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Third Edition Cycling News, Friday, July 1, 2011

Date published:
July 01, 2011, 1:00 BST
  • Video: Swift excited about Tour de France debut

    Geraint Thomas, Brad Wiggins and Ben Swift with the Pinarello Dogma 2
    Article published:
    July 01, 2011, 17:30 BST
    Stephen Farrand

    Team Sky sprinter ready to take on Cavendish

    Britain’s Ben Swift is about to make his Tour de France debut with Team Sky.

    In this video interview with Cyclingnews, the 23 year-old Yorkshire man talks about the excitement of riding the sports biggest race for the first time and how he hopes to make it all the way to Tour de France.

    Swift is a possible contender for Saturday’s opening stage to Mont des Alouettes. He has won two stages at this year's Tour Down Under and one at the Amgen Tour of California. He  will take on Mark Cavendish in the sprint finishes but is not afraid of going shoulder to shoulder with his fellow countryman. 

  • UCI cannot use spot checks to enforce no needles policy

    Bradley Wiggins at the press conference
    Article published:
    July 01, 2011, 18:09 BST
    Sam Dansie

    Wiggins critical of lack of policing

    Sky's Bradley Wiggins has questioned the enforcement of the UCI's new no-needles policy, saying the team's medical staff are ‘adamant' other squads are continuing to inject recovery aids like vitamins and minerals.

    And the UCI's Medical Officer, Dr Mario Zorzoli has admitted that the federation cannot perform spot checks and can only pursue an investigation if there is evidence from other anti-doping activities like police raids that a rider or team is flouting the rule.

    According to the Mirror, Wiggins said: "The needle ban is fantastic but at the [recent] Dauphiné [race] there was no sign of it being policed.

    "It would be great on the Tour [de France] if they actually raided teams to see if they were toeing the line. Medical people in our team are adamant other teams are still using syringes for recovery.

    "People who have a history of this sort of stuff aren't going to just suddenly say ‘OK, that's the law now, we'll stop'" he added.

    In the aftermath of the Giro d'Italia, the UCI's Dr Zorzoli said: "[The policy] ran smoothly. We didn't have one single problem and we had very positive feedback from the teams. We had meetings with some team managers and it was very well perceived."

    However, Dr Zorzoli added that the federation could not perform spot checks on riders and that the UCI was reliant on teams providing a medical inventory of their pharmaceuticals before the race.

    "Even on the list of forbidden substances and methods there are things we cannot find in anti-doping tests. So if someone makes an injection of vitamins this is something we cannot test and we cannot perform checks.

    "So on the one side we have the list of the pharmaceuticals and the teams were bringing with them so it...

  • Quick Step bus seized by French police

    The Quick Step bus was taken by the French authorities
    Article published:
    July 01, 2011, 18:38 BST
    Stephen Farrand

    Updated: Nothing found in search, bus to be released

    French police and customs officers have seized the Quick Step team bus, a spokesman for the Belgian team has confirmed to Cyclingnews.

    The police turned up at the Quick Step hotel late on Friday afternoon and asked for the chauffer of the bus. They then took the bus to the police station in La Roche-sur-Yon, 50km from the Quick Step hotel and half way between the French coast and Mont des Alouettes, where the first stage of the Tour de France will finish on Saturday.

    L'Equipe later reported that the team had been tipped off to the search before it happened, and that nothing suspicious was found on the bus and it is to be released back to the team tonight.

    It is believed that the police had written legal permission to seize the bus but the Quick Step claimed they do not known the motive for the police action.

    "The team wants to specify that no other team vehicle underwent any searches. The team feels' deeply harmed by the consequent media focus on what happened today, which we feel has damaged the team's image and the image of cycling in general," a statement read.

    According to L'Equipe, the actions stem from an investigation by the Angers police and the French Central Office against Environmental Damage and Public Health (Office Central de Lutte Contre les Atteintes à l'Environnement et à la Santé Publique OCLAESP), the same group which searched Tour de France medical waste in 2009. Those searches allegedly came up with illegal transfusion equipment, but the charges against Astana and Caisse d'Epargne were eventually dropped after the investigation ground to a halt.

    On Wednesday it was reported that several team vehicles were searched by police at a toll station north of...

  • Cancellara enjoys pressure-free start to Tour de France

    Andy Schleck and Fabian Cancellara (Leopard Trek)
    Article published:
    July 01, 2011, 19:22 BST
    Barry Ryan

    Swiss rider picks Gilbert for first yellow jersey

    With no time trial on the opening day of the Tour de France for the first time since 2008, Fabian Cancellara (Leopard Trek) is determined to enjoy a more relaxed build-up the Grand Depart.

    "I know there's no prologue but it's a new situation for me, so maybe I'm a bit calmer as there's no pressure," Cancellara said. "I just have to take things as they are. The chance is still there to take yellow but there are a lot of others who are favourites for the first stages."

    Like many others, Cancellara believes that Philippe Gilbert will be the favourite to take the Tour's first yellow jersey atop the Mont des Alouettes on Saturday afternoon and he expects his Omega Pharma-Lotto team to take responsibility for controlling the race in the finale.

    "Normally in the past I've always had yellow the first day," Cancellara said. "Now we can make Philippe the favourite beforehand because he's shown he's the guy for that kind of race and I don't think the sprinters will have the power for the climb. The pressure is on Gilbert's team."

    The Belgian's recently bleached blonde hair may also be an indication of his aspirations on the Tour's opening weekend. "He's never worn yellow and now he's got a nice new haircut so maybe that tells you what he wants," Cancellara joked.

    Cancellara has an early opportunity to showcase his time trialling skills on Sunday afternoon in the team time trial at Les Essarts, but he will have to wait until the final weekend for the race's sole individual test.

    He insisted that his primary role will be to work for the Schleck brothers as they make their assault on the general classification....

  • Cunego saving energy for latter part of Tour de France

    Lampre's Damiano Cunego doesn' seem happy with second place
    Article published:
    July 01, 2011, 19:52 BST
    Barry Ryan

    Italian will be cautious in undulating opening week

    At various points in the seven years since his youthful Giro d'Italia victory, Damiano Cunego has hinted at permanently renouncing all general classification ambitions in the grand tours. But old habits die hard for the Lampre-ISD rider, and he lines up in this year's Tour de France with an open mind about his chances of securing a high overall finish.

    Cunego's burden of expectation has eased considerably since that halcyon summer of 2004, while the disappointment of his recent Tour de Suisse defeat was offset by the effervescence of his performance, and he cut a distinctly relaxed figure in Le Puy du Fou on the eve of the Tour.

    "This year as the Tour has such a difficult route, you have to live it a bit day by day," Cunego told Cyclingnews. "After being here for a week or ten days, you'll start to understand what you're capable of in terms of the general classification or if you're better off going for stages. I'll just have to see how I am and how the others are, and then gauge what level I'm at compared to them."

    The Tour's undulating opening week appears to be well-suited to a rider with Cunego's punchy characteristics, but in his 30th year, the 'Little Prince' is perhaps more cautious in his approach to stage racing than he was in his youth. While his 2004 Giro win was characterised by some impetuous attacking in the opening week, Cunego is keen to keep something in reserve for the latter part of this Tour.

    "I've seen that there are some nervous stages that are suited to attackers but I think that in a race like the Tour de France, you also need to manage your energy because it lasts for three weeks," Cunego pointed out. "It'll be important to take care not to use up all the energy you have in the first week, and I'm...

  • Millar a jack of all trades for Tour de France

    David Millar (Garmin-Cervelo) was active with two attacks
    Article published:
    July 01, 2011, 20:36 BST
    Daniel Benson

    Garmin-Cervélo man buries hatchet with Wiggins

    David Millar's (Garmin-Cervélo) career has gone through an Indian summer in the last 12 months and the British rider sees no reason to slow down ahead of the 2011 Tour de France.

    The former yellow jersey has enjoyed success this year with a stint in the maglia rosa at the Giro d'Italia, and capped an excellent 2010 with silver in the world time trial and gold in the Commonwealth Games equivalent.

    Since the Giro, Millar has been on a promotional tour of his own having launched his own book "Racing Through the Dark".

    "I came out the Giro and I had all the book stuff. I got back on my bike and it felt like I'd been off for six months. It's come good in the last ten days though," he told Cyclingnews.

    Coming into the Tour, Millar will work on a number of fronts personifying his team's ambitions to be dominant force in a race in which they've yet to win a stage. Along with Thor Hushovd and Tyler Farrar for sprints, the team possesses two outsiders for the podium in Christian Vande Velde and Ryder Hesejdal.

    "I'm a jack of all trades. So I'll be working in leadouts, working in the mountains and getting in breaks. I might try and win a stage in the first week, too. I'm confident and I feel good and fresh. We're going for breaks, sprints, the team time trial, GC and team GC."

    For many years Millar was seen as the bastion of British hopes in professional racing as his launch in to the higher reaches of the sport coincided with the slowing of Chris Boardman. However, over a decade since Millar won the Tour de France prologue much of the sport's landscape has changed. Millar has served a two year ban for doping and Team Sky, one of the most successful teams this season has leapt to the forefront in a number of areas.

    Yet their...

  • Andy Schleck at Tour de France to win

    Andy Schleck is expected to be Alberto Contador's biggest threat.
    Article published:
    July 01, 2011, 21:07 BST
    Barry Ryan

    Perfect team set-up and a climbers' Tour are advantages for Schleck brothers

    With Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank - Sungard) set to be the pantomime villain of this year's Tour de France, his principal rival Andy Schleck was keen to encourage his own support from the roadsides when Leopard Trek met the press in Les Herbiers on Friday morning.

    Contador was roundly jeered at the team presentation at Le Puy du Fou on Thursday by crowds upset at his participation in the race in spite of his positive test for clenbuterol in last year's Tour. A Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) ruling on his case will not be delivered until August at the earliest.

    "It wasn't nice for the team or for Alberto, but I haven't thought about it too much," Schleck said diplomatically of Contador's reception the previous afternoon. "For me, it's a motivation to have the public behind you, but the race is a different thing. Of course it's different for every rider. Some riders don't need it, but I like to feel the support of the public."

    As has been the case since news of Contador's positive test first broke last September, Schleck was reluctant to discuss whether or not the Spaniard should be at the race, and he left it to his brother Fränk to spell out the party line: "If Alberto is here, it means he has the right to ride. We have to respect that."

    While Andy Schleck will comfortably win the battle with Contador for the hearts and minds of the French public, it will be a considerably tougher task to match him on the road. Schleck has finished second to Contador in the past two Tours, but at 26 years of age, he insisted he is approaching the race with a different mindset.

    "Last year is past, this year is now," Schleck said. "The previous years that I went...

  • Gesink happy to fly in under the radar at Tour de France

    Robert Gesink (Rabobank)
    Article published:
    July 01, 2011, 21:55 BST
    Barry Ryan

    Rabobank man glad to let Schleck and Contador grab attention

    The Saxo Bank SunGard and Leopard Trek press conferences may have attracted the bumper crowds at the press centre in Les Herbiers, but Rabobank's Robert Gesink had no complaints about coming into the Tour de France under the radar when he faced a decidedly thinner audience on Friday afternoon.

    "For me it's perfect like this, I think I get enough attention," Gesink joked. "You guys talk about Andy [Schleck] and Contador and we will see in the end where I go."

    The Dutchman finished 6th overall last year and he refused to put any limits on his ambitions for 2011 as he seeks to improve on that showing. After a sparkling early-season purple patch, Gesink had stalled somewhat by the time the Ardennes classics rolled around, but a solid finish to the Critérium du Dauphiné last month suggested that he was back on track for July.

    "Of course we start the Tour with the aim of doing a good general classification," Gesink said. "I want to do better than last year. I was sixth then and now I want to do better. It's difficult to put a number on it. I hope I'll be able to get on the podium of course, just like everybody. But that's something that I can't really say anything about right now, we'll see in the next three weeks."

    With Andy Schleck over age for the young rider classification this year, Gesink is the favourite to carry the white jersey to Paris, ahead of the likes of Roman Kreuziger (Astana) and Rein Taamarae (Cofidis). However, he reiterated that his primary focus was on finishing as high up the general classification as possible.

    "I think the goal is of course the yellow jersey and then the white is the second present that you get," Gesink...