Welcome to the Feed Zone. Grab a musette and sit down for a nourishing snack of Tour de France news, views, gossip and reaction from our team out on the road.
Thierry Henry might have announced his transfer to the New York Red Bulls for the new football season, but it’s the rumours of another French sports star potentially moving to an American team next year that will be of more interest to cycling fans. We hear on the grapevine that last year’s best French finisher at the Tour, Francaise des Jeux’s Christophe Le Mevel, has been talking to Garmin-Transitions about a possible move.
More transfer news: Milram’s Linus Gerdemann could be headed to Frank and Andy Schleck’s new, as yet unnamed, Luxembourg-registered team next season. The former Tour yellow jersey wearer’s career is in serious need of a boost.
Millar battles on
Despite suffering one of his worst days on the bike on Tuesday’s stage over the Col du Madeleine, David Millar remains in the Tour de France. Troubled by complications caused by injuries sustained in a crash on stage two, the Garmin-Transitions rider was dropped in the opening 25km and spent the remainder of the stage alone. At the finish in St Jean de Maurienne, he finished dead last, seven minutes behind the next man.
“It’s day by day, hour by hour,” Millar told Cycling Weekly the next morning in Chambery. “If it gets bad, I have to think further ahead. You have to want to be in the race to stay in the race.”
Millar explained that to get through the stage alone, he had mentally broken it down into bite size chunks.
“You have to keep switching between very short term goals and long terms goals. Yesterday [on Tueday] it turned into 5km goals,” he said. “Then I’d think about the final TT and San Sebastian [Classic] after the Tour.”
On Wednesday’s stage into Gap, Millar finished just behind the second bunch after being tailed off on the run-in. Despite several groups and individuals being blown out the back, on yesterday’s stage into Bourg-Les-Valence, he finished in the front bunch in the same time as winner Mark Cavendish.
There may not have been a French stage winner on Bastille Day, but as well as starting, and finishing, the day with the best-placed French rider overall in Damien Monier in 21st place, Cofidis were able to celebrate their national day with a specially-painted bike from suppliers Look. The French company – best known for having invented the clipless pedal – used their famous ‘Mondrian’ red, blue, yellow and grey colours to decorate a special edition of the new 695 frames. Missed it? Cofidis will ride them one more time on the final stage of the race.
Andy Schleck has also been riding on a different bike than he usually does – and no we don’t mean the yellow one to match his yellow jersey (which looks suspiciously like Fabien Cancellara’s from earlier in this race to us…). Schleck actually rode into the leader’s jersey on Tuesday’s stage to Saint Jean de Maurienne on a Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL3 frame decorated with the names of 250 winners of a Specialized competition.
Out and about in Chambery
Some would argue that he already is one, but future cycling superstar Taylor Phinney – currently with the Trek-Livestrong U23 team – was spotted hanging out in the RadioShack team bus at the start of stage 10 in Chambery. The American – offspring of former pros Davis Phinney and Connie Carpenter – will ride as a stagiare with RadioShack as of August – but was already wearing his team kit when we spotted him!
Beloki’s Crash Remembered
After the tenth stage into Gap, there was a short ceremony on a hillside outside the town to remember the unforgettable incident in 2003 where Joseba Beloki crashed and broke his hip and sent Lance Armstrong cutting a corner across a field. The same descent was used in this Wednesday’s stage but without such drama.
Down and out in the mountains
The three stages through the mountains of the Jura and Alps saw seven riders abandon or eliminated from the Tour.
Most high profile of them was Katusha’s team leader Vladimir Karpets, who failed to start stage nine after the rest day. The Russian had been suffering from a broken hand sustained in a crash during the second stage to Spa. He’ll now return to his home in Pamplona, Spain and focus on the Vuelta.
Sky’s Simon Gerrans also withdrew at this point in the race having been diagnosed with a broken arm.
Other riders to pull out in the mountain stages were Fabio Felline (Footon-Servetto), Markus Eibegger (both Footon-Servetto), Roger Kluge (Team Milram) and Juan Jose Oroz (Euskaltel-Euskadi).
Stijn Vanderbergh (Katusha) meanwhile failed to make the time cut on stage seven.
With Charly Wegelius and Robbie Hunter pulling out of the race yesterday, and Mark Renshaw getting disqualified for head-butting in the sprint finish (subject to appeal), the total number of withdrawals is 20. This leaves 178 of the 198 starters still in it.