VeloNews.com » Road http://velonews.competitor.com Competitive Cycling News, Race Results and Bike Reviews Wed, 23 Jul 2014 22:20:11 +0000 hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.5.2 Nibali toying with Tour de France rivals http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/07/news/nibali-toying-tour-de-france-rivals_338034 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/07/news/nibali-toying-tour-de-france-rivals_338034#comments Wed, 23 Jul 2014 21:08:52 +0000 Gregor Brown http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=338034

Enjoying a GC advantage of more than five minutes and some of the best form of his life, Nibali sits comfortably in the lead as the Tour nears its finish in Paris. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

Vincenzo Nibali has a healthy GC lead. So much so that he appears to be toying with his rivals in the final mountain stages

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Enjoying a GC advantage of more than five minutes and some of the best form of his life, Nibali sits comfortably in the lead as the Tour nears its finish in Paris. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

PLA D’ADET, France (VN) — Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) appears to be playing with his rivals in the Tour de France, as if he were a cat playing with mice. He let them attack on the road to the Pla d’Adet ski station Wednesday, but that was it. When he wanted, he attacked, rode clear, and added more time to his lead.

“I didn’t try to push it up until the end,” Nibali said. “I didn’t ever give it all. I didn’t need to.”

Nibali won the stage to Sheffield on day two to take the yellow jersey and motored over the fifth day’s pavé sectors to add to his lead. Those days appeared to be the only stages where he needed to give it his all. The other days, like on Wednesday’s 10.2km climb to Pla d’Adet, his motor seemed to rev far below the red line.

The Sicilian known as “The Shark” let Jean-Christophe Peraud (Ag2r La Mondiale) attack to weaken Thibaut Pinot (FDJ.fr) and Alejandro Valverde (Movistar). He followed and made a move of his own. Seemingly playing with his rivals, he appeared to slow and let them catch on. He then went for the kill, closing his jaws and biting hard.

The damage, even with the Italian riding within himself, was evident under the sun at 5,511 feet. Nibali gained 49 seconds on Valverde and 54 on Pinot, his two closest rivals, respectively, in the GC.

Heading into Thursday’s stage to Hautacam, the last mountain stage of the 2014 Tour, Nibali leads Valverde by 5:26 — a comfortable buffer that affords him an easier ride over the two HC climbs.

“I’m happy that my legs are responding well. I feel well,” Nibali said, wrapped in his 15th yellow jersey of the Tour.

“I have to think about taking those important seconds when I can. I may have an off-day or a crisis, you just don’t know, so it’s good to have the time. I will only be able to say that I won when I’m in Paris.”

Nibali may not have been able to play with his rivals had Chris Froome (Sky) and Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) still been in the race. Nibali took the yellow jersey on day two, but it was not until Froome abandoned in stage five and Contador withdrew from stage 10 that it began to look secure on his shoulders.

“If Chris Froome or Alberto Contador were here, I’d have to push myself a lot more, for sure,” Nibali added. “For sure, it’s a different race now. Froome and Contador, when they attack, they are very explosive so you have to be very attentive.”

Astana appears happy with how Nibali is racing towards Paris. The feeling is one of celebration, even if the race is not yet complete. Every day at the bus, the number of team supporters and helpers in the team’s distinctive turquoise appears to be larger.

“If he keeps doing what he does, just remaining covered and behind riders until he needs to strike out on his own, then he will be fine,” team trainer Paolo Slongo said.

“Even attacking and gaining seconds is not taking too much toll on his motor, he should be able to carry the load all the way to Paris.”

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Behind Nibali’s dominance, first French podium in nearly 20 years looks likely http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/07/news/behind-nibalis-dominance-first-french-podium-nearly-20-years-looks-likely_337998 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/07/news/behind-nibalis-dominance-first-french-podium-nearly-20-years-looks-likely_337998#comments Wed, 23 Jul 2014 20:14:15 +0000 Andrew Hood http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=337998

Jean Christophe Peraud was happy to have the legs to ride with Nibali on the final climb. In doing so, he moved within eight seconds of third place on GC. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

The long drought for Italian and French riders at the Tour de France is likely to come to an end in 2014

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Jean Christophe Peraud was happy to have the legs to ride with Nibali on the final climb. In doing so, he moved within eight seconds of third place on GC. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

SAINT-LARY PLA d’ADET, France (VN) — The long drought for Italian and French riders at the Tour de France seems poised to come to a close.

Barring disaster, Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) will become the first Italian winner of the Tour de France since Marco Pantani in 1998. On the most explosive of a trio of stages across the Pyrénées, the stoic Italian was like a cat playing with mice Wednesday, tightening his grip on the yellow jersey to 5:26.

With such calm dominance, the only real battle remaining in this Tour is the fight for the podium, and it’s looking very likely that a French rider could reach the top-three for the first time since Richard Virenque was second in 1997.

Three French riders hog the top-five behind second-place Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), something unprecedented in modern cycling. Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) defends third place, now 6:00 back. A surging Jean-Christophe Peraud is fourth, at 6:08, and Ag2r-La Mondiale teammate Romain Bardet is fifth, 7:34 in arrears.

Following a tough day Tuesday for time trial threat Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing), who bled time and fell more than four minutes behind third place, a French podium finish is looking all but assured.

Peraud, a former mountain biker who didn’t even preview the Pyrénéen stages because he never expected to be in the GC hunt, is showing the best form. He’s been able to follow Nibali’s accelerations the past two days, distancing his rivals, and positioning himself for a podium run.

“I am content with my level. To hang in there with Nibali in the third week, ufff, that’s something,” Peraud said at the finish. “I was lucky to have him with me, and we worked together, and I thank him.”

Of the three French riders, Peraud is by far the best time trialist. The 37-year-old won the 2009 French time trial championship, and has been on solid form all season, winning the Critérium International in March, and taking third at the even-harder Vuelta al País Vasco in April.

Whippet-thin Bardet is expected to lose minutes on the hilly but long 54km time trial at Bergerac, and looks to have all but given up on the podium, especially with the rise of teammate Peraud. Pinot, just eight seconds ahead of Peraud, admits he will have a hard time holding that position.

“I know I will have to attack tomorrow if I want to have hopes of the podium,” Pinot said. “Peraud is a much better time trialist than me, and he could even pass Valverde for second place. I would need one good minute on Peraud and Valverde in the time trial, so if I hope to finish on the podium, I must attack tomorrow and take a lot of time.”

Thursday’s final mountain stage comes first, with the HC Tourmalet summit, and the long, grinding finale up Hautacam.

Peraud has been in the game long enough not to count his chickens before they’re hatched.

“We’ll see on the Champs-Élysées. We’re not going to make plans too soon,” Peraud said when asked about the podium. “I can have a bad day tomorrow, and lose what I have gained. But I’m going to fight for the podium now.”

Speaking before the stage, Ag2r-La Mondiale boss Vincent Lavenu also warned it’s too early to talk about the podium.

“We hope to make it through Thursday’s hard stage to Hautacam, and then we can see how things stack up,” Lavenu said. “Bardet is not finished yet. Gaining time on van Garderen was important, because he was such a threat in the time trial. Now I think the French will be fighting for the podium, but tomorrow is still another hard day, and we’ve seen big riders lose time almost every day.”

One big question mark is how second-place Valverde will roll out of the Pyrénées. A day after all but eliminating van Garderen’s podium hopes, the Spaniard struggled on the final climb, but countered to link up with Bardet and Pinot, and even gapped them in the final surge to the line, taking five seconds to the two young Frenchmen.

“I was struggling there a bit when it accelerated, and I decided to go at my own pace to not risk blowing up,” Valverde said. “I was able to come back and limit the losses. Tomorrow is another hard stage. I think more differences will be made there.”

Valverde cannot let Peraud gain any more time, or his second-place podium could be threatened. Peraud is only 42 seconds behind him, and the Frenchman could erase that time difference with a strong ride at Bergerac.

And then there’s van Garderen, who bounced back from his bad day with a solid climb Wednesday to finish with Bardet and Pinot. Though a long shot, van Garderen could revive his podium hopes with a big ride Thursday, coupled with bad days from Pinot and Peraud.

“Anything is possible. If you had asked me two days ago, I would have said it’s very possible. Yes, it’s possible, but it will be hard,” van Garderen said of his podium chances. “Yesterday was a pity. It was an off day. If someone has a bad day, I have to take advantage of it.”

Strong performances by French riders in this Tour have created a buzz in France not seen in nearly two decades. The last Frenchman to win the Tour was Bernard Hinault, in 1985, and after Virenque’s scandal-plagued career, no French rider has seriously challenged for the podium since the late 1990s.

The last Frenchman to come close to the podium was Thomas Voeckler (Europcar), who took big gains in a breakaway, and surprisingly held on until the Galibier stage, eventually settling on fourth.

What’s significant about the French performances in this Tour is that they’ve battled through the GC. The absences of Chris Froome (Sky) and Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) have altered the dynamics for the podium fight, but the French riders have consistently been at the sharp end of the action throughout all the key stages.

Nicolas Portal, the French director at Team Sky, said it would be a boon for French cycling if one of the Frenchman could reach the final podium in Paris when the Tour ends Sunday.

“It has been so long since French riders have challenged in the Tour, so it is very exciting for the French public,” Portal told VeloNews. “The race means a lot to the public, not just for the competition, but what it means culturally. It would be wonderful if a French rider can be on the podium.”

Even Nibali has been impressed with the French riders so far in this Tour.

“We are seeing a new generation of French riders, with Bardet and Pinot. It’s not a complete surprise,” Nibali said in a press conference. “We saw Pinot win a stage and finish in the top-10 already, and he continues to progress. The French riders are showing their strength in this Tour.”

The French might be back, but a podium spot is all they can hope for in this Tour. Nibali isn’t about to let go of the yellow jersey out of kindness.

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Preview: Tour de France, stage 18 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/07/news/road/preview-tour-de-france-stage-18_337995 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/07/news/road/preview-tour-de-france-stage-18_337995#comments Wed, 23 Jul 2014 18:03:48 +0000 VeloNews.com http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=337995

Stage 18 of the 2014 Tour de France.

On the Tour's final mountain stage, the peloton tackles the Tourmalet and the Hautacam

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Stage 18 of the 2014 Tour de France.

On the Tour's final mountain stage, the peloton tackles the Tourmalet and the Hautacam

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Racism at the Tour, or a misunderstanding? http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/07/news/racism-tour-misunderstanding_337982 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/07/news/racism-tour-misunderstanding_337982#comments Wed, 23 Jul 2014 17:53:15 +0000 Matthew Beaudin http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=337982

Kevin Reza rode in the breakaway on stage 16. After the race, there was confusion and controversy about whether or not Michael Albasini made racial slurs during the heat of the moment. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

After stage 16, Albasini is accused of making a racist remark to Kevin Reza during the stage. The riders appear to have settled the matter

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Kevin Reza rode in the breakaway on stage 16. After the race, there was confusion and controversy about whether or not Michael Albasini made racial slurs during the heat of the moment. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

SAINT-LARY, France (VN) — The language of the breakaway is subtle, communication found in elbow flicks and disappearing wheels. Talking doesn’t usually matter very much in bike racing.

But on Tuesday, words were some of the loudest elements of the day. After the stage ended in Bagnères-de-Luchon, a report emerged that indicated Switzerland’s Michael Albasini called Kévin Reza, the only black rider in the race and one of few in the sport, a “dirty negro,” according to Reza’s general manager at Europcar, Jean-René Bernaudeau.

Reza, he said, was upset after the stage, and that the comments were “unacceptable, inadmissible,” reported France’s Sud Ouest website. “I do not tolerate racism,” Bernaudeau said. “After doping it is the other scourge of the sport.”

Reza did not address the matter Wednesday morning with journalists. Bernaudeau said his rider was focusing on the race instead, and the general manager, a day after his passionate comments, wouldn’t speak to the matter.

“Before you ask a question, the case is closed. They met; they have had an explanation. Case is closed,” he told reporters. “I can’t stand racism. The case is closed. It was a strategic problem. Kevin had no authorization to pull in the breakaway, they talked and said things they shouldn’t. The case is totally closed.”

For his part, Albasini said it was a misunderstanding under hard physical circumstances. “I’m happy I could see him this morning to say my version, and I apologized for [the] misunderstanding, I hope that he understood that there wasn’t anything racist; I was just angry with the situation. We had a good discussion and a handshake, all the stories are now clear.”

Albasini said he was racing on the limit, working to drive a then five-man break that had some 45 seconds on the main field. He was frustrated with what he saw as Reza’s lack of contribution to the effort. “I wasn’t happy, and I was angry. I said to him some words that maybe I shouldn’t have, but none of them were racist.”

He also said, “[Reza] came up and asked what I said. I said it again, I didn’t choose nice words, but that’s how it is when you are on your limit, but there were definitely no racist comments. I told him, how nice it was to have one guy on your wheel when you are going full gas, so I don’t understand how it came out that I was saying something racist.”

Albasini (Orica-GreenEdge) also cited the international flavor of the peloton as a reason for what he characterized as a misunderstanding.

“You know there are many languages spoken in the bunch, I don’t speak English perfectly, I speak a little bit of French, not perfectly, [Reza] doesn’t speak my languages. That can happen, a misunderstanding.”

The issue of racism in cycling is far less reported on than in larger sports, such as upper-echelon soccer, where the governing body itself routinely runs advertisements on the issue. That isn’t to say the issue doesn’t exist at all, however. In 2010, when Nairo Quintana won the Tour de l’Avenir, he recounted in an interview with Colombian media that French riders insulted him for being South American, and tried to knock him from the road.

Garmin-Sharp sport director Robbie Hunter came into the professional peloton 16 years ago. The bunch, Hunter said, was welcoming of a rider with talent, regardless of ethnicity.

“I can’t speak to what happened because I wasn’t there. What I can say is the peloton is a very tolerant place. There are always going to be some people who don’t like change. When I turned pro 16 years ago I was the first South African. But I mean, a person does their work and becomes good bike rider and all of the sudden no one remembers where you’re from or anything like that,” Hunter said. “It doesn’t make a difference. People who stand up and say the group itself intolerant, definitely not. Definitely not … The sport is about the athletes and nothing else.”

Some things will remain unknown. For example, what did Albasini say, exactly?

“I’m not going to repeat any bad words in the media because when you’re in sport going full gas, hard words are said, but there’s no sense to repeat it,” Albasini said.

Orica manager Shane Bannon said the team has a strict policy regarding racism, and also that he believed Albasini, as Bernaudeau said he believed in his rider.

“The team position of racism [is that it] isn’t tolerated. That’s the team’s position and we stand by that,” Bannon said. “We do believe what [Albasini] has presented to us. And we do believe that, but we also understand that there could have been some miscommunication, and repeat again that racial slurs and comments are not acceptable and are not about what we are as a team.”

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Majka grabs stage 17 win at Tour de France http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/07/news/majka-grabs-stage-17-win-at-tour-de-france_337930 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/07/news/majka-grabs-stage-17-win-at-tour-de-france_337930#comments Wed, 23 Jul 2014 15:21:27 +0000 Jason Devaney http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=337930

Rafal Majka's stage 17 win gives Tinkoff-Saxo their third stage win in the last four days of the Tour. Majka also jumped ahead in the mountains classification with his aggressive ride to Pla d'Adet. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

Rafal Majka gave Tinkoff-Saxo its third win of the Tour on Wednesday, taking the honors in the climbing-heavy stage 17

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Rafal Majka's stage 17 win gives Tinkoff-Saxo their third stage win in the last four days of the Tour. Majka also jumped ahead in the mountains classification with his aggressive ride to Pla d'Adet. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

Rafal Majka (Tinkoff-Saxo) won the 17th stage of the Tour de France on Wednesday, his second triumph at the race.

The stage featured four leg-breaking climbs — three Cat. 1s before the hors categorie ascent of Saint-Lary Pla d’Adet at the finish.

Majka attacked from a chase group on the final climb, passed several riders, and eventually found himself at the front of the race. He rode the final 2.4km solo en route to victory.

Giovanni Visconti (Movistar) finished second at 29 seconds back, while race leader Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) was third, 46 seconds behind Majka.

“This is a thank you for my team, working for me always, especially Nicolas [Roche], who was always working for me, riding really strong,” Majka said. “I passed everyone to win the stage, and now I have the KOM jersey. I’m really happy. [Team manager] Bjarne [Riis] told me to wait, don’t go with [Joaquim] Rodriguez, we need to win the stage, and if we win the stage, we’ll take the jersey.”

Tinkoff has now won three of the last four stages, with Michael Rogers taking Tuesday’s stage 16 and Majka winning Saturday’s stage 14. The team was dealt a blow last week when its leader Alberto Contador crashed out of the race.

Nibali has a 5:26 lead over Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) in the GC standings, while Thibaut Pinot (FDJ.fr) is 6:00 back in third. Two others — Jean-Christophe Peraud and Romain Bardet, both of Ag2r-La Mondiale — are 8 seconds and 1:34 behind Pinot, respectively.

Final climb

At the base of the final ascent to the finish line, four riders were at the front of the race: Roche, Visconti, Pierre Rolland (Europcar), and Amael Moinard (BMC Racing). Visconti surged ahead on the lower slopes of the mountain, which caused some chaos in the small group as everyone tried to match Visconti’s effort.

Roche attacked and reeled Visconti back, and the group was all together once again shortly after the attack began.

But with 9km left, Visconti tried again and this time he was successful. Now riding off the front, the Italian began his solo trek up the mountain that nearly resulted in a stage win.

Meanwhile, in the chase group that was trying to catch Visconti and his three primary chasers, Majka broke away as he attempted to maintain his grip on the polka dot (mountains classification) jersey.

Majka seemed to be enjoying his chase of the leaders, repeatedly smiling at TV cameras as he passed them. At one point, he made a show of how steep the climb was by grabbing a large antenna mounted on the back of a TV motorbike and pushing off.

Majka dropped Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) with 7.5km left before reaching the three chasers riding behind Visconti half a kilometer later.

Now riding with a teammate in Roche, Majka took a break and rode on his wheel as he geared up for his final effort.

One kilometer after that, Majka decided it was time. He surged ahead of the group, riding at a high cadence as he tried to reach Visconti. He eventually caught him with 4.2km remaining, at which point the two began working together as they continued to climb.

With 3km of uphill still to go, Majka looked fresh as he pedaled in complete circles. Visconti, meanwhile, was mashing on his pedals as he felt the sting of the steep grade.

At the 2.4km to go mark, Majka attacked and immediately opened a gap, going so hard that it seemed like Visconti was merely spinning on a bike trainer.

Majka slowed a bit in the final kilometer but still finished with a comfortable buffer between himself and Visconti.

“I tried so hard today. I really was thinking I could win, but unfortunately, Majka was looking for a win,” Visconti said. “He just dug deeper and had more than me, but I’m happy. It’s OK to finish second. I’ve been struggling with some of the tougher stages of this Tour, and I thought for a second I might have a chance to win.”

GC battle

The contenders in the GC mostly rode together for much of the race in a pack several minutes behind the stage leaders.

On the descent after the third climb of the day, the Cat. 1 col de Val Louron-Azet, Romain Bardet (Ag2r) decided to jump ahead and try to improve on his position — he was fifth overall entering the stage.

Bardet flew down the descent and was just 1:35 behind the stage leaders at the base of the Saint-Lary Pla d’Adet finishing climb. His assault on the GC continued on the ascent, but when Peraud attacked the group with around 5.5km left, Nibali responded immediately. The pair caught Bardet shortly after, and Nibali then attacked with 5km left to race.

Nibali and Peraud quickly caught and passed Rodriguez, who was running out of steam, and continued to make their way up the mountain.

With Majka and Visconti having 3km left to climb, Nibali and Peraud were 1:30 behind. Bardet, Pinot, and Tejay van Garderen (BMC) were another 8 seconds back.

“Yesterday was a pity, it was an off day,” van Garderen said. “You can’t change that. You can only look ahead.” Asked if a podium finish is still a possibility, he said, “Anything is possible. If you would have asked me a couple days ago I would have said, it is really possible. Now, yes it is possible. But it will be hard.”

“It’s not been a good day for me,” said Pinot. “I felt a bit less good today and I had to limit the damage. I felt it right from the beginning that it wasn’t a good day. Perhaps I paid for my efforts from yesterday. I hope I’ll have better legs tomorrow. The Tourmalet and Hautacam are big mountains.”

Nibali and Peraud rode together the rest of the way to the finish line as Peraud earned the prize for the Most Aggressive Rider for the day.

“I’m very happy with my form, hanging onto Nibali in the third week,” said Peraud. “I had the good fortune of having him as a point of reference. He worked with me and I thank him for that.”

The race picks Thursday with the 145.5km stage 18 from Pau to Hautacam that features two beyond category climbs.


EN – Summary – Stage 17 (Saint-Gaudens > Saint… by tourdefrance

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Gerrans pulls out of Tour de France in wake of stage 1 crash http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/07/news/gerrans-pulls-out-of-tour-de-france-in-wake-of-stage-1-crash_337924 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/07/news/gerrans-pulls-out-of-tour-de-france-in-wake-of-stage-1-crash_337924#comments Wed, 23 Jul 2014 12:42:58 +0000 VeloNews.com http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=337924

Simon Gerrans crashed near the finish line of stage 1. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

Gerrans went down hard in the opening stage and had been trying to make it to Paris ever since

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Simon Gerrans crashed near the finish line of stage 1. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

SAINT-LARY, France (AFP) — Australian champion Simon Gerrans did not start the 17th stage of the Tour de France on Wednesday.

The 34-year-old Orica-GreenEdge rider had been suffering since crashing on the first stage more than two weeks ago.

“Obviously it’s disappointing not to complete the Tour de France and make it to Paris,” said the winner of April’s Liège–Bastogne–Liège.

“But with the injuries I have from stage 1 I think the best decision is actually to stop now and completely recover.

“I know I haven’t been 100 percent right since my crash but I was hoping to improve throughout the race. That hasn’t really been the case so I have been putting on a brave face and doing what I can each day.”

Gerrans wore the Tour leader’s yellow jersey for two days last year after Orica won the stage 4 team time trial.

He had also won the third stage before that, but he has been unable to truly challenge for a stage win this time around.

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Contador says he won’t race the Vuelta http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/07/news/contador-says-wont-race-vuelta_337920 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/07/news/contador-says-wont-race-vuelta_337920#comments Wed, 23 Jul 2014 12:30:10 +0000 VeloNews.com http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=337920 The Spaniard quit the Tour de France last week after crashing badly in stage 10

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MADRID, Spain (AFP) — Spanish rider Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo), who crashed out of the Tour de France last week, on Wednesday ruled out competing in next month’s Vuelta a Espana.

Contador quit the Tour, which he had been bidding to win for a third time, after suffering a fractured shinbone on the tough 10th stage.

“Bad day today. The healing of the wound is getting complicated… Goodbye to the Vuelta,” Contador wrote in Spanish and English on Twitter.

The 31-year-old crashed badly on a descent during the mountainous stage from Mulhouse to La Planche des Belles Filles.

He did not need surgery on his fractured tibia, and in a second Tweet he thanked doctors in Madrid’s Cemtro Clinic for their treatment.

Contador won the Vuelta in 2008 and 2012. This year’s race runs from August 23 to September 14.

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Cervelo, Rotor partner with MTN-Qhubeka for 2015 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/07/news/cervelo-rotor-partner-mtn-qhubeka-2015_337885 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/07/news/cervelo-rotor-partner-mtn-qhubeka-2015_337885#comments Tue, 22 Jul 2014 21:13:33 +0000 VeloNews.com http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=337885

MTN-Qhubeka has partnered with Cervelo and Rotor for 2015. Photo: Casey B. Gibson | www.cbgphoto.com

Cervélo and Rotor have signed a deal with South African-registered pro continental squad MTN-Qhubeka for 2015

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MTN-Qhubeka has partnered with Cervelo and Rotor for 2015. Photo: Casey B. Gibson | www.cbgphoto.com

The game of sponsor musical chairs continues. Cervelo and Rotor, both current sponsors of Garmin-Sharp, have signed a deal with South African-registered pro continental squad MTN-Qhubeka for 2015.

Trek, MTN-Qhubeka’s current bike sponsor, will focus on its own World Tour team in 2015.

Cervelo’s move to MTN-Qhubeka only fuels rumors swirling around the Tour de France that Garmin-Sharp and Cannondale will combine in 2015. Of course, there would be no room for a second bike brand in the event of a merger.

The partnership between Cervelo, Rotor, and the South African team will be led by Cervelo co-founder Gerard Vroomen, who left the company shortly after it was bought by Pon Group in 2012, and will focus on taking the “fan experience and interaction to a whole new level,” according to a Cervelo statement.

Much of that interaction will be related to MTN-Qhubeka’s charitable mission. Qhubeka is an organization that provides bicycles in return for work done to improve communities or the environment, and for academic results. Cervelo will introduce team-replica bike models in 2015 and will donate a Qhubeka foundation bicycle for every replica bike sold.

“Cervelo is excited at the opportunity to support both the team and the Qhubeka Foundation,” said Cervelo managing director Robert Reijers. “Not just in terms of high-performance racing, but also because we truly believe that by providing cycling mobility, we can directly benefit people’s lives by increasing the distance they can travel, what they can carry, where they can go, and how fast they can get there.”

The team’s 2015 roster will be announced soon, and will continue to pull on both African, European, and North American talent, according to the statement from Cervelo. MTN-Qhubeka will tackle its first grand tour, the Vuelta a Espana, this fall.

“Cervelo has always been synonymous with the highest levels of racing performance, “said team Principal Douglas Ryder in a statement. “The new team will be competitive on the world stage, and Cervelo has already won everything from the world championships to cobbled classics like Paris-Roubaix and Grand Tours including the Tour de France.”

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Tour de France marks a low point for Team Sky http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/07/news/skys-tour-marks-low-point-team_337858 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/07/news/skys-tour-marks-low-point-team_337858#comments Tue, 22 Jul 2014 20:57:25 +0000 Gregor Brown http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=337858

Vasil Kiryienka tried to salvage Sky's Tour de France on stage 16, but he was unable to remain with the breakaway to contest the win. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

Brailsford tells riders, "There are other blokes who are disappointed not to be here and they would rip your arm off to be sitting in this

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Vasil Kiryienka tried to salvage Sky's Tour de France on stage 16, but he was unable to remain with the breakaway to contest the win. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

BAGNÈRES-DE-LUCHON, France (VN) — With only five days remaining in the 2014 Tour de France, Team Sky risks having one of its worst grand tours since it hit the road in 2010. This comes on the heels of a rather quiet Giro d’Italia in May. After winning the Tour with Bradley Wiggins in 2012, and Chris Froome in 2013, Team Sky is maintaining a cool exterior as the Tour races toward Paris.

“I don’t think it’s the same scenario as in 2010. In 2010, we weren’t at the races, we weren’t close,” Brailsford said. ”If Chris [Froome] was here, he’d win or be on the podium. If you lose a rider to a crash, that’s a separate scenario.”

Froome’s joys and suffering went hand in hand with Sky’s. He helped the team ride on top of the wave with several stage race wins — Tour of Oman, Critérium International, Tour de Romandie, and Critérium du Dauphiné — en route to the 2013 Tour de France win. It was rosy, literally, because Sky had won the team time trial stage and held the pink jersey as well for a day in the Giro d’Italia two months prior.

This year, Froome suffered back pain, withdrew from races and crashed in the Tour lead-up. He crashed three times in nearly 24 hours, once the race got rolling out of Leeds, and he abandoned on day five. He didn’t do so easily, he tried to persist, but the pain of broken bones in his wrist and hand were too much.

Richie Porte immediately became plan B but faded as soon as the race hit its Alpine stages. Later, he revealed that he was suffering from a chest infection.

The Giro went the same way that the Tour is going. Without a GC man to begin with, Sky raced for stages instead of the overall, coming away with two seconds and a third place.

Already two-thirds in, the team is far away from its heady days in 2012 and 2013 when Bradley Wiggins and Froome dominated. Instead of arranging seating for waiting journalists on the second rest day, it simply did not bother to schedule an official press conference.

It has been a long time since the team has been in such a spot. In its debut grand tour in 2010, Wiggins won the Giro’s opening time trial and wore the pink jersey on stage 2. The 2014 season has been its first hard patch since it got rolling to podium places and overall wins.

Brailsford, in fact, gathered the team staff and riders on the bus Monday evening for a pep talk ahead of the final phase of the Tour.

“We broke the list down. You can either point fingers at each other or … Everyone’s tired. It’s very very easy to start saying, ‘I think it’s your fault.’ Cracks start to appear. That’s not going to happen. We might not look great from the outside, but in here we are going to stick together,” Brailsford said.

“I told them, ‘We have 17 riders who wanted to ride this race and you all scrapped like hell to try and get selected. You got selected. I won’t entertain the idea that this is hard. Or there’s rain. I am not having that because there are other blokes who are disappointed not to be here and they would rip your arm off to be sitting in this bus.’”

It might not all be doom and gloom. Sky put Bernie Eisel and Vasil Kiryienka in stage 16′s main escape that produced eventual winner Michael Rogers (Tinkoff-Saxo). The team is showing its fighting spirit even if it lost Froome and saw Porte fade.

If it fails to win in the Tour, it still may look ahead to the Vuelta a España where Froome is tipped to lead the team, and Wiggins may return. With the grand tour season as it is so far, though, the pressure will be on the team in Spain to make amends and to revive the Sky of 2012 and 2013.

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Van Garderen’s podium hopes take dive in Movistar ambush http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/07/news/van-garderens-podium-hopes-take-dive-movistar-ambush_337822 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/07/news/van-garderens-podium-hopes-take-dive-movistar-ambush_337822#comments Tue, 22 Jul 2014 18:33:20 +0000 Andrew Hood http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=337822

Despite BMC's efforts to salvage the stage, Tejay van Garderen lost a significant amount of time on GC, and faces an uphill battle to make the final podium in Paris. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

On the Tour's first Pyrénéan day, Movistar takes control, putting time in to Tejay van Garderen, who was not at his best

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Despite BMC's efforts to salvage the stage, Tejay van Garderen lost a significant amount of time on GC, and faces an uphill battle to make the final podium in Paris. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

BAGNERES de LUCHON, France (VN) — There was blood in the water on the Port de Balés climb. It wasn’t Vincenzo Nibali (Astana), nicknamed the “Shark,” stirring the choppy seas on the relentlessly steep escarpment in the Tour’s first Pyrénéan day. Instead, it was Movistar, who came blazing out of the final Tour de France rest day, ready to ravage the peloton.

Movistar pinned three riders on the front during the narrow, steep, unforgiving climb, and managed to isolate Nibali, leaving the yellow jersey exposed for the first time this Tour.

Yet it wasn’t Nibali who Movistar was targeting. Instead, it was riders behind Movistar captain Alejandro Valverde on GC, and one in particular: Tejay van Garderen.

The BMC Racing captain was a direct threat to Valverde’s shot at a career-first podium, and when van Garderen drifted to the back of the elite group of riders red-lining it in the GC selection, Movistar turned the screws even tighter. When the bleeding stopped at the finish line, the damage was done. Van Garderen’s podium hopes lay in tatters, and Valverde’s enjoyed a huge boost.

“Movistar just made an insane tempo,” van Garderen told journalists at the BMC bus. “It was just too hard.”

Valverde remained second at 4:37 to the ever-steady Nibali, but van Garderen plummeted to sixth, now 9:25 back of Nibali, and 4:48 to the Spanish veteran.

“It’s definitely disappointing,” van Garderen continued. “I had hopes for a podium, and now it looks like it’s taken a big hit.”

Cycling is a cruel sport. One team’s celebration invariably means another’s disappointment.

While there was a bit of doom and gloom around the BMC bus after the stage, there was a quiet sense of jubilation at Movistar.

Many of the riders’ families made the trek over the Pyrénées to watch the stage, and a loud gaggle of Spanish wives, children, and parents crowded around the bus.

“We have to be satisfied with how the stage went,” Valverde said. “Nibali is solid, but we were able to distance van Garderen, who was the most dangerous rider for the time trial [Saturday]. It makes things more comfortable for the podium.”

Just 24 hours before, van Garderen was quietly confident that he would have the legs to stay close to the pointy end of the GC. Movistar, however, was intent on making things difficult. The accelerations also gapped Romain Bardet (Ag2r-La Mondiale), who dropped from third to fifth, now 6:40 back.

John Gadret, the French rider on Movistar, sought some shade in the front seat of a team van, waiting for the police escort to cross the border, to spend the night in Spain in nearby Vielha.

“The idea today was to eliminate some of the podium rivals. Nibali was strong once again,” Gadret told VeloNews. “Van Garderen was very dangerous for Alejandro. Now we are more secure to try to reach the podium in Paris.”

While the Spanish entourage was looking forward to a night in Spain before crossing back into France for Wednesday’s stage, BMC Racing was trying to figure out what happened.

“He certainly wasn’t the Tejay we’ve seen in the first two weeks of the Tour,” BMC Racing general manager Jim Ochowicz told reporters. “He just had a bad day. We didn’t expect that to happen. We hope he can come back tomorrow, and the others can lose time.”

The Pyrénées clearly have not treated van Garderen well. Last year, in the first major climbing stage of the 2013 Tour, van Garderen lost more than 12 minutes on the stage to Ax-3 Domaines.

Van Garderen’s podium hopes are further complicated by the presence of three French riders ahead of him on GC. Thibaut Pinot (FDJ), who has been consistent across the Tour, climbed to third at 5:06 back. Jean-Christophe Péraud (Ag2r-La Mondiale) climbed to fourth, at 6:08. Bardet is now fifth, at 6:40 back. All three are nearly three minutes ahead of van Garderen.

“I just didn’t have the legs. I felt a bit empty,” van Garderen explained. “I am really hoping I can bounce back tomorrow and recover the legs I had in the Alps. It’s not finished. There are still three hard GC days to come, so I’m hoping I can bounce back.”

Even with the penultimate-day time trial waiting Saturday, a solid time trialist like van Garderen cannot realistically hope to take that much time back against the likes of Valverde and Péraud.

As this Tour has shown, seemingly every rider has at least one bad day. Pinto and Péraud have been solid up until now. If van Garderen can bounce back, he will need to attack the French riders if he hopes to revive his podium ambitions.

Valverde, meanwhile, solidified his grip on a podium spot. Wednesday will reveal if Movistar is racing to win the Tour, or be content with a podium in Paris.

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Rogers makes it two for Tinkoff http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/07/news/rogers-makes-two-tinkoff_337802 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/07/news/rogers-makes-two-tinkoff_337802#comments Tue, 22 Jul 2014 17:05:43 +0000 Matthew Beaudin http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=337802

After a difficult start to the 2014 season, Michael Rogers has changed his mindset, and it payed off with a victory on stage 16 of the Tour. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

Michael Rogers wins his first Tour stage in 10 Tours de France, and not one moment was lost on him

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After a difficult start to the 2014 season, Michael Rogers has changed his mindset, and it payed off with a victory on stage 16 of the Tour. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

BAGNÉRES-DE-LUCHON, France (VN) — No one was beating Michael Rogers today. On the descent into Bagnéres-de-Luchon he said as much. No, someone would have to rip this from his fingers. He was close now, so close.

“I knew Tommy Voeckler (Europcar) would be hard to beat. I tried a few times to drop him on the climb, but I couldn’t,” Rogers said at the finish. “I knew I had to outwit them in the final. Voeckler had a teammate behind, and he started playing that game, but I wouldn’t have it. I said, ‘Listen, don’t play with me, you’re not going to beat me today, there’s no way.’ On the descent, I thought, I’ve been in this position too many times to lose, I’m either going to crash or I’m going to win today.”

Rogers rolled the dice and attacked in a corner as the pace lulled. Now or never.

“This year I think I’ve changed mentally, and when it rains, it pours. I’ve changed upstairs. I’m more hungry, and opportunities seem clearer to me. I’m not scared of the outcome,” Rogers said. “I used to be afraid of failure, but once you believe, and you’re not scared of the outcome, things become clearer, and opportunities arise.”

All it took for Rogers to get this was 10 years and some 200 stages at the Tour de France. But it was easy to see as the Australian crossed the line with no one else in the frame, after a shark-toothed Pyrenean stage, that those Tours, those hours, were worth this exact moment. Emotion coursed through him as he pedaled in, a dream long-deferred finally realized for the three-time world time trial champion. He’d held on by nine seconds to beat Voeckler. Rogers rolled into the breakaway at kilometer 28 and never looked back.

It’s a story of redemption for both Rogers and his Tinkoff-Saxo squad. Earlier this season it didn’t seem Rogers would even be here in France or in Tinkoff yellow at all; he tested positive for clenbuterol at the Japan Cup last year, and was temporarily sidelined as the case played out. The UCI released a statement this spring, saying there was a high probability the substance came from eating contaminated meat, and Rogers was able to return to racing. He did so with a bang, winning two stages at the Giro d’Italia — including the fabled Zoncolan. On Tuesday, he added a Tour stage to his palmares.

As for Tinkoff, Rogers’ win is its second of the Tour, both coming after captain Alberto Contador had to abandon with a broken leg. Considering that, it’s been a remarkable Tour for Tinkoff. Rafal Majka now holds the mountains classification, and also won a mountain stage, up to Risoul.

“It was tough for those four or five days after Alberto left. There was no plan B for us. We made a new plan A,” Rogers said. “I realized that you have to be in it to win it … I realized if you try your best, the worst thing that can happen is that you lose. And if you lose, you tried your best.”

Rogers said he sees things clearer now after his time off the bike, and his results bear that out.

“It’s been a lesson in life for me. As I said previously. I just accepted the person who I was. I’d always dreamed of wining a grand tour. I tried for many years,” Rogers said. “All the sudden I realized, stop trying to live someone else’s life … Objectives are sometimes, how can you describe them? Very hard to understand. And sometimes you need a lesson in life to see the real silver lining.”

In this case, the silver lining is being here at all, in taking his own chances after Contador exited — and descending like he stole something off Port de Balès.

“I was desperate for that stage. I understood the opportunity I had in front of me,” Rogers said. “There’s no gifts when you win a stage. It’s because on that day you were the best.”

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Rogers attacks, then wins stage 16 at the Tour http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/07/news/rogers-attacks-then-wins-stage-16-at-the-tour_337778 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/07/news/rogers-attacks-then-wins-stage-16-at-the-tour_337778#comments Tue, 22 Jul 2014 15:08:53 +0000 Jason Devaney http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=337778

Michael Rogers' daring attack at the end of stage 16 earned him his first-ever Tour de France stage victory. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

Three months after he was cleared in a doping case, Michael Rogers, 34, wins his first Tour de France stage

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Michael Rogers' daring attack at the end of stage 16 earned him his first-ever Tour de France stage victory. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

Michael Rogers (Tinkoff-Saxo) won stage 16 at the Tour de France on Tuesday.

Rogers was in the lead group when he attacked 4.5 kilometers from the finish. He then time trialed his way to the line to capture the victory in the 237.5km stage from Carcassonne to Bagnères-de-Luchon.

Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) finished second and Vasil Kiryienka (Sky) took third.

With about 10km left, Rogers and Voeckler were joined at the front of the race by Cyril Gautier (Europcar) and Kiryienka. The foursome, which was riding together earlier before it broke apart during the fast, 21km descent to the finish from the top of the Port de Balès, a hors category climb, was struggling to work efficiently together when Rogers decided to give it a go.

He immediately broke away from Gautier, with whom he was riding slightly ahead of the other two escapees, and put some real estate between the two. With the road still pointing downhill, Rogers was able to use gravity to help him plunge to the finish. He held a gap of less than 10 seconds as he passed under the flamme rouge, which proved to be enough.

Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) still leads the race by 4:37 over Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), while Thibaut Pinot (FDJ.fr), thanks to an aggressive effort on the Port de Balès climb, slid into third place at 5:06 behind Nibali.

The stage win was the first for the 34-year-old Rogers at the Tour. In May, he won two stages at the Giro d’Italia.

“It’s amazing. I knew once I got to the bottom of the last climb, the race really began for me,” Rogers said. “I knew Tommy Voeckler would be hard to beat. I tried a few times to drop him on the climb, but I couldn’t. I knew I had to outwit them in the final. Voeckler had a teammate behind, and he started playing that game, but I wouldn’t have it. I said, ‘listen, don’t play with me, you’re not going to beat me today, there’s no way.’ On the descent, I thought, I’ve been in this position too many times to lose, I’m either going to crash or I’m going to win today.”

The victory was also sweet for Rogers in the wake of his positive test for the banned substance clenbuterol last fall. After winning the Japan Cup in October, Rogers turned in the test and was suspended when the results were announced two months later.

Rogers maintained his innocence, saying he ingested the substance through tainted meat. The UCI eventually agreed with him and cleared him of wrongdoing in April.

“This year I think I’ve changed mentally, and when it rains, it pours,” Rogers said. “I’ve changed upstairs, I’m more hungry, and opportunities seem clearer to me. I’m not scared of the outcome. I used to be afraid of failure, but once you believe, and you’re not scared of the outcome, things become clearer, and opportunities arise.”

Two battles on the Port de Bales

At the base of the 11.7km climb of the Port de Balès, there were several groups on the road. The lead group consisted of 21 riders but immediately fractured as the road went up. It was quickly down to 14 and continued to break up from there. The Rogers group of four riders formed 5km from the summit.

Gautier tried to break free at one point, but he was quickly reeled in and eventually fell back. Near the top of the climb, with a group of three — Rogers, Voeckler, and Serpa — at the front of the race, Serpa was the first to go. Voeckler tried to follow but could not, and Serpa earned the KOM points.

Meanwhile, several minutes behind the leaders there was another battle brewing between the GC contenders. A group that included Nibali, Valverde, Pinot, Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing), and the other podium hopefuls — along with their helpers — was riding in a tight pack. But as the road continued to go up, the climb took its toll.

Van Garderen fell back about halfway up. When Pinot attacked 4km from the top, Romain Bardet (Ag2r-La Mondiale), who began the day third overall, fell back as well. Nibali, Peraud, and Valverde matched Pinot’s effort and the group continued to move up the road.

“Movistar just made an insane tempo and it was just too hard,” van Garderen said. “I just kind of didn’t have the legs and felt a bit empty.”

Pinot soon grew tired, however, and raised his arm to call for help. What first appeared to be a request for assistance was actually a request for a teammate. Arnold Jeannesson, who was trailing the group, answered the call and bridged the gap. He jumped on the front of the small pack and upped the pace.

Jeannesson’s strong ride up the rest of the mountain helped Pinot regain some of the feeling in his legs, a fact that was clear when Pinot slingshotted past him near the summit. Nibali followed but couldn’t hold the wheel, and Pinot was able to crest the summit ahead of the group.

“I struck a blow. I had great legs and I had to take advantage of that,” said Pinot. “Bales is a very tough climb but tomorrow is another great stage and I hope to still have good legs. My aim is third place but I’ll have to wait until Saturday night to see where I am because there’s a 55km time trial [that day] and I need more time on Van Garderen and Peraud.”

Van Garderen lost valuable time on the day to finish 37th at 12:08 behind Rogers, and he is now sixth at 9:25 back in the GC. He began the day 5:49 back, but more importantly was a little more than a minute outside of the podium. Now he sits more than 4:00 off the podium.

“I am really hoping I can bounce [back] tomorrow and recover the legs I had in the Alps,” van Garderen said. “It is not finished. There are still three hard GC days to come, so I am hoping to bounce back.”

Downhill to the finish

With the stage leaders well ahead, the pack of GC riders started their descent to Bagnères-de-Luchon. Pinot sliced through the sweeping turns at top speed, with Nibali, a skilled descender, trailing not too far behind.

Jeannesson eventually caught up to Pinot and the twosome continued to grow. Several hairpin turns on the second half of the descent slowed everyone down and allowed Nibali and a few of the other guys who dropped back on the climb to latch back on.

Six of the riders from that group finished with the same time, while four others were within a minute.

The race picks up with Wednesday’s stage 17, which takes the riders 124.5km from Saint-Gaudens to Saint-Lary Pla d’Adet.


EN – Summary – Stage 16 (Carcassonne > Bagnères… by tourdefrance

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The Cycling Podcast: Looking ahead to the Tour’s final stages http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/07/news/cycling-podcast-looking-ahead-tours-final-stages_337779 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/07/news/cycling-podcast-looking-ahead-tours-final-stages_337779#comments Tue, 22 Jul 2014 14:58:16 +0000 VeloNews.com http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=337779

Andrew Hood and Matthew Beaudin discuss the Tour's final tests in the Pyrenees and the penultimate-stage Time Trial

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Horner Q&A: Father time, the Tour, and the Vuelta defense http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/07/news/horner-qa-father-time-the-tour-and-the-vuelta-defense_337710 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/07/news/horner-qa-father-time-the-tour-and-the-vuelta-defense_337710#comments Tue, 22 Jul 2014 13:31:51 +0000 Matthew Beaudin http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=337710

Can Chris Horner repeat at the Vuelta? He likes his chances. Photo: Caley Fretz | VeloNews.com

American Chris Horner is riding the Tour, but he’s focusing on defending his Vuelta a Espana title starting next month

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Can Chris Horner repeat at the Vuelta? He likes his chances. Photo: Caley Fretz | VeloNews.com

BAGNÉRES-DE-LUCHON, France (VN) — With each falling star from the Tour de France, the Vuelta a Espana has the potential to burn a little brighter, and with more drama.

Chris Froome (Sky) may ride. Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) isn’t on in France, while Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) will redouble his efforts. Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) is on the fence. Chris Horner (Lampre-Merida), however, is in — in a big way. At 42, he aims to repeat as champion, but the order is a tall one.

As usual, Horner is undaunted. VeloNews caught up with him before the start of stage 15 in Tallard.

VeloNews: It’s getting tougher to repeat. Wouldn’t you say?
Horner: I beat Nibali last year. He’s winning here this year. It is what it is. It’s always going to be harder when you add more competition, too. So that’s definitely the case.

Honestly, when I got hit in the tunnel a few months back, I thought if I broke my arms or legs that was the end of my career right there. So for sure you’re not making Spain. Froome, with a hand problem, small fracture, I’ve had that before. Been back on the bike right away but that doesn’t mean I had exactly what he has. It can definitely change things. But clearly, the competition could get better. Which is good — that’s what everybody wants. Which is what you want, you want to beat the best in the world. That’s why I’m at the Tour de France to begin with, so you can race against the best. But really last year to this year the only completion that you would really start to change is bringing Alberto and bringing Froome. Other than that we had Joaquim Rodriguez at his best, Valverde at his best, Nibali, OK, maybe he was a kilo heavy or something like that but he still did go on — all three of those guys went on to dominate the world championships, too, so you know they were on their best form.

Nibali, here I think we’re seeing maybe a slightly better version of him than what I raced against in Spain. Possibly. He looks like he’s a little bit lighter. That doesn’t always mean you’re better, but usually it’s a good sign.

VN: How are they different, the Tour and Vuelta?
CH: They’re completely different courses. They’re not the same. They’re absolutely different. The mountains are different. The first week wears you out in the Tour before you even get to the mountains, whereas in Spain you’ve already worn out those big, flat guys … the sprinters and all. You’ve already worn them out before they even get to a field sprint. They can’t do so much damage to me on the flat days like they did here in the Tour, so I arrive in the mountains fresher.

VN: You seem to like your chances?
CH: If I can recover outta here. Whatever the bronchitis thing that happened … if I can get outta here and recover, then I like my chances. I think it should be good. I’ll go back to the U.S. and I’ll be in the heat, finally, for the first time all year. Hopefully there’s no more car accidents in the dark tunnels and everything should be good.

Honestly, I have really good form here, I’m just sick. When you look at what I’ve done — and I’m still a little heavy and how soon it is since I left the ER, I’m very, very happy with my form. I just got sick. … The lungs just aren’t breathing 100 percent, which a few of us have it on the team. Who knows, maybe we picked up some cow s—t on the Paris-Roubaix stage.

VN: Say you win the Vuelta. Will you just call it a walk-off home run and retire right there?
CH: No no. I love — that stuff is hilarious. I hear it all the time. F—k that man. You might have another win left in you. I want to win again.

VN: But how about going out on top? There’s something to be said for that.
CH: [In the Alps] I was climbing with the Tour de de France in the front group. So where’s the top? And then is the top when you win the tour of Spain at 42 or when you win the tour of Spain when you’re 44?

VN: At some point your wife will make you stop.
CH: Yeah. That’s a possibility … sooner or later, father time gets ahold of everybody. I’m just kicking his ass the last six years or so.

VN: They say time waits for no man.
CH: He waited for me.

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Stetina ready to step up and deliver van Garderen to Tour podium http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/07/news/stetina-ready-to-step-up-and-deliver-van-garderen-to-tour-podium_337713 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/07/news/stetina-ready-to-step-up-and-deliver-van-garderen-to-tour-podium_337713#comments Tue, 22 Jul 2014 13:03:57 +0000 Andrew Hood http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=337713

Peter Stetina is ready to use his climbing legs to aid Tejay van Garderen in the Tour's final week. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

The American is ready to help escort teammate Tejay van Garderen to the final Tour podium via the Pyrénées this week

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Peter Stetina is ready to use his climbing legs to aid Tejay van Garderen in the Tour's final week. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

CARCASSONNE, France (VN) — Peter Stetina (BMC Racing) reclined on a folding chair outside the team bus, looking surprisingly calm, cool, and collected after what’s been a brutal two weeks of his first Tour de France.

After a hectic, tension-filled opening two weeks of racing, the Colorado native is ready for the final battle that looms in three days across the Pyrénées. With team captain Tejay van Garderen in the pole position for a spot on the final podium in Paris, there is a mix of anticipation and growing confidence around the BMC dinner table each night.

“The first 10 days, it was hard to have fun. It was so stressful with the weather, the wind, the rain, the crashes. I was really glad to get through that. I was trying to stay as safe as possible, and I stayed at the back, and tried to avoid the mayhem,” Stetina told journalists on the Tour’s final rest day. “Knock on wood, I’ve kept all my skin on so far, and I got over a cold that first week as well.”

Despite losing Colombian climber Darwin Atapuma, the remainder of the team has shrugged off some early crashes and battled through chest colds to be ready to go all-in for van Garderen’s push to Paris.

“It’s really good. It’s the same as when the race started. At the start of the race, there was a lot of hope and motivation, and nothing has happened to change that,” Stetina continued. “We’re keeping it light, we’re keeping it fun at the dinner table. There is general smack-talk, nothing really bike-race related. We’re all ready for the task at hand, and we can see the podium actually becoming a possibility.”

Behind the scenes, BMC was walking on eggshells, especially after van Garderen’s fourth crash, on the road to Nancy, just before the start of the Vosges climbing stages. Also dogged by a minor chest infection, no one was quite sure how their team captain would react, but van Garderen stayed at the nose of the action when the roads tipped upward.

Since then, van Garderen’s health has been improving after Dr. Max Testa put him on antibiotics. BMC rides into the Pyrénées on Tuesday for the first of three decisive climbing stages with everything possible.

“I think the podium is a reality. We batted around the idea even before the Tour started, and now that we’re closer to Paris, it is a real possibility,” Stetina said. “But every day something has happened. We’re looking at a podium, but we’re still doing the day-to-day program, because even [Sunday], someone could have lost the Tour because of wind or a stupid crash.”

Stetina kept his head low in the first half of the Tour and picked his way through the opening stages, doing his best to get the feel for racing in the Tour peloton — a different, more marauding beast than anything he’s ever seen.

“This is the big show, and everyone has brought their A game,” Stetina said. “The climbs are not any different, but the field is a lot deeper. On some races, when there might be only 10 guys left, there are 40 guys over a top of a pass. It’s really just a few points of percentage from being dropped and not getting dropped, so you have to do everything right, and even before the climb even starts.”

Things changed dramatically for Stetina when Atapuma crashed out on the road to Nancy. On the same day van Garderen went down, Atapuma, who was expected to be the last man for van Garderen in the deep mountains, was suddenly out of the race.

“Darwin was a key player in the mountains. Darwin and I were supposed to be the last men in the mountains for Tejay, but now that he’s out, I have more responsibility on my shoulders,” Stetina said. “I have to be a lot more consistent, but we also have [Amael] Moinard and [Peter] Velits, and they’ve really stepped up.”

Stetina and his BMC teammates know if van Garderen can roll out of the Pyrénées within striking distance of the French climbers and second-placed Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), the podium could be theirs.

“Everyone is looking at Tejay to pull out a final time trial, but he’s climbing great, and if there’s a chance to take time out on the road, we’ll do it,” he said. “I want to stay with Tejay and keep those French climbers and Valverde in check until stage 20.”

If Stetina and his teammates do their job and deliver van Garderen within striking distance of the podium for the final time trial, the ride into Paris could be the best one since leaving Leeds.

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Peraud exceeding his expectations with Tour podium in his sights http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/07/news/peraud-exceeding-his-expectations-with-tour-podium-in-his-sights_337721 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/07/news/peraud-exceeding-his-expectations-with-tour-podium-in-his-sights_337721#comments Tue, 22 Jul 2014 12:47:18 +0000 Barnaby Chesterman http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=337721

Jean-Christophe Peraud targeted a fifth-place finish at the Tour, but he could do better than that. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

The Frenchman was sixth overall entering Tuesday’s stage 16

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Jean-Christophe Peraud targeted a fifth-place finish at the Tour, but he could do better than that. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

CARCASSONNE, France (AFP) — Jean-Christophe Peraud admitted he had not even ridden the three tough Pyrenean stages at the Tour de France in advance because he didn’t expect to be competing for a podium spot.

The 37-year-old French rider has unexpectedly found himself in sixth place overall and only 1:18 away from a podium position with less than a week to go.

The veteran Ag2r-La Mondiale rider is enjoying a surprise Indian summer to his career as he largely flies under the radar with most of the attention focussed on runaway race leader Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) and young French hopes Romain Bardet, his teammate, and Thibaut Pinot (FDJ.fr).

But now that he finds himself in the thick of battle for a top finish, Peraud is regretting not having studied the next three Pyrenean stages more closely.

Asked if he knew any of the climbs he would scale from Tuesday to Thursday, Peraud replied: “No, not at all. I’ve never done the Hautacam because I didn’t have enough time.

“We’ve had a very busy season and I’m a father. I regret that a little bit. I didn’t expect to be at this level.”

Asked where he’d expected to be at this time, Peraud alluded to the withdrawal of favorites Chris Froome (Sky) and Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) through injury earlier in the race.

“I expected there would two more ahead of me for starters,” he added.

But that’s not to say Peraud, whose best previous finish was ninth in 2011, didn’t come into the race with ambitions.

“The aim was fifth place but now there’s perhaps room to do better.”

One who can hardly do any better is Nibali, who leads second-placed Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) by 4:37.

Even so, Nibali said he and his Astana teammates will need to take care.

“The week that’s coming is very important, the best thing will be to keep our concentration because there will be difficulties,” said the 29-year-old Italian.

“We must be wary of breakaways because there will be people who are now a long way back in the standings who could get into a dangerous breakaway, so it could become difficult to manage the race and the support of the team will be very important.”

Tuesday’s 237.5-kilometer trek from Carcassonne to Bagneres-de Luchon is the longest stage of the race and tackles the hors categorie Porte de Bales climb before heading into a speedy, 20km descent to the finish.

Wednesday’s stage from Saint-Gaudens is more than 100km shorter at 124.5km, but that will merely push the pace up and it includes three first category climbs before the hors categorie summit finish at Saint-Lary.

It’s the biggest danger for sprinters, who will need to get home inside the time limit in order to continue.

If that isn’t enough, Thursday’s 145.5km stage from Pau tackles the two behemoths of the race, the Col du Tourmalet and the Hautacam summit finish.

With Nibali almost over the hill and out of sight, there is at least an intriguing battle for second with five riders separated by just 1:31.

American Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing) is fifth and says that closeness should make for exciting racing amongst the leading names.

“It definitely makes for interesting racing, if everyone was separated by two minutes [between each rider] it wouldn’t be that much fun to watch anymore,” he said.

“Since Nibali has a solid lead he looks almost untouchable. It’s good there are more battles going on, it makes it exciting.”

Even so, van Garderen denied the chasers have already given up on overhauling Nibali to simply concentrate on battling each other.

“I don’t think we’ve been racing each other rather than racing [Nibali] necessarily,” he said.

“It’s just when he attacks no one has the legs to follow but then when we start to chase it becomes tactical because some people want to pull and try to get him back and other people want to get a free ride.”

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World champion Rui Costa withdraws from Tour de France http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/07/news/world-champion-rui-costa-withdraws-from-tour-de-france_337715 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/07/news/world-champion-rui-costa-withdraws-from-tour-de-france_337715#comments Tue, 22 Jul 2014 12:28:36 +0000 VeloNews.com http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=337715

Rui Costa had been ill for several days before Tuesday's stage 16. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

The Portuguese rider was almost 13 minutes behind race leader Vincenzo Nibali entering Tuesday's stage 16

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Rui Costa had been ill for several days before Tuesday's stage 16. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

CARCASSONNE, France (AFP) — World champion Rui Costa of Portugal withdrew from the Tour de France on Tuesday due to pneumonia, his Lampre-Merida team said in a statement.

Costa had been 13th in the standings at almost 13 minutes behind race leader Vincenzo Nibali (Astana).

His team said he’d been struggling with bronchitis in the Alps before Monday’s rest day.

“[Costa] was forced to retire after an X-ray examination, carried out during the rest day at a clinic in Pezenas, showed an outbreak of pneumonia,” the team said in a statement.

The 27-year-old had come into the race hoping to secure a high finish, having ridden as a domestique for Alejandro Valverde at Movistar last year.

But he had been struggling to keep pace with the top riders for several days.

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Evelyn Stevens reflects on winning Thuringen Rundfahrt http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/07/news/road/evelyn-stevens-reflects-winning-thuringen-rundfahrt_337696 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/07/news/road/evelyn-stevens-reflects-winning-thuringen-rundfahrt_337696#comments Mon, 21 Jul 2014 21:40:09 +0000 VeloNews.com http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=337696

Evelyn Stevens video.

Stevens talks about what it's like to race 17 days in a row, how to suffer with bad legs, and why women deserve a Tour of California

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Evelyn Stevens video.

Editor’s Note: This video interview is courtesy of WielerVideo. The opinions expressed in this video do not necessarily represent the opinions of VeloNews.com, Velo magazine or the editors and staff of Competitor Group, Inc.

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USA Pro Challenge confirms 16 teams to participate this August http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/07/news/usa-pro-challenge-confirms-16-teams-participate-august_337668 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/07/news/usa-pro-challenge-confirms-16-teams-participate-august_337668#comments Mon, 21 Jul 2014 20:37:16 +0000 VeloNews.com http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=337668

The USA Pro Challenge returns to Colorado for its fourth year. Photo: Casey B. Gibson | www.cbgphoto.com

BMC Racing Team, Cannondale Pro Cycling, Team Garmin-Sharp, Tinkoff-Saxo, and Trek Factory Racing will toe the line, August 18-24, 2014

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The USA Pro Challenge returns to Colorado for its fourth year. Photo: Casey B. Gibson | www.cbgphoto.com

DENVER — The 2014 USA Pro Challenge will feature 16 of the world’s top professional cycling teams. Led by UCI ProTour teams BMC Racing, Cannondale, Garmin-Sharp, Tinkoff-Saxo, and Trek Factory Racing, the race will include some of the sport’s top talent.

The seven-day stage race will travel 550 miles from Aspen to Denver, August 18-24, 2014.

“We consistently get such an overwhelmingly positive response from the teams that participate in the Pro Challenge each year,” said Rick Schaden, owner of the USA Pro Challenge. “The race continues to build momentum year after year and we’ll look to build on that in 2014 by welcoming back some veteran teams and introducing some new ones to the challenging terrain and beautiful scenery of Colorado.”

Featuring teams hailing from six countries, the USA Pro Challenge will test riders by taking them to unprecedented elevations.

“We’ve had huge success in the Pro Challenge the past three years and we’re looking forward to returning for a fourth,” said Jonathan Vaughters, CEO, Slipstream Sports and Garmin-Sharp. “As a Colorado-based team, this is a race we look forward to all year and the riders always bring their A-game. Last year Lachlan Morton won the best young rider competition and Tom Danielson got third overall, so we have high goals for the race and we will give fans plenty of reasons to cheer.”

2014 USA Pro Challenge Team Roster:

UCI ProTour
BMC Racing (USA)
Cannondale (I)
Garmin-Sharp (USA)
Tinkoff-Saxo (Rus)
Trek Factory Racing (USA)

UCI Professional Continental Teams
Drapac (Aus)
NetApp–Endura (G) *
Novo Nordisk (USA)
UnitedHealthcare (USA)

UCI Continental Teams
Bissell Development Team (USA) *
Hincapie Sportswear Development Team (USA) *
Jamis-Hagens Berman (USA)
Jelly Belly (USA)
Optum-Kelly Benefit Strategies (USA)
Rapha-Condor (GB) *
SmartStop (USA) *

* First-time appearance for team at USA Pro Challenge

Full team rosters will be announced closer to the race.

“The USA Pro Challenge has featured some of the best teams in the world over the last three years and 2014 will be no different,” said Shawn Hunter, CEO of the Pro Challenge. “We’re giving cycling fans in the United States the chance to see the teams they love up close and in person. Interest in the race continues to grow and this year’s diverse roster of teams is going to create seven intensely competitive days of racing in August.”

“We’re really looking forward to racing in the USA Pro Challenge again this year,” said Cannondale team director Alberto Volpi. “With tough, competitive racing and amazing crowds, this is the kind of race we love. Last year the team rode really well, and Peter Sagan took the sprint jersey. This year, we’re coming back to take stages and be again among the main contenders. We’ll certainly bring a strong team.”

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Ukrainian Grivko riding Tour for peace back home http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/07/news/ukrainian-grivko-riding-tour-peace-back-home_337652 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/07/news/ukrainian-grivko-riding-tour-peace-back-home_337652#comments Mon, 21 Jul 2014 19:55:05 +0000 VeloNews.com http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=337652

Andriy Grivko says that, while he is riding in support of teammate Vincenzo Nibali, he also represents his troubled home country, Ukraine, at the Tour. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

Andriy Grivko, the only Ukrainian rider in this year's Tour, says his presence is essential to convey a message of peace

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Andriy Grivko says that, while he is riding in support of teammate Vincenzo Nibali, he also represents his troubled home country, Ukraine, at the Tour. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

TALLARD, France (AFP) — Andriy Grivko, the only Ukrainian rider in this year’s Tour de France, says his presence is essential to convey a message of peace back to his homeland.

Grivko, speaking after Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was shot down over the rebel-controlled east of Ukraine, insisted that fault for that “terrorist act” lies squarely with the Russian government, led by president Vladimir Putin.

Ukraine has been embroiled in a bitter civil war since Russian-backed separatists gained control of Crimea in late February.

A snap referendum on March 11 saw Crimean citizens vote for independence from Ukraine, although Grivko claims those who wanted to remain part of Ukraine were prevented from voting.

The 30-year-old, a native of Crimea, rides for Astana, alongside race leader Vincenzo Nibali, and he hopes his presence at the front of the peloton marshaling the Italian can have a positive effect back in his homeland.

“I feel a bit alone to tell the truth, but it’s important that I’m here on the Tour to carry a message of peace,” he told Sunday’s edition of l’Equipe.

“Above and beyond my work for Vincenzo, I see my presence on the Tour as a mission.”

But Grivko cannot help but get down about the events back home.

His parents and sister still live in Simferopol, where he was born, in Crimea, and he is sad to see how they are suffering since the events of last March.

“It’s hard to concentrate on cycling when you know your family is still over there,” he said. “I’ve tried to speak to them regularly since the start of the Tour. I found out my sister was fighting to refuse the Russian passport they’re trying to impose on all inhabitants.

“The Russian dictatorship is being implanted in my country while I’m pedaling the roads of France.”

Grivko was eight years old when the old Soviet Union broke up and Ukraine became a separate and independent country.

But he says that was only on paper. “I remember that everyone thought that we would finally have freedom. But already back then they were lying to us.

“They made us think that we would no longer be associated with Moscow, but not much has changed in the last 20 years.”

This year is Grivko’s seventh Tour de France. He is also a five-time national time trial champion, and won Ukraine’s national road race championships in 2012.

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