- Article published:
- July 17, 2012, 10:23
- Cycling News
Sky tops prize money haul, Van Garderen's ambitions
If you want to succeed, you better wait
Without a real general classification leader, Bjarne Riis’ men have been hard at work in the breakaways of this year’s Tour. They may not have won a stage but there’s been time in the polka-dot jersey and the most aggressive award as consolidation. It was surprising then to see no Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank rider in the day’s stage 15 escape. It had been almost 60km before the break succeeded but there was no Saxo Bank rider present, that was until Nicki Sörensen took off in pursuit.
Sörensen took his time getting to the five leaders, approximately 20km but he may not have made it at all if it wasn’t from some encouragement by his director sportif Riis. The words were not however, directly at his rider but rather apparently toward the other team managers who were aware of Sörensen’s chase. They were reportedly told, according to L'Equipe, that if his rider didn’t make it, then the team would chase the break down. This was the predicament placed upon the leading group.
"You do not want him to return, we will ride behind you", the team reportedly said.
Sörensen eventually caught and joined in the effort to stay away from the uninterested peloton. The Dane ended the day in fourth place, just losing out to Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) in a two-man sprint. (AM)
Simply trying isn't enough for Argos-Shimano
Koen de Kort had made it clear that he was looking forward to a number of stages that suited him for a breakaway. Stage 15 from Samatan to Pau was of particular interest to the Dutch rider, who was clearly unhappy that he missed the opportunity.
"I attacked several times, but was grabbed back every time. Everyone tried to get away. When everyone was tired, a group succeeded. I was disappointed. I even threw a bottle. I had this stage in my mind for a long time," said de Kort.
De Kort has already signaled the 222.5km stage 18 as his last opportunity for a result. While he has been happy with his Tour thus far, there’s still motivation to seek his own result.
"Now the stage before the time trial is my last real chance. I'm happy with my role so far, I think I've assisted Tom Veelers pretty well during his sprints, but I also want to show myself," he said. (AM)
Show me the money
With the rest day upon the riders of the Tour, they can sit back and count their winnings thus far – not that any of it has been paid yet. Unsurprisingly Sky is leading the unofficial prize money classification, swimming in €77,920 with Liquigas-Cannondale and Europcar with €57,200 and €42,390 respectively.
It’s not all celebrations and champagne for some of the teams with fewer results in the first two weeks of racing. Alejandro Valverde was touted as a possible contender in this year’s race but his team is scraping the bottom of the table with just €3,610. That’s not enough to cover the team’s fuel bill. They’ve got a busy third week ahead of them if they want to lift from the bottom spot. (AM)
Learning from experience
Tejay Van Garderen is yet to complete his second Tour de France and while he seems certain to wear the white jersey into Paris, he’s already thinking about his future in the race. Touted as the next great American stage race rider, his ambitions lie beyond the young rider’s jersey.
"The first goal of the Tour is to ensure Cadel finishes as high as possible,” he told De Telegraaf. "He is a champion and it’s an honour to ride for him. Although he is busy with his own performance, he is also willing to help me.
"Cadel knows that he is not young anymore and can see in me someone who can follow his path. Hopefully I can now wear the white jersey into Paris and who knows, one year I could win the Tour," he said. (AM)
Today's Tour de France news
- Video: Tour de France Stage 15 highlights
- Video: Vande Velde comes close to first Tour stage victory
- Video: Garmin rally after bad luck hits Tour de France bid
- Fédrigo wins on happy hunting ground in Pau
- Six more abandons as Tour peloton reduced to 156
- Casar continues Sánchez duel at Tour de France
- Voeckler salutes Fédrigo Tour de France stage win
- Mark Renshaw: Abandoning the Tour
- Article published:
- July 17, 2012, 11:50
- Cycling News
Dutch rider will still ride road race
Lars Boom will ride the 2012 London Olympic time trial instead of Niki Terpstra, who is still suffering form an injury suffered in the Tour of Poland. Terpstra will still ride the road race.
Terpstra abandoned the Tour of Poland after crashing on a wet corner in the first stage. He suffered a deep gash to his knee and an injury to his shoulder, but x-rays proved negative.
“Niki, after his fall in Poland, was too bothered by his injury in the time trial position,” said national coach Leo van Vliet on the Dutch cycling federation's website. “Despite a customized programme, which was drawn up after his crash, he has not a good preparation for the time trial bike.
“Boom is a good substitute. Last month the two men showed similar performances in the time trials.” Boom finished second in the national championship in June, with Terpstra third.
- Article published:
- July 17, 2012, 13:11
- Cycling News
Points leader in line to collect on bet made with Liquigas team boss
Having bagged three stages and all but wrapped up victory in the points competition, Peter Sagan has admitted that he already has his eye on the Tour de France's final stage finish on the Champs Elysées. But even if the Slovak misses out in Paris, he’s still set for a nice bonus as he prepares to collect on a pre-race bet made with Team Liquigas president Paolo Zani.
In the days before the race started in Liège, Sagan asked Zani whether he would give him a car if he could win the green jersey in Paris. OK, Zani said, but to claim it you also have to win two stages. With three in the bag, all Sagan now has to do is cross the finishing line in Paris in green to collect the Porsche that Zani put up as an incentive to the Slovak sensation.
“I’m not certain of reaching Paris in the green jersey, but I’ve got a good advantage over André Greipel,” Sagan told Spanish news agency EFE. “There are still five stages left and anything could happen on any of those days.”
Sagan leads Greipel by 102 points ahead of Wednesday’s big Pyrenean stage. Beyond that, there are only two stages where the sprinters are likely to feature. In order to deny Sagan the green jersey, Greipel would have to win both of them and hope that the Liquigas rider does not pick up any points at all, which is very unlikely given Sagan’s staggering performances throughout the race.
Sagan admits that he has been helped in his quest for green by Sky’s focus on the GC, which has left world champion Mark Cavendish isolated in the sprints. He also believes that his rapidly advancing reputation helped him on Monday’s stage into Pau. “I was surprised that the other sprinters’ teams didn’t work to bring back the breakaway, but I was happy to see that. Now I know that the rest of the riders don’t want to fight with me [for the green jersey] any longer,” he said.
But Sagan isn’t allowing any thoughts of complacency to take hold. He has, he insists, still got plenty to learn. “This is the Tour of my dreams, but I know that I’ve still got to improve a lot of things. I’ve got to get used to the fact that everyone will rider against me if I get into a break, as happened the other day when Luis León [Sánchez] won. I made an important mistake because when the Spaniard attacked, he took advantage of the fact I was eating.”
Sagan says that the only barrier between him and victory in the points competition is the Pyrenees. “If I can get through the mountains OK, I can reach Paris in the green jersey. In the time trial I will hold back some energy for the sprint on the final day,” he added.
Win or not in Paris, Sagan looks likely to be driving home in style.
- Article published:
- July 17, 2012, 16:40
- Susan Westemeyer
Only four teams still have all nine riders in the race
The 2012 Tour de France started out with 198 riders and 22 teams, all looking for glory. With the race two thirds complete, 42 riders have abandoned, and only eight of the teams have been able to claim stage wins.
Less than half of the teams in the race have won stages, with four teams claiming more than one. Liquigas-Cannondale and Lotto-Belisol have three each, all from the same rider for each team. Sky also has three, but from three different riders while two Europcar riders have taken stage wins.
Peter Sagan and Andre Greipel are tied for the lead with three stage wins apiece. They are in fact the only riders to have won more than one stage so far this year at the Tour.
Looking at the nations, both Britain and France have four wins each. Mark Cavendish, Christopher Froome, Bradley Wiggins and David Millar have scored for Britain, with Thibaut Pinot, Thomas Voeckler, Pierre Rolland and Pierrick Fedrigo taking the honours for France. Slovakia and Germany have three each, from Sagan and Greipel.
More than one-fifth of the field has dropped out, with reasons ranging from injury to illness to Olympic preparation. One rider, Remy Di Gregorio (Cofidis), had to leave after being arrested on doping-related charges.
Hardest hit are Vacansoleil-DCM and Rabobank, which both have only four riders going into the final week. Euskaltel-Euskadi and Lampre ISD have both lost four riders.
The only four teams which are still complete are BMC Racing Team, Liquigas-Cannondale, Lotto-Belisol and Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank.
Only 156 riders finished the race on Sunday and headed into the rest day. While 42 abandons sounds like a lot, it is not unusually high. In 2011, the fifteenth stage ended with 170 riders and 2010 saw a high of 174, the previous years were lower. 2009 had 162 riders, 2008 the low of 153 and 2007 had 160.
- Article published:
- July 17, 2012, 17:28
- Cycling News
Disagreement between Lotto Belisol and Orica-GreenEdge
Andre Greipel had hoped to celebrate his 30th birthday Monday with a sprint win in Pau in the fifteenth stage of the Tour de France. However, an escape group was allowed to get away and the German won only the sprint of the field for seventh place, nearly 12 minutes behind stage winner Pierrick Fedrigo of FDJ-Big Mat.
Meanwhile, a spat developed between Lotto Belisol and Orica-GreenEdge about whether or not the two sprinter teams should help one another.
“It was impossible to control the field. There was nothing to do against Voeckler and co.,” Greipel told the dapd news agency. “I couldn't expect my guys to sacrifice everything.”
The team met with little to no help from the other teams, who appeared to feel no need to help Greipel win. After the day's escape group got away, Lotto planned to chase and catch them at the end, but the rest of the peloton didn't agree.
“Suddenly Sky rested their legs and GreenEdge didn't do anything either. I couldn't understand that,” said Greipel's teammate and good friend Marcel Sieberg. He is one of three ill riders on the team, and “we didn't want to sacrifice all our strength.”
The spat between Lotto and GreenEdge became public after the stage. Both Matthew Goss and Greipel would have had a chance to win the mass sprint, but it didn't come to be.
The Australian team “didn't help to cut the gap to the escape group,” criticized Sieberg, according to radsport-news.com.
“There are days when Lotto didn't help us either,” retorted Goss. “We speculated that the peloton would catch up.”
Goss, meanwhile, was still dealing with his virtual loss of chances to win the points competition. The race jury deducted 30 points from his account for hindering Peter Sagan in the sprint of the field in the twelfth stage. “It is bitter to have all your chances for the green jersey taken away by such a decision.”
- Article published:
- July 17, 2012, 18:32
- Barry Ryan
Tourmalet is just like any other climb
Given the manner in which Bradley Wiggins and Sky have dictated the story of this Tour de France to date, the media descended on his rest day press conference in Pau eager to add some colour to a narrative that seems already written in black and blue.
Sky's dominance means that for all Vincenzo Nibali's aggression and Cadel Evans's experience, the most compelling challenge to Wiggins's yellow jersey seems to be coming from within his own camp. Chris Froome unsheathed his apparent superiority in the mountains at La Toussuire, and the possibility of a civil war would be an enticing twist in a Tour running so resolutely to script.
There was to be precious little rattling of swords in the sweltering heat of Pau, however. With Froome seated demurely alongside him, Wiggins pointed out that Sky's collective strength and pre-established tactics had carried him into a commanding position with just five stages to go.
"There are a lot of teams of stars out there but this is a star team," Wiggins said, before adding: "This team prides itself on racing as a team and sticking to that game plan."
There were shades of Bernard Hinault and Greg LeMond in 1985 when Wiggins vaguely discussed the possibility of riding to help Froome win the Tour in the future. Wisely, with this current Tour yet to run its course, Wiggins did not get weighed down in specifics of when he and Froome would swap roles.
"The guy is capable of winning the Tour for sure, otherwise he wouldn't be second overall in the Tour de France," Wiggins said. "He will win this race one day and I'll be there to support him to do that. Obviously people will try to make more of a story of it than it is. Ultimately I think we've gone out there each day and proved on the road that there isn't a problem.
"Whatever the line-up is next year and whoever the leader of that line-up will be, I'll be there. I was given the role to lead the team at this year's Tour de France and I took it on, I took the responsibility and I've lived up to the expectation so far. That could change, who knows, but the important thing is that the team succeeds."
Wiggins perhaps betrayed the general confidence within the Sky set-up when asked to assess Cadel Evans, who lies fourth overall, 3:19 down. "A lesser man would have climbed off and thrown the towel in because he wasn't going to win," Wiggins said. "He's remained dignified and fought as though he was still leading the race."
By this stage, a Wiggins press conference wouldn't be complete without some reference to Lance Armstrong or US Postal, but when discussing his teenage admiration of Miguel Indurain, he said that the following era was one that had largely passed him by.
"For the Armstrong era I was already in cycling, I'd turned pro at 22 so I sort of stopped watching cycling those years," he said. "But as a kid I was hooked on it, posters on the wall and that."
The Tour resumes on Wednesday with a stage that brings the peloton into the race's most august roads as they tackle the "Circle of Death" of the Aubisque, Tourmalet, Aspin and Peyresourde. The evocative route passes over climbs that have reverberated in the history of the great race ought to appeal to a man with Wiggins's appreciation of cycling's heritage, but instead he insisted that it would be a day like any other.
"The Tourmalet is as hard as any other climb you do. They all go uphill, they're all on tarmac," he said. "It doesn't matter what name is on them, you go up them on a bike. It's just a name really at the end of the day.
"I think those romance things only come when you're watching the sport, you don't appreciate it while you're there. Ultimately it's about going out there tomorrow and averaging 400 watts climb after climb. That's the performance side of it, hydrating, fuelling on the bike. And ultimately, that's what wins you bike races."
In a world made up of marginal gains, it seems there is precious little room for romance.
- Article published:
- July 17, 2012, 18:38
- Barry Ryan
Irishman back on familiar terrain on the road to Bagnères-de-Luchon
Illness has tempered Dan Martin's Tour de France to date but the Garmin-Sharp rider is hoping for a change in fortunes as the race enters the Pyrenees, where he has enjoyed notable success as both an amateur and a professional.
Lying 65th overall on the Tour's second rest in the shadow the Pyrenees, Martin is looking to give a different sense to his race when hostilities recommence on Wednesday. Stage 16 brings the peloton over the Aubisque, Tourmalet, Aspin and Peyresourde as it traverses the fearsome Circle of Death, familiar terrain for the Irishman.
Martin's overall victory at the Route du Sud in 2008 was forged in that stirring natural amphitheatre, as he traversed the Tourmalet and Peyresourde during the queen stage to Superbagnères. Long before he had entered the professional ranks, however, Martin had already made the pilgrimage to the Tour's holiest ground with his father Neil.
"We had a couple of really good holidays here when I was growing up," Martin told Cyclingnews in Pau on Tuesday. "We did an epic ride one day when I was 16. We started out from Luz-Saint-Saveur, then we did the Tourmalet, Aspin and then up to the Peyresourde to watch the Tour.
"We rode back too, so I ended up doing the both sides of the Tourmalet, both sides of the Aspin both sides and once up the Peyresourde, all in the same day. It took something like seven hours and I was only 16. I was on my knees afterwards, but I do love these mountains. They've got good memories for me."
While Martin is intimately familiar with Wednesday's set-piece stage (it is only the sixth time in history that the Big Four of the Pyrenees feature in the same day), he charts unexplored territory when the race climbs to the novel summit finish at Peyregudes on Thursday.
"You go down the Peyresourde a little bit and then go up again," he said. "I don't know it but then we rode with some locals today and they said they'd never been up it either. We've got no idea what that climb looks like. I'm looking forward to that and to riding up the Port de Balès, which I've never done myself."
Martin began the Tour slated to work for his Garmin-Sharp leader Ryder Hesjedal, but the team's crash-marred opening week saw the focus quickly shift to stage wins. Unfortunately for Martin, a nagging illness through the first half of the race meant that he was unable to make the most of his unexpected freedom.
"One day it was a sore throat, the next a cough, then a sinus," he said. "After that, it dropped onto my chest and became and turned into a kind of bronchitis. It was never really bad but it was unpleasant. I was coughing up green stuff all the time and I couldn't really breathe very well."
In spite of his ailment, Martin had the wherewithal to infiltrate the break of the day on the road to La Toussuire on stage 11, even if his efforts told as the day went on and Pierre Rolland (Europcar) rode away from his companions. "I knew that I didn't have much top-end because of my breathing, but because it was such an endurance day, nobody really goes to their max breathing, to the VO2 max area," Martin said. "But I guess I just misjudged how much my legs were affected."
If Martin is to enjoy success in the Pyrenees, however, he believes that joining the echapée matinale is not a viable option, even if the general fatigue in the peloton allowed breaks to go clear during the second week. "The problem is that everyone is so tired. Everyone is destroyed and that's why you've not been seeing groups come back for sprints on stages like Monday's," he said. "I don't think Sky will control it tomorrow, but the pace is going to be so hard behind that the break will get caught anyway."
In any case, Martin enters the final days of racing in a better state than he could have imagined before the race began. "I've almost ridden within myself here as I haven't been able to push myself," he said. "I'm feeling really, really good now and hopefully that bodes well for the coming two days."
- Article published:
- July 17, 2012, 18:48
- Cycling News
UPDATE: Schleck withdraws from Tour after Xipamide found in urine sample
Earlier today, the UCI advised Luxembourger Fränk Schleck (RadioShack-Nissan) of an Adverse Analytical Finding in a urine sample collected from him at an in-competition test at the Tour de France on July 14, 2012.
The WADA accredited laboratory in Châtenay-Malabry detected the presence of the diuretic Xipamide in Schleck's urine sample.
According to UCI anti-doping rules the finding does not require a provisional suspension, but in a statement the UCI said, "the UCI is confident that his team will take the necessary steps to enable the Tour de France to continue in serenity and to ensure that their rider has the opportunity to properly prepare his defense in particular within the legal timeline, which allows four days for him to have his B sample analyzed."
Xipamide, the substance found in Schleck's urine, is not specifically mentioned on WADA's prohibited substance list.
Cyclingnews has called Fränk Schleck for comment but have not yet received a response. However, his RadioShack-Nissan team has announced that the Luxembourger has withdrawn from the Tour de France. Following is the complete statement from the RadioShack-Nissan concerning Schleck:
"Our team attaches great value to transparency. Because of this, we can announce the following as a response to the adverse analytical finding of xipamide in Fränk Schleck's urine sample of July 14 during the Tour de France.
"After being informed by the UCI about the presence of xipamide in the urine sample of Fränk Schleck on July 14, the team has decided to immediately withdraw Fränk Schleck from the Tour de France.
"Even though an abnormal A sample does not require these measures, Mr. Schleck and the team believe this is the right thing to do, to ensure the Tour de France can go on in calm and that Fränk Schleck can prepare his defense in accordance with the legal timing to do so.
"On the subject of xipamide the team can declare the following: it is not a product that is present in any of the medicine that the team uses and the reason for the presence of xipamide in the urine sample of Mr. Schleck is unclear to the team. Therefore, the team is not able to explain the adverse findings at this point.
"However, the team is fully determined to collaborate with the anti-doping agencies in order to resolve the matter."
The case echoes the 2011 Tour when Alexandr Kolobnev tested positive for a banned diuretic (hydrochlorothiazide) following stage 5. He later suspended himself from his Katusha tea but was later cleared by CAS and hired back by Katusha.
This isn't the first time that Schleck has had to answer to anti-doping authorities as in 2008 it was revealed he made a payment to Dr Eufemiano Fuentes, the centre of Operación Puerto, but the charge was dismissed by the Luxembourg Anti-Doping Agency.
More to follow as the story develops and join the forum discussion here.