TdF – Pre-Race Rider Talk


Froome, Contador, Dan Martin, Nibali etc, Round up of what some of the riders in the Tour de France which starts today have been saying …

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TdF – Pre-Race Rider Talk

Several teams have attended the conference room of the headquarters at Jaarbeurs in Utrecht on the eve of stage 1 of the 2015 Tour de France to confront with the media. Fabian Cancellara, Tony Martin and Tom Dumoulin are the hot favorites for the inaugural time trial but questions arose on whether Rohan Dennis, Alex Dowsett or Adriano Malori could beat them.


Vincenzo Nibali (Astana): The big four favourites for the overall have attracted a lot of attention. “I’m more or less in the same shape as last year”, Vincenzo Nibali declared. “Some years I could have been happy with any place on the podium but being the defending champion, if we talk about Italian cyclists, we have to go as far back as to Ottavio Bottecchia (in the 1920’s) to find one of us to have won the Tour de France back to back. Among my rivals, I believe Nairo Quintana is above everyone else with Alberto Contador and Chris Froome just below.”

Nairo Quintana (Movistar): “I’m pleased with the course”, an optimistic Quintana noted. “It suits my characteristics. I’ve prepared for the complicated stages very well. My feeling is very different than two years ago. I was nervous at the time. This time, I am the leader of the team and I’m ready to handle the responsibilities.”

Chris Froome (Team Sky): Froome found Contador “amazing” in his attempt to double up after winning the Giro. “It’ll be interesting to see how he pulls up in the third week”, said the winner of the 2013 Tour de France.


“From a personal point of view, I’ve got to the start of this race in perfect condition,” he confirmed. “The journey for me started a year ago when I crashed out of this race. I was already processing and thinking about the best way to get back to this year’s Tour de France in the best shape possible.”

“The race is a lot more open (this year). It’s just not a two-horse race in many regards. It’s a race where, once you get up into the mountains, you don’t just have to watch one guy you’ve probably got a list of about eight guys. It’s probably going to be the most testing Tour we’ve seen in years.”

“Each and every one of the guys on this team has worked their arse off to get into this team and be in the shape they’re in. There’s a strong classics undercurrent throughout the team and hopefully that will help to keep me safe in the first week. Then once we get into the mountains we’ve got a few mountain goats and guys who can really climb. They’re going to be there to help me all the way. I think everyone’s just looking forward to getting started now.”


Re the stage with cobbles to shake the race up, Froome says “I’d like to just set the record straight that it wasn’t the cobbles that put me out of the race [last year]. I didn’t even see a cobble last year as I didn’t make it that far. Like I said with the classics undercurrent we’ve got in this team I’m going to be more than protected on the cobbled stage. We’ve been out there and looked at the cobbles. I’m quite happy riding it and I’m actually quite looking forward to that stage.”

On today’s time trial, “I think tomorrow’s time trial is definitely the start of the GC race, even though it’s such a short distance. It’s just under 14km so there can be time gaps, and I’d expect gaps of around 20 seconds maybe between the GC contenders. So certainly the race does start tomorrow in that regard”.

Alberto Contador (Tinkoff Saxo): “I arrive (at the Tour) in good shape. I have planned my training and rest and followed it very carefully and at this moment I think I have recovered well physically and also mentally, which could also be even more important”.

“If we should evaluate the favorites, I would say that there are four favorites that everybody talks about but I think that there could probably be more riders like Bardet, Purito and Valverde. However, right now, the most important is to focus on the Tour day by day”.

Stage 9. Alberto Contador

Asked how he would prefer to finish this first week? “Of course I would prefer to have a 20-minute advantage over the second rider after the first week but that could be very complicated (laughs). No, the first objective is to try and avoid crashes and this is the most important because the first week could prove very complicated”.

“We have an opening time trial, then we could have wind on the second day and then we have the Mur du Huy and the cobbles, which will all be difficult days. The main goal will be not to lose the Tour during the first week”.

“The thing I think mostly about is my recovery and how my body will respond to this challenge, when we are in the middle of the Tour, since this Tour could perhaps be my last Tour with a lot of mountains and a very hard first week. The last week is very tough and the final six days are very intensive. So it will be a quest and constancy will be the most important factor”,

Stage 9. Dan Martin

Dan Martin: In Dan’s diary in the Irish Times, he says “Providing I can steer clear of them (crashes in the first week), there is reason to be optimistic about the three weeks ahead. I am really happy with my condition. In fact, it is probably the best fitness I have had going into a Grand Tour. I feel better than I have ever done.”

“The work is done; now I just need to get through that tricky first week in one piece. Right now I’m thinking most about Monday’s third stage, running from Antwerp to Huy. That’s the one that stands out for me as the first big opportunity. It ends on the Mur de Huy – Mur means “wall”, which gives an idea of how steep the final climb is.”

“Each year the Mur is the finish of Flèche Wallonne. I’ve taken second, fourth, sixth and ninth in it, so it really suits my characteristics well. I am always one of the favourites going into that race so to have a stage of the Tour de France ending there means I will go in as one of the favourites there too.”

“There are time bonuses available for the stage and going for the yellow jersey has definitely entered our thoughts. A good ride on the Mur de Bretagne at the end of stage eight should put me in a good position overall heading into the team time trial and then the big mountain stages”.


Alex Dowsett (Movistar): The British TT champion is among the favourites for the first stage time trial on a flat but technical 13.8km course around the Dutch city of Utrecht. He told Sky News “Winning stage one and taking the yellow jersey would be career-defining. It’s not out of the question. I think you will likely still see the [time-trial] specialists at the sharp end of the results list, but the problem with a short time trial is a lot more riders become a threat and would be motivated for it”.

“Certainly, the sprinters and classics riders would all be able to deliver a strong prologue, so I think it will be a closely fought battle. I will attack it as hard as I can, as always.
I’m here basically to help our general classification guys’ positioning on the flat, especially when things start getting chaotic in the last 20km or ahead of a climb or any key part of the race”.


Yates Brothers (Orica GreenEdge): 22 year old Adam Yates will make his debut in the Tour and his brother Simon explained on “There is nothing that can prepare you for the Tour de France. It’s impossible to get across just how hard the Grand Tours are. You start tired, and you get even tireder. There is no way to recover. You have rest days but they don’t really do anything. After three or four days you’re already knackered. You’re at your limit. But that’s what separates the guys who do and don’t win – the guys who get on with it, who are tired but who just crack on. They are the guys that win.”

“I’m not looking forward to the first week,” says Adam. “It’s pretty flat and exposed to crosswinds. I’ll just be there to support the guys, hopefully have no crashes or injuries, and just try to get through it and get to the mountains.”

On Sky News, Adam says “I will be looking at the mountain stages. If the general classification guys let the breakaway go, hopefully myself or my brother can get in the break and make something happen. We have shown in the past that we can both climb with the best in the world on a good day.”

“The fourth stage is dangerous. I’m biased because I don’t like cobbles. We risk our lives every day just on normal flat roads – I broke my hand in the Tour of the Basque Country – so when you add cobbles in there, it’s an added danger. On that day I will just be at the back trying to stay out of danger as much as possible.”

Simon adds, “The start will be a special moment. If you said 10 years ago I’d be starting the Tour with my brother, it would be a dream come true. But once you start racing it’s just the same. The biggest difference with racing with my brother is off the bike. When you’re finished, we’ll be joking around in the bus, and if we share a room, we’ll have some good banter, watch a movie, and it all feels like home.”

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