FLEEMAN IN YELLOW IN THE PYRENEES
Two days into the four-day Tour des Pyrenees, Daniel Fleeman is comfortably in the yellow jersey, with a lead of 1-34 over Norway?s Stian Remme.
The 25-year-old An Post-M.Donnelly-Grant Thornton-Sean Kelly team rider was fourth on the opening stage, which went from Tarbes, over the Col d?Aspin, to Loudenvielle. His team-mate Daniel Lloyd was seventh, with another British rider, Andrew Jackson in eighth.
But Fleeman took control on Thursday?s second stage, which went over the Col du Soulor and had a summit finish at Couraduque.
Fleeman was second on the stage behind Remme of the Sparkasse team, which gave him the yellow jersey by a comfortable margin.
The race heads into Spain and finishes on Saturday and if Fleeman can negotiate Friday?s tough stage, which features the Col du Somport, Alto de Aisa, Puerto San Juan de la Pena and Puerto Oroel, he should clinch overall victory.
?I have really come into this race strong,? said Fleeman. ?I targeted yesterday?s stage because of the mountain-top finish. I felt strong on the first stage but I deliberately held back and took fourth out of the group because I didn?t want to take the jersey and show my hand.
?Without being big-headed, I knew I could take the jersey yesterday. We realised that if I was at the front at the bottom of the Soulor I could get the lead, so we really burned the team to keep it more or less together to there.
?There were already quite big time gaps from the first stage so there were only a few guys I needed to watch. I?ve been waiting years for a mountain top finish and I knew I could do well here.
?Dan Lloyd is going really well too. If you look at the results sheets it might not look it because he was a long way down yesterday but he?s using his form to help me. He?s giving me a bit of payback for the work I?ve done this year and I really appreciate it.
?If I am currently the best climber in the race, then he?s the second best. At one stage there was a bit of a gap and he just said to me ?Get on my wheel? and he rode me across in no time. It was like being fired out of a gun.?
Fleeman said he had extra motivation to do well. ?Last week a friend of mine, Gerald, who is a member of the CC Giro club, had a brain seizure and heart attack and was in a coma for five days.
?I have been really worried about him. It sounds really corny but I said to him I wanted to bring back the yellow jersey for him. I?ve known for a while I?ve been capable of this sort of performance but doing it for someone else has given me extra motivation.?
CAVENDISH STILL IN THE FRAME FOR INDIVIDUAL PURSUIT
Mark Cavendish will leave it until he gets to Beijing before deciding whether to take part in the individual pursuit at the Olympic Games.
It is looking less likely that Geraint Thomas, who has turned in some superb individual pursuit times, will take up the second place, choosing instead to focus 100 per cent on helping the team pursuit squad win gold.
Cavendish is still in Manchester training, but will fly to China early next week. His coach Rod Ellingworth said the dilemma is not whether Cavendish can ride a 4,000-metre pursuit, but whether it is a good making a competitive debut in the event in such a high-pressure arena as the Olympic Games qualifying round.
With the eyes of the world?s media on him after four Tour de France stage wins, and with the Madison to come on Tuesday, August 19, does Cavendish need to ride the individual pursuit?
HAYLES AND STANNARD FOR GB TEAM AT TOUR OF BRITAIN
Rob Hayles of Halfords Bikehut and Ian Stannard of Landbouwkrediet are set to ride for the Great Britain team in the Tour of Britain next month.
One other experienced rider is also likely to be selected.
The rest of the team will be made up of riders from the Academy squad, with Ben Swift, Andy Tennant and Jonny McEvoy among those firmly in the frame.
Jonny Bellis will not be one of them as he will be riding the Tour of Britain as a stagiaire for CSC-Saxo Bank.
Peter Kennaugh, another obvious option, will not ride the Tour of Britain, because he wants to win the points race at the European Track Championships at Pruskow in Poland.
Another Academy rider, Alex Dowsett, wants to do well in the under-23 time trial at the World Championships in Varese, Italy.
The Great Britain team for the Tour of Britain will be managed by Max Sciandri, who is also taking charge of the men?s road race team at the Olympics. Academy coach Rod Ellingworth will be with the track squad in Poland.
BELLIS AND SWIFT HAVE THEIR EYES ON THE WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS
Jonny Bellis and Ben Swift will fly back to Italy after the Olympic Games road race.
The two youngsters are part of the four-man Great Britain team but selection for the Olympics is not the culmination of their season.
?Before the selection was made, both Ben and Jonny wrote to Dave Brailsford and Shane Sutton explaining the role they could play in the team,? said Rod Ellingworth.
?If their goal was to finish, I am sure they could get themselves round, even though it?s a long way, but they are in the team to do absolutely everything they can for Roger [Hammond] and Steve [Cummings].
?They will do whatever is asked of them by Max [Sciandri] and they will try to learn as much as they can from the experience, but on Monday it?s back to Italy and back to reality if you like.
?They still have things to do this season. Jonny is riding the final part of the year with CSC and Ben is on the verge of a pro contract.
?There are several options at the moment for Swifty but nothing has been decided yet.
?With the Barloworld situation unclear there are other factors now so there?s still quite a lot to get sorted out.
?For both Jonny and Ben, the next goal is the World Championships. They really want to do well there. As a nation we are in the top ten of the UCI?s under-23 rankings for the first time. I can?t see us slipping down too much between now and next week when the places are allocated, so we should get a full five-man team for the Worlds.?
PLOWMAN CRAVEN SKIP TOUR OF PENDLE
Plowman Craven are not taking part in this weekend?s Premier Calendar race, choosing instead to ride the Python Road Race near Maidenhead, Berkshire, on Sunday.
Team manager Garry Beckett explained: ?It is a blow to miss the Premier but Simon Barnes [the team?s owner] is courting a couple of investors.
?We want to take people to a race and logistically it?s a lot easier for us if it?s down south.
?So we?ll go to the Python this weekend, then start our preparations for the Tour of Britain.?
Beckett added that Plowman Craven had not been given a place in the Tour of Ireland. ?It?s a shame, but these things happen.?
The Plowman Craven team for the Python Road Race is: Tom Barras, Simon Gaywood, Tony Gibb, Alex Higham, James McCallum, James Millard, Evan Oliphant, Mark Perry and Simon Richardson.
FLEEMAN IN YELLOW IN THE PYRENEES