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Third Edition Cycling News, Thursday, July 10, 2014

Date published:
July 10, 2014, 1:00 BST
  • Brailsford has no regrets over not selecting Wiggins

    Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky)
    Article published:
    July 10, 2014, 14:51 BST
    By:
    Stephen Farrand

    Team Sky boss back Porte for Tour de France GC

    Team Sky manager Dave Brailsford has said he has no regrets about not selecting Bradley Wiggins for the Tour de France as a possible plan B in case Chris Froome was unable to defend his title.

    With Froome crashing out of the Tour on stage five, Richie Porte is now Team Sky's team leader, while Wiggins – the 2012 Tour winner - is training on the track in Manchester for the Commonwealth Games later in July.

    Wiggins was overlooked despite showing impressive form in May when he won the Tour of California and despite offering to work for Chris Froome.

    "If he (Wiggins) was considered as the plan B, we would have selected him. Richie Porte is our plan B and we selected a team based on the facts at the time and that's how it panned out," Brailsford told journalists before the start of stage in Arras.

    "I take full responsibility for it and that's part of my job. I stand by them and get judged by them and everybody else can decide if they're good decision or bad decisions. But my job is to make the decisions and I'll continue to put my neck on the line and make the decisions. That's what this job is about and the day I don’t do that is the day I leave."

    Brailsford refused to say if Froome and Wiggins will ride the Vuelta a Espana or the Tour of Britain. That decision will be made after a better assessment of Froome's injuries and Wiggins' form after the Commonwealth Games.

     

  • Tour de France shorts: Remembering World War I, Hinault and the rain

    Frenchman Bernard Hinault leads Dutchman Joop Zoetemelk (green jersey) during the 16th stage of the Tour de France in 1979. Hinault went on to win his second consecutive Tour de France as Zoetemelk finished second again.
    Article published:
    July 10, 2014, 15:05 BST
    By:
    Cycling News

    Tour de France a day after the cobbles

    Remembering the Tour de France war victims

    The Tour de France continues to remember the victims of World War I during today's stage 6 from Arras to Reims.

    Race director Christian Prudhomme and former Tour winners Bernard Hinault and Bernard Thevenet visited the French memorial site at Notre-Dame-de-Lorette near Arras to remember Francois Faber, the winner of the 1909 Tour de France, who was killed in May 1915 during the war.

    Numerous riders who competed in the early editions of the Tour de France, including winners Lucien Petit-Breton and Octave Lapize, lost their lives during the Great War. Fifteen of the 145 riders who raced the 1914 Tour de France were killed.

    The route of the Tour de France follows what was the front line during the war. While the red poppy is a sign of remembrance of the war in Britain and Belgium, in France the "Bleuet" flower is used to remember the fallen. The four jerseys wearers on the podium will wear a special bleuets jersey after the stage in Reims and be awarded a bouquet of bleuets.

    Form fitting

    Makers and sponsors of the yellow jersey, Le Coq Sportif, have made custom skinsuits for each of the team leaders at this year's Tour de France. The French clothing company took the measurements of the riders ahead of the race. Each rider will also be able to specify certain aspects of the skinsuit, such as sleeve length and neckline.

    After the Alps are completed, Le Coq Sportif will assess the general classification and make the custom suits in time for the Bergerac time trial on the penultimate day.

    A medium size suit will weigh a featherlight 150 grams, including the chamois. The material used does not absorb water and will not take on weight when it gets wet.

    Seconds are vital in time trials, and teams will go to all lengths to ensure that their riders are not...

  • Terpstra: The cobbles shouldn't be in the Tour de France

    Niki Terpstra (Omega Pharma-Quickstep)
    Article published:
    July 10, 2014, 17:38 BST
    By:
    Sadhbh O'Shea

    Paris-Roubaix winner weighs in on pavé debate

    The decision to ride the cobblestones on stage five of the Tour de France has polarised opinions in the peloton. Some have said that it is only right that the Tour de France champion should be able to handle the pavé, while others have criticised their inclusion.

    Reigning Paris-Roubaix champion Niki Terpstra (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) agrees with the latter. When asked if yesterday's stage should have been cancelled due to the weather, he was categorical in his response. "It should not have been in the race in the first place. I mean, in the north of France you know it's going to rain," Terpstra told Cyclingnews on the start line of stage 6 in Arras.

    Terpstra won Paris-Roubaix earlier this year, after he attacked with around six kilometres remaining. He also finished third the season before. The former Dutch national champion is a veteran on the cobbles and is well used to riding over them in the heat of battle, but he says that non-classics riders should not be forced to tackle them in a Grand Tour.

    "I think cobblestone races are made for Classics. For a Classic you can chose to ride over the stones, but if you participate in the Tour de France you don't volunteer to take the cobblestones," said Terpstra. "It’s just the organisation that puts the cobblestones in and you have to survive it. If you see that Chris Froome is out because of that stage, I don’t think that we can be happy about that."

    As the reigning champion of the hell of the north, Terpstra was one of the favourites to take the stage win. However, he missed the cut and was not among the four Omega Pharma-QuickStep riders to make it into the...

  • Porte ready for Tour de France leadership role at Team Sky

    Richie Porte (Team Sky)
    Article published:
    July 10, 2014, 18:05 BST
    By:
    Stephen Farrand

    Tasmanian becomes Plan A for Team Sky, Brailsford gives Thomas his chance

    Richie Porte rode stage 6 of the Tour de France in a new role for Team Sky: team leader.

    The Tasmanian has been Chris Froome's wingman, friend and training partner for two years. Now with Froome crashing out early on stage 5, Porte has become the designated team leader at Team Sky.

    At the start of the stage in Arras, team manager Dave Brailsford named Porte as team leader in an act of official investiture.

    "Richie has become plan A and we've also got plan G (Geraint Thomas)," Brailsford joked, determined that Team Sky will quickly switch focus and still target overall success despite losing Froome.

    "We're six days into the race and so if we give up now, we're in the wrong business. It's a long, long race. Now 10 seconds seems a massive gap but at the end it will be about minutes. Anything can happen and we've got to believe."

    "I think we've got two great riders in Porte and Geraint Thomas. Richie is relishing the opportunity. He's up for his belief systems are in the right place. I think he's very close to being a GC contender, so one man's loss is another man's opportunity."

    "We'd also love to see how far Geraint can get. It's going to be a different challenge but why not try and get a third different winner in three years? Somebody has to win it, so why not one of our guys? You've got to be optimistic."

    A nervous day to Reims

    Porte finished the stage to Reims safely in the peloton in 44th place, just ahead of Geraint Thomas. They lost teammate and domestique Xabier Zandio in a crash, with the Spaniard forced to abandon due to the fear of a suspected rib fractures.

    "It was such a stressful day - horrible actually," Porte said after his first day of leadership.

    "The guys were...

  • Kittel admits to mistake in Tour de France stage 6

    Marcel Kittel (Giant-Shimano)
    Article published:
    July 10, 2014, 18:15 BST
    By:
    Sadhbh O'Shea

    Giant-Shimano riderdidn't have the legs to contest sprint

    Marcel Kittel (Giant-Shimano) suffered his first sprint loss at this year's Tour de France. The German sprinter was dropped in the final two kilometres of the stage and didn't contest the sprint. As the speed went up, he was spat out of the back and he rolled in almost a minute down on the stage winner André Greipel (Lotto-Belisol).

    "We made some mistakes today, and it's quite disappointing. Maybe also very unfortunate at some points but it's also part of cycling and part of sport. We will have to see and we will discuss it tonight and we will try to do it better next time," Kittel said at the finish, after taking time to freshen up and collect his thoughts.

    Kittel was in fairly good spirits at the finish - especially when a fan gave him some bratwurst. After taking the opening three sprints with relative ease, most were expecting it to be a repeat performance. The team took to the front almost immediately and marshalled the peloton for almost the whole day, taking the full brunt of the wind. It was the wind that Kittel blamed for Giant-Shimano fading in the final kilometres.

    "I lost a lot of energy in the crosswinds. We could not react as a team any more. That's not criticism at all, we just didn't have the control of the race any more," he said. "It was not good, but in the end, sometimes it's good to have those moments in the race or in a stage, where you end up at a point that you did not want to be. You can find those mistakes and do it better next time."

    Importantly for Kittel, he lost one of his main men with more than 20 kilometres from the finish. John Degenkolb has been doing a sterling job for Kittel, leading him out to two of his three victories. After finishing second at Paris-Roubaix earlier this season, Degenkolb was tipped...

  • Tour de France: Greipel bounces back with sixth career stage win

    Andre Greipel (Lotto Belisol) takes victory in stage 6 of the Tour de France
    Article published:
    July 10, 2014, 19:16 BST
    By:
    Brecht Decaluwé

    German champion finds his winning legs on stage 6

    After a string of Tour de France stage wins from fellow German sprinter Marcel Kittel (Giant-Shimano) it was finally time for André Greipel (Lotto-Belisol) to win a bunch sprint. Greipel's confidence was tested to the maximum after a series of poor showings in the four previous bunch sprints, with a sixth place as best result. In the gloomy streets of Reims, the capital of the Champagne region, the 31-year-old German powerhouse blasted to a convincing win over Norwegian strong man Alexander Kristoff (Katusha).

    After crossing the line Greipel released a huge shout. A few metres further he flew in the arms of his soigneur, quickly looking for teammates with which to celebrate the victory. Skinny general classification rider Jurgen Van den Broeck was the first one to give sturdy Greipel a big hug.

    Despite his no-show in the sprints so far, Greipel claimed he never had doubts when talking during the post-race flash interview.

    "The confidence was always there. It was not easy in the head. We just said to ourselves to stay calm and go fight today. It was really good work. It was a deserved win," Greipel said. "There was a lot of pressure on us. Finally we have it. Whoever was doubting Lotto-Belisol received a good answer today."

    The German had a hard time on the roads from Arras to Reims, fighting to stay in position while riding in the wind and rain. "It was a really nervous day. [...] I'm really happy with my team. They always kept me in front. Especially the last 30km with the crosswinds," Greipel said. "In the end there was no lead-out train but with all the roundabouts it was not easy to stay together. I had a good wheel with Mark Renshaw. I lost energy to stay in position. With 250 metres to go I told myself to go full gas. Whatever happened...

  • Horner hoping to find his form at the Tour de France

    Chris Horner (Lampre Merida)
    Article published:
    July 10, 2014, 19:33 BST
    By:
    Stephen Farrand

    American reveals how Chris Froome crashed out

    Chris Horner (Lampre-Merida) was wet and tired after finishing stage six of the Tour de France in Reims, but he remained upbeat and even happy to be spending his July in France after missing much of the spring with a punctured lung and four broken ribs after being hit by a car in Italy in April.

    Horner lost four minutes on the cobbled stage to Arenberg on Wednesday and described the day as 'devastating' but is hoping to find a day of grace in the mountains and win a stage at the Tour de France.

    Like so many of the battered and bruised riders in the peloton, Horner was hoping Thursday's flat stage to the capital of the French champagne area would give him a day to recover mentally and physically. Instead it was another tough day in the saddle.

    "Today started off nice and I thought it was going to be easy and no stress. Then with 180km to go, it got hard. It was no rest day," Horner told Cyclingnews with a long laugh before giving a perfect analysis of why the 194km stage was so hard.

    "It was cross-tail wind and so the guys up front were working hard and so were we. You had to stay top fifty or so otherwise you're dead back there if there's a crash. And there were, with a lot of guys going down."

    "It's been a hard start to the Tour and for me mentally, it's been especially hard. You're fighting every day but me, I'm fighting for nothing. I know I'm not going to win the early stages and not be on the podium. But you've got to mentally stay in the game. And that's hard when you're not 100 percent."

    "But I'm happy to be back racing. You can't do anything when you puncture your lung and have four broken ribs and I mean broken, not fractured. You've...

  • Vinokourov never lost confidence in Nibali

    Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) remains in the leader's jersey
    Article published:
    July 10, 2014, 19:44 BST
    By:
    Brecht Decaluwé

    Astana general manager explains spring concerns were caused by the media

    The performances from Italian national champion Vincenzo Nibali and his teammates in the 2014 Tour de France so far have resulted in nothing but smiles at the Astana team bus. One day after the cobbled stage, Astana general manager Alexandre Vinokourov was happily moving around the bus ahead of the start of today's stage 6.

    Gone were the worries from the former rider turned manager about a team leader who didn't perform as a leader. Nibali failed to win a single race this season up until the national championships, on the eve of the Tour de France. After the Classics, Nibali was said to have received a letter from Vinokourov in which the Astana general manager made clear that Nibali's performances were not in accordance with his earnings.

    "There were no doubts, only small concerns," Vinokourov told Cyclingnews. "As a rider, I always wanted to have some small results before the Tour. We and particularly the press asked a lot from Vincenzo. Things didn't always happen like we hoped, but there were always small things that bothered him. We don't put a lot pressure on him. Even in the Dauphiné, he was still a little behind schedule. We remained focused and trained in the mountains. His national title boosted his morale a lot. His win in the second stage was his answer for the outside world."

    Vinokourov was asked to describe his team leader and his reply showed his confidence in the 29-year-old Italian champion, especially his capability to remain calm.

    "He's intelligent. He's focused. Last year at the Giro, he was the favourite on home soil and he showed he can do it with the team around him. This year, the goal is to win the Tour...