Blazin' Saddles

  • Katusha have lift-off

    Gazprom-funded Russian-based team Katusha looked to be running on empty during the Tour
    but now their engine is really hitting top gear.

    wins from Daniel Moreno and now Joaquim Rodriguez means Katusha are the
    Vuelta's in-form team, with both Spanish riders currently sitting comfortably
    in second and third in the GC, ready to pounce on the next Sylvain Chavanel

    Named after a type of rocket artillery first built and fielded by the Soviet
    Union in World War Two, Katusha always had big ambitions. Yet in recent races,
    we've seen a Katusha team firing nothing but blanks - a

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  • Sylvain Cav in hell

    On a day
    that Sylvain Chavanel moved into the leader's jersey, a rather wooden Mark
    Cavendish drew a line under what has been a miserable Vuelta for the Manxman.

    You can't
    blame Cav for wanting to make an appearance in HTC-Highroad's last ever Grand
    Tour; nor can you criticise him for his hunger to become only the fourth rider
    in history to win stages in all three Grand Tours in the same year.

    But let's
    be honest here: Cavendish has really had a Spanish stinker - from day one in
    Benidorm, when he was dropped by his team-mates during the TTT, right through
    to the moment he decided to throw in

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  • Lustrous Lastras

    At some
    point during his final descent into Totana, Pablo Lastras must have had some
    serious thoughts about how he was going to celebrate his victory.

    Nine years
    after he first won two stages in his debut Tour, Lastras added a third - all at
    the not-so-tender age of 35.

    Using all
    his experience and nous, the Movistar veteran took his fellow escapees by
    surprise on the final climb of the day before soloing down the descent to take
    the win.

    With three
    riders - including the dangerous all-rounder Sylvain Chavanel - in pursuit, you'd
    have thought Lastras would have been far too busy simply

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  • Sky’s super Sunday

    On Saturday it was all doom and gloom, but Sky put things right with wins in both Spain and Germany 24 hours later.

    First, Norwegian cannonball Edvald Boasson Hagen blasted his way to victory in the Vattenfall Cyclassics in Hamburg; then, in temperatures as high as 42 degrees, the "Five-Million Man" Chris Sutton surprised the pack with a stylish win in stage two of the Vuelta - the first Grand Tour success of his second career after swapping football for cycling.

    Let's face it: Sky were an utter shambles on Saturday as they limped home in 20th place in the TTT. But you're only as good as your

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  • Sky caves in on Wiggins

    sun was out in Spain but the sky still caved in for Brit abroad Bradley Wiggins
    on the beach in Benidorm.

    Sky, usually so disciplined as a unit, had a completely shambolic opening TTT -
    and at one moment had just four of nine riders together on the road until
    Xabier Zandio managed to rejoin Wiggins and his fellow pace-setters in time for
    the finish.

    this being the Vuelta, TV pictures were pretty shoddy and no one had any idea
    what actually happened on the 13.5-km course around the popular package holiday
    beach resort.

    actually all seemed to start okay for Sky, who were

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  • Blazin’ Saddles: Vuelta a Espana preview

    All eyes will be on Benidorm, the birthplace of package tourism, as the Vuelta gets under way this Saturday barely four weeks after the Tour de France.

    Following the most exciting Tour in years shouldn't prove a problem: excitement levels are high; the hilly route — which dips into the Basque region for the first time in 33 years — is both interesting and original (there are no Pyrenees, for example, but still six summit finishes); and all the big names who crashed out of the Grande Boucle with broken bones now have a chance to make amends in the season's third and final major stage race.


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  • Life after the Tour

    It's been a couple of weeks since Saddles brought you its Tour de France 2011
    Awards - but now it's time to turn a page, because life does go on.

    But not for long, if you are part of Bob Stapleton's HTC-Highroad. It
    was announced last week that the American-based team will fold at the end of
    the season
    after a deal with a potential new partner - not thought to be the
    singer Meat Loaf - collapsed.

    Yes, there is still the Vuelta a Espana for HTC to contend, but with Mark
    racing in preparation for the Worlds, and habitual sprint
    understudy Andre Greipel now thumping his chest and eating

    Read More »from Life after the Tour
  • The Tour Awards 2011

    Now the
    dust has settled on the Champs and FDJ have stopped attacking, Blazin' Saddles
    takes you through its official post-Tour awards.

    Nice-guys-finish-first award: Cadel Evans won the Tour fair and square - he was the most
    consistent individual, the strongest mentally and, contrary to previous form,
    one of the most aggressive going forward. What's more, he's just a normal,
    fragile, shy guy who likes dogs and doesn't like being hampered by the media.
    Chapeau, Cadel.

    The podium's-not-big-enough award: Tommy Voeckler encapsulated the spirit of the Tour with his
    remarkable 10-day ride in yellow

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  • Bubbles for Cuddles

    Blazin' Saddles: Bubbles for Cuddles

    After so many years of oh-so-nears, Cadel Evans will finally ride into Paris with the fabled maillot jaune as winner of the Tour de France.

    It is a sentence that Saddles never thought he would have to write. This humble blogger will put up his arms and say he got it wrong about Evans. Prior to the Tour, Saddles had him down in tenth position in his (woefully inaccurate) predictions — and never before has it been so thoroughly enjoyable to be proven so remarkably wrong.

    For Evans rode the Tour like a true champion — never giving up, always giving 100 per

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  • Nurse Bertie

    While Alberto Contador may have got heckled mercilessly on Alpe d'Huez, Friday's short but steep stage 19 was just what the doctor ordered.

    An early attack, a key mechanical failure, some rowdy fans, another stirring performance from a yellow jersey teetering on the verge of desperation, and a home win - finally - for France from the most unlikely of sources - it had pretty much everything.

    As the new yellow jersey show pony Andy Schleck whinnied at the finish: "I couldn't have told a writer to create a better Tour de France. It's all there - the suspense is perfect."

    Until Friday, the Tour

    Read More »from Nurse Bertie