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EuroTrash Monday!

Contador proves once again that he’s the best GrandTour rider at the moment, RadioShack takes the team title, Charteau the KOM, Petacchi the green but who won the most aggressive? Who was the most determined? Who’s extended their contract and who’s been racing in just a t-shirt? It’s all here and more in EuroTrash Monday!

Contador Takes His Third
Yesterday Alberto Contador wrapped up his 3rd Tour de France victory with an easy stroll through Paris but the past three weeks have been anything but for the Spaniard. Out of his previous Grand Tour victories this one was achieved with the least amount of panache, no stage wins and if it wasn’t for the infamous attack when Andy had problems with his chain incident it is doubtful that he would have even won. There’s no point Monday morning quarterbacking though as he won after riding an intelligent and consistent race and that has to be admired. Contador himself admitted that he has suffered a lot during the race and especially in the time trial, but the point is he was still able to win. This now brings his total to an impressive 5 Grand Tours in a row that he has won!

In the end Schleck was the only serious rival for Contador as most of the other major contenders crashed or crumbled out of contention and Contador marked his man perfectly to bring home the victory to his Astana team. Schleck rode a good race and looked most at ease in the mountains but unfortunately for the Luxembourgois he was never able to gain enough time there and it was actually on the cobbles at the start of the Tour where he almost won the race!

Denis Menchov is also worthy of a mention here after his fantastic effort to make the podium with a storming final time trial and a strong effort in every mountain stage. This is the first time he has stood on the podium in the Tour de France despite the fact that he did officially finish 3rd in the 2008 Tour. He didn’t stand on the podium that year though as Bernarhd Kohl was standing in his place – just before he was disqualified of course.

Here’s a look at the top 20 on GC after 3 tough weeks of racing:

Final Top 20 on GC:
1. Alberto Contador, Astana, in 91h 58′ 48″
2. Andy Schleck, Team Saxo Bank, at 00:39
3. Denis Menchov, Rabobank, at 02:01
4. Samuel Sanchez, Euskaltel – Euskadi, at 03:40
5. Broeck Jurgen Van Den, Omega Pharma – Lotto, at 06:54
6. Robert Gesink, Rabobank, at 09:31
7. Ryder Hesjedal, Garmin – Transitions, at 10:15
8. Joaquin Rodriguez Oliver, Katusha Team, at 11:37
9. Roman Kreuziger, Liquigas-Doimo, at 11:54
10. Christopher Horner, Team RadioShack, at 12:02
11. Luis-leon Sanchez, Caisse D’Epargne, at 14:21
12. Ruben Plaza Molina, Caisse D’Epargne, at 14:29
13. Levi Leipheimer, Team RadioShack, at 14:40
14. Andrйas KlЦden, Team RadioShack, at 16:36
15. Nicolas Roche, Ag2r La Mondiale, at 16:59
16. Alexandre Vinokourov, Astana, at 17:46
17. Thomas LЦvkvist, Sky Pro Cycling, at 20:46
18. Kevin De Weert, Quick Step, at 21:54
19. John Gadret, Ag2r La Mondiale, at 24:04
20. Carlos Sastre, Cйrvelo Test Team, at 26:37

Two North Americans In Top 10
Ryder Hesejdal and Chris Horner are not the names that most people picked as the the two top North Americans for the Tour but in the end it was these two that stepped up to the plate after their respective leaders bowed out of the running.

Ryder has relished his new found leader’s role whilst Horner instead has just continued about his business as per usual as one of the best domestiques in the world, downplaying his top 10 finish. He could be a leader in any other team I think but instead he dutifully does his domestique work for his leaders and in doing so put himself in the top 10 – a great effort.

It’s mostly thanks to Horner and Leipheimer that RadioShack were able to send Lance out on a high point from the Tour de France as Radioshack managed to win the team’s classification finishing 9m15s ahead of Caisse d’Epargne.

Here’s a rundown of how the top GC native English speaking riders finished:

7) Ryder Hesjedal @ 10m15s
10) Chris Horner @ 12m02s
13) Levi Leipheimer @ 14m40s
15) Nicolas Roche @ 16m59s
23) Lance Armstrong @ 39m20s
24) Bradley Wiggins @ 39m24s
26) Cadel Evans @ 50m27s
34) Michael Rogers @ 1h09m36s

Grabsch Time Trials Out Of Last Place
Before Stage 19’s time trial big German, Bert Grabsch (HTC- Columbia) had a handy 2 minute lead (or defecit?) in the lanterne rouge competition over Adriano Malori (Lampre) but the former World Time Trial Champion Grabsch erased that gap thanks to his great time trial which netted him 3rd place on the day, 1m48s behind Cancellara. This meant that finally Bert Grabsch finished the Tour in 169th place, one place ahead of lanterne rouge ‘winner’ Malori.

Meanwhile former Lanterne Rouge, Anthony Roux who I talked about last week mounted the classification nicely to finish in 167th place 13minutes ahead of last place which was enough to get back in the good books of his boss Madiot.

Chavanel Most Aggressive
Double stage winner, Sylvain Chavanel (Quick Step) was awarded the “super-combatif” prize for being the most aggressive rider in this year’s Tour de France. Chavanel won for his aggresiveness narrowly ahead of Mark ‘headbutt’ Renshaw and Carlos ‘Front wheel’ Barredo……

Ok, not quite – this award is simply given to the most attacking rider who best animated the race and in the eyes of the race jury Chavanel was the man. The race jury narrowed this competition down to three finalists, Chavanel, Mario Aerts and Chavanel’s teammate, Jerome Pineau. With two stage wins, numerous kilometres in breakaways, time in the yellow jersey and a French nationality the choice was truly made easy for the jury this year.

Just another deserved reward for Chavanel after an amazing comeback from a serious accident in the final kilometre of Liege-Bastogne-Liege earlier in the year in which he fractured his skull and had doubts that he would ever ride again! Quick Step boss Patrick Lefevere was understandably ecstatic with the effort of his two Frenchmen in Pineau and Chavanel and has resigned them both for two years.

Most Determined – Voigt
It’s not an official classification of the Tour but if it was I think the ‘Most Determined’ award would go to hardman Jens Voigt. There were plenty of contenders for this award of course with numerous riders continuing with broken bones, one rider riding through a storm of federal investigation, others riding through sickness and muscle strains but the award goes to Jens for his riding of a kid’s bike for 15 – 20km during last Tuesday’s mountain stage.

Why on earth was Jens on a kid’s bike? Well he crashed very heavily on the descent of the Col de Peyresourde and all the team cars passed and left him behind leaving him with only the ambulance and broom wagon left to help him. He could either go to hospital in the ambulance or to the finish with the broomwagon. They were his two choices as he lay bleeding, injured next to his broken bike on the side of the road. Jens didn’t like either of these choices though and instead demanded for a bike to finish the race, but nobody had one! It was at that stage that chance shined upon Jens as a promotional car carrying kids bikes happened to pass by.

Jens commandeered one of those bikes and was able to remount the too small bike with toe clips and continue the descent. Check out the youtube video here for a great photo of Jens decending the Peyresourde on this bike and an interview of Jens in English as he explains his story. Chapeau Jens!

Not So Good Tour For Some
So now that I’ve talked about the highs of winning classifications, stages and great overall placings it’s now time to talk about the failures. Besides the obvious ones of overall hopes Wiggins, Armstrong, Sastre, Evans etc – what about the entire teams that did nothing?

For teams like Milram unfortunately that was the case in this year’s Tour and it couldn’t have come at a worse time as they are still desperately searching for a replacement sponsor for next year. Their best result from three weeks of racing? An already forgotten 2nd place for their sprinter Gerald Ciolek on stage 5 behind Mark Cavendish.

Milram weren’t involved in too many breakaways, they had nobody for the GC battle and I think their ‘TV’ time was probably the least of any team in this year’s race with their team classification of dead last 6h5m41s behind Radioshack saying it all really.

Some would say that Footon-Servetto had a poor Tour also but I personally think they had a good one for the team they had. With such a young and inexperienced team I don’t think anyone really expected anything from them but they did manage to show themselves in numerous breaks and whilst they didn’t win a stage they at least were up there on occasions. For a money spent vs results gained ratio Sky certainly aren’t looking pretty after this Tour. With BIG hopes going into this race placed on Bradley Wiggins not to mention a big investment, the British squad must be dissapointed with the results or lack there of. One bright spot for Sky was the great first week of British champ, Geraint Thomas but apart from that it was slim pickings.

Finally most dissapointing French team must go to Cofidis who failed to win a stage nor a classification whilst all their French rivals did. (Ag2r – Riblon, FDJ – Casar, Bbox – Voeckler, Fedrigo and KOM jersey Charteau).

Final Teams Classification:
1 RadioShack 276:02:03
2 Caisse d’Epargne +9:15
3 Rabobank +27:49
4 AG2R +41:10
5 Omega Pharma – Lotto +51:01
6 Astana +56:16
7 Quick-Step +1:06:23
8 Euskaltel +1:23:02
9 Liquigas +1:29:14
10 Bbox – Bouygues +1:54:18
11 Team Sky +2:05:28
12 Saxo Bank +2:25:02
13 Cofidis +2:29:35
14 BMC Racing +2:35:30
15 FDJ +2:58:59
16 Garmin +3:18:07
17 HTC – Columbia +3:25:26
18 Katyusha +3:28:05
19 Cervйlo +3:51:56
20 Footon +5:15:36
21 Lampre +5:50:02
22 Milram +6:05:41

Roche To Stay With Ag2r
After a solid 15th place in the Tour de France which could have been better if a certain teammate had given him his wheel when he punctured – Nicolas Roche has extended his contract with the AG2r-La Mondiale team for two more years. Certain rumors thought that the very French Irishman may move to the British Team Sky, but he instead decided to stay with the French squad.

At 26 yeras old, Roche has a big career ahead of him if his current rate of progression continues in the Grand Tours. Ag2r is Roche’s 3rd team in a succession of French outfits, starting with Cofidis in 2004 as a stagaire, moving onto Credit Agricole in 2007 & 2008 before arriving at Ag2r in 2009.

Freire To Hospital
Triple World champion Oscar Freire will not be celebrating the end of the Tour de France with the usual series of parties and criteriums but instead by a short visit to hospital. Freire is set to undergo surgery in the Netherlands early this week to remove polyps from his nasal passage that has severely affected his performances so far this season. Freire has suffered through a difficult season this year and at first it was suspected that his problem was simply an allergy problem but now the team believes that the polyps have been the cause of his problems.

With an eye on the Geelong World Championships later this year, team doctor, Dr. Dion van Bommel, decided that now is the moment to intervene with the minor surgery so that Freire can get back on the bike as soon as possible and prepare for the end of season,

“Now is the time to intervene. A useful intervention, especially in view of the Vuelta and the forthcoming World Championships, where Oscar is always among the contenders.

Oscar should spend a night in the hospital, but all in all it is rather simple. The condition is not serious, but especially for a cyclist, it can sometimes give you trouble.”

Despite a lack of results so far this year Freire will be one of the top favourites for the ‘sprinter’ friendly course in Australia. In fact most people who have seen the course have mentioned Freire’s name as a favourite for the event as it has enough hills to possibly distance the quicker sprinters like Cavendish and co. but not enough hills to distance the former World Champ Freire.

FDJ Recruits
Francaise des Jeux boss, Marc Madiot has been busy recruiting riders for next year during the Tour signing Mickaлl Delage from Lotto for two seasons according to L’Equipe. Fresh from his sponsor, the French lottery FDJ renewing the team sponsorship just until 2014 Madiot has the cash to spend. This along with the surety of a long term, stable team has also attracted, Steve Chainel (Bbox Bouygues Telecom), Arnold Jeannesson (Caisse d’Epargne), Rйmi Pauriol (Cofidis) and Cйdric Pineau (Team Roubaix-Lille Mйtropole) to the team for next year.

Landis Takes His Claims To TV
Floyd Landis appeared on ABC’s Nightline programme last Friday releasing some more sensational claims on the doping practices allegedly followed by Lance Armstrong and the US Postal team.

This was the first time that Landis reiterated his previous email claims on television and amongst the stunning exchanges on the programme were the following;

Q: When was the first time you were handed something?

Landis: Lance Armstrong handed me some testosterone patches. It’s just a little patch you put on your skin. It’s not like – I mean, a blood transfusion is a bit more dramatic. It’s a large needle, and it’s blood. But a patch deliverers , testosterone, transdermal patch…it is not anything dramatic.

Q: Did you see Lance Armstrong receiving transfusions?

Landis: Yes.

Q: More than once?

Landis: Yes. Multiple times.

Q: Did you see Lance Armstrong using other performance-enhancing drugs?

Landis: At times, yes. At different training camps.

Q: Like what?

Landis: Well, there’s not a whole lot, like I said, that helps. There’s EPO you can use, and you can use small amounts during the Tour de France if you need to monitor certain parameters that are tested for, that change because of blood trans fusions.

Q: You saw him using EPO?

Landis: I have, yeah. I also received some from him.

Rather than go into entire detail of every single time I’ve seen it – yes, I saw Lance Armstrong using drugs.

Q: I have to say, Floyd, you stay it in a matter of fact way, and yet this is a man, Lance Armstrong, that’s denied up and down for a decade that he’s on anything but his bike, [on] anything but just hard work…

Landis: I denied it, as well.

Q: You’re saying Lance Armstrong is a liar?

Landis: Yes, I suppose if that’s the question, yes.

The programme continued with responses from Armstrong’s attorney, Tim Herman who of course denied the allegations and continued the line that Armstrong has been using about Floyd’s credibility issues. He also was dissapointed that his client was accused of all these issues when he was trying to complete his last Tour de France. Now that the race is over though I’m sure we’ll be hearing much more of this affair and the consequent court battles to follow. Although with the Tour being finished publicity will be smaller also so perhaps that’s the end of Floyd’s allegations for the moment? To be continued….

Sutherland Wins Cascade
Amidst all the controversy of Floyd’s claims Armstrong was of course trying to finish his very last Tour de France but Floyd was also racing his bike – not at the Tour of course but instead at the Cascade Cycling Classic in the States. Floyd was a last minute addition to the race racing as an individual against the best riders in the US peloton.

The prologue was a farce for Floyd though as he was forced to wear a plain grey t-shirt with his number and t-shirt flapping in the wind instead of a team skinsuit. The rules are that as an individual with no team Floyd couldn’t wear a skinsuit with any other team sponsors names on it. Despite this he still rode well finishing 15s down on Radioshack bound winner, Jesse Sergent (Trek-Livestrong).

Stage 2 was where the GC riders really came into play with possibly Quickstep bound Marc de Maar (United Healthcare) taking the stage from teammate Rory Sutherland which saw Sutherland take the GC lead. This is a position Sutherland then was able to defend despite the repeated attacks throughout the remaining stages from Fly V Australia. Sutherland finally won the race ahead of the Fly V pairing of Ben Day and Darren Lill. Meanwhile the man that attracted all the media interest, Floyd Landis failed to start the final stage thus abandoning the race when he was in 74th on GC.

Final General Classification :
1 Rory Sutherland UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling 11:14:07
2 Ben Day Fly V Australia 0:00:20
3 Darren Lill Fly V Australia 0:00:55
4 Jeremy Vennell BISSELL Pro Cycling 0:01:27
5 Cesar Grajales Cole Sport p/b High West 0:01:31
6 Jesse Anthony Kelly Benefit Strategies 0:01:43
7 Ben Jacques-Maynes BISSELL Pro Cycling 0:01:45
8 Jai Crawford Fly V Australia 0:01:57
9 Benjamin T. King* Trek-LIVESTRONG 0:02:03
10 Robert Britton BISSELL Pro Cycling 0:02:17

Pozzovivo Celebrates In Italy
Yes, there is other racing going on in Europe during the Tour de France and one of those races was the Brixia Tour in Italy. It’s a five stage 2.1 category race which was won by Italian talent Domenico Pozzovivo (Colnago-CSF). The Italian won the race thanks to his superior climbing which he demonstrated on Stage 2 winning the stage solo and gaining an unassailable lead.

Stage 1 (TTT) – ISD Neri took a good win beating Vacansoleil by 9 seconds.
Stage 2 – Pozzovivo dominated in the mountains winning by 39s from Pasquale Muto (Miche)
Stage 3 – Chris Sutton provided some good news for Team Sky in July with a great sprint victory.
Stage 4 – Pozzovivo soloed away again in the mountains to win from Dan Martin (Garmin)
Stage 5 – Roberto Ferrari (De Rosa-Stac Plastic) lived up to his last name as he powered away from the other sprinters in a tight bunch sprint to win the final stage.

Final General Classification:
1. Domenico Pozzovivo (Colnago-CSF)
2. Morris Possoni (Team Sky) +1′50”
3. Daniel Martin (Garmin) +2′39”
4. Diego Ulissi (Lampre) +3′21”
5. Bartosz Huzarski (ISD-Neri) +3′36”
6. Marco Marzano (Lampre) +3′49”
7. Damiano Caruso (De Rosa-Stac Plastic) +4′27”
8. Ruslan Pydgornyy (ISD-Neri) +4′35”
9. Matteo Carrara (Vacansoleil) +4′40”
10. Riccardo Chiarini (De Rosa-Stac Plastic) +6′05″

Van Dijk On Top In Belgium
It’s early days in the 2.HC Tour de Wallonie in Belgium but it’s Dutch sprinter, Stefan Van Dijk (Verandas Willems) who currently holds the leader’s jersey. Van Dijk finished fourth in the 1st stage and won the 2nd stage and these two placings combined were enough to take the jersey from Stage 1 winner, Danilo Napolitano (Katusha) who is now in 2nd on the same time as Van Dijk.

General Classification After Stage 2:
1. Stefan van Dijk (Veranda Willems)
2. Danilo Napolitano (Katusha) s.t.
3. Wouter Weylandt (Quick Step) +0′02″
4. Pieter Vanspeybrouck (Topsport Vlaanderen) s.t.
5. Kris Boeckmans (Topsport Vlaanderen) +0′04″
6. Steven van Vooren (Topsport Vlaanderen) s.t.
7. Julien Bйrard (AG2R La Mondiale) +0′05″
8. Borut Bozic (Vacansoleil) +0′06″
9. Gregory Henderson (Team Sky) s.t.
10. Olivier Kaisen (Omega Pharma) s.t.

Specialized Takes First Tour De France Overall Victory
In one of the most hotly contested Tours in decades, Alberto Contador, the Spanish Grand Tour specialist, fended off Andy Schleck in an epic duel between two pre-race favorites—riding Specialized bikes—to claim his third Tour de France victory.

With both men riding virtually identical equipment—the Tarmac SL3, Shiv, or Roubaix SL3 depending on the day—the company was well-represented on the podium, as well as on the road, where Specialized bikes carried the Yellow Jersey a total of 17 days out of 20!

Schleck did not go home empty-handed, however, earning the White Jersey of the Tour’s Best Young Rider for the third straight year.

Contador gained an advantage in the opening prologue, only to see Schleck bounce back on the cobblestones. While both men rode exceptionally well on their 2011 Roubaix SL3 bikes, proving again that “smoother is faster,” Schleck had Fabian Cancellara to pull him home well ahead of the Spaniard.

Contador finally grabbed the Maillot Jaune in the Pyrenйes after head-to-head battle on the brutal climbs, and he sealed the deal on the final time trial through the vineyards of Bordeaux, for his third overall victory in four years.

The 26-year-old rolled into Paris on Sunday—decked out in full yellow regalia—to enjoy his hardest fought and most cherished win.

Contador is now in elite company, becoming just the ninth rider in history to reach three overall victories, joining the likes of Greg Lemond, Eddy Merckx, and Lance Armstrong.

But “El Pistolero del Pinto” laughed off suggestions that he’s on the road toward matching the record seven victories.

“To think about matching that hasn’t even entered my mind. I am not looking to equal or beat any records,” Contador said. “I will race year-to-year and aim for specific goals, then we’ll see how things stack up when I finish my career.”

Contador was quick to credit great support from his Astana teammates, including Road Captain Alexandre Vinokourov and the “Four Amigos” who supported Contador through the high mountains.

Specialized products figured prominently throughout the event, as the bike sponsor for five stage victories: two victories each by Schleck and Cancellara, and one by Vinokourov.

Plus, the new Specialized Prevail helmet protected the heads of Team Lampre and their star sprinter Alessandro Petacchi whose “cooler head prevailed” in a hard fought battle to claim the Green Jersey and two individual stages

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