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Second Edition Cycling News, Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Date published:
October 23, 2013, 1:00 BST
  • Gallery: Froome, Contador and Cavendish attend 2014 Tour de France presentation

    Chris Froome listens carefully as Christian Prudhomme unveils the 2014 Tour de France
    Article published:
    October 23, 2013, 14:48 BST
    Cycling News

    Peloton's stars gather at the Palais des Congress

    Many of cycling's big-name riders were in Paris for the presentation of the 2014 Tour de France route, swapping their cycling kit for a mix of suits and casual wear as they studied the route of next year's Grand Boucle.

    Chris Froome, Marcel Kittel, world champion Rui Costa, Mark Cavendish and L'Alpe d'Huez stage winner Christophe Riblon were invited on stage for the traditional photographs in front of the route map. Notable by their absence were 2012 winner Bradley Wiggins and 2013 Giro d'Italia winner Vincenzo Nibali. The Italian has said he will target the Tour de France in 2014 but is currently on a cycling cruise in the Mediterranean organised by the Gazzetta dello Sport newspaper. Green jersey winner Peter Sagan and best climber in 2013 Nairo Quintana were also absent.

    2013 Tour de France winner Christopher Froome stood out in his beige jacket. He listened carefully as race director Christian Prudhomme revealed the stages and secrets of each stage. The Kenyan-born Briton did not seem happy to see the 15km of cobbles on stage 5 but the five mountains and final 54km time trial suit his style and make him the natural favourite for the 2014 race.

    World champion and double stage winner Rui Costa also attended the event before flying to Japan for the ASO-organised Saitama criterium along with Froome.

    German sprinter Marcel Kittel featured in the highlights video from the 2013 race after winning four stages and the final sprint on the Champs Elysees. Mark Cavendish also attended and has made stage one in Harrogate a huge objective because it his mother's home town.

    We will have reaction from the riders, team managers and former stars who attended the presentation as they chew over and...

  • Stephen Roche: Fairly soft 2014 Tour de France route

    The stars of the Tour de France gather on stage
    Article published:
    October 23, 2013, 15:40 BST
    Daniel Benson

    Easier route may be more humane for the racers

    Former Tour de France winner Stephen Roche has labelled the 2014 Tour de France as "fairly soft" after the route was unveiled at the Palais des Congrès in Paris on Wednesday.

    The 1987 Tour winner told Cyclingnews that the route was, "fairly soft. In the first week, there's not much difficulty other than the cobbles in the north of France and the wind, I'm sure. But they've not overdosed the route with mountains. The average mileage is shorter and there's one time trial on the second last day. I just hope that the big riders don't just stick together and think that just because they're 10 seconds within each other they can try and take it back in the chrono [time trial - ed.]."

    Roche pointed to the Giro d'Italia as an example of a more "humane" race, adding that the Tour de France had followed suit by providing a Grand Tour that aided athletes' recovery.

    "The emphasis at the moment is on making it a little bit easier on the riders so they can try and discourage the riders from taking shortcuts. That's one of the main reasons. There has been talk that you can't do a Tour de France without shortcuts but you can. Maybe the route has been too difficult in the last couple of years with too many climbs, too many stages of long distances, whereas the Giro this year was a more 'humane' race as they're calling it. Now the Tour has come along with a similar itinerary."

    Roche's initial hesitancy over the route comes down to the time trial. Christian Prudhomme's 2014 parcours scraps the team time trial and instead opts for just one single test against the clock with a 54km time trial on the penultimate day.

    "I'll have to study the route in more detail, but there are some nice mountain stages. As I was more of an...

  • Video: Froome welcomes balanced Tour de France route

    Chris Froome swapped his yellow jersey for a beige jacket to attend the presentation of the 2014 Tour de France
    Article published:
    October 23, 2013, 16:30 BST
    Cycling News

    Says he and Wiggins can race together

    Defending Tour de France champion Chris Froome (Team Sky) welcomed the unveiled route of the 2014 race at the Palais des Congres, telling Cyclingnews that he liked the parcours Christrian Prudhomme and ASO had pieced together.

    Initial stand-out features from next year’s race include a grand depart in Yorkshire, England and a return to the cobbles of Paris-Roubaix on stage 5 from Ypres and Arenberg Porte du Hainaut. Several sectors of pave have been included from the one-day Monument and when the Tour hit the cobbles in 2010 they helped to produce one of the most memorable days of racing in recent Tour de France history.

    Froome admitted that cobbles would take him out of his natural element but stressed that the likes of Nairo Quintana and Alberto Contador would find themselves in a similar scenario. Contador was present during the Tour’s last venture onto the pave producing a crucial ride in his defence of his then Tour title.

    But Froome called the 2014 route balanced; adding that a Tour route should indeed test any aspiring champion’s skill over a number of terrains and scenarios.

    “I still feel like there’s more I can work on,” he told Cyclingnews.

    “I’m always looking to improve and I hope that the experiences from this year are something I can take into next year.”

    Froome was finally asked whether the possible inclusion of Bradley Wiggins in Sky’s Tour line up could act as a hindrance rather than a help. Ever quick to deflect the mere possibility of friction within the team, Froome reiterated that the pair would act professional if the 2012 race winner was chosen to ride.


  • Riis, Unzue win CAS case against UCI over Contador, Valverde's points

    Alberto Contador (Saxo-Tinkoff) claimed his first one-day victory in the 2012 Milano-Torino.
    Article published:
    October 23, 2013, 17:30 BST
    Cycling News

    Court reverses rule as double punishment

    The Court of Arbitration for Sport has reportedly reversed a UCI rule which has prevented Alberto Contador (Saxo-Tinkoff) and Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) from accumulating points toward their team's WorldTour status. According to El Pais, the decision was made on October 11.

    In 2011, the UCI imposed the rule which would prevent riders from accumulating UCI points toward their team's overall ranking - a classification used to award places for the WorldTour - for two years after returning from a doping ban. The court decided that the rule amounted to an additional punishment for the same offence, which was counter to the World Anti-Doping Agency code.

    Bjarne Riis, manager of Saxo-Tinkoff, struggled to compile enough points to make the sport's top tier for 2013, despite Contador winning the 2012 Vuelta a España, because he had just returned from a ban and the UCI would not count his points, which made up more than half of the team's total. He took the case to CAS, and was joined in the matter by Movistar manager Eusebio Unzue, who had similar issues when Valverde was banned retroactively in 2011.

    Under the UCI rules, Contador could not accumulate points until August, 2014, while Valverde's would begin to count in January, 2014.

    Valverde is third in the UCI WorldTour rankings, a result which would net him 100 points toward the UCI sporting value. Contador ended the season below his teammate Roman Kreuziger, in 15th overall.

    While the greater...

  • Brailsford believes Froome can cope with cobbles at 2014 Tour de France

    Sky's team principal Dave Brailsford speaks to the press at the 2014 Tour de France presentation
    Article published:
    October 23, 2013, 18:04 BST
    Barry Ryan

    Team Sky has had "no formal information at all" about Tiernan-Locke case

    Sky manager Dave Brailsford is unconcerned by the relative lack of time trialling at the 2014 Tour de France and is confident that Chris Froome has the wherewithal to deal with the vagaries of the route, which includes a stage on the cobbles of Paris-Roubaix in the opening week.

    Officially unveiled in Paris' Palais de Congrès on Wednesday - having been liberally leaked in the press over the past 10 days - the route of the 2014 Tour has just one time trial, on the penultimate day, and arguably features more potential springboards for attackers than either of the past two editions of the race, which were largely controlled by Sky.

    "To win the Tour de France, you need a specific strategy for that particular Tour. You can't just have one and keep applying that," said Brailsford, clearly a latter-day adherent of Heraclitus' adage that a man can never step into the same river twice.

    "If he's on the same form as this year, Chris can be as good a climber as anybody, so the mountains are an advantage to us. But it is a long time trial [54km between Bergerac and Périgueux], and there'll be some big gaps as fatigue will be an issue. You need to get there in good shape. Everybody will be looking for enough time to take to the time trial, so people are going to have to go on the offensive and that will make for a great race."

    While the Yorkshire start may be an auspicious point of departure for Sky, the first truly turbulent waters of the 2014 Tour will be traversed on stage 5, as the peloton rattles across the pavé from Ypres to Arenberg. Froome has already voiced his unease at the prospect of tackling the cobbles, but Brailsford had no complaints about their inclusion.

    "I don't think it's too dangerous, otherwise we wouldn't...

  • Voeckler: 2014 Tour de France isn't any easier than last year

    Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) at the start
    Article published:
    October 23, 2013, 18:57 BST
    Barry Ryan

    Frenchman points to difficulty of Vosges stages

    At first glance, the route of the 2014 Tour de France appears to be neither fish nor fowl, but Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) is convinced that some eternal tenets will hold true once again next July – the riders will make the race, and that race will be inevitably be a tough one.

    The presence of just one time trial on the parcours – albeit a lengthy 54 kilometres from Bergerac to Périgueux – will certainly delight the pure climbers, but on the other hand, there are perhaps fewer full-blown mountain stages in the high Alps and Pyrenees than there were in 2013.

    This is offset, of course, by an infusion of stages for the puncheurs, days invariably prefixed by such adjectives as "nervous" and "tricky." And, as race director Christian Prudhomme pointed out, the Tour's protracted sojourn in the Vosges – including a summit finish at La Planche des Belles Filles – essentially adds a third big mountain range to the mix.

    "Last year, maybe there was more of the truly high mountains, but maybe that was all there was, too. I'm not sure if I'd say that it's an easier Tour than recent years. Maybe there are fewer big mountain stages, particularly in the Alps, but that just means that those stages in the Vosges will be even more important," Voeckler told reporters in the Palais des Congrés in Paris on Wednesday.

    "It's not harder than last year, but it's certainly not any easier either. It's maybe not as good for the rouleurs because there are fewer time trials, but then they have a long one the day before the finish. Although by that point, maybe a climber with...

  • First 2014 Tour de France mountain stage not in the mountains

    Christian Prudhomme and Thierry Gouvenou hope that col des Chevrères will prove mountain racing to be interesting under 1000m of altitude
    Article published:
    October 23, 2013, 20:08 BST
    Jean-François Quénet

    Planche des belles filles preceded by six climbs on Bastille Day

    Christian Prudhomme regularly cites Martin Luther King Jr. and he also has a dream: to draw a Tour de France without featuring any of the legendary climbs in the high mountains in order to increase the suspense and generate interest all the way through the three weeks of racing. Being aware of the public's conservative approach to cycling, he intends to go step by step, starting with the 2014 Tour de France.

    “I like to use the other massifs than the usual Alps and Pyrenees”, he told Cyclingnews during a recon of the three stages scheduled in the Vosges at the beginning of October. “I believe the race can be won and lost anytime. The dogma to make the race attractive is that there’s no dogma.”

    Disappointed by race favourites who didn’t fight during stage 13 from Colmar to Vittel in the Vosges in 2009, which was won by Heinrich Haussler on a very wet day, Prudhomme has opted for three days in the massif of eastern France with two kilometers being common to stage 9 and stage 10 in the area of the Firstplan. That will be the first of seven climbs scheduled for stage 10 on a Bastille Day that promises to be epic from Mulhouse to the Planche des belles filles.

    Stage 9 will be a typical one for “baroudeurs” (attackers in French cycling slang) like Sylvain Chavanel and Jens Voigt with col de la Schlucht, collet du linge, Markstein and Grand Ballon (alt. 1343m, the highest of those three days) on the menu prior to a stage finish in Mulhouse, like in 2005 when lone leader Michael Rasmussen on the flat resisted a chase led by time trialists Christophe Moreau and Voigt.

    Two years ago, cycling fans discovered the Planche des belles filles. That was Chris Froome’s...

  • Video: Contador points to Tour de France pavé dangers

    Alberto Contador did not seem happy when he saw the cobbles on stage five of the 2014 Tour de France
    Article published:
    October 23, 2013, 21:10 BST
    Daniel Benson

    Confidence still there for former race winner

    Despite being outshone and outclassed during this year’s Tour de France two-time champion Alberto Contador (Saxo-Tinkoff) believes he has the confidence to win a third Tour title.

    The 30-year-old had made this year’s race his main focus of the season but came away with a disappointing fourth place, 6:27 down on eventual winner Chris Froome (Team Sky).

    The Spaniard has already talked about a reduced racing schedule for 2014 as he goes in search of his third Tour win and after watching the unveiling of next year’s race Contador talked positively when asked about whether he could challenge the likes of Froome and Nairo Quintana.

    The Spaniard broke the race into three distinct part, focussing on the flat stages of the first week with the cobbles on stage 5, before pinpointing his specialist terrain in the mountains. The final week in the Pyrenees leads into what could be a crucial battle in the only time trial of the race, a 54km test from Bergerac to Périgueux, where Contador told Cyclingnews that he expects significant gaps between the contenders for the general classification.

    The confirmation that riders will have tackle 15.4km of cobbles during the 156km fifth stage between Ypres and Arenberg Porte du Hainaut will test all the aspiring GC riders. In 2010, the last time the Tour tackled the pave of northern France Contador produced a somewhat surprisingly strong ride to finish just off the back of a lead group that contained Andy Schleck, Fabian Cancellara and stage winner Thor Hushovd. Only a late mechanical meant that Contador trailed in a few seconds after the leader that day while the majority of his rivals for yellow lost either significant time or in the case of Frank Schleck crashed out of the...