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Cycling Racing News and Opinion
July 25, 2014

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The Dutch Daily De Telegraaf reports that multinational corporation 3M is in talks to become the title sponsor of Marcel Kittel's Giant-Shimano squad. They should be able to afford it, 3M has annual revenues of 33 billion USD and operates in seventy countries.

3M currently sponsors a Belgian continental team, which it bravely took on the week about two years ago that Lance Armstrong revealed his doping past, believing the revelation would lead to a clean-up of cycling.

This works for Giant, which does not want to be the title sponsor. But nothing is signed and 3M is in talks with other teams. According to 3M marketing manager Ronald Faas, "Now the opportunity arises for a team that fits with our image and we observe ourselves by our deep commitment to cycling, in two years [cycling] has built a better image, we might accelerate [signing]. Besides Giant-Shimano, we are also in talks with other teams. There is no decisive result.

"We have no ambition to be the second or third sponsor of a team to be involved. In contrast, we have no problems with one or two co-sponsors, but it is clear that the team should be called Team 3M."

Philippe Gilbert, 2012 world road champion, will not start the Tour de Wallonie on Saturday. Gilbert was hospitalized with a high fever.

Vincenzo Nibali has demonstrated his superiority in the Jura (Le Planche des Belles Filles), the Alps (Chamrousse) and the Pyrenees (Hautacam). He rode safely over the pavé while others were crashing and complaining about a dangerous course. In fact, abandon rates for this Tour aren't anything special (164 riders remain, 169 finished last year, and 153 made it to Paris in 2012). It's just that a few very high-profile contenders crashed out.

I confess I was surprised that after finding himself in yellow after winning the second stage in Sheffield, Nibali chose to defend his lead during the next three weeks. So deep were the Italian's (and his team's) reserves that no one has mounted a serious challenge to his leadership. He is now, "barring catastrophe", the 2014 winner.

French cycling writer Bertrand Douboux used the right word to describe the Italian, apensanteur, "weightless". Everything about Nibali's Tour ride has been light and nimble. After winning the Italian championship he came to the race with the perfect level of fitness. He rode a completely heads-up race. And though Nibali could destroy the competition at will, he chose his moments carefully for maximum impact.

I think Nibali's 2014 Tour de France will be remembered as a particularly masterful performance.

Vincenzo Nibali wins stage 2

Vincenzo Nibali wins stage two in Sheffield. Photo ©Sirotti

Peter Sagan looked as if he was going to end his stage-win drought when he crashed with about three kilometers to go. He was philosophical about the fall, "I was in ninth position at three km to go, a very good position, but while I was exiting from the turn my wheel slid on the wet road and I fell down. I have few bruises on the right side of my body but I'm ok. I didn't break anything and this is good."

"This Tour de France for me is simply very unlucky. Today was a very good chance, I wanted to do my best but I crashed. Really, I don't know what more to say. I already said: it's just my destiny, this are cycling races - maybe next year I'll win ten stages, but now I have to accept this. I know there's another chance in Paris, but before to think about it I want to recover from today's crash."

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