Tour de France news shorts

Contador makes a wish come true

Despite all the pressure on his shoulders before starting Sunday's team time trial, Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank-SunGard) took the time to make a wish come through for 10-year-old Nico Verdoodt.

The Belgian child was diagnosed with Aplastic anemia, a condition related to leukemia. It was Verdoodt's wish to do an interview with Contador. Nico's godfather at the make-a-wish foundation is Paul Herijgers, and the former cyclo-cross world champion had the connections to make it happen.

On Sunday Verdoodt waited for Contador with the microphone of Belgian TV-channel Sporza in his hands until Contador walked up to him during his warm-up session.

"Can you win the Tour de France?" Nico asked in perfect English.

Contador took his time to reply and said the crash on the first race day wouldn't help him. "I can only do my best," Contador said.

Members of the press watched jealously as Verdoodt beamed with joy upon talking to his hero.

Verdoodt's own history comes with an interesting twist. "When Nico was born, we donated stem cells from the umbilical cord to help people in need. Last year we thought about that when Nico was ill and after a long search, it turned out that his own cells still exist. We have been able to use those, and Nico's situation has improved a lot since then. We're winning this fight," said Nico's proud father.

Ventoso extends with Movistar

There's a lot more going on at the Tour de France than just racing, as it is also the time for agents to do their things with teams and riders and the future. One of the first to sign on the dotted line was Fran Ventoso, who decided to stay with Movistar for another two years.

There's no question as to why the team wanted to hold on to him: the Spanish sprinter leads the team with five wins this season. He won stages at the Tour Down Under, Andalusia and Castilla y Leon, before topping things off with his victory in the sixth stage of the Giro d'Italia, beating none other than Alessandro Petacchi of Lampre-ISD.

The 29-year-old is now set to stay with the team through the 2013 season.

Sharing rooms with other riders can be perilous, with personal habits and belongings spilling over into an often too-small a space in between stages after long days on the road.

Roommates Sylvain Chavanel and Jerome Pineau (Quick Step) have been travelling together for years and the results are there for all to see on a video posted on Het Nieuwsblad’s website. While Pineau is very complimentary towards his teammate, "Chavanel is the leading French rider at the moment," he says, the new national champion is even more enamoured.

"I want to marry him," jokes Chavanel.

There are downsides to the arrangement though with Chavanel complaining Pineau "snores all night and is a real slob."

Did Bernie psych himself out?

Bernhard Eisel issued a public apology to his HTC-Highroad teammates after he crashed during Sunday’s team time trial, a day which the Austrian road captain described as "the worst day" of his career.

"The boys did a great ride!" he said on his facebook page. "They didn't expect too much from me today, I just had to stay upright and help them a lil, but I crashed in the first real corner and nearly tooked [sic] out 3 teammates. The team lost because of me today and I didn't hear any bad word from them. Thanks boys, but I know that I fu.... it up! No excuses, it was my fault!"

The statement was all the more pertinent after Australian broadcaster SBS showed footage of the HTC-Highroad team having what could almost be described as a heated argument, over what to do if Eisel were to crash as he was suggesting. Mark Cavendish and Matt Goss differed in their opinion over whether to attempt to hold Eisel up, with Mark Renshaw asserting it was best just not to crash in the first place.

Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) may have lost the yellow jersey to Thor Hushovd following Garmin-Cervelo's stage 2 team time trial win, but it doesn't mean he's going without when it comes to jersey presentations.

Obviously unable to wear both the green and polka dot jersey at the same time, BMC's Cadel Evans will reap the benefits, and don the red and white kit, despite only one point being awarded in the classification. Evans was wearing green for the team time trial, while Hushovd was wearing the KOM jersey.

Thankfully, Geraint Thomas maintains the status quo and wears the white jersey for the second day running.

Editorial assistance provided by Jean Francois Quenet, Susan Westemeyer, Sue George and Jane Aubrey.

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