- Article published:
- July 18, 2012, 10:57
- Alasdair Fotheringham
Briton says Vuelta participation dependent on Tour and Olympics
Christopher Froome has said that he is set on doing the Vuelta a Espana for a second year running but that he will have to see what his race condition is like after completing the Tour de France and the 2012 London Olympics.
“The plan is to do it,” the Sky rider told Cyclingnews, “but I just have to finish up here [on the Tour] first and get through the Olympics unscathed and still on track and then we can see about the Vuelta. I’d like to do it.”·
Froome finished the Vuelta in second place overall last year, one place ahead of teammate Bradley Wiggins, which still remains - for now - Sky’s best ever finish in a Grand Tour and was a breakthrough performance for Froome himself. Froome also led the Vuelta briefly after finishing second in the mid-race time trial at Salamanca behind Tony Martin, later that season crowned World time trial Champion.
On the ascent to the ski station at Manzaneda two days later, however, Froome worked hard for Wiggins before falling back three kilometres from the summit finish, with the Londoner finishing off Froome’s good work by dropping Dane Jakob Fuglsang (RadioShack), a key rival, and moving into the overall lead.
Froome finally finished second overall behind Juan Jose Cobo, just 13 seconds back after Cobo dropped the Sky duo on the Angliru. In a dramatic duel with Cobo a few days later at Peña Cabarga, Froome finally claimed a summit finish stage win but the overall lead remained just out of reach.
Should Froome return to the Vuelta, which kicks off in Pamplona on August 18th, his main rival would almost certainly be Spain’s Alberto Contador, who is due to make his Grand Tour return in his home race following a two-year suspension. Other key rivals would include long-time Giro leader Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) and Cobo (Movistar).
- Article published:
- July 18, 2012, 12:11
- Barry Ryan
Voigt voices support for Schleck
Following Fränk Schleck’s withdrawal from the Tour de France after news of his adverse analytical finding for Xipamide, the RadioShack-Nissan team bus was the centre of attention in Pau on Wednesday before the start of stage 16.
As reporters waited for the riders to emerge to sign on, press officer Philippe Maertens was working the television crews, reiterating what he had said the previous night at the Villa Navarre hotel on the outskirts of town.
“For the moment there is nothing we can do. Fränk will have to defend himself. It won’t be easy, he has no explanation. We have no explanation,” Maertens said.
When the RadioShack riders finally began to descend the steps of the bus, it befell the team’s most senior figure, Jens Voigt, to speak to reporters. The 40-year-old has been a teammate of Schleck’s since 2004, has ridden with the Luxembourger in the colours of CSC, Saxo Bank, Leopard Trek and RadioShack-Nissan in the intervening period.
"We have to wait for the B-sample to confirm it and we have to wait for what Fränk has to say but it’s never an easy situation,” Voigt said, before recounting the atmosphere at the team hotel the previous evening when news of Schleck’s sample broke.
“We heard about it yesterday night after dinner. We had a moment of silence to try and digest the news and the consequences of what it actually means,” said Voigt, who went on to voice his support for Schleck.
“It’s not easy but like I said, we’ll wait for the B-sample and for what Fränkie has to say. After all it’s many years that I’ve said he’s a good friend of mine. Friendship goes not only in the sunshine but also when it rains. I still believe in him.”
Asked if he could understand that many observers would find it very difficult to believe in Schleck’s good faith and his claim that he may have been a victim of poisoning, Voigt paused before replying.
“Yes, I understand that. It’s the same for me,” he said. “All I’ve wished for the last five years is that we’d have one year of a peaceful Tour de France where we just concentrate on the sport. Every year it seems like we have another happening. It’s pretty hard.”
Schleck returned a sample that contained traces of the diuretic on July 14 and although the B-sample has yet to be analysed, it was decided that he would not continue in the race. A similar scenario arose in last year’s Tour when Alexandr Kolobnev tested positive for the specified substance hydrochlorothiazide and was sent home by his Katusha team.
In its statement announcing the adverse analytical finding on Tuesday evening, the UCI had strongly suggested that RadioShack-Nissan remove Schleck from the Tour. A positive A-sample for a specified substance such as Xipamide does not trigger an automatic suspension, but Schleck’s departure was inevitable once the news broke.
“It’s a suggestion that I can understand,” Maertens said. “I think it’s a kind of suggestion to the team to take him out of the race to prevent all misery and theatre like this. In theory, Fränk has the right to start but it made no sense. He has not the legs to do it now and it would have been every day like this.”
While his teammates were preparing for the Tour’s set-piece Pyrenean stage, Schleck was on the road north to Luxembourg in the company of his family, who had come to visit him during the rest day.
Asked how the remainder of the squad had dealt with the news, Maertens smiled helplessly. “Not so good, eh,” he said. “But they have sometimes worse things in life.”
Before the six remaining RadioShack-Nissan riders (Haimar Zubeldia, Andreas Klöden, Chris Horner, Maxime Monfort, Yaroslav Popovych and Voigt) stepped off the bus, directeur sportif Alain Gallopin had attempted to put a brave face on the situation, saying that he would look to motivate them to defend their lead in the team classification. “We’ll try to do the maximum,” he said. “My job as DS is to motivate my riders and encourage them.”
Gallopin explained why Schleck had taken the initiative of going to the police in Pau himself on Tuesday evening and stressed that the rider had no civil case to answer under French law. “Every time there’s a positive test, the police come to the hotel and I didn’t want to see the images of Fränk in a police car,” he said. “They told us that there would be no ‘Fränk Schleck case’ because the product is not on the list of products forbidden by the sporting code in France.”
Team manager Johan Bruyneel, who absented himself from this year’s Tour after the United States Anti-Doping Agency charged him with doping in June, has yet to comment on the matter.
- Article published:
- July 18, 2012, 14:45
- Cycling News
Tour of Turkey winner positive after solo stage win
Ivailo Gabrovksi, a Bulgarian rider who had a spectacular stage win for a Continental-ranked Turkish team at the Tour of Turkey and went on to win the race tested positive for EPO after that stage win, the UCI has announced. He has been provisionally suspended.
“The decision to provisionally suspend this rider was made in response to a report from the WADA accredited laboratory in Athens indicating an Adverse Analytical Finding of EPO in a urine sample collected from him in a test during the Tour of Turkey on 24th April 2012,” the UCI said Wednesday afternoon. “Mr. Gabrovski has the right to request and attend the analysis of his B sample.”
Gabrovski, 34, turned pro in 2000. Over the years he has been with multiple teams, most recently with Team Konya Torku Seker Spor. He soloed to victory on the third and queen stage of the Tour of Turkey, in a way which “astonished a few people,” as Cyclingnews reported at the time.
That stage win moved him into the race lead, which he held on to until the end. He hoped to use the points and exposure he had gained to move to a WorldTour team.
Second overall in the race was Alexandr Dyachenko of Astana, who would move up to first place if the charges are upheld.
It is not his first conflict with anti-doping regulations. In 2003 he was prevented from racing the Driedaagse van West Vlaanderen when he came in over the hematocrit limit. In 2005, he was prevented from riding the world championship in Madrid after failing another blood test conducted by the UCI.
- Article published:
- July 18, 2012, 15:17
- Cycling News
Tour de France 2010 disappointment led to changes
Team Sky principal Dave Brailsford has revealed that it was the pain he felt at the team’s failed bid for Tour de France glory in 2010 that forced him to reassess his approach and turn the team’s fortunes around.
With the British squad going into the final five days of this year’s Tour with Bradley Wiggins in yellow and Chris Froome in second, Brailsford admits that Sky’s first season was a failure, but credits that failure with driving the current unprecedented success.
“I’ve always had a lot of confidence in what we do,” Brailsford told Cycling News HD, “but during our first year and certainly during that year’s Tour de France it was excruciating. I knew we weren’t doing things right, that we could do them better. I found that very difficult to deal with.
“There are two things that make you change your behaviour. The suffering has to be enough or the reward has to be enough. If either of those aren’t big enough, you’re not going to change and you will keep on doing what you’ve been doing. For me in that first year the suffering was certainly enough. We’ve not stopped working since, we’ve been working our arses off and we won’t stop. For me, the key thing is that the pain of losing is bigger than the emotion of winning. That feeling enables to me to drive the whole team on.”
Asked if he saw the race as a battle between Team Sky’s methods and those of the traditional continental cycling fraternity, Brailsford is adamant that is not the case.
“Not at all,” he said. “It’s about working within a sport we love. We made our philosophy work within one discipline and felt that if we took the same approach in terms of good coaching, good conditioning, good science, good logic, of looking after the riders and putting them first, then there would be no reason why it wouldn’t work.”
And work it has, as Sky sit in the top two positions on the podium with Paris in sight, but Brailsford admits this has presented its own difficulties.
"There’s no doubt that one of the challenges of this race has been having two guys so high on GC,” said Brailsford. “We had similar situation in the Vuelta. But we’re going to keep on building towards winning this race.”
The full version of this exclusive interview with Team Sky principal Dave Brailsford is just one example of what you can find inside our new digital magazine, Cycling News HD. Delivered to your iPad every Wednesday, Cycling News HD brings you the best all-new cycling photography in the world via the best medium for viewing it, as well as reports, results and exclusive analysis of all the week’s biggest races, in-depth previews of the races and stages to watch in the week ahead, interviews, news and opinion.
With over 50 pages packed with new and original content every Wednesday, alongside all the latest reports and results, Cycling News HD is the best way to enjoy a roadside seat at all the season’s biggest and best races.
- Article published:
- July 18, 2012, 16:32
- Hedwig Kröner
Vaughters calls for fundamental changes in pro cycling
Fränk Schleck's possible doping case, following the finding of Xipamide in his urine sample dated from July 14, was the main subject of conversation and concern at the start of the Tour's 16th stage from Pau to Bagnères-de-Luchon on Wednesday. While the riders prepared for the difficult mountain stage through the Pyrenees that lay ahead, many also commented on the Tour's newest doping scandal and its implications for pro cycling.
The dominant feeling, of course, was shock and surprise, even though the peloton has grown accustomed to this kind of news in recent years. AG2R manager Vincent Lavenu feared the mediatic backlash of such a prominent name as Schleck on the Tour de France and the whle of the peloton.
"Schleck is one of the top riders, so this is not good news for cycling," the Frenchman said. "We will see what the sanction will be, because it could be anything from a mere warning to a two-year suspension. It is up to the Luxembourg federation and their commission to judge the case and this will have to be respected."
But Lavenu was also angry to some extent. "It affects us, too, because in the media reports it's about the riders of the Tour de France, so it's also about us by amalgamation. It's discouraging because the majority of the riders makes more anti-doping efforts than all of the other sportsmen worldwide counted together, and they are still being accused. So by extension, we are also being punished."
Schleck's former team manager Bjarne Riis also commented on the news, voicing his surprise but remaining cautious with any deductions. "It's another hit for cycling, no doubt about that," he said. "I know Fränk well and this news has really surprised me. I don't know too much about the details and there isn't a lot that I can say except that it has shocked me and saddened me. Soon we will know more about the details but until then I don't want to comment too much.
"It always takes the gloss off an event when something like this happens. But then there is no good timing with these things - never."
Garmin-Sharp team boss and anti-doping advocate Jonathan Vaughters extended his reaction on what he thought was part of the "root of the issues" in cycling. The American pointed at the current management system of pro cycling as it has been conceived by the International Cycling Union (UCI), saying that the unstable conditions it created could be one of reasons why riders resort to doping;
"Cycling, from a fundamental standpoint, needs to be built on a more secure foundation," the American stated. "It cannot be a year-to-year lisensing process where the teams licenses depend on points. It has to be an environment where riders have longer term contracts, where teams have longer term contracts with top events, which would reduce a lot of the issues. You should make it a league and with that concept you would get a fundamental foundation for consistent employment and you would eliminate a lot of those risks."
- Article published:
- July 18, 2012, 17:30
- Hedwig Kröner
Second 2012 Tour de France victory brings Frenchman polka dot jersey
In his own particular riding style, Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) may not be the most enjoyable rider to watch especially in the mountains, but on stage 16 of this year's Tour de France he has again proven that his will to suffer is sufficient enough to achieve great climbing performances.
The Frenchman won the Pyrenean stage in Bagnères-de-Luchon after having spent the whole day in front, first in a breakaway of 38 riders, then solo in the finale. Moreover, he took the maximum mountain points at each of the four categorised climbs of the day, finally snatching the polka dot jersey off Fredrik Kessiakoff (Astana) by just four points.
Of four Tour de France stage victories so far in his career, this was Voeckler's second stage win in 2012, as well as his second win in Bagnères-de-Luchon. Back in 2010, he had already won in the Pyrenean town at the end of a similar, but less demanding stage. It was no surprise that given all of these performances, as well as his grip on the yellow jersey on previous Tours, the 33-year-old was heroically celebrated by the crowd in the finish.
"For me, there were four races today, each of the four cols to climb," Voeckler admitted after the race. "I told myself that each summit was a finish line, I didn't think about the overall distance of the stage. The objective was to take the maximum mountain points at each summit, and the polka dot jersey in the end. I've been racing these mountains since I was 19 years old, so I knew each of these 197 km by heart.
"In Bellegarde (stage 10), I realized my victory, but today, I can't seem to get it into my head. But I've also just spent four cols in front - it's something I saw on TV when I was a kid. I'm very proud of what I did today, to be honest."
It was a race of attrition that saw Voeckler as the last man standing out of the iintial breakaway. Together with fellow countryman Brice Feillu (Saur-Sojasun), he dropped his rivals in the second hors cateogorie climb of the day, the Col du Tourmalet. The duo continued on over the third ascent, the category 1 Col d'Aspin, before Voeckler decided it was time to solo off at the beginning of the last climb, another category 1 climb, the Col de Peyresourde.
"I was one of the best-placed riders in the break to take the jersey today," he recapped. "I told Feillu I was riding for the polka dot, which doesn't mean I would have let him win the stage but I told him that I would be giving everything until the last summit. With Brice, we rode strongly together but he's a great climber so I was also a little bit afraid of him. When Vinokourov and Sörensen started coming back on us, I knew I had to ride [the chasers were at 35 seconds behind the leading duo at the beginning of the Peyresourde - ed.].
The Frenchman admitted that this victory may have been one of his favourites, for its difficulty as well as tactical requirements, and that he preferred to race aggressively rather than having to limit his losses in view of the general classification, as he did last year. "This is how I really like to race, on the attack instead of chasing the top 15 riders of GC. When I heard that I had 1:30 on Sörensen at the summit of the Peyresourde, I told myself that it would be enough. I was a bit afraid that he could come back in the descent, and catch me again in the last two kilometers of flat, but in the end it was enough, and I was able to really savour my victory before crossing the finish line."
With the polka dot jersey now on his back, Voeckler has another difficult day ahead of him with stage 17 to Peyragudes taking place on Thursday. Leading Kessiakoff by a mere four points, the Frenchman expects a tough battle throughout the stage and up until the mountaintop finish.
"Now that I have the polka dot jersey, I will of course try to defend it, even if I never thought of myself as a real climber. I need a good long massage tonight to hopefully recover well. Four points ahead of Kessiakoff is not much, but it's better to have them than not. There's a lot of work to do again tomorrow: to me, the Tour de France ends tomorrow evening," he concluded.
- Tour de France
- Article published:
- July 18, 2012, 18:18
- Cycling News
Olympic Games in jeopardy for Lithuanian woman
The UCI announced today the provisional suspension for Rasa Leleivyte (Vaiano-Tepso) after the Lithuanian rider returned a positive A-sample for EPO in an out-of-competition control taken on June 12.
"The provisional suspension of Ms Leleivyte remains in force until a hearing panel convened by the Lithuanian Cycling Federation determines whether she has committed an anti-doping rule violation under Article 21 of the UCI Anti-Doping Rules," the UCI statement read.
Leleivyte, who turns 24 this week, was set to take part in the 2012 Olympic Games in London as part of Lithuania's road cycling team. She can now either accept a ban, thereby sacrificing her place in the Games and her results from June 12 onward, which include a 13th place overall at the Giro Donne, or request a B-sample analysis.
In 2011, Leleivyte was the Lithuanian national champion and placed ninth in the world championship road race. She was eighth the year before in the Geelong worlds and won a stage and took third overall at the 2010 Ladies Tour of Qatar.
- Article published:
- July 18, 2012, 18:49
- Barry Ryan
Australian was ill before the start
After faltering in the Alps, Cadel Evans' Tour de France defense was definitively halted in the Pyrenees on Wednesday, as he lost almost five minutes to the yellow jersey of Bradley Wiggins (Sky) on stage 16 to Bagnères-de-Luchon.
Evans' 2011 Tour victory was built on three weeks of consistency and one mammoth display on one of the giants of the race, the Col du Galibier. In 2012, the BMC leader's challenge, already fading, was finally ended on a day that saw the peloton tackle four canonical mountain passes in succession, the Aubisque, Tourmalet, Aspin and Peyresourde.
Although it was not apparent on the early climbs, Evans was already struggling even before the stage began, suffering from a stomach upset. "When you have only two hours before the race there's not a lot you can do," he said afterwards.
On the Col d'Aspin, however, it soon became clear that Evans would no longer pose any sort of a threat to Wiggins and Froome's duopoly at the head of the overall standings. As Ivan Basso set a steady but hardly devastating pace for his Liquigas-Cannondale stablemate Vincenzo Nibali, Evans' force deserted him.
Climbing out of the saddle, the Australian tried to exhort himself to hold the tempo, but his leaden-legged pedalling betrayed a deeper malaise. The yellow jersey group gradually edged away from him, and he trailed by 30 seconds at the summit.
As he swooped back down towards the valley before the Peyresourde, Evans managed to latch back on to the yellow jersey group, thanks in part to the pacing of his teammate Amaël Moinard, but it proved to be a temporary reprieve. Basso repeated the dose on the Peyresourde, and this time Evans was unable even to clutch at the coattails that flapped before him.
"I didn't think it [the stomach upset] would affect me before the race but obviously that's not my normal level and it's pretty much the Tour de France over for me," Evans said afterwards.
By the summit, he was already four minutes down on Wiggins, Froome and Nibali, and he came down the other side another minute in arrears, and 11:56 down on stage winner Thomas Voeckler (Europcar).
Evans now lies 7th overall, 8:06 off the yellow jersey. A podium place is almost six minutes away, but he is aware that he will be given little scope to resurrect something from his race on the road to Peyregudes on Thursday.
"I don't know if I'm far enough back to have the freedom to go in the breakaway," he said. "You have to be optimistic but also you have to be realistic. Obviously this year things haven't been coming together. The year's not over, but the retirement present I wanted to give George Hincapie this year is gone."
Van Garderen free
While Evans struggled, his young teammate Tejay van Garderen – who had already beaten him in the Besançon time trial and appeared stronger in the Alps – was finally given complete freedom to chase his own goals.
The young American finished with the best of the rest, a minute down on the yellow jersey group, and he now lies 6th overall, 7:55 off Wiggins. Van Garderen also buttressed his lead over Thibaut Pinot (FDJ-BigMat) in the young rider classification.
"It was a bad day," said manager John Lelangue. "We tried with the team to make it happen. We were at the front with two riders in the break but we saw already in the Col d'Aspin that Cadel was not in a great way, so we decided to leave Tejay up there to go for the top ten and the white jersey."
As for Evans' hopes, Lelangue insisted that there would be no miracles in the days to come. "Now it's finished," he said. "It was the last big mountain stage where he could really make it."
- Tour de France