Stage 19 of Tour de France ABANDONED because of snow, hail and landslides in the Alps

26 Jul

Hail, snow and landslides forced stage 19 of the Tour de France to be abandoned before the final climb into Tignes.

Commissaires ruled that times would be taken at the top of the Col de l’Iseran – which gave Egan Bernal both the stage victory and the yellow jersey as he had attacked on the penultimate climb of the 126.5km stage from Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne.

Riders were told to continue the descent off the Iseran as far as Val-d’Isere, where team cars were waiting for them.

It was yet another dramatic twist in the Tour de France, described as the most exciting edition since 1989, and could well be a decisive one.

Julian Alaphilippe lost the yellow jersey after stage 19 was abandoned
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Bernal now needs only to survive one final mountain stage on Saturday before potentially celebrating his first Grand Tour victory in Paris a day later.

The 22-year-old would be the first Colombian to win the Tour, and the youngest to succeed in the post-war era.

The neutralisation came as a huge blow to Geraint Thomas’ hopes of defending his title. The Welshman may have hoped to bridge the gap to his team-mate in the final 30 kilometres but was denied that opportunity.

Thomas was seen talking to Tour director Christian Prudhomme in Val-d’Isere, but the Frenchman could only gesticulate that there was nothing he could do given the conditions of the road up ahead, where diggers and ploughs were working to clear a path.

Earlier in the day, Thibaut Pinot’s dream of becoming the first French winner of the Tour de France for 34 years ended after the Groupama-FDJ rider was forced to abandon early on stage 19 to Tignes.

French newspaper L’Equipe later reported Pinot had suffered a muscle tear in his left thigh.

In a tweet, Groupama-FDJ confirmed it was a muscular injury for Pinot.

“Thibaut suffers from a muscular lesion on his left thigh. Yesterday, he finished stage 18 with a sharp pain and had troubles walking in the evening.

“His condition didn’t improve today, he just withdrew from the #TDF2019”

Alessandro De Marchi involved in horror crash during Tour de France and taken to hospital with deep laceration to forehead

14 Jul

Italian cyclist Alessandro De Marchi was taken to hospital after suffering a nasty crash at the Tour de France, with blood seen pouring from his head.

The CCC rider crashed just eight kilometres into stage nine, from St Etienne to Brioude, and he is now out of this year’s race.

Alessandro De Marchi suffered a cut to his forehead in the crash

The 33-year-old was seen lying face down on the curb, with blood pouring from a cut on his forehead, with concerned supporters trying to help.

An ambulance soon arrived to take him away on a stretcher but he was moving and awake.

He was taken to hospital where he will be assessed for any further damage.

De Marchi’s team, CCC, posted an update on Twitter stating: “We can confirm @ADM_RossodiBuja was fully conscious after his crash.

“He has a deep facial laceration and will be taken to hospital for X-rays to determine if he has any fractures.”

The Italian led a breakaway in Saturday’s stage eight with stage winner Thomas de Gendt holding out until around 14km to go.

Why is Mark Cavendish not racing in the 2019 Tour de France? What has he said on Instagram?

6 Jul

Mark Cavendish will not take part in the Tour de France this year and has been left ‘absolutely heart-broken’ by his omission.

It will be the first time since 2007 the ‘Fastest Man on Two Wheels’ will not compete, depriving fans from watching one of cycling’s great racers.

Mark Cavendish will not be racint at the 2019 Tour de France
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Cavendish has won 30 stages – four short of Eddy Merckx’s record – but his team, Dimension Data, confirmed recently the 34-year-old won’t be part of their squad with team principal Doug Ryder having the final decision.

It has been widely reported that Dimension Data head of performance, Rolf Aldag, wanted to select Cavendish for the Tour, but was overruled by Ryder.

It mean’s Cavendish will not have the chance to make history at the Tour.

Cavendish has been plagued by the Epstein-Barr virus in recent years but believed he had proved his fitness and felt as good as he had done in 2016 when he won four stages.

Mark Cavendish has won 30 Tour de France stages

Cavendish posted on social media: “Well what can I say? I’m absolutely heart-broken by the decision that means I won’t be at Tour this year.

“As I have done my entire career, I targeted a specific time to be at peak form.

“After following a specific training programme to peak in July, I feel I was in the perfect place.

“Though I won’t be there, as always I’ll be supporting my team-mates with all I have.”

Edvald Boasson Hagen, Stephen Cummings, Reinardt Janse Van Rensburg, Michael Valgren, Roman Kreuziger, Giacomo Nizzolo, Ben King, and Lars Bak have been selected ahead of Cavendish.

Ryder said in a statement: “Really excited to announce this great group of riders who we feel will be the best suited to meet the team’s objectives we have set out for this year’s Tour de France.”

On Cavendish’ omission, a Dimension Data spokesman later added: “Selection for our tour squad was a highly competitive process and one in which a panel weighed up the options provided to us not only by Mark but indeed all of our riders.

Mark Cavendish will not get the chance to try and win a Tour de France yellow jersey
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“As you’d expect among a selection panel, there were a number of different preferences of the final squad make up with our team principal, Douglas Ryder, making the final decision on it.”

The 106th edition of the Tour de France gets under way on Saturday ahead of 23 days of gruelling action.

Reigning champion and Team Ineos star Geraint Thomas will lead the way in the 21 stages starting in Bruxelles, Belgium and culminating at the Champs-Elysees in Paris on Sunday 28 July.

Will Chris Froome compete in the Tour de France 2019? What injury did he suffer?

5 Jul

Four-time Tour de France champion Chris Froome will miss this year’s edition of the famous race with injury after suffering the worst crash of his career.

Froome was competing in stage four of the Criterium du Dauphine in early June when he took his hands of his handlebars to blow his nose while travelling at roughly 40mph.

Chris Froome will miss the Tour de France this summer

A gust of wind caught his front wheel and sent him careering into a nearby house.

He had to be airlifted to St Etienne University Hospital for surgery where it was confirmed he had broken his femur, elbow and several ribs.

Froome will now be out of action for at least six months, ruling him out of the 2019 Tour de France which starts on Saturday.

But the 34-year-old cycling superstar Froome vowed to return stronger in the near future.

From his hospital bed, he compared himself to Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Terminator, posting a GIF of Arnie’s iconic ‘I’ll be back’ line.

And Team Ineos chief Dave Brailsford is also confident Froome will make an elite-level comeback as soon as possible.

He said: “I think he will try and get back.

“Who knows how this will impact on him, but I don’t think it will be the case where he’ll just say ‘right, I’m satisfied now. I’ll hang up my wheels and call it a day’.

“I think he’s more likely to really work hard in rehab and push himself really hard.

“He’ll take the same approach to that I’m sure as he does to his sport. If I was a betting man I’d say yes we’ll see him back at some point in the future.”

The Tour de France gets under way this weekend ahead of 23 days of gruelling action.

Without Froome, reigning champion Geraint Thomas will lead Team Ineos in the 21 stages starting in Bruxelles, Belgium and culminating at the Champs-Elysees in Paris on Sunday 28 July.

Chris Froome has four Tour de France titles

Tour de France 2019 teams and riders: What are Team Sky now? What is the Team Ineos kit?

4 Jul

The teams and riders for the 2019 Tour de France have been confirmed with last year’s winner Geraint Thomas looking to keep that yellow jersey.

There will be 22 teams taking part in the 106th edition of the famous race with each naming eight-man squads.

Britain’s Geraint Thomas will be riding for Team Ineos in the Tour de France

Team Sky, who Thomas won with last summer, have been renamed as Team Ineos and will be competing in burgundy and black kits.

Astana Pro Team star Jakob Fuglsang will be riding in light blue while Trek-Segafredo’s Richie Porte will be in orange, white and black.

The Movistar Team, who have high hopes for Nairo Quintana and Mikel Landa Meana, will be in light blue and black kits.

Geraint Thomas won the Tour de France last summer

The race gets under way in Brussels, Belgium on Saturday, July 6 to embark on 21 stages over 23 days before the final race onto the Champs-Elysees in Paris on Sunday, July 28.

As well as Thomas, British riders include Luke Rowe, Simon Yates, Alex Dowsett and Stephen Cummings but there is no Chris Froome (injury) or Mark Cavendish (selection).

Here’s the full rundown of the teams and riders for the 2019 Tour de France:

Team Ineos

Geraint Thomas, Egan Arley Bernal Gomez, Nicolas Jonathan Castroviejo, Michal Kwiatkowski, Gianni Moscon, Wout Poels, Luke Rowe, Dylan Van Baarle, (S) Salvatore Puccio, (S) Ian Stannard

Bora – Hansgrohe

Peter Sagan, Emanuel Buchmann, Marcus Burghardt, Patrick Konrad, Gregor Muhlberger, Daniel Oss, Lukas Postlberger, Maximilian Schachmann, (S) Sam Bennett, (S) Maciej Bodnar

Deceuninck – Quick – Step

Julian Alaphilippe, Kasper Asgreen, Dries Devenyns, Yves Lampaert, Enric Mas Nicolau, Michael Morkov, Maximiliano Ariel Richeze, Elia Viviani, (S) Philippe Gilbert, (S) Fabio Jakobsen

Ag2r La Mondiale

Romain Bardet, Mikael Cherel, Benoit Cosnefroy, Mathias Frank, Tony Gallopin, Alexis Gougeard, Oliver Naesen, Alexis Vuillermoz, (S) Clement Venturini, (S) Pierre Latour

Bahrain – Merida

Vincenzo Nibali, Damiano Caruso, Sonny Colbrelli, Rohan Dennis, Ivan Garcia Cortina, Matej Mohoric, Dylan Teuns, Jan Tratnik, (S) Mark Padun, (S) Yukiya Arashiro

Groupama – Fdj

Thibaut Pinot, William Bonnet, David Gaudu, Stefan Kung, Matthieu Ladagnous, Rudy Molard, Sebastien Reichenbach, Anthony Roux, (S) Tobias Ludvigsson, (S) Steve Morabito

Movistar Team

Nairo Quintana, Alejandro Valverde, Andrey Amador, Imanol Erviti, Mikel Landa Meana, Nelson Oliveira, Marc Soler, Carlos Verona Quintanilla, (S) Jurgen Roelandts, (S) Winner Andrew Anacona

Astana Pro Team

Jakob Fuglsang, Pello Bilbao Lopez De Armentia, Omar Fraile Matarranz, Hugo Houle, Gorka Izaguirre Insausti, Alexey Lutsenko, Magnus Cort Nielsen, Luis Leon Sanchez, (S) Davide Ballerini, (S) Merhawi Kudus

Team Jumbo – Visma

Steven Kruijswijk, George Bennett, Laurens De Plus, Dylan Groenewegen, Amund Grondahl Jansen, Tony Martin, Mike Teunissen, Wout Van Aert, (S) Taco Van Der Hoorn, (S) Lennard Hofstede

Ef Education First

Rigoberto Uran, Niccolo Bonifazio, Simon Clarke, Tanel Kangert, Sebastian Langeveld, Tom Scully, Tejay Van Garderen, Michael Woods, (S) Mitchell Docker, (S) G Lawson Craddock

Mitchelton – Scott

Simon Yates, Luke Durbridge, Jack Haig, Michael Hepburn, Daryl Impey, Christopher Juul Jensen, Matteo Trentin, Simon Yates, (S) Mikel Nieve Iturralde, (S) Damien Howson

Ccc Team

Greg Van Avermaet, Patrick Bevin, Alessandro De Marchi, Simon Geschke, Serge Pauwels, Joseph Rosskopf, Michael Schar, Lukasz Wisniowski, (S) Jonas Koch, (S) Nathan Van Hooydonck

Uae Team Emirates

Daniel Martin, Fabio Aru, Sven Erik Bystrom, Rui Costa, Sergio Luis Henao Montoya, Alexander Kristoff, Vegard Stake Laengen, Jasper Philipsen, (S) Oliviero Troia, (S) Aleksandr Riabushenko

Trek – Segafredo

Richie Porte, Julien Bernard, Giulio Ciccone, Koen De Kort, Fabio Felline, Bauke Mollema, Toms Skujins, Jasper Stuyven, (S) Gianluca Brambilla, (S) Edward Theuns

Team Sunweb

Michael Matthews, Nikias Arndt, Cees Bol, Chad Haga, Lennard Kamna, Wilco Kelderman, Soren Kragh Andersen, Nicolas Roche, (S) Rob Power, (S) Martijn Tusveld

Cofidis, Solutions Credits

Christophe Laporte, Natnael Berhane, Nicolas Edet, Jesus Herrada, Anthony Perez, Pierre Luc Perichon, Stephane Rossetto, Julien Simon, (S) Damien Touze, (S) Jesper Hansen

Lotto Soudal

Tiesj Benoot, Jasper De Buyst, Thomas De Gendt, Caleb Ewan, Jens Keukeleire, Roger Kluge, Maxime Monfort, Tim Wellens, (S) Jelle Wallays, (S) Nikolas Maes

Total Direct Energie

Lilian Calmejane, Niccolo Bonifazio, Fabien Grellier, Paul Ourselin, Romain Sicard, Rein Taaramae, Niki Terpstra, Anthony Turgis, (S) Thomas Boudat, (S) Adrien Petit

Team Katusha Alpecin

Ilnur Zakarin, Jens Debusschere, Alex Dowsett, Jose Goncalves, Marco Haller, Nils Politt, Mads Schmidt Wurtz, Rick Zabel, (S) Nathan Haas, (S) Viacheslav Kuznetsov

Wanty – Gobert Cycling Team

Guillaume Martin, Frederik Backaert, Aime De Gendt, Odd Christian Eiking, Xandro Meurisse, Andrea Pasqualon, Kevin Van Melsen, Loic Vliegen, (S) Fabien Doubey, (S) Marco Minnaard

Team Dimension Data

Edvald Boasson Hagen, Michael Valgren, Lars Bak Ytting, Stephen Cummings, Reinardt Janse Van Rensburg, Benjamin King, Roman Kreuziger, Giacomo Nizzolo, (S) Mark Cavendish, (S) Julien Vermote

Team Arkea – Samsic

Warren Barguil, Maxime Bouet, Anthony Delaplace, Elie Gesbert, Andre Greipel, Kevin Ledanois, Amael Moinard, Florian Vachon, (S) Romain Hardy, (S) Clement Russo

Tour de France route 2019 in full: When does it start? What are the stages? Is it in England?

4 Jul

The 2019 Tour de France is now under way with 23 days of gruelling action in store.

The world’s best cyclists will go head-to-head over 21 intense stages of the famous race as they look to claim the iconic yellow jersey.

Geraint Thomas won the Tour de France last summer

Great Britain star Geraint Thomas secured glory last summer and he will head up the newly-formed Team Ineos (previously Team Sky) this time.

The race will not head to England this year and instead starts with two stages in Belgium before heading into France for the most famous stretches.

It will all then culminate with the traditional trip down the Champs-Elysees in Paris on Sunday 28 July.

Geraint Thomas celebrates his yellow jersey win with Chris Froome last summer

Along the way, riders will compete in one individual time-trial, one team time-trial and seven flat stages.

There will then be five ‘hilly’ stages and seven torturous mountain stints with just two rest days breaking it all up.

Here’s a rundown of the full race for the 2019 Tour de France:

Stage 1: Saturday, July 6, 194.5KM, Bruxelles – Brussel, flat

Stage 2: July 7, 27.6KM, Bruxelles Palais Royal – Brussel Atomium, team time-trial

Stage 3: July 8, 215KM, Binche – Epernay, hilly

Stage 4: July 9, 213.5KM, Reims – Nancy, flat

Stage 5: July 10, 175.5KM, Saint-Die-Des-Vosges – Colmar, hilly

Stage 6: July 11, 160.5KM, Mulhouse – La Planche Des Belles Filles, mountain

Stage 7: July 12, 230KM, Belfort – Chalon-Sur-Saone, flat

Stage 8: July 13, 200KM, Macon – Saint-Etienne, hilly

Stage 9: July 14, 170.5KM, Saint-Etienne – Brioude, hilly

Stage 10: July 15, 217.5KM, Saint-Flour – Albi, flat

Rest Day: July 16, Albi

Mark Cavendish will not race in the Tour de France for the first time since 2007
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Stage 11: July 17, 167KM, Albi – Toulouse, flat

Stage 12: July 18, 209.5KM, Toulouse – Bagneres-De-Bigorre, mountain

Stage 13: July 19, 27.2KM, Pau – Pau, individual time-trail

Stage 14: July 20, 117.5KM, Tarbes – Tourmalet Bareges, mountain

Stage 15: July 21, 185KM, Limoux – Foix Prat D’albis, mountain

Rest Day, July 22, Nimes

Stage 16: July 23, 177KM, Nimes – Nimes, flat

Stage 17: July 24, 200KM, Pont Du Gard – Gap, hilly

Stage 18: July 25, 208KM, Embrun – Valloire, mountain

Stage 19: July 26, 126.5KM, Saint-Jean-De-Maurienne – Tignes, mountain

Stage 20: July 27, 130KM, Albertville – Val Thorens, mountain

Stage 21: July 28, 128KM, Rambouillet – Paris Champs-Elysees, flat

Tour de France 2019 jerseys: What do the yellow, green and polka dot shirts mean?

4 Jul

The world best’s cyclists will put their skills to the test in the 106th edition of the famous Tour de France this month.

Great Britain star Geraint Thomas won the 2018 title and he heads up another stellar field of riders for the 2019 event.

The race gets under way in Belgium on Saturday ahead of 21 gruelling stages through the mountains of France.

Britain’s Geraint Thomas won the famous yellow jersey at the Tour de France in 2018

All the competitors will be dreaming of riding down Paris’ iconic Champs-Elysees wearing the yellow jersey and sipping champagne on their way to glory.

While the yellow top is the prestigious award on offer, there are several others riders will be looking to claim.

Points, times and terrain will all determine who gets to wear the famous coloured shirts and here’s what they all mean.

Yellow Jersey

The Yellow Jersey is one of the most iconic sporting trophies in the world.

It is won by the rider who leads the General Classification and stands above the other jerseys awarded.

After each of stage of the race, the jersey goes to the overall leader with the fastest time who will then don it for the following stage. As it’s based on time and not points, the yellow is not always giving to that day’s winner.

Green Jersey

This jersey is awarded to the leader of the Points Classification as riders battle it out in intermediate sprints that come mid-stage.

The points differ due to what stage it is and most points are won at the end of each stage.

The four most prestigious jerseys up for grabs at the Tour de France

Polka Dot Jersey

In a true test of endurance and pain, the polka dot jersey goes to the ‘King of the Mountains’.

It is won by the leader of the Mountains Classification as riders strive to reach the summit of designated climbs on each stage first.

White Jersey

The white jersey is basically awarded to the best young rider with the lowest overall time.

It goes to the overall General Classification leader who is 25 years old or younger.

Mark Cavendish omitted from Tour de France by Dimension Data after Doug Ryder overruled Rolf Aldag

2 Jul

Mark Cavendish has been left devastated after failing to be selected for the Tour de France.

For the first time since 2007, cycling’s showpiece race will not feature Cavendish after Dimension Data’s team principal Doug Ryder overruled performance director Rolf Aldag and opted to omit the British rider from their eight-man team.

Cavendish will not race in the Tour de France for the first time since 2007
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The highly-respected Aldag is supposed to be responsible for selection and had wanted the Manxman – known to many as the ‘fastest man on two wheels’ – to be part of the line-up but, much to the shock of Cavendish, Ryder took a different view.

The move is akin to Ed Woodward doing the same to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer at Manchester United and denies Cavendish, with 30 Tour de France stage wins to his name, the chance to move closer to Eddy Merckx’s record of 34.

When initially announcing their line-up, there was no reference to the absence of 34-year-old Cavendish, who has struggled with illness since being diagnosed with the Epstein-Barr virus in 2017.

A further statement read: “Selection for our Tour squad was a highly competitive process and one in which a panel weighed up the options provided to us not only by Mark but indeed all of our riders

“As you’d expect among a selection panel, there were a number of different preferences of the final squad makeup with our team principal, Doug Ryder, making the final decision on it.

“This selection is one the team believes will be best suited to meet the goals set out for the race.”

At the 2018 race, Cavendish was still suffering the effects of the Epstein-Barr virus and finished outside the time limit on the tough Alpine leg to La Rosière on stage 11, while the year before that his tour ended early when he fractured his shoulder after Peter Sagan elbowed him off his bike meters from the finish line on stage four.

Although known for the green jersey, Cavendish has also worn the yellow
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Cavendish had been altitude training in Austria, specifically for the 2019 Tour, tailoring his program around being ready to peak for what are three weeks of gruelling racing beginning on 6 July in Brussels.

Considering how much racing in the Tour means to him, the move to omit him from the Tour is devastating blow as he is thought to feel as healthy as he did in 2016 when he won four stages and wore both the yellow and green jerseys.

In 2011, Cavendish won the final stage of the Tour in Paris to become Britain’s first winner of the green jersey, awarded to the race’s best sprinter.

He has won 30 Tour stages, four short of Eddie Merckx’s record and in 2011 won the green jersey, last wearing it with Dimension Data in 2016 when he won four stages
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Speaking in October, he reiterated the magnitude of racing in the Tour.

“It means everything for every bike rider, even guys who don’t ride the road,” he said. “Professional track riders at one point or another dreamt of riding the Tour de France.

“For me it’s everything, it’s my career. It’s the only reason I still ride my bike.”

Team Dimension Data Tour de France 2019 team

Cavendish has won 30 Tour stages in his career, but has not been selected for the 2019 race. Here's who Dimension Data picked...

Edvald Boasson Hagen, Stephen Cummings, Reinardt Janse van Rensburg, Michael Valgren, Roman Kreuziger, Giacomo Nizzolo, Ben King Lars Bak

Chris Froome to remain in intensive care for two more days after suffering multiple fractures in high-speed crash

12 Jun

Chris Froome is expected to remain in intensive care for at least two more days after suffering multiple fractures in a crash which has ruled him out of the Tour de France.

The four-time Tour winner suffered a broken femur, a broken elbow and broken ribs during his reconnaissance ahead of stage four of the Criterium du Dauphine on Wednesday.

Froome was preparing for July’s Tour de France

The 34-year-old underwent an operation which lasted almost eight hours at a hospital in St Etienne, where he has been joined by his wife Michelle and Team Ineos doctor Richard Usher.

Speaking to reporters ahead of Thursday’s stage five of the Dauphine, Ineos team principal Sir Dave Brailsford said: “He had surgery to repair his femur, his hip, his elbow.

“He’s got broken ribs, a little bit of internal damage as well, so he’s staying in intensive care for the next couple of days and then we’ll go from there.

“He’s being very well looked after. Our doctor is with him now and Michelle is with him. We’ll keep monitoring the situation as see how it develops.”

Brailsford said Froome was being looked after in ‘exemplary fashion’ but that it is too soon to put any sort of timetable on his rehabilitation programme.

“First things first,” he said. “For now, let’s just concentrate on today and getting him through today, and then tomorrow et cetera and see how this situation develops from there.

Rescue workers on the roof of the Centre Hospitalier of Roanne hold up a blanket to screen Chris Froome

“The first thing in all these situations is to get that first stabilisation, that first phase of medical surgery done really and then go into the recovery process.”

Brailsford revealed on Wednesday night that Froome’s data showed he went from 54 kilometres per hour to a dead stop as he struck a wall on a descent. The accident happened when Froome wiped his nose and a gust of wind caught his front wheel.

“He came down a technical descent and on to a straighter piece of road with houses either side,” Brailsford told BBC Sport’s Bespoke Podcast.

“He signalled to (team-mate) Wout (Poels) that he was going to clear his nose, he took his hand off the bar to do that and a gust of wind took his front wheel, he lost control and went straight into the wall of a house.

“We have had a look at his data, he went from 54kmh to a dead stop.”

Froome has won the Tour de France four times, but will not be going for a fifth title this year

Froome was riding the Dauphine during the final stages of his preparation for the Tour, where he was looking for a record-equalling fifth victory.

Froome was eighth in the overall classification after three stages of the eight-day race, just 24 seconds behind leader Dylan Teuns, with fellow Briton Adam Yates leading after the time trial stage.

Defending champion Geraint Thomas will now be Ineos’ sole leader at the Tour, which begins in Brussels on July 6.

Sir Bradley Wiggins: Cycling legend discusses relationship with Chris Froome and how Lance Armstrong ‘changed his life’

17 Oct

Sir Bradley Wiggins has told talkSPORT of how disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong changed his life and was the inspiration that helped shape his celebrated career in the sport.

‘Wiggo’ joined Jim White on Wednesday for an EXCLUSIVE chat about his new book, ‘Icons’, in which he dives into his vast jersey collection and explores the careers of 21 of cycling’s most historic figures.

There is little doubt Armstrong is one of them – the American poster boy who came back from a cancer battle to win seven consecutive Tour de France titles, to then be stripped of them all after arguably the biggest doping scandal in sporting history.

Armstrong’s crimes are unforgivable for many involved in the sport, having a huge blank space on the cycling record books.

Wiggins rode alongside Armstrong in the Tour de France peloton toward the end of the American’s career

But Wiggins has admitted he and Armstrong – who he still talks to, from time to time – will always share a connection that, since his retirement from competition in 2016, he has realised is stronger than he ever thought.

Speaking to talkSPORT, he said: “When I was 13 and I was living in a council estate in London, he won the world title in Oslo and he was 21 years of age, and I was enthralled by it.

“I went out on my bike the next day and thought I was Lance Armstrong. Nobody can ever take that away from me, that feeling of freedom and going out on the bike and being inspired by him.

“He’s iconic for good and bad reasons now, whether people like it or not. But, for me, I can’t change the way it made me feel when I was 13. It changed my life.

Instagram Photo

“I’ve realised that actually this guy has been part of my inspiration and part of my life more than I ever really thought.

“I never realised then, that 16 or 17 years later I would be going toe-to-toe with him on Mont Ventoux for a podium place at the Tour de France.

“To say he’s a hero of mine is a bit strong.

“I still speak to him and I last spoke to him a couple of weeks ago. I know him as a person post-cycling, and after all that he’s been through.”

talkSPORT’s Jim White: Has he apologised to you? “No, he doesn’t need to apologise to me, I don’t expect an apology.”

JW: But he tarnished the sport you love, Bradley. “Yeah, but so many people did.

“That’s not condoning what he did, not for one minute, but once you come out of cycling, I see it more from the human side now and it is what it is.

Armstrong was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles – but he still has the yellow jerseys hanging up in his Texas home

“Lance has paid heavily for what he did. OK, the sport has suffered, but he wasn’t alone in that. I think he’s been singled out as well.”

Asked if he was angry by the revelation of Armstrong’s prolific use of performance-enhancing drugs, in a scandal described as ‘the most sophisticated, professionalised and successful doping program that sport has ever seen’, Wiggo added: “I wouldn’t say I was angry.

“I saw it more as an inconvenience for me because I’d won the Tour de France and it came out a couple of days before a media day with Team Sky.

“I have an opinion on it and not everyone is going to like it, but I’ve moved on now and I can see the world from a different perspective and it’s not just cycling.

Wiggins became the first Brit to win the Tour de France in 2012, and won Olympic gold later that summer at London 2012

“Yes, cycling has been damaged, but there’s a lot of people to blame for that and there’s been a lot of corruption in the sport in the past and the way it’s been run.”

Wiggins also spoke about his infamous relationship with former Team Sky team-mate Chris Froome, who was dubbed the ‘super-domestique’ for Wiggo’s 2012 Tour de France win, before becoming team leader and since going on to win four Le Tour titles, plus wins in the Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a España.

Wiggins has admitted he and Froome didn’t see eye-to-eye at Team Sky

First asked about his relationship with Armstrong…

JW: So Armstrong is a pal? “Err, I wouldn’t say that. We’re not big friends and we never have been, but I think there’s a mutual respect in terms of what we went through, racing each other up those climbs.”

JW: Is Chris Froome a pal? “No.

“No, what do you want me to say? I have a huge amount of respect for him as an athlete but, as people, we never got on.”

Listen back to Sir Bradley Wiggins on talkSPORT IN FULL above.