Chris Froome – “I am in very similar form to last year…I am ready for this”

by Shane Stokes

Defending champion Chris Froome has shrugged off the slump in form he showed after his crash in the Critérium du Dauphiné, saying that his sensations in the immediate run up to the Tour de France have been good and that he believes he is on track to fight hard for another yellow jersey in the race.

Froome

“I think every season comes with its own set of challenges,” said the Sky rider, speaking at his team’s press conference in Leeds on Thursday afternoon. “This year has been no different. I have had issues with my lower back early season, I have had chest problems. I had that crash in Dauphiné, which definitely set me back a little bit.

“But the last week of training prior to coming here has been really good. I feel I am very similar form to last year. I would definitely say I am ready for this.”

Froome and team principal Dave Brailsford held centre stage at the press conference. Although there was a very high media turnout, the mood was relaxed; that said, Froome also accepted that there are no guarantees that he will win the 2014 Tour.

“I think given the structure of the Tour this year and the diversity of all the different challenges…we have got the cobbles and we have got all the tricky stages up here north, we have got five summit finishes and we have got a 54 kilometre time trial, it is not possible to say this guy or that guy is going to win,” he said. “I definitely won’t say that I am going to win. But I will say that I will give it my absolute everything.”

Click here to read the full article here at CyclingTips.

Trek Factory Racing press conference

We’ll have a story for you from the Trek Factory Racing press conference later today (Melbourne time) but in the meantime, have a listen to the press conference in full below. The riders featured are Fabian Cancellara, Jens Voigt and Andy Schleck.

Sean Kelly’s Tour de France blog – “There are many uncertainties ahead”

by Shane Stokes

Former world number one and current Eurosport commentator Sean Kelly rode 14 Tours de France during his long career, and has worked on many more since hanging up his bike in 1993. The quadruple green jersey winner will analyse the Tour for CyclingTips, drawing on his expertise and knowledge of racing tactics to assess the action as the race unfolds and also to anticipate what will happen next.

SeanKelly

In his first entry, Kelly looks at the expected battle between two past winners in the race and cautions that nothing should be taken for granted, particularly with several dangerous stages ahead plus the technically demanding fifth stage over the cobbles of Northern France.

Here’s an excerpt:

It’s two days before the start of the Tour and everyone is taking about Froome versus Contador, Contador versus Froome.

It’s important to consider the other general classification guys in the race, though – while those two seem the most likely guys to battle for yellow, the weather conditions, the nervousness of the opening week and the cobbles could play a big part in shaping the race. So too the crashes, particularly if there is rain here in England. There are many uncertainties ahead.

If Froome and Contador get through this mad period of the first five, six days and the race settles down, things should be between them. But they have to get there first.

Click here to the full post.

Michael Matthews could miss Le Tour debut after crash

Michael Matthews’ Tour de France debut is now in doubt after the Orica-GreenEdge rider crashed in training earlier this week.

The crash saw Matthews require six stitches in his hand; less than ideal before a three-week bike race. Matthews and the team are yet to decide whether he’ll take to the startline in Leeds on Saturday but Christian Meier has been flown in as a replacement if need be.

“At the moment he will be at the start line but … We are going to see how it goes,” Orica-GreenEdge sports director Matt White said on Wednesday.

Speaking about how the crash occurred, White said: “He hit a piece of stone … on a deviation on a bit of gravelly road.”

Click here to read more at the SMH.

Talansky extends for two years as Garmin builds team around him

At the Garmin-Sharp pre-Tour de France press conference yesterday, GC hopeful Andrew Talansky confirmed he had renewed his contract with the team for another two years, despite offers from other teams.

Criterium Dauphine Libere 2014  stage -8

“This is the first season I was coming up on a year without a contract, and it was nice to see interest from other teams, but when I sat down and looked at my future, where I wanted to go, it made things very simple,” Talansky said Thursday in a press conference.

“It was a very simple decision for me,” he continued. “This is the team that has placed belief in me. This is the team where I started, and why I am here today. I am very happy to call this my home for the next two years.”

Garmin is likely to depart as title sponsor of the team next year, but it would seem things are on track with the search for a new sponsor.

“I can’t talk specifics about that,” Vaughters said. “I can say I wouldn’t sign a contract with Andrew if I didn’t think the situation was in a good place. … More to come, you’re gonna have to wait.”

Talansky finished last year’s Tour inside the top 10 and won this year’s Criterium du Dauphine and the American has high hopes for this year’s Tour.

“It would be a bit presumptuous to say you’re coming here to win, unless your name is Alberto Contador or Chris Froome,” Talansky said. “We’re coming here to do the best we can, that might be 10th, fifth, or first. We might have to wait until Paris to see.”

Click here to read more at VeloNews.

Brailsford in a ‘horrible place’ after Wiggins exclusion

Plenty of criticism has been levelled at Team Sky and Dave Brailsford in recent days given the decision to leave Bradley Wiggins off the Tour de France squad. And the Team Sky principal has told the BBC it’s been a difficult week.

Sir Dave Brailsford (GBR)

“From an emotional point of view, it was horrible. It’s a horrible, horrible, horrible place to find myself in,” Sky’s team boss told BBC Sport. “I’m not going to lie, contrary to popular opinion I have got some emotions.”

It was confirmed last week that Wiggins would miss the Tour, and would race the Commonwealth Games and possibly the Vuelta instead. Brailsford described the decision as a difficult one.

“It’s a challenging one, because on the one hand I’ve got to do my job and think about how to win,” Brailsford said.

“You take all the emotion out of it and you look at the logic and you figure out what it’s going to take to win. I’ve done that for a long time now and it’s stood us in very good stead. We’ve dominated two Olympic Games with that mentality, we’ve won two Tour de France’s with that mentality and I’m not going to change now.”

Click here to read more at Cycling Weekly.

Jens Voigt on riding his last Tour de France

He’s one of the most popular riders in the peloton and on Saturday Jens Voigt (Trek Factory Racing) will line up for a final, record-equalling 17th Tour de France. But according to Voigt, it wasn’t always clear he’d be in the squad.

“To be honest, until two or three weeks ago I still wasn’t sure if I’d be in the Tour team because there were parts of this season where I couldn’t perform the way I wanted to or how I expected to. So I rated my chances of starting as 40-60 against. So I’m proud to be here and also honoured that Trek selected me,” said Voigt.

Voigt will be riding in support of others on the team but as he mentions in the video below, he will also be looking to get in a trademark breakaway or two.

Click here to read more at Cyclingnews.

Brian Holm acquitted of sex offense charges

Omega Pharma-QuickStep sports director Brian Holm has been acquitted of charges that he sexually assault a seven-year-old girl. The 51-year-old denied the charges but admitted he was drunk on the night in question.

According to Danish daily BT, a court in Copehagen found that, while the girl “had been terrified”, there was insufficient evidence to support her claims.

“He wants to go home to his family now”, Holm’s lawyer Karoline Doessing Normann said. “This has been exhausting for him.”

Click here to read more at Danish newspaper BT.

Tinkoff-Saxo reveals new kit ahead of the Tour de France

Just two days ahead of the Tour de France, Tinkoff-Saxo has revealed a new-look kit after swapping yellow for fluoro yellow. What do you reckon?


Test riding the new Trek Émonda

Earlier this week Trek revealed its new Émonda range, the result of several years spent trying to develop the lightest production race frame on the market. While a few riders from the Trek Factory Racing team were riding the Émonda at the recent Tour du Suisse, and the Criterium du Dauphine, it wasn’t until Tuesday that Trek officially unveiled the bike to the press.

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CyclingTips’ roving reporter Dave Everett was in Yorkshire to learn more about the new frame and take it for a test ride. Click through here to see how Dave found it.

Stage 1 of the Tour de France on “Boris Bikes”

Here’s a video documenting three guys’ crazy day spent trying to ride the route of stage 1 of the Tour de France on 23kg “Boris Bikes”. The plan was to get the hire bikes from London, get to Leeds, ride the entire route, then get back to London inside 24 hours.

Check out how they went:

Click here to read more at road.cc.

Chris Froome – where it all began

Here’s a great photo that Chris Froome posted to Instagram yesterday ahead of the Tour de France. The caption reads: “In the Great Rift Valley (Kenya) where it all began…”

Coaching questions collaboration with Dig Deep Coaching

CyclingTips has evolved in recent times to take a much broader view of road cycling – including with race and news coverage – but the site is still very much about providing you, the readers, with information that’s relevant to you as a cyclist.

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To continue developing this side of the site we’ve teamed up with Dig Deep Coaching who will be helping us to answer your training-related questions every month.

Click here to find out more about the collaboration and how you can submit your own question.

Well-trained cyclists required for nutrition study

Victoria University PhD candidate Karen Hill is conducting a study into how proteins ingested post-exercise affect adaptations to endurance exercise. She’s looking for trained cyclists that meet the following criteria:

1. Are aged between 18-35 years
2. Have two or more years of competitive cycling experience
3. Race at a B grade or higher level.

Participation in the study will include:

– Graded exercise test and VO2 max test
– Endurance performance test
– DEXA scan (body composition)
– Two high intensity training sessions per week for eight weeks
– Eight-week nutrition plan with all meals, snacks and supplements provided
– Blood and two muscle samples

If you’re interested, you can get in touch with Karen via email.

Does having shaved legs make you faster?

You might remember Specialized’s video from a few weeks back about whether having a beard affects your aerodynamics on the bike. The team is now back with another video, this time looking at whether shaving your legs makes a difference. This is well worth four minutes of your time.

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 is another Jered Gruber masterpiece, also taken in the Abruzzo region of Italy.