Lancaster impresses despite early setback

Lancaster impresses despite early setback

Happy birthday George … will BMC rider George Hincapie ride his birthday bike (see item 4).LIEGE: Australia’s Brett Lancaster has been lauded for recovering from a crash while warming up for the 6.4-kilometre prologue time trial in the Tour de France on Saturday to finish sixth in the field of 198 riders. The sight of Lancaster (Orica-GreenEDGE) returning from his warm-up wincing, only to reveal that he had slid on a slippery and sharp bend, said it all. The grimace quickly became a smile as he expressed relief that he did not suffer any serious injury other than abrasions and bruising.

It must have reminded GreenEDGE’s sports director Matt White of his misfortune as a rider with Cofidis before the 2004 Tour when he crashed in the warm-up, broke his collarbone and had to withdraw from the race. His place went to the nearest non-selected teammate that could be found, a Belgian who was in the throes of enjoying his July off and drinking beer at a car rally when he got the call-up .

Fears about Lancaster were allayed when he finished 11 seconds behind the Swiss winner Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack-Nissan).

“I thought his crash might have affected him, that he would have been a little rattled after going do hard in the warm-up,” White told the Herald. “That he was going so hard while warming up showed how much he was gearing up for a big ride. But after a fall like that, I thought that might have been it.”AUSSIE WATCH

Behind Lancaster, the 11 other Australians in the Tour finished: Cadel Evans (BMC), 13th at 17secs; Richie Porte (Sky), 36th at 22secs; Stuart O’Grady (Orica-GreenEDGE), 44th at 23secs; Michael Rogers (Sky), 61st at 25secs; Adam Hansen (Lotto-Bellisol), 79th at 28secs; Simon Gerrans (Orica-GreenEDGE), 84th at 29secs; Matt Goss (Orica-GreenEDGE), 87th at 29secs; Jonathan Cantwell (Saxo Bank), 132nd at 37secs; Baden Cooke (Orica-GreenEDGE), 142nd at 39secs; Mark Renshaw (Rabobank), 159th at 44secs; Matt Lloyd (Lampre-ISD), 196th at 1minute 5secs.A WORD OF WARNING

After Cadel Evans placed 13th in the prologue, he said there was one general classification rider who finished ahead of him – second-placed Bradley Wiggins (Sky). But the Australian would do well to recall that Russian Denis Menchov (Katusha) – a Vuelta a Espana and Giro d’Italia winner – placed eighth at 13 seconds behind Cancellara, and that Briton Chris Froome (Sky) was 11th at 16 seconds. Many are already starting to speak of Kenyan-born Froome – second overall in last year’s Vuelta – as a dark horse.WILL HE OR WON’T HE?

It is a relatively new tradition of the Tour de France – when riders claim one of the classification jerseys, their teams will have their bikes painted that colour, or when they achieve something great they might be presented with a custom styled two-wheeler to celebrate the new feat.

On Friday, American George Hincapie (BMC) was the surprised recipient of one of the biggest eye-openers when it comes exhibition bikes.

The occasion? To celebrate his 39th birthday, and also the imminent start to his record-breaking number of 17 Tour starts. And no one was happier for Hincapie than team owner Andy Rihs who handed it over. The bike is worth about $13,000, but VeloNews苏州美甲培训学校 “tech guru” Caley Fretz says it is “priceless”.

“It’s a piece of art. It’s unique. It’s one of the classier exhibition bikes I’ve ever seen on the Tour,” Fretz told the Herald. “I would be surprised if he rides it . . . maybe on the last stage into Paris. A rider like George deserves a cool bike like that; one that he can hang on his wall for the rest of his life.”

The BMC custom-painted SL01 has a golden tube painted with the phrases “lucky seventeen” and “gentleman’s round” on it. Hincapie’s saddle height is 82.5cm, he has a reach of 62.3cm (tip of saddle to centre of bars) and uses a 140mm stem and 175mm crank arms. He trains and races with an SRM power metre, and uses a Fizik Aliante saddle.HE SAID IT

“You have to be strong . . . a leader cannot be weak, otherwise you will not be a leader.” – Fabian Cancellara.

Twitter @rupertguinness

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