consult with Dr. Leyes, a specialist in the type of injury suffered by the leader of Tinkoff-Saxo.”
The Vuelta a España was always on Contador’s original race programme for this year but after crashing out of the Tour he looked set to miss the Grand Tour, a race he won in 2008 and 2012.
“Alberto Contador said goodbye to his teammates during breakfast today and traveled to Madrid hoping to recover in time to take the start at next Vuelta a España, although everyone in the Tinkoff-Saxo team are aware of how hard it will get as fast recovery, allowing him again to be fully competitive in just 40 days.”...
Race leader talks attacking, crashes, being Italian and Pantani
Vincenzo Nibali continued to stay focused while racing but relaxed off the bike at the Tour de France, showing little sign of fatigue or pressure during his first rest day press conference as race leader.
The Sicilian is so keen to take the Tour de France day by day that he could not remember the name of the next mountain finish in the race. He answered questions with a hint of monotony, and only in Italian, but remained calm and collected despite sitting in front of a swath of television cameras and journalists in an open-air car park near his hotel. He had ridden for two hours in the morning with his teammates before facing the media.
When answering questions, he quickly refuted the idea that the Tour de France was over due to his significant lead on Richie Porte (Team Sky) and Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), or that the loss of Chris Froome and Alberto Contador could lessen his eventual victory. He also talked about his pride and hopes of being the next Italian after Marco Pantani to win the Tour de France.
"It's true, in the race I've got to stay focused and concentrated, but then I switch off a little when I'm off the bike," he said. "But we’ve prepared for the Tour de France and so we've got to be ready for anything. The Tour is the Tour, it's bigger but it's also the same as the other Grand Tours I've ridden and won."
"To be honest the stress of the race has been the hardest thing. On the stage with the pavé it was hugely stressful to stay at the front and avoid the crashes. Fortunately I had good support from the team. Even having yellow eased the stressed because we raced at the front."
"The Tour is not over, not by a long way. There are still a lot of stages to go before the finish. Anything can happen, there can surprises every day and there are big rivals like Porte and Valverde....