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’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.
- 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...
- 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...
- 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...
- 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...
- 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...