BESANCON, France (Reuters) – Tony Martin has encountered more bad luck this year than he is likely to in the rest of his career but the German still finished 12th on the ninth stage time trial at the Tour de France on Monday.
The world time trial champion suffered a puncture on the 41.5 km route from Arc et Senans to Besancon, just like he did in the opening time trial in the Tour prologue when he was again expected to shine.
Sport has become big business and egos have exploded too, while security restrictions have made visiting many stadiums something of a chore.
But not on the Tour. To say the French approach is laissez faire is an understatement. As a journalist you can practically go wherever you want with hardly any checks, even standing just behind the stage finish line. Yes you might get your toes clipped as the rider speeds past but the access to the cyclists is remarkable.
BELFORT, France (Reuters) – All the talk before the Tour de France was about the battle between favourite Bradley Wiggins and defending champion Cadel Evans, with neutrals hoping for a “third man” to appear from the pack and make the race more interesting.
That man is likely to be Italy’s Vincenzo Nibali, who rose to third in the overall standings on Saturday after keeping pace with new leader Wiggins and Evans on the race’s first ascent up to the Les Planche des Belles Filles on stage seven.
LA PLANCHE DES BELLES FILLES, France (Reuters) – Having the Tour de France favorite and the world champion in your team leaves little room for others to shine but Sky’s Chris Froome carved his own name into British cycling folklore on Saturday.
His victory on the seventh stage, which helped Bradley Wiggins take the yellow jersey and took the pressure off Mark Cavendish after a crash-hit Friday, was a supreme display of power and control on a famous French mountain.
TOMBLAINE, France (Reuters) – Giro d’Italia champion Ryder Hesjedal was among a string of injured riders to quit the Tour de France on Saturday following a series of nasty crashes.
In total 17 riders have so far withdrawn after a brutal first week at the world’s greatest race, with FDJ-Big Mat team boss Marc Madiot telling Reuters: “It has not been cycling, it has been Rollerball.”
METZ, France (Reuters) – Tour de France hopeful Ryder Hesjedal was literally knocked out of contention by another violent crash on Friday, the latest bloody multi-rider pileup to blight the world’s greatest race.
The Garmin-Sharp team was left in tatters, with shirts and skin layers ripped to shreds, as Giro d’Italia champion Hesjedal lost more than 13 minutes in a smash described by team mate David Millar as the worst he had been involved in.
METZ, France (Reuters) – The Tour de France heads into the mountains for the first time on Saturday but the ascent to La Planche des Belles Filles is not expected to cause too many problems for favorite Bradley Wiggins and defending champion Cadel Evans.
The 199 km seventh stage from Tomblaine in eastern France only skirts the beginning of the Alps with the final climb the sole tricky section, where local rider Thibaut Pinot is expected to shine given he trains there regularly.
As the annual Arsenal transfer soap-opera gets underway, it’s worth wondering why such high-profile players leave one of England’s best clubs every year.
Should Robin van Persie sign for Manchester City, much will be made of their financial muscle, but they are not the only club in England with resources – indeed, Arsenal are one of the richest clubs in the world and could easily afford to offer competitive wages.
SAINT QUENTIN, France (Reuters) – The Tour de France is six days old but such are the nuances of cycling that long-time race leader Fabian Cancellara knows he has no chance of wearing the yellow jersey when the carnival finishes up in Paris on July 22.
Few other sports compare when it comes to false dawns, misleading results and unrealistic dreams but at least Swiss Cancellara – nicknamed Spartacus – is well aware of cycling’s perverse twists of fate almost worthy of a Roman epic.
ST QUENTIN, France (Reuters) – Garmin-Sharp manager Jonathan Vaughters has dismissed part of a report which said he and team members agreed to accept suspended bans to testify against Lance Armstrong in a U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) case.
On Thursday, Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf said Garmin’s Tour de France riders Christian Vande Velde and David Zabriskie, and two more U.S. cyclists on other teams, had agreed to give evidence of wrongdoing in exchange for suspended six-month bans.