RadioShack rider goes into the day four minutes down
After 10 days of racing at the Tour de France,Andy Schleck (RadioShack-Leopard) heads into the first individual time trial of the race in 15th place overall, four minutes down on race leader Chris Froome (Team Sky).
Since Corsica, Schleck has ridden a steady but unspectacular Tour, itself no mean feat given the long and arduous road back to recovery and fitness he has had to endure over the last 18 months.
Heading into Wednesday's time trial to Mont-Saint-Michel, Schleck spoke exclusively to Cyclingnews about his aspirations for the individual test as well as his hopes for the overall.
The surgery confirmed the original diagnosis of “a partial crack of the posterior cruciate ligament, a partial crack of the medial ligament, an injury of the cartilage, a bone bruise and a bruise of the patella tendon.”
According to the team, “The injury is situated at the bone above which the patella glides, Doctor Claes has cleaned the bone, repaired it again and filled it up and removed a bone flake at the inside of the medial ligament.”
Van den Broeck will be on crutches for 10 days, and “ ought not to set any power on the joint for three weeks.” If all goes well, he may get back on his bike “very carefully” after that. However, “As expected he presumably won't get back in action this season.”
UCI President backtracks on Equipe comment in a letter to Pantani's parents
UCI President Pat McQuaid has apparently backtracked on suggestions he made to French newspaper L'Equipe that Marco Pantani's victory in the 1998 Tour de France could be cancelled if his name emerges in the report into doping due to be published by the French Senate after this year's race.
Pantani dominated the 1998 Tour de France, completing a rare Giro d'Italia and Tour de France double. He was disqualified from the 1999 Giro d'Italia due to a high blood haematocrit value while leading the race but went into denial and suffered with mental problems. He died in 2005 due to a cocaine overdose on St Valentines Day.
The suggestion that his Tour victory could be stripped posthumously and after the eight-year statute of limitations rule angered Pantani's parents. They quickly wrote to McQuaid in defence of their son's name and today released McQuaid's reply.
In an apparent change of position, he said there were no grounds to take action and try to strip Pantani of his Tour de France victory because the testing of urine samples from 1998 were done as part of a research project in 2004 and were "not carried out according to the technical standards for anti-doping analyses."
He added that "the principles of anonymity and prior consent from the riders for scientific analyses were not respected."
McQuaid ended the letter by saying: "I sincerely hope that these words may have provided some clarification and solace and that we may preserve the wonderful image and memories we have of Marco Pantani."
The French Senate report was due to be published on July 18 but the politicians have no backed down on such a controversial date – the Tour de France was due to finish atop L'Alpe d'Huez. Instead the report will be published after the Tour de France.
Of 60 urine samples from 1998 that were tested for research purposes in 2005, 44...
World champion on contract extension and chasing stages at the Tour
Tuesday's announcement that Philippe Gilbert had extended his contract with BMC by a further two years raised some eyebrows, given the rumours of discord that had been finding their way into the press since the beginning of the Tour de France, but the world champion has insisted that such whispers were misplaced.
Gilbert, who had already has a year to run on his existing contract with BMC has extended their agreement by a further two years, meaning that he will remain in the court of Andy Rihs until the end of 2016.
"A lot of things have been written and said since the start of the Tour and I've tried to play it down, but within the team there aren't any problems and I think they have a lot of ambitions for me to succeed in the Classics and all of the one-day races," Gilbert told reporters after Wednesday's Tour de France stage 11 time trial to Mont-Saint-Michel.
Gilbert was the marquee signing of BMC's Galactico-style transfer campaign ahead of the 2012 season, but the Belgian has won just three races since making the switch. The last of those, of course, was his emphatic world championships victory in Valkenburg last year but Gilbert has been left disappointed in two successive Spring Classics campaigns, where the talent-packed roster has failed to add up to the sum of its considerable parts.
"I know this team has good material and good staff, and has big potential but we can still do better," Gilbert said. "We're still friends, we're still confident for the future and I'm confident we can do better."
Gilbert lined up at the Tour with the stated aim of aiding Cadel Evans' bid for overall honours and beginning his own build-up to the defence of his world title in Florence. Still without a win since taking possession of the rainbow...
The time trial is the race of truth, so the adage goes, and if events in the Pyrenees last weekend were open to all sorts of interpretation, there was no arguing with the verdict issued in Normandy.
In spite of leading through the intermediate checks, Froome lost out on stage victory by twelve seconds but he had the considerable consolation of putting two minutes into Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), 2:03 into Alberto Contador (Saxo-Tinkoff) and gaining over three minutes on Nairo Quintana (Movistar).
Halfway through the race and with another time trial to come in the final week, Froome's overall lead is already some 3:25 over second-placed Valverde, while Contador lies almost four minutes back in 4th place. In his matter-of-fact way, Froome glossed over the significance of such positive mid-term figures.
"I haven't had much time to think about it but I'm happy with how the stage went," he said simply. "A time trial is always one of those nervous days for GC riders because there are a lot of things that could go wrong.
"I'm not sad at all about losing to Tony, because he showed why he's world champion. The objective was to take the maximum advantage that I could on the other riders in the general classification and I'm happy with the advantage that I took today."
In a test of similar length at the Critérium du Dauphiné last month, Froome put almost three minutes into both Valverde and Contador, although the Spanish pair insisted that it would be a different story come July. True to...
Martin's win marked Germany's fourth stage win in the race this year after Marcel Kittel (two) and Andre Greipel (one) claimed sprint victories.
German cycling has suffered in the last decade. After the euphoria reached after Jan Ullrich's Tour de France win in 1997 the nation was hit by a set of doping related stories. Sponsors fled, teams closed, and rider after rider confessed to doping during the 1990s and early 2000s. A nation that once had two WorldTour teams in Milram and Gerolsteiner was left without a seat at the top table but with Martin leading a line of new riders, he hopes that fans from his homeland will return to the sport.
"I hope so. It was always the goal to push German cycling again," he said in his winner's press conference.
"I think we've done a really good job up until now and I'm also proud of my German colleagues. I really hope that the fans see our performances and perhaps some of the fans that left cycling can see that the sport is improving once again in Germany."
Martin's win is sure to please his fans in Germany, not to mention his own team who have nursed him through the opening half of the race following a heavy fall in Corsica that almost saw him pull out of the Tour after the first stage. Since then Martin has hobbled, even bled his way through daily slogs across France, all the while helping his team when required to set pace for Mark Cavendish and then protecting the team's interest in the...
Sitting in the passenger seat of a Movistar team car on a dusty road beyond the finish line, Valverde held a lengthy discussion with team manager Eusebio Unzue before rolling down the window to speak to the reporters waiting outside.
"It's clear that two minutes is a bit of time to lose. There's Froome and then there's everyone else, but I'm still up there with the best of the rest so I'm happy," Valverde said. "I was regular in my time trial and I felt better at the end. I came through an important test so I have to be happy."
Remarkably, considering his 33 years and the 18 months he served on the sidelines in 2010 and 2011 when he was belatedly suspended for his links to blood doping doctor Eufemiano Fuentes, Valverde has never been as well-placed on the general classification at the midpoint of a Tour de France as he is this year, although he is still some 3:25 down on Froome.
The Murcia native has Colombian climbing talent Nairo Quintana for company in the Movistar line-up and the team flexed its collective muscle by eliminating Sky's Richie Porte from the general classification contest on stage 9 in the Pyrenees. Given Froome's isolation in the finale, however, that stage to Bagnères-de-Bigorre was perhaps something of a missed opportunity for Valverde.
"We'll see what happens in the Alps but Froome is the leader and he is the strongest," Valverde...
No longer the time trialist he once was, stage 11 to Mont-Saint-Michel was always about damage limitation for Alberto Contador and his Saxo-Tinkoff team boss Bjarne Riis. With Chris Froome untouchable against the clock when compared to his other GC contenders this year, Contador came into the stage already on the back foot, and now with the race turning towards the Alps the Spanish climber is 3:54 down on the maillot jaune in the Tour de France.
It is not a disaster, as Contador has a knack for unsettling the opposition in the final week of a Grand Tour and taking the fight to his competition, but Riis is well aware that his Spanish star must attack if he is to win his third Tour tittle.
"I'm happy with Alberto today, he's okay and he did a good chrono," Riis said as he talked to the gathering press at the Saxo Bank team car at the finish.
"I'm not disappointed at all with him because he did it all correct. Froome is just at the moment a lot stronger."
That admission is only realistic given that Froome seemed a level ahead of his rivals on the first stage in the Pyrenees and then answered every question posed of him on the following stage. Contador on the other hand has looked below his very best, a pattern that can be traced back through at least this season.
"It doesn't change anything. If it's one minute, two, three or four, we still have to attack and it's still the same race," Riis said, pointing to the fact that Contador, as he did during last year's Vuelta must come from behind. Riis tactical nous suggest that he may well use to play Roman Kreuziger as a carrot for Froome to chase, and therefore try and isolate and soften up the Sky leader before...