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Third Edition Cycling News, Sunday, July 8, 2012

Date published:
July 08, 2012, 1:00 BST
  • Lelangue unconcerned by Sky’s strength in numbers

    Cadel Evans (BMC) starts to fade after a late attack failed to net him the stage win
    Article published:
    July 08, 2012, 14:14 BST
    Barry Ryan

    BMC manager pleased with Evans’ display on stage 7

    BMC team manager John Lelangue has declared himself pleased with the state of play following the first mountaintop finish of the Tour de France, which saw Cadel Evans (BMC) come home alongside new overall leader Bradley Wiggins (Sky). The pre-race favourites were part of an elite group of five riders that formed as a result of ferocious pace-making from Sky on the final climb to La Planche des Belles Filles on Saturday.

    Although Evans attacked inside the wickedly steep final 200 metres, he was unable to rid himself of Wiggins, while Sky’s Chris Froome zipped past to claim the stage win. Evans came across the line in second place, and now lies second overall, still 10 seconds behind Wiggins.

    “It was a positive day,” Lelangue said as he waited to descend from the summit. “We were second on the stage and almost won it, we didn’t lose any time and we put time into quite a few other leaders.”

    While Wiggins was able to reply on the help of Edvald Boasson Hagen, Michael Rogers, Richie Porte and Chris Froome on the final climb, Evans was left somewhat more isolated. His climbing cadre of Tejay Van Garderen, Steve Cummings and Amael Moinard were quickly dispatched as the road went upwards, but Lelangue insisted there were mitigating circumstances.

    “It was a bit of a special finish, as it was so short. Our climbers are better suited to long mountains,” he said. “The passes we’ll face in the Alps and Pyrenees are better suited to Cummings, Van Garderen and Moinard. It’s not a worry.

    “The team is working well with 8 riders who had Cadel well positioned before the final climb. Tejay Van Garderen worked in the rolling 2km beforehand as we had...

  • Pinot enjoys first test on familiar roads

    Thibaut Pinot (FDJ)
    Article published:
    July 08, 2012, 15:17 BST
    Barry Ryan

    French promise on his toughest ascent of La Planche des Belles Filles

    Born and raised in the shadow of La Planche des Belles Filles, Thibaut Pinot (FDJ-BigMat) has tackled the climb hundreds of times in training over the years, but never with the same kind of intensity as during stage 7 of the Tour de France.

    A natural climber who packs an explosive punch, Pinot is in theory ideally suited to a climb such as La Planche des Belles Filles, but such was the ferocity of Sky’s pace-making on the front end of the peloton that it proved impossible for anyone to attack.

    “It was very, very quick yesterday,” Pinot told Cyclingnews at the start of stage 8 in Belfort. “We arrived at the foot of the climb at an incredible pace, and then Sky were very impressive on the climb and nobody was able to attack. Their rhythm was very impressive.”

    As the men in black scarcely missed a beat out in front, overall contender after overall contender was jettisoned unceremoniously off the back of the dwindling leading group. While Pinot lost contact with that particular locomotive halfway up the climb, he recovered well as the summit approached, and picked his way through the carnage to finish in an encouraging 15th place.

    “It’s true that at the start I suffered a bit with the speed, but it’s my mountain, so I knew that there were places where I could recover further up,” he said, pointing out that he had suffered more on the flat approach to the climb than he had on the mountain itself. “The approach to La Planche put a lot of people in the red before the climb began and that made things very hard.”

    Pinot crossed the line alongside Sky’s Michael Rogers and just ahead of Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) in 15th...

  • Samuel Sanchez withdraws from the Tour de France

    Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel)
    Article published:
    July 08, 2012, 15:39 BST
    Alasdair Fotheringham

    Injured Spaniard unlikely to defend Olympic road race title

    Euskaltel-Euskadi have suffered another big setback in this year’s Tour de France as Samuel Sánchez was forced to quit on stage eight with a possible broken left collarbone, dislocated shoulder and possible fractures in his left hand. The injuries, if confirmed, could seriously affect the 2008 Olympic road-race champion’s chances of racing in London. He was lying twelfth overall.

    The crash took place in the 60th kilometre of racing on stage eight on a short uphill section, and initial reports say it was apparently caused by a elderly male spectator sitting at a table too far out in the road. Team-mate Jorge Azanza - who was mainly responsible for protecting Sánchez in the pack - tried to avoid the spectator, who was moving out of the way at speed, but instead ended up colliding with him, with Valverde slamming into Azanza and Sánchez crashing into the two Spaniards, and somersaulting into the tarmac. Valverde was able to continue, but Sánchez injuries were too serious for the 34-year-old to follow suit, and he abandoned in tears.

    Taken by the Tour’s medical services to the nearby Montbeliard hospital, Sánchez is the fourth of Euskaltel-Euskadi’s nine riders to quit, all because of crashes. Three - Gorka Verdugo, Mikel Astarloza and Amets Txurruka - were hurt in the mass pile up on stage six, with Verdugo also abandoning today.

    As team leader, the loss of Sanchez, though, will have the biggest impact - and as defending champion in the Olympic road-race, could well seriously affect the chances of his repeating that success this summer. The winner of the King of the Mountains prize last year in the Tour and sixth overall, as well as a top...

  • Menchov satisfied as Tour de France enters mountains

    Denis Menchov (Katusha Team)
    Article published:
    July 08, 2012, 17:57 BST
    Daniel Benson

    Katusha man remains fifth overall after two solid days

    Denis Menchov proved that his podium chances in this year's Tour de France were still on track after the first day in the mountains yesterday and he has underlined it today with another top ten finish in Sunday's eighth stage.

    The Katusha leader was one of only a handful of riders able to keep pace with Sky on the final climb of stage 7 but eventually had to sit up inside the final 2 kilometres, losing 50 seconds. However, after a strong prologue and successful first week the double Vuelta winner started today's eighth stage less than a minute behind Bradley Wiggins.

    "It wasn't bad [yesterday]. The general feelings are okay but that was just the first contact with the mountains. Those days are always strange in some ways. The final climb was perhaps a little bit too explosive for me but everyday is important in the Tour, not just yesterday but days like today. We're not on the podium places yet but we've had a good Tour in the first week," he told Cyclingnews at the start of stage 8 in Belfort.

    In 2011 Menchov failed to replicate the form that helped secure him a podium in the 2010 Tour and the two wins in the Vuelta and a Giro crown. However the veteran all-rounder pointed to the final week in the Tour, when he often performs at his best.

    "Normally yes, I get stronger as the race goes on but we've only had a week of racing so it's difficult to say. Sky did a really good job yesterday and showed that they're once again a really strong group."

    Katusha's, Torsten Schmidt confirmed that the team were pleased with Menchov's form.

    "We were really happy. The final climb yesterday wasn't perfect for Menchov and was steep. We saw yesterday that the guys like Froome, Wiggins, Nibali, Evans...

  • Pinot takes stylish win in Porrentruy

    Thibaut Pinot soloed to a brilliant victory on stage 8
    Article published:
    July 08, 2012, 18:45 BST
    Barry Ryan

    French talent marks debut Tour with victory

    It may have come a day later than he would have liked, but Thibaut Pinot (FDJ-BigMat) wasn't complaining as he scored a sparkling victory on stage 8 of the Tour de France at Porrentruy.

    The French youngster had hoped to shine on Saturday on the stiff climb to La Planche des Belles Filles – a stone's throw from his hometown of Mélisey – but he found there was little scope for his brand of invention when faced with the brute force of Team Sky, and he came home in 15th place.

    On the rugged road over the border into Switzerland, however, Pinot more than made amends, delivering a performance that married his natural class to a tactical savvy rarely seen in such a precocious talent – at just 22 years of age, Pinot is the youngest rider in this year's Tour.

    Fittingly, the genesis of Pinot's win was to be found in an act of youthful defiance. Though instructed by his team to stick to the yellow jersey group, he opted to venture up the road as part of a sizable chase group that formed midway through the stage, mindful that his teammate Jérémy Roy at the head of the race and would later prove to be a most useful ally.

    "At the briefing, it wasn't foreseen that I would attack today but I decided to do it anyway," Pinot explained afterwards. "I was told to stay with the big leaders, but on the first two climbs I could see that there were riders everywhere, so I figured it was better to be in front than at the back.

    "We had Jérémy Roy up front, which made it easier for me because I didn't have to work in the group behind. Then when we caught up to him, he worked a lot for me."

    By the time Pinot's group made it to Roy, he had...

  • Wiggins delivers caustic assessment of his critics

    Bradley Wiggins suits up in the maillot jaune
    Article published:
    July 08, 2012, 19:15 BST
    Peter Cossins

    "They can’t ever imagine applying themselves to anything in their lives"

    Tour de France leader Bradley Wiggins delivered a withering assessment of his critics, saying their comments "justify their own bone-idleness" and ultimately branding them as "c***s".

    Appearing in front of the press having maintained his grip on the yellow jersey with another strong performance into Porrentruy, Wiggins was asked by an Associated Press reporter about comments that have been made on Twitter comparing Sky’s Tour performances with US Postal’s in past Tours. "What do you say to the cynics who think that you have to be doped up to win the Tour de France?" Wiggins was asked.

    After a pause, Wiggins replied: "They are just f***ing w*****s. I cannot be doing with people like that. It justifies their own bone-idleness because they can’t ever imagine applying themselves to anything in their lives. It’s easy for them to sit under a pseudonym on Twitter rather than get off their arses in their own life and apply themselves and work hard at something and achieve something, and that’s ultimately it. C***s!"

    Up to that point Wiggins had looked relaxed as he responded to questions. Asked initially about the possibility that teammate Chris Froome might beat him as he did in last year’s mid-race time trial at the Vuelta, Wiggins acknowledged that this is possible.

    "It’s the race of truth and you’ve got to have the legs. The time trial in the Vuelta last year was at a 1000m altitude and it was 37 degrees and I just went off way too fast. Anything is possible tomorrow. I try not to think too negatively and concentrate on the way I’m riding now," he said.

    He once again played down the importance of the Tour’s time trials, emphasising that every stage is important. "There’s been so much fuss made about the time trials, but the...

  • Vande Velde confirmed to race in 2013

    Christian Vande Velde (Garmin Barracuda)
    Article published:
    July 08, 2012, 20:15 BST
    Daniel Benson

    Likely to stay with Garmin

    The 2012 Tour de France has been one to forget for Garmin-Sharp but there was some good news when Christian Vande Velde confirmed that he would race in 2013. The 36-year-old's contract expires at the end of this season and although he may not be the Tour rider of 2008, when he finished fourth, he still adds experience and strength to the team. He was instrumental in Ryder Hesjedal's win in the Giro d'Italia this May and finished second in last year's Tour of Colorado.

    At this stage Vande Velde is considering his options but made it clear that he wished to see out his career with the team he signed for in 2008.

    "I'm definitely going to ride again next year," he told Cyclingnews

    "We'll see what happens. The team and I are still talking .We'll see. I would love to stay with Garmin, there's no doubt about it. it just depends about the racing and what I can and can't do in my last year of racing," he added.

    Vande Velde came into the Tour as a super domestique for Hesjedal but the team found themselves on the back foot after a number of crashes and disappointing stages. With Hesjedal out of the race injured and no GC prospect the team has gone on the hunt for stages wins. Vande Velde and David Millar both attempted to infiltrate the break on stage 8 to Porrentruy but came up short. Vande Velde did manage to finish in the third group on the road though and added that is motivation is still high, despite the team's current Tour performance.

    "I tried but I was in a bunch of wrong moves. Sometimes when you're too aggressive you're not thinking straight, sometimes when you even have good legs you just have to be patient.

    "Our race couldn't have gone much worse. We'll keep on trying and I tried all day today and even pushed a bit...

  • RadioShack-Nissan give Zubeldia and Monfort more freedom at Tour de France

    Maxime Monfort (RadioShack-Nissan)
    Article published:
    July 08, 2012, 20:51 BST
    Pete Cossins

    Team will get behind form riders after leaders fail to impress

    RadioShack-Nissan will be studying the outcome of Monday’s time trial particularly closely as it could well result in a shift in the focus of the team’s strategy going into the Alpine stages at the 2012 Tour de France. After co-leaders Fränk Schleck and Andreas Klöden both lost time on the steep climb to La Planche des Belles Filles, Haimar Zubeldia and Maxime Monfort emerged as the team’s two form riders. Zubeldia continued his strong performances on stage 8, coming in with the maillot jaune group and is now fifth, 59 seconds behind Bradley Wiggins.

    Team director Dirk Demol says that both he and Monfort will be given more freedom in the coming few stages.

    “I think we’ll a have look at how things go on the stage to Porrentruy today and try to do a very good time trial," he told Cyclingnews before stage 8. "We’ve got two riders in the top 10, Haimar and Maxime, who are sixth [he moved up to fifth - ed] and seventh and aren’t bad at all in time trials. They can do their own race. We’ll take another look at how the race is going for us after the time trial, then we’ll decide what to do after the rest day."

    Demol pointed out that both riders have been in good form coming into the Tour and acknowledged that the team has to be honest with its situation and allow their form riders an opportunity. “Haimar was out for a long time at the start of the season. He only started racing again a month or so ago at the Bayern Rundfahrt, and then he did the Dauphiné and finished 10th, which showed he was in good condition. He’s already finished fifth...