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Second Edition Cycling News, Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Date published:
July 21, 2009, 1:00 BST
  • Astana truck searched at border

    Team Astana takes the podium after its win in the TTT
    Article published:
    July 21, 2009, 17:36 BST
    Susan Westemeyer

    Nothing suspicious found

    An Astana team truck was stopped and searched by Swiss customs agents on Tuesday, as the Tour de France crossed into Switzerland from France. 

    "That took at least three hours," Astana spokesman Philippe Maertens told the German press agency dpa.  "They opened every suitcase and looked at everything."  Nothing suspicious was found.

    When asked if he felt if investigators were concentrating on his team, Maertens said, "I would not use that expression."

    The team has also been subject to multiple doping controls during the race. 

  • Evans' podium bid over, says Redant

    Cadel Evans (Silence-Lotto)
    Article published:
    July 21, 2009, 18:00 BST
    Daniel Benson

    Silence-Lotto rider lost another three minutes on stage 16

    Cadel Evans' chances of reaching the Tour de France podium for the third time in his career are over according to his director sportif Henrick Redant. Evans finished 46th on today's mountain stage from Martigny to Bourg-Saint-Maurice and slumped to 17th, 7:23 down on Alberto Contador.

    At the finish Evans wasn't willing to comment, but Redant said the rider was disappointed: "In Verbier he wasn't 100 percent and it seems today he couldn't follow the best," Redant said from the Silence Lotto team car.

    "It's going be very difficult as he as lost at least another three more minutes. We have to see what his reactions are and how disappointed he is because I've not talked to him. We came here with a goal of helping him go for yellow and we stuck to that, we tried to get someone in the break today, like Saxo Bank did, but it didn't work."

    With a place on the podium now out of reach, Redant believes that the Australian and 2008 runner up should refocus on a possible stage win bid in the coming days.

    "I think he should do that now, but tomorrow is hard stage. There is the time trial and then Ventoux so maybe he should aim for that as the podium is difficult now."

    Evans preparation for this year's Tour has been less than perfect. There was confusion within the team as to whether he would ride the Giro d'Italia in May and then one of Silence Lotto's biggest signings, Thomas Dekker, was thrown out of the team after falling foul of the UCI's doping rules.

    Lacking sufficient firepower in his squad, Evans lost 2:46 in the team time trial in the first week of the Tour, however Redant refused to admit that Evans' Tour bid ended there.

    "I don't think so. In the team time trial we had a big blow and lost 2:46 but there was still potential to do something. In Verbier he maybe should have tried to do something and today he had another off day."

    Redant was impressed with Evans' teammate Jurgen Van Den Broeck who made it...

  • Gerdemann looks towards next year's Tour

    Linus Gerdemann (Milram)
    Article published:
    July 21, 2009, 18:38 BST
    Daniel Benson

    German says he's learned lessons this July

    Linus Gerdermann trailed in 3:55 down on the leaders in today’s 159km stage from Martigny to Bourg-Saint-Maurice, but says he will come back stronger and better prepared for next year’s race.

    After winning a stage in the 2007 Tour and wearing the yellow jersey, big expectations have been placed on Gerdemann's shoulders. This year’s race hasn’t gone to plan for the young Milram rider, who has been distanced by the leaders in both the Pyrenees and the Alps.

    "It’s not going great," Gerdermann said at the end of the stage.

    The German broke is leg in last year’s Tirenno-Adriatico but rallied to take his home Tour. A subsequent move from Columbia to Milram followed at the end of 2009 and, with Gerolsteiner folding, Gerdemann found himself a part of the only German ProTour team within the peloton.

    Despite the move to a 'native' team, Gerdemann has taken time to settle in his new surroundings and endured a difficult Tour de Suisse in preparation for this year’s Tour de France. "I had problems in front of the Tour with my training but I still have aspirations for the Grand Tours. If you’re not ready at the startline it’s very difficult."

    "I think I’m getting a little bit stronger as the race goes on but if you’re not strong from the start it’s makes a big difference. It was a tough day and there are still some tough days."

    However Gerdermann brushed off the claims that he’s under too much pressure to perform from his team - who’ve not won a stage in year’s race - or a nation that hasn’t had a Tour winner since Jan Ulrich in 1997. "I put pressure on myself but there’s none coming from the team as they understand. I know I made some mistakes in the Tour and my training, but I’ve learnt a lot from it and I’ll be better next year."

  • Schleck empty handed in Tour stage despite attacks

    Luxembourg's Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank) looks to see the distance to Alberto Contador (Astana)
    Article published:
    July 21, 2009, 18:46 BST
    Gregor Brown

    Saxo Bank tests Tour leader Contador, loses Voigt

    Luxembourg's Andy Schleck tested race leader Alberto Contador with two attacks on the Col du Petit-St-Bernard today. However, he failed to make up time on his 2:26 deficit to Contador and he lost teammate Jens Voigt in a crash on the pass' decent.

    "We did not expect anything today, but we tried and it could have worked out," said Schleck (Saxo Bank). "Unfortunately, it turned out to be a really bad day, Jensy crashed and the overall did not really change."

    The Tour de France's 16th stage covered the Grand-St-Bernard and Petit-St-Bernard before its finish in Bourg-St-Maurice for a total of 159 kilometres. Schleck used the last climb to try to gain time on Spaniard Contador (Astana).

    Saxo Bank set a high tempo in the first kilometres of the 22.6-kilometre climb with Nicki Sørensen and then Chris Anker Sørensen. Schleck launched two attacks about eight kilometres from the summit of the climb to form a group of six riders. He distanced rivals Cadel Evans and Tony Martin, but Lance Armstrong (Astana) returned to Schleck to protect his second overall.

    Schleck is fifth overall and still 1:40 from the podium spot currently held by Bradley Wiggins (Garmin-Slipstream). He has a further nine second deficit to Armstrong's second place.  The race continues with another high mountain stage tomorrow to Le Grand-Bornand, one Schleck considers the Tour's toughest day.

    "If there is one team not running out of options it is us. We are there all the time and we try," said Schleck.

    The loss of Voigt will weaken the team. He crashed on the 31-kilometre descent to the finish and abandoned the race. Voigt is one of the team's strongest helpers on the flat stages and in the initial kilometres of climbs.

  • Armstrong shows punch from past Tour wins

    Lance Armstrong (Astana) comes across the line after stage 16.
    Article published:
    July 21, 2009, 18:50 BST
    Gregor Brown

    Seven-time Tour winner helps Contador on Petit-St-Bernard

    Lance Armstrong's attack Tuesday in the Tour de France looked like the ones that brought him seven overall wins. He bridged solo to Astana teammate and race leader, Alberto Contador, on the Col du Petit-St-Bernard to help protect him.

    "It felt like I had some punch and some power in that move that I made to go across," USA's Armstrong said.

    Andy Schleck (Team Saxo Bank), fifth overall, attacked on the second of two climbs in the 159-kilometre stage to Bourg-St-Maurice. His acceleration distanced Armstrong to form a six-man move with brother and teammate Fränk, Contador, Andreas Klöden (Astana), Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas) and Bradley Wiggins (Garmin-Slipstream).

    Armstrong lost around 35 seconds to the Contador group before launching his attack. He rode across two kilometres solo and re-joined his teammate Contador. His presence made it more difficult for rival Andy Schleck to pressure the yellow jersey. The group topped the climb and finished 31 kilometres later in Bourg-St-Maurice together.

    The day was different to Sunday's stage to Verbier, where Armstrong lost 1:35 to the favourites. He said he made changes to his position on the bike yesterday, the Tour's second rest day.

    "I certainly felt more conformable on the bike. If I go back and look at the videotape of Verbier I can tell that on the bike I was just like a fish out of water."

    Astana faces three more critical days before Contador can claim his second Tour de France title. The race continues tomorrow with a stage to Le Grand-Bornand that covers five climbs in 169.5 kilometres.

    "These were 15-mile, high-elevation climbs today and we did two of them. Tomorrow is the real one, it is a heck of a day, the hardest day of the Tour. There is no pretending tomorrow."

    Armstrong is second overall by 1:37, nine seconds ahead of Brit Wiggins. Schleck is in fifth at 2:26 behind Contador.

    This Tour de France marks Armstrong's...

  • Resurgent Kirchen rides back into form

    Kim Kirchen (Columbia-HTC) in the peloton
    Article published:
    July 21, 2009, 19:14 BST
    Daniel Benson

    Highest placed Columbia rider on general classification

    Kim Kirchen has rediscovered his form and confidence after finishing with the top three riders in the overall classification on today’s mountain stage to Bourg-Saint-Maurice.

    Kirchen finished in a group that included Alberto Contador, Lance Armstrong and Bradley Wiggins; his performance moved him up to thirteenth overall and he is now the highest placed Columbia rider on general classification.

    The Luxembourger broke his collar bone earlier in the year and missed the Classics season as a result. The injury meant that he couldn’t defend is crown at Fleche-Wallone and also left him short of form in the first part of the Tour.

    "My legs were the best they’ve been so far in the Tour and I could follow the first group of guys, maybe not the best, but I’m up there with the top ten guys now. I wasn’t on my limit today either," Kirchen said at the finish.

    Kirchen was distanced by Andy Schleck’s initial surge on the Col du Petit-Saint-Bernard as a group of riders that included Contador, Wiggins, Fränk Schleck and Vincenzo Nibali formed. However Kirchen was able to follow Lance Armstrong's surge and then carried on at his own pace before rejoining the head of the race before the final summit of the day.

    "I feel like I’m getting stronger but tomorrow is going to be one of the hardest days. I’ll try to recover as best I can. I wasn’t in great shape for the prologue in Monaco but I still believe that I’m getting better and better and today was a great day.

    Kirchen finished seventh in last year’s Tour de France and wore the yellow jersey for the first time in his career. "I'm up there and I have the same legs as I had last year," he said.

    "Now I have the confidence back and I’ll try and do a good final week. However in these stages you can lose minutes, not just seconds."

    After the Tour, Kirchen will decide whether to do the Vuelta as...

  • Bruyneel done with Astana?

    Astana Team Manager Johan Bruyneel before the start of stage one.
    Article published:
    July 21, 2009, 19:35 BST
    Laura Weislo

    Armstrong hints at new venture

    The Astana team, which has so dominated this year's Tour de France, may be continuing into the future, but it may well be doing so without the leadership of manager Johan Bruyneel.

    After the Dutch mediator Rini Wagtmans, who has been working with the Kazakh cycling federation, announced the team's sponsors had intentions of increasing its budget in the future and extending their contract with Lance Armstrong and Alberto Contador, Bruyneel told the Belgian media he was done with the team at the end of the season.

    The Astana team has had plenty of troubles with its funding this year, and the team nearly imploded after weeks of non-payment led the riders to strip the logos from their jerseys during the Tour of Italy in May. But the supposed departure of Bruyneel is not just due to the financial problems, but the return of Kazakh star, Alexander Vinokourov.

    "We cannot pretend that nothing happened," Bruyneel said to Het Laaste Nieuws. "I feel that the Kazakhs don't appreciate what I did. Secondly, there is the return of Vinokourov.

    "I made an appointment with Vino the day before the Tour in Monaco. We would have discussed a possible return, but a day before that meeting he organized a press conference in Monaco, in our own hotel!

    "He said there that he will ride with Astana and described his program - without consulting me - and, he says that I have to go if I don't agree.

    "One day later the Kazakh Cycling Federation supports Vino and says that they can fire me very easily, that I made mistakes, etc. I don't think they still like me. How can I imagine that I will still be with Astana next year?"

    Rumors of a new team being formed by Armstrong have been rife, with the names Trek and Nike being bandied around as sponsors. Armstrong himself hinted on his Twitter on Tuesday that "a very cool announcement" will be made on Thursday regarding "a new American partner for our team in 2010 (and beyond)".

  • Voigt in hospital after horrific crash

    Jens Voigt (Saxo Bank) is always popular
    Article published:
    July 21, 2009, 21:40 BST
    Susan Westemeyer

    (Updated) German considers himself lucky

    Jens Voigt of Team Saxo Bank is doing "OK under the circumstances" after his Tour de France-ending crash on the final descent of stage 16, his team announced late Tuesday. The German appeared to lose his grip on the handlebars after hitting a bump in the road on the descent from the col du Petit Saint Bernard and he fell to the ground while going an estimated 80kph.

    Voigt was taken to the University hospital in Grenoble and diagnosed with a fracture of the right cheekbone and a concussion. He will remain in the hospital for observation.

    The father of five sent a message to his teammates from his hospital bed: "I think I was very lucky not getting severely hurt from today's crash. Now I hope that you can focus on the race and I wish you all good luck with the hard stage tomorrow”.

    The crash, which occured near the beginning of the final descent of Tuesday's stage, could have had much more severe consequences. Voigt landed hard on his shoulder and head and slid several metres along the road. The race doctor who attended to him at the scene said that Voigt briefly lost consciousness.

    "He is seriously injured, but conscious. He was able to move," said a visibly shaken team manager Bjarne Riis to the German press agency dpa after the stage.

    A motorcycle carrying a photographer narrowly avoided hitting the fallen 37-year-old. "I saw him laying there with closed eyes and blood on his face," the driver said, adding that he had suspected the worst.

    Voigt's fellow German Linus Gerdemann of Team Milram said "When you see a crash like that, nothing else much matters. It gives you goose bumps."

    Voigt was part of the race-long break which went clear in the opening kilometres in advance of the Col du Grand-Saint-Bernard. Voigt was dropped on the day's second climb, the Col du Petit-Saint-Bernard, but fought his way back up to the yellow jersey group containing his teammates Andy and Frank Schleck...