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Third Edition Cycling News, Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Date published:
July 13, 2010, 1:00 BST
  • Fractured elbow shatters Tour hopes for Evans

    Cadel Evans (BMC) was near tears as he admitted his Tour hopes were over.
    Article published:
    July 13, 2010, 17:53 BST
    Stephen Farrand

    BMC's captain may continue despite losing 8 minutes

    Cadel Evans was close to tears as he sat on the steps of the BMC team bus and tried to explain what had happened during his miserable stage 9 of the Tour de France to team owner Jim Ochowicz and directeur sportif John Lelangue.

    Evans was still wearing the yellow jersey but finished eight minutes behind Andy Schleck and Alberto Contador and admitted that his chances of victory in the Tour were now over.

    Evans started the stage with his elbow heavily strapped and after the stage Ochowitz revealed that Evans had ridden with a fractured elbow.

    Evans admitted that he was badly affected by his crash early on Sunday's stage.

    "I'm not at my normal level, but when you're in yellow at the Tour de France, you've got to be there," he said.

    "The team was just fantastic but I'm the one who had the crash two days ago. I'm the one that is wearing the jersey and I'm the one that is vulnerable. I'm not my normal self if I get dropped by a group like that. Normally today was a chance for the stage win and it wouldn't have an effect on the GC. Now I'm pretty sure it's all over for this year."

    Evans apologized to his teammates and team owner.

    "This year there's been two health problems: the Giro and now here things aren't at my normal level. I put in a lot of work and I suffer on my bike everyday and I do it with pleasure. For the guys who have supported me and been so good, the team and Andy Rihs, the owner of the team and everyone who has believed in this project, I'm just so sorry to let them all down."

    Ochowicz explained that the fracture to Evans' elbow was discovered during the rest day on Monday, but the team did not want to reveal the problem before the stage today.

    "During the rest day, Cadel's elbow shoulder and hip were still bothering him so Dr. Testa took him to the clinic in Morzine and he has a fracture in his elbow," Ochowicz said.

    "We decided as a team not to tell anybody about it and...

  • Casar makes downhill finishes a speciality

    Sandy Casar (Française des Jeux) celebrates his stage win.
    Article published:
    July 13, 2010, 18:31 BST
    Jean-François Quénet

    Frenchman claims third stage win at the Tour de France

    Sandy Casar (FDJ) claimed his country's third stage win at the Tour de France as he outsprinted Luis Leon Sanchez (Caisse) and Damiano Cunego (Lampre) in Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne. It was the second time Casar has stood atop a Tour podium, the only other time being in 2007 in Angoulême after stage 18 although he's had a number of close calls.

    "This morning, I wanted something out of this stage", Casar said after the race. "Usually when a stage starts from Morzine, the first breakaway isn't the right one but still, I went and I didn't regret it.

    "We never got much time over the Tour favourites. I was struggling on the last climb but when I got back on, I thought nobody could beat me. I had seen the profile of the finish on the race manual, so I knew about the left hand curve at the end. I didn't want to get trapped like two years ago when I lost to Cyril Dessel in Jausiers."

    "It's fantastic for French cycling to have three stage wins out of nine stages and there might be more to come," said Tour director Christian Prudhomme. "Casar has been so often second. He hangs on all the time. I'm delighted with all of what happened in today's stage."

    Casar came second twice in last year's Tour, but he was actually named the winner of stage 16 in Bourg-Saint-Maurice after the disqualification of Mikel Astarloza who tested positive and whose results were subsequently nullified.

    In 2008, Jausiers was a village at the bottom of the col de la Bonnette, which is Europe's highest pass. In 2009, the finish in Bourg-Saint-Maurice was located after the downhill of the col du Petit-Saint-Bernard. Today's finale was the descent of the col de la Madeleine towards Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne. "In uphill finishes, I can't stay with the best climbers", the Frenchman said.

    "Initially I was here for GC as well", added the FDJ rider who came 11th at the Tour last year. "I suffered during the first week. Maybe it hasn't been seen on TV but it...

  • Schleck ready to match Contador

    Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank) dons the yellow jersey for the first time in his career.
    Article published:
    July 13, 2010, 19:07 BST
    Brecht Decaluwé

    New maillot jaune looking for opportunites to gain time

    After ten hard days of racing in the 2010 Tour de France, the general classification is steadily taking shape, and the Alps have seen two young riders rise to the top: Alberto Contador (Astana) and Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank).

    Schleck took over the yellow jersey from the injured Cadel Evans after stage nine, and at the finish in Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne he reflected on decisive stage which crested the 25.5 kilometre long Col de la Madeleine.

    On the illustrious climb Schleck tried several times to shake off his rival, but Contador fenced off all attacks, seemingly without much trouble. Realizing they wouldn't drop each other, the duo worked together to hold off the return of the other GC-contenders and catch the leaders. With Evans many minutes behind, Schleck was presented the yellow jersey and holds a 41 second lead over Contador.

    Now the same age as Contador was in 2007 upon the Spaniard's first Tour win, does Schleck now have the maturity and experience needed to keep his yellow jersey through to the end?

    "The difference from this year to last year is that I could never drop Contador, but he can't drop me either," said Schleck. "The difference now is that I'm 41 seconds ahead of him and if he wants to win this he has to attack me."

    Contador showed some uncharacteristic weakness in the first Alpine stage, where Schleck edged out a few more seconds to add to those gained over the cobbles on stage 3. During the next critical phase, Schleck hopes he will equal or better his Spanish foe. "It looks like he's a little bit up and down. I hope that I can find a way when he's not super so I can gain more time on him. It might be possible that he's better in the Pyrenees, but me too. I really think that I'll be better than him in the Pyrenees."

    The one area where Contador clearly looked more comfortable than Schleck was on the high-speed descent of the Madeleine, where Schleck was visibly timid. "Yes, it's true that I was...

  • Contador happy to stay on Schleck's wheel

    Defending Tour champion Alberto Contador leads Andy Schleck up the decisive Col de la Madeleine.
    Article published:
    July 13, 2010, 19:47 BST
    Jean-François Quénet

    Spaniard lying in wait for Pyrénées

    Alberto Contador believes he has moved one step towards his third overall win at the Tour de France after the last major Alpine stage. Despite being in second position, 41 seconds down on new race leader Andy Schleck, the Astana rider is optimistic. "This is a great day for us", said Contador in Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne. "We have created bigger gaps than expected."

    The Alps were not predicted to be as decisive as the Pyrénées this year, but in just two mountain stages, most of the other pre-race favourites have been all but eliminated.

    On stage 8, the Astana team distanced Lance Armstrong, who was suffering from an earlier crash, and today they dropped the injured Cadel Evans, who couldn't follow the pace imposed by Daniel Navarro, Paolo Tiralongo and Alexandre Vinokourov on the col de la Madeleine.

    "I know what my goal is and I know which wheel to follow, that's the one of Andy Schleck," Contador said to TV reporters. "There was an opportunity to gain some time over dangerous riders for GC, these were the circumstances of today's stage. I'm happy with my sensations. I felt very good today."

    In contrast to stage 8 to Avoriaz when Contador followed every single attack in the last two kilometres, the Spaniard only had to focus on Schleck in what looks to be a two-man race to Paris. But Contador is not counting some of his rivals out just yet. "There are still many riders who can regain time by going into breakaways like Luis Leon Sanchez did today," Contador explained. "I can't be distracted but as I said yesterday, my most dangerous rival is Andy."

    Contador couldn't have dreamed of being in a better position near the half way point in the Tour de France. Even should he never drop Schleck in the mountains, a 41 second deficit may be small enough for Contador to overcome in the final 52km time trial, where he is historically a much stronger rider. Schleck lost 1:45 to Contador in the 40.5km time trial of Annecy...

  • Leipheimer limits losses on Madeleine

    Levi Leipheimer (RadioShack) would finish 10th on stage 9.
    Article published:
    July 13, 2010, 20:35 BST
    Stephen Farrand

    Armstrong seeks stage victory in final Tour

    Lance Armstrong and his RadioShack team bounced back from their bad day on the stage to Morzine-Avoriaz, with a solid ride by both Levi Leipheimer and Armstrong over the Col de la Madeleine on stage nine.

    Leipheimer initially tried to stay with Alberto Contador (Astana) and Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank) but wisely backed off and finished tenth in Saint Jean de Maurienne, at 2:07. He finished in the same time as Rabobank teammates Roberto Gesink and Denis Menchov, and Jens Voigt (Saxo Bank), who had been in the day's long breakaway.

    Armstrong looked much stronger after the first rest day. He was distanced by the Contador and Schleck attacks but finished 18th on the stage, in a small group at 2:50, that also included Ivan Basso (Liquigas-Doimo).

    With Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Transitions) losing almost five minutes, Leipheimer became the best placed North American rider. Leipheimer is now sixth overall at 3:59. Hesjedal is 12th at 5:42 and Armstrong is 31st at 15:54. Leipheimer knows he can time trial much better than several of the riders above him and so a place on the podium is still a very realistic objective.

    "I tried to stay there a little too long with Alberto and Andy. I paid for that on the climb. I suffered all the way up," Leipheimer said.

    "Luckily I found a good group with the Rabobank guys Gesink and Menchov. They had to work together and thankfully I was able to hitch on to their wagon. I felt better and better on the flat at the end and I felt strong again. That's a good sign."

    Armstrong feeling better

    Lance Armstrong was pleased to be back in the front group selection that formed on the Madeleine and was only blown apart when Contador and Schleck attacked.

    "I feel better. Better than I thought I would, certainly, and better than two days ago. I guess the rest day was good. I felt better than I did the other day so that was a good sign," he said.

    "I find myself in the...

  • Wiggins still aiming for high Tour finish

    Bradley Wiggins (Sky) finished 30th on stage 9, nearly five minutes down on stage winner Sandy Casar.
    Article published:
    July 13, 2010, 21:06 BST
    Stephen Farrand

    Team Sky rider adjusts his goals after disappointing stage

    Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky) again lacked the acceleration and pure climbing ability to go with Alberto Contador and Andy Schleck when the race exploded on the Col de la Madeleine. While the other two fought it out, often shoulder to shoulder, Wiggins fought his own battle to limit his losses and hang to the hopes of a top ten placing overall in this year's Tour de France.

    The 30-year-old Briton finished 30th on the stage, 4:44 behind stage winner Sandy Casar (Francaise des Jeux) and is now 16th overall, at 7:18.

    "That's just the way it goes. That's life, unfortunately. You try your hardest, you do everything possible to be in good shape and obviously I'm not up there with the best of them. But it's only sport at the end of the day. We put everything into it, it hasn't worked. It's not because we haven't tried," he said philosophically.

    Wiggins, like Cadel Evans, Michael Rogers and Carlos Sastre, is now fighting to save his and Team Sky's Tour de France.

    Having suffered in the mountains so far, he is ready to fight for a place in the top ten and has the advantage of the final time trial to Bordeaux to gain some final chunks of time. He knows he will have to fight all the way across the Massif Central and through the Pyrenees.

    "I'll just do my best every day. I don't think the GC's finished totally in terms of getting a respectable position. But I'll try and do my best to finish top ten and just keep pushing on for that and get the best out of myself each day.

    "I don't want to give up, there's been so much support out there on the road it's been fantastic. I don't want to give up and throw my toys out of the pram, finish at the back or go home, so I'm going to just push on every day and maybe just recalibrate, say top 10 is now the goal."

  • Bad day on the Madeleine ruins Rogers's Tour

    Michael Rogers (HTC-Columbia) at the finish at Morzine-Avoriaz
    Article published:
    July 13, 2010, 21:40 BST
    Brecht Decaluwé

    Columbia-HTC rider not alone in Alpine battle

    Sitting in tenth position going into the ninth stage of the Tour de France, Michael Rogers had good hopes of being able to defend his top 10 position. The Australian rider quickly found out he was facing a hard task as his legs didn't respond on the day's final Alpine challenge, the Col de la Madeleine.

    "I had a terrible day. I just couldn't change pace at all. I don't know why. I felt good yesterday in the rest day. I just felt empty the whole day," Rogers said.

    On the 25.5-kilometre long climb, Rogers was one of the first GC riders to drop out of the remains of the peloton. The Australian started a mental war with the illustrious French climb and fought his way up on his own. "I just strived to ride within myself. At the start of the Madeleine I let them go, then I kind of came back.

    "I just tried to manage it and limit my losses as much as I could and tried avoid going into the red too much. I lost a bit of time at the start [of the climb], but caught back most of the guys at the top," Rogers said.

    After a bad day during the toughest mountain stage in the Alps, Rogers didn't know what to expect for tomorrow's medium mountain stage to Gap. "First, I have to recover from today. I had a bad day today, but I might have a good day tomorrow. You just don't know how they're going to come."

    At the end of the stage Rogers finished in a group together with other GC contenders like Bradley Wiggins and Carlos Sastre, losing 4:55 on the lead group behind winner Sandy Casar. The result moves Rogers down four positions into 14th overall, at 7:04 from race leader Andy Schleck.

  • Procycling's daily Tour de France dispatch - stage 9

    Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank) gives it his all on the ninth stage.
    Article published:
    July 13, 2010, 22:14 BST

    Schleck's slalom, wheeling and dealing, Sky mystery solved

    Quote of the day

    Andy Schleck on his tactics on the Col de la Madeleine: "If I'd attacked one more time I'd have dropped myself."

    Schleck's slalom shocks Fignon

    Laurent Fignon's contributions to France 2's live coverage continue to educate and fascinate the press-room. Today's highlight: Fignon's horrified chorus of "Ooh la las" at Andy Schleck's less-than-perfect display of descending off the Col de la Madeleine.

    No rest for Italian wheeler-dealers

    It was a busy rest-day for Italian agent Alex Carera, whose clients include Damiano Cunego, Alessandro Petacchi, Mark Renshaw and Thor Hushovd. While Carera assured us we were the first to know about Alessandro Petacchi's contract extension through 2012 with Lampre, he admitted that Cunego's future remains unresolved.

    One deal that looks sure to be struck in the coming days, though not by Carera, will see Michele Scarponi leave Androni Giocattoli for Lampre. "I phoned Michele and said to him that, if the offer from Lampre is confirmed, and it's for two years, he'd be crazy to say no," Androni chief Gianni Savio told Procycling in Morzine on Tuesday.

    Tailor-made support for Cav

    World-famous fashion designer Paul Smith sends his chum Mark Cavendish daily text messages during the Tour. "I get fifty-odd texts straight away when I win, but not that many when I don't. Paul's one of the people I hear from, whatever the result…" Cav told us yesterday.

    Sky hotel mystery solved

    Tour de France teams get what they're given when it comes to hotels – witness RadioShack's night in what appeared from Andreas Klöden's photos to be a bunkhouse the other night – so many of us were scratching our heads when Team Sky switched their lodging arrangements for Monday's rest-day.

    The reason for staying at Morzine rather than in their...