Former world champion Rui Costa forewent the opportunity to equal Pasquale Fornara's record of four Tour de Suisse victories with the Lampre-Merida rider opting to race the other WorldTour stage race in June, the Critèrium du Dauphiné, for the first time since 2011. Costa's decision looked justified as he took an impressive win on stage 6 from a high-quality breakaway to slot into second place. The 2013 world champion paid for his efforts on the next day to Saint-Gervais Mont Blanc as he slipped to fourth place on GC but a final day third place saw him clinch a podium position just five seconds ahead of Beñat Intxausti (Movistar).
"Today at the start I was satisfied with my performance in the Critèrium du Dauphiné," Costa said. "I had come back to this race after three victories in a row in the Tour de Suisse, I obtained one stage victory and I was fourth in the overall classification, these were very good achievements for me.
"The podium was not so far, but I was aware of the value of Intxausti.
During the race, I was focused on the road and in managing the energies, especially in the final climb which was covered at a very high rhythm.
"When I noticed that Intxausti was in trouble, the morale helped my legs to give their best and to manage the situation, because [Simon] Yates, who was just behind me in the overall classification, was close close to me."
Costa's result was his third top-ten finish at a WorldTour stage race this season to go with fourth at Paris-Nice and seventh at Vuelta Ciclista al Pais Vasco. The 28-year-old now turns his attention to the Tour de France where we will look to add to his tally of three stage wins.
"I succeeded in obtaining a place on an amazing podium," Costa added. "I thank my teammates for theirs support, this is a good group which could battle for satisfaction in the Tour de France,"
The 2015 Critèrium du Dauphiné podium: Tejay van Garderen (BMC), Chris Froome (Team Sky) and Rui Costa (Lampre-Merida)
Gilbert waiting for Tour de France confirmation
Having taken two stage wins at the Giro d'Italia, Philippe Gilbert thought his results had secured a place on BMC's Tour de France squad but the Belgian explained to Het Nieuwsblad that he is awaiting confirmation for the July 4 start. Gilbert is currently racing the Tour de Suisse, where he made the comments following the stage one time trial in which he finished 26th.
"With what motivation I'm at the start? Actually, no. It's hard to motivate yourself when you have no insight into your program," Gilbert told the newspaper. "Do they want me there? I have heard nothing. You should call Ochowicz (team manager, ed.). Do you have his number? I think this is already a very bizarre situation. No, I do not understand their approach."
With stage 3 of the Tour using the same finish as La Flèche Wallonne, the Mur de Huy, where Gilbert has won before, the 32-year-old added his characteristics are suited to the first week of the race and is confident of producing a result.
"I'm not a neo pro anymore," said Gilbert, who turns 33 on July 5. "I have nothing more to prove, especially after my two stage victories in the Giro. They refuse to show me that confidence. I am fresh after the Giro, I climbed better than ever without having to overdo it.
"Furthermore, there are many opportunities for me in the first week of the Tour. Well, I'm here to try to show that I'm good."
Gilbert last rode the Tour in 2013.
Hesjedal joins GC heavy Route de Sud start list
Having finished fifth overall at the Giro d'Italia, Ryder Hesjedal will make his return to racing at the La Route du Sud-La Dépêche du Midi this week with Cannondale Garmin as he prepares for the Tour de France. The French stage race will also feature Giro winner Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) and Nairo Quintana (Movistar) with a tough battle for the general classification all but assured.
Hesjedal has ridden the Giro-Tour double on three occasions in his career, 2008 and 2012-13, with last year's brief appearance at the Tour de Suisse the only occasion he has decided to race between the grand tours.
"We always want to try and get to that place where I won the Giro [in 2012] and had better form when I started the Tour. Twenty-thirteen didn’t work out, it just didn’t come together and I never got enough racing and got sick. Last year I chose not to do the Tour. I gave so much at the Giro and wanted to try the Vuelta and do the second part of the season," he said after stage 20 of the Giro.
Teammate Davide Formolo, who won stage 4 of the Giro, will also make his debut at the 2.1 race.
Mortensen extends Cult Energy's winning run with Velothon Wales victory
Cult Energy's good start to June continued at the first edition of the Velothon Wales with Martin Mortensen's final kilometre attack from the breakaway securing victory for the 30-year-old, one week after Linus Gerdemann sealed overall victory at the Skoda-Tour de Luxembourg for the team.
"We followed André's [sport director] plan to ride for me and everything we agreed on this morning was executed on the road, almost to perfection," said Mortensen of the how the 174km race played out. "Entering the final loop, I had a feeling of being the strongest of us but I thought it would be wiser to stick together as the chase group was breathing down our necks. With 800 meters to go, I launched the attack and made it to the finish line."
Mortensen, who was part of the Leopard Trek team in 2011, is in his second year with the Danish Pro Continental squad and is looking to quickly add another win to his palmares.
"This is my last race before the Danish national championships and what better way to start the nationals than with a fresh win in my pocket," he added.
Sport director André Steensen explained that persistence was key to the team's success on the Welsh roads.
"Martin kept pushing the pace and eventually, he still had one good push in him that boosted him across the finish line. I know Martin hasn't had an easy spring season but he has been fighting hard to get here and that makes the taste of the victory even sweeter," Steensen said.
Ignatas Konovalovas (Team Marseille 13 KTM) finished five second s behind Motensen, out sprinting Gregory Habeaux (Wallonie - Bruxelles) who rounded out the podium. Owain Doull was the best placed Welsh rider in 11th place for Team WIGGINS.