Tour shorts: Specialized, Pinarello and Sky, Acquarone makes his picks

Specialized dogmatic over Pinarello's Allez with Sky

Pinarello and Sky announced their extended contract last week put an end to speculation linking the British team with Specialized. However at the start of stage 1 of the Tour Specialized confirmed that talks between the two parties had taken place but that they also 'talk to other teams.'

"We look at all the team and balance our needs on where we want to put our efforts. All I can say is that we talked to everyone and that we have close ties with riders on that team and management on that team and we like to keep our options open," a Specialized spokesperson told Cyclingnews.

"They had a deal with Pinarello and they chose to keep going with that deal."

Asked how far talks between Sky and Specialized advanced, the spokesperson added: "I'm not close enough to make a comment on that but Cav and Bernie we really love and there are riders we have relationships with. There were talks but we talk to a lot of teams. We have our hands full and we're completely happy with the teams that we have." DB

Acquarone's Tour picks

Each stage depart is littered with the great and good of cycling, whether it's former stage professionals, local celebrities or team VIPs. This morning Giro boss Michele Acquarone was in Liege for the start of stage 1.

"Everything is incredible and ASO are doing such good work, and I'm so impressed. I've learnt so much but it would take me five hours to explain everything. I've written so many things down but it's been good for networking here. Chapeau!" he told Cyclingews.

The conversation quickly turned to racing and as well as sharing his hopes that a number of top level riders would take part in next year's Giro [Evans and Contador among them] he picked his Tour de France favourites.

"I have two favourites here. The first is Ryder Hesjedal. He's our maglia rosa, our champion and I hope he performs here. The other is Vincenzo [Nibali]. Of course Scarponi and Basso are friends and friends and I think they can do well as well Here I can be a fan but at the Giro I'm of course impartial." DB

Rolland not disappointed

After finishing 45 seconds down on winner Fabian Cancellara, last year’s best young rider and this year’s big French hope Pierre Rolland (Europcar) said he wasn’t disappointed with his prologue performance. “When I saw the course this morning I knew it would be one that would suit the rouleurs and that I was likely to lose quite a lot of time.” PC

Monfort a local here in Liege

Two of the biggest cheers of the day came when local hero Maxime Monfort started and finished his prologue ride. “It was so special. Not many riders get to experience the Tour de France starting in their home town and having that huge cheer at the start was amazing,” said the RadioShack-Nissan rider. “My hands were shaking so much on the start ramp, which wasn’t the best way to start a Tour prologue.” PC

Porte happy to get Tour started 

Sky’s Richie Porte was one of many riders who confessed that more than anything they were happy that the Tour was under way. “Tomorrow the real race starts and the real sacrifice starts. This race is a real drain on you mentally. There’s a lot of stress, especially during the first 7-10 days. The positive side is that this is the best shape that I’ve ever been in. I wasn’t told to hold back at all today, just to get the prologue over as quickly as I could.” PC

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