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Cycling News and Opinions
Unfair and Unbalanced
July, 2012

Back to news and opinion index page for links to archived stories

July 24: The UCI released the post-Tour de France World Tour rankings. Bradley Wiggins has a huge lead, unsurprising given his fabulous winning run that started early this season. Posted below the rider rankings are the team and nation standings.

Rider rankings:

  1. Bradley Wiggins (Sky) 601 points
  2. Joaquin Rodriguez (Katusha): 404
  3. Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas): 400
  4. Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-Quick Step): 368
  5. Peter Sagan (Liquigas): 351
  6. Christopher Froome (Sky) 266
  7. Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel): 252
  8. Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Lotto-Belisol): 237
  9. Simon Gerrans (Orica-GreenEdge): 210
  10. Alejandro Valverde (Movistar): 201
  11. Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Sharp): 197
  12. Michael Rogers (Sky): 194
  13. Rui Alberto Faria da Costa (Movistar): 189
  14. Roman Kreuziger (Astana): 189
  15. Damiano Cunego (Lampre): 184
  16. Michele Scarponi (Lampre): 184
  17. Michael Albasini (Orica-GreenEdge): 183
  18. Cadel Evans (BMC): 182
  19. Oscar Freire (Katusha): 181
  20. Alessandro Ballan (BMC): 166
  21. Tejay Van Garderen (BMC): 160
  22. Enrico Gasparotto (Astana): 150
  23. Fabian Cancellara (Radio Shack-Nissan): 134
  24. Bauke Mollema (Rabobank): 134
  25. Daniel Martin (Garmin-Sharp): 132
  26. Rigoberto Uran (Sky): 129
  27. Mark Cavendish (Sky): 128
  28. Thomas De Gendt (Vacansoleil): 126
  29. Sergio Henao (Sky): 122
  30. Christopher Horner (Radio Shack-Nissan): 120
  31. Moreno moser (Liquigas): 115
  32. Rinaldo Nocentini (Ag2r): 113
  33. Janez Brajkovic (Astana) 106
  34. Jelle Vanendert (Lotto-Belisol): 104
  35. André Greipel (lotto-Belisol): 102
  36. Edvald Boasson Hagen (Sky): 101
  37. Maxim Iglinskiy (Astana): 100
  38. Mikel Nieve (Euskaltel): 98
  39. Lieuwe Westra (Vacansoleil): 96
  40. Haimar Zubeldia (Radio Shack-Nissan): 94
  41. Tiago Machado (Radio Shack-Nissan): 92
  42. Niki Terpstra (Omega Pharma-Quick Step): 90
  43. Frank Schleck (Radio Shack-Nissan): 89
  44. Ivan Basso (Liquigas): 88
  45. Michal Kwiatkowski (Omega Pharma-Quick Step): 87
  46. Simon Spilak (Katusha): 86
  47. Andrew Talansky (Garmin-Sharp): 85
  48. Thibaut Pinot (FDJ-Big Mat): 85
  49. Philippe Gilbert (BMC): 80
  50. Robert Kiserlovski (Astana): 77

Team Rankings

  1. Sky: 1,318 points
  2. Liquigas: 988
  3. Katusha: 761
  4. Omega Pharma-Quick Step: 677
  5. BMC: 649
  6. Astana: 622
  7. Radio Shack-Nissan: 529
  8. Orica-GreenEdge: 486
  9. Garmin-Sharp: 475
  10. Lotto-Belisol: 472
  11. Movistar: 471
  12. Euskaltel: 424
  13. Lampre: 400
  14. Rabobank: 361
  15. Vacansoleil: 318
  16. Ag2r: 234
  17. FDJ-Big Mat: 173
  18. Saxo-Tinkoff: 88

Nation Rankings

  1. Spain: 1,136 points
  2. Italy: 1,084
  3. Great Britain: 1,041
  4. Belgium: 915
  5. Australia: 734
  6. United States: 470
  7. Netherlands: 433
  8. Slovakia: 361
  9. Switzerland: 338
  10. Portugal: 281
  11. Germany: 262
  12. Colombia: 258
  13. France: 233
  14. Slovenia: 199
  15. Canada: 198
  16. Czech Republic: 195
  17. Ireland: 168
  18. Norway: 152
  19. Poland: 131
  20. Denmark: 116
  21. Kazakhstan: 110
  22. Russia: 97
  23. Luxembourg: 90
  24. Croatia: 77
  25. Austria: 51
  26. Belarus: 50
  27. Argentina: 22
  28. Costa Rica: 20
  29. Sweden: 14
  30. South Africa: 12
  31. Lithuania: 10
  32. Estonia: 6
  33. New Zealand: 5
  34. Ukraine: 2
  35. Brazil: 1

July 17: For a while it looked as if Johan Bruyneel's miserable Tour de France was going to turn out okay. He wasn't having a great Tour: Bruyneel is used to winning and an overall Radio-shack-Nissan victory was out of the question. But with Fabian Cancellara winning the prologue and holding the Yellow Jersey for a week before dropping out to be with his wife while she gave birth, one would have to say things were not bleak.

Then there were reports that the Schleck brothers and Fabian Cancellara were complaining that the team had not paid them amid rumors that the team was near collapse (team collapse stories were denied, a spokesman calling the stories "malicious"). Jakob Fuglsang, who is planning to move to another team at the end of the season, has filed suit against the team for non-payment. The team explained that everything was fine, that they were just afraid of being accused of money laundering if they paid the riders. Interesting explanation. I'll have to remember it next time I owe money.

A few days ago Frank Schleck had complained that because of the 2012 Tour's course design and Sky's ability to control the race, "...I think they are just going to have a boring Tour."

Rest day in Pau wasn't boring, thanks to Frank. And Bruyneels' Tour just got worse. Far worse. Schleck was the subject of an "adverse analytical finding". A prescription diuretic called Xipamide was found in Schleck's July 14 sample. Not even waiting for a "B" sample analysis, Radio Shack has pulled the Luxembourg rider from the Tour.

This will not be boring.

July 10: Okay, I'm flat-out astonished. Bradley Wiggins has been riding at the highest level since the season started. In February he came in third in Portugal's Volta as Algarve. He then went on to win Paris-Nice, the Tour of Romandie and Critérium du Dauphiné. No rider has ever won those three important stage races all in the same season. His season is already historic. I was sure Wiggins would come to the Tour de France over-cooked and exhaustion would ruin his attempt to win the Tour de France.

Compare Wiggins' wild spring to Lance Armstrong's approach to pre-Tour preparation. Armstrong would do a careful build-up, having barely more than 20 racing days in his legs when he arrived  to race in July. In 2003's Dauphiné, he fought a hard duel with Iban Mayo that left him very tired and vulnerable. He regretted winning the Dauphiné, later saying he should have let Mayo have the race.

In 2006 Levi Leipheimer won the Dauphiné and finished 12th in the Tour (after Landis' disqualification), more than 18 minutes behind final winner Oscar Pereiro.

So far, despite going deep over and over, Wiggins has shown no vulnerabilities in the first week of the Tour. He's time-trialed brilliantly and done extremely well in the shorter climbs the Tour has so far presented. He's stayed out of trouble when his competitors have crashed and burned. This is a superb performance.

It remains to be seen if he can hold his form for the next two weeks. We're moving to the high Alps tomorrow (Thursday has two climbs rated HC) and his Sky team is going to come under constant pressure. Evans (who has done a traditional low-key build-up for the Tour) is an implacable opponent and will not relent until the race reaches Paris. If Wiggins has a weakness, Evans will find it. Vincenzo Nibali, now two and a half minutes down, is going to use his descending skills to gain time. He will make sure the descents are harrowing, dangerous tests of bike handling.

It's early days, but if Wiggins hangs on, he will be displaying a resilient athleticism unseen for many years.

July 7: Here's an update to the July 6 posting regarding the withdrawals from the Tour de France because of the crashes in stage 6. I wish all the riders a speedy recovery.

Out of the Tour today:
Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Sharp) injuries to hip and leg
Maarten Wynants (Rabobank) broken ribs
Oscar Freire (Katusha) rib fracture
Hubert Dupont (Ag2r) fractured forearm, back injuries
Amets Txurruka (Euskaltel) broken collarbone
José Ivan Gutierrez (Movistar) knee injury
Imanol Erviti (Movistar) knee injury

Davide Vigano's injuries prompted this press release from Lampre:

"Only one prologue and six stages in the first participation of Davide Viganò in Tour de France.
The 28 years old Italian cyclist from Team Lampre-ISD (photo Bettini), forced to quit the race because of a crash that occurred in the 6th stage of the Grande Boucle, had been immediately transported to the Military Hospital in Metz where, in the late evening, received the results of the medical checks.
Doctor Beltemacchi from Lampre-ISD confirmed that the x-ray and the CAT showed a broken collarbone, but excluded any other fractures.
Viganò will soon move to Italy in order to undergo surgery."

July 6: Stage 6 of The Tour de France was generous in handing out misery to the teams as they made their way to Metz, but no team suffered as much as Garmin-Sharp. All but one of their riders crashed at some point during the day. Their main GC man, 2012 Giro winner Ryder Hesjedal, lost more than 13 minutes.

Rather than re-writing it and pretending that I've dug up some news, here's Garmin-Sharp's press release:

"Team Garmin-Sharp-Barracuda Update – Stage 6

On a day where David Zabriskie won the most combative jersey after helping power a four-man break for most of the stage, and launching a heroic attack in the final kilometers, a massive crash saw five Garmin-Sharp-Barracuda riders hit the ground. Christian Vande Velde, David Millar, Johan Vansummeren, Ryder Hesjedal and Tom Danielson all sustained injuries of varying degrees.

Tom Danielson was transported from the site of the crash via ambulance to a local hospital where preliminary x-rays were negative but an exam revealed that he reinjured the shoulder he separated in the crash on Stage 3 and sustained multiple other injuries including a separated left shoulder, sprained neck, chest contusion and multiple extensive deep abrasions.

Johan Vansummeren fought to finish the stage but was transported to a local hospital immediately after. Preliminary x-rays were negative but exams revealed that Vansummeren suffered a sprain to his right shoulder and upper back along with multiple abrasions.

Team leader Ryder Hesjedal suffered a massive hematoma on his left hip and leg. Both Hesjedal and Vansummeren will continue to be evaluated by team medical staff and a determination will be made tomorrow as to whether they will start the race.

Following are quotes:

Jonathan Vaughters, CEO, Director Sportif

Clearly, this will mean a change in strategy for the team. We’ll be looking for stage wins, possibly the KOM jersey and ways to animate the race. It was a tough day but all things considered, spirits are good. These guys are good friends and a good support system for each other, they know how to be a team and that makes me immensely proud. Zabriskie had a great ride today, and I’m proud of how all the guys rode. Just crossing the line after a day like this speaks volumes. Tomorrow is going to be painful for many of them, so starting alone will be a big step but this is the Tour de France, and we go onward and set new goals. There's a lot of racing still to be done.

Ryder Hesjedal

I got caught up in the crash like countess others and immediately realized that my left leg wasn’t good. Once I got up and on a bike, I couldn’t pedal with any force, the pain was too much. The team helped me get to the line, but just getting there was all I was able to do. At that point, it was just about getting to the finish. I’ll work with the team medical staff tonight and try and get some rest and we’ll have to go from there. I’m not sure at this point what tomorrow holds, its the Tour so you want to do everything you can, but we have to wait and see. That was one of the worst crashes I’ve ever seen and I hope that everyone else who went down is ok."

Other teams have had their share of misery. Here's a list of withdrawls to date from the Tour:

Stage 3:
José Joaquin Rojas (Movistar)
Kanstantsin Sivtsov (Sky)

Stage 4
Maarten Tjallingii (Rabobank)

Stage 5
Marcel Kittel (Argos-Shimano)

Stage 6:
Mikel Astarloza (Euskaltel)
Davide Vigano (Lampre)
Thomas Danielson (Garmin-Sharp)
Wouter Poels (Vacansoleil)