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Second Edition Cycling News, Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Date published:
July 05, 2011, 1:00 BST
  • Tour de France news shorts

    World champion Thor Hushovd (Garmin-Cervelo) has traded his rainbow-striped jersey for the Tour de France leader's jersey.
    Article published:
    July 05, 2011, 7:44 BST
    Cycling News

    Basso gets blown away, VTM targeted by thieves, faster Feillu, Contador stays out of trouble and Hushovd's fashion faux pas

    Basso on split on Saint-Nazaire bridge

    Racing on the north western coast of France can be fraught with danger, and the cross-winds were certainly at play on Monday's third stage. Pre-Tour contender for overall honours, Ivan Basso (Liquigas-Cannondale) had a few nervous moments ahead of the Saint-Nazaire bridge

    "Just before turning onto the bridge, there was a bit of confusion," the Italian explained. "Some riders who cut across the footpath and re-entered the peloton caused Karpets to fall. Along with a good number of riders, I had to stop and with the peloton already going at high speed, we lost contact. Getting back on was made more difficult by the wind. I have to thank my teammates who brought me back up to the front."

    "Tomorrow, another tricky stage awaits. The Mur-de-Bretagne is a dangerous finish, where we will certainly see some action. It's suited to punchy climbers and the terrain is there for some of the big contenders to try an attack. I'll have to defend myself."

    Sticky fingers...

    On Monday morning journalists from the Flemish commercial TV-station VTM found out that their satellite truck had received some unwanted attention after spending four nights in Nantes, in the East of France.

    Thieves escaped with the most expensive equipment from the truck and were calculating, using some sort of oil to avoid leaving fingerprints.

    Despite the setback, the VTM-crew was quick to find a solution to send out their evening report, sharing facilities with their Norwegian colleagues.

    VTM sent all serial numbers to the French police and from Wednesday on the satellite truck that was used for the princely wedding from Albert & Charlene in Monaco will be available...

  • NetApp's König climbs to third in Tour of Austria

    NetApp's Leopold König took third place
    Article published:
    July 05, 2011, 9:55 BST
    Susan Westemeyer

    Czech rider successful in first climb up the Kitzbüheler Horn

    When Team NetApp's Leopold König finished third on the Kitzbüheler Horn in the second stage of the Tour of Austria, he may have been the most surprised - especially when he passed Carlos Sastre in the final metres before the finish line.

    “I had the power and that was my advantage in the finale,” König told Cyclingnews on Monday evening. “I had more power than Carlos, and I really didn't expect that.”

    It was a big day for the German Professional Continental team, as Daryl Impey was in the long escape, which was only caught on the final climb.

    “It was a hard stage. Everybody was waiting for the last climb, and the team did a really great job, especially with the breakaway,” König, 23, said.

    “Before the climb, they pushed me to the front. I had a good position at the beginning of the climb and that was a real advantage. I went up at my own rhythm, which is important, because everyone was attacking. If you don't have your own rhythm, you can't do it.”

    “I got better and better as it went along, and at the top I was really good.”

    It was his first time to tackle the legendary Austrian mountain. “I had heard a lot about it but you never know what to expect. The finale was really hard, the last three kilometers were really hard.”

    In the end, the Czech rider was third, only 1:19 behind stage winner Frederik Kessiakof of Astana. He is also third in the GC, at 1:25, and leads the young rider classification.

    "Beating Sastre was a real plus. My self-confidence is...

  • Gilbert targets Mûr-de-Bretagne, Evans yellow

    Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) celebrates his win
    Article published:
    July 05, 2011, 10:41 BST
    Hedwig Kröner

    Another stage win for today's birthday boy?

    King of the Classics Philippe Gilbert, who turns 29 years today, had promised his girlfriend a stage victory for her 22nd birthday on the Tour's first stage on Saturday - and got it. Today, the Omega Pharma-Lotto leader again has reason to celebrate, and hopes to top his party off with a second success on the Mûr-de-Bretagne. Arguably, he is the man to beat on the 172km stage finishing with a 2km climb similar to those the Belgian knows so well in his home region of the Ardennes.

    "It's a climb that should suit me well, I hope that it will be to my advantage," Gilbert told French television, albeit conceding that it will be very difficult to also take back the yellow jersey he wore after stage one.

    "Cadel Evans should be wearing yellow after the stage," added Gilbert, who sits in 29th position on the overall, 32 seconds down on the third-placed Australian. "I won't be able to take back the more than 30 seconds that separate us. Maybe five or six but not more."

    BMC's Evans assessed the situation in a similar way. "Phil will be the man to beat on that finish," he wrote on his personal website. And while the possibility of taking the overall lead of course had its appeal, he insisted that it would only be a part of the bigger picture.

    "At the moment, it would only be a psychological point made against the other favourites for the general classification," Evans told L'Equipe. "It wouldn't have a great impact on what is still to come, the Tour is still long."

    And the Mûr-de-Bretagne could also be a road of redemption for another GC favourite, Alberto Contador, who already lost a...

  • A second team for Kazakhstan

    Defending champion Vino will lead Astana into battle
    Article published:
    July 05, 2011, 11:07 BST
    Cycling News

    Astana bolstered by support squad in 2012

    The Kazakh cycling federation has announced that First Division team Astana will receive some support next year, as the creation of a second Kazakh team has been revealed. The project, named Astana-2, will exclusively include Kazakh riders and serve as a development squad for the team now headed by Alexandre Vinokourov.

    The federation hopes to receive a Professional Continental license for the new outfit, but nothing has been finalised yet.

    Up-and-coming Kazakh riders such as national time trial champion and Tour of Qinghai Lake second-placed Dmitryi Gruzdev, as well as Arman Kamyshev, Ruslan Tleubayev and Alexandre Shushemoin, should integrate the team in view of of a later career at the highest level.

    Vinokourov's Astana team currently counts 12 professional riders from Kazakhstan, but with the 37-year-old inevitably hanging up the bike in the near future, a successor for the charismatic leader still has to be found.

  • Ballan meets Italian anti-doping procura in Rome

    Alessandro Ballan (BMC) was back racing on Italian roads in Trentino.
    Article published:
    July 05, 2011, 11:15 BST
    Barry Ryan

    "I can only say that I have passed all the anti-doping controls that I have undertaken"

    Alessandro Ballan met with the Italian Olympic Committee’s (CONI) anti-doping prosecutor Ettore Torri on Monday afternoon to discuss his implication in the Mantova-based doping investigation centred on the activities of pharmacist Guido Nigrelli.

    The BMC rider was questioned for two hours at Rome’s Stadio Olimpico, and has been granted until the end of July to present a defence brief to CONI.

    On leaving the hearing, the Italian was asked if he was at peace with his conscience. “I can only say that I have passed all the anti-doping controls that I have undertaken,” Ballan said, according to Gazzetta dello Sport.

    It is understood that Torri’s questioning was focused primarily on allegations that Ballan had undergone autologous blood transfusions in 2009 when he rode for Lampre, as well as on a series of intercepted telephone calls between Ballan and Nigrelli from that year, in which they reportedly discussed doping practices.

    The transcripts of the calls were included in Mantova prosecutor Antonino Condorelli’s final report into his investigation, and excerpts were published in the Italian media in May.

    Gazzetta dello Sport reports that Ballan’s defence may attempt to claim that his conversations with Nigrelli concerned the treatment of an illness rather than the discussion of doping techniques. His legal team of Fabio Pavone and Federico Cecconi is understood to be preparing a report to demonstrate the stability of their client’s...

  • Danish public expects Tour de France stage win, Danish riders do not

    Jakob Fuglsang (Leopard-Trek) will ride for the Schlecks in the Tour de France
    Article published:
    July 05, 2011, 11:21 BST
    Cycling News

    Five Danes all riding as domestiques

    The Danish public believes there will be a Danish stage win in this year's Tour de France. However, the Danish riders, who would bring in those wins, do not agree.

    In a poll conducted for the Ritzau news agency, 51 percent of those responding said that one of the five Danish riders in the Tour would win a stage. 27 percent disagreed, while 22 percent had no opinion.

    Denmark is represented at the Tour this year by Chris Anker Sørensen, Nicki Sørensen and Brian Vandborg (Saxo Bank-Sungard), Jakob Fuglsang (Leopard Trek), Lars Bak (HTC-Highroad)

    The three Saxo Bank-Sungard riders have a goal which does not include stage wins for themselves. They are there to support captain and defending champion Alberto Contador.

    “Everything is going to be about Contador,” said Nicki Sørensen. Even on the transitional stages, where the Spaniard will not need as much help, “we need to recuperate.”

    Sørensen won a stage at the 2009 Tour, the last to be won by a Dane.

    Fuglsang had similar reasons to not look for a stage win. “The goal for me is to help Andy and Fränk Schleck on to the podium, and then see if I can do well,” he said.

    Bak is expected to have his hands full supporting sprinters Mark Cavendish and Matthew Goss, as well as top-ten hopeful Tony Martin.

  • Green jersey not a goal yet for Gilbert, Omega DS says

    Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) wore the green jersey on stage 3.
    Article published:
    July 05, 2011, 13:08 BST
    Pierre Carrey

    Belgian could target points classification if still in contention after stage six

    Philippe Gilbert lost the lead of the points ranking on Tour de France's stage 3 to Redon, but looks in a perfect position to take it again today at the top of Mûr-de-Bretagne. However, Omega Pharma-Lotto is not going to take all of the responsibility during the stage. "I don't think we have to take the whole pressure," directeur sportif Herman Frison told Cyclingnews yesterday after the finish in Redon.

    The Belgian team knows Gilbert is expected to win on stage four, even more than he was before stage one, given that it is a typical uphill finish suited to the Classics specialist.

    The Mûr-de-Bretagne climb is two kilometers long with an average gradient of 6.9 percent, with the first half kicking up to 10 percent.

    Omega Pharma directeur sportif said the lead of the peloton during stage 4 must go to Garmin-Cervélo. "We'll work if it's requested, but they have the yellow jersey, so it's their responsibility."

    Frison tried to dampen media enthusiasm and asserted a lot of riders can win atop the Mûr-de-Bretagne. "The finish could suit a strong sprinter like Matt Goss or perhaps Alberto Contador himself." The Spaniard had shown himself in a similar uphill finishes in the Giro d'Italia, although they were not important days for GC. However, he wanted to test his legs and boost his team's confidence.

    After today's finish, Gilbert may be in a good position to continue a pursuit of the green jersey, but Frison said that it was too early to know whether this could become one of the team's goals.

    "We will see with Philippe what we have to do, because the green jersey was not an official goal for us before the start of the...

  • Video: Boardman analyses opening Tour de France stages

    Article published:
    July 05, 2011, 13:18 BST
    Daniel Benson

    ITV4 pundit on Contador, Schleck and British riders

    Former yellow jersey and multiple Tour de France stage winner Chris Boardman is television analyst for the ITV television network at this year’s race and he talked to Cyclingnews about the first three stages of this year’s Tour.

    With three exciting days of racing in the bag the overall battle for yellow has already taken shape with Andy Schleck, Cadel Evans and Bradley Wiggins sitting in ideal positions, while defending champion Alberto Contador is struggling almost two minutes down.

    While Boardman believes that Contador is still the man to beat he has been impressed with how Schleck has navigated his way through the opening stages. The Leopard Trek leader has avoided crashes while his team put in a strong ride on the stage 2 time trial to consolidate his lead.

    In this video interview Boardman also points out that Contador has lost the buffer of time he had on Schleck from last year’s opening prologue in Rotterdam and highlighted that the Spaniard must now go on the offensive once the race hits the mountains.

    Yesterday’s stage was won by Tyler Farrar but the talking point surrounded Mark Cavendish’s and Thor Hushovd’s disqualification from the intermediate sprint. Boardman called the commissars ‘incomprehensible’

    Finally, Boardman also highlighted the strength in depth from the British contingent at this year’s race.