Rest day, test day
The "vampires" were busy on Monday's rest day, gathering blood and urine samples from numerous teams. Some reports even suggested that all the teams were visited.
The UCI actually had to call in extra doping control teams to carry out the mass actions. Astana, IAM, Orica-GreenEdge, Omega Pharma-QuickStep and Lotto Belisol were amongst those receiving visits.
Lotto Belisol team doctor Jan Mathieu confirmed to the Belga news agency that all the riders also had to give a blood sample.
"It is not often that everyone is checked," he said.
The new generation of French riders
Thibaut Pinot and Romain Bardet have understandably dominated headlines in France over the past week, but the rise of their young generation of French professionals has met with different reactions from two of the elder statesmen of the peloton.
Jerome Pineau (IAM Cycling) touched on a range of subjects in a lengthy interview with L'Équipe on Tuesday, from his popularity – "I know that in the peloton, and especially among the young riders, some would like to give me a good slap" – to the fact that he is the only active rider to have passed the UCI exam for rider agents. On the topic of France's new wave of young talent, however, Pineau was somewhat frosty.
"Maybe I'm not going to make myself look good but they rather take themselves for messiahs," Pineau said. "That's not their fault, but nobody has taught them that a cycling career isn't linear. One day you’re up and the next you’re down, without knowing why."
For his part, Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) had praise for at least two of the 1990s generation, saying that he sees no reason why Pinot and Bardet can’t remain in contention for a podium place right to the end. "I think they can hold on. These are guys with their heads screwed on right," Voeckler told Aujourd'hui. "They're young but they already have more than one Tour in their legs. Above all, they know how to ride. They race all year around and not just in July. I'm not worried for them."
Nibali provides shore leave for Astana staff
With three stage wins already to his name at this Tour de France, Vincenzo Nibali may be in the mood to start handing out gifts as the race enters the Pyrenees. According to TuttoBici, Nibali got into the spirit of things during the rest day, by handing his credit card to trainer Paolo Slongo and asking him to take Astana's soigneurs and mechanics out to dinner as a thank you for their efforts to date.
Nibali has also spoken on the phone with 1965 Tour winner Felice Gimondi in recent days. Gimondi is Italy's only living Tour champion and he is hoping he will be able to welcome Nibali to the club on Sunday evening. He made contact with the yellow jersey through his fellow Bergamo native, Alessandro Vanotti, Nibali's bodyguard in the peloton.
Greipel not a mountain man
Andre Greipel (Lotto Belisol) has come well over the mountains so far in this Tour de France, but he is not about to make the transition from sprinter to mountain goat, and therefore does not plan to ride the world championships in Ponferrada this year.
"I don't know how many start places Germany has now, but after what I have heard of the course, I don't think it is anything for me. So I will gladly leave my place free for another rider," he told radsport-news.com.
However, "if I am needed, I will of course be ready to ride."
Tony Martin staying true to his team
Re-upping with Omega Pharma-QuickStep "was not a difficult decision," world time trial champion Tony Martin. It was announced on Monday's rest day that the German would stay with the team through 2016.
While his biggest goal is the 2016 Olympic games, he will continue to focus on time trials and overall titles in smaller stage races. "Even though I came well over the Roubaix cobblestones during the Tour, I will not move over to the Classics. Nor will I cast an eye on the GC of the three-week races, just because I have done so well at this Tour," he said on his website.
And after the Olympics? He said only, tantalizingly, "After 2016 I will think about a possible change of direction."
Jurgen Van den Broeck finally has the reason for his poor performance at the Tour de France. Tests show that he has a bacteria in his blood, and the Lotto Belisol rider has been on antibiotics since the weekend.
Team doctor Jan Mathieu told Het Nieuwsblad that the Belgian's blood showed spores of the mycoplasma bacterium.
"Already on Saturday night we started a course of antibiotics as a precaution. Jurgen's girlfriend also has such a bacterial infection of the lungs. Fortunately, we caught it relatively early."
Langeveld on the way out?
Sebastian Langeveld has joined the list of those suffering from respiratory infections, and doubts he will stay much longer in the Tour de France.
"I'm going to at least start Tuesday, but if you do not see me at the finish, I will have abandoned," the Garmin-Sharp rider told nusport.nl. He finished last and next to last on the two most recent stages.
"I am now on antibiotics. If this does not improve soon, it makes no sense to continue," he said.