RadioShack leader Lance Armstrong announced today via Twitter what many suspected; the 2010 Tour de France will be his final ride in cycling's biggest event.
Armstrong won the Tour de France seven times consecutively from 1999 to 2005, and came back from cancer to break the record of five wins, surpassing Jacques Anquetil (1957, 1961, 1962, 1963 and 1964), Eddy Merckx (1969, 1970, 1971, 1972 and 1974), Bernard Hinault (1978, 1979, 1981, 1982 and 1985) and Miguel Indurain (1991, 1992, 1993, 1994 and 1995), who was the first to win five consecutively.
"And yes, this will be final Tour de France. It's been a great ride. Looking forward to 3 great weeks," Armstrong said on Twitter.
Ivan Basso (Liquigas-Doimo) returns to the Tour de France this year for the first time since being excluded before the start of the 2006 race after being implicated in Operacion Puerto. After winning the Giro d'Italia, the Italian now has the yellow jersey in his sights. Speaking to La Stampa, he made his aims clear: “I want to the win the Tour”.
With a matter of days to go before the start of the Tour de France, seven time winner Lance Armstrong has given an indication that he is close to his best form. He did his traditional pre-Tour test on Monday and was satisfied with the outcome, indicating that it compared favourably with the best markers laid down in the past.
“Last hard ride before the TdF,” he said on Twitter. “Test on the Col de la Madone. Record time? No. Close to it? Yes. I'm ready.”
The Texan has long used the climb near Nice as a gauge of his condition. Several accounts detail that he would conduct tests on the climb with the doctor Michele Ferrari, trying to scale the mountain in the quickest possible time and then having lactic acid levels examined.
The calculations would then show how many watts per kilogram he could sustain. A ballpark figure of 6.7 w/kg was considered ideal for the rider. His comments today suggest that he is very close to that mark.
Astana has named its nine riders for the Tour de France, confirming the presence of Alexandre Vinokourov in the team. As expected, the nine-rider squad has built with the aim to help Alberto Contador win a third Tour de France. It includes experienced riders such as Vinokourov, Italian domestique Paolo Tiralongo and the Ukraine's Andriy Grivko, plus Spaniards David De la Fuente, Jesus Hernandez, Benjamin Noval and Daniel Navarro.
The news broke early this morning, that Saxo Bank director sportif, Kim Andersen, would be leaving Saxo Bank with immediate effect ahead of the Tour de France. Andersen is leaving the team to work with Bryan Nygaard on a ProTour team to be based in Luxembourg.
Immediately, the names Andy and Frank Schleck were thrown into the mix - "How could they not be?," Team owner, Bjarne Riis, remarked this morning that he would have words pertaining to the subject later in the day. Riis spoke with Politiken.dk's Mogens Jacobson about the new development and confirmed that the Brothers Schleck will more than likely be involved.
Saxo Bank Tour de France hope Andy Schleck crashed heavily while out training with his brother Fränk today. The 25 year old Luxembourger finished second in last year's Grande Boucle and is expected to be a challenger for the overall when the race starts a week from today in Rotterdam, The Netherlands.
"Was out training with @schleckfrank hit a big bump in the road, went down pretty hard, lost quite lot of skin all over my body but I'll be okay," he posted on his Twitter account. With a heavy fall to the ground he will hope no other problems creep up from the incident.
Current Belgian champion Tom Boonen (Quick Step) will not be defending his driekleur jersey in Leuven this weekend; neither will he be starting the Tour de France the following weekend. The 29-year-old from Mol, near Antwerp, has been suffering with left knee problems since the stage 1 crash of the Tour of California. A further crash, along with the cold, wet weather in last week’s Tour de Suisse, has exacerbated the injury forcing him to rest completely.
Boonen was originally slated to ride both the Belgian championships and the Tour, with the aim of winning stages and repeating his points jersey triumph of 2007. He trained for 5 hours on the championships course yesterday though, and was in considerable pain afterwards. He had a scan on the joint and tendons at the hospital in Herentals and has been prescribed two weeks rest; this means that riding the Tour, which starts in eight days time, is out of the question.
Quick Step team has announced a Tour de France team with a mix of experience and talent that will aim for stage wins when the race starts on July 3rd in Rotterdam, The Netherlands. Leading their charge will be Tom Boonen, as he looks to challenge in the sprints to regain the form that saw him take the green jersey in 2007.
The Belgian has been battling knee injury as of late, and told Sporza today that he has every intention of riding the Grande Boucle: “I am not currently thinking of giving up the Tour de France, but if the pain comes back after the Belgian championship, then I would seriously consider it,” he said.. “I will ride the championships on Sunday to know where I stand.”
The American HTC-Columbia will head to the Tour de France next week targeting both the Green Jersey and the General Classification, and the team's management is confident they will be at the Grand Départ next Saturday with a team that can support both goals."We are going into the race focused on our combined strength as a team and will exploit every chance for success - stage wins, jerseys and outstanding performances," explained team owner Bob Stapleton. Despite his excellent season performances amounting to eleven wins, André Greipel was overlooked by the team. The team's sprint efforts will instead be led by Mark Cavendish, who will enter the race with question marks after dental problems derailed his early season build-up. The Manxman has only three wins so far this season, and was beaten handily by Francesco Chicchi during the final sprint stage of the Tour of California, finishing well out of the lead in third place.
His last sprint saw him meet the pavement…
Team Saxo Bank has selected the line-up for the greatest race of the year. The 2010 Tour de France starts on Saturday, July 3rd of July with an 8.9 kilometer long prologue in the streets of Rotterdam, The Netherlands.
The line-up for the Tour de France 2010: Fabian Cancellara, Andy Schleck, Fränk Schleck, Jens Voigt, Stuart O'Grady, Matti Breschel, Chris Anker Sørensen, Jakob Fuglsang and Nicki Sørensen.
Chris Horner Image courtesy of Team RadioShack Chris Horner and Janez Brajkovic will join Lance Armstrong and Levi Leipheimer and TeamRadioShack will have three Americans on its roster in its quest to get Armstrong his eighth Tour de France title.
Horner, 38, of Bend, Ore., will return to the Tour de France after missing the event in 2008 and 2009.
Last year's Tour de France second place feels he's ready to go one better this time Second place in last year’s Tour de France, Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank) believes he has done all that he can to go one better in this year’s race. The younger Schleck brother has just the defence of his Luxembourg champion’s jersey before the Tour starts in Rotterdam, Netherlands on July 3rd.
Like most of the race’s main contenders, Schleck has made the reconnaissance of key stages a big part of his preparation. “I’ve explored the stages in the Alps and the Pyrénées,” Schleck told Sporza, “I’ve missed the tour of my own country [Luxembourg] to work on my time trialing.
“I’ve sacrificed a lot for the Tour and I feel ready,” he continued. “I’m very happy with my form; my form is better than last year’s level.”
Last July Franco Pellizotti stood on the podium on the Champs-Elysées in Paris with the polka-dot mountains jersey on his shoulders. This year the Italian, nicknamed the Dolphin, will most likely have to watch the Tour de France on TV as his career still sits in limbo.
Pellizotti was the highest profile of a number of riders who were withdrawn from competition, just before last month’s Giro d’Italia, because of apparently suspicious values on their biological passports. Many of those other riders have since been suspended, but Pellizotti has not; nevertheless, he still he waits for the green light to allow him to return to racing.
Fränk Schleck produced an outstanding time trial for his measures, losing only five seconds to Lance Armstrong in the final 27km race against the clock in Liestal. It is debatable whether Schleck produced the ride of the day, or Tony Martin, who beat Fabian Cancellara by 17 seconds over the wet roads in another rainy day in Switzerland. Armstrong finished the week-long tour second overall, 12 seconds behind Schleck.
Beating Cancellara in a time trial is not evident. "I wasn't really expecting this," Martin said afterwards. "I've not been feeling so good in the last two or three days. It's been very cold and rainy here in Switzerland and I didn't think I had much of a chance today. But I was very motivated, I really wanted to put up a good fight for it, and I think the second half of the stage was where I gained most time on my rivals."
Marcus Burghardt (BMC Racing) won the seventh stage of the Tour de Suisse between Savognin and Wetzikon in a solo breakaway. The 26-year-old German attacked the rest of a breakaway group with 55km of the rolling stage still to ride and had enough time in hand to celebrate his victory, waving a German flag as he crossed the line.
The breakaway group was led home by Oscar Freire (Rabobank), beating Greg Van Avermaet (OmegaPharma-Lotto) and Manuel Quinziato (Liquigas-Doimo) in the sprint for second.
Robert Gesink (Rabobank) won the sixth and toughest stage of the Tour de Suisse between Meiringen and La Punt in a solo breakaway. The Dutchman escaped on the final, long, hors category Albulapass and descended alone to the finish. Rigoberto Uran (Caisse d’Epargne) led a chase group home 42 seconds later, with Oliver Zaugg (Liquigas-Doimo) taking third.
With three major climbs and a total of 4761 metres to climb in the 213km, this was the Queen stage of this year’s Tour de Suisse. The parcours began the climb to the 2224m high Sustenpass almost immediately, so it was no surprise when a group of 13 riders broke clear.
Switzerland pulled off the biggest shock so far at this FIFA World Cup™ as Gelson Fernandes's strike against the run of play earned them a 1-0 win against European champions and joint-tournament favourites Spain. Vicente del Bosque's team predictably dominated possession but were hit on the break seven minutes into the second half as the Swiss recorded a first win over Spain in 19 attempts.
The pile up at the end of today’s 4th stage of the Tour de Suisse, which brought down most of the top sprinters, was the fault of Mark Cavendish (HTC-Columbia) says the race jury. The 25-year-old Manx Express came into contact with Heinrich Haussler (Cervélo TestTeam) and the contact brought them both, and several riders behind them, crashing to the tarmac.
Cavendish has been penalised 25 points in the polka-dot points jersey classification, 30 seconds in the overall classification and 200 Swiss Francs (~$175, £118, €143). He was also relegated to the back of the group that he was part of before the crash, putting him 105th on the stage, for what the jury described as “deviation from his line while endangering his colleagues and causing an accident”.
Fränk Schleck (Saxo Bank) won the third stage of the Tour de Suisse between Sierre and Schwarzenburg after attacking on the final metres of the climb to the finish line. In a stage whose closing stages resembled an Ardennes classic, the Luxemburger was followed home by Colombian Rigoberto Uran (Caisse d’Epargne) and Dutchman Bauke Mollema (Rabobank) after 196.6km.
“Fränk Schleck has been in great shape throughout the spring and now the results really start coming,” said Schleck’s director sportif Kim Anderson. “It was an amazing solo victory in a peloton loaded with strong riders getting ready for the Tour de France, and today's finale was very similar to the one he won in Tour de Luxembourg.”
Responding to a VeloNation request for feedback after the team was not listed as one of those taking part in the 2010 Vuelta a España, the BMC Racing Team has implied that it did not seek to participate in the Grand Tour.
"When we were putting our racing program together for 2010, our initial commitment was to the Giro d'Italia. From an organizational standpoint, we felt that we could do one Grand Tour. If the opportunity came up, we could do one additional Grand Tour, like the Tour de France, as well,” said Jim Ochowicz, BMC Racing Team President to VeloNation.
“At this time, the BMC Racing Team doesn't have enough riders on the roster – or enough staff – to do three Grand Tours. Therefore, we felt the maximum of two Grand Tours was all that we could handle. We would like to take a look at the Vuelta for the future. But for 2010, it is just not doable."
The news means that Cadel Evans will have to find an alternative method of preparation for the defence of his worl…
Argentina joined Saturday's earlier winners Korea Republic on three points in Group B with a 1-0 victory over Nigeria at Johannesburg's packed Ellis Park. Gabriel Heinze scored the game's only goal with a diving header from a corner in just the sixth minute, although the two-time FIFA World Cup™ winners would have added more if not for the heroics of Nigeria goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama and their own wasteful finishing.