CARMAUX, France (VN) — Luís León Sánchez says despite his stage-winning ride Sunday that catapulted him into second place overall, he will still ride for Rabobank team captain Robert Gesink.
“The victory was a nice surprise, but the goals don’t change for me here at the Tour,” Sánchez told VeloNews before the start of Tuesday’s stage. “We are here to ride for Robert. We want to support him for the podium.”
Sánchez, 27, has long been touted as a potential GC candidate, but so far has made steady, but not spectacular progress as a grand-tour contender. Last year, he was 11th and won a stage at the Tour de France and rode to 10th at the Vuelta a España.
Sánchez is now second at 1:47 behind French rider Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) and 37 seconds ahead of third-place Cadel Evans (BMC).
Could he be a dark horse for the top-10, especially if Gesink’s nagging injuries get the best of him? Sánchez says he’s not thinking about that right now.
“Robert is feeling better every day, so we are optimistic he will be able to respond in the mountains when the real battle begins,” Sánchez said. “I am going to be working for Robert. That will not change.”
Perhaps that could change if Sánchez is riding strong and Gesink fades. The Pyrénées should answer a lot of questions, both at Rabobank and every one else.
Farrar hopes to be in mix Wednesday
One named dropped on the high-speed run into Carmaux was Tyler Farrar. The Garmin-Cervélo sprinter said he didn’t have the legs to follow when the peloton hit the day’s final rated climb.
“I am healthy, I just didn’t have the legs today,” Farrar told VeloNews. “I went down on stage 7. I wasn’t really hurt, just got tangled up.”
Farrar won a breakthrough stage victory in stage 3, but has since not challenged for a bunch sprint. Hilly finishes and crashes have kept him out of the action.
“It’s been a strange Tour so far. I’ve only actually made it to one sprint,” Farrar said. “The only other flat stage I crashed and it’s been quite hilly. I haven’t had many opportunities otherwise.”
With Thor Hushovd sprinting to fourth, but mentioning that he’s tired from his effort to defend the yellow jersey in the first week of the Tour, Farrar will be expected to step up Wednesday.
Vaughters: ‘Cheaters will be caught’
News that Alexander Kolobnev (Katusha) tested positive for a masking agent during the first week of the Tour de France hit the race with a sense of doom and gloom, at least among some of the media. Many teams and riders expressed their continued support of increasing anti-doping controls and harsher efforts to catch cheats.
“If you’re going to make the sport cleaner, so you have to catch people. It’s part of it,” Garmin-Cervélo manager Jonathan Vaughters told VeloNews. “I would be more concerned if no one was testing positive. That would show that the testing is ineffective. There are always going to be a few percentage of out-right liars and people who try to do things. If you want to make a sporting event fair, you have to catch those people. Inevitably, there will be positive tests.”
Kolobnev has since left the race and claims he has no idea how the banned substance entered his system. A second, B-sample is expected to be carried out in the coming days. The Russian, who was awarded the bronze medal in the 2008 Olympic road race after silver medalist Davide Rebellin failed a doping test, could face a two-year racing ban.
Vaughters said that fans and media should take the news as confirmation that the anti-doping system is working.
“It’s not that I think (the majority of riders in Tour are clean), it’s that the broad scientific data points to exactly that,” Vaughters continued. “I know that the media doesn’t always have access to that. I know the general body of data has changed from the mid-1990s, it’s been incredible. The mean data in cycling, blood data, is not any different now than the general population. The scientific evidence shows that the majority of riders in this Tour de France are clean.”
Yellow: Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) finished safely in the main pack to defend the yellow jersey and maintain his 1:47 lead to Luís León Sánchez.
Green: Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) defended the points jersey, but José Rojas (Movistar) made up for lost ground, trimming the difference to 226-209.
Polka-dot: Johnny Hoogerland (Vacansoleil) survived Tuesday’s stage despite riding with 33 stitches after being struck by a car in Sunday’s stage. There were no shakeups in the standings, with Hoogerland leading Voeckler, 22-17.
White: Robert Gesink (Rabobank) defended the jersey, 51 seconds to Rein Taaramae (Cofidis)
Best team: Europcar leads Leopard-Trek by 32 seconds
Most aggressive: Marco Marcato (Vacansoleil)
Crash at 10km: Bjorn Leukemans (Vacansoleil), cuts to buttocks, knee and elbow; Christian Vande Velde (Garmin-Cervélo), cuts to left elbow; Jeremie Galland (Saur-Sojasun), cuts to right knee; Jerome Pineau (Quick-Step), cuts to left thigh
Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Cervélo), pain to back and right knee
Gorka Verdugo (Euskaltel-Euskad), pain to sitbone, bloody nose
Stuart O’Grady (Leopard-Trek), hemotoma to left elbow, calf
Rein Taaramae (Cofidis), abdominal pain
Westerly and northwesterly winds, 10 to 30kph; chance of scattered showers, high temperatures around 18C-20C