Tour de France shorts: Boom's cortisol level back to normal

Mollema narrowly misses crash in Le Havre, rider transfer news, GoPro success costly for Bramati

Boom's cortisol values back to normal

The Astana team announced  that Lars Boom's cortisol values are back to normal, and confirmed that he is healthy for racing. On the eve of the Grand Départ in Utrecht, Boom turned out to have lower cortisol values, which could indicate a health problem. As part of the MPCC, Astana should have stopped the rider from racing for a minimum of eight days, according to the movement's rules. Astana believed Boom had lower cortisol values due to the use of an asthma inhaler. Boom couldn’t be replaced because the test results came back after the event's managers' meeting, and in the end Astana decided to keep him in the race. The MPCC has temporarily suspended Astana from the movement for allowing Boom to start.

Lars Boom in action during stage 1.

Mollema narrowly misses crash in Le Havre

Bauke Mollema (Trek Factory Racing) was riding near the front of the race in stage 6 of the Tour de France when race leader Tony Martin (Etixx-QuickStep) crashed, breaking his collarbone. The Dutch rider rode in shortly behind Martin and the other riders who went down with him, including Vincenzo Nibali (Astana), Warren Barguil (Giant-Alpecin) and Nairo Quintana (Movistar).

"I didn't crash but I had to go in the brakes. It would’ve been a nice sprint. I had something left in my legs,” Mollema said.

Feeling good about his form, Mollema regrets the missed opportunity to get a stage result as he was in a good position. “We knew it was a tricky descent with a lot of turns so I wanted to be up front when hitting the climb. Then we would see what was possible."

What matters most is the general classification, and due to the crash he was concerned about whether he would finish with the same time as the main group, two seconds behind stage winner Zdeněk Štybar (Etixx-QuickStep). “I’m assuming the 3km rule applies. We were wondering when rolling in because it was a somewhat uphill finish.”

Those speculations were quickly confirmed, keeping Mollema in a good position in the GC. He is currently sitting in 12th place, 1:44 behind overnight race leader Tony Martin.

Martin, however, has pulled out of the race due to a broken collarbone.

Bauke Mollema (Trek Factory Racing)

Rider transfer news: Fuglsang, Debusschere and Cavendish 

Jakob Fuglsang, the lieutenant for Astana’s Vincenzo Nibali, is close to extending his stay at the Kazakh outfit. Fuglsang told Cyclingnews that his manager is negotiating a new deal with the Astana team. Etixx-QuickStep team manager Patrick Lefevere showed interest in Fuglsang but seemed to know he was no longer available, “if he didn’t sign it already.”

Etixx-QuickStep has yet to sign a deal with Mark Cavendish and Rigoberto Urán. Lefevere said he was awaiting their situation before making moves on the transfer market himself. “There’s a list of maybe 50 riders. It depends what Mark Cavendish does, what Rigoberto Urán does. Most agreements are closed around the second rest day. I’m quite patient. I already have 20 riders. I didn’t sign any new riders from another team. We are talking but if the market doesn’t move very much it wouldn’t be very intelligent to do the first step,” Lefevere said.

He added that he highly values Cavendish. “We value his past as former world champion, winner of so many Tour de France stages and so on. I don’t think Mark is less strong or less fast, I think the others are in a better shape. If Greipel wins this year it’s with a big difference,” Lefevere said.

Belgian sprinter Jens Debusschere is negotiating an extended stay at the Lotto-Soudal team. “Things are going in the right direction,” Debusschere told Cyclingnews.

Mark Cavendish (Etixx-Quickstep)

GoPro success costly for Bramati, UCI responds to stage 3 critics

The GoPro cameras have been offering up a lot of spectacular footage so far, especially when it comes to insights on the brutal high-speed crash during stage 3. The cameras also captured Etixx-QuickStep director Davide Bramati in his team car after his rider Tony Martin won stage 4. The team uploaded the video with an ecstatic Bramati shouting “Si, si, si... moat!” and it attracted many viewers. The video was also viewed by the race organizers, who noticed that Bramati wasn’t wearing his seatbelt, and they suspended him for one day from the team car.

Guy Dobbelaere, president of the UCI jury, told Cyclingnews on the morning of stage 5 that the police officers had checked several videos. “Bramati wasn’t wearing his seatbelt, and Wilfried Peeters was watching a tablet, which he held in one hand while driving the car. The colonel of the police was taking this really serious,” Dobbelaere said.

The Etixx-QuickStep team removed the video, and Bramati apologized on Twitter. Bramati wrote that he made a mistake in the heat of the moment, having learned his lesson and promising it wouldn’t happen again. For now, Christian Prudhomme hasn't been fined for standing up in the sunroof of a driving vehicle.

Dobbelaere also responded to statements Patrick Lefevere made against him after the stage 3 neutralisation. Lefevere wrote on Twitter that Dobbelaere should go home. The team manager believed that the UCI commissaires weren't leading the race, but rather the ASO race organization was. Two days later, Dobbelaere smiled when asked about it. “I’m still here. It was only Lefevere who complained. Some director sportifs came to me to apologize. Even Marc Madiot came over to say it was a good decision, which doesn’t happen very often,” Dobbelaere told Cyclingnews.

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