Fighting for the yellow jersey puts as much pressure on the head as on the legs, as Cadel Evans is learning at the Tour de France.
After the second of two days in the Alps on Tuesday, the Silence-Lotto rider boosted his bid to win the final yellow jersey by surviving the CSC-Saxo Bank team's efforts to shake him off on the difficult Cime de la Bonette-Restefond climb.
I’m writing these words on the road to L’Alpe d’Huez where, at the end of this glorious Wednesday in the French Alps, the 95th Tour de France could be decided. The infamous 21-turn mountain climb concludes a gigantic stage 17 after the riders have already crossed the mighty Col du Galibier and Col de la Croix de Fer climbs.
The World Anti-Doping Agency said Wednesday Italian rider Riccardo Riccò tested positive at the Tour de France after a secret molecule was planted in the blood booster EPO during its manufacture.
Riccò, 24, upset the big names of the sport to win two stages of this year's Tour before he was kicked off after testing positive for EPO (erythropoietin).
Revealing the now high-tech nature of the fight against drugs in sport, WADA chief John Fahey said his organization worked with drugs giant Roche on the newest version of EPO (erythropoietin).
The Tour de France yellow jersey is set to be decided on the final alpine stage of the race on Wednesday after a dramatic 16th stage which left CSC still in control of the race.
Luxembourg's Frank Schleck finished the 157km stage from Cueno in Italy to here with his 7-second lead on Austrian Bernhard Kohl intact, with Australian Cadel Evans in third at 08.
Spaniard Carlos Sastre, Schleck's teammate at the CSC team, is fourth at 49 while Denis Menchov, one of the day's biggest losers, is now at 1:13behind Schleck after losing time on the day's final descent.
The Saunier Duval cycling team look set to be excluded from the Tour of Germany because of doping, race organisers revealed on Tuesday.
The elite team withdrew from the Tour de France last week after Italian rider Riccardo Ricco failed a dope test - they subsequently sacked both him and compatriot Leonardo Piepoli, who had won the prestigious stage on July 14.
However that move has failed to placate the Tour of Germany chiefs, whose race runs from August 29 to September 6.
According to their father, CSC duo Frank and Andy Schleck rarely talk of the sport that has put them into the global spotlight.
But when they do get round to talking of their profession in the Schleck household, it usually centers on the Tour de France yellow jersey.
On Sunday, Frank realized one of his boyhood dreams when he pulled on the yellow jersey with a seven second lead on Austrian Bernhard Kohl of the Gerolsteiner team, with former leader and last year's runner-up Cadel Evans just one second further off the pace.
Bernhard Kohl sat in the sunlit conference room of the mountain resort hotel Navize Te in the Italian Alps on the rest day of the Tour de France for more than hour, patiently answering questions from nearly 100 international reporters.
It was a new experience for both sides. Never before in his career had the 26-year-old Austrian been the focus of so much attention and before last Sunday, when he rode his way to within seven seconds of the maillot jaune, no one, except for the most avid Austrian cycling fans, had ever even heard of … Bernhard who?
Weather: Sunny and warm, clear skies, variable winds blowing up the valleys, creating headwind on both hors catégorie climbs
Stage winner: Cyril Dessel (AG2R-La Mondiale) won a downhill sprint out of a four-man breakaway that included Yaroslav Popovych (Silence-Lotto), Sandy Casar (Francaise Des Jeux) and David Arroyo (Caisse d’Epargne).
The Bonette bust Most Tours are decided on the climbs, but the 23.5km descent off the 2802-meter Col de Bonette made for some decisive moments in what’s been a wild 95th edition.
There were several crashes, including a spectacular fall by John Lee Augustyne (Barloworld), who toppled over the edge near the summit, and another by Christian Vande Velde; the falls undercut their respective runs for glory.
Frenchman Cyril Dessel of AG2R finally drew a line under his nightmare 2007 season with a prestigious maiden win on the Tour de France 16th stage on Tuesday.
Dessel came to the wider cycling world's attention when he wore the race's yellow jersey for a day in 2006 — when he finally had to hand it over to disgraced American Floyd Landis.
A year later Dessel disappeared almost entirely from the peloton after succumbing to toxoplasmosis.