July 07, 2009

Tour de Twitter

JV on the Crackberry,
originally uploaded by Frank Steele.
This is the third Tour de France I've Twittered. In 2007, it was pretty lonely. Last year, we had a core group of fans using the service. This year, Twitter has exploded. Lance Armstrong has been one of the top celebrities to adopt Twitter, alongside Stephen Fry, Ashton Kutcher (I almost typed “Astana Kutcher”), and Barack Obama.

I've developed quite a list of riders, journalists, bloggers, and photographers in preparation for the Tour, and thought I would share it with you.

I started with Carlton Reid's massive, 600+ strong list of “Bike Trade Tweeps”. As I've found more, I've been adding them. I left off a few that appear inactive, like @carlossastre, who has nearly 4,000 followers awaiting his first tweet (what pressure!); likewise Denis Menchov and Robert Gesink, and a few fakes.

Also, these are all in English. Please send me additions, either on Twitter (@TdFblog) or by commenting this post. Thanks!






Cervelo Test Team

Quick Step


Saxo Bank



VS broadcasters


Pros not racing this year


Posted by Frank Steele on July 7, 2009 in About the Tour, Andy Schleck, Bradley Wiggins, Cadel Evans, Carlos Sastre, Chris Horner, Christian Vande Velde, Danny Pate, Dave Zabriskie, George Hincapie, Ivan Basso, Janez Brajkovic, Kurt-Asle Arvesen, Lance Armstrong, Levi Leipheimer, Mark Cavendish, Michael Rogers, Robbie Hunter, Robbie McEwen, Tour news, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (7) | TrackBack

June 25, 2009

Astana finalizes Tour squad

Astana - Tour de Georgia 2008

Astana named the final three riders to its Tour squad this morning: Gregory Rast, Dmitriy Muravyev, and Sergio Paulinho.

It's the first Tour for Muravyev, a pro since 2002, and 3-time Kazakhstan TT champion. He's Astana's only Tour rookie.

Left off the Tour roster were Chris Horner, Jani Brajkovic, Thomas Vaitkus, and Benjamin Noval. Versus should do whatever it takes to get Horner in the booth as often as possible; he could be the next Bobke.

With Lance Armstrong apparently planning a new team for 2010, and Alberto Contador, one of five men to win all three Grand Tours, the stage is set for a potential Lemond-Hinault style intrateam rift.

The full Astana squad:

  • Lance Armstrong
  • Alberto Contador
  • Andreas Klöden
  • Levi Leipheimer
  • Dmitriy Muravyev
  • Sergio Paulinho
  • Yaroslav Popovych
  • Gregory Rast
  • Haimar Zubeldia

The team is presented in a very professional Flash presentation that would have made a great introduction for a Livestrong-Nike team, currently running in place of the team home page.

(Click through for a larger version of the photo above, which I shot at Stage 4 of last year's Tour de Georgia, at Road Atlanta).


VeloNews | Horner left off Astana Tour roster

Posted by Frank Steele on June 25, 2009 in Alberto Contador, Andreas Klöden, Chris Horner, Haimar Zubeldia, Lance Armstrong, Levi Leipheimer, Top Stories, Tour de France 2009, Tour news, Yaroslav Popovych | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 30, 2007

Astana, Agritubel, Barloworld get 2007 wildcards

Tour de France 2007 - Press releases of official website

Tour organizers announced this year's wildcard teams today, naming Agritubel, Astana, and Barloworld as the final three squads in the 2007 Tour. They join almost all of the ProTour squads, minus Unibet.com, to make a field of 189.

    The full rundown:

  • AG2R (France)
  • Agritubel (France)
  • Astana (Switzerland)
  • Barloworld (UK)
  • Bouyges Telecom (France)
  • Caisse d'Epargne (Spain)
  • Cofidis (France)
  • Credit Agricole (France)
  • Team CSC (Denmark)
  • Discovery Channel (USA)
  • Euskaltel-Euskadi (Spain)
  • Française des Jeux (France)
  • Gerolsteiner (Germany)
  • Lampre-Fondital (Italy)
  • Liquigas (Italy)
  • Team Milram (Italy)
  • Predictor-Lotto (Belgium)
  • Quick Step-Innergetic (Belgium)
  • Rabobank (Netherlands)
  • Saunier Duval-Prodir (Spain)
  • T-Mobile Team (Germany)

Meanwhile, in the face of a German federal investigation into University of Freiburg doctors who reportedly supplied Telekom riders with EPO in the 1990s, Germany's two public TV networks, which share coverage of the race, have threatened to dump their contracts when they expire in 2008 unless they “are certain that doping has no chance at the Tour de France.” Although Bjarne Riis said last week his team supports his admission that he used EPO while winning the 1996 Tour, the race's organizers are less sanguine. Tour director Christian Prudhomme told AFP “it would be shocking to have [CSC director Bjarne] Riis included in the Tour de France” in any capacity, adding “It would be logical that Riis applies to himself the same treatment that he applied to Ivan Basso last year.” ASO President Patrice Clerc echoed the sentiment: “Why should it always be the riders who pay the price?”

Posted by Frank Steele on May 30, 2007 in Barloworld, Top Stories, Tour de France 2007, Tour news | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 09, 2007

UCI takes ProTour/Grand Tour squabble to EC

CNNSI.com | UCI to file complaint about major Tours breakaway

The UCI is planning to ask the European Commission to intercede in the ongoing squabble between the UCI and its ProTour and the organizers of the three grand tours: The Tour de France, the Giro d'Italia, and the Vuelta a España.

The UCI posted a press release on its website:

The UCI has today decided to prepare a formal complaint to the European Commission concerning the anti-competitive conduct of the organizers of the Grands Tours.

The organizers of the Grands Tours have acted as a cartel in order to protect their own dominant position in the field of professional road cycling.

In particular the organizers of the Grands Tours have deliberately tried to undermine the development of the UCI ProTour.

This conduct is detrimental to the interest of teams, riders and the wider development of cycling in Europe and in the world as a whole.

The UCI has repeatedly tried to engage the organizers of the Grands Tours in a constructive dialogue; however they have refused to cooperate in any meaningful way leaving the UCI with no alternative other than to seek intervention by the European Commission in this matter.

I find it hard to side with the UCI on this one: The national tours own the crown jewels of the sport (not just the GTs), and the UCI is trying to get them to treat their biggest events like every other race. If you agree with the UCI, make your case in the comments.

Posted by Frank Steele on January 9, 2007 in Giro d’Italia, Top Stories, Tour news, Vuelta a España | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 08, 2006

ASO president says grand tours done with ProTour

procycling | Tour, Vuelta and Giro "will never join ProTour"

Patrice Clerc, president of Tour organizers ASO, says his organization, Vuelta a España organizers Unipublic and Giro d'Italia organizers RCS, have given up on integration with the UCI's ProTour.

The grand tours worked out a provisional agreement in 2005 that has been in force since, and the UCI and grand tour organizers met in April to try to hammer out an agreement, but Clerc today said, “There will be no further discussions over a commercial system that is purely economic, closed and cut off from the outside world.”

The grand tour organizers don't want their races to become merely the longest of the ProTour events, and so had lobbied for fewer ProTour teams (and correspondingly more wildcard teams in the GTs) and for a system of promotion and relegation like European football.

If in fact the alliance is over, the grand tour organizers take with them many of the season's best-known races, including Paris-Roubaix, Liège-Bastogne-Liège, and Milan-San Remo.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 8, 2006 in Giro d’Italia, Tour news, Vuelta a España | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 03, 2006

Di Luca drops out

Tour de France 2006 | Live dispatches

Danilo Di Luca, leader of the Liquigas team, was the first rider to abandon the 2006 Tour de France. He didn't take the start this morning, after suffering in yesterday 2:29 behind the field.

Di Luca, who owned the spring classics season in 2005, set his sights on the Giro d'Italia this year. After a disappointing showing there, he had targeted the Tour to redeem his season.

The infection and withdrawal may make him focus on the fall classics and the world championship, races that seem to suit his style better.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 3, 2006 in Danilo Di Luca, Top Stories, Tour de France 2006, Tour news | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 02, 2006

Hushovd will continue in race

VeloNews | Hushovd's injury not serious: Tour will ban giant PMU hands near finish

Thor Hushovd suffered an ugly gash on his upper right arm near the finish line of today's stage. He came to a stop just after the finish, and sat down against the barricades, where he proceeded to bleed all over his leg and jersey (and that should bring in some of those American fans!) as an onlooker pressed on his arm to stop the flow of blood.

Apparently, Hushovd was cut by a promotional hand brandished by a spectator as he went full-bore to the line.

After a brief hospital visit, and four stitches, Hushovd is expected back on the start line tomorrow morning.

World champ Tom Boonen said his deceleration late in the sprint wasn't because he was beaten, but because he was hit by a fan's camera, as he followed Hushovd's lead, sprinting a hair's-breadth off the right-hand barricades.

Tour organizers will prohibit PMU, sponsors of the green jersey contest, from distributing the hands in the last 2 kilometers of sprint stages, which is pretty much their only point.


Velogal's Cycling Race Blog

Sammarye shares her opinion on “those damn hands.”

Posted by Frank Steele on July 2, 2006 in Thor Hushovd, Tom Boonen, Top Stories, Tour de France 2006, Tour news | Permalink | Comments (15) | TrackBack

June 26, 2006

Thomas Dekker out of Tour

cyclingpost.com | Thomas Dekker not going to "le Tour"

Rising Dutch star Thomas Dekker will once again be held out of the Tour de France. Rabobank veteran Bram de Groot, a 5-time Tour rider, will take the place of the 21-year-old Dekker.

Posted by Frank Steele on June 26, 2006 in Thomas Dekker, Top Stories, Tour de France 2006, Tour news | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

June 22, 2006

Astaná-Würth cleared for Tour start

Eurosport | Vino team cleared for Tour

Alexandre Vinokourov's Astaná-Würth team was officially cleared by the UCI to participate in the 2006 Tour de France, starting a week from Saturday in Strasbourg. The team is partially owned by Manolo Saiz, who was arrested for being a possible customer of a doping ring under investigation in Spain. Saiz turned over day-to-day management of the squad to 3 men (Neil Stephens, Marino Lejarreta, Herminio Diaz Zabala). The Tour organization has expressed some displeasure about the team's involvement, but can't exclude them because they're riding based on their ProTour license. The Tour would have to break its agreement with the ProTour, or the UCI would have to break its agreement with the team, to keep it from starting. Alexandre Vinokourov, who has played the crazy Kazakh in the last few Tours for T-Mobile, finally will get a chance to see what he can do riding for himself.

    Astaná-Würth 2006 Tour de France roster:

  • Alexandre Vinokourov
  • Andrey Kashechkin
  • Luis Sanchez
  • Jorg Jaksche
  • Joseba Beloki
  • Allan Davis
  • Alberto Contador
  • Assan Bazayev
  • Isidro Nozal


  • Aitor Osa
  • Carlos Barredo
  • Dariusz Baranowski

Posted by Frank Steele on June 22, 2006 in Alberto Contador, Alexandre Vinokourov, Andrey Kashechkin, Jorg Jaksche, Joseba Beloki, Luis Sanchez, Tour de France 2006, Tour news | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 21, 2006

LeTour Goatse?

LeTour Goatse?
LeTour Goatse?,
originally uploaded by Frank Steele.
If you visit the Tour de France webpage, you're taken to a landing page where you can choose your language.

This year's edition bears more than a passing resemblance to one of the most famous Internet gross-out images of all time, Goatse.cx (Wikipedia link).

Posted by Frank Steele on June 21, 2006 in About the Tour, Links, Top Stories, Tour news, Tour Tech | Permalink | Comments (1)

June 19, 2006

Full provisional rider list posted

letour.fr | Tour de France 2006 Provisional Riders' list

Tour organizers have posted the provisional start list for all teams now. The only incomplete squad I see is the CSC squad, released yesterday (the Tour site doesn't note the alternates), and the Française des Jeux squad, which still lists Bradley McGee as riding.

Now we'll wait to see if anyone falls over a TV cable, or launches through the back window of a pacing car, between now and July 1st.

(Via rec.bicycles.racing.)

Posted by Frank Steele on June 19, 2006 in Top Stories, Tour de France 2006, Tour news | Permalink | Comments (1)

June 18, 2006

Phonak names final Tour squad

Phonak Cycling Team | Phonak presents the Tour de France team

Phonak finalized its Tour squad Sunday, making good on the team's promise to exclude Santiago Botero and Juan Enrique Gutierrez until the Operación Puerto investigation shakes out.

Without Botero and Gutierrez, two riders who have gone Top 5 in a grand tour, Phonak has riders from 9 different countries focused on placing Floyd Landis of the United States as high as he can climb.

South Africa's Robbie Hunter is already back from a shoulder and hand injury suffered a month ago at the Volta a Catalunya, and reports that he's free of pain. Axel Merckx of Belgium is riding his 7th Tour in what may be his final season, and Nicolas Jalabert of France starts his 8th Tour.

    Phonak 2006 Tour de France squad:
  • Floyd Landis
  • Axel Merckx
  • Nicolas Jalabert
  • Robert Hunter
  • Miguel Angel Perdiguero (Spain)
  • Bert Grabsch (Germany)
  • Koos Moerenhout (Netherlands)
  • Alexandre Moos (Switzerland)
  • Victor Hugo Peña (Colombia)


Eurosport | Phonak: Floyd not sitting pretty

Posted by Frank Steele on June 18, 2006 in Floyd Landis, Jose Enrique Gutierrez, Santiago Botero, Tour de France 2006, Tour news | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 14, 2006

McGee doubtful for Tour

BBC SPORT | Injury-hit McGee a doubt for Tour

Française des Jeux's Bradley McGee is doubtful for this year's Tour after withdrawing from the Tour of Switzerland. McGee, who won a stage at last years Tour de Suisse, had to drop out of the 2004 Tour with pain in his back and legs.

Looks like it's an inflamed sciatic nerve this time, but again BBC Sport says the causes are somewhat unclear.

Posted by Frank Steele on June 14, 2006 in Bradley McGee, Top Stories, Tour news | Permalink | Comments (0)

June 13, 2006

Comunidad Valenciana excluded from '06 Tour

Eurosport | No Tour for Comunidad Valenciana

No great surprise, but the other shoe fell today. Comunidad Valenciana, a Spanish team whose assistant director is one of the key people allegedly under investigation in Operación Puerto, was kicked off the 2006 Tour de France by organizers.

As a wildcard invitation, CV's participation was solely at the discretion of the Amaury Sport Organisation, the Tour's parent company, and ASO wants nothing to do with a team under investigation. José Ignacio Labarta's resignation June 1 didn't appease race organizers.

The harder case is Astaná-Würth, where the team is riding in the Tour by virtue of its ProTour license, and so can only be kicked out by the UCI. The team's former director and co-owner, Manolo Saiz, resigned June 9th. He is reportedly not an organizer of the doping ring under investigation, but is suspected of being a customer of the ring.

Of Saiz, the organizers say:

Concerning his team and because of this year’s system, except for invitations, the participation is decided by the UCI (Union Cycliste Internationale) through the attribution of licences by a special commission. Therefore the Tour de France awaits an upcoming decision of this commission concerning the presence in its event of a team in which one of the main shareholders is blamed in a doping issue.

Finally if riders or members of the team staff are accused by the Spanish justice before the start or during the event, the ethics code decided by the sporting groups envisaging the withdrawal or retiry of people concerned, will be strongly applied.

Procycling reports the UCI decision on Astaná is expected tomorrow.

There are going to be a lot of riders having trouble sleeping for the next two weeks.


ASO's press release: English version (PDF) | en Française (PDF)

Posted by Frank Steele on June 13, 2006 in Doping, Manolo Saiz, Top Stories, Tour de France 2006, Tour news | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 11, 2006

OLN Tour broadcast schedule released

Pedal | OLN Announces Broadcast Schedule for the 2006 Tour de France

Canada's Pedal magazine has an OLN press release that's not even on the OLN Press Center page yet.

We're all concerned about how the Only Lance Network is going to fill time without a certain Texan, but fear not. On the eve of the Tour, Friday June 30th, OLN will offer a one-hour special “In Lance's Words.” “Narrated by Lance Armstrong, the winner of the 2005 Tour de France, this special chronicles last year's event - and Armstrong's record breaking victory.” That's at 8 p.m. Eastern, 5 p.m. Pacific.

That special will follow “Road to the Tour,” looking at the season so far, and laying out the contenders for yellow.

It also looks like OLN finally has the pull to get live coverage every single day, including Sundays, which used to be delayed to let CBS have first dibs.


OLNTV.com | Tour Schedule (PDF file)

Posted by Frank Steele on June 11, 2006 in Television, Tour de France 2006, Tour news | Permalink | Comments (4)

June 01, 2006

Labarta resigns: Will it save CV's Tour spot?

Eurosport | Labarta resigns over investigation

José Ignacio Labarta, the assistant director of Comunidad Valenciana, resigned today “so that the shadow of suspicion does not fall on [the CV squad] and their staff.”

Labarta is reportedly one of the figures involved in a blood doping operation headquartered in Madrid that is currently under investigation.

VeloNews quotes team manager Vicente Belda:

"If we are not in the Tour it will be the biggest injustice that can be committed in the world of cycling," Belda told reporters at the Euskal Bizikleta bike race. "We have a clear conscience. We hope the bad news stops right there. We´ve been doing things the past few years as they should be done. We have nothing to hide and have nothing that can make us guilty."

Eurosport also cites claims in the Spanish magazine Interviu that investigators taped clinic visits by Phonak's José Enrique Gutierrez and Santiago Botero, T-Mobile's Oscar Sevilla, and Liberty Seguros' Angel Vicioso, all of whom raced for Kelme when Eufemiano Fuentes was the team doctor.

Sevilla's T-Mobile team manager, Olaf Ludwig, is quoted on the team website that Sevilla “confirmed to me by phone that he hasn't had any contact with Fuentes.” As for the taped visits to the clinic? “The doctor he worked with had a clinic in the same building as Fuentes,” says Ludwig.

Posted by Frank Steele on June 1, 2006 in Doping, Jose Enrique Gutierrez, Santiago Botero, Top Stories, Tour news | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 31, 2006

Comunidad Valenciana likely to lose Tour spot

procycling.com | Comunidad Valenciana for Tour chop

Procycling quotes this article at AS which suggests Tour organizers will kick 2006 Tour wildcard Comunidad Valenciana out of the race by Friday. Their director, Ignacio Laberta, is reportedly implicated in the ongoing investigation of blood doping in Spain.

ASO, which runs the Tour, has the authority to remove CV because they're a wildcard, but would need cooperation from the UCI to remove the Würth (formerly Liberty Seguros-Würth) squad, because they're entered under the auspices of the Pro Tour.

Posted by Frank Steele on May 31, 2006 in Alexandre Vinokourov, Doping, Top Stories, Tour de France 2006, Tour news | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 20, 2005

Klöden abandons

BBC Sport | Injured Kloden pulls out of Tour

Andreas Klöden, who finished 2nd in last year's Tour and had pledged his support to get Jan Ullrich back on the podium this year, withdrew from the Tour at the 18-kilometer mark of today's stage.

Klöden broke his wrist in a crash early yestereday, and couldn't continue. Teammate Matthias Kessler, who reportedly suffered a concussion in another early crash yesterday, is still in the race.

Klöden's withdrawal leaves 155 riders in the race, and only three teams with all 9 riders: Bouyges Telecom, Cofidis, and Gerolsteiner.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 20, 2005 in Andreas Klöden, Top Stories, Tour news | Permalink | Comments (0)

July 18, 2005

Ullrich: "Won't be easy overtaking Rasmussen"

Yahoo! Sport | Ullrich admits it's all over

Jan Ullrich says he's through chasing a win in this year's Tour de France, and that he'll instead focus on Michael Rasmussen, the Danish Rabobank rider currently holding 3rd place in the overall classification, 3:09 behind Lance Armstrong, and 2:49 ahead of Ullrich.

"There are six stages left in the race and I'll be watching out for any opportunities where I can steal a few seconds here and there," Ullrich said here Monday on the race's second rest day.

"My aim now has to be the podium. I can't expect to do any better, but even then it won't be easy overtaking Michael Rasmussen. He's been the revelation of the Tour so far."

Ullrich's sense of humor was also on display:

"I've had enough crashes to make a Hollywood movie," he quipped.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 18, 2005 in Jan Ullrich, Michael Rasmussen, Tour news | Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack

July 15, 2005

Valverde abandons at Stage 13 feed zone

From the official Tour website:

15:11 - Valverde Has Been Sick...
Valverde has been at the back of the peloton for most of the stage. The leader of the Best Young Rider classification is about to abandon his first Tour de France.

15:13 - Valverde Calls It Quits

The winner of the stage to Courchevel has just abandoned the Tour de France. He has been ill for the past couple of days. He stepped into the Illes Balears team car in the feedzone.


CNN.com | Valverde's Tour wrecked by injury

"I'm in good condition, but it's impossible with my knee," he said. "I guess it's better to stop now. It's already a great achievement to win a stage like Courchevel," he told journalists before the stage start.

Valverde said he might take part in the Spanish Vuelta if his knee condition permitted.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 15, 2005 in Alejandro Valverde, Top Stories, Tour news | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

July 14, 2005

Rumor: Valverde to abandon?

ElPais.com | Alejandro Valverde abandonará mañana el Tour de Francia | (rough Google translation) Spanish media are reporting that white jersey Alejandro Valverde, sitting 5th overall in the Tour, will withdraw tomorrow, the result of a knee problem apparently dating back to the Stage 4 Team Time Trial. Valverde is 3:16 off Lance Armstrong's lead and 3:09 up on Yaroslav Popovych in the young rider's competition. If he does drop out, Popovych would take over the white jersey, where he leads Andrey Kashechkin (bless you) of Cofidis by 7 seconds.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 14, 2005 in Alejandro Valverde, Andrey Kashechkin, Tour news, Yaroslav Popovych | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

French officials raid Tour vehicles

procycling.com | Customs raid team vehicles

Procycling magazine happened upon a doping check being performed on 2 team vehicles today near Gap.

Phonak's camper and a Liberty Seguros van were checked. Apparently, vehicles from AG2R, Bouyges Telecom and Davitamon-Lotto also had vehicles searched, but "no seizures were made."

Procycling could be retitled "prodoping" this week, as they also have a story on the release of Dario Frigo and his wife from police custody, with this choice quote:

Fassa Bortolo’s general manager, Giancarlo Ferretti was enraged by his rider’s downfall. “Two years ago, I took him back to give him a second chance. I thought he had made a mistake and that he had acknowledged it. I was wrong. Frigo is a halfwit, he’s not devious. He’s a delinquent who should be placed with other delinquents. He has nothing to offer cycling and those at the roadside, and I really hope that his career is over and that no other teams take him on.”

Finally, to complete the theme, a doping expert explaining how riders could use “microdoses” of EPO to keep hematocrit high and avoid detection. His solution: Urine test before, rather than after, stages.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 14, 2005 in Doping, Tour news | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Beltran drops out after crash

Beltran's bell rung
Beltran's bell rung
Discovery Channel's Manuel Beltran has abandoned the Tour on the road during Stage 13. He injured his knee in a crash suffered on the day's first climb. Update: Over at ThePaceline.com (free reg. req.), they say Beltran actually blacked out after falling on his head. Also, ESPN has a shot (at right) of Beltran getting checked out. As always, click through to the full-size image, in this case at ESPN's awesome cycling photo wire.

He's the first Discovery Channel/US Postal rider to drop out of the race since 2001! That's a pretty remarkable string.

Update: In this rec.bicycles.racing thread , someone says it was Oscar Sevilla of Phonak who overlapped wheels with Beltran.

Also dropping out on the road this morning have been Nicolas Fritsch of Saunier Duval-Prodir, Robbie Hunter of Phonak, and Angelo Furlan of Domina Vacanze.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 14, 2005 in Top Stories, Tour news | Permalink | Comments (7) | TrackBack

Boonen withdraws from Tour

Affari Italiani | Tour: Tom Boonen abbandona

Green jersey Tom Boonen is pulling out of the Tour, suffering from a back that was already hurting and a knee injured in a last-straw fall early on Stage 11 Wednesday.

Boonen looked well-placed to take the green jersey all the way to Paris. His withdrawal puts Thor Hushovd in the lead in the Tour's points competition, 19 points ahead of Stuart O'Grady.


BBC Sport | Injured Boonen pulls out of Tour

"I tried to go on the rollers on Thursday morning but it was too much I couldn't even walk," he said...

Boonen, who claimed the Paris-Roubaix and Tour of Flanders earlier this year, burst a blood vessel under his kneecap in Wednesday's crash and had 80 centiltres of blood drawn from his knee on Thursday morning.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 14, 2005 in Tom Boonen, Top Stories, Tour news | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 13, 2005

Saddest headline of the day

From the official Tour website:

18:10 - Voigt Eliminated From Le Tour 2005

The overall leader after nine stages finished the 11th stage in 168th position. Jens Voigt was the second-last rider in the stage to Briancon. Although he fought hard to stay within the time limit which is calculated on a percentage on the winning time, he has been eliminated from the Tour.

Also eliminated was Quick Step's Kevin Hulsmans.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 13, 2005 in Tour news | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Dario Frigo arrested after EPO found in wife's car

BBC SPORT | Frigo arrested after drugs find

Frigo clims to Courchevel
Frigo faces stormy times
from cyclingnews.com

Fassa Bortolo's Dario Frigo won't be starting Stage 11, after police found erythropoietin (EPO) in his wife's car.

Frigo was arrested and is being questioned about the 10 doses of EPO.

He was also booted from the 2001 Giro d'Italia when Italian authorities found doping products in his hotel room.

Raimondas Rumsas of Lithuania faces a trial in November for a similar case arising from the last day of the 2002 Tour, when his wife's car was searched and stuffed with a variety of doping products.

At right, Frigo climbs to Courchevel during Tuesday's Stage 10.

Erythropoietin boosts red blood cell production, increasing hematocrit levels. There is a test for EPO, but its effects linger after the drug itself is no longer detectable, so racing authorities also set a maximum allowable hematocrit for any rider of 50.

Lampre's Evgeni Petrov ran afoul of this limit on Tuesday, and was not allowed to continue in the race.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 13, 2005 in Doping, Top Stories, Tour news | Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack

July 12, 2005

Petrov fails blood test, out of Tour

BBC SPORT | Petrov axed from Tour de France

Lampre's Evgeni Petrov failed his blood test, showing a red blood cell count higher than the allowed limit. This isn't a positive dope test: it's considered evidence that he might have doped, but he'll just be barred from competitive cycling for 2 weeks, and not allowed to start until his hematocrit is below 50.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 12, 2005 in Doping, Top Stories, Tour news | Permalink | Comments (7)

July 11, 2005

Ullrich X-rays negative

TheState.com | Ullrich to stay in Tour after X-rays show no broken bones

Doctors had feared a broken rib after Ullrich's fall during Stage 9, but X-rays today were clear.

Despite the fall, Ullrich finished right next to Armstrong yesterday. Like most riders, he went for a training ride today in advance of tomorrow's epic stage to Courcheval.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 11, 2005 in Jan Ullrich, Top Stories, Tour news | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

July 10, 2005

Ullrich may be hurting from Stage 9 crash

cyclingpost.com | Crash Jan Ullrich more serious than expected

Jan Ullrich's crash during today's stage may have been more serious than his injuries showed. It looked like he had scrapes on one leg, but cyclingpost.com reports that he hurt "his head, his left shoulder, and his back," and broke his helmet.

He'll try to recover on Monday's rest day before the tough stage Tuesday, with two 1st Category climbs, including the finishing climb to Courcheval.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 10, 2005 in Jan Ullrich, Tour news | Permalink | Comments (0)

Zabriskie abandons

Dave Zabriskie of CSC, who stormed the first stage time trial and wore the yellow jersey until crashing during the team time trial, abandoned this morning about 10 kilometers into the Tour de France's 9th stage.

Zabriskie had been suffering on the bike since his fall, finishing more than 51 minutes back on Stage 8.

Also abandoning today was Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano of Liberty Seguros, who was involved in a crash at the 3-kilometer mark today that also included Bernhard Eisel and Alberto Contador.

Combined with yesterday's withdrawals of Leon Van Bon, Isaac Galvez, Sylvain Calzati, Serhiy Honchar, and Christophe Mengin, the race continues with 178 riders.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 10, 2005 in Alberto Contador, Dave Zabriskie, Sergei Honchar, Top Stories, Tour news | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

July 09, 2005

Mengin drops out of Tour

cyclingpost.com | Christophe Mengin abandons Tour de France

Christophe Mengin, who was the first man down in the big pileup in the last kilometer of Stage 6, will not take the start of the Tour's 8th stage later today. Mengin suffered a black eye and scrapes in the fall, and came in 1:45 behind the main field today.

He had completed 8 of his 9 previous Tours, and, at 36, may not be back for another.

With Phonak's Steve Zampieri and Lampre's Alessandro Spezialetti dropping out during Friday's stage, the Tour will continue with 184 riders.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 9, 2005 in Tour news | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

July 07, 2005

"Like shaving in the dark"

procycling.com | Self-inflicted loss for Saunier Duval

ProCycling provides some detail on the Tour's first abandon this year, Constantino Zaballa.

Zaballa hurt his knee when he rode into the barriers on the TTT, and the team says teammate Nicolas Fritsch was at least partially to blame when he misjudged a corner.

A report in El Diario Vasco says riding behind Fritsch is "like shaving in the dark."

Posted by Frank Steele on July 7, 2005 in Tour news | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 04, 2005

One way to get some attention

Samuel Dumoulin of AG2R got called out yesterday by Lance Armstrong in the post-race OLN coverage for his involvement in a late-stage crash. Armstrong said something like "Seems like it's always Dumoulin" in the wrecks.

I felt pretty sorry for Dumoulin, but it turns out, he actually got into two different crashes yesterday.

"I'm hurting all over," he told L'Equipe. "Both elbows are injured. I'm bruised everywhere. I touched a wheel while leading Jean-Patrick Nazon in the sprint. I'm scared."

Dumoulin, who won Stage 2 and wore the leader's jersey at the Dauphiné Libére in June, crashed out of last year's Tour when he hit a dog.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 4, 2005 in Tour news | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 03, 2005

Silver Train to roll no more?

procyling.com | Fassa team facing end of the line?

ProCycling.com quotes L'Equipe (I can't find the original story online) that Fassa Bortolo is in danger of financial collapse.

Team manager Giancarlo Ferretti is seeking a new sponsor to take over for the team's title sponsor, an Italian concrete company. He thought he had a deal lined up in the offseason with French bank Caisse d'Espargne, but they became secondary sponsors for Illes Balears a few weeks later. Panasonic, Philips, and Orange have all reportedly refused to step into the breach.

“We have given ourselves one more week before we make a decision. After that, the riders are free to go where they want,” Ferretti said yesterday.

Some rumors about who may go where: Juan Antonio Flecha to Rabobank and Kim Kirchen to Liquigas. The big prize, of course, would be Alessandro Petacchi, who is rumored to have had discussions with Discovery, T-Mobile, Phonak, and Domina Vacanze.

Update: Eurosport reports that Discovery may also be after Fabian Cancellara.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 3, 2005 in Alessandro Petacchi, Tour news | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 01, 2005

Bertogliati replacing Cuesta

L'EQUIPE.FR | Bertogliati remplace Cuesta (in French) | Weak Google translation

L'Equipe reports that Saunier Duval-Prodir will be replacing Spain's Inigo Cuesta with Switzerland's Rubens Bertogliati on their Tour de France squad. Bertogliati won the Tour prologue in 2002, which put him in the maillot jaune for two days.

I haven't seen any specifics on Cuesta's malady; I'll keep looking.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 1, 2005 in Tour news | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Bike race or demo derby? Ullrich suffers minor pre-Tour crash

Yahoo! Sports | Ullrich in car crash, not seriously injured

Ullrich with bandage on neck
Reuters reports that Jan Ullrich suffered "cuts and bruises" Friday when he crashed into the back of his directeur sportif's car.

Ullrich was following Mario Kummmer when Kummer had to hit the brakes. Ullrich went into the back window of the car, smashing it and cutting Ullrich "near the throat."

Update: VeloNews has posted a photo gallery by Casey Gibson, featuring the photo at right of Ullrich with bandage. As always, you can click through the photos here to be taken to their original source.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 1, 2005 in Jan Ullrich, Top Stories, Tour news | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

T-Mobile signs Patrik Sinkewitz

Eurosport | Sinkewitz makes T-Mobile switch

Quick Step's Patrik Sinkewitz, winner of the 2004 Tour of Germany, has signed with T-Mobile for 2006, joining Australia's Michael Rogers, also currently with Quick Step, on the German team.

Sinkewitz is a rider to watch in the young rider's white jersey competition this year.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 1, 2005 in Patrik Sinkewitz, Top Stories, Tour news | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 30, 2005

All clear: no riders fail medical or doping tests

BBC SPORT | Tour riders are cleared to race

With less than 48 hours until racing begins, Tour de France organizers announced that all 189 riders from all 21 teams in this year's Tour were green-lighted after 2-hour medical and doping tests.

Last year, one rider, Euskaltel-Euskadi's Gorka Gonzalez, had a hematocrit over 50 and was not allowed to start.

Posted by Frank Steele on June 30, 2005 in Doping, Top Stories, Tour news | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Facci batting for Bossoni in the 8 spot

cyclingpost.com | Facci to replace Bossoni for Tour de France

Fassa Bortolo rider Paolo Bossoni is pulling out of the Tour with gastroenteritis.

In his place, the team will send Mauro Facci.

If you had Bossoni on your fantasy team, it's all over.

Posted by Frank Steele on June 30, 2005 in Tour news | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 28, 2005

Provisional start list complete

procycling | Tour start list just about set

We're good to go with 189 riders this year -- procycling offers a text listing of all 21 provisional start lists, so barring accidents or doping suspensions, that's who will take the start on Saturday.

Cycling4All has the same information in table form.

Posted by Frank Steele on June 28, 2005 in Tour 2005 previews, Tour news | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 27, 2005

Piil out, Roberts in on CSC Tour squad

procycling | Piil dropped from CSC team

Jakob Piil at Brasstown Bald, 2004
Dane out of water:
Piil @ Brasstown Bald, 2004
Photo by Frank Steele.
CSC has made its final Tour selection. Their last decision was whether to bring 2003 Stage 10 winner Jakob Piil of Denmark, or Australia's Luke Roberts. They're going with 28-year-old former trackie Roberts (a gold medalist in team pursuit at the Athens Olympics), who heard the news last night.

Piil has had a rough year, but thought he might convince Riis with a good placing in the Danish national championships yesterday. Unfortunately, Piil crashed out of yesterday's race, as well. CSC still took the top 3 placings, with Lars Bak 1st, Lars Michaelsen 2nd, and Matti Breschel 3rd.

Roberts took 4th in the 1st stage of the Dauphiné Libéré, his best placing for the season.


Team CSC | Luke Roberts Selected For the Tour | Roberts profile

cyclingnews.com | All dreams come true for Roberts

CyclingNews offers a full roundup of Australian participants in this year's Tour (barring a Matthew White-style mishap):

Ag2r: Simon Gerrans (VIC)

Quick Step:
Michael Rogers, 25 (ACT)

Cadel Evans, 28, (VIC)
Robbie McEwen, 33, (QLD)

Francaise des Jeux:
Brad McGee, 29, (NSW)
Baden Cooke, 26, (VIC)

Luke Roberts, 28, (SA)

Stuart O'Grady, 31, (SA)
Matt White, 31, (NSW)

Liberty Seguros:
Allan Davis, 24, (QLD)

Posted by Frank Steele on June 27, 2005 in Baden Cooke, Cadel Evans, Michael Rogers, Robbie McEwen, Stuart O'Grady, Top Stories, Tour news | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 15, 2005

Freire to miss Tour de France

Yahoo! Sport | World champion Freire out of Tour de France

Reigning world champ Oscar Freire of Rabobank will miss the 2005 Tour de France -- and for the same reason he missed last year's race. Cyclingnews.com might describe it best: “a chronic infection in the saddle area.”

Freire, who had a terrific spring campaign, will also pull out of the Tour of Switzerland before tomorrow's stage start.

Posted by Frank Steele on June 15, 2005 in Oscar Freire, Top Stories, Tour de Suisse, Tour news | Permalink | Comments (1)

Davitamon-Lotto: We'll support Evans for GC, McEwen for green at Tour

www.cyclingnews.com | A two-pronged Tour strategy for Davitamon-Lotto

CyclingNews.com talks to Hendrik Redant, manager of Davitamon-Lotto, about their Tour de France plans. Davitamon-Lotto has developed some new facets, and are going in to the Tour with a breakout Belgian climber, Wim Van Huffel; one of the 2-3 top sprinters in the race, Robbie McEwen; and potential GC top 10 Cadel Evans.

Evans, a former mountain bike world champion, was rescued from T-Mobile, and is one of those names to watch once Armstrong retires. He broke his collarbone a month ago, and is working through the recovery process.

"I'm feeling really confident; we still have to confirm a few riders - we have about six at the moment, you know the names, you've been reading them... " said Redant to Cyclingnews with a wry smile. "Obviously, there's going to be some adjustments after this Tour of Switzerland, the [recent] Dauphiné Libéré and also the Ster Elektrotoer, which is on at the moment.

"But I think we have quite a good balance. We have a team set up around Cadel [Evans]; for sure, he's going to be our leading man for the [overall] classification, but also for Robbie, we're going to go for at least a few stage wins and also again for green. So I think the balance is quite good; we're going to do it again like we did in the Tour of Italy, and I hope we are as successful as we were there."

Posted by Frank Steele on June 15, 2005 in Cadel Evans, Robbie McEwen, Tour news | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 14, 2005

ASO confirms Tour will see Germany in 2006

procycling | 2006 Tour set for Germany

The Tour's organizers had previously announced that Strasbourg, near the French-German border, would be the host of the 2006 prologue and the start of Stage 1. But that's not all:

Tour race director-in-waiting Christian Prudhomme has confirmed that next year’s race will head into Germany after its opening days in Alsace.

Speaking during a visit to Austria, Prudhomme confirmed that the “2006 Tour will start in Strasbourg and some adventures in Germany are also expected.”

Posted by Frank Steele on June 14, 2005 in Top Stories, Tour news | Permalink | Comments (1)

June 10, 2005

Phonak announces Tour squad

Phonak Cycling Team | Phonak Hearing Systems team nominates its Tour de France line-up

I think this makes the Swiss team, likely to be led by American Floyd Landis, the first team to announce a final lineup of nine riders. Many of the other included teams have narrowed the field to a "pre-selection."

The Phonak Tour squad:

Santiago Botero (Colombia)
Bert Grabsch (Germany)
Jose Enrique Gutierrez (Spain)
Robert Hunter (South Africa)
Nicolas Jalabert (France)
Floyd Landis (USA)
Alexandre Moos (Switzerland)
Oscar Pereiro (Spain)
Steve Zampieri (Switzerland)

Update (6/12): Going by Botero's performance at the Dauphiné, he might be the more likely team leader. Landis has said in the past he wasn't sure he was ready to lead a Tour team this year.

Cycling4all.com has a running tally of likely Tour starters.

Posted by Frank Steele on June 10, 2005 in Floyd Landis, Jose Enrique Gutierrez, Oscar Pereiro, Santiago Botero, Tour news | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 30, 2005

Armstrong picks Ullrich as Tour "big threat"

BBC SPORT | Armstrong hails Savoldelli form

In an audio interview with Eurosport, Lance Armstrong said he's facing an "especially strong" field in the 2005 Tour de France.

Apparently, Discovery Channel has 7 members of its Tour squad nailed down: Armstrong, Azevedo, Beltran, Hincapie, Popovych, Rubiera, and Savoldelli, with 2 spots still to be determined.

Next up is the Dauphiné Libéré, starting Saturday, expected to be Armstrong's final tune-up for the Tour in July.

"Jan is the big threat," Armstrong told Eurosport. "He's the one who wakes me up early every morning. He says he wants to beat me in the Tour de France.

"Well, this is his last chance."

Posted by Frank Steele on May 30, 2005 in George Hincapie, Jan Ullrich, Lance Armstrong 2004, Paolo Savoldelli, Tour news | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Petacchi confirms he won't start Tour

Eurosport | Sapped Petacchi forfeit for Tour

Alessandro Petacchi confirmed on Sunday that he's skipping this year's Tour de France to focus on the World Championships in Madrid, on a flat, fast course that looks well-suited to Petacchi's legs. His statement confirms his season plans as originally laid out in January.

Petacchi's worlds teammate Paolo Bettini, who took the gold medal in Athens, may have something to say about that, as will Belgium's Tom Boonen (both of whom are expected to race the Tour, as well).

Petacchi has won multiple stages at the last few Tours de France, and won four stages at this year's Giro d'Italia, including yesterday's final stage into Milan.

Posted by Frank Steele on May 30, 2005 in Alessandro Petacchi, Tour news | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 01, 2005

Ekimov crash ends '05 Tour hopes, threatens career

Eki, Stage 6, 2005 TdG
Ekimov's last stage? Eki @ TdG, Stage 6, 2005
Photo by Christy Steele - more TdFblog photos.

Eurosport.com | Ekimov out of Tour de France after crash

Discovery Channel's ageless wonder Viatcheslav Ekimov crashed while training with Lance Armstrong near Austin on Thursday. Ekimov suffered "several fractures in his chest and a broken vertebra" (Eurosport says 'a broken vertebrae', but 'vertebrae' is plural).

He remains in the hospital in Austin, but is expected to be flown to St. Petersburg, Russia, as soon as tomorrow for further treatment.

Eurosport quotes Discovery's Dirk Demol:

"In the best case scenario, he'd be back in August or September, but he won't ride the Tour, that's for certain."

Ekimov was expected to ride his 15th Tour de France in July, closing in on all-time leader Joop Zoetemelk, who won the Tour in 1980 at 33, and raced 16 Tours without ever abandoning. At 39, Ekimov has three career Tour stage wins, and took silver at last year's Athens Olympics in the time trial.

Ekimov and Hincapie are Discovery's all-round strongmen. With Eki out, Discovery will have to at least consider bringing Tom Danielson to the Tour. Post your Disco Tour lineup ... I'm thinking:


Seven returnees, minus Landis and now Ekimov, so at least 2 spots to fill from {Danielson/Joachim/Popovych/Savoldelli}. Longshots: Barry or Hammond. Joachim hasn't made the Tour squad since 2002, but he's a similar rider to Ekimov. It feels like Savoldelli is 100 percent focused on the Giro, but he might be able to contribute in July. If they're worried about Danielson being too young for the Tour, then what about Popovych, who's only 25?


ThePaceline.com (free reg. req.) | Eki Hurt in Training Crash (older info than Eurosport, details crash)

Posted by Frank Steele on May 1, 2005 in 2004 Olympics, Tour news, Viatcheslav Ekimov | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

April 22, 2005

Ag2R only wild card for 2005 Tour de France

CyclingPost | Ag2R get wild card for Tour de France

France's AG2R squad will join the 20 ProTour squads in this year's Tour de France. The announcement leaves Agritubel and a few other hopefuls on the sidelines for this year's Tour.

It also leaves the Tour 9 riders shorter than in many recent years, when ASO has invited 22 squads.

Next month's Giro d'Italia will be a more democratic affair, with 24 squads competing, better representing Italian cycling.

Posted by Frank Steele on April 22, 2005 in Giro d’Italia, Top Stories, Tour news | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 18, 2005

Open thread: Armstrong press conference

So the latest speculation at Eurosport and the BBC is that Lance Armstrong will retire from the sport after this year's Tour. No US farewell tour, no Giro d'Italia, no hour record.

Of course, until 2:30 this afternoon, there's no reason to think their speculation is any better than yours, so use the comments link to go on the record with what you think Armstrong will announce.

Posted by Frank Steele on April 18, 2005 in Lance Armstrong, Tour de Georgia, Tour news | Permalink | Comments (0)