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Third Edition Cycling News, Thursday, July 14, 2011

Date published:
July 14, 2011, 1:00 BST
  • Thomas to take physical tests after the Tour de France to assess potential form for 2012 Olympics

    Geraint Thomas (Sky)
    Article published:
    July 14, 2011, 12:05 BST
    Cycling News

    Brailsford consider the Giro an alternative as a part of build-up

    Geraint Thomas (Sky) will take extensive medical tests after the Tour de France to predict his potential form for the pursuit at the London Olympics, which fall 11 days after next year’s Tour finale.

    Thomas, a likely member of Great Britain’s team pursuit will undergo physiology tests 11 days after the race – the time between the tour finale and the pursuit – to understand what shape the Welsh rider may be in if he rides to Paris in 2012, reports The Guardian.

    "If Geraint is going to ride a team pursuit, we need to look at that carefully. We are going to do some tests and find out how he reacts to a three-week grand tour," said David Brailsford, performance director at British Cycling and principal at Team Sky.

    "There is a feeling that you get massive volume and massive endurance over a three-week Tour but that it just takes the edge off the top end. So we'll want to have a real look at that. There's another school of thought that says it's the best thing you can possibly do."

    Brailsford has also suggested that Wiggins and Thomas may even forgo the Tour in favour of the Olympics, which he says is a priority for the two riders. In that scenario Brailsford will get the riders to target May's Giro d'Italia instead.

    The 2012 Tour starts a week earlier than usual, on Saturday June 30th, to fit in with the Olympic Games, which start on the 27th July.

  • Van Den Broeck to leave hospital today

    Jurgen Van Den Broeck and David Zabriskie crashed out on stage 9
    Article published:
    July 14, 2011, 13:32 BST
    Cycling News

    Omega Pharma-Lotto leader hopeful of Vuelta a España participation

    Jurgen Van Den Broeck will be leaving the hospital of Herentals, Belgium, on Thursday afternoon following several days of treatment for injuries sustained when crashing out of the Tour de France on stage nine. The Belgian GC favourite suffered a collapsed lung, two broken ribs and a broken shoulder blade, but he is now hoping to participate in the Vuelta a España starting in late August.

    Van Den Broeck received the press in hospital on Wednesday and had good news to announce. "Considering the circumstances, I am doing well," the Omega Pharma-Lotto rider told Sporza. "My two broken ribs have not been misplaced, which is why the lung was not punctured. Fortunately, I got off the bike rapidly, otherwise I would have been out for months."

    The Belgian had initially tried to continue the race after his fall, but abandoned soon enough. "My shoulder blade fractured neatly, too. The pain is bearable. I still have to rest completely for another week, and then I'll take a new lung scan."

    If this scan reveals that VDB's lung is recovering well from its collapse, then the rider may well start the Vuelta later this summer. Doctor Toon Claes told the press that he had to wait before putting new pressure on the lung because of a risk of it collapsing again. "But the scans of today compared to the first ones already show improvement," Claes told Het Nieuwsblad.

    "I sure hope to take part in Spain, even if it just to build up my condition again," Van Den Broeck said. "But my lung has to heal naturally, I can't force it to."

    In any case, Van Den...

  • Schlecks pass first Tour de France mountain test

    The Schleck brothers tag-teamed the yellow jersey group with Fränk ultimately able to ride away to finish alone in third place.
    Article published:
    July 14, 2011, 18:12 BST
    Daniel Benson

    Leopard Trek distancing rivals on Luz-Ardiden

    Leopard Trek passed the first Pyrenean stage of the Tour de France with both Fränk and Andy Schleck putting time into Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank) and manager Brian Nygaard claiming that the performance had gone some way to silencing critics that doubted Andy Schleck's form after the Tour de Suisse.

    Fränk Schleck came away from the stage with third place, but his final attack in the closing kilometres caught several of his rivals napping, and as well as putting time into Contador, he carved out vital seconds over Cadel Evans and Ivan Basso. Andy finished with Basso and Evans and also distanced himself from an off-colour Contador.

    "It was a good day for us. I could see they were looking at us and then Fränk and me kept on attacking left and right. He went away and got some time and for the first mountain stage we're pretty happy," Andy said at the Leopard team bus.

    "Of course it's pleasing, Levi Leipheimer and Alberto both lost time. I'm happy when any GC rival loses times in the mountains. It shows that we're on the right way but we've seen a really strong ride from Basso, Evans. You've got to watch out for them."

    The Schlecks will still be wary of a misfiring Contador, but already the GC landscape is beginning to take shape. Although Thomas Voeckler retained his yellow jersey with one of the most courageous performances the Tour has seen in recent years, both Evans and Basso – and to some extent Cunego – have now emerged as this year's genuine podium contenders.

    "Contador is one of the best riders in the peloton and I believe he's going to be get better each day. I didn't notice he was suffering to be honest, I only saw he wasn't there when I crossed the line and I was pretty...

  • Voeckler surprised to keep Tour de France lead

    Race leader Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) climbed with the GC favourites and remains in yellow for another day.
    Article published:
    July 14, 2011, 18:54 BST
    Jean-François Quénet

    Frenchman proud of the team he saved last year

    Thomas Voeckler surprised everyone, including himself, by keeping the lead in the Tour de France at the top of Luz-Ardiden on stage 12. Twenty four hours earlier, he was convinced that he wouldn't be able to do so.

    "For me, it's a surprise but a nice surprise," Voeckler said after finishing the stage to hold 1:49 over the new runner up, Fränk Schleck. "This stage will not be without consequences. I might pay for the efforts I've produced today. I'm really surprised to still be up there. When the favourites attack, I don't usually manage to follow them."

    Voeckler's lead is in fact due to the lack of attacks in the group of the favourites where he and his teammate Pierre Rolland worked well to maintain a steady pace and discourage other riders to change the rhythm of his group, which was reduced to ten riders.

    "The eight remaining riders from Europcar have been useful today," said Voeckler who still regrets not having his good friend Christophe Kern at his side. The French champion for time trial finished sixth in the Dauphiné. Had he not been forced to quit the Tour after five days due to tendinitis, he would have been a great help in the mountains. "I must give a special mention to Pierre Rolland who has done a huge amount of work in the final climb," Voeckler said.

    "Sometimes I tend to underestimate myself, but I'm not exactly a beginner in the Grand Tours. In 2004, I was told that the yellow jersey gives wings and it's true. If it's to finish 20th in a stage, I can't reach the same level of suffering. But in the Giro d'Italia in 2009 and 2010, I wasn't far from the top ten of some mountain stages when we had to use gears like 39x27 for climbing."

    Without any possibility of a...

  • Sanchez secures first Tour de France stage

    Samuel Sánchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) savours his first Tour de France stage win.
    Article published:
    July 14, 2011, 19:30 BST
    Sam Dansie

    Basque supporters lift Euskaltel-Euskadi rider to victory

    Despite being on French soil, Samuel Sanchez's victory at Luz-Ardiden today satisfied tens of thousands of Basque supporters who crossed the Spanish border to see their hero in action.

    The Euskaltel-Euskadi rider didn't disappoint. His ecstatic emotions at his first Tour stage win were the polar opposite to last year when the opportunity to beat Andy Schleck at Morzine-Avoriaz went begging.

    "I'm still can't believe I just won a stage of the Tour de France," said the 33-year-old rider, who insisted he wanted to savour victory rather than prepare for an assault on the GC or the king of the mountains jersey which he now holds.

    "It was very important for me to win here today in Luz-Ardiden in front of my fans – in fact it's a double value win because of them."

    Sanchez escaped with Omega Pharma-Lotto's Jelle Vanendert close to the bottom of the climb. He knew skirmishing among the general classification favourites in the group behind would give the pair leeway.

    "It was very important for me to try and attack today," he said. "And it was easier for me to do so because the final was so important for the general classification. I also think it was a good possibility because none of the leaders behind had more than two teammates – it was impossible for them to chase behind for the whole climb. I knew if we could be 30 or 40 seconds ahead in the last kilometres we had a chance."

    His fellow escapee, Vanendert, has been very active this Tour. On stage 3 to Mûr de Bretagne, he rode so hard his leader, Philippe Gilbert asked him to drop the pace because he...

  • Basso relishes Luz-Ardiden antipasto

    Ivan Basso leads Andy Schleck and Cadel Evans inside the final 500m.
    Article published:
    July 14, 2011, 20:08 BST
    Barry Ryan

    Italian warns that Contador can win Tour de France with one attack

    Perhaps the broadest smile at the summit of Luz-Ardiden belonged to Ivan Basso (Liquigas-Cannondale), as the Italian put his troubled Tour de France build-up behind him with a forceful showing on the race's first mountain stage.

    Immediately on crossing the line, a remarkably fresh Basso could scarcely keep a grin from his face, even if his initial assessment of his day's work was a cautious one.

    "It's only the first day in the mountains, so let's stay calm," he said. "I think we rode very well, but it was the first summit finish and there's still a lot to do in this Tour."

    After emerging from doping control a short while later, however, Basso had time to be more expansive on what was his most impressive performance at the Tour since before his suspension for his implication in Operacion Puerto. He finished in fourth place on the stage after appearing to be among the strongest of the podium contenders, and moved up to fifth overall as a result.

    "I'm smiling because it was a good performance," Basso said. "I'm very happy because I hadn't had very good sensations for a few months, since the accident I had."

    A fall in training at Mount Etna in May meant that Basso had struggled in the weeks immediately before the Tour, and although his Pyrenean starter had whetted the appetite, he pointed out that the real meat of this Tour de France is still to come.

    "This is only the antipasto of this Tour, because we have another two days in the Pyrenees and then the tough phase in the Alps," Basso grinned.

    Szmyd's support crucial

    Team manager Roberto Amadio had told Cyclingnews on...

  • HTC-Highroad's Tour hopes dashed in Pyrenees

    Tony Martin (HTC-Highroad)
    Article published:
    July 14, 2011, 20:35 BST
    Daniel Benson

    Velits, Martin lose time on Luz-Ardiden stage

    HTC-Highroad entered the Pyrenees in a strong position with both Tony Martin and Peter Velits riding high in the top ten, but after today's Tour de France stage to Luz-Ardiden the team will have to reassess its GC aspirations.

    Velits, third in last year's Vuelta a España, crashed on the descent of the first climb and failed to recover, finishing 4:15 down, while Martin blew on the Tourmalet and lost over 9 minutes. Velits now lies 6:03 in 14th position, and Martin 10:51 in 26th.

    "I felt perfect at the beginning and I had really good legs on the first climb," Velits told Cyclingnews just as the HTC-Highroad doctor attended to his wounded leg at the finish.

    "Then the downhill started and the guys from Europcar crashed and I was just behind then and had nowhere to go, and I went down also. After that it wasn't anything special but my bike was broken, I had to change bikes three times and I was losing time each time."

    The team ordered Tejay Van Garderen to drop back and wait for Velits, but soon after Martin was dropped as Leopard Trek set about dismantling the peloton.

    "Tejay waited for me and we were going at a good pace, not losing any more time to the lead group, but after losing that much time I lost a lot of energy and power."

    Despite their initial hope of placing both riders in the top ten, Velits is still holding out for an improvement as the race heads deeper into the Pyrenees and then the Alps.

    "I hope that the crash won't affect me too much and I'll try my best in the coming days. It's bad luck but these things can happen. Both Tony and I stayed out of trouble during the first part of the race and I will...

  • Times still tough for RadioShack at Tour de France

    Levi Leipheimer (RadioShack) finished 14th on the Tour's first high mountains stage.
    Article published:
    July 14, 2011, 21:31 BST
    Daniel Benson

    Klöden crashes and Leipheimer loses some time up to Luz-Ardiden

    The Tour de France may be looking up into the Pyrenees, but there are slim signs of RadioShack's race having an upturn in fortunes after Andreas Klöden crashed again and lost time and Levi Leipheimer was dropped on the final climb to Luz-Ardiden on stage 12.

    However, the experienced American took a positive outlook on a brutally tough stage that saw all but a handful of riders emerge with their yellow jersey ambitions intact.

    Klöden crashed on the descent of the first major climb of this year's race and was unable to keep pace on the Tourmalet and although he briefly made contact with the peloton before the final climb, he would lose eight minutes on the stage.

    Leipheimer fared better as he finished 1:25 off the pace of Samuel Sanchez on the stage and moved up to 17th overall.

    "Leopard really took control on the Tourmalet, and I suffered on the climb, it was hard. I started to feel a little better at the bottom of the final climb, but I think Jens did one big pull in the last four kilometres. I started to run out of energy and I couldn't follow when the eight or 10 guys where still there," Leipheimer told Cyclingnews at the finish.

    "Typically my form isn't good in the first day in the mountains, and I get better because I'm not a rider who has a lot of explosive attributes, and I'm not very explosive but I don't really slow down or get as tired. Hopefully the others will come down to my level and I'll fare better as the Tour goes on."

    Leipheimer now finds himself with a dilemma: continue fighting for GC and aim to push into the top 10 or slip back and aim for a stage win....