Our latest round-up from the Tour de France comes on today's second rest day and includes a couple of videos as well as yellow jersey hopefuls Alberto Contador and Nairo Quintana putting their case forward ahead of four stages in the Alps that will determine the winner of the 102nd edition of the race.
Here’s the latest Velon on-board footage from this year’s race, following the peloton on Stage 16 which included a tricky descent to Gap ahead of the rest day.
Only André Greipel of Lotto-Soudal has won more stages at this year’s race than Katusha’s Joaquim Rodriguez.
Once tipped as a Grand Tour contender, it’s become clear over the years that the diminutive Spaniard lacks the staying power to challenge over three weeks.
Few are better than him when it comes to a sharp and tough uphill finish, as multiple stage wins at the Tour, Giro and Vuelta attest, and his brace of victories in the past fortnight have been rewarded with a contract extension by Katusha.
The 36-year-old said: “How could I make the choice not to continue with my current team? Our climbers as well as our sprinters, we are all in the winning mood already a year-long.
“The atmosphere never has been better than this season. It was my dream to go on with Team Katusha, with my current teammates and current staff. For me it was a logical choice.
“We decided already a while ago to continue our relationship but in the end it always takes a while to finalise the contract. I am happy I could sign on this rest day. Worry-free I can now tackle the final week of the Tour de France.”
The Russian WorldTour team’s general manager, Viacheslav Ekimov, added: “Despite his age Joaquim Rodriguez still delivers. We don’t see any regression in his results or attitude.
“On and off the bike Joaquim is a model of professionalism. It is the key of his successes. Joaquim is an example for his teammates. We are happy he continues with Team Kausha. Our future looks bright.”
South African UCI Professional Continental outfit MTN-Qhibeka have more than repaid ASO’s faith in granting them a wildcard entry to this year’s race.
Daniel Teklehaimonot is the first black African rider to have led one of the Tour’s classifications after taking the polka dot jersey in the opening week, while British rider Steve Cummings won Saturday’s Stage 14 to Mende.
Their bike supplier is Cervélo, who have produced a series of videos following them on this year’s race – here’s the latest as they negotiate the Pyrenees.
Alberto Contador, seeking to become the first man since the late Marco Pantani in 1998 to win the Giro d’Italia and Tour de France in the same year, insists that the yellow jersey could still be his as the race heads into the Alps tomorrow.
The Tinkoff-Saxo rider lies fourth overall and 4 minutes 2 seconds behind race leader Chris Froome of Team Sky.
In a press conference during today’s rest day, he said, "My aim at this Tour is only the yellow jersey. I came here to win, I wouldn't be happy with a podium place,” reports Sky Sports.
"My legs are turning better than they were in the first Pyrenean stage,” Contador continued. “I feel good now. We will see what happens. Iwill react depending on several factors, such as the weather and my rivals.
"It's a tough race, it's complicated. But I can assure you I'm very motivated for this last week. The Tour is not over.”
With four tough stages in the Alps in the coming days, second placed Nairo Quintana of Movistar, second overall to Froome in 2013, believes he can overturn the 3 minutes 10 seconds advantage the Team Sky man currently holds.
"The mountains are coming and for sure what comes next will be spectacular," the Colombian, whose team mate Alejandro Valverde is a further 52 seconds back at fourth overall, said.
"They are beautiful stages that are coming and we hope to gain back the time we have lost. I don't know if we will overtake Froome, but we will try.
"Even though it would be satisfying to be on the podium in Paris, the main aim we are working for is the yellow jersey," Quintana, who leads the best young rider’s classification he won two years ago, added.
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.