News Shorts: Contador says he could have died in Tour crash

In an interview with the BBC, 2014 Vuelta a España winner Alberto Contador said he could have died in the crash that knocked him out of the Tour de France with a fractured tibia.

"When I think I was going 77kph at the time and I only broke my tibia, well, on balance, that's good," he said. "Maybe I lost the Tour, but I didn't lose my life."

Speaking to the BBC at Tinkoff-Saxo's training camp in Gran Canaria, Contador said he crashed because he relaxed on the descent and reached into his back pocket for something to eat.

"That's when I hit something in the road, my bike jumped and I lost control," he said.

Contador also told the BBC that he did not believe the two-and-a-half-minute advantage eventual winner Vincenzo Nibali had over him at the time would have been impossible to overcome.

"I knew my condition - how I had worked harder before the Tour than I had ever worked in my career - and I knew the Tour is very long," Contador said. "When I finished on the cobblestones and analysed it, I was positive 2:30 was fine. I can't say that I would have won, but I know I would have challenged. In my opinion, the favourite was [Team Sky's Chris] Froome, and if we had stayed in the race we would have had a great battle in the mountains."

That battle will likely take place in 2015, when Nibali will return to the Tour to defend his title against Contador, Froome and 2014 Giro d'Italia winner Nairo Quintana, who finished second at the 2013 Tour but skipped the race this year. Contador is looking forward to the showdown in July, and he singled out Froome as the favourite among the likely contenders.

"It's crucial for the sport that the strongest riders race against each other in the best races," Contador told the BBC. "I think the Tour lost a little when Froome and me crashed. Some people have said [next year's route] isn't for Froome because there's no long time trial and it's more for the climbers. But Froome isn't a climber? Of course he is a climber. He was the best climber in 2013 and I still think he's the favourite for next year."

Démare hopes to improve in 2015

French national champion Arnaud Démare will be the number one sprinter at FDJ in 2015 after the departure of Nacer Bouhanni to Cofidis. The 23-year-old won 15 races in 2014 but only one of those was at WorldTour level.

 "I hope that in 2015 I will continue my progress," Démare told L'Equipe. "I was second in Gent-Wevelgem, 12th in Paris-Roubaix, and I really felt I could still go up a level in the Classics. I won a lot of races but not the great and beautiful that I dream of. I do not know if it will be next season but the desire is there! I know I still have to learn, but I am fortunate to have a team that supports me perfectly.

"Winning the Tour de Picardie, the Four Days of Dunkirk and Eurometropole, I also proved that I know how to win stage races. In 2015, I will focus more on my goals and focus on the best races. I will seek to gain in quality and not necessarily quantity."

"It was quite frankly, the best reward of the season," he said of the national title. "I want to return to the Tour after the bad experience i had this year. I probably arrived a little too euphoric about it after my French title. I only managed a couple of third-place finishes. In fact, I suffered for three weeks. I lacked a clear head and experience."

Renshaw and Meersman lead Etixx-QuickStep at the Tour Down Under

The Etixx-QuickStep team has named its squad for the Tour Down Under, with Gianni Meersman and Mark Renshaw leading the Belgian team for the numerous expected sprint finishes.

Also in the six-rider squad are Maxime Bouet, David De La Cruz, Yves Lampaert, Pieter Serry and Martin Velits.

Etixx-QuickStep will also ride the Tour de San Luis in January, with Mark Cavendish and Tom Boonen expected to lead the team in the short Argentinean stage race.

"It's the first UCI WorldTour race of the year. It's always important to be inspired for good racing as soon as the first stage begins, directeur sportif Rik Van Slycke said in a team statement.

“The team will be extra motivated because our sponsor, Etixx Sports Nutrition, is launching their product in Australia. We have a good team for any situation — guys like Gianni Meersman and Mark Renshaw for example. Mark is also Australian, which brings a little extra motivation that can play a role in the sprints. He even won the Down Under Classic in 2007, and won the first stage of Tour Down Under in 2008.”

The Tour Down Under begins on January 20th, two days after the 51km People's Choice Classic on January 18th.

Colombia-Coldeportes fly the flag in 2015

The Colombia-Coldeportes team has tweaked the design of its jersey for 2015, adding the yellow and red of the Colombia national flag to the black jersey. The riders are nick-named the Escarabajos -Beatles - hence the prevelance of black on their clothing. Despite reports of late salary payments, the team was awarded a Professional Continental licence by the UCI and will make its season debut at the Tour de San Luis.

“When we chose black as main colour, in 2012, we were one of the very first to do so, if not the first, but now black has become the dominating color in the peloton: it was time for a different touch,” team manager Claudio Corti said in a statement revealing the new jersey.

Colombia-Coldeportes will have a roster of 18 riders in 2015: Edwin Avila, Alex Cano, Camilo Castiblanco, Edward Diaz, Fabio Duarte, Leonardo Duque, Daniel Martinez, Sebastian Molano, Darwin Pantoja, Jonathan Paredes, Walter Pedraza, Carlos Julian Quintero, Carlos Mario Ramirez, Brayan Ramirez, Miguel Angel Rubiano, Cayetano Sarmiento, Rodolfo Torres and Juan Pablo Valencia.



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