VeloNews.com » News http://velonews.competitor.com Competitive Cycling News, Race Results and Bike Reviews Tue, 29 Jul 2014 22:43:09 +0000 hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.5.2 New Zealand, Canada dominate Commonwealth Games mountain bike races http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/07/news/new-zealand-canada-dominate-commonwealth-games-mountain-bike-races_338899 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/07/news/new-zealand-canada-dominate-commonwealth-games-mountain-bike-races_338899#comments Tue, 29 Jul 2014 17:14:19 +0000 Alistair Watson http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=338899

Catharine Pendrel won the cross-country mountain bike race at the 2014 Commonwealth Games, continuing a string of dominant performances by Canadian women at the event. Photo: Dave McElwaine | VeloNews.com (File)

Anton Cooper and Catharine Pendrel claim gold medals in the cross-country mountain bike race in Glasgow

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Catharine Pendrel won the cross-country mountain bike race at the 2014 Commonwealth Games, continuing a string of dominant performances by Canadian women at the event. Photo: Dave McElwaine | VeloNews.com (File)

GLASGOW (AFP) — Mountain biking made its return to the Commonwealth Games on Tuesday with Canada and New Zealand coming out on top at the Cathkin Braes course in Glasgow. The event was dropped four years ago when the event was held in Dehli.

New Zealand claimed the top two spots in the men’s cross-country, as teenager Anton Cooper narrowly won ahead of compatriot Samuel Gaze.

Cooper crossed the line in a time of 1:38:26, just three seconds ahead of Gaze. Daniel McConnell, who had been second with less than a kilometer to go, took the bronze for Australia.

“It’s a dream come true. The last couple of months of training have been tough, but this is huge for me,” said 19-year-old Cooper.

Canada continued its dominance of the women’s event as it claimed gold and silver.

Former world champion Catharine Pendrel cruised to victory in a time of 1:39:29, more than a minute ahead of countrywoman Emily Batty.

Australian Rebecca Henderson, matched her boyfriend, Daniel McConnell’s bronze medal performance, battling hard with Trek Factory Racing teammate Batty over the 31.95km course, but eventually settling for third place.

In the men’s race, a leading pack of Cooper, Gaze, McConnell and Canadian Max Plaxton quickly left the rest of the field behind.

The group exchanged the lead several times over the grueling 37.15km course before Cooper made his move on the final lap and found the strength to sprint to the line.

“I wouldn’t say the course suited me particularly, but if your legs are there, you are capable of winning,” Cooper said. “You normally wouldn’t see results this tight in a race like this and it’s just the style of the course. If you’re able to sit in at the right spots you can conserve energy, and I just had enough punch left for the last lap.”

‘Go hard’

Pendrel started among the favorites for the women’s race and soon opened up a gap on the rest of the field.

By the time the 33-year-old completed her first lap, she already had a formidable 34-second advantage over Henderson and Batty, which was to increase lap by lap.

“Anyone who has watched me race knows I just like to go hard from the start,” Pendrel said. “I really thought the race would stay together a lot longer than it did, but when you get some space between you and other riders, you just go for it.”

Canada has dominated the event, which made its Commonwealth Games debut in Manchester in 2002. Canadians have taken gold in both previous editions of the women’s event.

Pendrel admitted she had been desperate to continue that tradition. “It feels amazing to win the gold for Canada,” she said. “I was trying hard to ignore the fact that Canada has never not gotten gold in mountain bikes at the Commonwealth Games, and I really didn’t want that pressure coming into this.

“I knew how quick Emily was going as well so I knew we had a strong chance, but I just tried to do my best and I’m glad it was gold. Every victory is really special, but the Commonwealth Games are definitely unique and special. When you are competing for your country, you know if you do well you will make millions of people back home happy.”

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Emma Pooley announces retirement http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/07/news/emma-pooley-announces-retirement_338884 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/07/news/emma-pooley-announces-retirement_338884#comments Tue, 29 Jul 2014 16:40:18 +0000 Spencer Powlison http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=338884

Emma Pooley pulled off a gutsy victory in stage 6 of the Giro Rosa. She said it was the most emotional win she's ever experienced. Photo: Nicola Ianuale | Photo Ianuale

Former world champion will focus on triathlon after her final races as a professional cyclist at the Commonwealth Games

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Emma Pooley pulled off a gutsy victory in stage 6 of the Giro Rosa. She said it was the most emotional win she's ever experienced. Photo: Nicola Ianuale | Photo Ianuale

On Tuesday, Olympic silver medalist Emma Pooley announced her retirement from cycling. Sunday’s road race at the Commonwealth games in Glasgow will be the final race of her career.

The 32-year-old Briton has raced as a professional since 2006. Along the way, she’s collected many victories, including three time trial national championships (2009, 2010, 2014).

Pooley saw some of her greatest successes in 2010, winning road race national championships, La Flèche Wallone, Tour de l’Aude, and time trial world championships.

“I’ve decided to retire from cycling after the Commonwealth Games,” Pooley said. “That’s something I’ve been thinking about for a while. I want to stop at a time that’s right for me. Now I have the time and opportunity to do triathlon in the second part of this year, in 2015, and maybe the two years after that as well. I want to stop at the right moment. Even if I hadn’t won three stages at the Giro Rosa I would have stopped and have been satisfied with the season, because I did my best, and I’ve been very happy in the Lotto-Belisol ladies team. I’m very lucky to be able to choose when to stop and not to be forced because of an injury, for example. And I’m grateful to have the backing 100 percent of the Lotto-Belisol team in my decision.

“The first UCI race I won, a stage in Thüringen-Rundfahrt in 2007, was definitely one of the highlights in my career. Obviously the World Championships were that as well just as the silver medal in the 2008 Olympics. The sixth stage at the Giro this year was the most emotional win I’ve ever had. Partly because I didn’t believe I could do it, and partly because it was so hard to win. It had been a long time since I had won a race on that level. I knew that it’s so nice to finish on a high, and it was one of the last chances to win a stage there.

“What I will miss most when I’ll have quit cycling are the people,” she said. “Certainly my teammates, but also the people from other teams. I’m privileged to know so many amazing people, who I’ve met over the years in the sport. The Commonwealth Games are still a big personal target. I’m focusing on the time trial. After the Giro Rosa I did many trainings on my time trial bike. I’m really looking forward to the race. All my family is coming to watch. That will be really special.”

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Q&A: Tour rookie Alex Howes on reaching Paris http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/07/news/qa-tour-rookie-alex-howes-on-reaching-paris_338863 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/07/news/qa-tour-rookie-alex-howes-on-reaching-paris_338863#comments Tue, 29 Jul 2014 14:18:34 +0000 Matthew Beaudin http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=338863

Alex Howes on the Champs-Élysées after finishing his first Tour de France. Photo: Caley Fretz | VeloNews.com

VeloNews catches up with the Garmin-Sharp rider about finishing his first Tour de France

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Alex Howes on the Champs-Élysées after finishing his first Tour de France. Photo: Caley Fretz | VeloNews.com

PARIS, France (VN) — It’s finally all over. The barricades are long gone and the riders are off to various parts of the world before the next big thing.

But for three weeks in July, the riders knock into one another every single day, gentle, or not, reminders of a line, a wheel. And who better to ask about the experience of a Tour de France than an eyes-wide-open rookie?

VeloNews talked to Garmin-Sharp’s Alex Howes as he warmed up before the stage 20 time trial. He was about to do what he’d set out to do.

VeloNews: How are you?
Alex Howes: Good. I’ve actually come around in the third week. Feeling good.

VN: Physically, what’s it felt like?
AH: I think more than anything it’s mental. You know doing anything for three weeks is a long time. And you know, I feel like 17 days, you get up, you have your oatmeal, put your shorts on. And you say, “We’re still doing this. Still doin’ it.” So OK.

VN: It’s a bit like Groundhog Day.
AH: It’s very much like Groundhog Day. Just the same routine every day. Dialed in like that. It wears on you a little bit. But physically it’s been pretty trying. To be honest, when you go back and you look at the numbers from all of it, you don’t really comprehend that you did that. It’s like, “Did I do that?” I guess I did.

VN: What’s your routine? You wake up in the morning, etc. Take me through it.
AH: Get up. Throw your bag out, because you’re usually switching hotels. Then you stumble around. Get some water. Use the bathroom. Get out. Go get some food. Usually end up eating about 10 times as much as you want to. And then, maybe you have a minute or two to drink some coffee. Maybe you jump on the bus. If it’s a long transfer, try and take a nap. If it’s not super long, try and wrap your head around doing some bike racing. Then show up, get the music going. Have some more coffee. And clean your shoes off. Clean your glasses and helmet for the next day from the day before. Get some food. Go sign in. And get ready to go to war.

VN: Is that what it feels like — the brutality of the mountains. Is there a point when you say, “This is not for me. I’m going to go become an English teacher?”
AH: You definitely have your moments. There’s times when you think that this is the best thing on earth. And there’s nothing I’d rather be doing. And then there’s times when you’re like, “This is so stupid. This is so hard. This makes no sense. I’m flying down this mountain. I got spit all over my face. I’ve just like been digging so deep over that last climb. Flying down this hill totally naked. I’m freezing cold. I hate this.” And then there’s times you’re just like, “This is great, I’m the man. This is rad.”

AH: It’s almost like a hard Tour stage packs in an entire spectrum of emotions in one day, one ride.
AH: 100 percent. Just yesterday [stage 19], big example. We start the stage. I was gung-ho to be in the breakaway. And we’re sniffing, sniffing, sniffing. Tom [-Jelte Slagter] drew the card and I didn’t. I was pretty pissed. Really wanted to be up there. So that kind of put a damper on my morning. Then the rain shows up and I’m like “Ugh.” … Then it starts dumping rain. Riding along in the crosswinds in the rain. Can’t see anything. “Why do I even want Tom to finish the Tour de France? This is stupid, this sucks.” Then we turn it on for the final, get all the boys together. Like, “All right, we’re one unit and this is cool.” And then we win the stage and it’s like, “Ahhhh this is amazing. You totally forget about that hour and 20 minutes and it’s like, “I’m just going to get off my bike, get in some car, and go back to America.”

VN: Do you feel famous? You rode the Tour. People notice.
AH: I don’t feel famous.

VN: You look famous with that hair.
AH: Well, yeah. You certainly get some recognition. But I think I’m a long ways from being a celebrity. I’m no Ramunas Navardauskas.

VN: Is this race more nuanced than we can see on TV? We can only know so much without being in it.
AH: Yeah. There’s a lot of subtleties out there. There’s a lot of old grudges. There’s a lot of new grudges. And I think especially at the Tour. You really go no friends out there. This race more than any other I’ve noticed is kind of kill or be killed.

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Valverde lashes out at critics after missing Tour podium http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/07/news/valverde-lashes-out-at-critics-after-missing-tour-podium_338841 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/07/news/valverde-lashes-out-at-critics-after-missing-tour-podium_338841#comments Tue, 29 Jul 2014 13:03:19 +0000 Andrew Hood http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=338841

Alejandro Valverde lost time on his rivals in the final week of the Tour and finished fourth. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

The Spaniard has come under fire following his fourth-place performance in the Tour de France

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Alejandro Valverde lost time on his rivals in the final week of the Tour and finished fourth. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) angrily defended his fourth-place finish in the Tour de France, saying armchair critics don’t have the right to question his performance.

Valverde has come under fire in Spain for “blowing” his best and perhaps last chance at the Tour podium, finishing fourth behind winner Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) and two French riders, Jean-Christophe Peraud (Ag2r-La Mondiale) and Thibaut Pinot (FDJ.fr).

Speaking on the Spanish sports radio chat show, “El Larguero,” Valverde angrily shot back at critics.

“You can accept the critics, but there are people who think that everything is easy, that everything comes easy, but that’s not all,” Valverde said. “A lot of these critics have not ever ridden a bike, let alone raced … They have no idea.”

The 34-year-old Spaniard was poised to finish on the final Tour podium, riding out of the Alps sitting second overall. With the abandonment of pre-race favorites Chris Froome (Sky) and Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Sky), Valverde, backed by the powerful and experienced Movistar team, was looking good for a first-ever podium.

Valverde was wildly inconsistent, however, dropping Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing) over the Port de Bales climb in stage 16 before losing time to Peraud and Pinot up Hautacam during stage 18. Despite starting 15 seconds out of second place in the final time trial, Valverde could not post a strong ride and settled into fourth.

“We were in the Tour, we fought for the podium right until the final stage — so you didn’t reach it? — but we were as close as you can be, and everyone gave everything they had, so we have to be content,” Valverde said. “Everyone has a right to think what they want, but you have to be here at the Tour, and finish fourth … I am not mad, I am just saying things the way they are.

“I wanted to be there, but in the end, I just couldn’t do it,” Valverde continued. “I don’t know why. Maybe it was the pressure of having [the podium] so close. That’s rare for me, because I am used to the pressure, but the Tour is the Tour … and maybe the pressure cost me a little bit. I was confident to reach the podium, but in the end it just wasn’t meant to be.”

Valverde admitted he doesn’t know what his future holds. According to sources, Valverde still has not re-upped with Movistar for next season. Valverde reportedly was waiting to see what happened with the team backed by Formula One driver Fernando Alonso, but that project looks dead in the water.

With Giro d’Italia winner and last year’s runner-up Nairo Quintana waiting in the wings, Valverde said he’s a “realist.”

“Was it my last chance? I don’t know. Look at Peraud, he’s 37, and he ends up second. I am not going to obsess about it,” Valverde said. “I know that Nairo is coming up very strong. Above all, I am a realist, and we all know that he’s going to be stronger than me, and that’s it.”

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2015 Giro to start along the Italian Riviera http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/07/news/2015-giro-to-start-along-the-italian-riviera_338835 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/07/news/2015-giro-to-start-along-the-italian-riviera_338835#comments Tue, 29 Jul 2014 12:10:19 +0000 Andrew Hood http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=338835 The race is slated to begin with an 18km time trial along the Ligurian coast

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The Giro d’Italia returns to Italy for 2015, with a three-day “Big Depart” along the Italian Riviera for early May next year.

After a highly successful start in Belfast, Northern Ireland this year, the Giro returns to home roads for the start of the 2015 edition.

Giro officials confirmed Tuesday that three stages will roll along the spectacular Ligurian coast, marking the fifth time in Giro history the race will start in the region known for its hilltop towns and sparkling beaches.

The Giro will open on May 9 with an 18-kilometer team time trial along a bike path built over an old railroad right-of-way along the Italian Riviera. The route will start near the base of the Cipressa climb, and hug the coast all the way to Sanremo. The pathway, which was recently inaugurated, is more than two meters wide, offering a narrow raceway for the technical, high-speed team race against the clock.

Stage 2 will run along roads, from Albenga to Genoa in a sprint-friendly stage. The stage will conclude with four laps on a 7.5km urban circuit.

The following day pedals further south, straddling the spectacular Cinque Terre coastline, hitting the Biassi climb before the finale that should test the GC riders right from the start. The race will conclude on May 31.

Recently crowned Tour de France champion Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) has hinted he would return to the Giro next year, setting the stage for a run at the Giro-Tour double, a feat not equaled since Marco Pantani won both in 1998.

Defending Giro champion Nairo Quintana (Movistar), who returns to competition next week at the Vuelta a Burgos, has suggested he will not return to defend his pink jersey next season, focusing instead on the Tour.

Complete Giro route details will be released later this year.

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Froome’s spirits are high as he looks ahead to Vuelta http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/07/news/froomes-spirits-high-looks-ahead-vuelta_338813 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/07/news/froomes-spirits-high-looks-ahead-vuelta_338813#comments Mon, 28 Jul 2014 22:19:39 +0000 Spencer Powlison http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=338813

Chris Froome has been training in California, looking ahead to the Vuelta a Espana. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com (File)

"I’m riding around with a splint still," says Chris Froome. "For now I just want to get to the race. Try to get fit enough so I can race"

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Chris Froome has been training in California, looking ahead to the Vuelta a Espana. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com (File)

Speaking to NBC Sports from Santa Barbara, California, 2013 Tour de France champion Chris Froome struck an optimistic tone, looking ahead to his recovery and the Vuelta a España.

“Spirits are high,” Froome said. “I’m looking forward to getting back into some racing. Trying at least to get something out of this season.”

Team Sky’s captain withdrew from stage 5 of the Tour de France, suffering a broken left wrist and another fracture on his right hand.

Looking back at how the Tour unfolded after his exit, Froome said, “It really would have been a different race had Alberto and I been there in the mountains. It’s been difficult for me to watch from afar actually, watching how Nibali in the mountains has been relatively unchallenged. He hasn’t had people attacking him, it hasn’t been a sort of mano-a-mano fight for the yellow jersey. That’s sad for a race like the Tour de France. I would have loved to been there to actually have that race up in the mountains with him.”

But Froome was quick to say, “Nibali definitely does deserve to win this year. He’s ridden a really good race.”

He was cautious not to set expectations too high for his run at the Vuelta a España. “I’m riding around with a splint still,” said the Briton. “For now I just want to get to the race. Try to get fit enough so I can race the Vuelta a España. There’s gonna be a lot of tough competition there.”

Froome is enjoying a stint of training in California, heading up to Napa to ride. “I look forward to spending a few hours in the saddle and maybe catching up with Andrew Talansky [in Napa],” he said.

Based on Froome’s state of mind, it’s unlikely that the two battered Tour leaders will do much commiserating. They’ll probably be looking ahead to their late-summer trip to Spain.

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The Cycling Podcast: Tour de France wrap-up http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/07/news/cycling-podcast-tour-de-france-wraps_338807 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/07/news/cycling-podcast-tour-de-france-wraps_338807#comments Mon, 28 Jul 2014 20:29:10 +0000 VeloNews.com http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=338807

The Arc de Triomphe is a welcome site for the Tour peloton after three weeks of demanding racing, inhospitable weather, and frequent crashes. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

Matthew Beaudin and Caley Fretz reflect on the 2014 Tour de France with The Cycling Podcast

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The Arc de Triomphe is a welcome site for the Tour peloton after three weeks of demanding racing, inhospitable weather, and frequent crashes. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

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Video: On board with Marianne Vos in La Course sprint finish http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/07/news/video-board-marianne-vos-la-course-sprint-finish_338801 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/07/news/video-board-marianne-vos-la-course-sprint-finish_338801#comments Mon, 28 Jul 2014 19:45:58 +0000 Spencer Powlison http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=338801

On-board footage from Marianne Vos' sprint victory in Paris at La Course by the Tour de France.

Marianne Vos won the inaugural edition of La Course by the Tour de France on Sunday. Ride along as she sprints to win in the final kilometer

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On-board footage from Marianne Vos' sprint victory in Paris at La Course by the Tour de France.

Editor’s Note: Marianne Vos (Rabo-Liv) won the inaugural La Course by the Tour de France on Sunday. Rabo-Liv provided this on-board footage from the final kilometer of racing on the Champs-Élysées in Paris.

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How France reclaimed the Tour from Britain http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/07/news/france-reclaimed-tour-britain_338792 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/07/news/france-reclaimed-tour-britain_338792#comments Mon, 28 Jul 2014 19:26:20 +0000 Barnaby Chesterman http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=338792

AG2R La Mondiale won the team classification, thanks in part to Jean-Christophe Péraud's second-place GC finish. In more ways than one, their moment on the final Tour podium represented a new, upward trajectory for French cycling. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

The 2014 Tour de France started out with great promise for Britain, but in the end, the Tour's host country had the strongest showing

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AG2R La Mondiale won the team classification, thanks in part to Jean-Christophe Péraud's second-place GC finish. In more ways than one, their moment on the final Tour podium represented a new, upward trajectory for French cycling. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

PARIS (AFP) — When the 2014 Tour de France started in Britain, with a British reigning champion riding for a British team, there was the feeling, in some quarters, that a piece of French heritage was being dragged across the channel.

To make things even worse, Dave Brailsford, the British manager of the defending champion’s team, Sky, had almost condescendingly said that his next challenge might be to try to win the Tour with a Frenchman.

The insinuation was that it had been easier to win the Tour with a rider from a country with almost no cycling culture than it would be to do so with a cyclist from the sport’s spiritual home.

For the previous two years, Britain had been the epicenter of the Tour de France as Team Sky won the 2012 and 2013 editions with Bradley Wiggins and then Chris Froome.

On top of that, the best sprinter over the last few years was another Briton, Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-Quick Step).

French viewers and commentators could only stand back in awe, too, at the reception the Tour got, first in Yorkshire where the first two stages took place, and then along the route from Cambridge to London.

German sprinter Marcel Kittel (Giant-Shimano) described the crowds as “amazing” while two-time Tour winner Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) said he had been “speechless” at the reception.

Garmin-Sharp’s American manager Jonathan Vaughters said he’d only ever seen hordes that big on Alpe d’Huez in the French Alps.

Some were asking whether Britain was launching some sort of Trojan Horse takeover of the Grand Boucle.

But already, by the time the Tour left London to reconvene on the shores of its true home, the cracks in British domination were starting to show.

Cavendish crashed out of the race on the first stage, leaving only three Brits in the race.

It took only two more stages for Froome to crash out and leave Italian Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) to dominate the race. Without Froome, Sky capitulated as Australian Richie Porte proved to be a poor substitute leader, finishing the race 23rd overall, more than an hour behind Nibali, and actually behind two of his domestiques.

By the end of the race, Welshman Geraint Thomas was the only Briton left, finishing 22nd overall, almost an hour in arrears.

In the meantime, the French were bristling.

Veteran Jean-Christophe Péraud (AG2R La Mondiale) proved his 37 years were no barrier to success, gradually improving as the race progressed to climb all the way up to a second place finish.

Behind him, Thibaut Pinot (FDJ.fr) secured third place, ensuring France had two riders on the podium for the first time since Laurent Fignon bested legend Bernard Hinault in 1984 for his second Tour win.

French team AG2R La Mondiale won the team competition, helped in no small measure by Péraud but also 23-year-old Romain Bardet’s sixth-place finish and Blel Kadri’s stage 8 win from Tomblaine to Gérardmer La Mauselaine.

In Pinot, 24, and Bardet, the future looks bright for French cycling. They finished first and second in the young riders’ white jersey competition and both held their own with the best in both the mountains and time trial.

As well as those two, France has a whole host of talented, young up-and-coming riders.

Sprinters Arnaud Démare (FDJ.fr), 22, and teammate Nacer Bouhanni, 24, were French national road race champions in 2014 and 2012 respectively, with the latter also winning the sprinter’s jersey at May’s Giro d’Italia.

Tony Gallopin (Lotto-Belisol), 26, won the Tour’s 11th stage and wore the yellow jersey on Bastille Day. He’s a puncheur who many believe could become an overall challenger.

But the most brilliant of the lot is perhaps climber Warren Barguil (Giant-Shimano), who won the Tour de l’Avenir — the Tour de France for young riders — in 2012 and claimed two stages in last year’s Vuelta a Espana.

In Paris, Brailsford’s tone was a bit humbled, though he seemed confident in Sky and Britain’s future.

“We won this race twice and that was fantastic,” he said. “When you win you have to win with dignity, and when you lose you have to lose with dignity. We had the pleasure of winning this great race twice, so chapeau to all the riders who rode well, especially to Nibali and also the French who have done well this year. This year wasn’t our year but we’ll try again next year.

“It’s good for everyone,” the Sky boss added. “It’s good for the French because it is, after all, the Tour de France. It’s good for all of French cycling and we’re happy for that.”

The future of the Tour appears to be bleu, blanc, and rouge — coincidentally the same colors found on the Union Jack.

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Marcel Kittel to target green jersey in future http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/07/news/marcel-kittel-target-green-jersey-future_338781 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/07/news/marcel-kittel-target-green-jersey-future_338781#comments Mon, 28 Jul 2014 18:31:57 +0000 Barnaby Chesterman http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=338781

John Degenkolb and Marcel Kittel represent a new wave of German cyclists, hoping to change their nation's attitude toward a sport tarnished by doping scandals. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

Kittel may aim for the points competition in future Tours, and he hopes Germany's resurgence at the Tour will reignite interest in the sport

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John Degenkolb and Marcel Kittel represent a new wave of German cyclists, hoping to change their nation's attitude toward a sport tarnished by doping scandals. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

PARIS (AFP) — Sprint ace Marcel Kittel (Giant-Shimano) said he will target the green points jersey in the future after winning on the Champs-Élysées for the second year in a row.

The burly German exactly matched his achievement from last year, winning both the opening and final stages among four in total, and he wore the yellow jersey for a day.

And although he hadn’t tried to win the sprinters’ green jersey this year, the 26-year-old said he would challenge for it one day. Peter Sagan (Cannondale) claimed that honor for a third year in a row despite not winning a single stage.

“To think now already about the future is for me personally too much. I would like to enjoy this moment,” said the Giant-Shimano rider. “My goals won’t change regarding my future, especially in the Tour de France. I’d like to go for stage wins. I’m not focusing on records.

“Also, I said many times before the green jersey can be an option for me in the future.”

What the present brought, though, was one record as Kittel’s fourth stage win took the total won by German riders in this Tour to a new high of seven.

Tony Martin added two, including Saturday’s time trial, and Andre Greipel also won a sprint finish on stage 6.

Kittel said that those results sent a message to German public television, which pulled out of live coverage of the 2007 Tour due to doping scandals — including that of 1997 German Tour winner Jan Ullrich — and have not changed their stance since.

“I think that’s a big signal to all fans at home in Germany and a big signal to the media, without going into too many details,” said Kittel.

“Everyone can be proud of it, it’s great to see so many German riders here. You can talk about the seven victories, but don’t forget the two second places of John Degenkolb. With seven plus two that’s half the Tour in which Germans were in front. It shows German cycling is part of the top of the cycling world and that’s awesome.”

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China’s Ji Cheng to take post-Tour break after earning lanterne rouge http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/07/news/chinas-ji-cheng-take-post-tour-break-earning-lanterne-rouge_338747 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/07/news/chinas-ji-cheng-take-post-tour-break-earning-lanterne-rouge_338747#comments Mon, 28 Jul 2014 15:23:40 +0000 Barnaby Chesterman http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=338747

China's Ji Cheng (Giant-Shimano) may have finished dead last on GC, but he spent a lot of time at the front of the peloton on sprint stages, bringing back the breakaway on behalf of his team's sprinters. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

Ji finished six hours behind Tour winner Vincenzo Nibali, the race's biggest gap between first and last since 1954

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China's Ji Cheng (Giant-Shimano) may have finished dead last on GC, but he spent a lot of time at the front of the peloton on sprint stages, bringing back the breakaway on behalf of his team's sprinters. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

PARIS (AFP) — Chinese rider Ji Cheng said he wants to get away from cycling for a while after completing the Tour de France on Sunday.

Ji was a visible member of the peloton over the last three weeks, relishing his role as the “breakaway killer” for his Giant-Shimano team.

And although the 27-year-old did not set the world alight with his performances, he did gain cult status over 3,659 kilometers of racing around France.

But he’s had enough for this year.

Asked what he would do now, he said: “I have no idea. I will try to relax because I got married but 20 days later I came back to Europe for a training camp and then racing and it’s been eight months now since I’ve been home.

“That’s really long, I will try to relax and not think any more about cycling.”

It’s not been easy for Ji, who was expected to ride at the front of the peloton day after day to control breakaway groups and ensure his Giant team would be able to reel them in later so sprinter Marcel Kittel could finish off his work.

Kittel won four stages in total while another German sprinter, John Degenkolb, finished second in two others in which the lumpy run-ins weren’t suited to Kittel’s raw straight-line power.

But Ji’s also had his own challenges to overcome, having suffered from a knee problem.

“The hardest moments were just the first week and the last week,” he said. “The first week had more sprint stages and we had more chances for victories so I was working hard to control the group and working hard on the front. That was a hard week.”

“And the last week because I was injured in the left knee. Already I wasn’t looking forward to the mountains because of my injury which was so painful.

“But the second week was nice for me, I had more time to enjoy the race.”

Enjoyment would be a curious word for a race that lasted more than 90 hours.

And in Ji’s case, he rode for more than six hours longer than winner Vincenzo Nibali (Astana), in so doing managing the biggest gap between first and last since 1954.

Ji, who was 164th, also finished more than 50 minutes behind the second-to-last finisher and crashed on the final stage on the Champs Elysees, even suffering the ignominy of being lapped by the peloton as it completed eight circuits of the famous avenue.

But every day, Ji managed to get inside the time limit. And it’s not the first time he’s completed a grand tour.

He finished 175th (last place) at the 2012 Vuelta a Espana, although sickness prevented him from completing last year’s Giro d’Italia.

While the native of Harbin in the northeast of China may be the Tour’s “lanterne rouge,” the rider who finishes last, he at least finished, which is more than what 34 other starters managed, among them defending champion Chris Froome, Alberto Contador, and Mark Cavendish.

All three crashed out and Ji says that’s one of the risks in cycling.

“In cycling sometimes dangerous things can happen like a crash, or you can get sick or have a fever,” he said. “It’s normal, last year at the Giro the same thing happened to me. I got very sick before stage five and couldn’t start it.

“It’s really sad but it’s like this. Maybe next year I’ll have this situation. I was pretty lucky really, I didn’t crash or get sick or anything.”

Having made history as the first Chinese rider to compete in the Tour, Ji said he hopes to be a pioneer for his countrymen, but said it will take more than just him to change things.

“I hope so but a cycling project in the country cannot be one man like me,” he said. “Maybe I can show them something but I cannot change anything.

“I hope they can see it’s possible to build a team or train riders to be top professionals. That’s what I hope.”

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In the news: UCI chief Brian Cookson wants Astana’s Alexandr Vinokourov to testify http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/07/news/news-uci-chief-brian-cookson-wants-astanas-alexandr-vinokourov-testify_338740 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/07/news/news-uci-chief-brian-cookson-wants-astanas-alexandr-vinokourov-testify_338740#comments Mon, 28 Jul 2014 14:58:10 +0000 VeloNews.com http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=338740

Alexandr Vinokourov's presence on Vincenzo Nibali's Astana team staff attracted some criticism during this year's Tour de France. Now, Brian Cookson wants the Kazakh to testify before the anti-doping commission. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

UCI chief Cookson wants Vinokourov and Riis to speak, says he's “delighted” that Lance Armstrong has testified to the commission

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Alexandr Vinokourov's presence on Vincenzo Nibali's Astana team staff attracted some criticism during this year's Tour de France. Now, Brian Cookson wants the Kazakh to testify before the anti-doping commission. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

The UCI president, Brian Cookson, has called upon Alexandr Vinokourov and Bjarne Riis, the heads of the two most prominent teams in this year’s Tour de France, to testify before the independent commission on cycling’s doping history as a way of helping the sport move on from its past.

Vinokourov, who is in charge of the Tour de France winner’s Astana squad, tested positive for blood doping in 2007. Riis, who is in charge of Tinkoff-Saxo, winners of three mountain stages and the king of the mountains prize, confessed to having used erythropoietin to win the 1996 Tour; he was initially expunged from the record but subsequently reinstated.

Read the complete article on The Guardian >>

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Kazakhstan wants Tour after Nibali wins for state-backed Astana http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/07/news/kazakhstan-wants-tour-after-nibali-wins-for-state-backed-astana_338727 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/07/news/kazakhstan-wants-tour-after-nibali-wins-for-state-backed-astana_338727#comments Mon, 28 Jul 2014 13:13:00 +0000 VeloNews.com http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=338727

Vincenzo Nibali's Tour de France win has given Kazakhstan the idea to host a Tour start. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

Astana is backed by the government of Kazakhstan and will host the world junior cycling championships next year

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Vincenzo Nibali's Tour de France win has given Kazakhstan the idea to host a Tour start. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

PARIS (AFP) — After Kazakhstan won the Tour de France, the Central Asian state now wants to host the Tour, a top official said Monday.

Rejoicing after Vincenzo Nibali of the government backed Astana team clinched victory on Sunday, Kairat Kelimbetov, president of Kazakh Cycling, told AFP his country wants to host the start of the race like England did this year.

Kelimbetov, who is also head of Kazakhstan’s central bank, said the idea may seem “a joke” now but his oil-rich country is serious and is negotiating for a chance before 2020.

The northern English county of Yorkshire staged the first three days of this year’s Tour de France, bringing millions onto the streets to watch.

“It’s like a joke now, but this Yorkshire experience is very interesting for us,” said Kelimbetov.

“The Tour de France has become global and cycling has become global and everyone was absolutely excited when five million people came onto the streets” in England.

“The idea is to one day bring it to Kazakhstan,” he said. “It took three years for Yorkshire to be prepared and I think we could deliver it also.”

It is some 3,000 miles from Astana, capital of the world’s biggest landlocked country, to Paris. But Kelimbetov said the western tip of Kazakhstan is part of Europe, “so why not?”

Kazakhstan will host the world junior cycling championships next year. The cycling chief said he had asked the UCI, cycling’s governing body, about staging the main world cycling and road racing championships after 2018.

The country’s former capital Almaty is also challenging Oslo and Beijing for the 2022 Winter Olympics.

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Thomas extends contract with Sky through 2016 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/07/news/thomas-extends-contract-with-sky-through-2016_338718 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/07/news/thomas-extends-contract-with-sky-through-2016_338718#comments Mon, 28 Jul 2014 12:41:26 +0000 VeloNews.com http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=338718

Geraint Thomas rode to the best grand tour finish of his career at the Tour this year. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

The British rider finished 22nd in the Tour de France, the best grand tour result of his career

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Geraint Thomas rode to the best grand tour finish of his career at the Tour this year. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

PARIS (AFP) — British rider Geraint Thomas has extended his contract with Sky for an extra two years, the British outfit revealed Monday.

Just a day after finishing the Tour de France in 22nd position, his best ever grand tour finish, the 28-year-old Welshman signed on until 2016.

His current deal had been due to run out at the end of this year.

“I’m really happy to be staying with Team Sky for another two years,” said Thomas in a team statement.

“I’ve been here since the start and I firmly believe it is the best place for me to fulfill my potential as a bike rider.”

The double Olympic champion on the track joined Sky from its beginnings in 2010 and is one of eight Britons on the team, a lineup that includes former Tour de France champions Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome.

Thomas, who also won three team pursuit world titles on the track, has had his most successful season on the road in 2014.

He developed into a top one-day classics rider, finishing seventh at the prestigious Paris-Roubaix and eighth at the Ronde van Vlaanderen (Tour of Flanders).

“On and off the bike Geraint is an influential member of Team Sky,” said Sky manager Dave Brailsford.

“Not only is he a strong character but he’s one of a handful of world class riders that can do it all, whether that’s on the climbs, flat, cobbles or time trials, which proves what a valuable member of the team he is.”

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Analysis: In chaotic Tour de France, only the strong survived http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/07/news/in-chaotic-tour-de-france-only-the-strong-survived_338661 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/07/news/in-chaotic-tour-de-france-only-the-strong-survived_338661#comments Mon, 28 Jul 2014 12:25:09 +0000 Andrew Hood http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=338661

Vincenzo Nibali earned the first Tour de France victory of his career on Sunday. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

Vincenzo Nibali’s Tour victory comes at the end of three weeks of chaos that left only the strong standing

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Vincenzo Nibali earned the first Tour de France victory of his career on Sunday. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) rode resplendent into Paris on Sunday, shining victorious in the yellow jersey and seemingly immune to the danger that befell nearly everyone around him.

The 2014 Tour de France was marked not only by Nibali’s seamless dominance, but also by the chaos that unfolded in his wake.

Pounded by extreme weather throughout much of the race, the peloton succumbed one by one to illness, crashes, and the accumulative effects of the punishment of a challenging course.

When Nibali stood tall, those around him crumbled, cracked, fell ill, or simply fell down.

Nibali admitted that he took his decisive time differences in the first week of the Tour, particularly over the cobblestones in stage 5. His deft bike-handling skills and Astana’s bulldozer tactics over the pavé put him in the yellow jersey for good.

“I was already in the lead [when others crashed out]. I also showed I could climb well,” Nibali said when someone suggested that his yellow jersey might come with an asterisk. “It’s unfortunate that Froome and Contador are not here. I was focused on my race and managed to avoid troubles. My team did a great job.”

The Tour’s final GC in Paris is marked just as much by the riders who stand atop the final classification as by those who are not there.

Andy Schleck (Trek Factory Racing), sprinter Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), and defending champion Chris Froome (Sky) were all gone in the first five days. Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo), who arrived at the Tour perhaps in his best form ever, never made it out of the Vosges. Andrew Talansky (Garmin-Sharp), who was hoping to capitalize on his dramatic Critérium du Dauphiné victory, flamed out as well in a dramatic battle into Oyonnox.

The sense of frustration, regret, and what could have happened settled across the peloton.

“I am sure Alberto could have battled for this Tour, even with the time losses on the cobblestones,” said Tinkoff manager Bjarne Riis. “Alberto prepared for this Tour like no other. He was in the best condition of his career. But we’ll never know …”

With several marquee names missing, others were ready to step into the void, but the ravages of cold, rainy weather, coupled with the demands of tension-filled racing across England and northern France, set a chest infection rampaging across the peloton.

Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing) was poised to ride onto the podium, but he was zapped by a chest bug that saw him go on antibiotics for a week. He rode through the worst of it, but the collective fatigued caught him out in the Pyrénées. One bad day cost him a shot at the podium, but he recovered to ride to tying his career-best fifth.

“I learned never to give up. I really had to fight through a lot,” van Garderen said Saturday. “I am really proud of my guys and what I did. It shows you can take your lumps, and get back up, and fight to the end.”

World champion Rui Costa (Lampre-Merida) started his first Tour as outright rider, but his body too succumbed to the rigors of Mother Nature.

Richie Porte was Team Sky’s Plan B who moved up to be “Plan A-” after Froome crashed heavily in stage 4. By the time Froome was out the next day, Porte was second overall, with a chance of a lifetime to ride onto the podium. The plucky Tasmanian also fell ill, but unlike van Garderen, who could bounce back, Porte sunk out of the GC for good in two difficult stages across the Alps.

Sky, which left the Tour empty-handed after dominating and winning the past two editions, vowed to return to its “all-for-one” game plan next year. Bad luck is simply part of racing.

“Not many people can win this race,” Sky’s David Brailsford said. “If you’ve got one of those guys who you think can win, my thinking is, let’s go and try to win it. If that doesn’t work, then it’s pretty unlikely that anything else will work, so you go all for ‘Plan A’ if you want to win.”

In sharp contrast, Tinkoff managed to win three mountain stages in a row and put Rafal Majka into the best climber’s jersey, further evidence that perhaps Tinkoff was the deepest team in the peloton.

Those who survived the crashes and the illnesses then faced a brutal final week across the Pyrénées as summer heat finally enveloped the Tour.

Others simply ran out of gas.

Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) also had an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, riding out of the Alps second overall, but he was wildly inconsistent across the Pyrénées. Instead of attacking, Valverde became the hunted, with the French riders Thibaut Pinot (FDJ.fr) and Jean-Christophe Peraud (Ag2r-La Mondiale) sticking it to him at Hautacam. Unable to respond in Saturday’s time trial, a weary and whipped Valverde could only muster fourth overall.

“I tried as hard as I could, but the legs didn’t respond,” Valverde said. “This Tour was difficult, above all in the final week. There was no chance to recover.”

Others suffered as well. Bauke Mollema (Belkin), who is expected to join Trek next season, was hoping for a top-5 result, but he too was hampered by a chest infection and couldn’t ride with the best in the mountains, finishing 10th.

“The crashes marked this Tour, and I know with Froome and Contador in the race, I probably wouldn’t be on the podium,” said runner-up Peraud. “That doesn’t stop me from feeling an enormous happiness and satisfaction to finish on the podium.”

In the end, Nibali won because he was able to avoid the traps that ensnarled so many others. He was by far the strongest of the riders remaining in the peloton, and there is no need to put an asterisk next to his yellow jersey. He won four stages, wore the yellow jersey nearly from start to finish, and was fastest among the GC riders in Saturday’s final time trial.

Crashing and illness, and avoiding them both, are part of racing. Nibali did both immaculately.

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Vincenzo Nibali’s Tour triumph is the culmination of a slow, steady progression http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/07/news/vincenzo-nibalis-tour-triumph-culmination-slow-steady-progression_338701 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/07/news/vincenzo-nibalis-tour-triumph-culmination-slow-steady-progression_338701#comments Sun, 27 Jul 2014 20:31:53 +0000 Barnaby Chesterman, Agence France Presse http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=338701

The Tour champ with his wife, Rachel, and daughter Emma. Photo: AFP

The Italian was driven early by dreams of becoming a pro cyclist, and his progression through the ranks has been a slow, steady one

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The Tour champ with his wife, Rachel, and daughter Emma. Photo: AFP

PARIS (AFP) — When Vincenzo Nibali pulled on the race winner’s yellow jersey on the podium beneath the Arc du Triomphe on the Champs-Élysées in Paris, the Astana captain was fulfilling in some ways his own destiny.

The 29-year-old Sicilian became the first Italian since Marco Pantani in 1998 to win the Tour de France, but his success will have surprised no one who knew him as a child.

The Shark, as he has long been known, has been certain about his true calling since falling in love with cycling as a boy in Messina.

He once told a surgeon sewing up a gash in his thigh to “do a good job because I’m going to be a professional cyclist.”

Even back then, Nibali, known as the best and most fearless descender in the peloton, was a daredevil whose escapades regularly necessitated a trip to hospital to be patched up. His mother, Giovanna, said “all the doctors knew his name.”

It was just such single-minded determination that would eventually produce a Tour de France champion.

When he set out at the beginning of this season, Nibali had only one goal in his mind.

“All season I was focusing on the Tour while other riders tried to be strong in every race,” he said.

There was also a certain logical progression to the Astana leader’s success at the Grand Boucle.

Nibali is no Chris Froome, darting out of obscurity as a rider for the Continental squad Barloworld in 2009 to announce himself as a major player with a runner-up finish at the 2011 Vuelta a España. The Italian is the same age as his predecessor as Tour champion, but their career trajectories have been very different.

Right from the beginning Nibali showed promise, winning a stage of the Settimana Internazionale di Coppi e Bartali as a 21-year-old. A year later he finished 19th in his first grand-tour appearance at the Giro d’Italia.

He developed gradually, finishing sixth at the 2009 Tour and third at the 2010 Giro before winning the 2010 Vuelta, widely considered the least prestigious of the three grand tours.

Nibali’s progress continued with a second-place finish at the 2011 Giro, third at the Tour a year later, and then a Giro victory in 2013.

With Froome and former winner Alberto Contador crashing out of this Tour in the first 10 days and Movistar climber Nairo Quintana skipping the race altogether, having won May’s Giro, nothing could be more logical than seeing Nibali standing atop the winner’s podium.

The Italian simply performed consistently, yet not dramatically, better than his competition, never losing a single second on any stage to any of his overall rivals. He has gradually pulled away from the field rather than blitzing them in a single demonstration of his superiority.

“Every day I’ve taken a few seconds, 20 seconds here, 30 seconds there, maybe a minute and that’s been important in building my lead,” he said.

It has made Nibali perhaps the most credible Tour winner since the darkest days of doping.

But what now remains to be seen is whether or not “The Shark” will have the same bite in 12 months’ time, when Froome, Contador and Quintana will all be lining up to knock him from his perch, not to mention improving young French guns such as Thibaut Pinot and Romain Bardet.

 

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Despite struggles, Richie Porte remains a grand tour man for the future http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/07/news/despite-struggles-richie-porte-remains-grand-tour-man-future_338693 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/07/news/despite-struggles-richie-porte-remains-grand-tour-man-future_338693#comments Sun, 27 Jul 2014 19:49:20 +0000 Gregor Brown http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=338693

Richie Porte had a rough day on stage 13. Unable to keep pace on the final climb, Porte lost almost nine minutes and dropped from second on GC, to 16th place. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

Though Porte struggled throughout the 2014 Tour, Sky boss Brailsford thinks he has the ability and leadership skills to captain a

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Richie Porte had a rough day on stage 13. Unable to keep pace on the final climb, Porte lost almost nine minutes and dropped from second on GC, to 16th place. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

PÉRIGUEUX, France (VN) — Team Sky considers Richie Porte a grand-tour rider for the future despite his struggles at the 2014 Tour de France.

Porte wrote in his online diary that he felt “buckled” after the final mountain stage to Hautacam on Thursday. He went into the 2014 race as plan B after helping Bradley Wiggins win in 2012 and Chris Froome in 2013, and took the reins this year when Froome crashed and abandoned in stage five.

Instead of leading Sky to Paris in yellow, the 29-year-old faded on the first big Alpine stage to Chamrousse and lost 8:48 minutes. He said later that a chest infection might have taken the best out of him, but added that he did not want to look for excuses.

Eyebrows were raised, however. Followers questioned just how reliable and durable Porte is for the grand tour job.

He placed seventh and won the white jersey in his first grand tour, the 2010 Giro d’Italia, but that was largely thanks to taking a massive gain through a mid-race breakaway. In subsequent grand tours, he put his head down, worked, and finished in the 60s to 80s on the classification sheet.

In the 2013 Tour he reached 19th overall, but that was a bit of a letdown for him after he lost 17:39 in the Bagnéres de Bigorre stage.

As the 2014 Tour arrived in Paris, Porte rebounded to take part in a breakaway that saw him last man standing before the peloton finally overhauled him with 7.4km remaining. He finished the 2014 Tour in 23rd place, 1:01:08 behind the victorious Vincenzo Nibali (Astana).

But as workers rolled away the stage on the Champs-Élysées, and Sky began to evaluate its Tour de France, its preparation and its riders, it seemed Porte need not fear being relegated to the role of super-domestique.

“There’s no doubt about it,” team boss David Brailsford said of Porte’s leadership ability. “I think in the right race, in the right conditions, the right form … yes. He just needs to get into a scenario where he’s on top and he’s fighting from the front.”

Brailsford added that “absolutely” Porte would have his chance to lead a grand tour again.

“Why not?” he asked.

After the 2013 season, when Porte helped Froome win almost every stage race and pocketed Paris-Nice for himself, Sky selected him to lead its team in the 2014 Giro d’Italia. Porte, though, never reached top speed this spring. He won a stage in the Tour Down Under and pushed on through Tirreno-Adriatico in mid-march, when he fell sick and could not get going again.

“I was where I needed to be, but then I got sick, then sick again on top of that, then a few issues with my bike and things,” he said.

Sky went to the Giro with a team focused on stage wins and left Porte home to recover for the Tour. Ahead of the race, Froome said that his Porte’s training numbers were even better than his and that his Aussie mate could stand beside him on the Paris podium.

But the foul weather that contributed to Froome’s crash out of the Tour likewise brought down Porte with illness, leaving Sky without a GC leader and others wondering if Porte has the ability to lead a grand tour team.

“It knocked the wind out of his sails, to be honest. Like everything, you dust yourself down, you recalibrate, you set yourself new goals,” Brailsford said.

“Has he got the physical ability to be up there in GC in a grand tour? The answer is yes. That’s a fact. Can he do it, mentally and physically? I think he can, but he hasn’t so far. That’s a fact.”

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Gentle giant Marcel Kittel lets his stage-winning legs do his talking http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/07/news/gentle-giant-marcel-kittel-lets-stage-winning-legs-talking_338688 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/07/news/gentle-giant-marcel-kittel-lets-stage-winning-legs-talking_338688#comments Sun, 27 Jul 2014 19:13:55 +0000 Matthew Beaudin http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=338688

Marcel Kittel wins the finale in Paris, his second on the Champs-Élysées and the fourth of this year's Tour. Photo: AFP

The powerful speedster with the gentle-giant demeanor is as driven as any other sprinter, and it shows at the finish line

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Marcel Kittel wins the finale in Paris, his second on the Champs-Élysées and the fourth of this year's Tour. Photo: AFP

PARIS, France (VN) — He went from the challenger to the sprint king in one short year. And if there had been any doubt, Marcel Kittel’s 2014 Tour de France confirmed his place as the sprinter’s man to beat. All told, Kittel won four stages at the Tour this year, including the finale in Paris, and asserted himself as the fastest man in the peloton.

For his Giant-Shimano manager, this was the Tour the young German needed. Last season was his surprise crashing of the party. This season was his rightful seating at the head of the table.

“It’s more difficult, eh? Last year, when you challenge somebody it’s nice. You can only win. But this year he can only lose,” Iwan Spekenbrink told VeloNews.

“Especially the first stage. I had a big respect for him. You saw the tension. For all the sprinters second place was not an option. They were so tense. And that he managed to get above himself. After the pressure that he has from himself and from the outside? I think that he proved there that he is one of the three now.”

The other two main men in the sprints, Spekenbrink said, are Omega Pharma-Quick Step’s Mark Cavendish and Lotto-Belisol’s Andre Greipel.

Kittel won a yellow jersey for the second year running, and now has eight stage wins in the last two Tours, more than any other true sprinter. His Giant-Shimano squad is also the best in the leadout business right now, making Kittel even harder to beat.

The handsome sprinter with the movie-star hair (and aviator shades) fits the bill physically, without question. But in interviews he lacks that famous sharp edge most of them — the best, anyways — seem to possess. It’s a bit of a gentle-giant vibe he puts out.

But Spekenbrink says he’s just as focused as anyone, if not more so. Just as driven.

“Marcel is a sprinter … For a sprinter, second is the first loser,” he said. “And so they have that tension that you have to cope with. And in the end he wants to win badly.”

For Giant, the success here isn’t something that happened simply on the legs of Kittel, or off the wheel of John Degenkolb. It’s just one more day in a long process that began months, years, ago.

“We make goals and we prepare on every detail as good as we can. Training. Nutrition. Equipment. Focus. Rest. Innovation. And when we do all the steps right then the result is outcome,” Spekenbrink said.

“Then you perform at your level or even above your level. That’s how you perform. You are good. If it’s five, it’s five; if it’s three, it’s three; if it’s one, it’s one … That way we keep developing.

“We focus not on ‘You have to win today,’ but we focus on the work that we do from November. Then here at the start basically we have not so much to say anymore.”

After the 2014 Tour, Kittel doesn’t have to say a word.

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Results: 2014 Tour de France, stage 21 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/07/news/results-2014-tour-de-france-stage-21_338668 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/07/news/results-2014-tour-de-france-stage-21_338668#comments Sun, 27 Jul 2014 17:42:02 +0000 VeloNews.com http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=338668

The jersey winners of the 2014 Tour de France. Photo: AFP

Results from the 21st and final stage of the 2014 Tour de France

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The jersey winners of the 2014 Tour de France. Photo: AFP

  • 1. Marcel KITTEL, Giant-Shimano, in 3:20:50
  • 2. Alexander KRISTOFF, Katusha, at :00
  • 3. Ramunas NAVARDAUSKAS, Garmin-Sharp, at :00
  • 4. André GREIPEL, Lotto-Belisol, at :00
  • 5. Mark RENSHAW, Omega Pharma-Quick Step, at :00
  • 6. Bernhard EISEL, Sky, at :00
  • 7. Bryan COQUARD, Europcar, at :00
  • 8. Alessandro PETACCHI, Omega Pharma-Quick Step, at :00
  • 9. Peter SAGAN, Cannondale, at :00
  • 10. Romain FEILLU, Bretagne-Seche Environnement, at :00
  • 11. Daniele BENNATI, Tinkoff-Saxo, at :00
  • 12. Arnaud DEMARE, FDJ.fr, at :00
  • 13. Greg VAN AVERMAET, BMC Racing, at :00
  • 14. Adrien PETIT, Cofidis, at :00
  • 15. Sep VANMARCKE, Belkin, at :00
  • 16. Daniel OSS, BMC Racing, at :00
  • 17. Davide CIMOLAI, Lampre-Merida, at :00
  • 18. Romain BARDET, Ag2r La Mondiale, at :04
  • 19. Tejay VAN GARDEREN, BMC Racing, at :04
  • 20. Johan VAN SUMMEREN, Garmin-Sharp, at :04
  • 21. Roger KLUGE, IAM Cycling, at :06
  • 22. Kévin REZA, Europcar, at :06
  • 23. Jack BAUER, Garmin-Sharp, at :06
  • 24. Tom VEELERS, Giant-Shimano, at :06
  • 25. Elia VIVIANI, Cannondale, at :09
  • 26. Jens VOIGT, Trek Factory Racing, at :09
  • 27. Alejandro VALVERDE BELMONTE, Movistar, at :09
  • 28. Samuel DUMOULIN, Ag2r La Mondiale, at :09
  • 29. Peter VELITS, BMC Racing, at :09
  • 30. Bram TANKINK, Belkin, at :09
  • 31. Matteo MONTAGUTI, Ag2r La Mondiale, at :09
  • 32. Sylvain CHAVANEL, IAM Cycling, at :09
  • 33. Haimar ZUBELDIA AGIRRE, Trek Factory Racing, at :09
  • 34. Sébastien MINARD, Ag2r La Mondiale, at :09
  • 35. Christophe RIBLON, Ag2r La Mondiale, at :09
  • 36. Jean-Christophe PERAUD, Ag2r La Mondiale, at :09
  • 37. Christopher HORNER, Lampre-Merida, at :09
  • 38. Nelson Filipe SANTOS SIMOES OLIVEIRA, Lampre-Merida, at :09
  • 39. Geraint THOMAS, Sky, at :09
  • 40. Mickael DELAGE, FDJ.fr, at :15
  • 41. Koen DE KORT, Giant-Shimano, at :15
  • 42. Martin ELMIGER, IAM Cycling, at :15
  • 43. Michael ALBASINI, Orica-GreenEdge, at :15
  • 44. Anthony DELAPLACE, Bretagne-Seche Environnement, at :15
  • 45. Julien SIMON, Cofidis, at :15
  • 46. Michael SCHÄR, BMC Racing, at :15
  • 47. Bauke MOLLEMA, Belkin, at :15
  • 48. William BONNET, FDJ.fr, at :15
  • 49. Lars BOOM, Belkin, at :15
  • 50. Laurens TEN DAM, Belkin, at :15
  • 51. Markel IRIZAR ARANBURU, Trek Factory Racing, at :15
  • 52. Luis Angel MATE MARDONES, Cofidis, at :15
  • 53. Frank SCHLECK, Trek Factory Racing, at :15
  • 54. Leopold KONIG, NetApp-Endura, at :15
  • 55. Peter STETINA, BMC Racing, at :15
  • 56. Thibaut PINOT, FDJ.fr, at :15
  • 57. Jan BARTA, NetApp-Endura, at :15
  • 58. Pierre ROLLAND, Europcar, at :15
  • 59. Mikel NIEVE ITURALDE, Sky, at :15
  • 60. Tom DUMOULIN, Giant-Shimano, at :15
  • 61. David LOPEZ GARCIA, Sky, at :15
  • 62. Jean-Marc BIDEAU, Bretagne-Seche Environnement, at :15
  • 63. Matteo TRENTIN, Omega Pharma-Quick Step, at :15
  • 64. Jérémy ROY, FDJ.fr, at :15
  • 65. Imanol ERVITI, Movistar, at :15
  • 66. Cyril GAUTIER, Europcar, at :15
  • 67. Yury TROFIMOV, Katusha, at :15
  • 68. Grégory RAST, Trek Factory Racing, at :24
  • 69. Michael MORKOV, Tinkoff-Saxo, at :24
  • 70. Gatis SMUKULIS, Katusha, at :24
  • 71. Jon IZAGUIRRE INSAUSTI, Movistar, at :24
  • 72. Andriy GRIVKO, Astana, at :24
  • 73. Matthieu LADAGNOUS, FDJ.fr, at :24
  • 74. Jurgen ROELANDTS, Lotto-Belisol, at :24
  • 75. Lieuwe WESTRA, Astana, at :24
  • 76. Marco MARCATO, Cannondale, at :24
  • 77. Florian GUILLOU, Bretagne-Seche Environnement, at :24
  • 78. Michele SCARPONI, Astana, at :24
  • 79. Brice FEILLU, Bretagne-Seche Environnement, at :24
  • 80. Alessandro VANOTTI, Astana, at :24
  • 81. Vincenzo NIBALI, Astana, at :24
  • 82. Benoit JARRIER, Bretagne-Seche Environnement, at :24
  • 83. Marcel WYSS, IAM Cycling, at :24
  • 84. Ben GASTAUER, Ag2r La Mondiale, at :24
  • 85. Matthew BUSCHE, Trek Factory Racing, at :24
  • 86. Michal GOLAS, Omega Pharma-Quick Step, at :24
  • 87. Kristijan KOREN, Cannondale, at :24
  • 88. Kristijan DURASEK, Lampre-Merida, at :24
  • 89. Jose Rodolfo SERPA PEREZ, Lampre-Merida, at :24
  • 90. Mikael CHEREL, Ag2r La Mondiale, at :24
  • 91. Bartosz HUZARSKI, NetApp-Endura, at :24
  • 92. Jurgen VAN DEN BROECK, Lotto-Belisol, at :24
  • 93. Rafal MAJKA, Tinkoff-Saxo, at :24
  • 94. Steven KRUIJSWIJK, Belkin, at :24
  • 95. Jens KEUKELEIRE, Orica-GreenEdge, at :24
  • 96. Tom Jelte SLAGTER, Garmin-Sharp, at :24
  • 97. Ruben PLAZA MOLINA, Movistar, at :24
  • 98. Maciej BODNAR, Cannondale, at :24
  • 99. Marcel SIEBERG, Lotto-Belisol, at :24
  • 100. Dmitriy GRUZDEV, Astana, at :24
  • 101. Jakob FUGLSANG, Astana, at :24
  • 102. John GADRET, Movistar, at :24
  • 103. Tanel KANGERT, Astana, at :24
  • 104. Sergio Miguel MOREIRA PAULINHO, Tinkoff-Saxo, at :24
  • 105. Sebastian LANGEVELD, Garmin-Sharp, at :24
  • 106. Andreas SCHILLINGER, NetApp-Endura, at :24
  • 107. Michael ROGERS, Tinkoff-Saxo, at :34
  • 108. John DEGENKOLB, Giant-Shimano, at :36
  • 109. Tony MARTIN, Omega Pharma-Quick Step, at :39
  • 110. Niki TERPSTRA, Omega Pharma-Quick Step, at :39
  • 111. Perrig QUEMENEUR, Europcar, at :41
  • 112. Matteo TOSATTO, Tinkoff-Saxo, at :41
  • 113. Nicolas ROCHE, Tinkoff-Saxo, at :41
  • 114. Jan BAKELANTS, Omega Pharma-Quick Step, at :41
  • 115. Yohann GENE, Europcar, at :45
  • 116. Tiago MACHADO, NetApp-Endura, at :47
  • 117. Paul VOSS, NetApp-Endura, at :47
  • 118. Yukiya ARASHIRO, Europcar, at :47
  • 119. Thomas VOECKLER, Europcar, at :55
  • 120. Giovanni VISCONTI, Movistar, at :55
  • 121. José Joao PIMENTA COSTA MENDES, NetApp-Endura, at :57
  • 122. Richie PORTE, Sky, at :57
  • 123. Armindo FONSECA, Bretagne-Seche Environnement, at :57
  • 124. Albert TIMMER, Giant-Shimano, at :57
  • 125. Sébastien REICHENBACH, IAM Cycling, at :57
  • 126. Roy CURVERS, Giant-Shimano, at :57
  • 127. Alex HOWES, Garmin-Sharp, at :57
  • 128. Benjamin KING, Garmin-Sharp, at :57
  • 129. Amaël MOINARD, BMC Racing, at :57
  • 130. Benat INTXAUSTI ELORRIAGA, Movistar, at :57
  • 131. Maxim IGLINSKY, Astana, at :57
  • 132. Nicolas EDET, Cofidis, at 1:02
  • 133. Cédric PINEAU, FDJ.fr, at 1:02
  • 134. Adam HANSEN, Lotto-Belisol, at 1:04
  • 135. Fabio SABATINI, Cannondale, at 1:06
  • 136. Marcus BURGHARDT, BMC Racing, at 1:08
  • 137. Luca PAOLINI, Katusha, at 1:12
  • 138. Alessandro DE MARCHI, Cannondale, at 1:17
  • 139. Jean Marc MARINO, Cannondale, at 1:17
  • 140. Simon CLARKE, Orica-GreenEdge, at 1:20
  • 141. Luke DURBRIDGE, Orica-GreenEdge, at 1:20
  • 142. Christian MEIER, Orica-GreenEdge, at 1:20
  • 143. Danny PATE, Sky, at 1:20
  • 144. Svein TUFT, Orica-GreenEdge, at 1:20
  • 145. Rudy MOLARD, Cofidis, at 1:20
  • 146. Joaquin RODRIGUEZ OLIVER, Katusha, at 1:20
  • 147. Vladimir ISAICHEV, Katusha, at 1:20
  • 148. Tony GALLOPIN, Lotto-Belisol, at 1:20
  • 149. Jérôme PINEAU, IAM Cycling, at 1:20
  • 150. Rein TAARAMAE, Cofidis, at 1:20
  • 151. Arnaud GERARD, Bretagne-Seche Environnement, at 1:20
  • 152. Maarten WYNANTS, Belkin, at 1:20
  • 153. Thomas LEEZER, Belkin, at 1:20
  • 154. Arnold JEANNESSON, FDJ.fr, at 1:20
  • 155. Cyril LEMOINE, Cofidis, at 1:26
  • 156. Michal KWIATKOWSKI, Omega Pharma-Quick Step, at 1:30
  • 157. Lars Ytting BAK, Lotto-Belisol, at 1:41
  • 158. Zakkari DEMPSTER, NetApp-Endura, at 1:51
  • 159. Florian VACHON, Bretagne-Seche Environnement, at 1:56
  • 160. Jesus HERRADA LOPEZ, Movistar, at 1:59
  • 161. Vasil KIRYIENKA, Sky, at 3:39
  • 162. Biel KADRI, Ag2r La Mondiale, at 4:05
  • 163. Alexandre PICHOT, Europcar, at 4:33
  • 164. Cheng JI, Giant-Shimano, at 9:25

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Vincenzo Nibali confirms Tour title as Marcel Kittel wins finale http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/07/news/vincenzo-nibali-confirms-tour-title-marcel-kittel-wins-finale_338659 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/07/news/vincenzo-nibali-confirms-tour-title-marcel-kittel-wins-finale_338659#comments Sun, 27 Jul 2014 17:29:26 +0000 VeloNews.com http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=338659

The final podium in the 2014 Tour de France. Photo: AFP

Kittel claims his fourth stage win of this Tour on the Champs-Élysées as Nibali crosses safely with the bunch to confirm his overall title

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The final podium in the 2014 Tour de France. Photo: AFP

Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) collected the final yellow jersey of the 2014 Tour de France on Sunday in Paris as Marcel Kittel (Giant-Shimano) won the 21st and final stage, a 136km leg from Evry that ended with a sprint on the Champs-Élysées.

Kittel took his second win on the fabled boulevard ahead of Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) and Ramunas Navardauskas (Garmin-Sharp).

“I was hoping I could still make it,” said Kittel after collecting his fourth stage win of this Tour. “Kristoff really held against me. I tried to pass him. At one moment, he couldn’t accelerate any more, and that was my moment. I’m super proud and very happy.”

On the overall, it was Nibali triumphant by 7:52 over Jean-Christophe Péraud (Ag2r La Mondiale) with Thibaut Pinot (FDJ.fr) third.

“This is the most beautiful moment of my life,” said Nibali. “It is even more beautiful than I imagined. I dedicate this success to my team and my family. It’s like a fairy tale.”

As Astana led Nibali onto the finishing circuit first Sylvain Chavanel (IAM Cycling), then Jens Voigt (Trek Factory Racing) had a go, before a four-man break went clear — Richie Porte (Sky), Michael Morkov (Tinkoff-Saxo), Jose Serpa (Lampre-Merida) and Armindo Fonseca (Bretagne-Seche Environnement)

Péraud had a fright early on, sliding out with less than 44km to go, but remounted and rejoined with the help of three teammates.

“It’s never easy in the race, and I never do things simply,” he said afterward. “I suspected something was going to happen.”

A few kilometers further along Kristoff punctured and likewise found himself frantically chasing the bunch.

With 25km to race the break had shed Fonseca and had just 18 seconds’ advantage.

As the bunch closed in Svein Tuft and Luke Durbridge (Orica-GreenEdge), Marcel Sieberg (Lotto-Belisol) and Samuel Dumoulin (Giant-Shimano) tried to bridge to the leaders, but fell short.

Porte would be the last man standing, but not for long. He was yanked back as a light sprinkle began to fall, with 7.4km to go.

Then Lotto, Katusha and Giant set about arranging themselves for the sprint, only to see Simon Clarke (Orica-Green-Edge) take a last dig.

With 4km to go Clarke had seven seconds over the bunch. But he, too, was caught and Giant, Omega Pharma and Katusha all went to war in the final 3km, with Kittel taking the final stage —and Nibali the final yellow jersey — of the 2014 Tour de France.

“I fought for this every day,” said Nibali. “I started building from a long way out with a winter preparation with the team because we had decided this was our objective.

“I want to thank my team because when you achieve an objective, you do so together, not just those here with me but also those back in Italy. It’s a success that I want to dedicate to all the staff in the team and to my family, my wife, Rachelle, and my daughter Emma.

“If it hadn’t been for my parents who have supported me since the beginning then I wouldn’t have been here. I’ve never felt more emotional in my career.”

Race note

Before the men took center stage, Marianne Vos (Rabobank-Liv) won the inaugural La Course by Le Tour de France, an 89km race using the same finishing circuit as the men would attack later in the day.

 

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