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Third Edition Cycling News, Sunday, July 7, 2013

Date published:
July 7, 2013, 22:00
  • Tour de France shorts: Cancellara doesn't miss the Tour

    Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack Leopard) announced his new three-year deal with Trek today
    Article published:
    July 7, 2013, 16:00
    By:
    Cycling News

    Ten Dam attacks withering Contador

    Cancellara doesn't miss the Tour

    The Tour de France has become “too big, too much stress”, Fabian Cancellara said. The RadioShack-Leopard rider is in the Tour of Austria this year, having decided to skip the Tour, which he says he doesn't miss.  

    “The Tour is a lot of stress. Everyone is walking around on their tiptoes, from the staff to the riders. Even the smallest detail must be in order. The Tour is so big, the Tour has become too large.”

    As to whether he will ever ride it again, “that depends on the Tour organisers,”  he said. “This year I I already have other goals, and there was no prologue. I don't miss the Tour. Because of the Tour you don't lead a better life, you don't become a better person. Only the last day, on the Champs Elysees, do you have time to enjoy with the team, girlfriend and family. Friday they come, they go shopping Saturday, and Sunday they see daddy. If you weigh all those things ....”

    Ten Dam attacks Contador, Mollema reaches new Tour heights

    Sensing he may be flailing Laurens ten Dam attacked Alberto Contador on the final ascent to Ax 3 Domaines to round out what was a solid showing for Team Belkin. Teammate Bauke Mollema finished slightly ahead of his compatriot to land the duo in fourth and fifth on the stage and on GC.

    "To have both of us in the GC shows that we are one of the big teams, with Sky and Movistar. Contador was behind us. It was surprising. Even Rodríguez would not ride with me, I just held my tempo. I saw Contador in trouble, and attacked him," said ten Dam on his team site.

    "I never was this good before, especially in the Tour de France. Also we had Laurens up there, it was great to be there and working together. Getting the first mountain stage out of the way is a relief, but you have to be good every day. I'm happy with today, to enjoy it. I hope to do the same again and to keep my classification," added Mollema.

    Descending a problem for Pinot

    Thibaut Pinot’s Tour hopes unravelled when he was dropped by the leaders on the descent of the Port de Pailhères. Descending has been a weakness for Pinot ever since he suffered a bad crash on a downhill as a junior and FDJ manager Marc Madiot acknowledged that it had become something of a mental block.

    “I’ve told him that I was a bad descender when I was starting out too, so I know it’s a vicious circle – the more people want to reassure you, the more it blocks you because everyone’s talking about it,” Madiot told L’Équipe.

    Pinot himself was downbeat on Saturday evening. “After months of work, one descent and it’s over,” he said. “I’m so disappointed I don’t know if I’m going to get over it. I’m pessimistic for the rest of the Tour.”

     

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  • Contador buoyed by aggressive Tour de France stage

    Alberto Contador (Team Saxo - Tinkoff)
    Article published:
    July 7, 2013, 16:33
    By:
    Daniel Benson

    Spaniards crack Porte, isolate Froome in second mountain stage

    After a disappointing opening day in the Pyrenean mountains of the Tour de France, Alberto Contador and his Saxo Bank team rallied to give Chris Froome and Team Sky a bloodied nose on stage 9. There was no knock out punch, but the sparring from Contador and the Movistar had the race leader on the ropes, and saw his teammate Richie Porte hit the canvas and lose over ten minutes. Contador now sits 6th overall, 1’51 down on Froome.

    After Saturday’s tour de force from Sky, an aggressive reaction from their rivals was always on the cards as the peloton rolled out on stage 9 to Bagneres-de-Bigorre. Ahead lay five categorised climbs, and with no summit finish, a chance to dislodge the British team from the pattern of uphill decimation they unleashed at Ax 3 Domaines.

    The early aggression came from Garmin on the Portet d’Aspet, with Porte dropping out of contention. However, it was Movistar who took up the gauntlet on the Col de Peyresourde before the final assault on the Hourquette d’Anzican.

    Although only Nairo Quintana attacked – several times in fact – Contador was able to follow Froome as the British rider was forced to chase.

    In the end Contador finished with the main group of overall contenders with strong support from Roman Kreuziger and Michael Rogers.

    "Today was a very difficult day because we started very fast and the peloton broke into a number of different parts," Contador told Cyclingnews as he munched through a sandwich after showering at the finish.

    "However I’m happy because the team is very strong and I felt a lot better than yesterday, which was a very bad day for me."

    "Okay, at the final there weren’t many changes, although Richie was dropped and Froome was alone in the stage. The most important thing now is that I recover well, give 100 per cent in the two time trials and then I hope that in the last week, because the last week is always the best week for me in the grand tours, that I feel better and that I’m able to ride better in the GC."

    On the final climb, with Quintana jabbing away at Froome’s reserves Contador took a defence guard, gluing himself to the Sky rider’s wheel.

    "I concentrated on Froome on the last climb and I think it was better to wait for another day because it was 30 kilometres to the finish from the top of the last climb. That’s a long distance and I need my power for the next time trial."

    Asked if he could still come from behind and win the race, Contador responded buoyantly, clearly motivated after a stage that saw Sky on the ropes.

    "The race isn’t finished. Of course Froome is very strong, and also in the time trials, but the race finishes in Paris."

    Round one to Sky but round two to the rest.

     

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  • Porte: The peloton kicked our arses

    Richie Porte (Sky) dropped out of the Tour's general classification picture after losing nearly 18 minutes on stage 9
    Article published:
    July 7, 2013, 17:13
    By:
    Stephen Farrand

    Team Sky rider determined to bounce back after losing 18 minutes

    Richie Porte (Team Sky) admitted that stage nine of the Tour de France to Bagneres-de-Bigorre had been the worst day he'd had on a bike all season but took losing any chance of a Tour podium place on the chin despite finishing 17:59 down on stage winner Daniel Martin (Garmin-Sharp).

    Porte was on a high after his impressive performance on Saturday to Ax 3 Domaines. He could have avoided speaking to the press like so many riders often do on bad days but had the courage to get off the Team Sky bus and speak to the select group of journalists who had waited to hear his version of Team Sky's bad day in the Pyrenees.

    "Yesterday was my day and today was probably the worst day I've had on the bike all season. But there's still another two weeks to the Tour, so I'm looking forward to moving on," Porte said.

    "It was a bit of war today, everybody saw that it was an amazing stage. Full credit to Valverde. He attacked so early and it takes a fair set of swingers to do that."

    With Vasili Kiryienka finishing outside of the time limit and Chris Froome isolated in the front group, Team Sky suddenly seemed vulnerable. However Porte confirmed that there is no specific problem in the team such as a virus.

    "There's nothing going on. I think the peloton kicked our arses and that's all there is to it," he said with appreciable honesty.

    Porte confirmed that he decided to ease up and give up chasing the front group on the final climb, hence his big time loss.

    Before heading for the flight transfer north to Nantes, Porte insisted that he will bounce back from his bad day in the Pyrenees. He is confident that his climbing legs will return after the first rest day and the flat stages across central France next week.

    "It's a recovery day tomorrow and then hopefully some sprinters stages. My climbing form is pretty good. I fought along there on my own, so I'll be fine," he said.
     

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  • Quintana: We showed the world Sky also has weaknesses

    Best young rider Nairo Quintana (Movistar)
    Article published:
    July 7, 2013, 17:38
    By:
    Stephen Farrand and Daniel Friebe

    Movistar isolate Froome and show their strength in numbers

    Nairo Quintana and his Movistar team failed to crack and pull back time on Chris Froome (Team Sky) on stage 9 of the Tour de France but as the riders travelled north to Nantes for the first rest day, the Spanish squad was buoyed by their ability to isolate Froome. Team Sky's aura of invincibility took a serious blow.

    Quintana made four aggressive attacks on the second half of the Hourquette d'Ancizan climb. Froome responded confidently to each one but the Colombian climber confirmed he is likely to be Team Sky's biggest antagonist in this year's Tour de France.

    Quintana moved up to seventh overall after the Pyrenees, 2:02 down on
    Froome. He is likely to lose at least a minute in the stage 11 time trial to Mont-Saint-Michel but could gain time in the high mountains such as Mont Ventoux and in the Alps.

    "It was a beautiful stage and quite a good result for us - we proved that we have an excellent squad, with all riders at a very strong level, ready to help myself as well as Rui and Alejandro," Quintana said.

    “We showed the world Sky also has weaknesses, but Froome is really strong and it's difficult to hurt him. Still we're taking some energy from him, making him work and suffer in view of the next stages."

    Quintana is just 23 years old and is the favourite to win the best young rider's white jersey competition. Early leader Michal Kwiatkowski (Omega Pharma-Quick-Step) is second at 1:23. The USA's Andrew Talansky (Garmin-Sharp) lost seven minutes on the second stage in the Pyrenees and so is fourth in the white jersey classification, at 7:33.

    "Getting through this week with the white jersey is quite good and I'm really happy to be wearing it," Quintana said.

    "There are still many strong rivals in front of us, which we will have to fight against in the remainder of the race. Fortunately the first rest day comes tomorrow and we'll try to profit from it - getting on a short ride with the teammates, talking about anything but the race to get the nerves off."

    Unzue upbeat after the Pyrenees

    Movistar team manager Eusebio Unzue will no doubt allow his riders an extra hour in bed on the first rest day after their impressive collective performance in the Pyrenees. Movistar has three riders in the top ten overall: Alejandro Valverde is second, 1:25 down on Froome, Quintana is seventh at 2:02 and Rui Costa is tenth at 2:45.

    Unzue claimed that the Movistar riders were more concerned about distancing Porte than making an all-out assault on Froome on the last climb, hence their decision to ride strongly, with only Quintana going on the attack.

    "Froome was isolated on the second pass but after that, because of the way it panned out, we had to work to stop Porte coming back. That’s pretty much what we worked towards all day – making sure that Sky will no longer have the opportunity to play two cards," Unzue explained to Cyclingnews.

    “A missed opportunity? Well, maybe, but it’s not easy to work all day and then attack at the end. Quintana tried but Froome held it together and controlled everything all day. The stage wasn’t ideal for taking time on him. There was a moment between the Col de Menté and the Peyresourde when it looked really interesting, with about eight riders at the front, but then Saxo and teams that weren’t represented closed the gap and that was the stage finished."

    A Spanish alliance

    Unzue revealed his respect for Froome after his strong performance on the climb to Ax 3 Domaines but hinted that he is ready form a Spanish alliance with Alberto Contador to try and defeat Froome and Team Sky. "We still hope that we can beat Froome," he said.

    "We realised yesterday that he was the strongest. What he did yesterday was worthy of a grand master. That’s the truth.

    "Can we form an alliance with Contador? We’ll certainly try, but it’s a question of whether you have the strength to take advantage when the opportunity arises."

     

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  • Froome expected attacks from Movistar in Pyrenean Tour de France stage

    Chris Froome (Sky) was without teammates for much of stage 9 but was able to remain with his GC rivals and retain the yellow jersey
    Article published:
    July 7, 2013, 18:20
    By:
    Sam Dansie

    Race leader rues loss of Porte from contention

    Chris Froome (Sky) said he was prepared for more attacks from the Movistar riders who surrounded on the final climb of the Tour de France today. But the loss of his teammate Richie Porte as a danger man on the general classification leaves the British squad more tactically exposed, he admitted.

    In the stage 9 press conference after a tough day of intriguing racing over five Pyrenean climbs, Froome said, "I was definitely prepared for it on that final climb thinking ‘OK, this is where they are going to put me under pressure' and I was ready for it - I was quite within myself on that last climb."

    Despite the superior numbers of Movistar riders and the loss of Froome's key teammates Richie Porte and Peter Kennaugh as support riders – the Spanish squad failed to put an isolated Froome under enough pressure to erode his 1:25 advantage over Alejandro Valverde.

    The race's white jersey, Nairo Quintana (Movistar) probed Froome with four attacks on the final climb, the Hourquette d'Ancizan, but each time the yellow jersey answered back.

    "It's not easy to follow Quintana in the climbs," Froome reflected. "He's a light little Colombian who can fly up them, so to cover his attacks definitely wasn't easy. I was ready for more attacks but I'm quite glad there weren't."

    Froome's biggest blow today was losing the tactical advantage of having a teammate in second place on general classification. Porte lost touch with Froome's group before the second climb, and despite trying to chase back on he finished almost 18 minutes behind stage winner Daniel Martin (Garmin-Sharp).

    "It's always better to be able to have two cards to be able to play in that respect and having Richie in second place was huge boost for me knowing that he was right there.

    "He could at any point put any rivals under pressure in that sense so that leaves us a little more exposed but I'm sure he's going to be with us all the way to Paris and helping me to try to keep yellow."

     

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  • Schleck gains confidence from Pyrenean showing

    Maillot jaune Chris Froome between two former Tour de France champions Andy Schleck and Alberto Contador
    Article published:
    July 7, 2013, 19:00
    By:
    Daniel Benson

    RadioShack man finishes with GC contenders on stage 9

    He may not be back to his very best but Andy Schleck gave his most encouraging performance of the Tour de France so far with a solid ride on stage 9 to Bagnères-de-Bigorre, holding his own with the maillot jaune contenders before finishing 12th on the stage. He now sits in 14th overall, 4:00 down on race leader Chris Froome.

    "It was a hard day but in the end there were no changes in the GC but that's a little bit what we expected. Froome was alone out there but he managed pretty well on his own," Schleck told Cyclingnews at the finish.

    "I felt really good today and that was really good for my confidence. I was never close to not following the rest. That gives me good confidence for the Alps," he added.

    The day was marked by a series of aggressive moves with Garmin-Sharp and then Movistar unsettling and then dismantling the Sky team, who saw Richie Porte lose almost 18 minutes and all hopes of a podium finish. Movistar had a numerical advantage of six to one when they isolated Froome from his entire team but bar a number of attacks from Nairo Quintana, the race leader maintained his overall lead, even if his team's aura of invincibility was washed away.

    Whether Movistar will live to see Bagnères-de-Bigorre as a missed opportunity to exert more pressure on Froome remains to be seen. Michael Rogers told Cyclingnews that stiff headwind on the final climb curbed any attacking, while one team director told Cyclingnews that all the GC riders had run out of gas by the time they reached the final of five climbs.

    "Movistar rode well but at the end of the day they also rode for nothing," Schleck told Cyclingnews. "They rode hard all day long but I would have expected big attacks on the last climb but they didn't come. I won't say that what they did was a mistake because for sure look at what happened to Porte [who was dropped and lost his second place overall – ed.]

    Despite Schleck's ride he still has to deal with matters off the bike that have dominated the last week. His brother Frank was dropped by the RadioShack-Leopard squad and has no team for the remainder of the season, while Trek are currently negotiating reduced salaries with both brothers for 2014.

    "The situation hasn't changed from two days ago but we're waiting and we hope for the best," Schleck said when asked about the situation with his brother.

    "I don't know what we'll do yet but I don't agree with the decision and I wasn't aware of it happening before it was announced.

    "Right now there's no communication [from owner Flavio Becca] between us because I'm here and he's in Luxembourg but we had a good relationship before. Now we have to see what's going to happen but I try and keep the focus on the Tour right now."
     

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  • Dan Martin eyes Tour de France GC after stage victory

    Daniel Martin (Garmin-Sharp) won stage 9 into Bagnères-de-Bigorre
    Article published:
    July 7, 2013, 19:40
    By:
    Sam Dansie

    Irishman 8th overall after Pyrenees

    Daniel Martin (Garmin-Sharp) said he had never felt such pain as he crossed the line for his first Tour de France stage win today.

    And after letting victory sink in, the 26-year-old Irishman said consolidating his position on general classification could become a consideration, given the mountainous third week in the Alps.

    After the Garmin-Sharp rider coolly dispatched Jakob Fuglsang (Astana) in the two-man sprint, Martin praised the work of teammates such as David Millar, Ramunas Navardauskas and Jack Bauer who, he said, almost put themselves outside the time limit to get him into the break.

    "We're a bunch of friends in the team rather than teammates, and I think that shows how well we work together. We're always willing to give everything to help each other win and I think it's a special team for that."

    Martin now lies eighth on general classification, 2:28 down on Chris Froome (Sky).

    "We're there or thereabouts in the general classification and maybe we'll have to start thinking about that," he said.

    "First we have to get the rest day out of the way and the time trial and there are a lot of dangerous stages coming up in the next few days.

    "I think for now we're just going to enjoy the stage win. Obviously so far I've coped the best out of the team and we'll see how the Alps go.

    The Tour's tough final week could play in Martin's favour.

    "That third week looks pretty horrendous on paper but obviously the road is uphill so it suits me, but I think we'll see that the person who wins this race might be the person whose bad day is the least bad."

     

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  • Brailsford: It looks we've got a race on our hands

    Tour de France leader Chris Froome (Sky) had no teammates with him for much of stage 9
    Article published:
    July 7, 2013, 20:20
    By:
    Stephen Farrand

    Team Sky looks to regroup after a difficult day in the Pyrenees

    Team Sky manager Dave Brailsford talked to the media at length after the Pyrenean stage to Bagneres-de-Bigorre, analyzing Team Sky's difficult day and trying to convince anyone who would listen to him to see Team Sky's glass as half full rather than half empty.

    Chris Froome still leads the Tour de France, looked strong and will no doubt extend his 1:25 lead on Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) in the time trial stage on Wednesday. However that is where the good news ends for Team Sky.

    Vasili Kiryienka headed home instead of taking the Tour de France plane to Nantes after missing the time cut, Geraint Thomas is still suffering after fracturing his pelvis and the other domestiques no longer seem as unbeatable as they were in last year's triumphant race when Team Sky escorted Bradley Wiggins to victory.

    "Yesterday was one of our best days and today was one of toughest. But everyone who said the Tour was over will have to think twice tonight. But that's why this sport is brilliant, you never known what's around the corner," Brailsford said.

    "I think it's actually a good thing for the sport and for the race. People like suspense to last as long as possible. It might not be great for me but I can recognise a good thing. It looks we've got a race on our hands and so does everyone else. It's too early to call a winner of this race."

    Confident for the time trial

    Brailsford is confident that Froome can take more vital seconds in the 33km time trial from Avranches to Mont-Saint-Michel time trial.

    "If you'd given me the opportunity of going into the rest day with the advantage we've got before the time trial, for sure we'd have taken it. We've got to be happy with the first week," he said.

    "I think Chris is equal to Quintana and was never really under pressure. Chris showed he's in great shape. Let's see where we're at after the time trial. I think a lot of the other teams looked at us today and think: 'There's an opportunity there', on the other hand they look at Chris as an individual and think: 'Blimey he's strong'.

    "Froome is very a resilient guy and is going well. That's what counts. Physically he was never under pressure."

    Surprised by Porte's poor performance

    Brailsford admitted that he was surprised to see Richie Porte have such a bad day after riding so well on Saturday. The Tasmanian was dropped early on when Movistar blew the race apart. He doggedly tried to chase but eventually sat up and finished 18 minutes down, losing any hope of a good overall classification.

    "It was unexpected, it's not often we see Richie have a day like that to be honest. He obviously went deep and paid for that effort (on Saturday)," the British manager said.

    "He looked fantastic yesterday but they really attacked hard and after that it wasn't his best day. There was no point in hanging on to a gap of two or three minutes, it was better to save his legs and go on from there. These things happen and I'm sure he'll be back to his best later in the race."

    Porte's bad day at least resolves one potential problem for Team Sky: there will be no internal power struggle as two riders both fight for a place on the final Tour de France podium.

    Brailsford denied it will leave Team Sky tactically poorer.

    "I don’t think it means anything tactically. If anything, it makes you all committed to one rider. I think that might be a positive thing," he said.

    "Yesterday was a hard day for the team which may have taken its toll but if you take the two days collectively, we've got a boat load of time. That's what it's about really. We'll regroup tomorrow and make our plans for the rest of the race."

     

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