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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion:
Saturday, July 11, 2015

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

Today's Racing

Both the Tour de France and the Tour of Austria (Osterreich Rundfahrt) continue.

The Giro Rosa (Women's Tour of Italy) is also being raced.

New Les Woodland Book

Les Woodland has done it again with his new book, Cycling's 50 Triumphs and Tragedies: The rise and fall of bicycle racing's champions.

When he sent me the text, I dived right in knowing Les is the master teller of cycling stories. I can happily report he has done it again. We are proud to publish Les' latest. The Kindle eBook just went live and it's just $3.99. The print version will be available in about a week. David L. Stanley, the master of book voicing, will do the audiobook.

You can get the eBook here: http://www.amazon.com/Cyclings-50-Triumphs-Tragedies-champions-ebook/dp/B011B0LUQ0/

Cycling 50 Triumphs and Tragedies cover art

Cycling's 50 Triumphs and Tragedies cover. Print and audiobook versions are coming...

Luca Paolini expelled from Tour for Cocaine positive

Italian cyclist Luca Paolini has been expelled from the Tour de France after testing positive for cocaine. The 38-year-old Katusha rider failed the test on Tuesday - after the fourth stage from Seraing to Cambrai - and has been provisionally suspended.

He can now request a B sample and his provisional suspension will last until the hearing of his case.

Filippo Pozatto and Luca Paolini

Filippo Pozzato (right, in Lampre kit) talks to Luca Paolini at the start of the Tour's 6th stage.

Paolini was 168th overall and his exit takes the number of riders on the Tour to 185. He was taking part in his fifth Tour, primarily supporting sprinter Alexander Kristoff.

African cycling team won't let racism deter it

LIVAROT, France, July 10 (Reuters) - The man who founded the first African team to race in the Tour de France said on Friday that racist abuse suffered by one of his riders in Austria this week could not deflect from its success in establishing Africa's place in world cycling.

MTN-Qhubeka team founder Douglas Ryder said Eritrean Natnael Berhane was upset at being called a "nigger" by Belarussian Branislau Samoilau as they raced alongside each other in the Tour of Austria on Wednesday, but had rejected suggestions he be disqualified.

"The Commissaires' Jury spoke to both riders and their teams," a spokesman for UCI, the international cycling body, said. "Everyone agreed that it was unacceptable, and the rider apologised and offered to donate one month's salary to team MTN-Qhubeka's foundation."

MTN-Qhubeka's Eritrean rider Daniel Teklehaimanot became the first black African to wear a leader's jersey at a grand tour when he claimed the polka dot jersey for best climber on Thursday's sixth stage of the Tour de France from Abbeville to Le Havre. But celebrations were soured when news came through of Samoilau's comments to Berhane.

Daniel Teklehaimanot

Daniel Teklehaimanot at the Tour's stage 7 awards ceremony

The incident was the talk of the peloton at the start of the Tour de France's seventh stage on Friday. "Hopefully it was an isolated incident and although Natnael was pretty upset about it at the time, he is fine now," Ryder told Reuters. "It's sad that every conversation I have today is around racism and around being bullied in the peloton.

"The team has done an amazing job in this race but everybody wants to talk about this. The UCI wanted to kick him out of the race and Natnael was, like, 'no it's fine and he can race'."

Martin Rosender, spokesman of the Tour of Austria, said the incident had been handed to the sport's governing body. "The Belarussian rider has apologised though he said there was a language problem, he didn't mean it like this," he said.

South African businessman Ryder founded the team eight years ago and said the incident should not be allowed to overshadow the progress shown. "Yesterday was a day of highs and lows but we are just really proud to show that African cycling belongs on the European circuit," he said.

"This is not a European sport. It's for the whole world and it's amazing that we are here and can show the performance of the riders and how good they are."

Kevin Reza, a black French rider who was racially abused during last year's Tour de France, told Reuters on Friday he doubted whether racism in the peloton, if it still existed, should even be debated. "Personally I've moved on, it's life," the FDJ rider said. "It's not only cycling, racism is everywhere. I don't think we can change the mentalities. It is a war that we cannot win."

Teklehaimanot retained the polka dot jersey for another day after being part of the breakaway of the day on Friday.

BMX legend dies

Bicycle Retailer and Industry News had this sad report:

Bicycle Retailer and Industry News website

INDIO, Calif. (BRAIN) — Scot Breithaupt, an early BMX champion and founder of the SE Racing bike brand, was found dead Saturday in a tent in Indio. Local officials identified the body Sunday.

Breithaupt, a member of the BMX Hall of Fame, organized some of the first BMX races ever, in 1970 in Long Beach, Calif., when he was still a young teenager himself. A born entrepreneur, he established teams, events, race organizations and companies while he was still a teenager. He would later win a national championship and founded and led SE Racing, which continues today as SE Bikes, owned by Advanced Sports International (SE was originally an acronym for Scot Enterprises). At SE he created bikes including the PK Ripper, Quadangle and the OM Flyer, a BMX racing cruiser that referenced his "Old Man" nickname.

He also worked as a TV commentator and producer during the 1980s and 1990s, working on productions that featured BMX and other action sports. He consulted with several bike brands in recent years, returned to amateur racing for a while, and also sold nutritional products.

It was little secret that he struggled with addictions for many decades, and served some time in prison as a result. Many friends across the industry tried to help him get back on his feet in the BMX world during his clean periods.

"Although he had struggled with addictions and problems with the law over the past decades, we at USA BMX will always remember him fondly for his many contributions in making the sport of BMX what it is today," said Craig "Gork" Barrette, the chief communications officer for USA BMX.

According to the DesertSun.com, the coroner has not released a cause of death; there were no signs of foul play.

Greg Henderson did not start Tour stage 7

This came from Lotto-Soudal earlier before the start of today's 7th stage:

Bad news for Lotto Soudal this morning: Greg Henderson won’t stand at the start of the seventh stage. The rib injury of the New-Zealander is so painful that it isn’t an option to continue the race. Henderson was involved in the big crash on Monday in the stage from Antwerp to Huy.

Team doctor Jan Mathieu: “It’s not easy to race with an injury like Greg has. As rider and team doctor you hope there is some kind of stabilization, that makes it possible to continue the race, but unfortunately that’s not the case. Last night the pain got worse and that’s why we decided to call it quits. The Tour is still long, it’s pointless to continue.”

Greg Henderson: “Already after my crash on Monday I was in a lot of pain. But I didn’t want to blame myself I hadn’t tried and I took the start on Tuesday. I hoped I would have less pain after a few days, but the Tour still lasts more than two weeks and I can’t continue this way. Even sitting at the side of my bed hurts. You don’t want to abandon the Tour. You come here to reach goals together and finish in Paris three weeks later. And that won’t happen for me. The guys already did a brilliant job, I hope they can continue on this way and make Lotto Soudal even more successful.”

Tom Dumoulin won't need surgery

Giant-Alpecin sent this report:

On Monday Tom Dumoulin (NED) crashed out of the Tour de France on the third stage of racing, following a huge crash in the bunch. Since then, various examinations, including an MRI scan, have been performed and indicate that surgery will not be necessary.

Tom Dumoulin

Tom Dumoulin had a good Tour of Switzerland

Team physician Anko Boelens (NED) explained: “Tom had a shoulder luxation. The luxation caused a substantial impression fracture of the humeral head (this is called a Hill-Sachs lesion). The lesion also involved the greater tubercle. An MRI showed no other intra-articular damage. Because of the involvement of the greater tubercle, recovery will take more time than with a regular shoulder luxation. We expect full recovery in six weeks.”

Team coach Rudi Kemna (NED) added: “We hope for a quick, but more importantly, good recovery from the injury. Tom’s return to competition will depend on his progress, and we have to take it step-by-step and monitor what is realistic.”

Tour de France team reports

Here's Tinkoff-Saxo's news:

Tinkoff-Saxo’s fast man Peter Sagan took 3rd place on stage 7 of Tour de France in a traditional head-to-head sprint, where Mark Cavendish drew the longest straw. Sagan notes that despite a lack of karma, he believes that the sought-after stage win will materialize. Alberto Contador was pleased with the outcome of the stage and looks forward to Mûr-de-Bretagne.

After crossing the finish line in third place behind Mark Cavendish and André Greipel, Sagan told the press that his spirit is high despite taking his fifth top-three placing during the first week of racing at Le Tour.

“It’s not easy, that’s for sure. But it will come, just be patient. It was a very difficult sprint but I think I’m doing well. I didn’t crash and I was there in the finale. I was on Degenkolb’s wheel just before the final sprint and then I was on the wheel of André Greipel in the final meters but Cavendish was very fast today. I gave it my best and now I look forward to tomorrow and then we’ll start to think about the team time trial. I think the most important is that I’m in good condition and I have avoided crashes and I will definitely try again”, says Peter Sagan, who remains uncertain whether the climb to Mûr-de-Bretagne will suit him.

“I heard that tomorrow could be a good finish for me but we will see. It’s right that I’m getting closer to the yellow jersey but it will be very difficult to overtake Froome tomorrow, I’m not a climber and the final climb is very hard and with the karma I have right now it will be difficult, that’s for sure”, smiles Peter Sagan.

Peter Sagan

Peter Sagan still had the young rider's white jersey after Stage 7


Stage 7 from Livarot to Fougéres took the riders 190.5km through rolling terrain in what team captain Alberto Contador describes as a somewhat less hectic day.

“For us it was a good day and, in theory, a calmer one although there is always incredible nervousness in the peloton but we made it. We didn't have any crashes, with the exception of a small fall I had in the neutralized part of the start but it wasn't anything to worry about. Funnily, we were just talking about the recent crashes when a group of four-five riders got tangled in front of me and I was unable to avoid them. As I said, I got off unscathed”, says Alberto Contador and adds:

“In what regards tomorrow's stage, we will have to see what happens. In 2011 I was close to getting a victory at the Mûr-de-Bretagne although I think that it will most probably be a stage suited to sprinters such as Peter and I feel confident we can have a good race”.

For Steven de Jongh, Tinkoff-Saxo Head Sports Director, the focus will now switch to Saturday’s stage.

“Today was definitely a less hectic day than the previous stages. It was hot and the stage was done at a stable pace in what turned out to be a traditional sprinter’s stage. Peter once again came close in the sprint but the competition is very hard and today was more or less a flat sprint. I think the boys did well, did what they had to do to conserve energy whenever possible, while assisting Alberto. Tomorrow will be much more tricky in the finale with Mur de Bretagne and I don’t think it’s possible to make any certain predictions other than it will be important to stay well-positioned in the final kilometers”, finishes Steven de Jongh.

BMC sent this report:

Fougères, France - BMC Racing Team's Tejay van Garderen stayed third overall Friday at the Tour de France while teammate Greg Van Avermaet moved from sixth to fifth following the non-start due to injury of previous race leader Tony Martin (Etixx-Quick Step).

Van Garderen is 13 seconds behind new race leader Chris Froome (Team Sky) and two seconds behind Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo), who slotted into second overall on the strength of a time bonus for finishing third on the stage.

Tejay van Gardeen

Tejay van Garderen

Mark Cavendish (Etixx-Quick Step) won Friday's 190.5-kilometer race ahead of André Greipel (Lotto Soudal). Van Avermaet was 25th and van Garderen finished 36th, both in the same time as the stage winner.

"There were a lot of narrow roads out there, but the wind and the weather was not so bad," van Garderen said. "In the last 50 kilometers or so, on some of those narrow roads, we started feeling a little bit of the nerves. But compared to the other days, today was pretty tranquil."

Saturday's 181.5-km stage finishes atop the Mûr-de-Bretagne, a third-category climb of two kilometers.

"We did this stage back in 2011 and it was pretty hectic all day," van Garderen said. "So I expect tomorrow to be more of what we have seen earlier in the week."

LottoNL-Jumbo had this to report about the Tour's 7th stage:

Robert Gesink passed a trouble-free day in the Tour de France on Friday. The leader of Team LottoNL-Jumbo ended the seventh stage in Fougères 27th. Etixx-QuickStep’s Mark Cavendish won the stage.

Gesink had a minor crash in neutralisation, however. “Luckily the pace wasn’t too high and a tumble in the neutral zone doesn’t really count as a real crash,” Gesink laughed afterwards. “I rolled through the day well, like I’ve done this whole week.”

Gesink moved up to 13th overall on Friday because yellow jersey Tony Martin wasn’t able to start the stage. Immediately after the stage, he looked ahead to his next challenge: the Mûr de Bretagne.

“Tomorrow will be spectacular,” Gesink said. “On the one hand it’s an important arrival, on the other hand, it doesn’t mean too much, as it’s not a real climb. It’s still an important moment where you want to score, though.”

Gesink tackled the Mûr de Bretagne once before. In 2011, when the fourth stage of the Tour finished on the steep climb, the Dutchman placed 16th at eight seconds behind winner Cadel Evans.

“I’m going to the watch the final kilometres of the stage tonight. The goal is simple: I need to go up as fast as possible and hope that others need more time than me.”

Robert Gesink

Robert Gesink heads to the start of Tour stage 6

Nico Verhoeven said Friday’s relatively easy stage was good for Laurens ten Dam and Wilco Kelderman’s recovery. “The calm racing and the weather were in their favour,” the sports director said.

“They’re going in the right direction. They are slowly crawling back to their former level. Lau and Wilco have proven themselves in grand tours, if they are fully fit, they can get in the mix in every stage with a climb. Especially, as they are deep down in the overall.”

Jos van Emden started his first Tour last Saturday with an excellent fifth place. The 30-year-old Dutchman looked back on the first week with a good feeling.

“I secretly think back about that TT in Utrecht every day,” the former Dutch time trial champion said. “The fatigue starts to come into play, but I didn’t need bandages. Actually, it’s going pretty well. Tomorrow is a normal working day for me, but on Sunday, the team time trial awaits. I’m looking forward to it. Time trials suit me, of course, but after a week of racing it’s always a little different.”

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