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Second Edition Cycling News, Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Date published:
July 04, 2012, 1:00 BST
  • Video: Voeckler's knee pain hampers Tour de France ambitions

    Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) at the finish.
    Article published:
    July 04, 2012, 14:44 BST
    Brecht Decaluwé

    2011 Tour hero pledges support to teammate Pierre Rolland

    The French hero of the 2011 Tour de France is struggling during this year's event. Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) entered the race after a season full of knee problems and hasn't been able to turn things around at the Tour de France. The persistent knee aches threw him out of contention for the general classification on Tuesday. Voeckler crossed the finish line in Boulogne-sur-Mer more than seven minutes behind the front group.

    On Wednesday morning Voeckler explained what was going on. "I don't feel it when I walk. I'm using my left leg more than I should which causes trouble in other tendons because they overcompensate. It feels like grains of sand and as the stages are already hard enough I didn't need this," Voeckler said. "I'm still in the race and I want to keep fighting.

    "It's a recurring injury which hinders me when standing on the pedals. The problem is that I can't really push on the pedals like I would like. I knew before coming to the Tour that my knee was hurt," Voeckler said. "From now I take it day by day, and stage by stage. I'll take it step by step," he added.

    The former French champion is known to be rider with a big heart. Last year Voeckler was often spotted struggling to keep up with the lead group in the mountains though he seldom completely cracks. "I'm not someone who's going to give up so easy. Sometimes you don't have the choice," Voeckler said. "It's not something unusual for me. I'm used to re-launching myself often."

    Due to Voeckler's problems the order in the Europcar team is modified. Pierre Rolland was the lieutenant for Voeckler last year but this time around he'll be the team leader for the general classification. "From now on I'll work for Pierre...

  • Omega Pharma-Quick Step stars eye Tour de France time trials

    Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) saw his challenge unravel due to bad luck.
    Article published:
    July 04, 2012, 15:15 BST
    Alasdair Fotheringham

    Injured Martin to test time trial position in first, Leipheimer likes the second

    Omega Pharma-Quick Step time trial experts Tony Martin and Levi Leipheimer have their eyes on the Tour de France's two races against the clock - but for very different reasons.

    Martin, suffering from a fractured scaphoid since he crashed on stage one, will race stage 9's 41.5km time trial between Arc-en-Senans and Besancon as a test of his time trial position and looking towards the Olympics.

    "He's doing all right this morning, we did another x-ray and he seems to be ok," Omega Pharma-Quick Step doctor Helge Reipenhof told Cyclingnews at the stage four start. "The fracture is exactly the same so there is no need to worry about a possible abandon because of the injury.

    "We also gave him a new brace yesterday evening [for the injury] to adapt to the swelling because the soft tissue in the area is expanding, but I'm very confident that he will get through today's stage.

    "We'll take it day by day and see if he can get through to the Besancon time trial, literally just to see how he feels on a time trial bike in competition. It's something we want to try before the Olympics."

    Although this year his injury will cloud the strategy, it is not entirely new for Martin: as the reigning time trial world champion Martin used the Vuelta time trial last year as part of his build-up for Denmark. He also won the final time trial in the Tour in Grenoble last year.

    As for Leipheimer, the veteran American has been flying under the radar so far, but he also has his eye on a Tour time...

  • Rasmussen fired from Garmin-Sharp

    Alex Rasmussen
    Article published:
    July 04, 2012, 15:49 BST
    Daniel Benson & Peter Cossins

    Dane suspended for whereabouts violations

    Slipstream, the company behind the Garmin-Sharp team, has fired Alex Rasmussen after the Danish rider was given an 18 month ban for violating the whereabouts system.

    "We have followed the lead of the authorities throughout this process. Although the missed whereabouts tests occurred on Alex's previous team, in light of the CAS verdict, Alex will no longer be with Slipstream Sports."

    On Wednesday the Court of Arbitration for Sport ruled that Rasmussen’s three missed tests from before he joined Garmin were enough to sanction the rider.

    The Dane had three violations of the whereabouts reporting system, missing three doping controls in an 18-month period. He was fired by his then-team HTC-Highroad last September and suspended by the Danish Cycling Union.

    In November of last year, the Danish Olympic Committee decided not to sanction him, citing UCI procedural errors. Rasmussen was allegedly informed of his last violation 10 weeks after it occurred, instead of the prescribed 14 days.

    Garmin-Sharp team boss Jonathan Vaughters revealed he hasn’t yet read the ruling but lamented the process that has led to Rasmussen’s ban being reinstated and, consequently, his being sacked by the squad. "I don’t know enough about the ruling to make a comment, but I’m a little bit disappointed by the process. It should be much more clear than it has been," said Vaughters.

    "It’s a little sad that there wasn’t information-sharing between Saxo Bank, HTC and also with us,...

  • Basso super domestique for Nibali in Tour de France

    Ivan Basso (Liquigas-Cannondale) at the 2012 Tour de France
    Article published:
    July 04, 2012, 16:30 BST
    Daniel Benson

    Two-time Giro winner key to Liquigas-Cannondale's plans

    Ivan Basso put his climbing legs to good effect on stage 3 of the Tour de France, leading the group of favourites on the final ramp before the finish. Liquigas-Cannondale will be hoping that the show of strength will be a taste to come from the two-time Giro d'Italia winner over the next few weeks.

    "Yesterday wasn't anything special," Basso told Cyclingnews this morning. "It's what I have to do and it comes from the spirit in the team. We have two objectives in the team: one is to get [Peter] Sagan into the best position in the final and the second is to take [Vincenzo] Nibali to the front for the next stages in the race."

    Basso has been delegated as Vincenzo Nibali's super domestique for the Tour, and it's a card that the majority of rival teams will be envious of. The two worked in tandem to tame the opposition in the 2010 Giro with Basso winning the overall and having both riders together in the mountains will strength Nibali's chances of making it onto the podium in Paris.

    "Vincenzo has the priority," said Basso. "I invested a lot of my energies in the Giro. Okay, it didn't go as I wanted or expected, but at the moment I'm okay. I'm not super strong but the plan at the start of the year was for me to go to the Giro and Nibali at the Tour and I'll do my best for him. It's really important for both of us to get stronger in the next few stages and have two riders at the front in the mountain stages."

    Team leaders don't always make the best domestiques and cycling is littered with examples of individual pride and stature coming before the goals of a team. Not only that, but the role of a domestique is...

  • Video: Millar wants to help Cavendish win Olympic gold

    Article published:
    July 04, 2012, 17:30 BST
    Peter Cossins

    Scot excited about competing in London Games

    David Millar said he was "excited" by the prospect of competing at the London Olympics following this morning's confirmation that he has been selected for the five-man team for the road race. "I think it's going to be an amazing race and it's going to be quite a spectacle," said Millar before the start of stage four of the Tour de France.

    Millar was sidelined from the past two Olympics having received a lifetime ban from the British Olympic Association as a result of his 2004 ban for doping. Following the World Anti-Doping Agency's successful challenge of this ban, Millar was selected for Great Britain's initial eight-man road cycling team last month.

    "It means a lot, it's a lot different for me than for a lot of other competitors," said Millar. "It was an event I wrote off many years ago. I've already missed two. The first of those I was in a drunken haze, as far away from the world of sport as humanly possible. But when Beijing came around it was pretty hard to avoid the realisation of how hard it was not being there."

    Millar admitted he had mixed emotions when WADA announced their decision to challenge the BOA's imposition of lifetime bans for those guilty of doping offences. "It threw me into turmoil a bit. I've put a lot of thought into this, I've been very rational about it. I've spoken to a lot of people and I feel that I've almost got a duty to go now," said the Garmin-Sharp rider.

    "I think I made the right decision to put myself up and I'm very proud that the team has seen fit that I won't be a hindrance and I can be a positive influence. I want to help. I also want to help Mark...

  • Cummings disappointed to miss Olympics

    Steve Cummings (BMC)
    Article published:
    July 04, 2012, 19:11 BST
    Peter Cossins

    Riding for Cadel Evans at the Tour makes up for Olympic setback

    Steve Cummings has said he is disappointed to have missed out on selection for the London Olympics. The 31-year-old BMC rider, currently competing in the Tour de France, had been hoping to be part of Great Britain's five-man team in the Olympic road race after playing a key role in helping Mark Cavendish win the world road championship in Copenhagen last year.

    "I'm disappointed, of course. It's everyone's dream to be selected for the Olympics, especially when it's being held in London. But I hope the guys do well and bring back a gold medal," said Cummings prior to start of the Tour's stage four in Abbeville.

    Cummings has appeared at the last two Olympics, winning a silver medal as part of the team pursuit quartet in 2004 and finishing 11th in the individual time trial in 2008.

    We’ve chosen a team that we think can perform the best on that course," said Dave Brailsford. "It was a tough decision. Steve’s been going well, but he’s had a few crashes and injuries this year that set him back a little bit. But he’s a fantastic rider and it was a really tough decision. But it’s always picking the last rider that’s the most difficult."

    Cummings said that this setback had been eased by his selection for the BMC team defending the Tour de France title, having come back from a broken pelvis sustained at the Tour of the Algarve in February. "Being here with Cadel makes up for it, especially after everything that I've been through this year. The race has been going well so far. I've managed to stay out of trouble, although I'm braking a lot more and I'm still pretty...

  • Cavendish and Eisel OK after Rouen crash

    Mark Cavendish would have been a favourite to win in Rouen, but instead he rolled across the finish line several minutes in arrears of Greipel nursing wounds from a late crash.
    Article published:
    July 04, 2012, 19:29 BST
    Peter Cossins

    Sky duo should be ready to go in Tour's stage five

    Sky team boss Dave Brailsford has said he's confident that Mark Cavendish and Bernhard Eisel will start Tour de France stage five on Thursday after both riders crashed heavily coming into today's finish in Rouen.

    "Mark's all right – he's scraped, bumped and bruised, but he's OK. Bernie's got a big chunk out of the top of his eyebrow. There's quite a big hole and he's having it stitched, but hopefully he'll be OK. At this moment in time I expect them both to be able to continue," said Brailsford at the finish line.

    "They did give an idea of what happened but I'm not sure I can repeat exactly what was said. Emotions run high straight after crashes and we need to let everyone calm down and go from there. What's happened has happened and it's all about getting everyone fit and well for tomorrow and ready to go again."

    Brailsford once again stressed that the team's overriding objective is to safely negotiate the first week of the race. "We're seeing crashes every day but once we're through these first six days the race starts going uphill and hopefully it will calm down a little bit," he said.

    "But this is another day gone. They're all still on their bikes. Another two days to go before we reach the hills, and we'll see how things go from there."

  • Video: Crash denies Farrar chance of repeat Tour victory on Independence Day

    Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Sharp) went down in the crash late in stage 4 and was denied the opportunity to win again on Independence Day.
    Article published:
    July 04, 2012, 20:36 BST
    Brecht Decaluwé

    Nothing but bad luck for Garmin-Sharp sprinter since Redon

    Exactly one year after his Tour de France stage win in Redon on July 4th, Independence Day, American rider Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Sharp) was keen on finally getting back to his winning ways in a stage destined to conclude with a bunch sprint on the streets of Rouen, France. It wasn't to be, however, as Farrar was one of the victims of the huge crash that occurred near the front of the peloton within the final three kilometres of stage 4.

    "I was right in the thick of it," said Farrar. "Everybody was fighting for position and guys don't want to hit the brakes. Crashes happen, that's how it goes in sprinting.

    "I don't think I'm seriously injured. I don't feel well but I don't think I've broken anything."

    Being included in that crash instead of being one of the few riders who avoided it seems to be Farrar's destiny nowadays. On Tuesday he was taken down in a crash during the nervous roller coaster ride on the winding roads and hills towards Boulogne-sur-Mer. Farrar wasn't seriously injured but something hit him between the legs. It's a showpiece example of the bad luck he has been encountering ever since his Tour de France win last year.

    Since earning his first Tour de France stage victory last year Farrar has failed to clinch any another individual wins since (Farrar was part of two team time trial wins in the Tour of Qatar and Giro d'Italia earlier in 2012). While Farrar didn't do any specific sprint training in his build-up for the spring Classics earlier this season, since then he's fine-tuned his finishing kick for the Grand Tours.

    "I'm still a sprinter. I'm not afraid of men...