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Second Edition Cycling News, Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Date published:
July 16, 2013, 1:00 BST
  • Pinot out of Tour de France

    Thibaut Pinot (FDJ)
    Article published:
    July 16, 2013, 10:25 BST
    Cycling News captain admitted to fear of descending

    Thibaut Pinot finished tenth in the Tour de France in 2012 but won't finish the race this year. His team announced that he would not take to the start of the 16th stage on Tuesday, due to a sore throat.

    Pinot suffered through the second week of the Tour after losing time on the descent of Col de Pailheres in the Pyrenees. He was 52nd in the general classification, 1:05.25 down on race leader Chris Froome (Team Sky). The Frenchman admitted that he had major problems on testing descents. "Some people are afraid of spiders or snakes. I'm afraid of speed. It's a phobia," he confessed.

    Ever since a serious crash when he was younger, Pinot has struggled on descents. The team has worked with him to help overcome the problem. However, the pressure of being team captain in only his second Tour has apparently been too much for him. He lost more than 25 minutes on the stage to Ax 3 Domaines and told L'Equipe, “When I saw that I was not able to stay on the wheel of a rider like Mark Cavendish on the descent off a mountain pass, I asked myself: ‘What am I doing on the Tour?' I received the clear response that I have nothing to do here."

    He had hoped to turn things around on Mont Ventoux on Sunday, but he lost 19:59.


  • Tour de France shorts: Rain on its way, no friends for Team Sky

    Bauke Mollema will lead Belkin at the Tour de France
    Article published:
    July 16, 2013, 12:59 BST
    Cycling News

    Seeing Paris and Mollemadness

    Rain, rain, go away

    The upcoming Tour stages in the Alps will be difficult enough, without Mother Nature doing her part to mess things up. Unfortunately, rain, even heavy rain, is predicted for later in the week.

    Weerplaza, a weather forecasting service working for Team Belkin, said that “we have reported high risk of heavy showers. For Tuesday, the chance of rain at the end of the ride to Gap already increasing. Also Wednesday during the time trial I expected rainfall, especially in the final stage. "

    The worst news comes for Thursday, when the peloton faces two ascents of the Alpe d'Huez, with a dangerous descent in between. “It is quite possible that the entire ride from Gap to Alpe d'Huez  must be ridden in the rain,” said Michiel Severin. “I don't want to use the word storm,  but there can be very heavy showers falling locally. That will really affect the ascent and descent of Alpe d'Huez.”

    The good news? It is too warm for snow.

    Gadret is not a friend of Team Sky

    John Gadret (Ag2r-LaMondiale) has claimed that Team Sky has few friends in the peloton. Speaking in a long interview in L'Equipe, the shaven-headed Frenchman also suggested that there would be little sympathy or support for Froome if something happened to him during the final stages of the Tour.

    "All the riders have turned against them because they're rich and because they think control the peloton," Gadret is reported to have said.

    "At the Tour de Bavière (Bayern-Rundfahrt) they blocked the road behind the breakaway. But I went to the front with them. At the moment it's our fault, we just need to put our skates on and things would be quickly sorted out."

    Asked if Froome could signify a fresh start for the sport, Gadret replied: "In any case, if something happens to him tomorrow (in the future), he will not have any support…"

  • Video: Michael Rogers on Ventoux and Froome

    Michael Rogers is at the Tour to help Alberto Contador
    Article published:
    July 16, 2013, 14:15 BST
    Daniel Benson

    Experienced Saxo-Tinkoff rider talks about performance, numbers and tactics

    Michael Rogers (Saxo Tinkoff) was a key component in Sky’s Tour de France victory last year and his experience and road craft has shined through once again this year at Saxo.

    The Australian was a central figure in his team’s assault on stage 13 to Saint-Amand-Montrond. Despite those efforts,  Rogers’ captain Alberto Contador still finds himself on the back foot, just over four minutes down on Chris Froome with less than a week of racing left.

    On the rest day Cyclingnews caught up with Rogers at the Saxo hotel with the Australian stating that although Contador would not give up trying to win the race it had become increasingly difficult given Froome’s current form.

    Rogers also talked about the times set on Mont Ventoux, where Froome stormed away from Contador and his other GC rivals.



  • Froome avoids disaster on descent to Gap

    An attack from Alberto Contador on the descent to Gap almost worked out
    Article published:
    July 16, 2013, 18:45 BST
    Daniel Benson

    Contador pushes past the brink in Tour de France stage 16

    Chris Froome was handed a timely reminder that this Tour de France is far from over when he narrowly avoided a crash on stage 16 to Gap. The maillot jaune holder was forced off the road on the final descent when he was following Alberto Contador around one particular corner, and the Saxo Tinkoff leader crashed. The Spaniard picked himself back up, but on the descent made famous by Joseba Beloki’s crash in 2003, today’s incident was a demonstration of just how quickly a rider's Tour de France luck can turn.

    Froome’s lead remains intact after Rui Costa (Movistar) soloed clear to win his second stage in three years, and Froome was also able to put time into Laurens ten Dam but he was forced onto the defensive on the final climb of the day.

    "This race is far from over. One incident, one mechanical or crash in the wrong moment and your Tour can be over. In my mind this Tour is not over until I cross the final line on the Champs-Élysées," the race leader said in his post race press conference.

    With such a substantial lead and tomorrow’s time trial to come, Froome was always going to face up to a peloton snapping at his heels after Monday’s rest day. Katusha was the first to play its hand on the lower slopes of the Col de Manse before Contador fired three volleys across Sky’s bow. Richie Porte stood firm and protected his leader, but the descent would end up proving to be the most dangerous moment for Froome.

    "I personally think that teams are starting to get desperate now and therefore are taking uncalculated risks," Froome added.

    "Kreuziger and Contador were taking it in turns to come from the back with speed and start a small gap on the descent in a hope that we would lay off...

  • Mixed fortunes for Mollema, ten Dam on Col de Manse

    Bauke Mollema (Belkin)
    Article published:
    July 16, 2013, 20:05 BST
    Barry Ryan

    When the yellow jersey crashes you shouldn't attack, says Mollema

    The fiercely-contested climb and descent of the Col de Manse on stage 16 heralded the reopening of hostilities after the second rest day of the Tour de France and Bauke Mollema (Belkin) warned that it was merely a taste of what is to come in the final week of the race.

    Saxo-Tinkoff pair Alberto Contador and Roman Kreuziger launched a stinging series of attacks over the second category climb, while best young rider Nairo Quintana (Movistar) came to the fore on the sinuous drop to Gap. Chris Froome's yellow jersey remains the ultimate target, but their efforts were also aimed at dislodging Mollema from second place overall.

    After battling to limit his losses on Mont Ventoux on Sunday, Mollema appeared considerably more comfortable here, however, as he joined the rather elite yellow jersey group that formed as a result of the Saxo-Tinkoff onslaught. The Dutchman withstood the accelerations on the Manse – and held his fire on the descent – to roll home safely alongside Froome, Contador and Quintana and maintain his overall position, 4:14 off the lead.

    "This week the good climbers like Contador and Quintana will attack every day in the final," Mollema said after rolling to a halt shortly beyond the finish line on Gap's Avenue Maréchal Foch. "The whole day was actually pretty easy except for the start and then the final climb. I was pretty sure they were going to attack but I felt pretty good on the last climb, and I never had any problems.

    "The attacks hurt a bit, but today I preferred to face attacks like that than to go at one pace all the time. The climb was not hard enough to drop me or to drop Froome, as you could go up on the big ring most of the time and I was never in big trouble."

    The Tour's visits to the Col de...

  • Contador remains upbeat despite crashing on Col de Manse descent

    Alberto Contador and Chris Froome
    Article published:
    July 16, 2013, 20:45 BST
    Daniel Benson

    Spaniard intends to keep racing aggressively

    Alberto Contador made light of his crash on the final descent of stage 16 of the Tour de France before reminding his rivals that he would attack at every opportunity in a bid to still win the race. After an exhilarating finale to the stage Contador remains third overall, 4:25 down on Chris Froome (Team Sky).

    Contador attacked several times on the final climb of the stage, the category 2 Col de Manse, but each acceleration was matched by Sky's Richie Porte, who repeatedly dragged race leader Chris Froome up to the Spaniard.

    However, Contador wasn't finished, attacking on the descent in a bid to unsettle the race leader. The move backfired on the downhill made famous by Joseba Beloki's 2003 crash with the Saxo-Tinkoff leader crashing on one corner. Froome almost hit the deck too, but managed to keep upright despite running off the road briefly.

    Contador was quickly on his bike but his right elbow and knee took the brunt of the fall.

    "I hope it's something superficial," he said. "Now I'll put ice on myself and I think I'll be fine for tomorrow."

    Despite the fall and Chris Froome's assertions that the Spaniard had taken too many risks on the descent, Contador remained upbeat. His accelerations, and those of his teammate Roman Kreuziger and Katusha's Joaquim Rodriguez, were enough to drop Belkin's Laurens ten Dam and put the Dutchman's teammate Bauke Mollema under pressure.

    "This is pure and simple cycling. Today we tried and in the end a Belkin rider was unhooked and another was on the ropes," he said.

    "Now I just hope that the fall does not affect me more than to sleep a little worse...

  • Quintana: I didn't attack because Contador crashed

    Nairo Quintana (Movistar) dons the white jersey
    Article published:
    July 16, 2013, 21:25 BST
    Barry Ryan

    Colombian moves up to fifth overall

    During his rest day press conference, Alberto Contador (Saxo-Tinkoff) had talked hopefully of finding an ally of circumstance in Nairo Quintana (Movistar) in the high mountains of the final week of the Tour de France, but the cracks in that potential coalition are showing even before the race enters the Alps proper.

    After Contador's volley of attacks on the ascent of the Col de Manse in the finale of stage 16 had formed an elite group of eight riders but failed to discommode yellow jersey Chris Froome (Sky), the Spaniard tried again on the very descent where his fellow countryman Joseba Beloki dramatically crashed out of the 2003 Tour while seeking to put Lance Armstrong under pressure.

    Like Beloki, Contador was a faller on the descent and, as was the case 10 years ago, the yellow jersey also went off the road, but mercifully that was where the parallels ended. Both Contador and Froome quickly remounted, and with the help of Richie Porte (Sky), they succeeded in latching back on to the Quintana group.

    As the eight-man yellow jersey group hurtled towards the finish in Gap, however, Contador - usually the most unflappable of characters - drew alongside Quintana and gave him an ironic thumbs up. The reason? According to Contador's version - corroborated to Cyclingnews by Belkin's Bauke Mollema - Quintana had accelerated immediately after the crash.

    "Honestly, I haven't even spoken with the riders yet, so I can't tell you what happened," Movistar manager Eusebio Unzue told Cyclingnews as he leaned against his team car, parked on a side street past the finish line. "I don't think he can have accelerated much because they got back up to him pretty...

  • Rui Costa repaid with Tour de France stage victory in Gap

    Rui Costa (Movistar)
    Article published:
    July 16, 2013, 22:40 BST
    Barry Ryan

    Portuguese rider had sacrificed GC hopes for Valverde

    One of cycling's most poignant customs is the unwavering loyalty of the domestique, and after sacrificing his own overall ambitions in a fruitless bid to salvage those of his Movistar leader Alejandro Valverde, Rui Costa was repaid for his selflessness with victory on stage 16 of the Tour de France.

    When Valverde broke a wheel on the road to Saint-Amand-Montrond last week just as the peloton was being buffeted by crosswind and shattered into pieces, all of the Movistar team with the exception of Nairo Quintana was ordered to drop back, including Rui Costa, then lying 9th overall and with a burgeoning palmares that features the last two editions of the Tour de Suisse.

    Eyebrows were raised at that decision, all the more so given that Valverde ultimately lost almost ten minutes and all hopes of a podium place, but Rui Costa unblinkingly accepted his burden. Such is the reality of the hierarchies that bind professional cycling teams.

    "The first week of the Tour was perfect for me and the team but that changed after Alejandro's puncture as I had to stop and wait for him," Rui Costa said. "After that, I forgot about my own GC chances and started to think about stage wins. But it's not a problem for me to be in this team with Nairo and Alejandro. There are three Grand Tours on the calendar and plenty of races for everybody."

    While Rui Costa's teammate Quintana is now the man charged with landing a podium place for Movistar, the Portuguese rider was given free rein the infiltrate the early break, which took some considerable time to form given the presence of Dan Martin (Garmin-Sharp) among the early attackers.

    "Yesterday, I was already thinking about...