Thursday, July 28, 2011

King of the Hill: Samuel Sanchez

Samuel Sanchez added another spoke to his wheel, by becoming the first Spaniard to win the Tour de France mountains classification since 1974.

Born in Oviedo, Sanchez joined a local junior team Club Ciclista Colloto, under the watchful eye of Jose Manuel Fuente. Fuente, who was also a Oviedo local, won the 1972 and 1974 Vuelta a Espana, as well as the mountains classification in 1972 and in the 173 Giro d’Italia.

Contador: The Giro-Tour double is possible, but I need a stronger team

Alberto Contador hasn’t been deterred from trying the Giro-Tour double, despite failing to do it this year.

The Spaniard has come out saying he can do the double, provided he has a stronger team around him. Contador was involved in a flurry of crashes, during the tour, but also looked tired from his victory in the Giro. He went on to say that if there were enough stages that suited him, it would be possible, but that the team-time trial wasn’t a strong point.

El Pistolero said if next year’s tour had a mountain time-trial or possible to flatter time-trials, he could win both in the same year. Contador won the Giro d’Italia by a whopping 6 minute gap, to Michele Scarponi, but finished almost four minutes down on Cadel Evans.

Mosquera could be cleared of doping on a technicality, in time for the Vuelta

Ezequiel Mosquera could be let off, on a technicality, after the Spaniard tested positive in last year’s Vuelta a Espana.

Mosquera finished second in the 2010 Vuelta, but it was later revealed he had tested positive for, masking agent, Hydroxyethyl. He has consistently denied using it, but now his team have gone for the technicality over the innocence. His lawyers have discovered that the starch is only illegal if it is intravenously injected, which could lead him to being let off.

His team are certainly holding out for a victory in the courts, as they have already put him on their provisional list for this year’s Vuelta. Unfortunately for cycling it is very difficult to tell how the substance was put in to the body.

Tour de France: Good Tour / Bad Tour - Losers

Alberto Contador
Contador struggled to stay on his bike on several occasions, during the first week, and it seemed that combined with his Giro exploits was a bit too much. He was caught up in the huge crash, on stage one and lost over a minute and was later, allegedly, pushed over by Vladimir Karpets. He did look like he might be catching on the main contenders, but bonking on the Galibier spelled the end for the 2010 champion. He did earn respect of fan, especially after thumping a rude spectator, but he will have to look at his calendar hard next year, if he hopes to win another tour.

Tour de France: Good Tour / Bad Tour - Winners

Cadel Evans
Evans became the first Australian and first Southern Hemisphere rider, to win the Tour de France’s 108 year history. It was his ability to stay with his rivals in the mountains that put him in the prime position to win. Evans knew he had superior time-trialling ability to the Schlecks and really showed it, by beating them by over two minutes. The victory has been received very well in his home country, who has declared a national holiday to celebrate it. Evans is hoping to carry his tour success to London next year, with an Olympic Gold medal.

Monday, July 25, 2011

The Best Australian Cyclist?: Cadel Evans

Cadel Evans became the first Australian and the first rider from the Southern Hemisphere to win the Tour de France, after he beat Andy Schleck by over a minute.

Evans was born 14 February 1977 in Armidale, New South Wales, Australia to Paul Evans and Helen Cocks. His surname comes from his paternal grandfather, who was Welsh, and was given the name Cadel, after three Welsh kings. He lived with both of his parents, until his teenage years when his parents divorced, when he moved with his mum to Melbourne.

2011 Tour de France - In numbers

3430 – The Kilometres ridden during the 2011 Tour de France

Days Thomas Voeckler spent in yellow - 10

2,020,500 The amount of prize money given, in Euros, over the three weeks.

The amount of stitches Johnny Hoogerland received, after his collision with a TV car. - 33

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Video: 2011 Tour de France - Alberto Contador looks forward ot 2012

Video: 2011 Tour de France - Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwin sum up Evan's victory

Video: 2011 Tour de France - Cadel Evans on winning the yellow

Video: 2011 Tour de France - Mark Cavendish takes the green

TdF: Mark Cavendish wins on the Champs-Elysees and claims Green

Mark Cavendish took his third consecutive victory on the Champs-Elysees, to become the first British rider to win the fabled green jersey.

Cavendish launched himself from the wheel of, his lead-out man Mark Renshaw, and never looked in doubt of the victory. Edvald Boasson Hagen tried to take a third victory, but the young Norwegian just didn’t have the speed to pass the Manx missile. Boasson Hagen started to reel in the green jersey, but Cavendish gave a second kick and beat him by over a bike’s length. Cav now has six victories in the 2011 tour and 20 tour victories overall.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Video: 2011 Tour de France - Stage 20 Cadel Evans interview

Video: 2011 Tour de France - Stage 20 Andy and Frank Schleck talk about the time-trial

Video: 2011 Tour de France - Stage 20 Phil Liggett talks about Cadel Evans' victory

Video: 2011 Tour de France - Stage 20 Cadel Evans in yellow

TdF: Cadel Evans storms in to yellow as Tony Martin wins Stage 20

Cadel Evans put on a stunning performance, to become the first Australian to win the Tour de France, as Andy Schleck cracked under pressure.

Evans came in to the individual time-trial with a 57 second deficit to the younger Schleck, after failing to make any time during the mountains. Many people predicted he would overhaul the gap, but nobody would have believed how much time he did take. The Australian had already taken 30 seconds out of the Luxembourgish rider, by the 15km mark.

By the final intermediate check he was only two seconds down on, the stage’s eventual winner, Tony Martin. He eventually crossed the line seven seconds down, but put a massive 2 minutes 31 seconds on Andy Schleck. Emotional scenes on the podium followed, as Evans had tears in his eyes, while the crowd gave him a huge cheer. The Australian will be the first from the Southern Hemisphere to win the tour, if he can stay on his bike until Paris.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Video: 2011 Tour de France - Eddy Merckx talks about today's stage and the important time-trial

Video: 2011 Tour de France - Stage 19 Pierre Rolland Interview

Video: 2011 Tour de France - Stage 19 Bernard Eisel talks about finishing outside the cut-off

TdF: Pierre Rolland wins on the Alpe D'Huez as Andy Shcleck takes yellow

Pierre Rolland rode to the biggest victory of his career, on the Alpe d’Huez, as Andy Schleck finally took the yellow jersey, on stage 19.

Rolland, who has been Thomas Voeckler’s work horse in the mountains, rode away from Samuel Sanchez and Alberto Contador, in the final 3 kilometres. The young Frenchman, who is in his first tour, attacked as the main group reached the Alpe d’Huez. He was quickly followed by Ryder Hesjedal, but the Canadian couldn’t keep up with him and was soon dropped.

The Europcar rider wasn’t alone for long, as the main group began to attack each other and he soon had Contador for company. Contador looked like he was on his last legs, but put in a dig to put some time on the GC contenders. While Rolland was now trying to catch the Spaniard, the following group were trying to bridge the gap.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Video: 2011 Tour de France - Stage 18 Stuart O'Grady talks Schleck

Video: 2011 Tour de France - Stage 18 - Andy Schleck interview

TdF: Andy Schleck wins on the Galibier as Voeckler clings to yellow on Stage 18

Andy Schleck rode to a very tough victory on the Col du Galibier, but missed out on the yellow jersey, as Thomas Voeckler hung on to the lead.

Schleck, who finished second in last year’s tour, launched a stinging attack, as the group reached the Col d’Izoard. The younger of the two Schleck brothers has so far been in the shadow of his elder sibling, but he left the other GC contenders with no answer to his attack. With only 2 kilometres left to the top, Andy had his hands on the yellow jersey. Voeckler had to put in a massive performance to close him down.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Video: 2011 Tour de France - Stage 17 - Edvald Boasson Hagen interview

Video: 2011 Tour de France - Cadel Evans and George Hincapie interviews

TdF: Boasson Hagen doubles his money as Voeckler loses time on Stage 17

Edvald Boasson Hagen doubled his victory tally, to make it four for Norway this year, as Thomas Voeckler escaped two scares, to cling on to his yellow jersey.

Boasson Hagen came back from the disappointment of yesterday, after being pipped to the line by Thor Hushovd, to blow the rest of the field away. The young Norwegian left his breakaway companions, with 11km of the stage still to go, before pulling out an impressive 40 seconds. Norway have enjoyed a rich vein of form in the 2011 tour, with Boasson Hagen taking stages 6 and 17 and Hushovd winning on stages 13 and 16.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Video: 2011 Tour de France - Stage 16 Finale + Interviews with Hushovd and Voeckler

TdF: Hushovd beats Boasson Hagen in to Gap on stage 16

Thor Hushovd made it a brace of victories, after beating compatriot Edvald Boasson Hagen in the Sprint to Gap on stage 16.

Hushovd enjoyed the benefit of a lead-out man, in Ryder Hesjedal, with the Canadian the only remaining member of the original breakaway. Boasson Hagen looked to go to the left, of his more experience compatriot, but changed his mind. It seems the change in mind lost him the chance to take his second stage, of 2011.

The Norwegian pair set out to catch Hesjedal, who was out front with Mikhail Ignatyev, and used their impressive descending skills to catch the Garmin-Cervelo rider. Hushovd hasn’t had much to brag about in his usual hunting ground of the sprint, but a second victory in the rainbow jersey will prove a good enough replacement.

Video: 2011 Tour de France - Week two highlights

Sunday, July 17, 2011

TdF: Cavendish adds another in Montpellier as Rojas loses ground

Mark Cavendish showed the mountains hadn’t dented his speed, by beating Tyler Farrar and Alessandro Petacchi on stage 15.

The Manxman took another great lead-out, from Mark Renshaw, to put the jump on his rivals. Cav will take solace in the fact that his closest rival Jose Joaquin Rojas could only manage fifth, which earned him less than half the points of the British rider. Cavendish has all but sealed his position in the green jersey, with a 37 point lead over second place Rojas.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Video: A day in the life of the media, at the Tour de France with Fox Sports

Video: 2011 Tour de France - Stage 14 - Frank Schleck talk about the GC

Tdf: Vanendert wins atop the Plateau de Beille as Voeckler keeps yellow on stage 14

Jelle Vanendert wins atop the Plateau de Beille, as Thomas Voeckler puts in a stunning effort to keep the yellow jersey.

Vanendert launched his attack, 7km left to go, while the big GC favourites were too busy watching each other. The Belgian tried so hard on the Luz-Ardiden, but couldn’t quite manage it and was beaten by Samuel Sanchez. The Plateau de Beille gave him the chance to get his own back and win his first major victory.

Video: 2011 Tour de France - Aftermath of Vinokorov crash

Friday, July 15, 2011

TdF: Hushovd shines as RadioShack suffer

Thor Hushovd showed his world championship winning colours, after a stunning descent, to take Stage 13 of the 2011 Tour de France.

Hushovd, who was in yellow for much of the first week, and David Moncoutie tracked down Jeremy Roy, who had been out on his own for some time. The Norwegian wasn’t going to stop there and left the other two, but he couldn’t relax in the final kilometre. With some very tight bends, it was all too easy to crash and Moncoutie was bearing down on him. Hushovd finally took the stage by 10 seconds and become the first world champion to win a stage, since Oscar Freire in 2002.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

TdF: Sanchez wins on the Luz-Ardiden as Contador loses yet more time

Samuel Sanchez beat all of the other GC contenders, in the first big mountain stage, as Frank Schleck moved closer to the yellow jersey.

Sanchez began to pull away from some of the big names, with Jelle Vanendert, with around 13km to go. It was a Spaniard who had the legs, in the final couple of hundred metres and managed to pull seven seconds out on the Omega-Pharma Lotto rider. Hot on their heels was Frank Schleck, who moved himself in to second and 1 minute 49 second behind the yellow jersey of Thomas Voeckler.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

TdF: Cavendish gets his own back on Greipel and get his green

Mark Cavendish got his own back on Andre Griepel, as he beat the German in stunning fashion on stage 11, to put himself in green.

Cavendish clearly had the surprise defeat to Greipel, in stage 10, on his mind, as he beat the pack by almost two bike lengths. The Manxman enjoyed a perfect lead-out from his teammate Mark Renshaw, who made sure he was on the front at the right time. It nearly didn’t happen, when Cavendish’s foot unclipped from his pedal with 500 metres to go.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

TdF: Greipel gets one over on Cavendish to take maiden victory on stage 11

Andre Greipel finally put one over on his former teammate Mark Cavendish, to take his maiden Tour de France victory on stage 10.

Greipel used Cavendish as his lead out man, in the last few corners, and moved out at just the right time to take the stage by a wheel length. This victory now makes the Omega-Pharma Lotto rider the first German to win stages in all three Grand Tours. Victory is made sweeter when you consider Greipel hasn’t debuted in the tour earlier, because of Cavendish.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Video: 2011 Tour de France - Stage 9 - Flecha/Hoogerland crash

TdF: Sanchez wins in the Massif Central as Voeckler takes yellow

Luis Leon Sanchez sprinted away from his breakaway compatriots, to win Stage 9, while Thomas Voeckler took the yellow.

Voeckler looked like he wanted to add a stage victory to the yellow, but Sanchez was too powerful and put in a 5 second gap in the last 100 metres. The Spaniard, who finished 11th in last year’s tour, now moves in to second in the classification, with a 37 second gap over Cadel Evans. Third across the line was Sandy Casar, who didn’t have the legs to challenge Sanchez and Voeckler.

Video: 2011 Tour de France - Stage 8

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Tdf: Rui Costa holds it together for victory as Thor Hushovd stays in yellow

Rui Alberto Faria da Costa put in a massive effort to hold off a looming peloton, to win the first mountain stage.

Costa was the remaining rider from a nine man breakaway, which formed after 9km of racing, and had room to celebrate, despite the main bunch closing in. With 5km left there were only four riders left in the bunch, including Tejay Van Garderen, Cyril Gautier and Christophe Riblon.

Video: 2011 Tour de France - Stage 7 + Bradley Wiggins crash

Friday, July 8, 2011

Tdf: Mark Cavendish makes it two as Bradley Wiggins crashes out

Mark Cavendish sprints to his second victory of the 2011 Tour, while his compatriot Bradley Wiggins pulls out with a broken collar bone.

The Manx express defeated his former teammate Andre Greipel and last year’s green jersey winner Alessandro Petacchi, to move him in to third in the standings. HTC have struggled to get their famous lead-out right, this year, but Mark Renshaw and Matt Goss timed it perfectly to allow their sprinter the best chance.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Video: 2011 Tour de France - Stage 6

TdF: Edaval Boasson Hagen times it right to beat Goss and Hushovd in Stage 6

Edvald Boasson Hagen finally made it stick, as he went from 200 metres out, to win a rain soaked stage 6.

Boasson Hagen had to hold off charges from experienced sprinters Matt Goss and, yellow jersey holder and compatriot, Thor Hushovd. Despite controlling the bunch several times, over the last few stages, this is Team Sky’s first victory of the 2011 Tour. The Norwegian took his opportunity, as the bunch was recovering from a series of attacks. He stayed behind his teammate and white jersey wearer, Geraint Thomas, until just the right moment to slingshot him to the line.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Video: 2011 Tour de France - Stage 5

TdF: Mark Cavendish wins in crash filled Stage 5

Mark Cavendish has briefly silenced his critics after winning a hard fought final sprint on Stage 5 of the Tour de France.

Cavendish has been out of contention in the sprints so far, but he powered around the outside of the bunch to beat Philip Gilbert to the line. The gradient favoured Gilbert, who won on similar terrain a few days before, but the Manxman went the long way around to edge him out.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Video: 2011 Tour de France - Stage 4

Video: Island Games 2011 in pictures

A short video of the Isle of Man Road team's performance at the 2011 Island Games in the Isle of Wight. The team came home with four gold medals, two silver and three bronze. Hopefully in the next week I can get hold of a few more picutres with better resolution, and I will put together another video.

TdF: Cadel Evans holds off a closing Alberto Contador to take Stage 4

Cadel Evans claimed his first stage of the 2011 Tour de France on the Mûr-de-Bretagne, by the smallest of margins over Alberto Contador.

It nearly wasn’t to be for the Australian, who had to change bikes with 15 kilometres to go and had to be paced back on by his team, after problems with his rear wheel. The peloton caught the breakaway, which had been away from the start, with just over 3 km to go. With that job dealt with, it was the GC contenders who took to the front and began to play mind games with each other.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Video: Last 1km of Stage 4 - Farrar wins on Independece day

Tyler Farrar wins on Independence Day

Tyler Farrar made it a second stage victory for Garmin-Cervelo and rode in to the history books, as the first American to win on Independence Day.

Farrar’s first tour victory came after help from his teammate, and former green jersey winner, Thor Hushovd and Julian Dean. The American edged out Romain Feillu of Vacansoleil, by half a bike, Jose Joaquin Rojas. Farrar dedicated his victory to his best friend Wouter Weylandt, who was killed in a freak accident during the Giro D’Italia, by putting his hands in a W sign.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Video: 2011 Tour de France - Stage 2

Garmin-Cervelo victory put Hushovd in yellow

Thor Hushovd claimed the yellow jersey, after his Garmin-Cervelo team edged out Cadel Evan’s BMC.

The American team completed the route in 24 minutes and 38 seconds, only 4 seconds ahead of BMC. Team Sky rounded off the top three on the same time as BMC and Leopard Trek, in fourth. Hushovd’s teammate David Millar is equal on time with the Norwegian, but as Hushovd crossed the line in front of Millar in stage one, he is the one to don the jersey.

Andy Schleck is in a better position than most of his rivals, with he and his brother, Frank, only four seconds down on Hushovd. Leopard Trek owe much of their performance to, the two time Olympic time-trial champion, Fabian Cancellara, who took several turns on the front. Team Sky’s performance means Geraint Thomas keeps the young rider’s jersey, also on the same time as his teammate Edvald Boasson Hagen. The British team had the edge on the American team at the first split, but slid back over the second half of the course.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Video: Gilbert sprints for the line, while Contador gets caught up in crash

Gilbert takes opener as Contador loses time

Philip Gilbert took the opening stage of the 2011 Tour de France, with a stunning final sprint, while Alberto Contador lost over a minute.

Gilbert made it made it past a crash, which took out half the field in the final eight kilometres, to set himself up for the short climb to the line. The Belgian champion looked like he’d run out of steam as several riders made their challenge. Fabian Cancellara launched an attack, which seemed to be the decisive one, but the Swiss rider wasn’t able to sustain the pace.

Gilbert didn’t panic and held off a closing Cadel Evans and Thor Hushovd, for the victory, this win adds to his stretch which goes back to April. Evans is in a very good position, only three seconds down on the yellow, while Alberto Contador lost over 1 minute 20 seconds.

The bunch had been seriously depleted when a spectator got a bit too close to the peloton, causing an Astana rider to fall into the group. The crash left most of the road blocked and several of the big favourites stranded. Contador was one of those who got caught up in the crash and has his work cut out, with Andy Schleck crossing the line only six seconds down.