FRANCE, July 18, 2018 (News Wires) - Frenchman Julian Alaphilippe turned on the style to secure his maiden Tour de France 10th stage win on Tuesday as Belgium's Greg Van Avermaet stubbornly held on to the yellow jersey.
Alaphilippe, of the Quick Step team, launched an audacious lone attack on the third and penultimate climb and went on to solo over the finish several minutes ahead of the main peloton after a first day in the Alps marked by Van Avermaet outfoxing Team Sky in the yellow jersey stakes.
Days after France's World Cup victory, Alaphilippe handed the hosts their maiden win of the race -- and soothed the personal pain of two frustrating years hoping to bag his maiden Tour stage win.
"I can't describe it. Going for a win like this was a big dream for me," said Alaphilippe, who twice came close to winning a stage on his debut in 2016 before being sidelined by injury in 2017.
"I've worked really hard for this. Not everyone realises how important it is for a cyclist to take part in the Tour.
"For a Frenchman it's simply unavoidable.
"I'm happy the last 10 km was downhill because it gave me the chance to understand what was happening to me."
Expected to challenge overnight leader Van Avermaet for the right to wear the race's fabled tunic into the 11th stage, the Sky team of champion Chris Froome failed to muster a challenge despite their best-placed rider, Geraint Thomas, sitting only 43secs behind the Belgian in the overall standings.
Van Avermaet, who is not a specialist climber, appeared under threat at the beginning of the 158.5 km race from Annecy featuring four categorised climbs and with a downhill finish into Le Grand Bornand.
But the wily BMC rider outfoxed Sky by joining an early breakaway that went on to build a healthy lead on the main peloton and stymie whatever plans Sky may have had of taking control of the race.
As Alaphilippe surged towards his memorable first win, Van Avermaet produced a fantastic performance to finish just 1min 44secs behind, with Thomas, Froome and Team Sky crossing the line over three minutes behind the stage winner.
In the overall standings Van Avermaet now leads Thomas, in second, by 2min 22secs, with Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) now up to third overall at 3:10.
FRANCE, July 11, 2018 (News Wires) - Colombian ace Fernando Gaviria edged a breathtaking bunch sprint to win the fourth stage of the Tour de France, his second stage success after also winning the opening ride.
The 23-year-old Quick Step rider timed his sprint to perfection to overtake German Andre Greipel and hold off a fast-finishing Peter Sagan, who just got second, in a photo finish.
Team Sky leader Chris Froome, seeking a record-equalling fifth Tour de France victory, and all the key contenders to top the overall standings finished safely in the main pack.
One rider who will take no further part in the race is AG2R's Axel Domont who broke his collarbone after being brought down avoiding a spectator who had strayed into the road to take a photo.
Gaviria won Saturday's first stage on his Tour debut and looks to be the man to beat in the sprints this year.
"Everyone in Colombia is watching the Tour de France and I feel like my nation's representative," said Gaviria.
"The team had to work really hard to catch the escape, nobody else was helping," he added.
The frenetic finish was so close, the riders all watched the replay on a giant screen to see how the shares had been spoiled.
"I took Greiple's wheel, so it could have been better," Sagan joked afterwards.
"Second is better than third," he added.
Asked what he needed to beat Gaviria, Sagan was again quick with a quip.
"Better legs!" he said. "He's faster than me and that's okay. Lets see tomorrow how he does where there's a bit of climbing."
Despite the late fall in the peloton, overnight leader Greg van Avermaet of BMC held on to the race leader's yellow jersey.
"We are happy to have kept the yellow," said Belgian Van Avermaet.
"I hope it brings us luck in the semifinal," he added in reference to the World Cup semifinal later Tuesday which pitches Belgium against France.
Van Avermaet would normally be one of the favourites to clinch Wednesday's hilly run to Quimper, but will face a stiff challenge for the jersey.
"It's the first big stage of this kind and we are going to see time difference in the overall standings, it just depends who wants to go for it," he said.
LA ROSIERE, June 10, 2018 (News Wires) - Team Sky's Welsh rider Geraint Thomas cemented his control of the Criterium du Dauphine after finishing second and penultimate stage won by Spaniard Pello Bilbao.
Bilbao made his move late on during the gruelling stage that is almost the same as stage 11 in the Tour de France next month, with four major climbs and a summit finish at la Rosiere. Thomas came in second, managing to put further valuable seconds between himself and his rivals for the yellow leader.
Briton Adam Yates, riding for Mitchelton, is second overall, 1min 29sec behind Thomas. France's Romain Bardet, of AG2R, jumped to third from seventh overnight and is at 2min 01sec.
"It wasn't ideal but AG2R rode really well, they really took the race on and put us under pressure," Thomas said.
"Fortunately we've got such a strong team that if one guy's not so good, another guy steps up. Tao and Castro (teammates Tao Geoghegan Hart and Jonathan Castroviejo) were really good and fortunately we were always just in control. We never panicked - but fair play to AG2R for taking the race on."
Thomas added to ITV: "I always felt in control, I always felt pretty good, but I didn't want to get too carried away (on the final climb). It's easy to underestimate how far there is to go and I didn't want to go too early, die off, and lose time.
"Obviously there's a big day as well, so I tried to do the minimum and then at the end, I just thought 'I'll go for it and see what happens'. I managed to get a few more bonus seconds which is good."
FRANCE, June 7, 2018 (News Wires) - Sky dominated the team time trial on the third stage of the Dauphine du Criterium, rolling at a record average of 57kmh with a tailwind over the flat 35km course.
Sky's Polish rider Michal Kwiatkowski, victim of a crash on Tuesday, regained the race leader's yellow jersey and now leads three teammates in the overall standings: Italian Gianni Moscon (at 3sec), Spaniard Jonathan Castroviejo (9) and Welshman Geraint Thomas (21).
Celebrations on Wednesday were a far cry from the end of the previous day which saw Kwiatkowski crash in the closing kilometres and the race leader was pleased he suffered no ill effects.
"It's a wonderful feeling to win as a team. We rode a perfect stage, technically and tactically, on the entire course," the Pole said.
"I'm so happy that I got no major issues after the crash yesterday. If I could have picked up one stage win in the Dauphine, I'd like it to be the TTT.
"It's a wonderful feeling to win as a team. We rode a perfect stage, technically and tactically, on the entire course."
The Sky outfit finished a whopping 37sec ahead of second-placed BMC, with Lotto in third, at 52sec, and Australian team Mitchelton in fourth (56).
Thomas called Team Sky's effort "fluid and fast".
"It's probably one of Team Sky's best time trials ever," he said.
"Now we have four hard stages ahead of us and we'll see how it goes. But we'll defend the jersey. We've got several cards to play but it'll still be difficult to win, that's for sure."
Thursday's 181km fourth stage runs from Chazey-sur-Ain to Lans-en-Vercors and features a gruelling climb of the Col du Mont Noir and steep ascent into Vercors.
FRANCE, June 6, 2018 (News Wires) - South African Daryl Impey took the leader's yellow jersey off crash-victim Michal Kwiatkowski as Germany's Pascal Ackermann of the Bora team sprinted to victory on Tuesday's second stage of the Criterium du Dauphine.
Kwiatkowski, Sky's Polish rider who won Sunday's opening time trial prologue, came off his bike after lashing rain left slick patches in the final two kilometres of the 181km stage between Montbrison and Belleville, but managed to finish.
Impey, winner of Monday's first stage and second overall ahead of this stage, rolled over the line for the Australian Mitchelton team in third behind Ackermann and Norway's Edvald Boasson Hagen to take yellow.
Wednesday's third stage is a 35km team time-trial between Pont-de-Vaux and Louhans-Châteaurenaud and is expected to blow the standings apart.
The final four days are for the pure climbers with a summit finish every day on some of the most fearsome climbs in the Alps.
By: Salwa Samir
The “Cairo Cycling Geckos” are using the gecko as a symbol for their team, because of their skill at negotiating narrow alleyways, dodging zig-zagging tok-toks, piles of garbage and herds of sheep as they ride here and there on their colourful bicycles, doing their charity work.
The Cairo Cycling Geckos (CCG) is an initiative that started in Ramadan, 2016, with the aim of providing Iftar (a sunset meal that breaks the fast) for those in need and for refugees living in the country. The food is delivered by young Egyptian women on their bikes.
Noran Salah, the founder of the initiative, said that the story began when she was encouraged to take up cycling as a hobby.
“I noticed some people were astonished to see me riding a bike and there was some verbal harassment. This made me determined to encourage other girls to go cycling and that is how I started my initiative,” Salah told the Egyptian Mail.
Her initiative is special because, not only does it encourage women to ride bikes, it encourages them to do charity work. On different occasions throughout the year, the cycling team roams the alleyways of poor neighbourhoods in Cairo, to help the people living in the area.
In Ramadan, for example, the women cyclists provide Iftar meals to those in need. On mothers’ day, they give presents to mothers, at feast-time they give toys to children and in winter they distribute blankets.
Salah needed to provide the volunteer women with several bikes, so they could carry out the charity work. In the beginning, she looked for people who had bikes she could borrow, but she could not find any.
She asked for help on her Facebook page.
“A young woman introduced me to Bescletta, a company that sells the most prestigious brands of bikes. I sent them a formal proposal, and they quickly replied that they were ready to support me when they knew that I would use the bikes for charity,” she said.
From the first day of Ramadan, Salah has been asking for donations in her posts on her Facebook page. She keeps the page followers updated as to where the team will go and where they will meet before setting out, so anyone who wants to, can join them.
Salah has other charitable ideas that she has implemented. At suhour time, she prepares sandwiches with various fillings such as cheese, egg, foul and other delicious ingredients and sells each sandwich for LE10 in classy areas. She tells people that the proceeds will go to charity.
"Some people pay LE100 for a sandwich just to support us,” Salah, who works as an interior designer, said happily.
Salah uses the proceeds and the donations she collects through her Facebook page to buy food boxes from Syrian, Sudanese and Eritrean women refugees.
“We then distribute these boxes as Iftar meals to poor people,” she said.
Noha Hesham joined the initiative as a volunteer. Before hearing of the bike team, she had never ridden a bike, but she wanted to learn, in order to join in the charity work.
She joined the initiative last year.
“When we go to a shanty town, we find out where the old people and the neediest people live. Sometimes we go to the area more than once, if that is what is needed,” she told the Mail.
She does not face any harassment by the people in these poor areas, so she assures girls that it is safe to join the team.
«When people know that we are coming to distribute food and other essentials, they help us find the neediest people in their neighbourhood and even pray for us,” Hesham said.
“I believe that when people see you doing something good, they will do their best to support you,” she said.