Sunday 26 July 2015

Froome Set for Second Tour Title

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Chris Froome is set to become the first Briton to win the Tour de France twice after surviving a thrilling attack by Nairo Quintana on Alpe d'Huez.

Team Sky's Froome, 30, led Quintana by two minutes 38 seconds before the penultimate stage but the Colombian rode clear with 9km remaining.

Froome, champion in 2013, responded to limit his losses to just 80 seconds as France's Thibaut Pinot won the stage.

His 72-second lead will not be challenged on Sunday's finale in Paris.

The short 21st stage, which culminates in several laps around the centre of Paris, is largely ceremonial for the yellow jersey, however the stage is expected to end in a bunch sprint with Mark Cavendish chasing a fifth victory on the Champs-Elysees.

That meant Saturday's 110.5km route from Modane was billed as the decider between Froome and his rival Quintana, who had cut the gap by 32 seconds on the previous day's racing.

Quintana is regarded as an expert climber in the mountains, and while Froome clung on to his rival on the first ascent up Col de la Croix de Fer, the Movistar rider proved to have the edge when it came to the arduous 13.9km trek to the top of Alpe d'Huez.

Tour de France overall standings

Chris Froome Team Sky/Britain 81hrs 56mins 33secs

Nairo Quintana Movistar/Colombia +1min 12secs

Alejandro Valverde Movistar/Spain +5mins 25secs

Vincenzo Nibali Astana/Italy +8mins 36secs

Alberto Contador Tinkoff-Saxo/Spain +9mins 48secs

But Quintana will once again finish runner-up to Froome, as he did two years ago, although this is set to be the smallest winning margin since Carlos Sastre beat Cadel Evans by 58 seconds in 2008.

"It's hard to say if this was harder than 2013, but every day was flat out," said Froome, who is one of only two Britons to have won the Tour, along with Sir Bradley Wiggins.

"Next year I'll come back and renew the rivalry with Nairo. He's a great prospect, has a bright future, a great talent who races correctly, making his race at the right moment."

Phil Taylor Suffers Defeat

Phil Taylor suffered his first defeat in eight years at the World Matchplay after he was beaten 17-14 by James Wade in Saturday’s first semi-final.

Wade led 16-12 but struggled to get across the finish line at the Winter Gardens in Blackpool, spurning eight chances at a double in the 29th leg.

Taylor could not complete the comeback, though, as Wade steadied his nerves to hit double top and secure his place in the final, where he will face the winner of the match between Michael van Gerwen and Peter Wright.

Wade claimed the crown in 2007 after Terry Jenkins had knocked out Taylor but he was second best in the opening encounters, twice drawing level after trailing 3-1 and 7-5.

'The Machine' then took control, moving into the lead at 13-10 and 16-12 before surviving his late scare.

Finishes of tops, double 18 and double seven gave Taylor three of the first four legs, and after Wade hit back with a 120 finish an outstanding ten-darter put the reigning champion 4-2 up.

Taylor began leg seven with scores of 180 and 140, but a 168 from Wade helped apply the pressure before he punished a miss at double 13 by hitting double top for a 13-darter to bounce back.

'The Power' produced a 12-darter to take a 5-3 lead, but Wade responded with a 180 in a 14-darter before breaking throw on tops - after his opponent missed the same bed - to level.

Taylor took the next two with the aid of maximums for a 7-5 cushion, but the left-hander again hit back as he took the next four legs - punishing missed doubles from Taylor in three - to move 9-7 up, with 76 and 64 combinations proving key.

Wade then missed two darts to extend his advantage as Taylor finished 97 with a single 19, double 19 and double top checkout, and a 14-darter which included a second 177 opening of the game saw him level at nine-all.

The next two were also traded before Taylor's miss at tops in the 21st leg allowed Wade in on the same double to edge 11-10 up, and he then finished 84 and 65 to pull three legs clear.

Taylor kicked off the next with a 174 score as he replied with an 11-darter before the duo traded 180s as double ten moved Wade 14-11 up, only for the left-hander to miss his shot at the bull for a 161 checkout as his opponent took leg 26.

Wade showed his mettle though as he won the next two with a 13-darter and double six, after a 177 score left 24, as he moved to the brink of victory at 16-12.

But he let his opponent back in as he missed eight match darts at doubles in leg 29, with Taylor staying in the hunt with double 16 before finishing double six to pull back to 16-14.

Wade regained his composure though, with scores of 140, 174 and 140 to pull clear in the next leg and finished tops for a 12-darter to complete a famous triumph.

"I'm quite ecstatic. It’s not very often I'm lost for words," Wade told Sky Sports.

"He let me in and did not play his normal darts.

"You lose that leg and all of a sudden you think: 'Is that my last shot?' 

"But I played well enough to get another shot and finished the job off."

2011 FLASHBACK - Evans First Australian Winner

Aussie Evans win 2011 Tour

Mark Cavendish won the final stage of the Tour de France in Paris, becoming Britain's first winner of the green jersey for the race's best sprinter.

Manxman Cavendish, who has now won 20 stages of the race in his career, crossed the line first after a frenetic sprint finish on the Champs-Elysees.

"I've been trying to get the green jersey for the last few years, it is a special day," said the 26-year-old.

Cadel Evans took the yellow jersey to become Australia's first Tour winner.

The polka-dot jersey for the Tour's best climber went to Spain's Samuel Sanchez, while Frenchman Pierre Rolland was confirmed as the best young rider with the white jersey.

Welshman Geraint Thomas, who spent the first six days in white, finished 31st overall ensured him the honour of the top British rider in the general classification in his third Tour de France.

Cavendish had amassed 15 stage wins over his previous three Tours, but his failure to take green before this year had been been one factor in the organisers' decision to increase the rewards on offer at the end of each stages.

The Isle of Man cyclist finished with 334 points, while Spaniard Jose Joaquin Rojas was second with 272 and Belgian Philippe Gilbert had 236.

However, despite the relatively comfortable final margin of victory Cavendish was not assured of securing the green jersey until he won the final sprint.

If Rojas had won the stage then Cavendish would have needed to finish second or third to claim the jersey he so highly coveted.

"I've been incredibly lucky to have a group of team-mates who have been committed to me winning races and it has paid off," said the HTC Highroad cyclist.

"I can't stress how lucky I am, I couldn't do it alone. I'm super emotional, super happy."

Evans had assumed the lead in the overall standings from Leopard-Trek's Andy Schleck in Saturday's time trial and a flat 95km stage into Paris did not offer any opportunities to attack his advantage of one minute 34 seconds.

Cavendish had a less comfortable cushion in the green-jersey standings with 15 points seperating him from Rojas at the start of the final day.

Any hopes Rojas harboured of making early inroads on his rival were ruined however, as Slovenian Kristjan Koren led an unexpected six-man breakaway through the intermediate sprint to earn 20 points.

Cavendish was the first of the peloton over the line while team-mate Matt Goss held off Rojas to extend the Manxman's lead to 17 points.

With Team Sky's British rider Ben Swift playing a full role, the escapees pushed their lead up towards 45 seconds.

But the leading group disintegerated as Lars Bak, an HTC team-mate of Cavendish, pushed the pace, having previously been content to trail along on the back of the group.

Twenty Tour de France stage wins, five this year, three in a row in Paris and now, finally, one box-fresh green jersey: it's official, Mark Cavendish is the fastest sprinter on two wheels. He is also a massive star. In France. True fame has yet to come in the UK (with the honorable exception of his birthplace, the Isle of Man), but if he keeps pulling stunts like this one it will come eventually. With 30km to go on the Champs- Elysees, Cav was by the side of the road, changing his bike. As cool as a cucumber. Half an hour later, he was rolling through the line, arms outstretched, grinning from ear to ear. British rider David Millar has just told me Cavendish is Britain's greatest current sportsman. Hard to disagree on a day like this

The peloton mopped up the breakaway with two kilometres to go, just as the HTC Highroad team fell into formation behind.

A well-drilled procession followed with Cavendish breaking off the wheel of Australian lead-out Mark Renshaw with 170m to the finish.

Team Sky's Edvald Boasson Hagen came closest to overhauling Cavendish, but could not close to within less than a bike length.

Andre Griepel, Tyler Farrar and Fabian Cancellara completed the top five, with Rojas a distant 21st.

Cavendish's stage win followed successes on the Champs-Elysees in 2009 and 2010, making him first man to have won three final stages in succession since the legendary Belgian Eddy Merckx in 1972.

Evans, 34, finished 56th, well within the 150-strong group who clocked the same time behind Cavendish, to confirm himself as the oldest overall winner since the Second World War.

He is the first winner to wear the yellow jersey for only the last stage of the race since Greg LeMond's success in 1990.


1 Mark Cavendish (GB/HTC-Highroad) 2hrs 27mins 02secs,

2 Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor/Sky Procycling) at same time

3 Andre Greipel (Ger/Omega Pharma-Lotto)

4 Tyler Farrar (U.S./Team Garmin-Cervelo)

5 Fabian Cancellara (Swi/Leopard Trek)

6 Daniel Oss (Ita/Liquigas-Cannondale)

7 Borut Bozic (Slo/Vacansoleil-DCM)

8 Tomas Vaitkus (Lit Pro Team Astana)

9 Gerald Ciolek (Ger/Quickstep Cycling Team)

10 Jimmy Engoulvent (Fra/Saur - Sojasun)


1 Cadel Evans (Aus/BMC) 86hrs 12mins 22secs

2 Andy Schleck (Lux/Leopard Trek) at 1min 34secs

3 Frank Schleck (Lux/Leopard Trek) at 2.30

4 Thomas Voeckler (Fra/Team Europcar) at 3.20

5 Alberto Contador (Spa/Saxo Bank Sungard) at 3.57

6 Samuel Sanchez (Spa/Euskaltel-Euskadi) at 4.55

7 Damiano Cunego (Ita/Lampre) at 6.05

8 Ivan Basso (Ita/Liquigas) at 7.23

9 Thomas Danielson (U.S./Garmin-Cervelo) at 8.15

10 Jean-Christophe Peraud (Fra/AG2R) at 10.11

Selected others:

31 Geraint Thomas (GB/Sky) at 1:00:48

76 David Millar (GB/Garmin-Cervelo) at 2:14.56

130 Mark Cavendish (GB/HTC-Highroad) at 3:15.05

137 Ben Swift (GB/Sky) at 3:18.07


1 Mark Cavendish (GB/HTC-Highroad) 334 points

2 Jose Joaquin Rojas (Spa/Movistar) 272

3 Philippe Gilbert (Bel/Omega Pharma-Lotto) 236

4 Cadel Evans (Aus/BMC) 208

5 Thor Hushovd (Nor/Garmin-Cervelo) 195

6 Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor/Sky) 192

7 Andre Greipel (Ger/Omega Pharma-Lotto) 160

8 Tyler Farrar (U.S./Garmin-Cervelo) 127

9 Samuel Sanchez (Spa/Euskaltel-Euskadi) 105

10 Alberto Contador (Spa/Saxo Bank) 105


1 Pierre Rolland (Fra/Europcar) 86hrs 23mins 05secs

2 Rein Taaramae (Est/Cofidis) at 0:46

3 Jerome Coppel (Fra/Saur - Sojasun) at 7:53

4 Arnold Jeannesson (Fra/FDJ) at 10:37

5 Rob Ruijgh (Ned/Vacansoleil) at 22:21

6 Rigoberto Uran Uran (Col/Sky) at 32:05

7 Geraint Thomas (GB/Sky) at 50:05

8 Robert Gesink (Ned/Rabobank) at 54:26

9 Cyril Gautier (Fra /Europcar) at 1:17:00

10 Andrey Zeits (Kaz/Astana) at 1:21:05


1 Samuel Sanchez Gonzalez (Spa/Euskaltel) 108 points

2 Andy Schleck (Lux/Leopard Trek) 98

3 Jelle Vanendert (Bel/Omega Pharma-Lotto) 74

4 Cadel Evans (Aus/BMC) 58

5 Frank Schleck (Lux/Leopard Trek) 56

6 Alberto Contador (Spa/Saxo Bank) 51

7 Jeremy Roy (Fra/FDJ) 45

8 Pierre Rolland (Fra/Europcar) 44

9 Maxim Iglinskiy (Kaz/Astana) 40

10 Johnny Hoogerland (Ned/Vacansoleil-DCM) 40

View from the Top - Bernard Hinault

"As long as I breathe, I attack."

Bernard Hinault
5 Time winner of Le Tour

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Cycling Legends - Bernard Hinault

Hinault and Merckx in 2010

Bernard Hinault’s achievements as a rider are second only to Eddy Merckx.

Nicknamed “The Badger” because of his fighting style when cornered, Hinault was a complete rider like Merckx who could climb, sprint, and time trial with the best.

Hinault’s record of ten Grand Tour victories is second only to Merckx's eleven Grand Tour victories.

Hinault joins Merckx as the only riders to win all of the classifications in the Tour de France (overall, mountains, and points jerseys), although Hinault didn’t achieve the feat in a single year like Merckx.

Hinault’s record of 28 stage victories in the Tour is second to Merckx. He won 7 stages in the 1979 race and 5 stages in the 1981 race.

Hinault’s record of over 250 professional victories, including 52 time trial victories, is impressive. Hinault was also an accomplished one-day rider and won the World Championship Road Race and a total of five victories in cycling’s monuments (he never won the Tour of Flanders or the Milan-San Remo).

One of the most memorable Hinault victories was at the 1980 Liege-Bastogne-Liege in Belgium. The April race was held in winter conditions which deteriorated during the day. Of 174 starters, only 21 finished. Hinault rode solo for the last 50 miles (80 km) of the 151 mile (244 km) race through a blizzard and won by 9:24.

Hinault was clearly the strongest rider in his victory in the 1980 World Championship Road Race held in Sallanches, France. Hinault devoured everyone from the start in a race where only a handful of riders finished.

Hinault’s record, in the Grand Tours at least, may have indeed been even brighter had it not been for knee problems. Hinault was forced to abandon the Tour in 1980 because of a bad knee and was forced to miss the Tour in 1983 because of a knee operation.

In 1985, Hinault won the Tour de France thanks to the help from Greg Lemond in exchange for Hinault’s promise to ride for Lemond in 1986.

During the 1986 Tour however, Hinault attacked Lemond and wore the yellow jersey as the race leader.

Hinault kept attacking Lemond which made the other riders chase Hinault. Lemond was able to counter attack the other riders and take the yellow jersey himself.

Hinault’s attacks didn’t subside until the final time trial was finished and it was obvious that Lemond was going to win.

When questioned about his tactics, Hinault’s response was that Lemond needed to learn how to win through adversity and that this lesson would make Lemond a better champion.

Possibly, but either way it provided much interest and entertainment during the Tour de France that year.

Hinault left cycling at the peak of his career when he retired in November of 1986. His last race was a cyclocross race five days before his 32nd birthday.

Hinault's accomplishments include 5 Tour de France titles, two second place finishes, a Mountains Jersey and a Points Jersey in the race. He won the Giro d'Italia three times, the Vuelta a Espana twice, a 1st, 3rd, and 5th place in the World Championship Road Race, a Paris-Roubaix title, two Liege-Bastogne-Liege victories, two Tour of Lombardy victories, plus victories in the Amstel Gold Race, the Ghent-Wevelgem, and two victories in the Fleche Wallone.

He won the Tour de France - Giro d'Italia double in 1982 and 1985. He won the Tour de France - Vuelta a Espana in 1978. 

He is the only rider who has won all three Grand Tours at least twice

After retiring in 1986, Hinault returned to farming in Brittany and worked for the Tour de France organization, appearing at stage finishes to greet stage winners and jersey holders. He also worked for Look as a technical consultant and helped develop the Look clip less pedal. 

Since 2008 he has returned to cycling and these days he is involved as an adviser to the Tour de France.

The 2001 Tour de France starts on July 2nd.

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