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Third Edition Cycling News, Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Date published:
July 08, 2009, 1:00 BST
  • Italian Federation calls for redesign of Pozzato's jersey

    Filippo Pozzato (Katusha) at the start of stage five in Le Cap d'Agde.
    Article published:
    July 08, 2009, 14:40 BST
    Gregor Brown

    Team Katusha's design unacceptable

    Filippo Pozzato and Team Katusha need to respect the design of the national champion jersey, said the Italian cycling federation (FCI) today in a press statement.

    "It is not the same design we gave to him at the championships in Imola. The jersey he is using does not conform to the tricolore design," a representative of the FCI told Cyclingnews.

    Pozzato won the Italian championships on June 28 ahead of Damiano Cunego. He is entitled the wear the prestigious national - green, white and red - jersey for one year.

    He is racing at the Tour de France, July 4 to 26, where the champion's jersey is visible to millions of fans. The federation is upset with the design Katusha has used. The design adapts the Italian colours to the sponsor's logo and results in very little green.

    "We just used the same layout and changed the colours. We did that with the Austrian and Russian champions' jerseys as well," Katusha's press spokesman, Andrea Agostoni, told Cyclingnews.

    Agostoni explained the team will change the jersey in the coming days. They are waiting for a new jersey to arrive from their supplier, Santini, in Italy.

    Riders wear different variations of the national champion jersey from year to year. Agostoni noted that no one forced Alejandro Valverde to change his Spanish Champion jersey last year. It had more black than the nation's red and yellow traditional design.

  • Aldag frustrated by peloton's tactics

    Rolf Aldag chats at the start.
    Article published:
    July 08, 2009, 17:46 BST
    Richard Moore

    Columbia-HTC directeur sportif critical of other sprinters' teams

    For the first time on this Tour de France the Columbia-HTC team didn't manage to set up a bunch sprint for Mark Cavendish, their double stage winner, with Thomas Voeckler and Mikhail Ignatiev surviving their long break to claim first and second.

    Cavendish scooped the maximum points available to him, winning the bunch sprint for third, with Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Slipstream) fourth and his closest rival for the green jersey, Thor Hushovd (Cervélo TestTeam), back in tenth.

    But at the finish Rolf Aldag, the Columbia-HTC directeur sportif, expressed his frustration with the efforts - or lack of effort - of the other teams, while also suggesting that the stage to Perpignan could be a sign of things to come. In other words, the boys in yellow-white-and-green shouldn't be relied upon to keep the race together.

    It was notable, for example, that only two Columbia riders were sent to the front to help in the pursuit of the break.

    "Six guys were in the lead, from five different teams, so there were 15 teams behind, so logically there should have been 15 teams interested in reeling them in again," said Aldag. "You can only win a bike race if you're in front, and not at the back.

    "We achieved our minimal goal today," continued the German, "[which was] to get more points for Cavendish's green jersey. We can live with that. But I wonder if the other teams will be opening a bottle of wine tonight, and be happy with their result - I don't think so.

    "If these tactics are going to be pursued, Cavendish will win the green jersey in the end. It might be close points-wise, but he will win it because breakaways will always succeed. For me, it's surprising to not even try and win.

    "The other teams think to themselves, 'why should we pull if Cav wins it in the end anyway?' If the other teams are that resigned, why do they come here with their sprinters? Then, you could leave your sprinters at home. Then it makes no sense to...

  • Boonen suffers bad luck on run to Perpignan

    Tom Boonen missed out again after a tough final 30km to La Grande Motte.
    Article published:
    July 08, 2009, 18:24 BST
    Richard Moore

    Quick Step sprinter has yet to set the Tour on fire

    After his last-minute reprieve Tom Boonen (Quickstep) has yet to set this Tour de France alight, and during Wednesday’s fifth stage he endured bad luck and a tough day battling back into contention from two punctures.

    "I came back after the first puncture," said the Belgian champion, who was originally excluded from the Tour after his out-of-competition positive test for cocaine, but won his appeal the day before the Grand Départ.

    "The moment I reconnect [with the front group], I puncture a second time," he continued. "That was too much bad luck." In what was perhaps a reference to his recent off-the-bike troubles, he added: "But I prefer to be lucky in life and unlucky in sport than the other way around."

    As for the stage to Barcelona, on Thursday, Boonen is unsure whether he can prevail on the 6.6% climb that comes just 1500m before the finish. "It might be too steep for me," he said.

    Boonen’s manager, Patrick Lefevere, said earlier that he expects his star rider to be in contention for stage wins later in the Tour, in particular if Columbia-HTC maintain their current work rate in trying to set up Mark Cavendish. "I think and hope they will be tired," said Lefevere.

    "Tom, as soon as he knew he was coming to the Tour, was prepared mentally to ride," added Lefevere. "The Tour is three weeks. I am sure he will be involved."

  • Sastre gets direct apology from Armstrong

    Defending Tour de France champion Carlos Sastre (Cervélo TestTeam)
    Article published:
    July 08, 2009, 19:09 BST
    Daniel Simms

    Spaniard regains his respect for the seven-time champion

    Defending Tour de France champion Carlos Sastre may not be the overwhelming favourite to win this year's event, but he was stung by reports last week that Lance Armstrong had called last year's Tour "sort of a joke" in a new book.

    Armstrong apologised for his remarks at yesterday's press conference, but reiterated his regrets for the unfriendly remark to Sastre in person today.

    Sastre described riding up to the Astana team and Armstrong to congratulate them on their team time trial victory, and said Armstrong offered up the apology, according to his personal website,

    "This morning at the start and whilst the pack was riding together, I had the chance to congratulate the Astana riders for their victory yesterday. I also praised other riders from other teams and I rode alongside Armstrong, who I also congratulated.

    "After this, he apologised for the comments he had made and for what he wrote in his book about my victory in last year's Tour."

    "That was really important to me because it meant that he has regained the respect that I have always had for him. I think it's important that he said it, not only for the press but for me personally, and I'm glad about it.”

    Sastre survived the windswept fifth stage to maintain 29th place overall, 2:44 down on yellow jersey Fabian Cancellara (Saxo Bank), and is just fractions of a second closer to second placed Armstrong.

  • Armstrong expounds on wind, splits and fish

    Lance Armstrong (Astana) rides in the pack during stage 5
    Article published:
    July 08, 2009, 19:12 BST
    Richard Moore

    "Maybe [Contador] sees that I know what's going on"

    Lance Armstrong offered his daily summary of the race after the wind-buffeted fifth stage, which he described as "odd," and then fired off a slightly bizarre but entertaining salvo – slightly reminiscent of the retired French footballer Eric Cantona, if only for its reference to fish – at his critics in the Tour’s press pack.

    Stage five was another day, similar to Monday's stage three, where strong crosswinds split the field under pressure from Team Columbia-HTC. This time, the groups managed to come back together before the finish, unlike Monday, when Armstrong was one of the few overall contenders to end up in the front group and snatched 41 seconds on his rivals, including his own Astana teammate Alberto Contador..

    "It was an interesting day, because I think everyone anticipated the wind and knew that this part of France is very windy. And with what happened two days ago, they wanted to avoid that," said Armstrong of Wednesday's stage.

    Armstrong was surprised at the day's outcome, which saw Frenchman Thomas Voeckler take the stage win just seconds ahead of the bunch sprint.

    "Who’d have thought it would blow apart then come back together and we wouldn’t catch that break?" he added. "To me it was an odd day in terms of the overall result, but we stayed out of trouble, and the guys [his Astana team, which at one point massed at the front] looked good."

    It was notable that Contador positioned himself on Armstrong’s wheel when the wind was at its strongest. "I told him that today was going to be complicated," said Armstrong, adding what might be interpreted as a provocative observation: "so maybe he sees that I know what’s going on at the Tour de France."

    On the subject of his daily summaries, which are dutifully recorded and delivered by the Astana press officer to the main press centre, Armstrong explained: "I think we have an obligation to tell a good story at the...

  • Voeckler triumphs in Perpignan

    Thomas Voeckler (BBOX Bouygues Telecom) on the podium in Perpignan following his stage victory.
    Article published:
    July 08, 2009, 19:49 BST
    Hedwig Kröner

    Hopes victory will secure sponsor

    Thomas Voeckler of team Bbox-Bouygues Telecom enjoyed his second great moment today at the Tour, five years exactly after taking the yellow jersey in Chartres in 2004. After spending the whole day in a breakaway - a familiar situation for the Frenchman - he was finally  rewarded the victory in Perpignan in front of Mikhail Ignatiev (Katusha) and Mark Cavendish (Columbia-Highroad), who soared over the finish line just a few seconds too late.

    "When I turned around on the finish straight and understood that the gap was going to be enough, I told myself: Enjoy! This won't happen every day... I chased a Tour victory so hard that I just wanted to enjoy the moment as much as possible," a radiant Voeckler said in the finish.

    It was the Frenchman's first victory in his home Grand Tour. In 2004, it was Stuart O'Grady who won the stage that brought him enough time to secure the overall lead, which he later heroically defended for ten days before having to give in to Lance Armstrong.

    This time, five years later, Voeckler again jumped into the right breakaway, as he has done so many times. On a pancake-flat course with three quarters of a tailwind, it however seemed likely that it would would down to a bunch sprint - but he knew that there was also a possibility that the break would go through.

    "It's no secret that Saxo Bank doesn't want to work over the whole three weeks. The day before yesterday already, when the four guys were gone, Voigt told me they didn't really want to chase, and I told him: 'you should have said that to me earlier!'," Voeckler laughed. "This morning, too, Cancellara told me, 'well, we'll see what happens' - they know to whom they say these things, too, don't they..."

    The breakaway reached a maximum advantage of almost ten minutes around kilometre 40. Then, Columbia-HTC started chasing together with Saxo Bank, reducing their advantage, until the Danish team lit the GC fireworks and created echelons.

  • Gesink withdraws from Tour

    Robert Gesink crashed hard in the Tour's fifth stage.
    Article published:
    July 08, 2009, 20:26 BST
    Daniel Simms

    Rabobank Dutchman fractures wrist during stage five

    Rabobank's Robert Gesink became the third rider to withdraw from the Tour de France, having fractured his left wrist in a crash on the descent of the Côte de Treilles during stage five. Despite his injury, Gesink completed the stage, accompanied by German teammate Grischa Niermann, finishing 9:35 behind the peloton.

    Gesink was treated at the hospital in Perpignan and left for his home in the Netherlands on Thursday, according to the Rabobank team.

    Gesink's 80-kilometre ride to the finish line in Perpignan earned the admiration of Rabobank assistant manager Frans Maassen, although he was concerned about the injured Dutchman. "I was fearful because he could hardly brake. Then it was almost impossible to move through the caravan back to the peloton. Gesink was determined, however, and Grischa accompanied him to the finish."

    Teammate Joost Posthuma witnessed the crash and tried to help Gesink return to the peloton. "Grischa and I tried to bring Robert back, but soon after things were not well with him. He could not steer properly and when the doctor came, he could not grab the car."

  • Vaughters pushes UCI for greater education on passport readings

    Jonathan Vaughters
    Article published:
    July 08, 2009, 22:43 BST
    Daniel Benson

    Teams need assistance interpreting data

    Jonathan Vaughters, president of the International Association of Professional Cycling Teams (AIGCP), is pushing the UCI to help teams better understand and interpret the biological passport results. "My job is to protect the teams and their sponsors, so to do this the teams must be properly educated in how to read bio-passport results. It's something the UCI needs to put an effort into to ensure that everyone involved has the tools they need to continue to better the sport.

    "Just because someone is a doctor doesn't mean they can interpret these results. Most doctors do not have training in anti-doping haematology. There are very few experts in the world that can read this information properly. We need to fix that."

    Vaughters, who is also team manager of Garmin-Slipstream, has been a vocal supporter of the new passport system and uses its data to stringently screen potential new signings. "Any rider that comes to our team will know that we ask for their complete history, from passport data to therapeutic exemption forms. I've looked at a lot of data, and of course that has played into the decision of whether we sign a rider or not. We set very high standards for ourselves in that regard to protect the investment that Garmin and our other sponsors have made," Vaughters said.

    However, what seems clear from recent cases involving Thomas Dekker and Bernhard Kohl is that teams interpret the data in different ways, if even at all, and that they need help from the UCI. "We have three or four people that do it. Our medical team review it together and then we come to a consensus on what that data is pointing to. I don't have a medical background but I am one of those people," said Vaughters.

    "I don't really know what other teams do. I don't know their procedures. I know that the information is available, but one thing that I've pushed the UCI for is a basic course to help team doctors that aren't necessarily specialists in haematology...