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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion:
Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Back to news and opinion index page for links to archived stories | Commentary

Today's Racing

Today's stage, number 11, is the second day in the Pyrenees for the 2015 Tour de France. On schedule are six rated ascents including a couple of the Tour's legenday climbs, the Col d'Aspin and the Tourmalet. We'll post complete results, stage story and lots of photos as soon as they are available.

Coming up, along with the Tour, on the 19th, will be the Italian Trofeo Matteotti (1.1) and then on the 22nd the Grand Prix Cerami (1.1) will be run. We'll post complete results for both.

Stage 10 was filled with surprises. David L. Stanley takes the stage apart and gives it his usual excellent analysis.

Ivan Basso update

Basso had to withdraw from the Tour after being diagnosed with testicular cancer. Tinkoff-Saxo sent this update:

Today, 14 July 2015, Ivan Basso was examined and underwent medical assessment at San Raffaele Hospital in Milan, in relation to a lesion that was detected in his left testicle.

Tomorrow, Basso will undergo surgery in order to clarify the nature of the problem and reach its resolution. The intervention will be performed by Professor Francesco Montorsi, Director of the Urology Surgery Unit at San Raffaele Hospital in Milan, and his team.

The experts explained that there is no correlation between the testicular lesion and the sports activity of Ivan Basso. 

Tour de France team reports:

This came from BMC:

La Pierre-Saint-Martin, France - Tejay van Garderen of the BMC Racing Team finished 10th on Tuesday's first day in the mountains at the Tour de France while remaining second overall.

Van Garderen conceded 2:30 to race leader Chris Froome (Team Sky), who soloed to the stage win. Froome's teammate, Richie Porte, was runner-up, 59 seconds later, with Nairo Quintana (Movistar Team) in third, a further five seconds back.

"Sky definitely put on quite the performance," van Garderen said. "I tried my best to stay with them. When it got too much for me, I tried to stay in my rhythm and focused on getting to the top. I don't think today was my best day. But it wasn't all bad. I am still keeping a good GC (general classification) position."

In the overall standings, Froome leads van Garderen by 2:52. Quintana is third, at 3:09. Spanish national road champion Alejandro Valverde is fourth, at 4:01, and one of five riders still within five minutes of the overall lead.

Froome, the 2013 Tour de France winner, attacked in the last seven kilometers of the 167-km race that finished with a 15 km climb. Van Garderen was one of several riders who lost contact with a rapidly-dwindling lead group just before Froome's attack.

Tejay van Garderen and Yony Gallopin

Tejay van Garderen (right) and Tony Gallopin on stage 10's final climb.

"The first mountain day is always tricky," van Garderen said. "We have done almost two weeks without climbing any real mountains. So it can be quite a shock to the system, especially after a rest day. I feel like it should go better from here. I am definitely still happy about where we are sitting."

BMC Racing Team President/General Manager Jim Ochowicz said with two more days in the Pyrenees to come, "people have a good observation of the challenges that lie ahead."

"It was a good race for us, generally speaking," Ochowicz said. "We came into today in second and we held second place. Now we keep moving forward with another challenge tomorrow. But the team looks strong. They're OK. They can do this stuff."

Tinkoff-Saxo sent this report:

Alberto Contador admits that he had a bad day after losing 2’51” on the first mountain stage of Tour de France to La Pierre-Saint-Martin. Despite being disappointed with the result of the day, the Tinkoff-Saxo team captain notes that the Tour is yet to be decided.

After fighting his way up the second part of La Pierre-Saint-Martin at his own rhythm ultimately loosing 2’51” to stage winner Chris Froome, Alberto Contador tells that he did not feel well on the final climb.

“It was a complicated day. I knew it was going to be a climb, where you could lose a lot of time, if you weren’t in form and that’s what happened. It was the stage after the rest day, where one could lose a lot of time. I couldn’t breath and I still can’t – so I couldn’t get rid of the lactic acid in my legs and I couldn’t follow the pace. It was a bad day, and we’ve seen that Froome was better than everybody else. I was unable to follow the pace, not only of Froome but also of other riders”, comments Alberto Contador before elaborating: “This is cycling, you have good days and you have bad days. I wasn’t able to see much of the race but I saw that Froome was able to accelerate away, when he wanted. Movistar’s pace was not much of a problem to me, but the pace that Sky set was higher. At some point, I had to follow my own pace and find the rhythm and I’ve definitely had better days”.

Alberto Contador

Alberto Contador fighting to limit his losses in stage 10.

After stage 10, Alberto Contador sits 6th in the GC, 4’04” seconds off the race lead. However, the former winner underlines that many mountains still lies ahead.

“The Tour is a very long race and it’s true that today I wasn’t in top shape, nevertheless I can also be in a situation, where my shape is much more similar to the shape Froome had today, so I don’t take it for granted that he will win the Tour. We have just entered the mountains and the race is not concluded yet”, adds Contador. 

Team Head Sports Director Steven de Jongh remains poised and looks to tomorrow’s mountain stage for confirmation. “It’s too early to say what we can do to change our situation in the GC. We will sit down this evening and analyze today and then we’ll see how Alberto is tomorrow. We all know Alberto, he is a great fighter and he won’t lose spirit but keep fighting on. He will naturally do everything to get back on top and the entire team will of course support him as much as we possibly can”, says Steven de Jongh, who adds about today’s GC battle on the final climb:

“It’s obvious that today was quite a blow for us. Alberto lost time and he didn’t have a good day like several other GC riders. The team gave their best to support him but it is clear to everybody that he wasn’t at his best. Today was very hot and the final climb was ridden at a very high and consistent pace, which drained the energy out of many riders in the bunch today”, finishes Steven de Jongh.

Here's what LottoNL-Jumbo had to say about Tour stage 10:

Robert Gesink impressed during the tenth stage of the Tour de France today. An aggressive racing style gave the Dutch leader of Team LottoNL-Jumbo a fourth place on the first climbing day. Thanks to his performance on the Col de Soudet, Gesink moved up to eighth overall.

Chris Froome won the 167-kilometre stage that led the bunch from Tarbes to La Pierre-Saint-Martin. The Brit of Team Sky strengthened his lead in the general classification with his victory. He has 4 minutes and 35 minutes on Gesink.

“I’m exhausted, but happy,” Gesink said after attacking early on the final climb. “I saw people getting dropped but felt good myself and decided to be crazy and give it a go. We didn’t discuss anything, but I knew that when the big men began accelerating, they would go too fast for me. I anticipated and it worked out well today.”

Gesink admitted that he thought about winning the stage. “Yes, stupid actually. I thought about it for a moment, but looking back, I should have done that. I don’t quite realise what has happened. Today, I had a super day, I felt strong. I’m happy. I wonder what’s in store for me tomorrow.”

Robert Gesink

Robert Gesink gives it his all on the day's final climb.

Merijn Zeeman (team coach) reacted emotionally to Gesink’s stunning fourth place. “Things didn’t always go as planned for us this year and Robert has had his share of setbacks as well. It is fantastic what he did today. I’m happy for him. I’m touched now and at a loss for words. This is wonderful to experience. We have to go a long way, though. We’re just getting started now because today was the first mountain stage.

Laurens ten Dam placed 22nd on the Col de Soudet in the same time as Vincenzo Nibali, the winner of last year’s Tour, despite his heavy crash in the first week. “I’m not unhappy today. I was just about to ride to Robert to tell him I was still there for him when he decided to attack. With eight kilometres to the finish, I exploded, but Robert did a great job. As a team we’re going to work hard for him and together we will make a strong plan.”

Tom Leezer crashed during the stage. The Dutchman suffered a bruised nose and a flesh wound on his right forearm that needed stitches.

And here's Lotto-Soudal's stage 10 news:

Today was a first big test for the GC contenders, a stage of 167 kilometres from Tarbes to La Pierre-Saint-Martin with finish on an hors catégorie climb. It was a good day for Chris Froome. He won the stage and has reinforced his first position in the general classification. Lotto Soudal rider Tony Gallopin finished ninth at the top. The Frenchman is now seventh overall, 4’33” behind Froome. The man who wore yellow on the way to La Planche des Belles Filles exactly one year ago had a big smile after the finish.

Tony Gallopin: “With the team we agreed that I would see how far I got on the last climb. Tim and Adam could join a big group that had a chance to stay ahead. The first goal was to win the intermediate sprint with André, which we did, and then it were the teams of the GC riders who set a high pace on the way to the climb. I was amazed I could hang on and even when big names got dropped I could stay in the yellow jersey group. The steady pace of Sky was perfect for me. It was only when they raised the tempo and ten riders were left that I was distanced.”

“Of course I’m happy with the ninth place today and the seventh place overall. The legs felt very good, even when the group was already considerably reduced. On the one hand this place on GC is very nice, on the other hand I might get less space to aim for a stage win. But we’ll look at that again with the team and we’ll discuss what the next days will bring.”

André Greipel reclaimed the green jersey today. He won the battle at the intermediate sprint for fifteen points. The German now has a lead of three points on Peter Sagan.

Andre Greipel

André Greipel is back in green

Here's Lampre-Merida's stage 10 report:

After the first rest day, the Tour de France was back on the roads for the 10th stage. The short course (167 km) and the demanding final climb (La Pierre Saint Martin, 15.3 km at 7.4% average gradient, maximum of 10.8%, finishing at 1,610 meters) made the stage selective.

On the day of the French national celebration, two riders from two French teams (Fedrigo and Van Bilsen) led the race for most of the course, but their efforts were neutralized on the final climb on the red-hot asphalt, when the top climbers raised the speed, creating a selection (Rui Costa chose to ride at a lower speed).

At 10 km to go, Valls reacted to an attack by Gesink, joining the Dutch rider at the front of the race. The duo led the stage for 2 km, before Valverde attacked, selecting again the group of the top riders and closing the gap to the head of the race. This was just before Froome left behind all his opponents, winning the stage.

Valls managed to complete the race in 12th position, at 3'09" behind the British climber.

Rafael Valls

Rafael Valls climbs in stage 10.

Froome consolidated the yellow jersey, Rui Costa is 33rd at 22'10".

"After a difficult first week of the Tour de France, I was aware I was going to face some stages which could be suitable for my qualities - Valls explained - Today, I wanted to test my legs, if there would have been the opportunity.

When Rui was no longer in the head group, I knew I could try to do something for the team: I decided to attack exploiting the action of Gesink. The legs were good but not enough for avoiding the reaction of the best riders group. Even if I could not complete my action with a top result, I think I got good feedback about my condition".

This is the comment from Rui Costa: "Today was not a good day for me, on the final climb I realized that the feelings were bad, probably because of the still not perfect condition of my left leg, the heat and the fact that I suffered after the rest day, as often happens.

I was aware that my ambitions for the overall classification were weakening, so I prefered to complete the climb pedaling at a regular pace and not to expend further energy. I saved them in order to be ready to exploit the opportunities that for sure the Tour de France will give me. I'll try to be protagonist in the demanding stages".

Back to news and opinion index page for links to archived stories | Commentary