Fontana on Sagan's quest for mountain bike gold
Peter Sagan’s decision to participate in the cross country mountain bike event at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games has been welcomed by 2012 bronze medallist Marco Aurelio Fontana, though he warned that the world road champion might struggle to finish on the podium on August 21.
Sagan will forgo the Olympic Games road race, meaning that after the conclusion of the Tour de France on July 24, he will have four weeks in which to prepare for the mountain bike event.
“Peter will come out of the Tour in great aerobic condition but in our races it’s rhythm that counts: accelerating, steering, relaunching again. He knows how to handle a bike, but he’ll have to work on intensity. I think he’ll struggle to get in the top three,” Fontana told Gazzetta dello Sport. “But he’s a phenomenon, we can expect anything from him.”
Sagan was a junior world champion in the discipline in 2008. The Tinkoff rider was awarded Slovakia’s sole Olympic mountain bike berth on Tuesday, having clocked up sufficient qualifying points by placing fourth in the Czech Strabag MTB Cup in April.
“In 2014, he confided in me that it was his dream to race mountain bikes. It’s good to know that he’s come back to race off road. It’s a positive for the whole movement,” said Fontana, who noted that the Rio de Janeiro course requires a degree of interpretation.
“The course is quite technical, but not one of the most difficult,” he said. “The unknown quantities are the heat and the special terrain: you risk sliding off on the corners.”
Voeckler, Chavanel, Coquard and Sicard confirmed for Direct Energie's Tour de France team
Direct Energie has named Thomas Voeckler, Sylvain Chavanel, Bryan Coquard and Romain Sicard on its Tour de France team, and listed the eight riders who are in contention for the five remaining berths.
“The group will be built around Bryan Coquard for the sprint, Romain Sicard for the mountains and, of course, Thomas Voeckler and Sylvain Chavanel, who can provide fireworks at any moment,” manager Jean-René Bernaudeau told the team’s website.
The eight riders in contention for the five other places on the Direct Energie Tour team are Antoine Duchesne, Yohan Gène, Tony Hurel, Fabrice Jeandesboz, Bryan Naulleau, Adrien Petit, Perrig Quémeneur and Angelo Tulik.
“This list of twelve riders is a way of giving confidence to some people and removing doubts for others,” Bernaudeau said. “The three who don’t end up participating in the Tour should see this as a sign of encouragement.”
Jimmy Engoulvent and Lylian Lebreton will be Direct Energie’s directeurs sportifs for the Tour, which gets underway at Mont Saint-Michel on July 2. Engoulvent is in his first season as a directeur sportif, having brought the curtain down on his racing career at the end of 2015. “Jimmy Engoulvent will bring expertise for the sprints,” Bernaudeau said.
Garner ruled out of Aviva Women's Tour
Lucy Garner (Wiggle-High5) will miss the Aviva Women’s Tour after fracturing two ribs in a crash at the Keukens van Lommel Ladies Classic in Belgium last weekend.
Although the Briton has since resumed light training on the rollers, she acknowledged that her injuries would not allow her to return to competition immediately in time for the Aviva Women’s Tour.
“Obviously it was a really hard decision. I’d been looking forward to racing the Aviva Women’s Tour ever since I’ve been part of Wiggle High5,” Garner said. “It’s such a big event, and a huge goal for the team, so to have been selected was really good for me because I know that a lot of the girls wanted to do it, and it’s a really strong team going.
“I did actually go on the rollers this morning; just pedalling’s okay, but when I have to get out of the saddle… Obviously I’m going to be moving about, I’m going to have to reach for my bottle, and I just don’t know if it’s worth doing it.”
The five-day Aviva Women’s Tour gets underway on June 15 in Southwold. Garner is likely to return to racing at the two-day Giro del Trentino Donne, which takes place on the weekend of June 18-19.
“I think that gives me a few more days to recover as well,” Garner said. “I really want to do a race again before Nationals, just to get in the peloton again. By then I should be feeling a bit better, and I’ll have had a good week training, and I think that can really help with Nationals.”
Rui Costa returns to Tour de Suisse
Three-time Tour de Suisse winner Rui Costa will return to the race next week at the head of the Lampre-Merida team after skipping last year’s race in order to ride the Critérium du Dauphiné.
Rui Costa claimed overall victory at the Tour de Suisse on three successive years from 2012 to 2014, and will line up among the principal contenders for the win this time around.
The 2013 world champion will be joined in the Lampre-Merida line-up in Switzerland by Yukiya Arashiro, Matteo Bono, Davide Cimolai, Kristijan Durasek, Mario Costa, Przemyslaw Niemiec and Jan Polanc.
The Tour de Suisse gets underway with a 6.4-kilometre time trial on Saturday and concludes on June 19 with a tough mountain stage to Davos. Rui Costa and Lampre-Merida’s Tour de Suisse team will warm up for the nine-day race by participating in the GP du Canton d'Argovie on Thursday.