Tour de France shorts: Basso is 'perfectly recovered' from cancer surgery

Contract extensions for Fuglsang and Sánchez, ice baths for Etixx-QuickStep

Basso is 'perfectly recovered' from surgery after cancer scare

Ivan Basso's doctors have said the Italian is "perfectly recovered" after undergoing treatment for testicular cancer. The Italian was forced to quit the Tour de France after the first week when medical checks revealed he had the disease. A crash on stage 5 of the race in which he injured his left testical prompted the rider to undergo checks.

"Today, 20 July 2015, Ivan Basso underwent a post-surgery checkup. The patient has perfectly recovered from the intervention. The final histological examination shows, currently, no indication for additional treatment and the patient will be closely observed during the following months,” Professor Francesco Montorsi, Director of the Urology Surgery Unit at San Raffaele Hospital in Milan said in a statement released by Tinkoff Saxo.

Basso has been instructed to rest for a month but has been advised that he should be able to resume is career. He will meet up with his Tour de France teammates at the race’s conclusion in Paris on Sunday.

"I am extremely happy with the outcome of the surgery and I would like to deeply thank Tinkoff-Saxo's team doctor, Piet De Moor, the doctors and medical staff of the Tour de France as well as Professor Montorsi and his team,” Basso said.

“Professor Montorsi has allowed me to travel by plane and I look forward to meeting the rest of the Tinkoff-Saxo squad in Paris to celebrate the end of the Tour de France."

Fuglsang signs contract extension with Astana

Jakob Fuglsang has agreed to a two-year contract extension that will see him racing for Astana through to the end of the 2017 season.

The 30-year-old Dane is currently in his third year with the Kazakh squad after spells at Saxo Bank and what is now the Trek Factory Racing team.

"I'm very happy with my position here at Astana Pro Team and I'm looking forward to racing into the future with this squad," he said in a statement from the team. "The role I play is important for me and important for the team, and to have the assurance that I can continue for two more years at Astana is a very good situation for all of us."

Fuglsang was caught up in a leadership debate surrounding defending Tour champion Vincenzo Nibali, who has been far from his best so far in this year's race. Astana general manager Alexandr Vinokourov was outspoken in his criticism of Nibali in the Pyrenees – saying he needed a mechanic for his head – and stated that Fuglsang would be the new leader of the team. That failed to materialse as Fuglsang fell away on the Col du Tourmalet but Vinokourov looks set to place more faith in him in the future.

"We are very happy with Jakob's professional characteristics and his performances at Nibali's side last year at the Tour de France, this year now, and in to the future give us great pleasure to have him in the team,” he said.

"Fuglsang has opportunities to win a stage here in France this year, and we know that his victories are coming.”

Video: cold baths key to Etixx-QuickStep's Tour de France success

The benefits of an ice bath to sportsmen and women are no secret, but Etixx-QuickStep have offered a behind-the-scenes look at how they use them to get the best out of their riders. The cold-water plunges are a daily occurrence for riders on the Belgian team during the Tour de France and you can hardly argue with how they've performed so far, with three stage wins and a spell in the yellow jersey.

The temperature specific pool is located in the team camper but team doctor Helge Riepenhof is reluctant to use the popular denomination of ice bath since it is normally set to 10-12 degrees celsius. 

"It's a perfect way to cool down after the race," says Riepenhof. "The cold bath serves four major functions. The first is to cool down your body temperature, immersed in a cold and nice environment. The second effect is actually sitting in the water, which produces some hydrostatic pressure on the legs. Hydrostatic pressure on the legs means the vessels get a kind of compression, and this compression improves the venous flow to your heart, which improves recovery.

"The third function is that it's simply nice. It's a great feeling. It's a mental boost to get out of the heat and return to the cold. The fourth function is that the bath is a natural way to reduce inflammation. You don't want to completely kill the inflammation, as inflammation has a purpose in the process of repairing muscle tissue. The cold bath reduces it to where it is in a perfect state for the body to recover and heal."

Most mentions of ice baths induce squirms of discomfort but the Etixx riders all seem to enjoy it, Zdenek Stybar claiming that a pre-bedtime plunge is an ideal way of ensuring a good night's kip. 

"It's really nice after long and hot stages to recover in the cold bath," said Mark Cavendish. "You feel better immediately. You cool down and your body recovers faster, where you can be ready for the next stages. The cold bath has made a huge difference at Le Tour, where's it's been so hot the past few days."

Sánchez signs for another year at BMC

Samuel Sánchez today signed a contract extension with BMC that will keep him at the American team until the end of 2016.

The 37-year-old spent the majority of his career with Euskaltel-Euskadi and joined BMC in 2014 when the Basque squad was forced to fold. There was uncertainty, though, when he failed to come to an agreement with BMC at the end of 2014 and he only ended up signing for 2015 in the new year. 

He is still to record a victory in red and black but is currently 14th overall at the Tour de France, where he is playing a key support role for podium hopeful Tejay van Garderen.

"I think that everybody has seen what a good job Samuel has done at this Tour de France," said BMC president Jim Ochowicz on the second rest day of the Tour. "So we made a decision that we are going to extend his contract for a lot of good reasons: his mentorship, his leadership in the team and his senior position in the peloton. All three of those things add up to an overwhelming decision to keep him on board for 2016."

Sánchez is an experienced rider who was Olympic road race champion in 2008 and, according to the rewritten record books, runner up at the 2010 Tour de France. Despite his long-term affiliation with Euskaltel-Euskadi, he couldn’t be happier to be at BMC, and to be there for another year.

"I am very happy about next year and pleased with this decision," he said. "The BMC Racing Team is the best team in the world, with good teammates, good management and good staff. All of them are good people and good professionals.

"The last four stages are important and I think Tejay is in a good position," Sánchez said. "And with the team already having three victories – Rohan Dennis in the time trial, the team time trial and Greg Van Avermaet's win – it is fantastic." 

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