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Second Edition Cycling News, Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Date published:
June 27, 2012, 1:00 BST
  • Video: Chris Boardman previews the 2012 Tour de France

    Chris Boardman in the yellow jersey at the 1997 Tour de France
    Article published:
    June 27, 2012, 10:08 BST
    Cycling News

    British yellow jersey wearer analyses each crucial stage

    With just three days to go until the biggest cycling event in the world, Cyclingnews previews each of the 20 stages that will shape the race and make or break reputations. For all the plaudits and respect earned by victories in other WorldTour events, only the Tour de France provides a shot at cycling immortality - and you can follow the race every step of the way with us.

    Here, in our series of exclusive videos, former rider Chris Boardman offers his expert analysis on each stage - discussing the routes and who he expects to shine. Boardman is well qualified to pass judgement, having worn the yellow jersey at the Tour in 1994, 1997 and 1998 - one of only four British riders to achieve that honour. Boardman also won gold on the track at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics and was the 1994 world time trial champion.

    Video: Tour de France prologue preview with Chris Boardman

    Video: Tour de France stage 1 preview with Chris Boardman

    Video: Tour de France stage 2 preview with Chris Boardman

    Video: Tour de France stage 3 preview with Chris Boardman

    Video: Tour de France stage 4 preview with Chris Boardman

  • Pinot ready to test himself at Tour de France

    Thibaut Pinot (FDJ)
    Article published:
    June 27, 2012, 11:28 BST
    Barry Ryan

    Frenchman the youngest rider in the field

    At 22 years of age, Thibaut Pinot will be the youngest rider at the Tour de France but while such precocious debutants are normally simply happy to be part of the spectacle, the FDJ-BigMat talent is determined to test himself against the best over the course of the three weeks.

    “I think I’ll be the youngest rider at the Tour de France, so above all I’m going there to gain some experience and enjoy myself by trying to get a result on a mountain stage,” Pinot told Cyclingnews on Tuesday evening, in between packing his suitcase for Liège.

    After a brief but brilliant amateur career at CC Etupes, capped by his stylish win at the prestigious Giro della Valle d’Aosta, Pinot was fast-tracked into the professional ranks in 2010 and his reputation has grown exponentially ever since. A strong final weekend at the Critérium du Dauphiné last season set him up for a fine summer of racing on Italian roads, and that progress has continued in 2012.

    Such was the assuredness of Pinot’s showing against some of the heads of state of the peloton at the recent Tour de Suisse that FDJ-BigMat manager Marc Madiot was moved to row back on his own instincts and thrust the youngster into the Tour line-up.

    “I did a very nice Tour de Suisse,” Pinot said, matter-of-factly. “I was in the top 10 of the GC until the final Saturday, so I saw that I was able to follow the best climbers there and that I was capable of going to the Tour de France.”

    Pinot’s place in the Tour team was only confirmed at the weekend, once it became apparent that Arnold Jeannesson would not be fit enough to compete. Indeed, Pinot was initially slated to ride the Vuelta a España, partly because the...

  • IG Pro Cycling Index: National Championships Review

    Ian Stannard (Team Sky) takes the generous applause as he celebrates winning the British championship
    Article published:
    June 27, 2012, 12:14 BST
    Cycling News

    Team and Nation rankings also analysed this week

    National Championships Review

    Eight out of the ten national road race championships in the IG Pro Cycling Index took place over a busy weekend of cycling. With all the results from Europe now in, there have been some interesting movements in the Index.

    The most prominent mover was a rider who did not even race at the weekend. Australian Cadel Evans climbed two spots to 4th spot despite not adding any points to his total. His rise was due to Bradley Wiggins deciding not to defend his British title and Philippe Gilbert failing in his attempt to defend his Belgian title.

    Gilbert lost his title to Tom Boonen, who is the Belgium champion for the second time in his career. Boonen’s win closed the gap at the top of Index between him and Joaquin Rodriguez. The gap is now at just 64 points. However, a change at the top may not come around until the Tour of Poland as both riders are not on the start line for the Tour de France.

    Three national road race winners from the weekend moved into the top 100. Francisco Ventoso edged out Koldo Fernandez in a sprint finish to win the Spanish title. He rose from 147th to 67th. One place below now is Fabian Wegmann, who won the German national road race for the third time in his career. Wegmann narrowly beat Linus Gerdemann to win the race. Gerdemann is this week’s highest new entry in 116th place due to his 2nd place.

    In Britain, Ian Stannard led home a Team Sky 1-2 with Alex Dowsett in second place. Stannard is up to a career-high 83rd place, as is Dowsett, who is...

  • Fränk Schleck says he won't be at top form for the Tour de France

    A happy Frank Schleck (Team Radioshack Nissan)
    Article published:
    June 27, 2012, 13:07 BST
    Cycling News

    RadioShack-Nissan rider regrets absence of brother Andy

    Fränk Schleck has warned not to expect too much of him in the Tour de France, saying he is no longer at his peak and will not be amongst the top riders.  The absence of his brother Andy is a loss not only to him but to their team RadioShack-Nissan as well, he said.

    “My peak form is over, I cannot ride with the topmost and do not want to be the leader of the team,” he told Het Nieuwsblad. “If the results are looked at, there will be criticism of me and I do not want that. I am not a machine and can not always be first rate.”

    He has raced so much already this season that he will not be able to hold his form, he said. “After the Ardennes classics, my unexpected participation in the Giro, the Tour of Luxembourg and the Tour de Suisse, I have too many race days in my legs.”

    Not having his brother there will be a major factor as well.  “A Tour with or without my brother Andy makes a big difference,"” he said. “We feel each other instinctively, much better than you do  with teammates. Our second and third places in the Tour de France last year were no accident.”

    “The loss of Andy is a bad thing for the team, because Andy was the leader. I do not feel like the  leader for the Tour.”

    He also denied that he had difficulties with team manager Johan Bruyneel, who said after Schleck dropped out of the Giro that he was not assured a place in the Tour de France.

    "There is no problem with Johan. When I crashed, I spent three days fighting. I was in pain and he was very...

  • Bertagnolli snared by biological passport

    Leonardo Bertagnolli (Lampre-ISD) in the time trial.
    Article published:
    June 27, 2012, 15:10 BST
    Cycling News

    Italian retires as news breaks

    The UCI has opened disciplinary proceedings against Leonardo Bertagnolli (Lampre-ISD) for a violation of anti-doping rules based on apparent anomalies in the blood profile of his biological passport.

    In a statement released on Wednesday afternoon, the UCI said that Bertagnolli “shall be accorded the right to the presumption of innocence until a final decision has been made on this matter.”

    Bertagnolli had been due to appear before the Italian Olympic Committee in Rome on Wednesday to discuss allegations that he was a client of the controversial Dr. Michele Ferrari. On Tuesday, it was announced that the hearing had been postponed at the rider’s request.

    On Wednesday afternoon, just prior to the UCI's publication of the news, Lampre-ISD released a statement announcing that Bertagnolli had decided to retire after the Italian Road Championships on Saturday. The team claimed that the 34-year-old, who was not picked to ride the Tour de France, had already intimated his decision to retire at the beginning of the season.

    “In agreement with the staff of Lampre, I’ve decided that the Italian championships would be the last race of my career,” Bertagnolli said, according to the Lampre statement. “I thank [Giuseppe] Saronni and the Galbusera family for having welcomed me in my final years as a professional, and naturally all of my previous managers and sponsors, who have always supported me, and shared happy moments with me.”

    In a further statement released later on Wednesday afternoon, Lampre-ISD distanced itself from Bertagnolli, claiming that the contested blood values on his biological passport date from 2008 and 2009, before he joined the team.

  • Prolific Greipel excited ahead of Tour de France

    Andre Greipel (Lotto Belisol) celebrates his victory in stage 2 of the Ster ZLM Toer.
    Article published:
    June 27, 2012, 16:07 BST
    Cycling News

    Lotto-Belisol rider says team is united and balanced

    Germany's Andre Greipel lines up for his second crack at the Tour de France in Liege on Saturday, and the Lotto-Belisol man will begin the race as one of the most in-form sprinters in the world. Greipel tasted success by winning stage 10 at his debut Tour last year and few would bet against him adding at least one more stage to his palmares this time round.

    Of Greipel's 14 wins this year, one of the most informative was the most recent - a defeat of Mark Cavendish and Mark Renshaw in stage two of the Ster ZLM Toer in Holland. It offered evidence that Greipel will fear nobody on the flat sprinting stages at the Tour and though he claimed last week that he was not thinking about winning the coveted green jersey, Greipel is upbeat about the overall state of his Lotto-Belisol team and hopes to mix it with the best sprinters around over the next three weeks.

    "With Marcel Sieberg, Jürgen Roelandts and Greg Henderson, I have the best and fastest pilots imaginable at my side," Greipel said on the team website. "This is the way that I could collect seven victories in the last four weeks. It is an important foundation for the Tour and I could prove that I belong among the best sprinters. So I am looking forward to my second Tour."

    Aside from his lead-out train, which is proving more and more to be one of the best in cycling with each race that passes, Greipel also said that Lotto-Belisol has strength in depth and plenty of balance - which could lead to a sustained challenge on several fronts at the Tour.

    "I am particularly pleased that the team management has considered my wishes for the sprint train," Greipel said. "We are a very good team and understand each...

  • Voeckler's knee problems behind him, says team

    Article published:
    June 27, 2012, 17:04 BST
    Cycling News

    Frenchman trains before leaving for Liège

    The state of Thomas Voeckler’s injured knee has been a source of concern in recent weeks but his Europcar team has confirmed that the Frenchman is fit and ready to take part in the Tour de France.

    Voeckler was listed among the nine riders in Europcar’s Tour selection on Monday even though he had spent a week off the bike after abandoning the Route du Sud on the slopes of the Col du Soulor, citing an inflammation of his right knee.

    Although Voeckler trained for two hours on Monday, the final doubts over his fitness were only definitively excised on Tuesday, when he took in a four-hour ride that saw him test his knee more fully.

    “Everything went perfectly well,” manager Jean-René Bernaudeau told L’Équipe. “Thomas doesn’t feel any pain in his knee any more and there are no worries.”

    Voeckler had begun suffering from the injury at the Critérium du Dauphiné, where he also abandoned on the final stage. He was an aggressive presence at the Route du Sud as he looked to prove his fitness, but on his abandon, he was advised to rest completely by his team doctor.

    “He knew he had to listen to the advice of the doctor,” Bernaudeau said. “I know that it wasn’t easy for him to go eight days without riding, but I’m happy that he kept his word and stuck to the break that was prescribed.”

    It remains to be seen what effect Voeckler’s lay-off will have on his chances of matching his 4th place overall finish of twelve months ago, although Bernaudeau admitted that his leader would need to feel his way into the race.

    “Since his abandon at the Route du Sud,...

  • Olympians warm up for London in women's Giro d'Italia

    The 2011 Giro Donne podium - Emma Pooley (Garmin-Cervelo), Marianne Vos (Nederland Bloeit) and Judith Arndt (HTC-Highroad)
    Article published:
    June 27, 2012, 21:05 BST
    Cycling News

    Vos, Arndt, Pooley and Stevens headline

    While all eyes are on the 2012 Olympic Games in London, the women's peloton is getting ready to tackle the most prestigious stage race on its calendar: the women's Giro d'Italia, or Giro Donne.

    This year's race marks the return of Marianne Vos (Rabobank), who last year dominated the event with five stage wins including stage 7 which crested the Mortirolo. Vos has been out of international competition since breaking her collarbone in the Valkenburg Classic in May. She finished second to teammate Annemiek Van Vleuten in the Dutch road championships last weekend in her first race back.

    German Judith Arndt (Orica-AIS) will be tuning her already good form which earned her dual national titles in the past week. Arndt has never won the Giro Donne, but placed second in 2010 and third in 2011.

    Last year's runner-up Emma Pooley (AA will return bolstered by her selection for the Olympic Games, and will be keen to test her climbing legs in the sole uphill finish to Montecatini Alto on stage four.

    Exergy Tour winner Evelyn Stevens will look to test her new-found confidence on the bike and overcome the misfortune which has plagued her previous appearances in the Giro Donne. Stevens's best finish here was 15th in 2010, but her recent performances harken better placings this year.

    Sweden's Emma Johansson (Hitec Products), five-time race winner Fabiana Luperini, 2009 winner Claudia Häusler (Orica-AIS), 2008 Olympic champion Nicole Cooke (Faren Honda) and new Italian champion Tatiana Guderzo will all be riders to watch for the general classification.

    This mountain stage and...