In this morning’s edition of the CyclingTips Daily News Digest: Contador – achieving the Giro d’Italia/Tour de France double can change my career; Richie Porte appearing more likely to leave Sky; Alex Dowsett predicts wide-open contest on stage 1 ITT at the Tour; Nathan Haas on his Tour debut – ‘I’m hoping to create a bit of a narrative along the way’; Appollonio faces €100,000 fine if EPO positive is confirmed; Mechanical doping in the news again; Routes announced for the 2016 Tour Down Under; Team Sky … in Lego; Tour de France preview; Giro Rosa preview; Ella CyclingTips reader survey; Giant-Alpecin’s new protective shorts; Martyn Ashton – Back On Track.
Contador: achieving the Giro d’Italia/Tour de France double can change my career
by Shane Stokes
Two days before the start of the 2015 Tour de France, Alberto Contador has said that winning the Giro/Tour double would take his career to another level.
“If I win another Tour without taking the double, it is not something that can change my career a lot. But if I achieve the double, I can change something,” Contador said in a press conference in Utrecht. “It is something that people can remember. So that is another motivation for me.”
Of course, the fact that the last time the double was achieved was back in 1998 (by Marco Pantani) shows how difficult the task is. Contador admitted that he felt stronger prior to the 2014 Tour than he does now, but isn’t reading too much into that subjective feeling at this point in time.
“If I have to choose between last year and this year, maybe I take last year’s sensation because I did very intensive preparation and I did not have to worry about my recovery,” he said.
“I have prepared for the Giro/Tour thinking only about one victory, not thinking about victory in the Giro and victory in the Tour,” he said. “For me all together is the same. I think that can help me to get the objective, but I know also it is very complicated.”
Click here to read more at CyclingTips.
Richie Porte appearing more likely to leave Sky
With his contract up at the end of this year, Richie Porte is fielding offers from other teams for 2016 and beyond. Porte told AAP he’s likely to find out during the Tour how the contract negotiations have gone.
“I’m very confident, I have a few really good offers in great teams,” Porte told AAP. “You don’t take it lightly, leaving a team like Sky. In a lot of ways, it’s the best team for Grand Tour racing, but I need to think about my future.”
As has been the case in recent years, Porte is likely to get limited chances to lead Sky during Grand Tours. Several teams appear to have offered him that possibility.
“In any other team, bar three or four, I would actually be the Tour leader,” he said. “But that’s certainly something I’m really looking at now. I do have opportunities to go and try my luck in another team. The next couple of years, I’m going to be as strong as I physically can be.”
For the moment, Porte is focused on assisting Chris Froome in his quest to win a second Tour de France title this month.
Click here to read more via AAP/SBS.
Alex Dowsett predicts wide-open contest on stage 1 ITT at the Tour
Former hour record holder Alex Dowsett might be among the favourites to win the stage 1 time trial at the Tour de France on Saturday but the Brit thinks it’s likely to be a more open race than many people think.
“I think you will likely still see the [time-trial] specialists at the sharp end of the results list,” Dowsett said. “But the problem with a short time trial is a lot more riders become a threat and would be motivated for it.
“Certainly, the sprinters and classics riders would all be able to deliver a strong prologue, so I think it will be a closely fought battle. I will attack it as hard as I can, as always.”
His main job over the next three weeks will be protecting Nairo Quintana’s interests in the GC, but Dowsett still has hopes of winning stage 1 and taking yellow.
“Winning stage one and taking the yellow jersey would be career-defining,” Dowsett said. “If that is all you had on your CV, you could be more than satisfied. It’s not out of the question.”
Click here to read more at Cycling Weekly.
Nathan Haas on his Tour debut: ‘I’m hoping to create a bit of a narrative along the way’
It was no great surprise when Nathan Haas entered the WorldTour ranks with Garmin-Barracuda in January 2012. Now, three-and-a-half years later, he’s about to line up for his first Tour de France.
“It’s an honour for anyone to do the Tour de France but I think for the Antipodeans, like Jack Bauer and myself, we really are another world away,” Haas told CyclingTips. “The extra distance makes it [even] fonder for me to be part of it here this year.”
“I feel that the confidence from finishing two Grand Tours in  … has really cemented in my own mind that I’m not here at the Tour de France to finish. I’m here to do a good job and finishing is just part of that.”
Haas will ride in support of the team’s three leaders — Andrew Talansky, Ryder Hesjedal and Dan Martin — but is also likely to get his own opportunities later in the race.
“[I] have quite a distinct ability to get over climbs with climbers and then have a sprint at the end,” he said. “If there is a large breakaway that’s unimportant in GC terms and I can place myself into it, I really do back myself to win a stage from that situation,” he said.
Click here to read the full article at CyclingTips.
Appollonio faces €100,000 fine if EPO positive is confirmed
Italy’s Davide Appollonio faces a four-year suspension for testing positive to EPO but should his B-sample confirm the original test, he could also be hit with a €100,000 (AUD $145,000) fine from his Androni-Sidermec team.
“We have never put our riders under pressure,” team manager Gianni Savio stated. “We have just required commitment, reliability and loyalty. We have always applied zero tolerance to doping and said we would be intransigent. Personally, I think that those who nowadays take doping are stupid criminals since doping is a crime.”
All of the riders on the team signed an agreement last December saying they wouldn’t dope and Appollionio will be dismissed from the team if his use of EPO is confirmed.
Click here to read more at Cyclingnews.
Tour de France mobilises 20,000 to guard against terrorism
Some 20,000 police, gendarmes, and firefighters have been called upon to ensure the safety of the Tour de France this year, in the face of the ever-present threat of terrorism.
“In addition to road safety and public order, the terrorist risk is obviously not ignored. It should even encourage, in the current context, the greatest caution,” said Pierre-Henry Brandet, spokesman for the French ministry of the interior.
“The intelligence services are mobilised to detect upstream any possible hint of danger,” he added. All officials mobilized by the Place de Beauvau “are perfectly aware of the threat along the route and that posed at the start and finish of each stage.”
“Vigilance will be heightened on the course to identify suspicious behavior,” the spokesman added, in the face of a “very elevated threat of terrorism.
“Checkpoints will be especially strengthened at the departures and arrivals of the stages,” Brandet said.
Read more at Velonews/AFP
Mechanical doping in the news again
The issue of mechanical doping — the use of a hidden motor in a bike — continues to chug along with The Telegraph in the UK publishing an article in which the author used a bike with a hidden motor. Here’s an excerpt:
“The bike I am riding is called a Typhoon, made by a company which has been in existence since about January. It is one of a number of projects being developed as manufacturers scrabble to break into what is seen as a potentially lucrative market.
Most major manufacturers are thought to be looking seriously at motor-assisted bikes. Speaking to the Telegraph this week, Eddy Merckx said he would not be averse to putting motors in his bikes. “As long as it’s not for racing, why not?” the Belgian asked.
In case you missed our article on hidden motors in bikes, be sure to check it out here.
Click here to read more at The Telegraph.
Routes announced for the 2016 Tour Down Under
Organisers of the Santos Tour Down Under have announced the routes for next year’s edition of the race. The 2016 edition will feature many familiar routes and stage finishes, while also including some new features, such as Norton Summit Road, an Adelaide cycling hotspot.
The stages are as follows:
– Down Under Classic (Adelaide) – 51 km – Sunday, January 17
– Stage 1 – Prospect to Lyndoch – 130.8 km – Tuesday, January 19
– Stage 2 – Unley to Stirling – 132 km – Wednesday, January 20
– Stage 3 – Glenelg to Campbelltown – 139 km – Thursday, January 21
– Stage 4 – Norwood to Victor Harbor – 138 km – Friday, January 22
– Stage 5 – McLaren Vale to Willunga Hill – 151.5 km – Saturday, January 23
– Stage 6 – Adelaide – 90 km – Sunday, January 24
“The race will include three laps through Lyndoch, five complete laps through Stirling and three through Willunga giving fans the chance to set up roadside for the day to soak up the atmosphere and see a lot of the action from one location,” said race director Mike Turtur.
“The inaugural Santos Women’s Tour this year was an exciting addition to the event and we look forward to seeing it return in 2016.”
Click here to read more at the Santos Tour Down Under website.
Team Sky … in Lego
Here’s something from Team Sky and Lego. The toy company has created one-off figurines of the Team Sky squad ahead of the Tour de France. As well as creating likenesses of the riders, Lego has also modelled up team principal Sir Dave Brailsford … and the team’s bus and support car.
Click here to read more at the Team Sky website.
Tour de France preview
Getting excited for the Tour de France? Us too! Read up on the overall favourites, the sprinters and more with Mikkel Conde’s terrific preview here.
Giro Rosa preview
While the best of the men’s peloton gear up for the Tour de France, the best female riders in the world are just about to start the Giro Rosa over in Italy. Find out everything you need to know about the race in this preview, put together by Ella CyclingTips co-editors Anne-Marije Rook and Jessi Braverman.
Ella CyclingTips reader survey
Speaking of our sister site, Ella CyclingTips is now five months old so we thought it was time to ask some questions about who’s reading the site, what we’re doing well, what we could be doing better and so on.
If you’re an Ella CyclingTips reader, we’d love it if you could head over and fill in the quick survey. If you’re not an Ella CyclingTips reader, what are you waiting for?!
Click here to read more at complete the survey.
Giant-Alpecin’s new protective shorts
Last year Scott revealed its crash-resistance cycling kit and now Giant-Alpecin has revealed its “protecting cycling shorts” which are reportedly reinforced with a fibre called “Dyneema”. You can learn more in this video from the team, which features Marcel Kittel, John Degenkolb and Koen de Kort.
Martyn Ashton – Back On Track
This is one of those videos that just makes you smile. Two years after sustaining a spinal injury that left him paralysed, Martyn Ashton — of Road Bike Party fame — is back on a bike. Stellar viewing from the team at the Global Mountain Bike Network (an offshoot of GCN).
What You Missed
And finally this morning, here are a few things you might have missed at CyclingTips: