Kittel – “Cavendish is still a very good sprinter…he is enemy number one”

by Shane Stokes

Although Mark Cavendish was eclipsed by Marcel Kittel in last year’s Tour de France, netting two stages to Kittel’s four and losing his mantle of the fastest rider in the world, the German sprinter has said he remains very wary of the Briton and sees him as the rider to beat in this year’s race.

KittelCavendish

The two riders have had very little overlap in their programmes this season, with the Dubai Tour and Tirreno-Adriatico being two exceptions. Neither figured in the sprints in the former, while Cavendish picked up a stage win in the latter.

As a result they haven’t had the opportunity to compare their form. However Kittel knows that clash is coming this Saturday on stage one of the Tour de France, and he is ready for a huge battle on both that day and in the subsequent sprint stages.

“I think he is not an old rider; I still think he is a very good sprinter,” Kittel told CyclingTips, responding when asked if he believed that Cavendish might be slowing down at 29 years of age. “Especially with his team in support for this year’s Tour and all the races in general.

“He will be our enemy number one. We will concentrate on Quick Step and also Lotto [André Greipel’s Lotto Belisol team – ed.] when we go in the sprints in the Tour.”

One year on from winning four stages at the 100th edition of the Tour de France, Kittel is relishing the thoughts of crossing swords again with Cavendish, Greipel, Peter Sagan (Cannondale) and others.

“What happens at the Tour is that you automatically push each other to give your very best,” Kittel said, speaking about the buzz of the world’s biggest race. “If you know that the very best sprinters are at the start, then you really want to win. Personally I am looking forward to the race.”

Click here to read the full article here at CyclingTips.

David Millar left out of Garmin-Sharp Tour de France squad

Now in his last season as a professional, David Millar has taken to twitter to express disappointment and frustration at being left out of Garmin-Sharp’s Tour de France team.


Millar had been set to take part in his 13th and final Tour de France but was omitted from the line-up at the last moment over concerns about his fitness and form.

Garmin-Sharp sports director Charly Wegelius said: “Had David Millar been healthy, he would have been a phenomenal team member. We would have loved to have him.

“Unfortunately, as seen over the weekend, David is sick, so we were forced to make a difficult and sad decision. That said, I am confident that we have put together an excellent group of riders that will be best equipped to ride a great race and support Andrew.”

Garmin-Sharp will ride in support of Andrew Talansky who won the Criterium du Dauphine a few weeks ago.

Click here to read more at road.cc.

Ted King returns to the Tour de France to support Peter Sagan

His exit from last year’s Tour de France was one of the biggest stories of the opening week but now Ted King is back to race Le Tour for Cannondale in 2014.

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King crashed on stage 1 of last year’s race and was later removed from the race during the team time trial in Nice after missing the time cut by seven seconds.

King goes into this year’s Tour as a key helper for team leader Peter Sagan, who heads to Leeds with plans to win his third consecutive points classification in the Tour. With no GC rider on the squad for Cannondale, the whole team has been built around supporting Sagan not only for the points classification but, ideally, for stage wins along the way.

The Cannondale squad for the Tour de France is as follows: Peter Sagan, Maciej Bodnar, Kristijan Koren, Ted King, Fabio Sabatini, Jean-Marc Marino, Marco Marcato, Alessandro De Marchi and Elia Viviani.

Click here to read more at VeloNews.

Movistar announces Tour de France team in support of Valverde

Less than a week after dominating at the Spanish national championships, Movistar has announced a Tour de France squad that’s been built around the GC podium ambitions of Alejandro Valverde.

Tour de France 2013 - Stage 17 - 32KM - Embrun to Chorges

Valverde was crowned the Spanish time trial champion late last week, before finishing second in the road race behind teammate Ion Izagirre.

“The goal is fighting for a podium place in Paris with Alejandro,” said Movistar manager Eusebio Unzué in a team release. “He’s coming into the race very strong, and confident about his chances. It’s a route that suits him pretty well.”

Valverde opted for a slightly different preparation for Le Tour than most riders, foregoing the Criterium du Dauphine and Tour de Suisse in favour of the Route du Sud. His plan is to hit Le Tour as fresh as possible before peaking for the world championships in Spain and the Vuelta a Espana.

The Movistar line-up for the Tour de France is as follows: Alejandro Valverde, Imanol Erviti, Jesús Herrada, Beñat Intxausti, Ion Izagirre, Rubén Plaza, José Joaquín Rojas, John Gadret and Giovanni Visconti.

Chris Horner named on Lampre-Merida squad for Le Tour

After missing out on his chance to ride for the GC at the Giro d’Italia following a crash in training, Chris Horner has been named on Lampre-Merida’s squad for the Tour de France.

Volta  Algarve 2014 stage-2

The team’s GC hopes will be pinned on world champion Rui Costa, winner of last week’s Tour de Suisse, while Sacha Modolo will be backed in the sprints.

Horner only returned to action last week at the Tour of Slovenia, where he finished 14th overall. It remains to be seen how Horner will fare in the high mountains of Le Tour and whether he’ll be given any latitude to chase stage victories of his own.

Horner’s best result at the Tour de France was a ninth overall in 2010 and the last time he took part in Le Tour was 2012.

The Lampre-Merida team for the Tour de France is as follows: Rui Costa, Davide Cimolai, Kristijan Durasek, Christopher Horner, Sacha Modolo, Nelson Oliveira, Maximiliano Ariel Richeze, Josè Rodolfo Serpa Perez and Rafael Valls Ferri.

Click here to read more at Cyclingnews.

Tinkoff-Saxo confirms Tour de France squad

Meanwhile Tinkoff-Saxo has confirmed its Tour de France line-up with Rafal Majka taking the spot left by the now-sidelined Roman Kreuziger.

Tour de France 2013 stage-18

Majka originally had concerns about racing his second grand tour for the year, but has since come around and is now welcoming the opportunity. The team will be led by Alberto Contador who appears to be close to career best form and is being touted as a red-hot favourite, alongside defending champion Chris Froome.

Contador will be ably supported in the hills by dual Giro stage winner Michael Rogers, Route du Sud winner Nicolas Roche and Jesus Hernandez.

“It has been very difficult to select this year’s line-up,” manager Bjarne Riis said. “This year, we’ve had a very strong group of candidates, who have all been showing impressive spirit. We have selected a team of high quality both in relations to individual strength and their compatibility to support each other and ride as a team towards the main goal of winning the Tour with Alberto.”

The Tinkoff-Saxo team for the Tour de France is as follows: Alberto Contador, Michael Rogers, Nicolas Roche, Rafal Majka, Jesús Hernandez, Sergio Paulinho, Daniele Bennati, Matteo Tosatto and Michael Mørkøv.

Click here to read more at Cyclingnews.

Prudhomme: Yorkshire is going to put on magnificent Tour de France

Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme has arrived in Leeds and has told journalists he can’t wait to show the world why northern England was chosen as the race’s Grand Depart.

William Clarke wins 2nd stage in Tour Down Under in Stirling 2012

“There are several reasons for the Tour de France being in Yorkshire. Obviously, there’s the beautiful scenery. There are racing roots here given it’s the home of Brian Robinson, the first British rider to win a stage of the Tour, and Barry Hoban, who was the Briton who had won the most stages before the advent of Mark Cavendish. But, above all, it’s the fact that we’ve been able to put together two stages that are very different,” Prudhomme told Cyclingnews.

“They’re both very beautiful, but one is one for the sprinters, even though there are some hills on it, and the other for the puncheurs and even for the riders aiming for the general classification. That was a determining element. I think these two stages will show the entire world why we have chosen Yorkshire.”

Prudhomme was impressed by the contest between Contador and Froome at the Criterium du Dauphine and is hoping the battle will continue at Le Tour but that there will be other surprises along the way.

“What I’m hoping for is unexpected events, fortunes swinging back and forth. I’m expecting that as the Tour director, but also as a cycling fan.”

Click here to read more at Cyclingnews.

Background on the Roman Kreuziger case and biological passport process

Here’s a great piece from The Inner Ring in which he looks at cycling’s biological passport system and how the anti-doping authorities use the passport to detect suspicious activity. The piece comes as Roman Kreuziger has been sidelined for anomalies in his biological passport dating back to 2011 and 2012, but the article isn’t about Kreuziger per se, it’s more about how the system works, how a rider is determined to be suspected of doping and what happens after that.

Here’s an excerpt:

The [passport]software rings an alarm bell if an athlete’s numbers deviate from an established patten. When this happens an expert with a background in clinical haematology, sports medicine and/or exercise physiology reviews the data from the system. The expert has four options:

- do nothing because the data look normal to the human eye/brain
- recommend the athlete is placed on a list for target testing
- alert the athlete that they could be suffering from a serious illness
- state improbable natural causes, a likely doping case.

Click here to read the full article over at The Inner Ring.

How HAS women’s cycling changed in the last few years?

Here at CyclingTips we’re big fans of Sarah Connolly and the work she’s doing to promote and improve the coverage of women’s cycling. In an article on her blog yesterday, Sarah considered how far women’s cycling really has come in recent years, and the piece is well worth a read. Her contention? The sport has suffered several setbacks in recent years and there is much to improve upon, but there are great signs that things are heading in the right direction.

Here’s an excerpt:

At one of the Friends Life Women’s Tour press conferences, Marianne Vos was asked about the growth of women’s cycling, and she said that it’s because of social media that the sport has grown. I first got into writing about cycling on the long-gone BBC 606 forum, and back then I found out about race action through Liz Hatch‘s twitter, Vicki Whitelaw‘s blog and CJ Farquharson’s womenscycling.net. Once I found Monty’s posts on Podium Café I was off – and I absolutely love how the women’s peloton has embraced social media and run with it.

Click here to read the full article at prowomenscycling.com.

VicRoads Cycling Road Rules Survey

Here’s one for all the cyclists in Victoria. VicRoads has launched an online survey giving all Victorian road users the chance to provide their feedback on Victoria’s cycling related road rules and road safety legislation. VicRoads is conducting a review in which they hope to “identify opportunities to make it easier for people to take up riding and for current bike riders to use roads” and “better protect bike riders’ and other road users’ safety.”

Head to the VicRoads website to find out more and take the survey.

Get On Yer Bike – Yorkshire Tour de France Song

The build-up continues to the Yorkshire Grand Depart of this year’s Tour de France and in this video, “South Yorkshire’s singing plumber” Paul Ballington shares the song he’s written in celebration of the race starting in his neck of the woods.

Click here to read more at The Star.

A tour of Sean Kelly’s trophy room (and more)

Here’s a video showing some of the riders on the An Post-Chain Reaction cycling team visiting Sean Kelly’s family home and taking a look at his trophy room. Check it out.

The Rocacorba Recap

And finally this morning, here are a few things you might have missed at CyclingTips:


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Today’s feature image comes from Jered & Ashley Gruber and was shot on the slopes of Monte Grappa in the Veneto region of north east Italy.