Frenchman Lloyd Mondory offered his apologies to sprint star Tyler Farrar Sunday after the American missed out on what could have been a first win on the Tour de France.
However the AG2R rider said he was not to blame.
Farrar, who is bidding to win his first stage on the race having already triumphed at the Tours of Spain and Italy, found himself in the perfect position for a win after avoid a series of crashes which took out his rivals.
However in the final 200 meters the Garmin-Transitions fast man was shunted by AG2R rider Mondory, the blow breaking Farrar’s gear changer on his bike.
The American was quick to hit out at AG2R after the stage, won by Italian veteran Alessandro Petacchi of Lampre.
“Everything was going great, I felt good and the team was riding perfectly. Then, in the last 200 meters an AG2R rider hit my rear wheel and snapped my derailleur,” said Farrar.
“I literally couldn’t ride after that and had to walk through the finish and to the bus.
“It’s a shame because everything had gone so well and the team worked so hard for me.”
Mondory was later identified as the rider who clashed with Farrar in untimely fashion, but the Frenchman was quick to absolve himself of any blame.
He said Belgian Jurgen Roelandts came crashing into him from behind, pushing him uncontrollably towards the American.
“A rider (Roelandts) hit me from behind. I’m sorry for Farrar, but I couldn’t do anything about it,” he said.
Ironically, the Frenchman was one of several riders who ended up on the tarmac when Farrar’s big sprint rival, Mark Cavendish, caused a spectacular crash at the Tour of Switzerland last month.
Farrar’s team manager Matt White said they will be looking to relaunch his challenge in the coming days.
“Obviously, we went into today’s stage looking for a win for Tyler. He has the form and the team to deliver,” said White.
“An AG2R rider hit his rear wheel and snapped his derailleur in the last 200 meters. Unfortunately, that’s sprinting. We’ll be lining up in three days time to do it again.”
A very lean Armstrong at the teams presentation.
(Photo: Yuzuru Sunada)
French Minister Expects Armstrong Probe to Go All the Way
Lance Armstrong will have the backing of France’s minister for health and sport, Roselyne Bachelot, until it has been proven that the American used banned products.
However Bachelot said she expected US federal officials, who are currently probing whether Armstrong’s former team, US Postal, defrauded their sponsors by using performance-enhancing products, to take the investigation all the way.
Seven-time champion Armstrong is racing his final Tour de France campaign this month amid a series of damaging doping allegations from former teammate Floyd Landis.
Landis, a former member of US Postal, won the Tour in 2006 while riding for Phonak, only to be stripped of the title after testing positive for testosterone.
Having consistently claimed his innocence for years, the American – who no longer competes and is financially ruined – finally confessed to doping last month.
But in a bid to “clear his conscience”, he took his claims much further.
Landis said Armstrong and several other Americans, including George Hincapie, used banned doping products or methods while with US Postal.
All the accused have categorically denied the allegations, underlining the fact that Landis could not be believed because he had lied for so long.
Bachelot turned up at the start of the race’s second stage on Monday, and when asked her position regarding the affair said would not condemn Armstrong until an ongoing investigation concludes.
“As sports minister I am not going to condemn somebody before having proof (of any wrongdoing),” she told reporters. “A probe has been launched in the United States.”
Landis’s claims in May prompted the US authorities to launch a federal investigation led by Food and Drug Administration (FDA) special agent Jeff Novitzky.
He led a successful probe into the BALCO (Bay Area Laboratory Cooperative) which produced and supplied designer drugs for Major League Baseball players and athletes, leading to several convictions including that of American sprint star Marion Jones.
Bachelot added: “The least we can say (about the investigation) is that the people leading it are not exactly known for their lax attiude.
“I am confident the American authorities will take this investigation all the way. Only then will we come to our own conclusions.”
Contador heads to the start of stage 1.
(Photo: Yuzuru Sunada)
Contador Brushes Off Slight Leg Knock on Tour
Reigning champion Alberto Contador was quick to play down the seriousness of a knock on his leg Sunday after being caught up in one of the many spills which marred the first stage of the Tour de France.
The 223.5km ride from Rotterdam to Brussels was a nervous affair which, particularly in a chaotic final few kilometers, saw a number of riders hit the tarmac.
Contador, who is the favorite to win the yellow jersey again this year, said his knock was nothing to worry about.
“Nothing that can’t be sorted with a little icing,” said the 27-year-old Astana rider, who has won the race in 2007 and 2009.
“There were a lot of crashes in the finale of the stage and I couldn’t avoid Fabian Cancellara who came down next to me.
“I fell into some riders who had already fallen, but I’ve come out of it more or less okay. I’ve got a big knock on my left leg, but it’s nothing serious.”
Cancellara, wearing the race leader’s yellow jersey, admitted earlier he had to brake hard to avoid a rider who crashed in front of him but was left flying over his bike and doing a somersault.
The Swiss, who rides for Saxo Bank, will take the race lead into Monday’s second stage from Brussels to Spa.
Contador meanwhile added his voices to those who complained about members of the public getting too close to the peloton for comfort.
“The amount of people lining the roads was among the main difficulties of the day,” he added.
“(David) Millar and (Ivan) Basso for example crashed because people were sitting on the road.”
Merckx holds a jersey commemorating his first win in the Tour.
(Photo: Yuzuru Sunada)
Armstrong Says Merckx the ‘King of Cycling’
Seven-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong said Monday he believes Belgian legend Eddy Merckx is the true king of cycling.
Armstrong’s record number of consecutive wins on the world’s biggest bike race have led many fans to label him the biggest ever champion on two wheels.
However cancer survivor Armstrong, who won the race from 1999-2005 to surpass a string of five-time winners, believes Merckx is the true king of the sport.
“If you look at just his career – he’s the king of cycling and the greatest that ever lived. I’ve been fortunate to get to know him for the past 17 years,” Armstrong said ahead of the race’s second stage from Brussels to Spa.
Armstrong is bidding to win an eighth yellow jersey in what is his final Tour de France campaign with his current team, RadioShack.
But even if he succeeds, it is unlikely fans of Merckx will see the 38-year-old American’s achievements any differently.
Merckx won the Tour only five times, but the Belgian known as the ‘Cannibal’ – because of his voracious appetite for victory – also won the Giro d’Italia three times and the Tour of Spain once.
Merckx, 65, was also one of the most successful ever riders in one-day races, winning Milan-San Remo seven times, Liege-Bastogne-Liege five times and the world road race championship three times.
The Belgian, who on Sunday evening gave Armstrong a gift of a book on the Tour, also won the Tour of Flanders twice, Paris-Roubaix three times and the Tour of Lombardy twice.
As well as his Tour de France crowns, Armstrong is also known for victories in the San Sebastian Classic in 1995, the Fleche Wallonne in 1996, the Tour of Switzerland in 2001 and the Dauphine Libere in 2002 and 2003.
Armstrong is among a group of challengers who will be looking to upstage race favourite and reigning champion Alberto Contador of Spain over the next 19 stages of racing.