Post-Tour de France news round-up

Spanish PM, Contador tops, Rogers concedes, Frank Schleck

Spanish PM praises 'tenacity' of Tour winner Contador

Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero praised Tour de France winner Alberto Contador as an example of "tenacity and hard work" on Monday at a reception for the cyclist at his official residence.

"I want to thank you for always having defended with pride the colours of our flag. You are an example of hard work and tenacity and of how to behave and compete in sports," he said, adding he believed Contador with win another Tour.

Contador, the winner in 2007 and 2009, pulled on his third Tour de France yellow jersey on Sunday after the 20th and final stage of cycling's premier event.

The 27-year-old was greeted by hundreds of supporters when he arrived at Madrid airport earlier on Monday.

After being received by Zapatero, he travelled to his hometown of Pinto near the Spanish capital where he waves his yellow jersey and jumped on the balcony of the town hall as the crowd below waved yellow and red Spanish flags.

"Thank you so much, I can't say anything more," he said.

His victory comes just two weeks after Spain won its first World Cup title and it came on the same day that two-time Formula One world champion Fernando Alonso won Sunday's German Grand Prix while Jorge Lorenzo won the United States Moto Grand Prix.

"It is extraordinary. We are at this moment the country with the most success in sports at the highest level," said Zapatero.

Earlier this year world number one Rafael Nadal's won Wimbledon and the French Open while Spain also won the world basketball championships in 2006 and came runners-up to the US at the Olympic Games two years later.

Contador heads world rankings

Alberto contador, now world number one: alberto contador, now world number one

Alberto Contador is the new world number one, according to the rankings released on Monday by cycling's governing body the UCI, a day after the Spaniard's third Tour de France victory.

Contador, who was fourth going into the Tour, has displaced the Australian Cadel Evans who has slipped to third.

Another Spaniard Joaquin Rodriguez has also leapfrogged Evans to take second place.

Tour de France runner-up Andy Schleck of Luxembourg has climbed impressively from 57th to sixth.

UCI individual world rankings
 
1 Alberto Contador (Spa) Astana 482 pts
2 Joaquin Rodriguez (Spa) Katusha 398
3 Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC 390
4 Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto 304
5 Luis Leon Sanchez (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne 283
6 Andy Schleck (Lux) Saxo Bank 258
7 Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Saxo Bank 250
8 Samuel Sanchez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 233
9 Robert Gesink (Ned) Rabobank 225
10 Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz) Astana) 223
 
Selected others
14 Ivan Basso (Ita) Liquigas 206
16 Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin-Transitions 195
20 Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Lampre 163
42 Lance Armstrong (USA) Radioshack 85
 
Team rankings
 
1 Astana (Kaz) 884 pts
2 Saxo Bank (Den) 788
3 Katusha (Rus) 709
4 Liquigas (Ita) 634
5 Omega Pharma (Bel) 621
6 Rabobank (Ned) 605
7 HTC-Columbia (USA) 595
8 Radioshack (USA) 562
9 BMC (USA) 553
10 Caisse d'Epargne (Spa) 506
 
Nation rankings
 
1 Spain 1528 pts
2 Italy 856
3 Belgium 849
4 Australia 723
5 United States 568
6 Russia 423
7 Luxembourg 398
8 Switzerland 355
9 Germany 343
10 Kazakhstan 340

Rogers calls time on yellow jersey quest

Michael rogers says he'll stick to trying to win shorter stage races: michael rogers says he'll stick to trying to win shorter stage races

Australian Michael Rogers says he will call time on his quest for the Tour de France yellow jersey after yet another painful and humbling experience on the race.

Rogers, who finished ninth in 2006, was one of several big-name victims to perform below expectations in a particularly tough 97th edition which crowned Spaniard Alberto Contador as champion ahead of Andy Schleck on Sunday.

HTC-Columbia's Rogers went into the race with ambitions for the top ten or better, but finished just outside the top 30, over an hour down on Astana all-rounder Contador.

Heralded earlier in his career as a potential winner of a race he calls the "pinnacle" of cycling, a serious crash ended Rogers' campaign in 2007 when he was racing towards the virtual yellow jersey on stage eight.

After missing the race in 2008, and a year after his 103rd place finish overall in 2009 Rogers was frank about his limitations as he looked eagerly forward to Sunday's final stage to Paris.

"I made a lot of sacrifices this year and gave it my best shot to try and do the Tour. In hindsight, I was in too good condition too early," Rogers said after finishing stage 19's 52km time trial 7min 56sec behind Swiss winner Fabian Cancellara.

After experiencing real joy when winning the Tour of California earlier this season, the former three-time world time trial champion said it was time to refocus his energy on the one-week stage races.

"My win in California was very positive and I'm proud of the win. I'll concentrate on the short stage races, you know, races of one week. I tried this year. But I have to accept the fact that I just don't recover in that last week like some other guys do.

"The Tour is the pinnacle of the sport and there's not many riders who can perform well, there's only a handful that can do it, and I can accept I'm not one of them. I can still have a great career winning shorter stage races."

Rogers was not alone in lamenting his performance in the Tour's unforgiving general classification.

Former two-time runner-up Cadel Evans was also touted as a possible top finisher, but he is set for a 26th place finish having just made the top 30 last year.

Evans performed superbly in the first week, only for his campaign to be irreparably damaged by a fractured elbow suffered in an unavoidable but relatively slow speed crash.

It came early on stage eight, at the end of which Evans took the yellow jersey after a great ride to Morzine-Avoriaz with stage winner Andy Schleck and Contador.

Twenty four hours later, he gave it up to Schleck and began his steady drop down the standings as the leaders' pace in the mountains, coupled with increasing pain now coming from all over his body, took their toll.

The survival campaign that has been Evans' lot since the crash was perhaps best reflected in his 166th place finish at nearly 11mins behind Cancellara in Saturday's time trial.

Wearing his world champion's rainbow jersey throughout, an accolade he wanted to honour by completing the Tour, switched back to his normal BMC jersey for the race against the clock in which his only ambition was to finish.

"(I had) no expectations whatsoever, my body's exhausted. Not wanting to quit (the Tour de France) was my main goal," he said.

Frank Schleck returns for Luxembourg Criterium

Andy and frank schleck ride together on the champs elysees after the final stage of the tour de france: andy and frank schleck ride together on the champs elysees after the final stage of the tour de france

Frank Schleck, the older brother of Tour de France runner-up Andy Schleck, confirmed Tuesday that he will return to competition at this week's Luxembourg Criterium.

Schleck was forced out of the Tour de France after breaking his collarbone on the third stage, a fall which he believes also prevented his brother from taking the title from Alberto Contador.

Luxembourger Andy Schleck finished runner-up for the second straight year behind the Spaniard.

"It took me two to three days to accept," Frank Schleck told Le Quotidien. "I think if I'd been there I could have won the Tour," explained Schleck, who finished fifth in last year's race.

"If the two of us had been there we could have proceeded like last year. We would each have taken turns to attack and Contador would have had to let either Andy or me go."

But he warned: "We'll be back, to work on the time-trial, train, give everything, and I believe in our future. Andy and I can win the Tour."

Schleck added that in addition to Thursday's criterium he hopes to race in the Tour of Denmark and the Vuelta, in which his brother will also compete.

© AFP 2010

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