Great Britain recorded a best major women’s team sprint result in 11 years with silver at the UCI Cycling World Championships before Will Tidball ended the day with scratch race gold in Glasgow.

Lauren Bell, Sophie Capewell and Emma Finucane recorded a time fast enough to break the world record at the Sir Chris Hoy velodrome but Germany went even faster to take gold in a time of 45.848 seconds.

Bell described it as a “bittersweet” result as they settled for silver, but even so it is another big marker after Britain failed to qualify for the team sprint at either of the last two Olympics.

Silver is Britain’s best result at this level since Victoria Pendleton and Jess Varnish finished runners up in 2011, having been beaten by an Australian team including outgoing Great Britain coach Kaarle McCulloch.

“We pushed them all the way,” said Capewell. “We can take a bit of credit for that world record I think. It’s a little bit disappointing but our goal is next year and this is a stepping stone.

“If you look at how far we’ve come, we’ve knocked over half a second off our time last year and none of us executed it perfectly so there is more to come.”

It was a rollercoaster day for Britain in the velodrome, with their defence of the men’s team pursuit title ending a qualifying crash for Charlie Tanfield in the morning, but Tidball ended it in golden fashion with a surprise win in the scratch race.

The 23-year-old, making his World Championship debut and competing in his only race of the week, kept himself hidden for much of the 60-lap race before coming around Dutch rider Roy Eefting-Bloem with half a lap to go.

“I didn’t have expectations,” Tidball said. “I didn’t really dream of coming away with a medal. I wanted to put it all on the line to win it. With a scratch race, that’s how you’re going to win. You can’t win it with a half-hearted attack. We went all-in and it paid off.”

If there was a complaint from the riders, it was that the medal ceremonies did not take place in the velodrome itself, but over in a side room away from the crowds.

“That’s the one thing that is missing,” Tidball said. “They should have put that here. It’s probably the most important thing to have in a track centre. Maybe I should win another time.”

But while Tidball could celebrate, it was a bad day for his men’s endurance team-mates as Tanfield crashed 40 metres from the line in team pursuit qualifying. With Britain already down to three riders at the time, they failed to set an official time and went out of the competition.

Britain had been on course for the second fastest qualifying time behind Denmark and a ticket to the medal rounds prior to the incident but Tanfield, a late call-up to the squad to replace the injured Ethan Hayter, began to lose the wheel of Dan Bigham and Ethan Vernon in the final laps.

As he pushed to keep up, Tanfield dipped his front wheel on to the blue band at the bottom of the track and lost control. The 26-year-old, part of the GB squad who won the world title in 2018, was taken to hospital and was diagnosed with a concussion.

Neah Evans missed out on bronze in the women’s individual pursuit, beaten by New Zealand’s Bryony Botha as American Chloe Dygert took gold.

There was success for Britain’s para-cyclists. Sophie Unwin and Jenny Holl took gold in the women’s B kilo time trial, with Lizzi Jordan piloted by Amy Cole claiming bronze in the same event.

Steve Bate and Chris Latham took bronze in the men’s B individual pursuit.

Earlier in the day, Jody Cundy became the second British para-cyclist to set a new world record at these Championships as he clocked a time of 10.427 seconds in the men’s C4 omnium flying 200 metres.

Great Britain’s defence of their men’s team pursuit world title ended in a crash in qualifying at the UCI Cycling World Championships in Glasgow on Thursday morning.

Charlie Tanfield slipped coming out of the final corner at the Sir Chris Hoy velodrome, and with Britain already down to three riders at that point they did not set an official time and went out of the competition.

Britain had been on course for the second fastest qualifying time behind Denmark and a ticket to the medal rounds prior to the incident.

Tanfield had come into the line up as a replacement for Ethan Hayter, who is out of these championships having been unable to recover from a broken collarbone in time, and had been struggling to hold the wheel of Dan Bigham and Ethan Vernon as they upped the pace in the finale.

As he fought to catch back up Tanfield, part of the GB squad that won the team pursuit world title in 2018, dropped his front wheel onto the blue band at the bottom of the track and lost control.

The 26-year-old received medical treatment on the track for several minutes before being able to walk off unassisted.

Sir Chris Hoy won a fifth Olympic gold after Great Britain’s men’s team sprint squad triumphed on a night of high drama at the London Velodrome on this day in 2012.

After Victoria Pendleton and Jess Varnish were relegated from the team sprint for a takeover infringement and Britain’s men’s team pursuit quartet set a world record, Hoy, Philip Hindes and Jason Kenny progressed to the final of the three-man, three-lap team sprint in a world record of 42.747 seconds.

The British trio clocked another world record in a stunning finale, finishing in 42.600secs.

In a repeat of the final four years previously in Beijing, France’s Gregory Bauge, Michael D’Almeida and Kevin Sireau had to settle for silver, finishing in 43.013.

Hoy, 36, told BBC One: “It is quite overwhelming. We knew it was possible, this hasn’t come out of the blue. We knew that if we put together our best possible race on the day that it was possible but it’s easier said than done.

“We had the full support of the team behind us and we nailed it.

“That last ride I dug deeper than I have ever dug before. I didn’t want to let the boys down, they have been riding so well today.

“You can’t overstate what it means to us in front of our home crowd.”

Hindes said: “It’s unbelievable, I still can’t believe I am an Olympic champion, it’s a dream come true.”

Kenny added: “I can’t believe how quick we went today.

“Phil went off so quick, we were just swinging over the back of him, trying to keep up.”

Five days later Hoy won gold in the Keirin to overtake Sir Steve Redgrave and become the most successful British Olympian.

Mark Cavendish wants to make mental health problems more relatable after opening up on his struggles with depression in a new documentary.

In ‘Mark Cavendish: Never Enough’, which launches on Netflix on August 2, the Manxman describes his battle with the Epstein-Barr virus and how a diagnosis of clinical depression left doctors worried about the prospect of self harm.

Cavendish insisted he did not want anybody to feel pity but he hopes the film will reach people suffering with their own issues.

“I’m conscious there’s people in a lot worse situations than me,” Cavendish said. “I don’t want to sit here saying I feel sorry for myself…I’m privileged to have the life I’ve had. What we want the film to show is that depression can affect anybody in the world no matter who you are.”

Cavendish, who has remained silent on speculation he might defer retirement for another year after a broken collarbone prematurely ended his bid to win a record-breaking 35th career Tour de France stage, attended a private screening of the film with family and friends in central London on Thursday.

Afterwards, rather than the usual conversations he might have with people about bike rides, the Manxman heard from those who had experienced problems of their own.

“Everyone is human,” Cavendish added. “It doesn’t matter where you are in life, what your background is or what you do. We’re all humans and it’s relatable…

“The irony is that you feel so alone if you suffer when in fact everyone is probably there thinking they’re alone. If you talk you’d be surprised how much you’ve got in common.”

Cavendish has built a career on making split-second decisions at breakneck speeds in the often chaotic world of sprinting. But when discussing depression, he considers each question carefully before answering.

“It’s an understanding that there’s a ladder in the middle of that spiral down and you can get on that ladder and climb up,” he said. “It doesn’t matter where you’re at. It’s keeping that hope and good people around you.”

The film chronicles the road to one of the great sporting comebacks as Cavendish won four stages of the 2021 Tour, his first victories there since 2016, to match Eddy Merckx’s record of 34.

In 2017 Cavendish was diagnosed with the Epstein-Barr virus, which can cause chronic fatigue. He was cleared to return faster than he should have been, and then struggled to understand his loss of form, leading to depression.

The film is a story of physical recovery but also a process of self-discovery.

A man whose identity was built on winning bike races felt lost when success stopped, describing a “sense of worthlessness”, but the 38-year-old found a way back with the help of wife Peta, their children and his closest friends.

“Absolutely you learn what is important, 100 per cent,” he said. “(Cycling) is my job. Don’t get me wrong, I love it. I know I’m incredibly fortunate to do what is my passion for my job but my purpose is to be a husband and a father more than anything else.

“You don’t want situations like what’s in the film but you see the positives at the end of the day. I tend to look at a lot more positives in things and understand what’s fundamentally important. It’s actually quite a nice head space to be in.”

That change of perspective extends to racing too. Cavendish used to relish proving doubters wrong, and there is plenty of scope for that in a film which uses clips from Lance Armstrong’s podcast showing the disgraced former rider frequently writing him off. But Cavendish can shut out such noise now.

“At one point that was a driving factor of what I did,” he said of criticism. “Now it’s not.”

Cavendish was also better equipped to handle the crushing disappointment of his race-ending crash on stage eight of this year’s Tour, a day after he was denied victory in Bordeaux by a skipping gear.

“I watched the Tour every day (after the crash) which I couldn’t have done previously,” the Astana-Qazaqstan rider said. “It is what it is. I was in good form. I had a race-winning sprint the day before.

“Crashing is part of cycling. You don’t want it for yourself and you don’t want it for anybody else, but with success comes those risks.

“You’ve just got to get on with it. It was a freak accident and you’ve just got to stay pragmatic. My job is to try and get fit as quickly as possible and race my bike again.”

Great Britain’s track cyclists will debut the radical new bike they hope to ride to Olympic glory in Paris at next week’s UCI Cycling World Championships in Glasgow.

From the Beijing Olympics onwards, British Cycling has invested heavily in technological development, with the early years of success powered by the famed research and development department once known as the Secret Squirrel Club, then Room X.

The latest machine, which continues the collaboration between Lotus, Hope and Renishaw, builds on the ideas behind the HB.T bike, which helped Britain once again top the medal tables in the velodrome at the Tokyo Games.

With unique handlebars and forks, the bike is seen as another big step forward in terms of aerodynamic efficiency.

World governing body the UCI requires nations to register and race their Olympic kit before the Games, and in total GB will be using 64 different bits of kit and equipment destined for Paris 2024 at the world championships, which begin in Glasgow on August 3.

British Cycling performance director Stephen Park said: “To continue to win medals year-on-year at the highest level, we need everything to come together at exactly the right time: the best riders, the best equipment, the best technology.

“We have been working with Lotus, Hope and Renishaw for the past two Olympic cycles as we believe that together we have the world-leading expertise needed to deliver what we believe to be the fastest track bike in the world.”

Mark Cavendish has revealed the depths of the despair he faced before his comeback at the 2021 Tour de France in a new documentary.

In ‘Mark Cavendish: Never Enough’, launching on Netflix on August 2, the Manxman and wife Peta Todd open up about the toll his battle with the Epstein-Barr virus and clinical depression took, and about his fall-out with former team boss Doug Ryder.

Cavendish won four stages of the 2021 Tour to match Eddy Merckx on a record 34, but it came after several seasons wrecked by illness and injury – told in Alex Kiehl’s documentary using new interviews and contemporaneous behind-the-scenes footage.

Cavendish was diagnosed with Epstein-Barr – which can cause chronic fatigue – in April 2017. He was cleared to start that summer’s Tour only for a stage four crash with Peter Sagan to end it.

But the virus had not gone away and his struggles only intensified, putting a strain on Cavendish and those around him.

“You don’t go from being the best in the world to not being even capable,” Cavendish says in the film. “How has it happened? It turned into stress at home. I was a nightmare to live with.”

His wife Peta says Cavendish was “not really him at that moment”, putting pressure on their marriage. “We argued about nothing. He was so lost in everything that was going on.”

Later in the film, Peta adds: “I didn’t know this version of him, but I was sleeping in the same bed… I was scared that I would go past my limit and not be able to come back again.”

The tension was not limited to Cavendish’s private life. Team Dimension Data signed him in 2016 to elevate them to the WorldTour level and he delivered four Tour stage wins in his first season.

But once his illness began, the dynamic changed. Things came to a head during the 2018 Tour, where Cavendish’s best result was eighth before he missed the time cut on stage 11 to La Rosiere.

Days before, Ryder had called Dimension Data “a sinking ship” and called a team meeting. It was to prove a pivotal moment in the relationship between Cavendish and Ryder, who would leave his star rider out of the Tour the following summer against the advice of sports director Rolf Aldag.

Recalling the exchange, Cavendish says: “Doug starts off, ‘I’m getting it in the neck from the sponsors, we’re not anywhere near it. This isn’t good enough’.

“I’m like, ‘Doug, all the stuff you’re saying. You’re the one that signed the contracts. Don’t put that on us. We’re doing our best’. And he didn’t like me saying that. And he stormed off the bus.”

Ryder declined to be interviewed for the film, but Kiehl used behind-the-scenes footage gathered by his team with their blessing.

After the Tour Cavendish visited his former team doctor Helge Riepenhof. Tests found Epstein-Barr was still present and Cavendish should not have been racing. He was also diagnosed with clinical depression and almost admitted to hospital.

“I wasn’t sure if he would get out of the depression without quitting cycling,” Riepenhof says. “(Whether) to recommend he stop cycling and leave all the pressure and start a different life.”

Dimension Data then brought in psychologist David Spindler at a time when, according to Aldag, Cavendish was telling people his career was over.

Recalling the place Cavendish was in, Spindler says: “I think there’s a high risk that you harm yourself or even that you commit suicide. Mark and I made a deal. I said, ‘Before you do something to yourself, call me’.”

The latter part of the film is more uplifting. After a pandemic-disrupted season with Bahrain-McLaren, Cavendish was offered a career lifeline by his old boss Patrick Lefevere going into 2021, and that remarkable summer followed.

Cavendish was hoping for a record-breaking 35th stage win and a fairytale ending this July after announcing his plans to retire this winter, but a broken collarbone on stage eight scuppered that dream a day after he came so close in Bordeaux.

Astana-Qazaqstan boss Alexander Vinokourov still hopes to convince him to race on, and may take note of Cavendish’s closing comment: “I will continue trying to win for as long as I believe I can win.”

Tadej Pogacar outsprinted Jonas Vingegaard to victory on stage 20 of the Tour de France in Le Markstein, but it was the Dane who could begin celebrating the defence of his title ahead of Sunday’s procession into Paris.

Pogacar proved unable to challenge Vingegaard for yellow in the final week of this race as his hopes evaporated in the Alps, but he made a point on the final mountain test as he beat Vingegaard in a five-man sprint at the end of the 133km stage from Belfort.

Felix Gall snuck ahead of Vingegaard for second place on the day, while Simon Yates and Adam Yates came in fourth and fifth, results that seal third overall for Adam and move Simon up to fourth after an early crash left Carlos Rodriguez bloodied above his left eye.

Vingegaard will carry a lead of seven minutes and 29 seconds on to the Champs-Elysees on Sunday as he celebrates his second Tour crown at the age of 26.

“The second one is really amazing,” the Jumbo-Visma rider said. “Of course there’s the stage tomorrow into Paris and we have to be careful not to do anything stupid, but to take my second victory in the Tour de France I almost can’t believe it.”

The front five finished 33 seconds ahead of Warren Barguil and Thibaut Pinot, who dared to dream that the final mountain stage of his last Tour de France – raced on his home roads – could end in victory when he went clear from a breakaway with 30 kilometres left.

But Pinot was caught on the last climb as Pogacar, Vingegaard and Gall went away before being joined by the Yates twins, with Adam proving the lead-out for Pogacar in the sprint.

“Today I finally feel like myself again,” Pogacar said. “It was just really good from start to finish, to feel good again after many days suffering and to pull it off in the finish I’m just super, super happy.

“Adam did a super job. I was waiting for him to come back…I know him now well, he led me out really good and thanks to him it was a bit easier to prepare for the final, less nervous and I’m super happy the team did such a great job once again.”

Both Yates twins could celebrate their best overall result in the Tour, with Adam improving on his fourth place from 2016.

“For me personally third is the best result I’ve ever had in a Grand Tour so obviously I’m pretty happy,” the UAE Team Emirates rider said. “We’re a little bit disappointed as our goal was to get yellow, but in the end there was only one guy better than us.”

For the first two weeks it was one of the closest Tours in history, but in the space of two days Vingegaard’s 10-second advantage became seven-and-a-half minutes as Pogacar was beaten by the Alps.

There had been questions over the Slovenian’s form before the Tour given his lack of racing since he broke his wrist in April, but Vingegaard’s dominance goes beyond the struggles of others, as shown by the near 11-minute gap to Adam Yates in the overall standings.

He beat Pogacar by 98 seconds in Tuesday’s time trial, but just as notable was the near three minutes between him and team-mate Wout Van Aert in third place. The way Vingegaard rode then away from the other favourites on the Col de la Loze a day later was the mark of a champion.

“It’s been a crazy battle we had over these last three weeks,” Vingegaard added. “I think it’s been a really really nice ray to watch and also for us.

“I appreciate the battle I’ve had with Tadej. It’s been an amazing fight since Bilbao and hopefully we’ll do it again in the future.”

Five-time Olympic champion Dame Laura Kenny has announced the birth of her second child.

Kenny and her husband Sir Jason, winner of a British record seven Olympic titles, welcomed son Montgomery on Thursday evening.

In a post on Instagram on Saturday showing Montgomery asleep alongside his brother Albie, Laura Kenny wrote: “Welcome to the world Montgomery George Kenny. Born 20/07/2023 Weighing 9,0lbs at 7.59pm.”

 

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The Kennys announced in January that they were expecting their second child.

Albie was born in 2017, but in November 2021 they suffered a miscarriage and then an ectopic pregnancy in January 2022.

Kenny became pregnant at the delayed Tokyo Olympics, where she won Madison gold alongside team-mate Katie Archibald, adding to the titles she had taken at London 2012 and Rio 2012.

Jason won the last of his Olympic golds in Tokyo in the keirin. The following January he retired from racing to become coach of the Great Britain men’s sprint team.

Tadej Pogacar outsprinted Jonas Vingegaard to victory on stage 20 of the Tour de France in Le Markstein, but it was the Dane who could begin celebrating the defence of his title ahead of Sunday’s procession into Paris.

Pogacar proved unable to challenge Vingegaard for the yellow jersey in the final week of this race as his hopes evaporated in the Alps, but he made a point on the final mountain test as he beat Vingegaard in a five-man sprint at the end of the 133km stage from Belfort.

Felix Gall snuck ahead of Vingegaard for second place on the day, while Simon Yates and Adam Yates came in fourth and fifth, results that seal third overall for Adam and see Simon move up to fourth after Carlos Rodriguez was left bloodied above his left eye following a nasty early crash.

Pogacar’s stage win earned him six bonus seconds over Vingegaard, who will carry a lead of seven minutes and 29 seconds on to the Champs-Elysees on Sunday.

The front five came to the line 33 seconds ahead of Warren Barguil and Thibaut Pinot, who had dared to dream that the final mountain stage of his final Tour de France – raced on home roads for the 33-year-old – could end in victory when he went clear from a breakaway with 30 kilometres left.

But he was reeled in first by Tom Pidcock and Barguil on the final climb and then overhauled by those who would go on to contest the stage.

Pogacar, Vingegaard and Gall opened up a small gap before the Yates twins rode back up, with Adam then providing the lead-out for team-mate Pogacar in the sprint.

“Today I finally feel like myself again,” Pogacar said. “It was just really good from start to finish, to feel good again after many days suffering and to pull it off in the finish I’m just super, super happy.

“Adam did a super job. I was waiting for him to come back and his brother again was super good. I know him now well, he led me out really good and thanks to him it was a bit easier to prepare for the final, less nervous and I’m super happy the team did such a great job once again.”

Adam Yates said: “For me personally third (overall) is the best result I’ve ever had in a Grand Tour so obviously I’m pretty happy. We’re a little bit disappointed as our goal was to get yellow, but in the end there was only one guy better than us.”

That one guy was Vingegaard. For the first two weeks it was one of the closest Tours in history, but in the space of two days a 10-second advantage became seven-and-a-half minutes as Pogacar stumbled in Tuesday’s time trial, then fell completely on the Col de la Loze on Wednesday.

There had been questions over Pogacar’s form before the Tour given his lack of racing since he broke his wrist in April, but Vingegaard has not won purely by taking advantage of his rival’s troubles, as shown by the near 11-minute gap to Adam Yates in the overall standings.

Bradley Wiggins became the first British rider to win the Tour de France on this day in 2012.

Wiggins finished three minutes and 21 seconds ahead of compatriot and Team Sky colleague Chris Froome to be crowned champion in the 99th edition of the race.

The then 32-year-old was left on the verge of history following his impressive time-trial win on the penultimate day.

And there were no slip-ups during the 20th and final stage, where Wiggins helped another Team Sky rider Mark Cavendish to victory on the Champs-Elysees.

“I don’t know what to say, I’ve had 24 hours for it to soak in,” he said following his win.

“I’m still buzzing from the Champs-Elysees, the laps go so quick. I’ve got to get used to that (being in the spotlight), it’s going to take a while.

“I’m just trying to soak it all in. You never imagine it will happen to you but it’s amazing.”

Wiggins, who ended his career as a five-time Olympic gold medallist, had been favourite to win the previous year’s race, only to be sidelined after breaking his collarbone in a crash.

Following three weeks and 2,173 miles raced, wearing the yellow jersey for 13 consecutive stages, he came out on top ahead of Froome and third-placed Italian Vincenzo Nibali.

He was later named BBC Sports Personality of the Year.

Kenya-born Froome won four of the next five Tours, while Welshman Gerraint Thomas became the third British champion in 2018.

Matej Mohoric won stage 19 of the Tour de France in a photo finish at the end of a furious day’s racing in the Jura.

Mohoric and Thursday’s winner Kasper Asgreen came to the line neck and neck, with Ben O’Connor third, after the trio broke away from a 37-strong breakaway when it broke into several pieces on the final climb some 30 kilometres from the end of the 173km stage from Moirans-en-Montagne to Poligny.

A stage characterised by non-stop attacking was raced at an average speed of 49.1kmh over rolling terrain, the fastest stage of this year’s Tour and the fifth fastest ever, but after all that effort it came down to a bike throw on the line.

O’Connor launched his sprint first 400 metres from the finish but knew it was a doomed move against two faster men. Asgreen was the first to come around but Mohoric timed it perfectly to take victory by a tyre’s width.

The front three came in just shy of 40 seconds clear of a chasing group, with Jasper Philipsen repeating his fourth place of 24 hours earlier.

There was no change at the top of the general classification, with race leader Jonas Vingegaard finishing safely within the main peloton almost 14 minutes down, needing now only to survive Saturday’s mountain stage to Le Markstein before he can begin celebrations on the road into Paris.

For a second day running the Tour passed through territory ideal for a breakaway, but such was the fight to get into it that 60km had been covered before a nine-strong group went away.

After Nils Politt broke his chain, their advantage of a minute quickly tumbled and a counter move of 29 riders came up to join them.

Victor Campenaerts and Simon Clarke tried to go off the front but after Clarke cramped up the group exploded on the final climb still with nearly 30km to the finish.

That gave Mohoric, Asgreen and O’Connor their chance to go clear as they went over the top first, and a powerful chasing group could not close the gap on the straight descent into town.

Mohoric had to wait for confirmation of his win, but as soon as it came the emotions poured out of the Slovenian, who paid tribute to some of the unsung heroes of cycling – the mechanics and carers working behind the scenes – while also remembering his late team-mate Gino Mader.

It was a third stage win of Mohoric’s career, and also a third of this Tour for the Bahrain-Victorious team – another opportunity for them to pay tribute to Mader after his tragic death at the Tour de Suisse last month.

“It means a lot because it’s hard and cruel to be a professional cyclist, you suffer a lot in your preparations, you sacrifice your life, your family and you give everything you can to get here ready,” Mohoric said.

“After a couple of days you realise everyone is so incredibly strong, it’s so hard to follow the wheels some days…sometimes you feel like you don’t belong…

“When Kasper went I knew it was the decisive attack, he was so incredibly strong to win the stage yesterday but he has the will and determination to do it again today.

“I knew I had to do everything perfect, I tried my best for Gino and for the team and in the end you almost feel like you betray (your rivals) because you beat them to the line but it’s just the way professional sport is and everyone wants to win.

“If I want to win I have to follow the wheel of Kasper and then try to beat him in the last 50 metres. I just feel so many things right now.”

Natalie Grinczer has taken a difficult road to get to the start line of her second Tour de France Femmes.

At the start of this month the 29-year-old Brit was worried she would not see out the season after French team Stade Rochelais ran into financial problems and she was left scrambling for a new employer.

Trying to find a contract during one of the busiest periods of the season was far from easy. Grinczer struggled to get answers while teams were focused on the Giro Donne, the Italian Grand Tour, but she has landed on her feet by signing for Lifeplus-Wahoo for the rest of 2023.

And just days after her deal was announced, Grinczer was named in the British team’s seven-strong Tour de France Femmes line-up.

“If you’d asked me two or three weeks ago about the Tour I would have told you no,” Grinczer told the PA news agency. “Having no team and all the stress that comes with that, and now I’m in the Tour…one day I’ll write a book about it.”

Grinczer started the season well, feeling settled in her second year with Stade Rochelais and earning top-10 finishes at the Vuelta Extremadura Feminas, the Grand Prix Feminin de Chambery and the Gran Premio Ciudad de Eibar.

But by the time she finished sixth at the British national road race in Saltburn at the end of June, Grinczer was talking to Lifeplus-Wahoo boss Tom Varney about an answer to her problems.

“There was maybe a week and a half of uncertainty where I was putting myself out there, talking to people I knew from previous years and asking if they had any spaces,” she said. “I couldn’t even think about 2024 because my immediate problem was not having any races now.

“I started speaking to Tom after the nationals and he came back to me to say they had a space for the rest of the season so I was really lucky with how it panned out.”

Grinczer balances her career on the bike with her job as an NHS physiotherapist. After doing her last shift on Tuesday, she headed to Clermont-Ferrand on Thursday to prepare for the opening stage of the Tour on Sunday.

Grinczer started the inaugural edition of the revamped race in Stade Rochelais colours 12 months ago, getting a taste for what instantly became the biggest race on the calendar, but it sadly proved short-lived as she crashed out on stage three.

“Everyone came to the Tour in the best shape, with the best equipment and a lot of new kit and everyone went all out for it,” Grinczer said. “On the first day we signed on in front of the Eiffel Tower and went through the famous tunnel on to the Champs-Elysees and it was really cool.

“Unfortunately I crashed along with about 100 other people – I don’t know who didn’t crash in that peloton. It was frustrating. I’ve never been in a race where there seemed to be no etiquette.

“Normally there is a little bit of etiquette in the peloton but everyone was taking increased risks and it was a hostile place to be. Maybe after a couple of days it would have settled down into more of a rhythm but I didn’t experience that. Hopefully this time I’ll get a bit further and find out.”

Grinczer puts that hostility down to the huge importance of the race, which attracts a spotlight unlike any other, and she is prepared for the same again this time.

“It’s a bit of an all or nothing race for the riders,” she said. “You want to do the best you can and if that involves taking risks or riding differently to normal then you do that.”

:: Lifeplus-Wahoo are offering 10,000 UK-based fans free GCN+ passes to watch the Tour de France Femmes, available on a first-come, first-served basis from lifepluswahoo.com/embraceeverymoment.

Kasper Asgreen outsprinted the chasing peloton to take victory from a breakaway on stage 18 of the Tour de France in Bourg-en-Bresse.

The remaining sprint teams fell short on the 185km stage from Moutiers as a four-strong break held on by less than 50 metres, with Asgreen beating fellow escapees Pascal Eenkhoorn and Jonas Abrahamsen to take his first career Tour stage win.

Jasper Philipsen, hoping to add to his four stage wins in this first opportunity for the quick men in over a week, came home in fourth. There was perhaps some karma in that, given the aggressive tactics Philipsen had used earlier in the stage when trying to block Eenkhoorn’s bid to join the breakaway.

The 185km stage from Moutiers brought no changes at the top of the general classification, in which defending champion Jonas Vingegaard took an all-but-unassailable seven-and-a-half minute lead over Tadej Pogacar on Wednesday.

This slightly lumpy stage offered the prospect of a breakaway denying the quick men if enough riders could get up the road, although the sprinters who survived the mountains were desperate for their chance, with perhaps only the Champs-Elysees left after this.

But with exhausted legs throughout the peloton after some punishing days in the Alps only three – Asgreen, Abrahamsen and Victor Campernaerts – chanced their arm and were rarely given more than a minute’s advantage.

That short gap allowed Campernaerts’ team-mate Eenkhoorn to bridge over with 60km to go, despite being forced on to the verge by Philipsen as he tried to get away from the main bunch.

Even as a quartet the front group appeared to have little chance, but the number of teams interested in a pure sprint has been steadily diminished in this Tour with the loss of quick men Mark Cavendish, Caleb Ewan and Fabio Jakobsen, the latter two team-mates of riders in this breakaway.

Only Philipsen’s Alpecin-Deceuninck squad and Dylan Groenewegen’s Jayco-Alula seemed fully committed and, as the road narrowed into a couple of tight technical corners, it became apparent that the scales were tipping in favour of those out in front.

Asgreen came around Abrahamsen inside the final 100 metres, with the chasing Eenkhoorn unable to get on terms, earning a first stage victory of this Tour for Soudal-QuickStep, a perennial winning machine who had not reached stage 18 without cause for celebration for more than a decade.

“The situation was not ideal,” Asgreen said. “We’d have preferred to have gone with maybe six or seven (in the break) but also the last week of the Tour coming off some really, really hard days, we’ve seen it before that even a small group can manage to beat the sprint teams so I didn’t rule it out.

“It was a team time trial to the finish. I really couldn’t have done it without Pascal, Victor and Jonas. They all did amazing out there and to be honest we all deserved the win with the work we put in but I’m really happy to come away with it.

“It means so much. With the period I had in the last year since my crash at the Tour de Suisse and having to leave the Tour de France I’ve come a long way. To cap it off with victory like this I really want to dedicate it to all the people who helped me throughout the last year.”

Philipsen played down the incident involving Eenkhoorn as he congratulated the breakaway.

“For sure I wanted to sprint for the win, but they stayed away in front, good work from them,” he said.

“I just wanted to go for the sprint, not have too many guys in front, but in the end (Eenkhoorn) bridged and for sure it was the right move for him. I think we did everything we could. They had amazing legs today.”

Before the stage, Jumbo-Visma announced that Vingegaard’s team-mate Wout van Aert had left the race to return home, where his wife Sarah is expecting their second child.

Kasper Asgreen outsprinted the chasing peloton to take victory from a breakaway on stage 18 of the Tour de France in Bourg-en-Bresse.

The sprint teams got their sums wrong on the 185km stage from Moutiers as a four-strong break held on by less than 50 metres to take the stage, with Asgreen beating fellow escapees Pascal Eenkhoorn and Jonas Abrahamsen to take his first career Tour stage win.

Jasper Philipsen, hoping to add to his four sprint stage wins in this first opportunity for the quick men in over a week, came home in fourth having failed to make the catch.

There was perhaps some karma in that given the aggressive tactics Philipsen had used earlier in the stage when trying to block Eenkhoorn’s bid to join the breakaway.

The sprint finish to the 185km stage from Moutiers meant no changes at the top of the general classification, in which defending champion Jonas Vingegaard took an all-but-unassailable seven-and-a-half minute lead over Tadej Pogacar on Wednesday.

This slightly lumpy stage offered up the prospect of a breakaway denying the quick men if enough riders could get up the road, although the sprinters who survived the mountains were desperate for their chance, with perhaps only the Champs-Elysees left after this.

But with exhausted legs throughout the peloton after some punishing days in the Alps only three – Asgreen, Abrahamsen and Victor Campernaerts – chanced their arm and were rarely given more than a minute’s advantage.

That short gap allowed Campernaerts’ team-mate Pascal Eenkhoorn to bridge over with 60km to go, despite being forced on to the verge by Philipsen as he tried to get away from the main bunch.

Even as a quartet, the front group appeared to have little chance, but the sprint teams struggled to reel them in on the way into town, and as the road narrowed into a couple of tight technical corners, it became apparent that the scales were tipping in favour of those out in front.

Asgreen then came around Abrahamsen inside the final 100 metres with the chasing Eenkhoorn unable to get on terms.

It was a first stage victory of this Tour for Soudal-QuickStep, a perennial winning machine who had not reached stage 18 without taking a stage for more than a decade, but also a team who lost star sprinter Fabio Jakobsen to injury earlier in the race.

“The situation was not ideal,” Asgreen said. “We’d have preferred to have gone with maybe six or seven (in the break) but also the last week of the Tour coming off some really, really hard days, we’ve seen it before that even a small group can manage to beat the sprint teams so I didn’t rule it out.

“It was a team time trial to the finish. I really couldn’t have done it without Pascal, Victor and Jonas. They all did amazing out there and to be honest we all deserved the win with the work we put in but I’m really happy to come away with it.

“It means so much. With the period I had in the last year since my crash at the Tour de Suisse and having to leave the Tour de France I’ve come a long way. To cap it off with victory like this I really want to dedicate it to all the people who helped me throughout the last year.”

Tadej Pogacar conceded defeat to Jonas Vingegaard in the fight for yellow as Felix Gall beat Simon Yates to victory on stage 17 of the Tour de France in Courchevel.

While Gall and Yates fought out stage honours from the breakaway, the overall battle in this Tour was effectively decided on the mighty Col de la Loze, the highest mountain of this year’s race, at the end of this 166km stage from Saint-Gervais.

Having shown cracks in Tuesday’s time trial, Pogacar crumbled on this punishing 28km climb, losing the wheels still with eight kilometres remaining to the summit as he watched his rivals ride away without even needing to attack, the time gaps ballooning before the finish.

“I’m gone,” Pogacar told his team on the radio as he watched his rival ride away. “I’m dead.”

The Slovenian, involved in a minor crash at the start of the stage, had trailed Vingegaard by just 10 seconds on Monday’s rest day.

When Vingegaard took 98 seconds out of the two-time Tour winner in Tuesday’s time trial it looked massive, but a day later the gap on the road was almost six minutes, the difference overall now seven-and-a-half minutes.

While Pogacar crossed the line taking a consoling arm around the shoulder from team-mate Marc Soler, the usually reserved Vingegaard allowed himself a more vigorous celebration with his team. As long as the Dane makes it to Paris on Sunday, he will surely win his second consecutive Tour.

Pogacar’s form coming into the Tour had been an open question given his lack of racing since breaking his wrist in April. For two weeks he had kept the gap at the top tantalisingly close, but the third week has proven too much.

As soon as the 24-year-old radioed in his concession, his team-mate Adam Yates was told to ride on in order to protect his third place overall, and the Lancastrian put time into Carlos Rodriguez to solidify his podium spot, now 76 seconds up on the young Spaniard and three minutes behind Pogacar.

Up ahead, Gall had attacked from the remains of a 33-strong breakaway that had, for much of the day, been as big as what counted as the peloton. Simon Yates did his best to chase down the Austrian but could not quite bridge the gap and came in 30 seconds down.

It was a second runner-up finish of the Tour for Simon Yates, who was narrowly beaten by his twin brother Adam on the opening stage in Bilbao. His consolation prize this time was moving up from eighth to fifth overall.

Gall, making his Tour debut, delivered a first win of this year’s race for the AG2R Citroen team, having unexpectedly taken over the leadership role within the squad after Ben O’Connor’s overall ambitions faded in the first week.

“I don’t know what to say,” the 25-year-old said. “This whole year has been incredible and now to do so well in the Tour and to win the queen stage it’s incredible. I just want to say thank you to the team, they have given me so much.

“It’s not easy to do a three-week stage race and then to also have the role of leader after a few days, I slowly focused on that and I was stressing myself about that, it’s not easy but the last few days I’ve been more comfortable. I was afraid I would be caught in the last kilometre but it’s incredible.”

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