Wiggins stamps authority on Tour
Bradley Wiggins (Sky) leads the Tour de France with even more time as it restarts today in Mâcon. Two days ago, he gained an additional 1-43 minutes on Cadel Evans (BMC Racing) when winning the first of two long time trials.
The win was a first for Wiggins, who has competed in six editions of the Tour de France. In 2010, he won the opening time trial of the Giro d’Italia and held the leader’s pink jersey for one day.
“I didn’t set out to win the stage today. To come away with the stage is great, I was only thinking of the GC,” Wiggins said on Monday. “To have the stage is just like Christmas when you are a kid. It’s brilliant.”
Wiggins now leads Evans by 1-53 minutes.
Cofidis suspends Remy Di Gregorio
The team Cofidis announced via a press release that it has suspended Remy Di Gregorio, currently detained on suspicion of doping (french) , “as a precaution” , but Cofidis will not withdraw from the Tour de France. Remy Di Gregorio may have been stopped due to an intercepted phone call from accused drug suppliers when he was tapped as part of an investigation of Astana. When the investigation began last year, Di Gregorio was riding for Astana and won one stage in the 2011 Paris-Nice.
“We have at present very little information about the events which allegedly took place,” a Cofidis press release said. “Nevertheless, suspicions about the rider in question, Rémy Di Gregorio, lead us to apply strict and immediate sanctions in force in our team regarding the violation of ethics rules. Rémy di Gregorio is therefore suspended, now, as a precaution, pending further information concerning the facts alleged against him. If these facts are established, it will be dealt with as specified by the terms of the contract and the ethics policy of the team.”
Froome positioned for podium
Wiggins also gains confidence from seeing Evans sandwiched by team-mate Chris Froome. Froome rode himself into third place overall in Monday’s time trial to Besançon. He placed only 35 seconds back in second place.
“I’ve been training for this, I didn’t really know how the other guys would be up to but I’m happy with my time,” Froome said after his ride.
At the Vuelta a España, he finished second and Wiggins third overall. Had he not lost 1-25 minutes due to a puncture in the Tour’s opening road stage to Seraing, we may be looking at a different British leader today.
“This puts us in a very good position,” Froome added. “There’s a lot of racing to do.”
Evans on the mountains ahead
The “racing to do” is in the Alps this week. Today’s stage to Bellegarde-sur-Valserine ends with two familiar climbs, the Grand Colombier and Richemond.
The Col du Grand Colombier debuts in the Tour, but the Critérium du Dauphiné used it last month.
Evans used its descent to put Wiggins in difficulty. Wiggins kept cool and used his Sky team, led by Mick Rogers and Richie Porte, to pull back Evans on the Richemond. However, in the Tour, the finish line is closer to the top of the Col de Richemond and may make a potential escape even more difficult to chase back.
Evans told the Sydney Morning Herald that the 10th leg, 194.5km, will be ”difficult.” He added, ”The finish is much closer to the bottom,” which means the race ”could be shaken up on the general classification.”
Tomorrow’s summit finish stage to La Toussuire-Les Sybelles will be harder, according to Evans. He said, “La Toussuire is like an Alpe d’Huez or Galibier finish – especially with two hors-category climbs and a second category one before.”
Evans vows to fight back
Evans faces a fight over the next two weeks to win his second consecutive Tour de France title. The race will travel through the Alps and Pyrenees, and end with a long time trial on the penultimate day.
“I am obliged to chase time before the next time trial,” Evans explained.
“I have been feeling better day by day and it will be good having the hilltop finish there [on La Toussuire] to open things up for me. I was surprised how Sky fell apart in the last climb [on Sunday], but I am also surprised that they had first and second… In the time trial they were exceptional.”
In last year’s long time trial, Evans rode 2-31 minutes faster than top rival Andy Schleck did. On Monday, he lost 1-43 minutes to Wiggins in the Besançon TT.
“I am a little disappointed to lose that time, but Froome and Wiggins rode really, really well.”
courtesy of Cycling Central
BMC’s climbers back to the top
BMC Racing’s climbers, like Tejay Van Garderen and Amaël Moinard, are expected to be back to their best this week. They were unable to stick with Evans on the race’s last mountain finish to La Planche des Belles Filles on Saturday.
“OK, some of their [Sky's] guys are just better climbers naturally. I’m not going to pretend that we have another rider that compares with Froome. We’ve got Cadel,” the team’s General Manager, Jim Ochowicz told Cycling Weekly.
“We’re healthy. I think you’ll see more of our people get their climbing legs. They can go up hills, they’re not going to be racing to the finish line, but they’re going to be in those climbs and doing their jobs.”
In a similar situation to the Col de Joux Plane in the Dauphiné last month, Sky out-numbered Evans four to one at one point. Wiggins relied on Froome, Porte and Rogers.
“We don’t have the climbers that some of the other teams have,” Ochowicz added, “but we have strong bike riders here, who know what they’re doing.”
Van Garderen leads the way
Van Garderen joined BMC Racing from HTC-Highroad over the winter to help Evans in the mountains. Due to a strong opening prologue ride, he carried the young riders’ white jersey for seven days.
On Monday, the 23-year-old American indicated that he was back in top shape with a strong time trial ride. He finished 1-06 minutes back behind Wiggins, enough to re-gain the white jersey.
“Mainly what [Cadel and I] talked about was not taking risks. I told him, ‘I’m just going to go hard but I’ll just try to keep it a regular tempo to not go too over the edge.’ I had to promise Cadel I wouldn’t crash,” he told VeloNews.
“I had kind of a bad day that first uphill finish; I was just a little nervous in a big fight and I kind of lost [the white jersey] there. But we just had the guys rally and say, ‘Look, it’s a long two weeks. It’s not the main goal anyway.’”
Wiggins drops the C-bomb on doubters
Wiggins ended his first day in the yellow jersey in Porrentruy, Switzerland, by taking aim at the cynics. In a post race press conference, a journalist took the opportunity to ask about the comparisons between team Sky and Lance Armstrong’s former team, US Postal/Discover Channel. The question referred to Twitter users and others in social media websites, who say that Sky must be using drugs to be riding as it has been in Tour de France.
The response was on the mark, but a little too colourful.
“Honestly, they’re just f***ing wankers,” Wiggins said, according to Cycling Weekly.
“I cannot be dealing with people like that. It justifies their own bone-idleness because they can’t ever imagine applying themselves to anything in their lives. And it’s easy for them to sit under a pseudo-name on Twitter and write that sort of shit rather than get off their asses in their own life and apply themselves, and work hard at something and achieve something. And that’s ultimately it.”
As it was the last question, Wiggins got up to leave, but before he did, he sent one fine message to the cynics: “C*&#s!”
The colourful response must have sounded alarms with team Sky’s brass, but Wiggins said one day later that he’s not sorry for what he said.
“I’m not saying sorry about yesterday. I said what I said because it’s who I am. It’s passion,” he explained. “I’m not going to change. It is my passion for cycling. I love this sport. I have been a cycling fan since I was a kid. It’s passion and I think it’s good for athletes to be passionate rather than just machines.”
Metz Massacre caused by Petacchi’s shoe covers?
Giro d’Italia winner, Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Sharp) and many others hit the deck with 25 kilometres to race to Metz on Friday. The incident forced Hesjedal out of the race with “massive hematoma to his left leg and hip.”
When the crash occurred, Alessandro Petacchi was handing his shoe covers to Lampre-ISD team-mate Davide Viganò. The group slowed suddenly and Viganò, with only one hand on his bars, was unable to brake in time.
Garmin’s Davide Millar told Cycling Weekly. “If you are at 70K an hour in the finale of a Tour de France stage you probably shouldn’t be taking shoe covers off and handing them to a team-mate. Petacchi has the skills to do that, but your Alessandro Petacchi, throw them! Don’t give them to a team-mate, you have overshoes coming out your ass. So, it’s a stupid mistake.”
Viganò fractured his collarbone and was one of the 13 cyclists to abandon in the following 24 hours.
“It’s devastating,” Hesjedal told VeloNews. “My Tour’s over. It’s not the way I expected it to end. It’s brutal because I was optimistic I could do a good ride.”