Whoever wins stage will take race lead, predicts Vaughters
After three hectic days on the island of Corsica the Tour de France caravan hits the mainland of France in Nice for the team time trial, and with 71 riders within a single second of Jan Bakelants' yellow jersey, many teams are eager to grab the race lead. The Garmin-Sharp team is one of the top favourites to win the 25km long team effort in the French coastal town, and if they do, then David Millar, currently seventh overall, will likely be the man to take over the maillot jaune.
If Millar can seize the race lead, it would be the second time in his career that he's worn the jersey. In 2000, he won the Futuroscope prologue and kept the yellow jersey for four days. Since then, the closest he's come was in 2010 with a third place in the prologue in Rotterdam. Millar was also part of the Garmin outfit when it won the team time trial in the 2011 Tour de France in Les Essarts and then-teammate Thor Hushovd grabbed the race lead.
During the ever-twisting stage from Ajaccio to Calvi today the Scotsman rode an anonymous stage, as did most of the favourites, each saving their energy for tomorrow. "I felt good today. That's a good sign," Millar said. "I'm feeling really good. The team seems to be flying. If we transfer that into the race tomorrow then we'll be going at a very high speed. We know what we're doing. It's not a new discipline to us," Millar said.
Team manager Jonathan Vaughters was pleased with the team performance in Corsica's third stage. "The guys were great today. Dave climbed well and we had six guys in the front group and the three guys who were only not there because they worked their asses off to keep those other six...
With just one second separating Jan Bakelant's General Classification lead from 71 other riders, the yellow jersey is certain to be resting on a new set of shoulders come Tuesday evening at the Tour de France with the completion of stage 4.
Leaving in reverse team classification order, Argos-Shimano will be the first team to leave the start house at Alpes-Maritimes. The 25km parcours is pan flat with just nine corners for the trains to negotiate on the out-and-back course meaning this stage is all about raw power.
Reigning World Champions Omega Pharma-Quick-Step may be carrying an injured Tony Martin, but the squad will head in to the stage as favourites along with TTT winners at the 2011 Tour, Garmin Sharp. Martin may still be covered in bandages following his crash on stage 1, but said following stage 3 that he was on the improve.
"Today I felt better then yesterday," Martin said. "Of course I'm still not 100 percent, but I'm feeling better than what was expected. Now I hope to get a good night's rest and tomorrow give my best effort to the team for the team time trial. I know how important it is to race hard for the team in this moment. We will do our best to get a good result."
The Belgian-based squad will be just the second to leave the start house so will have a while to wait to see if their time is good enough.
Garmin Sharp meantime carry significant firepower against the clock, piloted by yellow jersey hopeful David Millar, with Rohan Dennis, Ramunas Navardauskas and Christian Vande Velde.
Team Sky's chances took a hit with Geraint Thomas' fractured pelvis with the...
While staff members and equipment took the six-hour ferry trip from Corsica to Nice the peloton were given special Tour de France treatment aboard their flight across to the mainland with a dedicated plane and for some like Peter Sagan, a tour of the cockpit.
Peter Sagan showed-off his shot on Twitter while Adam Hansen also shared a photo of the outside of the plane prior to boarding.
Corsica claims two on the road to Calvi
Andrey Kashechkin (Astana) became the first withdrawal of the 2013 Tour de France, with gastrointestinal distress forcing the Astana rider out of the race in the first hour of Stage 3 on Monday.
Yoann Bagot (Cofidis) also failed to finish, reportedly suffering from food poisoning.
For Kashechkin, it had been a difficult 24 hours, as he had not been able to eat after Sunday's feed zone, and then could only manage a minimal amount at dinner. Forgoing breakfast before Stage 3 and still unwell, it was reported that he was left feeling very lethargic.
"I don't know what I have, but I'm sick and there was no energy in my body. I will go for some tests at home to see if I can determine what the problem is, but I'm sorry to have to leave the Tour de France," Kashechkin said.
Omega Pharma-Quick-Step's TTT squad takes another blow
"We're already going to have to take into account the injuries that Gee and Ian have got. They will be a little bit limited, but you've got to live with it."
Ellingworth said the team would discuss their plan for the team time trial with the riders on Tuesday morning. He admitted, though, that they were unlikely to be too complicated.
"Everybody is just going to go as hard as they can. The course is very straightforward. It's not technical at all. It's just flat-out power - grit your teeth and hang on.
"I think all of the top teams will be quite close - within a minute of each other. It certainly won't be the defining moment. Those will come on the climbs. But we will try to win the stage. I don't see why we can't. We've won two already this year and it would be nice to win another."
Despite the injuries to two key members of their time trial engine-room, Ellingworth said he was looking forward to the test in Nice.
"I think what's nice about the team time trial is that it's quite a separate discipline and it's quite good for the teams because as a result of the introduction of the world team time trial championship it adds a little bit of extra excitement to the event," he explained.
Team boss Dave Brailsford said the team would not go into the...
In contrast to Marcel Kittel's sole day in the yellow jersey, his successor in leading the Tour de France, Jan Bakelants will wear the maillot jaune at least two days. RadioShack-Leopard sports director Alain Gallopin emphasized how important that was, not only for Bakelants but also for the team's overall race contenders.
"Having the yellow jersey after stage 3 means you're the last team to start the team time trial on Tuesday and that is undoubtedly a nice thing," Gallopin said. When the French sport director talks about Bakelants, it is clear the Belgian is not the most common rider in the peloton. "I'm surprised by his win but not by the man. He's a great rider. There's no doubt about that. He's difficult to channel. The last two months I worked a lot with him. He's hard to coach. He's stubborn."
That stubborn Belgian was expected by some to become a maillot jaune d'un jour, a leader for one day. After a beautiful passage along the brutal west coast of Corsica from Ajaccio to Calvi, Bakelants proved that he's more than just a lucky winner. The Belgian rider survived with the best riders in the small peloton that reached the finish line first, despite several difficult climbs en route.
Just before heading back to mainland France, Bakelants looked back on his glory days in Corsica. The likeable Belgian clearly enjoyed his day in yellow.
"All the riders were really friendly with me. It was nice. I felt a lot of appreciation. The best moment was when I crossed the finish line yesterday. Today I thought about it again. Today I was in the bunch that was yesterday behind me. I now I see how strong I was yesterday to pull off this thing. Today again there were four riders out there and we caught them back pretty easy. It was in fact...
“We are now working on many things. I think it will be a lot of work, but I think the biggest thing is that I am really looking forward to this project for the next three years,” Cancellara said. He will also remain with the firm in “the coming years when I want to stop cycling.”
Luca Guercilena, who will remain as team manger, confirmed the news. "Fabian signed a contract for three years, to 2016,” he told sporza.be. “With Trek we want to score especially in the classics. Fabian plays a crucial role, he is the heart of the team."
"Now that Fabian has chosen for Trek, we can start to talk and negotiate with the other riders. We hope to make a nice and great team with Trek.”
Garmin-Sharp team manager Jonathan Vaughters has predicted a close team time trial in Nice, suggesting that even tiny errors could be decisive in making the time differences that decide the win.
Garmin-Sharp is targeting the stage victory and David Millar could pull on the yellow jersey if the team finishes one-second faster than Radioshack-Leopard and current race leader Jan Bakelants.
David Millar would be back in yellow 13 years after he lost it in the team time trial of the 2000 Tour de France. However the Garmin-Sharp team will have to win the team time trial to stop other riders gaining enough time on Millar and take yellow.
Simon Gerrans (Orica-GreenEdge) is third overall, also at one second and so could pull on the yellow jersey if Orica-GreenEdge win the stage. Similarly, Michal Kwiatkowski could be in yellow if Omega Pharma-Quick Step win. Edvald Boasson Hagen could be in yellow if Team Sky wins the TTT, while Cadel Evans is BMC's best placed rider overall and so would pull on the maillot jaune if BMC produce a perfect performance.
In this video, Vaughters tells Cyclingnews the secrets of the Nice team time trial and gives his prediction of which teams will fill the top three places.
Holm: You start fast and then it's pain, pain, pain
The Omega Pharma-Quick Step team is hoping that Tony Martin continues to recover from his crash injuries after travelling from Corsica to Nice, in the hope that he can power the Belgian team to victory in today's 25km team time trial.
The current individual world time trial champion is expected to use his usual chainring of choice, a huge 58 tooth ring, to produce a constant high speed and drag along his teammates for long spells of the team time trial. Omega Pharma-Quick can also count on Mark Cavendish, Gert Steegmans, Niki Terpstra, Sylvain Chavanel and Peter Velits.
Martin crashed on stage one to Bastia but finished in the front group on Monday's hilly stage to Calvi.
"I'm just glad he's still in the race so that we can still dream about the team time trial. We have to be optimistic," Omega Pharma-QuickStep directeur sportif Brian Holm told Cyclingnews.
"Tony showed me a photo of his back but it looks like he fell asleep on a grill. His back is fried. But he fought to survive on Sunday and is coming back.
"Team Sky are in the same boat as us after Geraint Thomas crashed hard and so it's going to be close. It's going to be decided by just a few seconds. We lost as HTC by just five seconds because we crashed after 500 metres and Bernie Eisel lost his footing."
Current world TTT champions
Omega Pharma-QuickStep is the current team time trial world champion after winning the title last year in Valkenberg. Holm loves the TTT after learning the secrets of the event as an amateur.
"We're world TTT champion because we work at it. The guys love it and so do I. You start fast and then it's big pain and then pain, pain, pain," he said.
"You have to be strong but you have to be smart too, so that you use the right people at the right time. It's nice...