Van Garderen feeling confident about chances in build-up to Tour de France

Speaking to the media in a press conference held days before Sunday’s start of the Critérium du Dauphiné, the American Tour de France contender Tejay van Garderen said Tuesday that he intends being close to his top form in this year’s Critérium du Dauphiné.

The BMC Racing Team rider will lead the team for the first time this year, having previously either shared that position with Cadel Evans or else been second in command to the Australian. This time round the team has put its faith completely in him but rather than holding back for the Tour, he said that he intends doing everything he can to land a big result beforehand in the Dauphiné.

While some riders in the past have suffered in the Tour after being in winning form in the earlier event, van Garderen believes that he has the best approach for himself and that it will ensure he is good in both races.

Tour de France 2013 stage-18

“Obviously you want to be at your absolute best at the Tour de France. I have trained hard and I have worked well and I feel I am in a pretty good condition to do a good Dauphiné,” he said, when asked by CyclingTips if he would rather be at 90 percent or 100 percent for the shorter race.

“I feel it is always easier to come in hot and then pull back a little than it is to come in a little bit sluggish and then try to make up that work afterwards.

“Sometimes with make-up work you leave it a little too late and there is not enough time. So I feel like it is best to keep the condition high and you make these little tweaks. It is not a question of being at 90 percent compared to 100 percent, it is maybe a question of 97 percent compared to 100 percent.”

Two years ago Van Garderen finished fifth in what was his second-ever Tour, showing that he was capable of taking over from then-leader Cadel Evans when the team decided it was time. While things didn’t go to plan for him in last year’s race, with second at l’Alpe d’Huez being his only consolation after an otherwise difficult campaign, he bounced back to win a stage plus the overall in the USA Pro Cycling Challenge.

This year has brought more good results, with his performances including second overall in the Tour of Oman, a stage plus third overall in the Volta a Catalunya and sixth in the Volta al Pais Vasco.

However there have also been frustrations, with illness forcing him out of Paris-Nice on stage one and a crash injury putting him out of the Tour de Romandie on day three.

He hasn’t raced since then but told journalists today that he believes he is in strong shape and that he is ready to challenge for a high placing – or possibly even the victory – in the French event.

“I am not going to go to the Dauphiné with expectations to just win it easily or anything like that, especially considering the competition,” he said. “But you know we just want to treat it as a dress rehearsal for the Tour de France. I will be definitely be going for as high a GC position as possible, try to test my limits a little bit and test out the team, make sure we are all working well together. To just do the best I can.”

Read the full interview with van Garderen here on CyclingTips

Worst Spanish Giro GC performance since 1979

It’s a statistic which is affected in part by Joaquim Rodriguez crashing out of the race, but also reflects the difference in level between the older, established professionals and younger riders coming through; Spain has just had its quietest general classification performance at the Giro d’Italia since 1979.

For the first time in over three decades, no rider from the country has finished in the top twenty overall. The best rider from Spain in the overall standings was José Herrada Lopez in 23rd place overall, 59 minutes and one second behind the overall victor Nairo Quintana. Next best was former Olympic champion Samuel Sanchez (BMC Racing Team), who was one place further back in 24th.

Chart showing Spanish GC placings in Grand Tours since 1998 (via

Chart showing Spanish GC placings in Grand Tours since 1998 (via

The statistic is likely affected by the fact that Quintana was leading Spain’s sole WorldTour team in the event, Movistar, and thus required the Spanish riders on the squad to work for him. It’s also a reflection of the fact that Euskaltel Euskadi is no more, and therefore Movistar was the only Spanish team in the race.

However, the lack of teams from the country is also in itself symptomatic of the tough time facing the sport there; the difficult economic climate makes putting teams together extremely difficult, while the relatively small number of young stars compounds things.

L’Equipe compiled data from the Giro since 1979, the last time no Spaniard was in the top twenty. Its statistics show that 1983 and 1991 were the two most successful years for the country’s riders, in terms of having six finishers in the top twenty. Five riders achieved the feat in 2006, while four did so in 2000, 2001, 2005, 2011 and 2012. Last year saw two riders inside that cut-off point.

This year’s statistic might yet prove to be a once-off, but of equal concern is the downward trend evident in the Vuelta a España. Over fifteen riders placed inside the top twenty in 2004; since then that number has dropped steadily, with only seven doing so in 2012 and 2013.

The trend in the Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a España will be one that Spanish cycling will hope to address, although with the current economical difficulties in the country, it remains to be seen how quickly things can be turned around in terms of the number of teams and the opportunities they provide to young riders.

Read the full story at L’Equipe.

Henderson building form well after second knee surgery, ready to back Greipel in Luxembourg

He’s been dealing with knee issues for some time now but Greg Henderson has revealed that the issue appears to be fully behind him after two knee surgeries in recent months.

The tough Kiwi, who is one of Andre Griepel’s right hand men on the Lotto Belisol team, had been held back by the problem. He was operated upon during the winter but then had to have a second operation after the Three Days of West Flanders in March.

Kramon_Scheldeprijs2014_KRA7042 - Version 2

The successful outcome of that helped him to third on a stage and fourth overall in the recent World Ports Classic, as well as seventh on a stage at the Tour of Belgium.

“It took a while before the problem with my knee got diagnosed,” said Henderson, looking back at the issue. “Eventually it was a very quick and simple operation. I was back up and running within ten days afterwards.”

However things weren’t quite resolved by that. “My knee got infected in the Three Days of West-Flanders. I got under the knife again. The wound was cleaned and it’s healed nicely now.”

Henderson admits that things were difficult mentally at that time, both due to frustration with the injury and also because he wasn’t able to help his team-mates out as usual. He is an integral part of Greipel’s leadout train and not being able to contribute to that was testing for him.

“Unfortunately injuries are part of the business when you are a cyclist,” he said, accepting that nothing could be done to avoid the disruption. “It’s important to have a good support group around you like doctors, family, a wife. That are positive influences on your life and those make it a lot easier to come back.

“In the Tour of Turkey I performed back on a really good level. In the Belgium Tour I was sprinting very well and I’m good on the hills. At the moment I’m feeling really well.”

The outcome will raise the likelihood that Henderson will be part of Lotto-Belisol’s Tour de France team, where he will have an important role in helping Greipel add to the five stage wins he has clocked up thus far.

“It’s nice to have everybody together in these weeks before the Tour and to build the team membership that you need for going into battle,” he said, looking forward to the events on his schedule. “A battle, that’s what it feels like in the big races. It’s also good of course to have some sprints and to have some hills, like in the Tour of Belgium.

“As a lead-out man you’ve got to be relaxed under pressure. It’s my job to bring André Greipel as fresh as he possible can to the last 200 meters. That’s the key: keeping an eye on the guys in front of you, but also on the man you’re taking to the last 200 meters. If we do our thing on the right place on the right time, there’s not too many people that can match us.”

Next up for the Kiwi, the German and the other riders in the selection is the Tour of Luxembourg. It begins on Wednesday with a 2.55 kilometre prologue in Luxembourg city, and is then followed by four road race stages.

Greipel dislocated his collarbone earlier this year and notched up his first wins since then with stages in the Tour of Belgium and the World Ports Classic. He will aim to add to that tally in Luxembourg, and Henderson will be an important part of the train there.

He said his morale is high, and not least because he was able to take third himself on a stage of the World Ports Classic.

“When there’s a headwind, like was the case in Antwerp, it’s always very hard to get the timing of the lead-out correct. We nailed it in that first stage anyway and that was quite satisfying. Sieberg, Roelandts, Greipel and me we’ve proven to be a good combination the last couple of years. It felt good to be back.

“The next day it was a very technical and dangerous finish. I heard noise behind me and saw that André Greipel could just avoid a collision with a parked car and wouldn’t be coming back. I stayed near the front and was quite happy to become third. If André would have been on my wheel it would have been another victory for sure. But luckily he wasn’t hurt. That’s the most important thing with the Tour de France just around the corner.”

La Course by Le Tour de France to be televised

Universal Sports Network announced a partnership with the ASO to broadcast the inaugural La Course by Le Tour de France LIVE in the United States this summer. The one-day, elite women’s cycling race will finish on the famed Champs-Elysées prior to the finale of this year’s final stage of the Tour de France on Sunday, July 27, 2014. Exact TV times will be announced at a later date.

Les Reines de Paris – La Course by Le Tour de… by tourdefrance

The first-year event will feature 100 cyclists battling it out over 13 laps over 90 kilometers of the Tour de France’s final circuit down the Champs-Élysées.

The women’s peloton will be comprised of 20 teams with six riders each competing for a €22,500 individual prize, the same sum awarded to Tour stage winners. In addition to the elite cyclists, policewomen from the Paris Police Prefecture will be responsible for watching over La Course, which will also have a 100% female jury.

Spanish pro riders to miss national championships in dispute over payments

In another development which will be worrying for fans of cycling in Spain, a large number of established professionals will be missing from the start list of this year’s national championships unless the Spanish cycling union RFEC comes good on payments due to those participating in the event.

Riders from foreign teams have not been paid their travel and food expenses for the past three years and in the absence of an agreement for this to be corrected for the 2014 championships, they will miss this year’s race. Spanish website Biciciclismo has reported that the riders from the Professional Cycling Association have agreed not to take part in the championships between June 27th and 29th as long as this situation persists.

Kramon_BrusselsCyclClas2013_DSC0376 - Version 2

The RFEC has not yet commented on the matter, moving things closer to a boycott. It is not yet clear if the sole Spanish WorldTour team Movistar will follow suit or not.

Last year riders also faced the same situation but agreed to take part. Jesús Herrada and his Movistar team-mate Jonathan Castroviejo won the road race and time trial respectively. In the twelve months since then RFEC president José Luis Cerrón and the federation itself have not done anything about the situation.

As a result riders such as Joaquim Rodríguez, Dani Moreno, Alberto Losada and Ángel Vicioso (Katusha), David López, Mikel Nieve and Xavier Zandio (Sky), Alberto Contador and Jesús Hernández (Tinkoff Saxo) and Cofidis’ Egoiz García , Luis Ángel Maté and Dani Navarro will all miss the event.

If Movistar does likewise and pulls its riders, the lineup will be even more threadbare.

An additional complication for Spanish cycling is that the championships are due to be held in Ponferrada this year, the location for the later world championships. A boycott would mean the riders would lose out on the chance to compete there prior to the September contest.

Read the full story at Biciciclismo.

Voeckler still chasing first victory of the season, hopes it comes in Dauphiné

He’s known as one of the most aggressive riders in the bunch and normally would have clocked up at least one victory by this point of the season. However thanks to the fractured collarbone he suffered in the Santos Tour Down Under in January plus the disruption that caused to both his schedule and his condition, Thomas Voeckler is still awaiting the chance to spray champagne from the podium.

Thomas Voeckler

However he is hoping to turn things around in the Critérium du Dauphiné, which begins this Sunday. He took the sixth stage last year and a repeat of that during the race would give him an important morale boost prior to the Tour de France.

“I’m not looking for motivation, I’m looking for good sensations,” the Frenchman told Cyclingnews. “I don’t need to motivate myself for one-week races like Paris-Nice or the Dauphiné. They are my favourites.

“The first part of my season was clearly frustrating. I broke a collarbone in Australia before it even started and that delayed my coming into form but since April, I can’t hide myself behind that. I’m not totally serene about my condition ahead of the Dauphiné, but there’s also no reason why I wouldn’t do well.”

Voeckler has just come back from a training camp in Savoy and used that time to check out some of the mountain routes of this year’s Dauphiné. His reconnaissance included the uphill finish at Finhaut-Emosson in Switzerland. While he notes that some of the sport’s most famous Alpine climbs are missing, he believes the race will have plenty of tough peaks and will give him a platform to animate the race and, hopefully, to chase his first season victory.

“On paper, the middle mountain stages suit me well. Considering the level of the big names at the start, I don’t plan to ride for GC but to be an actor in the race like last year.”

Read the full story on Cyclingnews.

Campagnolo introduce Chorus EPS electronic groupset

Campagnolo have added a fourth electronic groupset to their range – Chorus EPS.

The electronic version of Campagnolo’s third-tier 11-speed groupset fills the gap between Athena EPS and Record EPS in a line-up which also includes the flagship Super Record EPS groupset.

Campagnolo say Chorus EPS offers the same precision and functionality as Record EPS and Super Record EPS but, as you’d expect, with a weight penalty.

Monte Zoncolan from a fan’s eye

Italian cycling fan Rodrigo Mattiuz has put together this GoPro footage of himself and the riders of the Giro on stage 20 while riding up Monte Zoncolan.

Make sure you watch at 2:40 onwards when Adam Hansen comes along and gets right into it.

The bus always wins…

We’re not sure what brought things to this point, but it’s when having a quarrel with a bus, it’s best to know that the bus always wins.

‘Rising From Ashes’ film night: help us raise money for Charity Water

CyclingTips is proud to be hosting a pre-release screening of the feature-length documentary ‘Rising From Ashes’ on Wednesday June 11 in Melbourne. Thanks to Cinema Nova and Curious Films, 100% of all ticket sales will go directly to Charity:Water. We hope that you can join us.

Rising from Ashes is a feature-length documentary about two worlds colliding. Filmed over six years across three continents, it follows the story of the growth of Team Rwanda, under the direction of their coach Jock Boyer after his friend Tom Ritchey convinced him to move to Rwanda to help. As they set out against impossible odds both Jock and the members of Team Rwanda find new purpose as they rise from the ashes of their past.

Date: Wednesday June 11, 2014
Time: 6:45pm
Location: Cinema Nova, 380 Lygon Street, Carlton, Melbourne

Purchase tickets here.

Riding the Rocacorba

Do you ever wonder where the name “Rocacorba Daily” came from? It’s a climb outside of Girona that’s famous amongst local pros who often gauge their form on the road. Ryder Hesjedal currently holds the unofficial record – a high 27-minute effort set on Friday June 22, 2012 just eight days before the Tour de France. As you can see from Hesjedal’s tweet yesterday, he’s not going too bad after the Giro.

Here’s the segment on Strava.

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