Rolling coverage from Dusseldorf of the build-up to the Tour de France, with the opening stage just one day away.
Hello there, and welcome back to Cyclingnews' live coverage of the build-up to the Tour de France.
We're almost there. With just 24 hours to wait, it's another day in Dusseldorf packed full of press conferences and final preparations. We'll bring you all the latest as the day unfolds.
The first of the day's press conferences - AG2R La Mondiale is done and dusted and out of the way (our Barry Ryan was there and will have a story soon). There are plenty of security and DS meetings, but here's what's to come in terms of press conferences (all times CET).
13.15: Movistar Team
16h: Dimension Data
Before we go anywhere, here is the final feature in our 2017 Tour de France countdown.
Movistar have been out for their final pre-Tour training ride, and they're up in front of the press in conference room 14 any minute.
This was the scene at the AG2R presser a little earlier. It was announced that Romain Bardet, Oliver Naesen and Pierre Latour have all signed new contracts keeping them at the French squad until the end of 2020.
A little late, but Movistar are in the building.
It's just Nairo Quintana for Movistar, flanked by team manager Eusebio Unzué.
Quintana: Froome the number one rival
Quintana is asked who he sees as his biggest rival, with question marks hanging over Chris Froome, who hasn't won all season.
"I am convinced that Froome will have improved since the Dauphiné," he says. "For me, he's the number one rival."
Quintana comes into this race with a Giro d'Italia in the legs. He finished second in Italy but maintains it is part of a plan to hit the Tour in peak form as he usually feels better in the second Grand Tour of a season.
"I've recovered well from the Giro. I finished the race in good shape and I'm here with good legs and good feelings, ready to shine in the mountains," he says.
"My preparation has been different this year, but until the Tour's over I can't say if we've put a foot wrong or not."
Quintana is asked about the parcours and says he'd have preferred more summit finishes (there are three on this Tour).
"It's going to be a very tactical Tour with lots of movement. I'm going to have to be adventurous."
Esteban Chaves podcast special
Ahead of the Tour we have a special feature podcast on Esteban Chaves. The Colombian is making his Tour de France debut but the road here has been anything but smooth. Daniel Benson sat down with Chaves and Orica DS Matt White to get the inside line.
Astana's press conference is just beginning
Astana are using the occasion to launch a new Argon 18 bike. It's an updated version of the Gallium.
Jakob Fuglsang has signed a new two-year contract at Astana
The Dane had been weighing up other options but has chosen to remain with the Kazakh team.
Fabio Aru says he spoke with former teammate Vincenzo Nibali about the design of his national champion's jersey. To remind you, Nibali's (2014) was awful, Aru's is class.
He also talks about his disrupted season, which saw him have to skip the 100th Giro. He says the injury troubles are behind him and he's in great shape to get a good result at this Tour.
Trek-Segafredo's press conference with Alberto Contador is about to get underway. We have Sadhbh O'Shea over there.
Astana general manager Alexander Vinokourov is asked that classic question - who is your team leader?
"We are lucky to have two guys in a strong position. We'll try to use it to our advantage, and if decisions need to be taken it will be sorted out on the road," says Vinokourov, predictably.
Contador is here
Contador says he is in better form than he was this time last year.
Contador is asked about Andre Cardoso, his teammate who tested positive for EPO on Tuesday.
"It was a surprise for me. I couldn't imagine that something like this would happen in this team. That is all that I can say. It is clear we have zero tolerance in this team."
Meanwhile, back at Astana, Fuglsang has extended but not Aru - not yet, anyway. Vinokourov explains that they want him to say but talks will have to take place after the Tour.
Astana's press conference has concluded. Barry Ryan will have the key stories from there.
Going back to the Cardoso positive, we spoke to Trek-Segafredo teammate Koen de Kort, who didn't hold back. Here's the story:
Trek manager Luca Guercilena is asked about Contador's contract situation. Technically, it runs out at the end of this year, but there's an option for another year, and the Italian repeats that they're still in talks over 2018.
All indications are that Contador will continue, and there is talk that the 2018 Giro could be his final big objective.
More contract gossip comes from Alexander Kristoff, who spoke to Cyclingnews editor Daniel Benson yesterday.
He explained his future should be decided during the Tour, with Astana still an option, as well as staying at Katusha. Racing-wise, he says he'll need good luck - not just good legs - to bag a stage win. Here's the full story:
Dimension Data's press conference is coming up in half an hour. Mark Cavendish will be the star attraction and we'll have a story on him later, but the Manxman has already given an interview with British newspaper the Times, in which he spoke about his battle with glandular fever and about beating Eddy Merckx's record of 34 Tour de France stage wins.
Bahrain-Merida have just got back from their final training ride.
The bib numbers are in, so here it is: the full and final list of riders for the 2017 Tour de France.
While the riders get the attention of the media, their team mechanics are working overtime to get all the details just perfect for the first stage tomorrow. BikeRadar's Ben Delaney took a stroll through the 'pits' to see what new gear and clever tricks they've got going on - you can see all 45 photos of what he found here.
Astana has announced that it has extended the contract of Jakob Fuglsang with the team through the end of the 2019 season.
"Of course, I am happy to extend the contract with Astana Team. I’ve spent already five years here and it has been some really good years. I had the possibility to develop with Astana and hope to continue to do it in the future. After five years I feel here like in a family. I feel really good in the team, so in the end it was not difficult at all to decide to remain here for a few seasons more," Fuglsang said.
Orica-Scott's Simon Yates is one of the outsiders for the Tour de France GC, sharing that responsibility with Colombian Esteban Chaves in the team. He is hoping for an aggressive Tour on a course that he sees as more suited to his style than most.
@SimoClarke Fri, 30th Jun 2017 11:51:36
Alasdair Fotheringham has just filed his story from the Movistar press conference. Quintana has attracted frustration for a perceived lack of aggression in the past, but here's an indication that things could be different this time.
Here is the new Argon 18 Gallium Pro unveiled at Astana's presser earlier. We'll have a full write-up on it soon.
The Cofidis press conference has just got underway
Nacer Bouhanni underlines his ambition to win a stage at this Tour de France.
That's what Cofidis signed him for on big money after his 2014 season. But circumstances have conspired against him, as he crashed ahead of the Tour in 2015 and then crashed out of the race itself, while last year his downfall was entirely of his own making as he got into a hotel brawl at nationals and broke his hand, meaning he couldn't go to the Tour.
This year June has been comparatively uneventful, but he has been recovering from a serious head injury at the Tour de Yorkshire. He says his form has come on well and he's confident he can compete with the best.
The Tour de France is always a popular time to launch a new bike. Argon 18 have done so today, while Trek have new Emondas, Giant have a new Propel, and Specialized are going to officially drop the new Tarmac (first revealed by CN's Josh Evans) in the next couple of hours.
I said Barry Ryan would deliver a story from the AG2R press conference and I wasn't lying. Here's his story on Romain Bardet, something of a sensation after his second place last year and seemingly well suited to this year's parcours (some have said it was designed specifically with him in mind).
This gallery is proving popular today. The Tour hasn't begun for the riders but it certainly has for the mechanics. Bikes don't build themselves, you know.
Briton Daniel McLay is dreaming of a stage win at this year's Tour de France. Our Daniel Benson caught up with the Fortuneo-Oscaro rider.
In non-Tour news (yes, there is some) Boels Dolmans won the opening Team Time Trial today at the Giro Rosa. Canadian Karol-Ann Canuel is in the first leader's jersey.
We've got brief results up now, and there will be more soon.
Mark Cavendish is at the Tour this year despite still not recovered from illness. He's doubtful of his form but says there's always a chance for victory in the sprint stages.
Read more here:
Alberto Contador says he's in better shape than last year and is ready to challenge for Tour supremacy once again.
“At the moment, I hope that this Tour will depend on my physical state,” Contador told a room full of media at the Trek-Segafredo hotel in the centre of Dusseldorf. “Evidently, if we have any mishaps then with this route we can make some different tactics but, at this moment, I hope that it won’t depend on a feat but on my physical form."
Trek-Segafredo boss Luca Guercilena has admitted that the news of Andre Cardoso’s positive test for EPO has hurt the team, but he is determined to put it behind him and focus on the upcoming Tour de France.
As expected and first reported by Cyclingnews, Chris Froome has inked a new three-year deal with Team Sky taking him through 2020.
In other news, there will be no formal risk assessment of the final 3km of this year's Tour stages; AG2R extended with Bardet, Naesen and Latour; Cyclingnews' Tour de France stage preview videos are now all online.
Read these Tour de France news shorts HERE.
Astana come to the Tour de France with two potential GC contenders: Fabio Aru - who skipped the Giro with knee issues, and Jakob Fuglsang, winner of the Tour de Suisse. Find out more about the dual leadership in our story from Barry Ryan here.
That's it for Cyclingnews' live coverage for the eve of the Tour de France. We hope you'll join us for the entire three weeks of start to finish live coverage!
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