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Third Edition Cycling News, Monday, July 18, 2011

Date published:
July 18, 2011, 1:00 BST
  • Contador confident to be better in the Alps than the Pyrenees

    Albert Contador (Saxo Bank)
    Article published:
    July 18, 2011, 13:04 BST
    By:
    Jean-François Quénet

    Spanish star says the 2011 Tour de France isn’t his biggest battle

    Alberto Contador looked relaxed and not obsessed about winning the Tour de France for the fourth time, as he talked to reporters during the second rest day in the province of the Drôme.

    “I’ll try to win this race but this is not the biggest fight of my career," the Saxo Bank-SunGard rider said. “I’m easy in my mind because I’ve already delivered great results this year.”

    Contador admitted that winning the Giro d'Italia has affected his physical potential at the Tour de France. “I’m not as fresh as I was at the Giro,” he said. “I’m not at the same level as I was at the Giro, and the Tour de France is also a different race. The Giro was a very exciting race with many possibilities to attack. At the Tour, there are many kilometres between the climbs. It reduces the possibilities to attack.”

    But Contador was prompt to remind that his crashes have affected him more than riding the Giro. “As my right knee was hurt, I was forced to compensate with the other leg and it wasn’t my natural pedalling style,” he explained. “However, I’m feeling better and better. I’m confident that I’ll go better in the Alps than in the Pyrenees.”

    He described the three decisive days in the Alps before the time trial of Grenoble on Saturday. “Stage 17 to Pinerolo will depend on the weather conditions,” Contador warned. “If they’re bad, the final descent [of Pra Martino where Danilo Di Luca went on to win a stage at the 2009 Giro d’Italia] will be dangerous. Stage 18 to the Galibier is very hard, that’s where I’ll need to have a...

  • Sastre aims to raise his level before Vuelta a Espana

    Carlos Sastre (Geox-TMC) comes over the line
    Article published:
    July 18, 2011, 13:19 BST
    By:
    Cycling News

    Geox-TMC Spaniard finds it "odd" to watch Tour de France on tv

    Geox-TMC team leader Carlos Sastre is set to ride the full calendar of Spanish races leading into the start of the Vuelta a España on August 20. Having finished third in the recent Tour of Austria, the 2008 Tour de France champion wants to “raise the level I achieved in Austria” as he heads into his national tour, where he has twice finished as runner-up.

    Sastre’s Vuelta build-up is set to begin at the GP Villafranca on July 25, the day after the conclusion of his current commentating commitment at the Tour with Spanish TV. He is then set to appear at the San Sebastián Classic on July 30, the Circuito de Getxo on July 31 and the Vuelta a Burgos (August 3-7).

    “The goal is to improve a little on the level I achieved in Austria, where to be honest my form was very good. Now I need to work out how best to combine training, competition and rest in order to arrive at the start of the Vuelta with good form and the opportunity to go into it with the prospect of performing well,” said Sastre.

    The former Tour champion admitted it has been strange to watch the race on television for the first time in 10 years. “It’s an odd feeling, because up to this year I was one of the race’s contenders,” he said. “I’m following it with a lot of interest because it’s an intriguing race with the result still in the balance.”

    Looking ahead to the Vuelta, Sastre looks increasingly likely to face some of the big names who crashed out of the Tour during the nervy first week. Team Sky’s Bradley Wiggins has already committed himself to a debut appearance at the Vuelta, while Omega Pharma-Lotto leader Jurgen...

  • Tour de France news shorts

    Mark Cavendish (HTC-Highroad) with another victory in the Tour de France
    Article published:
    July 18, 2011, 14:44 BST
    By:
    Cycling News

    HTC's big numbers, Rojas not giving up green jersey ambitions, Andy Schleck content, Rabo jokers

    Big numbers for HTC-Highroad

    Mark Cavendish made it win number 50 in Grand Tours for the seemingly indefatigable HTC-Highroad lead-out train. Once again it was Mark Renshaw who delivered ‘SuperManx' to the line, but Renshaw was quick to credit the work of his compatriot, Matt Goss.

    "I think Gossy had to go and drag race Geraint Thomas there which is quite difficult," Renshaw told Australia's Fox Sports News. "It wasn't perfect, I probably went two or three seconds too early – Gossy had really good legs today but in the end I got Cav to about 250 and from there I don't think anyone is going to beat him in a round curb like that with that speed."

    With speculation rife of an announcement on the Tour's rest day that the team will continue to have backing beyond the end of this year, the 50th stage win on one of cycling's biggest stages could not have come at a better time.

    "I think we lost count about 300 victories ago, it's incredible what the team's done over the last three years since I've been here, an incredible amount of victories," Renshaw smiled. "Lucky we don't count, otherwise I don't know what would happen."

    The win also marked Cavendish's 70th since joining the professional ranks in 2007.

    What's up Rojas' sleeve?

    As Mark Cavendish plays down talk that he secured the green jersey with his stage victory on Sunday, his closest rival for the prize, Movistar's Jose Joaquin Rojas hasn't given up hope either.

    The HTC-Highroad sprinter has a 37-point lead over Rojas and the challenge for the Spaniard road champion is to get as many points at the intermediate sprint as possible as the Tour heads into the Alps.

    "We hope to make him suffer in the mountains," Rojas said. "On Sunday we had a hard finish and came close to going out of control. If we cannot win the sprint we have to play other tricks to try to take the jersey... I will never...

  • Armstrong victim of "character assassination"

    Lance Armstrong (RadioShack) at the end of the Tour Down Under.
    Article published:
    July 18, 2011, 16:07 BST
    By:
    Peter Cossins

    Legal team wants inquiry into leaks from grand jury investigation

    Lance Armstrong's newly appointed legal team has filed a motion at the US District Court in Los Angeles claiming that the seven-time Tour de France champion has been the victim of "character assassination". The charge stems from alleged leaks from the federal grand jury investigation into allegations that Armstrong was involved in organized doping during his pro cycling career.

    According to the respected Politico news website in the US, Armstrong's legal team, headed by John W. Keker, contends that leaks about Armstrong had "the obvious intent of legitimizing the government's investigation of a national hero, best known for his role in the fight against cancer." The motion suggests that information from the Armstrong investigation has been leaked to the New York Times, Sports Illustrated and 60 Minutes. The motion states that, due to the leaks, "even if exonerated and never charged, Armstrong's reputation will have been severely damaged".

    The 20-page motion, which was filed last Thursday, also states: "Each leak has been designed to propagate public support for this investigation by smearing Armstrong and tarnishing his reputation. These circumstances are crying out for an investigation."

    The motion suggests that "the current pattern of leaks is eerily reminiscent" of practices that occurred when Jeff Novitzky, who is heading the federal grand jury probe, was investigating leading baseball players suspected of using performance-enhancing drugs. The motion details: "[T]he leading government advocate for the Armstrong investigation, Novitzky, was recently connected to an investigation riddled with leaks to the same reporters involved in this case, and has a documented history of over-reaching and disregarding individual's [sic] privacy...

  • All systems go for inaugural Tour of Beijing

    Mr Li, Director of the Beijing Sports Bureau and UCI President Pat McQuaid sign an agreement for a new stage race to join the UCI WorldTour
    Article published:
    July 18, 2011, 17:24 BST
    By:
    Steve Thomas

    Route announced for newest WorldTour event

    With the Tour de France peloton enjoying a rest day today, the brief pause in play provided the ideal opportunity for the potential "next big thing" to raise its flag and affirm its claim on its granted WorldTour status; that race being the 2011 Tour of Beijing.

    For many years it was assumed that the Tour de Langkawi would become the first Asian bike race to be awarded the highly prestigious WorldTour status, as it had pioneered high-end racing on the continent for many years. Then came the Tour of Qinghai Lake, one of the toughest races on the Asian calendar; but it was not to be.

    Instead the honour was awarded to the "new kid on the block", the Tour of Beijing, which will take place around China's capital city between October 5-9 this year.

    There's no doubting that China is fast becoming a world sporting power, and slowly but surely Chinese cyclists are also rising to the challenge, especially on the track and in the dust of the mountain bike fields. The country also greatly raised its profile as a sporting host following the successful staging of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.

    Slotted neatly between the World Road Race Championships and the end of season Classics, the 5-day Tour of Beijing is sure to attract its fair share of the cream of the WorldTour riders, as many sponsors have distinct trading "yens" towards the rapidly opening markets of China, and will be determined to make an impression in this showcase event.

    The race will start and finish from the iconic Bird's Nest Olympic Stadium, with the opening stage taking the form of an 11.3km individual time trial. The opening test against the clock takes place on a flat course, but which is potentially long enough to shade the overall GC for the race.

    From here the field takes on a rolling opening road stage, which has three 4th category...

  • Sanchez considers Voeckler his biggest favourite for Tour victory

    Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) speaks to the press on the Tour's second rest day.
    Article published:
    July 18, 2011, 18:28 BST
    By:
    Hedwig Kröner

    Euskaltel-Euskadi climber may target polka dot jersey

    Olympic road champion Samuel Sanchez is perhaps be the one general classification contender with the least pressure on his shoulders as the Tour de France enters its third week. Currently placed sixth, 3:44 behind overall leader Thomas Voeckler (Europcar), the Euskaltel-Euskadi rider has already realised his biggest objective at this Tour - a stage victory - and therefore sees everything that is to come as a mere bonus.

    Speaking before the press at the team's hotel in Orange, Sanchez said that the squad's hopes at the race had already been fulfilled when he won stage 12 to Luz-Ardiden.

    "From all the Tours I've done so far, this one is the most relaxed. With the stage win, good performances in the mountains and a good placing on GC, we have done a great Tour de France so far, and you notice that in the team's atmosphere. Moreover, we've already done a good Giro, so the way we have been able to shine so far this season is very important, it's a relief," said Sanchez, who finished fourth in last year's Tour.

    But because Euskaltel-Euskadi conceded 1:22 at the team time trial, finishing last of all teams, Sanchez said he might give the polka dot jersey a try instead of bidding for a finish on the podium. The Spaniard sits in second position on the mountains classification, two points behind Jelle Vandenert of Omega Pharma-Lotto.

    "I won't try to get into a breakaway, because they won't let me go. I won't have the same freedom as I did in the Pyrenees," he said. "But in the summit finishes I will try to be in front of the Belgian if I can, to score more points. The way the mountains classification has been changed, it benefits the riders who are in front at the summit...

  • Video: Danielson stays focused for final week of the Tour

    Thomas Danielson (Garmin-Cervelo) moves into the top-ten overall with his 11th place finish.
    Article published:
    July 18, 2011, 19:15 BST
    By:
    Stephen Farrand

    Garmin-Cervélo riders enjoy a burrito on the rest day

    Tom Danielson enjoyed a Chipotle Burrito and a taste of Chateauneuf de Pape wine during the second rest but is staying focused on the final week of the Tour de France.

    Danielson is currently ninth overall, 5:46 behind Thomas Voeckler (Europcar), going into the Alps and has emerged as the leader for Garmin-Cervélo. This is the first Tour de France for the 33-year-old American but he is handling the expectations by breaking down the race into manageable chunks.

    He has successfully got through the first two week of the race and now is focused on the final week in the Alps.

    "I've got to look at it as if it's another five day stage race try not to look back or try not took look too far forward," Danielson told Cyclingnews.

    "I don’t need to get carried away about the names of great climbs like the Galibier and L'Alpe d'Huez, and a possible GC position. No. I love to ride climbs and ride my bike. I m going to enjoy it and not worry about what could happen, can’t happen or might happen. If you can do that, and that's what I've been doing, it seems it will be okay."

  • UCI involves ASO for the Tour of Beijing

    UCI president Pat McQuaid, left, and Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme shake hands at the press conference introducing the Tour of Beijing.
    Article published:
    July 18, 2011, 20:00 BST
    By:
    Jean-François Quénet

    Apparent full cooperation between UCI and ASO three years after cease fire

    Three years after being denied an accreditation for the 2008 Tour de France, UCI president Pat McQuaid expressed his happiness to sit on the side of Tour director Christian Prudhomme to introduce the Tour of Beijing to the media during the French Grand Tour's second rest day in the province of the Drôme.

    Beijing was already the place where discussions started between the owner of the Tour de France Marie-Odile Amaury and the UCI at the 2008 Olympic Games. The newly created Tour of Beijing, due to take place October 5-9, is part of the Olympic heritage, McQuaid insisted.

    The inaugural Tour of Beijing, part of the UCI WorldTour, is co-organised by a local committee and Global Cycling Promotion, the company created by the UCI in 2009 to develop race organisations. Its director Alain Rumpf, the former manager of the ProTour, announced in Saint-Paul-Trois-Châteaux that Alan Rushton, the former organiser of the defunct Tour of Ireland and World Cup races in England, has been appointed to run the technical and logistic department of the event, while Australian company Jump Media of David Culbert will be in charge of the media department.

    ASO will assume the sporting side during the five-day stage race with Jean-François Pescheux acting as race director like at the Tour de France and about twenty employees of ASO to be present in China in October.

    "The globalization of cycling is a necessity," stated ASO director of cycling Christian Prudhomme. "Riding a bike is universal but cycling competitively isn't yet. We have to go everywhere and it doesn't mean to renounce the grassroots. International development is important for ASO.

    "For ten years we've been associated with Eddy Merckx and his company Paumer at the Tour of Qatar, then the Ladies Tour of Qatar, and the Tour of Oman since last year....