Froome to decide on Vuelta participation after the Tour
"We will not make a decision until the end of the Tour, but it is a possibility that we are evaluating," Team Sky Team Principal Dave Brailsford told Velonews. Froome has shown to be virtually unbeatable thus far at the Tour, despite the various attempts by the other GC contenders. The team surrounding him has proven they are strong and able to protect the yellow jersey through until Paris on Sunday. After the rest day Monday, riders start the first of three stages in the Alps and the final chances to gain time on the British rider.
Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) entered the Tour with similar ambitions after winning the Giro d'italia this May. The Spaniard has shown fatigue however, with few attacks and missing the explosive riding expected from him in the Grand Tours.
"Alberto has worked hard to win the two Grand Tours, but he looks tired after the Giro," Brailsford said. "It's possible that Froome could do Vuelta or Giro-Tour-Vuelta, but the goal is always the Tour."
Lefevere set for contract talks with Cavendish's agent in Paris
The Manxman has 12 wins to his name this season and is not short of suitors, but Etixx-QuickStep boss Patrick Lefevere was unwilling to finalise a new contract for Cavendish before the Tour de France.
“You have Mark who wins a lot of races but the Tour de France gives more than 60 per cent of a rider’s publicity and value. So if he can win at the Tour then it’s a totally different discussion,” Lefevre told Cyclingnews in June.
Cavendish has indeed won at this Tour de France, sprinting to victory on stage 7 to Fougères, and he will be eyeing up a second success on the Champs Elysées on Sunday. That is where Lefevere will hold contract discussions with Cavendish’s agent, Simon Bayliff, whose negotiating power will now have increased.
"On Sunday at around 11 am, I had a conversation for the first time in this Tour with Simon Bayliff,” Lefevere told Het Niuewsblad. “I got him by chance but we have not yet spoken properly. Or rather, he has not yet gotten hold of me for a private talk. But Paris seems to me an ideal place for a good conversation."
Meintjes abandons the Tour with severe gastroenteritis
The South African came down with severe stomach pain on Wednesday morning and struggled through an aggressive first day in the Alps, finishing in last place, seven minutes behind the gruppetto and just inside the time cut.
He was taken to hospital and, after spending the night there, was diagnosed with gastroenteritis and will be kept in for another night for further observation.
By the time he got the finish line he was in severe pain and quite dehydrated as well,” said the team’s doctor Dr Jarrad van Zuydam in a statement. “He was taken in the ambulance straight to hospital where he was resuscitated on intravenous fluids and given some medication. After some investigations, we found he has quite a severe case of gastroenteritis. We don't know the exact cause of how he picked up the bacteria but he is doing much better already.”
Meintjes was riding his first Tour de France but there were high hopes for the promising 23-year-old, who has caught the eye this year, notably in the mountains at the Critérium du Dauphiné in June. With the Tour’s mountainous conclusions featuring four stages in the Alps, it has been the worst possible time for him to fall ill.
“It is really sad that Louis won’t start today. It is Louis’ first Tour de France too and it is a race he really wanted to do well in, especially these stages coming up that he had looked at previously in training during his preparation for the Tour de France,” said team principal Doug Ryder.
"I am certain that Louis will be back at the Tour de France in the future, going for the overall victory and we will absolutely support that in the future but for now his health is the first priority."
With his doping ban set to end in August, Alessandro Ballan could return to the professional peloton and one possible destination could be the UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling team, a UCI ProContinental set-up based in the United States but with a dual US-European race programme.
Ballan, 35, was banned for two years for his part in the Mantova doping investigation in 2014 and was fired by BMC Racing. His ban, however, was reduced to 18 months, paving the way for a 2015 mid-season comeback and UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling team manager Mike Tamayo has confirmed to Cyclingnews that talks have taken place.