Archive for July, 2009
1 Pierrick Fedrigo (Fra) BBOX Bouygues Telecom 4:05:31
2 Franco Pellizotti (Ita) Liquigas
3 Oscar Freire Gomez (Spa) Rabobank 0:00:34
4 Serguei Ivanov (Rus) Team Katusha
5 Peter Velits (Svk) Team Milram
6 Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne
7 Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) Silence – Lotto
8 Geoffroy Lequatre (Fra) Agritubel
9 Alessandro Ballan (Ita) Lampre – NGC
10 Nicolas Roche (Irl) AG2R La Mondiale
Starting on a tip of coastline near the town of Béziers, the 178-strong peloton got underway in perfect conditions from Le Cap D’Agde, already 27 degrees Celsius and breezy at the 12:45 p.m. départ réel.
After 29 kilometres, two breakaway groups of three combined to form a lead sextet, including Voeckler (Bbox Bouygues Telecom), Geslin and Hutarovich (Française des Jeux), Sapa (Lampre-NGC), Ignatiev (Team Katusha) and Timmer (Skil-Shimano). When the peloton behind them decided to take to the call of nature, it became a definitive sign that the aforementioned six would be the break du jour.
Forty kilometres in, 8:45 was the distance between break and bunch, and that’s as far as they got; the undulating mid-section of Wednesday’s stage with a pair of Cat. 4 climbs after 112 and 115 kilometres, combined with the inevitable start of the chase-down, inexorably reduced the lead group’s advantage.
Determined not to be caught out in the wind again, Astana and Saxo Bank began assembling their troops at the fore some 80 kilometres from the finish, and when the team of maillot jaune Cancellara started driving in the heavy Tramontane crosswinds, the peloton eventually split, a lead group of 40 forming at the head. This time, however, most of the GC favourites made the move – the exception being Rabobank‘s star climber Robert Gesink, who crashed hard before the mayhem and never recovered, X-rays later revealing he had broken his wrist and ruling him out of starting the following day.
A consequence of the crosswind craziness was that it all but chewed-up-and-spat-out the lead of the early escape. But when those driving at the front let up, realising there was nothing to gain, a regrouping occurred, the break’s advantage went back out to a minute-and-a-half, and stood an even chance of surviving to Perpignan.
Française des Jeux held the upper hand with two in the move – but among them there was someone who’d been itching for a big win ever since he became a household name at the Tour de France, exactly five years ago.
|1||Thomas Voeckler (Fra) BBOX Bouygues Telecom||4:29:35|
|2||Mikhail Ignatiev (Rus) Team Katusha||0:00:07|
|3||Mark Cavendish (GBr) Team Columbia – HTC|
|4||Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin – Slipstream|
|5||Gerald Ciolek (Ger) Team Milram|
|6||Danilo Napolitano (Ita) Team Katusha|
|7||Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne|
|8||Lloyd Mondory (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale|
|9||Oscar Freire Gomez (Spa) Rabobank|
|10||Thor Hushovd (Nor) Cervelo Test Team|
Filippo Pozzato and Team Katusha need to respect the design of the national champion jersey, said the Italian cycling federation (FCI) today in a press statement.
“It is not the same design we gave to him at the championships in Imola. The jersey he is using does not conform to the tricolore design,” a representative of the FCI told us.
Pozzato won the Italian championships on June 28 ahead of Damiano Cunego. He is entitled the wear the prestigious national – green, white and red – jersey for one year.
He is racing at the Tour de France, July 4 to 26, where the champion’s jersey is visible to millions of fans. The federation is upset with the design Katusha has used. The design adapts the Italian colours to the sponsor’s logo and results in very little green.
“We just used the same layout and changed the colours. We did that with the Austrian and Russian champions’ jerseys as well,” Katusha‘s press spokesman, Andrea Agostoni, told us.
Agostoni explained the team will change the jersey in the coming days. They are waiting for a new jersey to arrive from their supplier, Santini, in Italy.
Riders wear different variations of the national champion jersey from year to year. Agostoni noted that no one forced Alejandro Valverde to change his Spanish Champion jersey last year. It had more black than the nation’s red and yellow traditional design.
Robbie McEwen found himself in the middle of the Tour de France on Saturday, without actually being part of the race. Currently in Monaco for physiotherapy, the Australian sprinter spent some time in the start/finish area of the Tour’s opening stage, enjoying the meet & greet without having to focus on the bike race.
“I’ve been here since Tuesday, for eight days, visiting my physio who’s based here during the season,” McEwen told to us. “I’ll go back to Belgium on Wednesday, and he’ll come up to visit me. We planned this a couple of weeks ago – it just happened to coincide with the Tour!”
The Katusha rider is currently recovering from breaking his leg in an accident during stage two of the Tour of Belgium, which was his return to racing after being forced to miss the Giro d’Italia through injuries sustained in a crash during the Scheldeprijs Vlaanderen. He is looking forward to a luckier second half of the season, and said his recovery was going to plan.
“It’s going good. I’m getting better every day, starting to ride without pain. I’m already up to about 80-100 kilometres per training ride now, even starting to ride a little bit uphill. So every day, there are little improvements. I should be able to come back to ProTour competition by the middle of August, at the Eneco Tour. Before that, I’ll do a criterium in Belgium on the Tuesday after the Tour, in Diksmuide.”
McEwen admitted that it felt “kinda strange” to be an observer rather than an actor of the Tour, but then again, “I had a long time to get used to the idea that I’m not riding. It does make the town pretty busy, though!”
Hopeful that 2010 will be a more fortunate year for him, the Australian was eager to heal his injury completely in order to prepare to ride Grand Tours again. “That’s my thing – win stages in the Giro and the Tour,” he said. “This year is pretty much a wiped-out year for me, as I couldn’t do the Giro, and then was out of the Tour, too. That’s a huge hole in my season. But right now, it’s just really important that I get back to a good level, and get my leg back to a 100 percent, so that I can do it again next year.”
Three-time maillot vert winner Robbie McEwen rates the contenders in this year’s Tour green jersey competition.
While discussion over the battle for the maillot jaune at this year’s Tour de France has reached fever pitch, there’s still a green jersey up for grabs. We spoke with three-time maillot vert winner Robbie McEwen to get an expert’s view on who will be the man for green in 2009.
McEwen knows more than the average professional about winning the green jersey at the Tour. The likeable Australian has a triumvirate of green triumphs to his name, having won the maillot vert in 2002, 2004 and 2006. He adopts the same meticulous approach to winning the points classification as he does with his preparation in the weeks leading up to those three weeks in July.
He knows which stages he needs to take points on, how much energy to expend and where the classification can be won and lost; essentially, there’s no better man to assess the candidates to succeed where he has in the past. Furthermore, after the retirement of Erik Zabel and before the return of Lance Armstrong, McEwen possessed the highest tally of Tour de France stage wins of any current rider.
With his last win coming in the first stage to Canterbury during the 2007 Tour, Katusha‘s experienced sprinter is still searching for victory number 13, although he’ll have to wait another year before he can have a crack at what’s proving to be an ‘unlucky’ and elusive stage win. An accident during the second stage of the Tour of Belgium meant he’ll be sitting out this year’s edition of la grande boucle.
In the meantime a new world order has emerged amongst the sprinting elite. The rise of British phenomenon Mark Cavendish has ignited a fervour and inflamed the interest of those who love to watch the fast men battle it out for stage supremacy. Comparisons between Cavendish and McEwen have regularly been made and McEwen believes the 23-year-old can take his mantle – for this year, at least – and wear the green jersey in Paris on July 26.
“I still think Cav is the number one man for green this year just because there are 10 flat stages and he’s got the best team,” says McEwen. “He’s likely to build up a lot of points on those stages and it’ll be too hard to overhaul him on just one hilly stage.
“Cav’s going uphill well , too. You don’t even have to go uphill that well – you have to get to the finish in the mountains within the time [limit] and for the rest on the flat stages you’ve just got to score points. That can be enough.”
We asked McEwen what he thinks about the big names likely to be at the pointy end of the race by the finish of the sprinters’ stages at this year’s Tour. While he says it will be a tough battle, he’s clear on who his favourite is.