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Thank you to all who submitted comments to Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA) asking him to protect national trails funding. Hundreds of mountain bikers acted on behalf of IMBA’s request that the Senator refrain from introducing an amendment to the federal transportation bill that would eliminate the Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP). TAP houses the Recreational Trails Program (RTP), which funds trail projects across the U.S. that benefit recreational users, including mountain bikers.
BELFORT, France (VN) — Defending champion Chris Froome (Sky), gone. Spanish star Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo), going home with a fractured tibia. It’s been a brutal Tour de France, with two top favorites out of the race before the first rest day.
Days after the Tour rebooted, forgetting about Froome and the chaos over the cobblestones in stage 5, there was growing anticipation for an epic shootout between Contador and Vincenzo Nibali (Astana). The storyline changed again in an instant.
Contador, one of the most deft bike handlers in the bunch, hit a pothole in road on a wet descent and went toppling to the ground. He bravely tried to press on, but pain, later diagnosed as a fractured tibia, sent the proud Spaniard packing. After pedaling 20km in pain, Contador hugged his teammates, stepped off his bike, and the 2014 Tour took yet another wild turn.
Riding pristinely through the chaos has been Vincenzo Nibali (Astana), who reconfirmed his favorite status Monday with an emphatic stage victory to reclaim the yellow jersey.
“Alberto crashed in front of me, and it’s a shame because he would have made a good Tour,” Nibali said diplomatically. “Alberto is a big fighter, and he would have made a big duel, without the crash. Crashes are part of the race. I could also crash.”
Nibali, however, refused to take the bait when asked if he wins the Tour it will be because Froome and Contador both crashed out.
“It would be difficult to say I win because Froome and Contador have crashed,” he said. “I already had a good lead, and I was ready for a big duel with Contador in the mountains. It’s a pity the Tour has lost two big protagonists.”
Halfway through the 2014 Tour, and the peloton has been shredded by crashes, tension, foul weather, and chaos at every turn.
Crashes took out Froome and Contador, but others have endured their fair share of mishaps and stayed in the game. Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing) crashed once in England, twice on the cobbles, and suffered a fourth, heavier fall into Nancy, but he’s battled through, scrapping his way into seventh overall, at 3:56 back.
“It was a tricky descent, with rough roads. I didn’t get a good look at [Contador's crash], but I saw his bike, and I saw him on the side of the road,” van Garderen said after the stage. “I was hoping he was able to get back up. That is a real shame.”
At the foggy summit in the Vosges, riders and teams were pondering what impact Contador’s exit will have on the GC.
Coming into Monday’s stage, many were looking at Contador as the only rider capable of seriously challenging the ever-steady Nibali, who took big gains over the cobblestones last week. Now, with Contador out, Nibali quickly reasserted himself, proving that a strong offense is the best defense.
After a wild stage, featuring attacks from best young rider Michal Kwiatkowski (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), the GC favorites surged to the fore as expected, but without Contador.
Despite seeing Italian climber Michele Scarponi overcook a corner on a wet descent, Astana delivered Nibali to the base of the short but steep Belles Filles summit. Jakob Fuglsang, who started second place on “virtual” GC, plummeted to 12th overall, leaving no doubt where Astana is placing its priorities.
Attacking up the Belles Filles, the first hard summit finish of this Tour, Nibali wanted to stamp his authority on the race, to show that his yellow jersey isn’t only due to his skill over the cobbles or his luck to avoid crashing.
“I think that I am at a very high level, as high as I was last year for the Giro. I bet everything on being in top form for the Tour this year,” Nibali said. “We’ve been controlling the race since the Arenberg [cobbles] stage, and we will work to protect the yellow jersey. I have some dangerous rivals, like Porte and Valverde. I will work to protect my advantage.”
With Froome and Contador gone, new protagonists are eagerly stepping into the void.
Unfortunately, American hopeful Andrew Talansky (Garmin-Sharp) struggled through a bad day and fell to 26th overall at 14:44 back, an opportunity lost for the Critérium du Dauphiné winner.
Porte and Valverde have moved into that space vacated by the American.
Both bring strong teams, with equally high ambitions. Valverde is one of the few riders in this Tour who has a grand tour victory (2009 Vuelta a España), and Porte now counts on a strong team that came to this Tour to win with Froome.
“I was the only one to react when Nibali attacked,” Porte said after the stage. “I felt good today, but not good enough to bring the whole world to the line. When Nibali attacked, we had to answer. He already has enough time on us.”
Team Sky, the British squad that has been at the sharp end of the action over the past two Tours, was looking forward to riding in the slipstream of Astana and Tinkoff-Saxo. With Contador gone, and Porte slotting into second overall at 2:23 back, things will change. Astana will certainly have all the weight to control the race, but Porte is now viewed as Astana’s most dangerous rival.
“I think patience is key. You always have to be ready and alert, and look for your opportunity,” Sky principal Dave Brailsford said after stage 9. “You have to change and adapt to the situation. You have to concentrate on the riders who are here, and not the riders who are not here. You have to do that quickly, and we’re excited about Richie, and to see what he can do.”
Valverde, too, has been able to avoid the disasters that usually take him out of the Tour. He survived a harrowing day across the cobblestones, when he crashed early and was forced to ride the final 60km on the bike of teammate JJ Rojas, some 3cm smaller than his. With teammate Nairo Quintana, hot off winning the Giro d’Italia in May and skipping this Tour, Valverde wants to take full advantage of what may be his final Tour leading Movistar.
With Froome and Contador nursing their wounds on the sidelines, it remains to be seen if anyone can seriously rattle Nibali’s cage.
“I think Nibali’s position as the strongest rider in the race is going to pretty much be unchallenged now,” Garmin-Sharp sport director Charly Wegelius told VeloNews‘ Matthew Beaudin. “But it does leave a massive responsibility for Astana to control the race for more than two weeks. I think the race for the podium spots and the minor placing is going to be ever-changing. But I think at the moment it looks as though Nibali has a pretty firm grip on the race.”
And who’s to say Nibali is not immune to the bad luck that’s hit Froome and Contador, and so many others?
Nibali rolls into the rest day in a very enviable situation. He holds a solid lead on his rivals, and the most treacherous and dangerous stages are behind him. Following Tuesday’s rest day, the roads in the transition stages to the Alps can be narrow, but the pace of the peloton will diminish with the GC more defined. Breakaways should set the tone until the Alps, meaning Astana will have the work to control the race, but the peloton will not be riding on the rivet as it has through the first half of the Tour.
With Contador and Froome gone, this is now, more than ever, Nibali’s Tour to lose. And win.
- Anyone heard anything on plans for an event this year?
Alberto Contador stood on the wet grass, blood pouring out of a deep cut to his right knee. Photographers swirled around him, the race doctor attended to his injuries. He motioned to his mechanic, a hint of frustration etched across his face. He sat down, dejected, and changed out his left shoe, its buckle smashed to pieces.
He’d just crashed on the descent off the Petit Ballon, just the second of the day’s seven major climbs. Rival Vincenzo Nibali cruised up the road, gaining minutes.
Perhaps it was optimism, or adrenaline, but Contador appeared calm, traces of pain just creeping into the edges of his face. He remounted and rode slowly away. Four teammates quickly came back to pace him.
But optimism waned, and adrenaline wore off — the two were certainly connected. 10km later, Contador pulled the plug on this year’s Tour de France. He gave his mechanic a small hug and slumped into the team car.
Confusion surrounded the crash; reports of a smashed bike, visions of exploded carbon, swirled around the press room and out through hundreds of thousands of television sets.
Initial reports on the Tour’s race radio, in French, and by NBC Sports’ Steve Porino, that Contador’s bike was “in pieces,” appear to be correct. “His frame snapped in half. They threw it in a heap in the back of the car,” Porino said, noting that he had arrived shortly after the crash.
Contador’s bike broke in the lower third of his down tube and on the top tube just in front of his seat tube. Both tubes were broken clean through, with just a few fibers holding the two pieces of the frame together.
How those failures occurred, though, is not entirely clear.
Specialized, Tinkoff-Saxo’s bike sponsor, initially denied reports that Contador’s bike had broken at all, either resulting in or as a result of the crash, or via some other externality. The company first stated that a bike had fallen off the roof of a car. That story was then amended — it still involved a car, but instead stated that Nicolas Roche’s bike had been run over earlier in the stage. This broken bike was the start of the rumors, it said.
“We have spoken to Alberto’s brother as well as his personal mechanic (Faustino Muñoz) and the mechanic who was at the scene (Rune Kristensen), and contrary to some early, unconfirmed reports, frame failure was not involved in Alberto’s incident today. Nicolas Roche was involved in a separate incident today and while his bike was laying on the road it was run over by a car causing it to break, potentially giving rise to the initial inaccurate reporting,” the original statement read.
But the photos do not lie. Contador is #31, and his race number is on the broken frame. The Roche incident relayed in this statement may be entirely factual, but it is clear that Contador’s bike broke as well.
Specialized later corrected itself again, stating that Contador’s bike that had been run over. A source within the team who was present at the scene of the crash explained that Contador’s mechanic, Faustino Munoz, grabbed his backup bike off the roof, then, seeing the condition of Contador, rushed to his aid, leaving the bike against the team car. The team car drove off and crushed the bike. Photos were taken, and the broken bike story took off.
UPDATE: However, a fourth version of events has since come to the fore, and it’s the most plausible yet. According to Specialized’s Gianpaolo Mondini, one of Contador’s frames was broken while it was still on the roof. Following Contador’s crash, the team car had to rush to his aid and clipped the Belkin car as it passed, destroying the bike.
“What happened next is that the team car tried to get recover position and get up to him, passing all the other team cars in doing so. The road was really narrow and the second bike on the roof ended up touching those on the Belkin team car. It was going pretty fast and the frame broke on top of the roof due to the impact,” Mondini told CyclingTips.
“When the car arrived to Contador, Roche had left his bike to the side [for Contador to use if necessary]. The people inside didn’t initially realize that the bike on the roof had been broken as things were so stressful. Everybody was a little bit confused. Contador got a third bike and got going, but unfortunately couldn’t continue in the race.”
The broken bike had Contador’s number on it, suggesting it was his primary bike. But it was also quite clean, suggesting it had been on the roof, rather than ridden. Most teams don’t put numbers on riders’ second bikes, but Munoz has done so in the past. It is plausible that the broken bike had indeed been on the roof of the team car, rather than under Contador. CyclingTips was able to corroborate the crash story with the driver of the Belkin car. The fourth version of the story, it seems, is finally the correct one.
The timeline from the crash onwards:
Contador hit the ground while trying to eat near the bottom of the descent.
Roche stopped, left Contador his McClaren Tarmac.
Contador got onto his third bike after the crash, an S-Works Tarmac with a normal Tinkoff paint job, and without a race number. His first bike had been crashed, and his second obliterated by an impact with another car. A brief shot on television showed his mechanic picking up his crashed bike, still in one piece.
Contador did not swap bikes onto Roche’s McClaren frame, as initially speculated. Roche finished the stage on his second bike, rather than his McClaren. The story of Roche’s bike getting run over seems to have been born of the confusion surrounding the incident.
Whether the frame was broken by a car or a pothole, the result is the same. Contador is out of the Tour de France.
This story continues to evolve. Check back for updates.
Editor’s Note: Andrew Hood and Matthew Beaudin contributed reporting from La Planche des Belles Filles; Logan VonBokel contributed reporting from Colorado.
CHAMPAGNEY, France (VN) — Peter Sagan and team Cannondale hold the green jersey in the Tour de France, but things could be better. After one week, Sagan remains winless and the Italian team faces uncertainty in 2015.
“He’s good, we’ve shown that,” sports director, Stefano Zanatta told VeloNews. “It’s not since 1930 that a rider has finished in the top five in the first seven stages. That shows something’s going well, but he’s not making the difference, and it’s not easy for him to win.”
In his first two Tours, Sagan won the green jersey and a stage, or more, in the first week. In 2012, he won stages 1, 3, and 6. In 2013, he won stage 7.
Not since Frenchman Charles Pélissier in 1930, has a rider placed in the top five in the first seven stages. Pélissier, however, won stages 1 and 3, and five more in the last two weeks.
Sagan placed second in stages 1, 3, and 7. Had he won stage 1, all would have been forgotten and he would have had the yellow jersey as a bonus.
“It’s not great after he doesn’t win, that first half hour…” Zanatta continued. “If he made a big mistake or we weren’t able to close on an escape — like in the Arenberg stage when Kwiatkowski flatted and a gap opened — then after a stage like that, it’s not good. A half-hour later, though, after a shower and a chat, he’s OK. He knows that these things happen.”
Sagan, 24, has already won several one-day races, stages and points jerseys but a price has come with his expanding palmares. In the group, rivals watch him closely. When he moves, they follow. Or, if he breaks free, he has a harder time getting the others to collaborate.
“Maybe he has too much desire to win, maybe he doesn’t have the teammates with him up until the end … It could be that,” Zanatta said.
“For sure, if you get a group of 20 riders and you have two up front then it’s easier to manage the race and help Peter stay calm. If you’re on your own with 30 riders, who are racing against you, then it becomes difficult. We brought the best team that we could bring here, so we just have to accept it.”
As a result of his placings, however, Sagan has a strong lead in the points competition and looks ready to win a third green jersey when the race finishes in Paris on July 27. The green jersey could represent the last big win for Sagan and Cannondale.
Sagan is rumored to have already signed with Tinkoff-Saxo for 2015, though team manager Bjarne Riis would not confirm the transfer. Ivan Basso may also make the jump from Cannondale to Tinkoff.
Italy’s top team, in fact, has yet to sign any new riders for 2015 and is waiting for word from Cannondale’s top brass in America. The green light may not appear as Cannondale is expected to join Jonathan Vaughters’ Garmin-Sharp team as a sponsor.
“We don’t have a confirmation of continuing or that we need to find another team,” Zanatta added. “We just have to keep doing our work as normal.”
- Town Hall road is getting chipped/oiled today and they are laying it on in what looks to be unusually thick layers.
I'd expect it to be pretty messy for at least a week.
On the upside it should be much more pleasant to ride since it was probably the most damaged road in the area over the winter.
Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) won stage 10 and confirmed his status as the man to beat in this year’s Tour de France. The Italian national champion’s main challenger, Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo), crashed out of the Tour midway through a fearsome day of climbing in the Vosges mountains.
“This was the hardest stage I’ve ever done in a Grand Tour, with seven climbs and so many crashes,” Nibali said. “I was very sad that Contador had that really nasty crash. I hope that he has a good recovery. There was nothing that I could do about it. I was only about three meters away when that happened to him. Scarponi also had a nasty crash, and I managed to get past. That was the one thing I was really scared about was a crash. I thought, ‘It could have been me.’”
Rarely displaying any concern or effort throughout the stage, Nibali relied on a dominant team effort to keep a nine-rider breakaway within striking distance. On the steep slopes of the final climb, the stage’s seventh categorized ascent, Nibali rode away from a select group, catching the remaining breakaway riders and winning alone atop La Planche des Belles Filles.
Bastille Day breakaway
Before the race even reached the 10 kilometer mark, ten riders gained a 1:30 advantage on the peloton in advance of the day’s first categorized climb.
The attack was started by Lieuwe Westra (Astana). He was joined by Giovanni Visconti (Movistar), Christophe Riblon (AG2R), Amaël Moinard (BMC Racing), Thomas Voeckler (Europcar), Markel Irizar (Trek Factory Racing), and Arnaud Gérard (Bretagne-Séché), with Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha), Peter Sagan (Cannondale), and Jan Barta (NetApp-Endura) trailing 30 seconds behind.
Michal Kwiatkowski and Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), Rein Taaramäe (Cofidis), Reto Hollenstein and Marcel Wyss (both IAM Cycling) went away from the peloton on the descent from the top of the Col du Firstplan, eventually bridging up to the lead group.
By the time the leaders had reached the Col du Platzerwasel — a category 1 climb, about 70km into the race — the break had sorted out, losing a few riders like Sagan and Irizar and ending up with a group of nine: Visconti, Rodriguez, Kwiatkowski, Martin, Riblon, Taaramäe, Wyss, Voeckler, and Moinard.
Along the way, Rodriguez dedicated his efforts to challenging the break on every king of the mountains sprint, collecting the majority of the points on offer in that competition. Despite challenges from Voeckler, the Spaniard wrested the jersey from Tony Martin, who wore the polka-dots during the stage after his solo exploit on stage 9.
“I had to work very hard,” Rodriguez said. “It was a very tough day for me. This [polka-dot jersey] is what I’m after. I’m in good shape after this stage. Keeping the jersey is the most important goal for me. I’d like to win a stage as well.”
Contador crashes out
On a descent off the Markstein, around 62 kilometers in, Contador hit a pothole, crashed and eventually withdrew from the race after suffering a nasty gash to his right knee.
“I saw him [Contador] crash right in front of me,” Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) told Spanish radio. “His handlebars slipped when he hit a pothole. I realized at the feed zone that he abandoned.”
The race doctor attempted to patch him up, and Contador changed bikes and a shoe before attempting to continue the race.
Contador had lost around four minutes on the peloton by this time. And despite five teammates dropping back to help pace him up the Col du Platzerwasel, he continued losing time.
Around 15 kilometers later, about halfway through the stage, Contador shared a hug with chief lieutenant Michael Rogers before stopping by the side of the road and climbing into a team car, visibly in pain.
After the stage, team officials confirmed that Contador suffered a fractured tibia, and will require surgery.
Break comes undone on the Col des Chevreres
After riding relentlessly at the front of the group to support Kwiatkowski, Martin dropped spectacularly on Col des Chevreres, leaving his teammate, the leader in the young rider competition, to his own devices.
The young Pole didn’t hesitate to take matters into his own hands, riding away from the rest of the break, followed only by Rodriguez on the 18 percent grades of the penultimate climb.
Rodriguez attacked with 19 kilometers to go. Kwiatkowski began to fade towards the top of the climb and was caught by Visconti and Moinard before the summit.
Kwiatkowski made a daring descent off the Col des Chevreres, catching Rodriguez and reaching Plancher-les-Mines with a 14 second advantage over Visconti before hitting the days final ascent.
Up La Planche des Belles Filles
As the two leaders began the last climb, they had a 1:30 lead over the chasing group containing Vincenzo Nibali. Rodriguez was not satisfied with that gap and attacked Kwiatkowski with 5.3km remaining.
Behind, the yellow jersey wearer, Gallopin, had let the gap to the front of the race extend to a little over 3 minutes.
Kwiatkowski lost time quickly to Rodriguez on the final climb. At 3.5 kilometers to go, the gap between the stage leader and the white jersey wearer was out to 28 seconds.
Nibali’s chasing group was also making headway on the young Pole, and it included Richie Porte (Sky), Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), Chris Horner (Lampre-Merida), Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Lotto-Belisol), world champion Rui Costa (Lampre-Merida), and Tejay van Garderen (BMC).
As the group reached 2.3 kilometers to go, Nibali attacked the group and quickly caught Kwiatkowski.
“I was just trying to hang on,” van Garderen said. “When he [Nibali] went, I knew that if I tried to go, I would probably blow up. So I had to stick with some more steady riders like Richie Porte. Toward the end, I tried to give it a go. But then I think I went a little too early.”
At 1.2km to go, Nibali, churning away at the pedals, caught Rodriguez, whose efforts appeared to be flagging. But Rodriguez would not allow Nibali to go so easily, latching onto the Italian champion’s rear wheel, desperate to win the stage. It was not meant to be, as Nibali kicked again, inside one kilometer to go, and rode solo to victory.
“I thought Purito [Rodriguez] would follow me but he gave up in the final meters,” Nibali said. “I knew it would be a very tough day but I’m very happy … The team protected me well throughout the stage. It was wet and dangerous, requiring maximum concentration. The last two or three kilometers was the right time to attack. It wasn’t easy, but of course I am happy to win, and to solidify my position on GC. It was unfortunate for Alberto to crash. Everyone was ready for a big fight. Without him the race will change for sure, but there are other dangerous rivals”
Kwiatkowski finished 2:13 in arrears, losing the white jersey to Romain Bardet (Ag2r La Mondiale). “I want to say thank you to Tony [Martin],” said Kwiatkowski. “What he did is just incredible. I had so much time advantage before the second to last climb. I just didn’t have the legs to finish it.”
Nibali’s efforts got him back into the race lead. Australian Porte moved up to second overall at 2:23, after finishing seventh on the stage. Valverde rounded out the podium in third at 2:47.
American van Garderen is back into the top-10 at seventh place, 3:56 behind Nibali.
Tony Gallopin’s brief ride in yellow came to an end, as he finished 4:46 down to drop to fifth overall at 3:12.
“It was my worst day on a bike,” Gallopin said. “Four hours of suffering … Every climb was an ordeal. I really did everything I could but I paid for my efforts last week and yesterday. I’m sorry. Even though it was hard and I had no illusions, I was still hoping to keep it deep inside. It was beyond my strength, I gave it my all.”
- More than 60 national titles will be on the line this week as top mountain bikers from around the nation face off at the Bear Creek Resort in Macungie, Pa., July 17-20, for the 2014 USA Cycling Cross-Country Mountain bike National Championships.
- Anyone know if the Riverfront Trail is flooded/closed? McKinley Bridge Crossing?