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Tour de France podcast episode 14: Froome, Contador and the Plateau de Beille
July 17, 2015 (06:15) [ Indexed from Cyclingnews.com ]
Stage 12 of the Tour de France saw Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) solo to the stage win on the summit finish to Plateau de Beille. He finished the stage by over a minute ahead of his original breakaway companions runner-up Jakob Fuglsang (Astana) and third placed Romain Bardet (Ag2r-La Mondiale), and more than six minutes ahead of a select group of GC contenders including overall race leader Chris Froome (Team Sky). The Cyclingnews Tour de France podcast sponsored by British Eurosport. On todays episode, with special guest David Walsh, the Cyclingnews team discuss the climate of suspicion surrounding Chris Froome, as well as stage 12 to Plateau de Beille and Alberto Contadors fading hopes. To subscribe to the Tour de France podcast on iTunes, click here, and go here for our full Tour de France coverage.ADVERTISEMENT You can read more at Cyclingnews.com More...
Tour de France: van Garderen leaves Pyrenees with podium position intact
July 17, 2015 (06:15) [ Indexed from Cyclingnews.com ]
After another difficult day in the Pyrenees during stage 12 of the Tour de France, Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing) remains firmly entrenched in the second spot overall, 2:52 behind race leader Chris Froome (Team Sky) and 17 seconds ahead of Movistars Nairo Quintana. Van Garderen survived a barrage of attacks from Quintana, Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) and Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) over the final kilometres to the finish at Plateau de Beilleto to maintain his runner-up spot. The 26-year-old American, who was isolated on the final legs of the climb after teammate Samuel Sanchez lost the pace, showed his growing experience by waiting for Froomes team to keep matters under control.ADVERTISEMENT I knew Sky had a really strong team and they were going to kind of neutralise all the dangerous guys, so when they were jumping I just sat behind Sky to make sure that they could pull them back, a seemingly cool and confident van Garderen said as he sat in a team car following the stage. Hopefully those guys keep doing that so they can waste a few of their bullets, and then in the third week they might pay the price. While Team Katushas Joaquim Rodriguez, who started the day more than 20 minutes off Froomes time, was up the road soloing away for the stage win, team Skys Richie Porte and Geraint Thomas shepherded Froome toward the finish, with van Garderen tucked neatly in their slipstream. You can read more at Cyclingnews.com More...
Tour de France: Defiance not enough for Contador on Plateau de Beille
July 17, 2015 (06:15) [ Indexed from Cyclingnews.com ]
As befits a man who regularly reminds his Twitter followers that querer es poder " a Spanish take on If you dream it, you can achieve it " and who declared the Giro-Tour double to be only impossible until someone makes it possible, Alberto Contador is hardly averse to battling the odds. At this Tour de France, however, there is a growing sense that taking on the startling collective might of Chris Froomes Team Sky cohort is tantamount to tilting at windmills. Even for a rider of Contadors imagination, conjuring up victory here already seems a grand gesture too far. Already 4:04 down on Froome after wilting " like so many others " under the weight of Skys forcing on the first mountaintop finish to La Pierre-Saint-Martin two days ago, Contador was decidedly on the back foot entering the Tours final stage in the Pyrenees to Plateau de Beille.ADVERTISEMENT His response was a typically defiant one. After setting his teammates Roman Kreuzger and Rafal Majka to work on the lower slopes of the final climb, Contador unleashed an attack of his own a little over eight kilometres from the summit, as a heavy rainstorm washed over the Arige. The sparkle of his accelerations at the Giro dItalia was lacking, however. With the same laboured style he showed in the 2013 Tour, Contador gained only 50 metres or so, and was quickly reeled back in by the pace-making efforts of Skys Richie Porte and Geraint Thomas. It wasnt an attack on Froome, it was an attack the see how all of the riders were, Contador said afterwards. Maybe I could have waited longer, for the last three or four kilometres. There was wind on the climb and it wasnt easy to attack. You can read more at Cyclingnews.com More...
Tour de France: Team success lifts Contadors morale
July 16, 2015 (06:15) [ Indexed from Cyclingnews.com ]
Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) managed to crack a smile and show some sign of optimism after finishing in the same time as Chris Froome (Team Sky) and other other overall contenders at the Tour de France on stage 11. The Giro dItalia winner was left on the ropes during the stage 10 mountain finish to La Pierre-Saint-Martin on Tuesday but looked much better as he held the pace on the Col du Tourmalet and then finished in the same time as Froome, Nairo Quintana (Movistar) and a select group of riders after the 6.4km climb to Cauterets. Morale at Tinkoff-Saxo was also boosted by Rafa Majka winning the stage, Peter Sagan retaking the green points jersey and news from Italy that Ivan Basso had successfully undergone surgery as part of his treatment for testicular cancer. The only bad news of the day was the abandon of loyal road captain Daniele Bennati, who crashed and suffered a micro fractured to the front of his right tibia.ADVERTISEMENT My legs are going better and that is something, Contador told a small huddle of journalists after arriving at the Tinkoff-Saxo bus parked at the base of the climb. I knew that the Pyrenees would be difficult for me but in situations like this, you have to think ahead. It's amazing how hot it is and with the humidity it makes breathing much harder. "The legs were better but it is a pity not to have the legs I had last year because those were really good. This is going to be a difficult and complicated Tour for me but I will try to do my best every day and we'll see. Froome is way above the others. From a tactical point of view well try to do things, but he is the strongest. Contador praised Majka for winning in the Pyrenees after he joined the break of the day and then attacked alone on the Tourmalet. You can read more at Cyclingnews.com More...
Majka: I came to help Contador, not to win the polka dot jersey
July 16, 2015 (06:15) [ Indexed from Cyclingnews.com ]
A year ago, Alberto Contadors enforced abandon at the Tour de France gave Tinkoff-Saxo teammate Rafal Majka the liberty to go up the road and help himself to stage wins in the Alps and Pyrenees, as well as the polka dot jersey of best climber. Contador found himself very much down " if not yet fully out " following the first mountaintop finish of this years Tour at La Pierre-Saint-Martin on Tuesday, conceding three minutes to Chris Froome (Sky) and slipping to 4:04 behind in the general classification. That setback allowed Majka a little more leeway than he might otherwise have anticipated at this juncture of the Tour, and he jumped aboard the break of the day when it formed ahead of the Col dAspin on stage 11. Six kilometres from the summit of the Col du Tourmalet, the Pole forged clear alone and he had enough in hand to hold off the tenacious pursuit of Dan Martin (Cannondale-Garmin) on the short haul to the finish at Cauterets.ADVERTISEMENT Today it wasnt my objective to win the stage but I had an opportunity. I attacked once and it was a good attack. When the break got 45 seconds, the directeur said I could go with it and from there I did everything to win the stage, Majka said afterwards. Despite strong showings at the Giro dItalia in the past two seasons, Majka was the only one of Tinkoff-Saxos elite cadre of climbers held back from riding in support of Contador at the corsa rosa this season. Instead, he was delegated to provide fresh legs and robust support to the Spaniard on the second leg of his " now seemingly forlorn " double attempt. A lot of people asked but it was no problem to come and help Alberto on the Tour, said Majka, who downplayed the idea of chasing the king of the mountains prize for the second successive year. I came here to help Alberto, not to win the polka dot jersey. The Tour is still long, there are still two weeks to go. You can read more at Cyclingnews.com More...
Contador on the ropes after first Tour de France mountain stage
July 15, 2015 (06:15) [ Indexed from Cyclingnews.com ]
Alberto Contador crossed the finish line in La Pierre-Saint-Martin in a daze, with the Tinkoff-Saxo team staff pushing and escorting him to the team bus parked further up the road of the Pyrenean ski resort. Contador seemed to struggle to even turn the pedals, such was the fatigue in his legs. He seemed to be on the ropes, close to a technical knockout, and was unable or refused to speak with the swarm of Spanish radio reporters who surrounded him. He had lost 2:51 to Chris Froome (Team Sky), finishing a lowly 11th on the stage. He is now sixth overall, 4:04 behind Froome. It is a situation he has rarely experienced during his successful Grand Tour career and means his hopes of a Giro-Tour double are in tatters.ADVERTISEMENT I couldnt breathe very well, it was hard to breathe, he admitted at the Tinkoff-Saxo bus after recovering slightly from his huge effort to limit his losses. I didnt feel good, I feel tired. I struggled to breathing and couldnt spin my legs. I do not know why but when its impossible to breathe, you cant clear out the lactic acid from your legs. I actually felt better in the saddle, which is the opposite of my best riding style. It was a bad day for me. I tried to do it the best I could but I was worried about losing even more time. In cycling you have good days and bad days and hopefully there will be better days. Ill try to carry on day by day and see if I can recover and do something. Now I need to rest up, step back a little, study the situation with a cool head and act based on that. Despite suffering a terribly disappointing defeat, Contador praised Froome for his stage victory and for tightening his grip on the overall race lead and yellow jersey. "For me it was impossible to keep up with Froome, but lots of others too," he said. "Weve got to congratulate Froome. Hes three points better than the rest of us. He has done what he wanted and has shaken up the general classification." Like all the other riders left defeated on the first climb of this years Tour de France, Contador hung onto the hope that Froome has a long way to go before the winner is eventually crowned in Paris. You can read more at Cyclingnews.com More...
Contador: I'm lacking a spark so far in the Tour de France
July 15, 2015 (06:15) [ Indexed from Cyclingnews.com ]
Alberto Contador has admitted he has lacked a spark in the Tour de France so far, and that he is isnt bristling with confidence heading into the second portion of the race. It was always unlikely the Spaniard would hit peak form given his exertions in winning the Giro dItalia in May, and his goal of doing the Giro-Tour double. Whereas he went into the first rest day in Italy in the pink jersey and full of confidence, he wasnt so self-assured on the first jour de repos in France on Monday. The Tinkoff-Saxo rider trails race leader Chris Froome by 1:03 minutes but is ahead of the other big pre-race favourites Nairo Quintana and Vincenzo Nibali by 56 seconds and 1:19 respectively.ADVERTISEMENT On the first rest day of the Giro I was a bit more confident, I knew how my body was. Now, I have more uncertainty, Contador told Biciciclismo. What Ive noticed in the first part of the Tour is that I'm lacking the spark that others have. I hope this spark doesnt have a bearing when we look at the Tour as a whole. Evidently it is quite a big gap given that we have not yet reached the mountains but, on the other hand, there is a lot of climbing to come, with many opportunities. Id have liked the situation to be slightly more favourable but Im very happy, weve given our all." Whereas the opening week of the Tour was a largely flat, Classics-flavoured affair, the second half is all about the mountains, with five summit finishes on the menu across the Pyrenees and Alps. You can read more at Cyclingnews.com More...
The Latest: Contador bemoans breathing woes in Tour Stage 10 (The Associated Press)
July 14, 2015 (20:45) [ Indexed from Yahoo! Sports ]
Two-time Tour de France champion Alberto Contador says current leader Chris Froome is simply ''at a higher level'' than the rest of the pack right now. ''Froome is superior, and he made a strong punch today,'' said Contador after he lost 2 minutes, 51 seconds to the Kenya-born Briton, who won Tuesday's 10th stage. ''That's bike racing: Some days good, some days bad,'' Contador added. More...
Van Garderen: My strength is going to be my consistency
July 14, 2015 (06:15) [ Indexed from Cyclingnews.com ]
In a Tour de France that was supposed to be all about the Fab Four, the Fifth Beatle has quietly elevated himself to marquee billing, though Tejay van Garderen(BMC) reached for a more recent cultural reference during his rest day press conference in Pau. The Backstreet Boys have five guys. It seemed a little incomplete, van Garderen joked. The list of pre-race favourites began and ended with the names Froome, Quintana, Contador and Nibali, though van Garderens display thus far has been enough to add him to the reckoning. Those guys have all won Grand Tours and I have not, I havent even been on the podium of one, so its logical those guys were the five star favourites, he said. It was nice to fly under the radar a little bit but I was not at all offended. But it doesnt matter what their names are or what theyve done, the clock was at zero in Utrecht and weve raced here to win.ADVERTISEMENT After nine days of racing, the clock shows that van Garderen is just 12 seconds down on Froome, but almost a minute ahead of Contador, almost two minutes clear of Quintana and more than two up on Nibali. Van Garderen demurred when asked if he would settle now for second place overall in Paris. Right now if you put it on the table, I would say no, van Garderen said. I value more the process of how it happens. I would rather live through the process of getting 5th place and knowing Id given 100 percent rather than signing a piece of paper guaranteeing me second place. Van Garderens status at this point in the Tour is thanks in no small part to the ability of his backing band at BMC. Victory in the team time trial in Plumelec on Sunday was the high note, but all through the first week his teammates performed a very passable cover version of Cadel Evans cohort at his victorious 2011 Tour. You can read more at Cyclingnews.com More...
Lance Armstrong, Markel Irizar and others react to Basso cancer news
July 14, 2015 (06:15) [ Indexed from Cyclingnews.com ]
Ivan Basso hasn't been short of well wishers since he announced that he had been diagnosed with testicular cancer in a rest-day press conference at the Tour de France on Monday. The 37-year-old had felt a pain in his left testicle ever sincea minor crash on stage 5 and after examination from the Tinkoff-Saxo medical staff and x-rays in the Tours mobile radiology unit, hospital tests in Pau on Monday morning confirmed he had a cancerous lump. He has left the race as he begins his recovery. Lance Armstrong was one of many to take to Twitter to voice support for Basso. The American himself suffered from testicular cancer in the late 1990s before recovering and making a successful return to cycling.ADVERTISEMENT Thinking about @ivanbasso and wishing him the very best as he embarks on his cancer journey. #IvanSTRONG!! " Lance Armstrong (@lancearmstrong) July 13, 2015 He was joined by another cyclist who has suffered from testicular cancer in the past, Markel Irizar. The 35-year-old Spaniard, who is currently at the Tour with Trek Factory Racing, fell ill back in 2002 before making a full recovery. All the best to @ivanbasso ! You will get recovered as I did 13 years ago! #fight " Markel Irizar (@Markelirizar) July 13, 2015 " Alberto Contador (@albertocontador) July 13, 2015 " Oleg Tinkov (@olegtinkov) July 13, 2015 " Michael Rogers (@mickrogers) July 13, 2015 " Jens Voigt (@thejensie) July 13, 2015 " Astana Pro Team (@AstanaTeam) July 13, 2015 " Mark Cavendish (@MarkCavendish) July 13, 2015 " Giro d'Italia (@giroditalia) July 13, 2015 " stefano feltrin (@stefelt) July 13, 2015 You can read more at Cyclingnews.com More...
Tour de France: Froome questions morale of rival teams after dream start
July 14, 2015 (06:15) [ Indexed from Cyclingnews.com ]
Chris Froome (Team Sky) is in a dream scenario as he leads the Tour de France with the race going into its first rest day. The 2013 race winner has navigated through the first nine stages without a hitch, even gaining time on all his main rivals during a series of stages where most would have expected the Team Sky leader to suffer. After a mediocre time trial Froome has asserted his dominance on the race and is enjoying his second spell in the yellow jersey. His closest rival is Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing) is at twelve seconds, while Giro dItalia champion Alberto Contador(Tinkoff-Saxo) is fifth overall at 1:03.Nairo Quintana (Movistar) has lost time on several stages and is 1:59 in arrears but defending champion Vincenzo Nibali(Astana) finds himself outside the top ten, 2:22 off Froomes yellow jersey.ADVERTISEMENT At Team Skys rest-day press conference Froome met the media and the British rider was delighted with his start to the race. Really, coming into this race, a lot of last year was still on the back of my mind, and this first week, the big thing was not to lose any time. So to gain quite substantial amounts of time, that is the dream scenario. I have my team to thank for that. They have been there every step of the way, after all these one-day Classics I couldnt be in a better position. Team Sky have measured their approach throughout the open stages of the race and came into the Tour with a strong contingent of riders suited to the spring Classics as they sought to cover up any perceived weaknesses in Froomes armory. You can read more at Cyclingnews.com More...
Basso's withdrawal with tumor hits Contador's hopes at Tour (The Associated Press)
July 14, 2015 (02:45) [ Indexed from Yahoo! Sports ]
Stunning the Tour de France on its first rest day, doctors diagnosed a tumor in the left testicle of two-time Giro d'Italia winner Ivan Basso on Monday, forcing him out of the showcase race. At age 37, Basso wasn't a contender to win the race, as the Italian was in his heyday before he was banned for doping. On what is often an uneventful day of rest and relaxation when riders recharge their batteries before the high mountains, a visibly shaken Basso appeared with Contador at a news conference and announced that just two hours earlier, doctors diagnosed a tumor in his left testicle that had been painful since he crashed on Stage 5. More...
Basso's withdrawal with tumor hits Contador's hopes at Tour
July 13, 2015 (20:00) [ Indexed from New Zealand Herald ]
PAU, France (AP) " Stunning the Tour de France on its first rest day, doctors diagnosed a tumor in the left testicle of two-time Giro d'Italia winner Ivan Basso on Monday, forcing him out of the showcase race.His former rival Lance... More...
Basso's withdrawal with tumor hits Contador's hopes at Tour (The Associated Press)
July 13, 2015 (20:00) [ Indexed from Yahoo! Sports ]
Stunning the Tour de France on its first rest day, doctors diagnosed a tumor in the left testicle of two-time Giro d'Italia winner Ivan Basso on Monday, forcing him out of the showcase race. At age 37, Basso wasn't a contender to win the race, as the Italian was in his heyday before he was banned for doping. On what is often an uneventful day of rest and relaxation when riders recharge their batteries before the high mountains, a visibly shaken Basso appeared with Contador at a news conference and announced that just two hours earlier, doctors diagnosed a tumor in his left testicle that had been painful since he crashed on Stage 5. More...
Tour de France: Contador loses valuable seconds to Froome in Plumelec
July 13, 2015 (06:15) [ Indexed from Cyclingnews.com ]
Alberto Contador and his Tinkoff-Saxo team took somewhat of a blow during the team time trial on stage 9 at the Tour de France, losing valuable seconds to stage winners BMC, and more importantly to yellow jersey Chris Froome (Team Sky). Contador is hunting the Giro-Tour double, however, he already needs to make up time on his rivals after the first week of racing. The Spaniard currently sits in fifth place overall, 1:03 behind Froome and 51 seconds behind Tejay van Garderen (BMC), a rider that Contador will not discount for a top overall placing at the end of the Tour. Hes a rider with tremendous qualities as we all could see in the Dauphin, where he showed that hes also strong on the climbs, Contador said.ADVERTISEMENT The team time trial didnt go perfectly for Contador and his teammates, having lost seven seconds to both BMC and Team Sky in the first third of the 28-kilometre course.We tried, I think we got a good time, and now its time to rest. I think we did a decent time, Contador said. After tackling the uphill roads towards Monterblanc and its descent, Tinkoff-Saxo lost another 10 seconds to Team Sky, who were leading BMC by one second. Shortly before reaching the top of the climb to La Croix Peinte, the gap to Team Sky had ballooned out to 30 seconds. In the final two kilometres up the Cte de Caloudal climb the five remaining men from Contadors team managed to take back a handful of seconds. The Spaniard led the team in that included Peter Sagan, Roman Kreuziger, Ivan Basso and Rafal Majka. You can read more at Cyclingnews.com More...
Contador's Tour de France looking up with time gain on Nibali
July 12, 2015 (06:15) [ Indexed from Cyclingnews.com ]
On the Tour de Frances first visit to the Mr de Bretagne in four years, Tinkoff-Saxo leader Alberto Contador was unable to repeat the second place he secured behind Cadel Evans in 2011 on the same climb, but the Spaniard said he was nonetheless pleased with the days performance. Contador neither went on the attack nor seemed to be in difficulty on the two kilometre Breton climb, turning in a solid, if unremarkable, ride for fourteenth on the stage in the main pack, and still sits seventh overall. Interviewed on the line, the 32-year-old seemed most pleased that he had managed to gain a little time on Vincenzo Nibali (Astana), who lost 10 seconds on what appears to have been an off-day for the Italian champion.ADVERTISEMENT "We were all racing together and I saw how he blew," Contador said, "and if hes reached the finish line ten seconds back, thats a good gain." Contador said the greater part of the 181.5 kilometre stage had passed off calmly, but he pointed out that "when things started to get tenser on the final ascent, it was pretty fast, although it wasnt anything exceptional, so I followed wheels." The Spanish Tour contender said he had attempted to help his teammate Peter Sagan win the stage, but he had been blocked behind the Slovakian champion and "It was impossible to try and lead him out." You can read more at Cyclingnews.com More...
Tour de France: Contador unscathed following early crash on stage 7
July 11, 2015 (06:15) [ Indexed from Cyclingnews.com ]
Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) had been the sole member of the Tour de Frances Big Four of overall favourites to avoid any involvement in the crash in the finale of stage 6 in Le Havre. It was perhaps inevitable, then, that the Spaniard would be a faller before the peloton had even left the cheese-making centre of Livarot at the start of stage 7. Along with Robert Gesink (LottoNL-Jumbo), Contador was brought down in a crash in the neutralised zone, though he was immediately back on his bike and reported no lingering effects from the fall when he crossed the finish line in Fougres almost four and a half hours later. I had a small crash in the neutralised zone. We were just talking about crashes when five people fell in front of me and I went down, Contador said as he picked his way through the traffic in the finish area and made his way towards the team bus. It was impossible to avoid it. Luckily, I didnt do any damage and I was back up straight away.ADVERTISEMENT That early scare aside, there would be no frissons for Contador or any of the overall contenders as the race made its way through the wheat fields of Normandy and into Brittany. The relatively still conditions curtailed the risk of echelons while a stretch of narrow roads in the final 50 kilometres passed without incident. In theory it was a quieter day but with incredible tension as always, Contador said. But the team protected me and it went well apart from my crash early on. Contador finished the day safely in the main peloton and he lies in 7th place overall, 36 seconds down on yellow jersey Chris Froome (Sky). The bulk of that deficit came when Contador was distanced by Froome on the Mur de Huy on Monday but he did not envisage similarly large gaps among the main contenders when the race visits the Mur de Bretagne on stage 8. You can read more at Cyclingnews.com More...
The Latest: Contador unscathed in minor spill at Tour (The Associated Press)
July 11, 2015 (04:45) [ Indexed from Yahoo! Sports ]
The seventh stage of the Tour de France had not even started and Alberto Contador was already on the ground. The two-time Tour de France winner was riding at slow speed among a group of rivals as he headed to the official start when a momentary lapse of concentration brought him down. ''Actually we were just talking about the crashes when five of us fell,'' said Contador, who escaped uninjured. More...
Contadors Giro d'Italia-Tour de France double attempt is not a solo act
July 10, 2015 (02:15) [ Indexed from Cyclingnews.com ]
Alberto Contador is alone among the 'Big Four' of major favourites in tackling both the Giro dItalia and Tour de France this season, but his attempt at the double is by no means a solo act. All year, a core of Contadors teammates have followed a similarly tailored programme, with a reduced diet of spring racing, and the end result is that the Tinkoff-Saxo roster at this Tour includes no fewer than five of the team that lined up at the Giro in May.ADVERTISEMENT To put that figure in perspective, just two of Skys Giro team, Richie Porte and Leopold Knig, have made it to the Tour to support Chris Froome, while Tanel Kangert is the lone man to double up for Astana. Nairo Quintanas Movistar, meanwhile, have had the luxury of fielding entirely different teams for each race. Michael Rogers, Ivan Basso, Roman Kreuziger and the experienced Matteo Tosatto were all part of Contadors Tinkoff-Saxo guard during his victorious Giro and returned to the coalface on this Tour, just five weeks after the corsa rosa concluded in Milan. Rogers, who raced the Route du Sud with Contador and Basso in the intervening period, explained that recovery took precedence over quality work in such a tight turnaround time. It did take me a good two weeks to feel ready to get back into training, Rogers told Cyclingnews in Abbeville ahead of stage 6. Physically so far on the Tour, it hasnt been really, really hard but mentally its been very tough. Its been interesting to see the different approaches of the teams. Some teams are coming in a lot fresher from not doing the double. Well see how that plays out in the coming stages. Thanks in no small part to the repeated onslaught of Fabio Arus Astana squad, the general classification race at the Giro was fought over the course of three weeks rather than simply in the final high mountains, as some had predicted beforehand. Contador took possession of the maglia rosa at Abetone in week one, for instance, and held it for all bar one of the 16 stages that followed. Relative to Astana, at least, the Tinkoff-Saxo squad showed some signs of weakness as the race went on, and Rogers acknowledged that the Giro had proven to be more difficult than anticipated when Contadors double plans were first drawn up. Yes, it was, Rogers said. It certainly did take its toll, also because we ride very defensively as a team and thats the price of having one of the favourites. We cant afford to sit down at the back of the bunch because if Albertos down the back, potentially other teams could take advantage of it and make it harder for us. Thats the way we ride. When the Giro broke for its first rest day in San Giorgio del Sannio, Rogers told reporters that his power data suggested that it had been the toughest opening to a Grand Tour in his career, and there was scarcely any let up thereafter. This Tour, too, has had a breathless opening, though the Australian feels the challenge here is as much mental as physical. Course-wise, I believe the Giro was a lot harder but I think you can see on television the tension within the bunch here and that wears people down, Rogers said. I believe a lot of people were crashing on Wednesday because they were just tired and their reactions were slower, and with the bad weather mixed in, that made for treacherous riding. Its kind of a like a cat biting its tail, the more pressure there is, the more stress there is, the more riders push in to be in the front. The Tour is always a grind. The Giro is more about legs whereas at the Tour you need that mental aspect to keep pushing on. The physical difference between the top 10 or 20 guys is minimal and sometimes you can make a lot of difference if youre prepared to suffer on for ten more minutes.Protecting investments A marked feature of the Tour to date has been the presence of the overall favourites and their squads en masse at the head of the peloton, often at junctures when such a position might traditionally have been the preserve of the sprinters teams. The final 80 kilometres of stage 5 to Amiens, for instance, were deadlocked not by Etixx-QuickStep so much as by Astana, BMC, Sky and Tinkoff-Saxo. You have to get through these stages and were expending a lot of energy, as the other teams are, Rogers said. I think the teams want some guarantees that nothings going to happen. Astana, BMC, Movistar theyve got massive investments sitting there, so you ride to avoid a crash. Five days into the Tour, after making the split on stage 2 but then struggling on the Mur de Huy, Contador lies 36 seconds down on Chris Froome, but 1:02 ahead of Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) and 1:20 up on Quintana. I wouldnt have signed to be in this position right now, Id like to be closer to Froome, clearly, Contador said in Amiens on Wednesday evening. But considering the high tension, we havent fallen and thats important. As for whether Contador and Tinkoff-Saxo would now settle for the status quo being more or less maintained until the Pyrenees, Rogers took a measured view. I think most teams would sign off on that, he said. But being an open race, when opportunities arise, then of course were going to have a go. You can read more at Cyclingnews.com More...
No time loss for Contador despite damaging rim on Tour de France cobbles
July 08, 2015 (06:15) [ Indexed from Cyclingnews.com ]
The Tour de France stage over the cobbles from Seraing to Cambrai was a nervous day in the peloton, especially for the general classification riders. A poorly timed mechanical might cost them a lot of time in the GC and ruin their chances for a podium result. For Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo), the cobbles stage turned out to be a good day, in which he lost no time on the other favourites despite a rim problem in the final 25km. His good day on the cobbles was in contrast to one day earlier when he lost valuable seconds on the steep Mur de Huy. Yesterday I felt comfortable, but on the Mur I didnt have an answer ready. Its hard to explain, Contador said. "On the adoquines, the cobbles, I was back where Im supposed to be so Im happy with the result. Im pleased with how the day unfolded. There werent any problems, crashes. There were some small mechanical things but nothing serious." That small mechanical Contador referred to turned out to be a rim issue. During the stage Contador made a planned bike swap, moving from his normal Specialized bike to his Roubaix-bike shortly after the first pav sector. Afterwards he was on the verge of making another bike swap, which could cost him a lot of time.ADVERTISEMENT Bueno, I have to cross my fingers. There was a moment where I thought about stopping to change my rear wheel. I damaged my rim at 25km from the finish. It wasnt running smooth but I realized that if I stopped I would lose time so I tried to continue. It worked out, Contador said. The damaged rim was touching his brakes, slowing the Spaniard down. He was extremely grateful for the support from his teammates, especially classics specialist Peter Sagan. I have to thank my teammates," he said. "They were extraordinary. They worked hard. Theyve done everything to help me. Peter delivered an incredible battle. He fought for the victory but sacrificed his chances for me. You can read more at Cyclingnews.com More...

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 - Spanish ace Contador is king of Vuelta's queen stage (Reuters)

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