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Tour de France shorts: on the lookout for Riis and Contador

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Janez Brajkovic (Astana)

Janez Brajkovic (Astana) (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Bjarne Riis has attracted a new sponsor to his squad.

Bjarne Riis has attracted a new sponsor to his squad. (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Alberto Contador (Saxo-Tinkoff) at the presentation

Alberto Contador (Saxo-Tinkoff) at the presentation (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Geert Steegmans (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) before stage two of the Tour of Turkey.

Geert Steegmans (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) before stage two of the Tour of Turkey. (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-Quickstep) on his way to the win in the Dauphine TT

Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-Quickstep) on his way to the win in the Dauphine TT (Image credit: Bettini Photo)

Brajkovic picks Froome

Janez Brajkovic tipped Chris Froome as the outright favourite for this year’s Tour de France.

"I would like to say Jakob [Fuglsang] but it’s pretty obvious that Froome is flying. If everything goes okay for him they he should win it. You know how the Tour is, it’s three weeks and anything can happen but on paper Froome is the favourite," Brajkovic told Cyclingnews.

"I think that Contador will be there but personally I think Froome is better in time trialing. If I had to bet then I’d bet on Froome."

Where's Riis?

Alberto Contador held his pre-race press conference in Porto Vecchio on Thursday morning but somewhat surprisingly there was no sign of his team manager and mentor Bjarne Riis.

The Saxo-Tinkoff team was tight-lipped about the reasons for his absence, only saying he will soon be at the Tour. The Dane is apparently holed in Tuscany on holiday, with speculation rife that he's avoided the Grand Depart in Corsica to avoid facing the media and a barrage of questions about recent revelations about doping in the nineties, Jan Ulrich's confession and Laurent Jalabert's past and the whole Lance Armstrong affair.

Riis, nicknamed Mr. 60% for his alleged sky-high blood haematocrit while racing, confessed to his own doping in 2007 and offered to give back his 1996 Tour de France winner's yellow jersey. However he has yet to confess his sins as a team manager and explain what went on when Jalabert, Tyler Hamilton, Ivan Basso and a long series of other riders rode for his teams.

Contador gets lost in training

According to today's L'Equipe newspaper, Alberto Contador got lost during his first training ride in Corsica, leaving the team in panic.

The Spaniard apparently got lost in the hills above Porto Vecchio and the team was unable to find him or contact him for a while. The team gave him a two-way radio to ensure he did not get lost again.

Less than ideal start for Steegmans

The 100th Tour de France, the rider's fifth, got off to a rough start for Omega Pharma-Quick-Step's Gert Steegmans. The Belgian had a few nervous hours on Thursday with his luggage delayed back at Nice airport while he made the trip to Corsica. 

"Very annoying" he told Het Nieuwsblad while retaining his sense of humour. "If I do not get my clothes on time, I can immediately return home."

Luckily, shortly before the start of the Teams Presentation, Steegmans' luggage made it to Corsica, with the 32-year-old happily posting a photo of his bag to his twitter feed

Tony Martin's flying adventures

Tony Martin's flight from Paris on his way to Corsica started out with strained nerves but ended with a pleasant surprise. His flight from Paris was delayed for over an hour due to technical problems, and the Omega Pharma-QuickStep rider was sure he would miss his connection at Marseilles.

The flight finally took off, and as the landing neared, a steward told him to move to the front so that he could deplane quicker. The world time trial champion was not sure what to do, as there were no seats free.

Then to his surprise, the cockpit door was opened and he was given a seat behind the pilot, allowing him  to witness the landing up close. And yes, he did catch the connecting flight.

2014 team time trial to end in Ypres?

The 2014 Tour de France “will in all probability” hold a team time trial from Mons-en-Baroeul, in northern France, to Ypres, Belgium. The Belgian newspaper Het Nieuwsblad reports that the stage will finish “amidst the battlefields and cemeteries of the first World War.”

The time trial would be roughly 40 km, significantly longer than this year's 25km TTT.



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