Robert Kiserlovski (image courtesy of Astana)

Happy birthday Robert Kiserlovski

Robert Kiserlovski (image courtesy of Astana)

Image courtesy of Astana

Robert Kiserlovski is 26 years old today – Sretan 26. rođendan Robert!

Now, I know you’re saying: hmm, Kiserlovski, isn’t he the chap that ended up under a van at Paris-Nice and didn’t he break his collarbone at this year’s Tour during Tackgate? Yes, sadly Robert’s probably better known for his spectacular accidents than his palmares.

Let’s backtrack a bit. Robert and his older brother Emanuel – who was 28 on 3rd August – [an expensive month in the Kiserlovski household – Ed] were both successful at junior and under-23 level at cyclocross and on the road. Emanuel has remained with the continental Croatian team, Loborika-Favorit, which he joined in 2009 and who wear a kit almost identical to Rabobank’s.

Younger brother Robert spent the first few years of his career with Slovenian Continental team Adria. His first professional win came in 2007 at the GP Pallo de Recioto in Italy, followed by third overall in the 2008 Tour of Slovenia. He then moved to Italian team Amica Chips  – run by Giuseppe Martinelli, now at Astana – for 2009 and came fourth in the Settimana Coppi-Bartali. The team imploded mid-season and he moved to Fuji-Servetto and took part in the Vuelta a Espana but broke his collarbone in a crash on one of the early stages.

Robert Kiserlovski (image courtesy of Astana)

Image courtesy of Astana

Robert made the move to ProTour team Liquigas in 2010 and recorded wins in the Giro dell Appennino and Giro d’Italia team time trial – along with a fine 10th overall in the Giro and second in the best young rider competition behind Richie Porte. Last season he moved with Roman Kreuziger to Astana, taking seventh in the Giro di Sardegna and sixth in the Giro del Trentino, finishing the Giro and placing 18th overall in the Vuelta. This year, things have also gone well. Ninth in Paris-Nice, seventh in Volta a Catalunya, 11th in the Vuelta al Pais Vasco before a fine week in the Ardennes Classics – 29th in Amstel Gold, fifth in Fleche-Wallonne and 14th at Liege-Bastogne-Liege. These promising results mark him out as a potential Ardennes winner.

A solid 13th overall in the Tour de Suisse and Robert was ready for his maiden ride in the Tour de France. The only Croatian taking part, he came close to a breakaway stage victory for the second consecutive day on the Tour’s 12th stage between Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne and Annonay-Davezieux and was rewarded for his attacking style – panache even – with the consolatory combativity prize. Afterwards, he claimed:

Today was hard and this is not an easy prize to win. It is the third time I have been involved in a breakaway and I was paying for it a little. I also got a flat just a few kilometres from the end and my legs are tired. With races like this I prefer there to be a climb at the end, but I am satisfied in any case. I want to succeed in winning a stage and there are still three good opportunities for me to do so.

Unfortunately, two stages later Robert’s Tour came to an impromptu end – a victim of Tackgate. Robert was helping team leader Janez Brajkovic change a tyre punctured by the tacks scattered by hooligans when American Levi Leipheimer crashed into him, breaking his collarbone. Robert’s well on the road to recovery and we’re likely to see him next at the World Championships representing Croatia.

Now I could but I won’t show YouTube images of his two famous crashes. Instead here’s one of him warming up for a time trial in 2011 and larking about a bit. [Wouldn’t happen at Sky – Ed.]

Tour de France: Stage 14 review

Stage 14: Limoux to Foix, 191km

Looking at the stage classification following today’s run from Limoux to Foix and you’d think it had ended in a routine – and predictable – breakaway victory, won by one of this Tour’s most impressive riders, Luis Leon Sanchez.

With 50km of the stage remaining, I’d have thought the same too – before Cadel Evans (BMC) punctured and punctured again, the victim of carpet tacks spread over the road. In an impressive show of etiquette, Sky and Liquigas agreed to neutralise the descent, allowing BMC to pace their leader back into the main field, with the peloton finishing almost 20 minutes down.

It was a day in which a very strong breakaway went away, including Rabobank’s Sanchez, Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale), Philippe Gilbert (BMC), Gorka Izaguirre (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Sandy Casar (FDJ-BigMat) and Cyril Gautier (Europcar). With a lead of over 15 minutes the major headache for the better climbers in the group was the presence of Sagan, who would inevitably beat them in a sprint. Recognising this, on the final climb of the Mur de Peguere – a tough 9.3km at 7.9% – Sanchez forced the pace. Initially, it appeared his attempt at cracking Sagan had worked, but as the climb went on the Slovak began to grind his way up towards the leaders, and astonishingly had caught them by the time they’d reached the summit – with Sanchez and Gilbert beginning to drop backwards.

Three-time Tour stage winner Casar then attacked, but Sagan and Izaguirre quickly caught him on the descent, with Gilbert and Sanchez rejoining with around 15km still to go. Around 4km later, Sanchez made an individual bid for glory, jumping from the group to try to win solo – and he did. The four behind were unable to close down the Spaniard’s punchy attack, as he won his fourth career stage at the Tour. Sagan won the sprint for second to increase his stranglehold on the green jersey.

VeloVoices rider of the day

After a relatively anonymous 2011 – with the exception of a win at the Tour – it was terrific to see Luis Leon Sanchez picking up a victory. He’s tried incredibly hard throughout this year’s edition to secure a win for an otherwise-anonymous Rabobank outfit – who are now down to just four riders – and he’s finally achieved it. It’s a well-deserved victory, especially after all the work he did in trying to crack Sagan and then dragging himself and Gilbert across to the lead group – and still having the energy to launch a successful 11km solo move.


The real interesting fallout from today’s stage will be which disgruntled individual or organisation was responsible for spreading the tacks all over the road – said to be responsible for 30 punctures throughout the stage. Rumours that it was Chris Froome aiming for the wheels of Dave Brailsford’s Jaguar are as yet unconfirmed.

On a more serious note, neutralising the descent to allow Evans to catch up was a very magnanimous move from Bradley Wiggins and Sky, and one recognised by the BMC riders as they waved thanks to the Liquigas and Sky team cars on their way to rejoining the peloton. Pierre Rolland (Europcar), however, chose this moment to attack, having not realised what was happening behind him. He later sat up to allow the others to catch up to him and finished in the pack.

Astana’s Robert Kiserlovski was less fortunate, however. He crashed near the summit – seemingly as a result of the sabotage – and is thought to have broken his collarbone.

The rainbow jersey of Mark Cavendish was again visible carrying out domestique duties, distributing rain capes to his teammates and even pacing the peloton up the climbs. Whatever may be being said in private in the Sky hotel, the world champion is publicly fulfilling his promise to ride in support of a potential British winner.

Tactical analysis

It wasn’t a stage of great tactical interest, with no changes to any of the jersey classifications. Peter Sagan won the intermediate sprint to collect the maximum 20 points and extend his lead, with his grip on the points classification becoming tighter and tighter with every passing stage. He now leads Andre Greipel by 97 points, and as long as he makes it to Paris the green jersey now seems assured.

Fredrik Kessiakoff (Astana) continues to hold on to the polka dot jersey, 14 points ahead of Rolland, his nearest rival. Tejay van Garderen remains in white, leading Thibaut Pinot by 1:54.

VeloVoices will bring you previews of each day’s stage every morning, live coverage of every stage on Twitterreviews in the evening and in-depth analysis after selected stages.

Link: Tour de France official website

Tour de France: Stage 12 review

Stage 12: Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne to Annonay Davezieux, 226km

David Millar used his considerable Tour savvy to win from a breakaway and provided a much-needed fillip to Garmin-Sharp’s fortunes. Millar outwitted Jean-Christophe Peraud (AG2R La Mondiale) in a tense game of cat and mouse on the run in to the finish after the pair had distanced their three breakaway companions in the final kilometres.

Today’s stage had successful breakaway written all over it and it was no surprise that a group of 19 eventually broke free before the first climb of the day. A number of riders subsequently tried to unsuccessfully bridge across – at one time even the maillot jaune jumped out to herd an errant flock back into the peloton. Over the first two climbs, both Cat 1s, the breakaway was whittled down to 11 and then finally five: Robert Kiserlovski (Astana), fresh-faced Cyril Gautier (Europcar) and Egoi Martinez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) in addition to the aforementioned Millar and Peraud.

Matt Goss (Orica-GreenEDGE) led home the peloton, with Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale) on his wheel, to add to their respective points tallies in the hunt for the green jersey. Goss wavered from his line causing Sagan to check and the former was subsequently relegated by the race jury. Bradley Wiggins finished safely in the bunch as the peloton enjoyed a relatively easy day. No bad thing after the efforts of the previous two days and with the Pyrenees looming on the horizon.

This was Millar’s fourth stage win in the Tour, and only his second road win, the others being in prologues. It was also the fourth win by a Britain in this year’s Tour and now four of the five Olympics GB team members are Tour stage winners. It was also the 45th anniversary of the death of Tommy Simpson  – the first British rider to wear the maillot jaune – on Mont Ventoux.

VeloVoices rider of the day

It has to be today’s stage winner, David Millar, who collapsed after crossing the line exhausted from his heroic efforts remaining in the day’s long break and then chasing down numerous attacks from his fellow breakaway riders to take an emotional, hard-fought and intelligently raced victory.

His teammates certainly seemed to appreciate the win:


I have no idea why this was one of the stages which was televised from start to finish. During what could be politely called a lull in proceedings, television commentators everywhere were forced onto the back foot. There’s only so much time you can spend discussing France’s rich heritage, culture and gastronomy. We were treated to the full gamut from I-spy, trainspotting, reminiscing about one’s early career, amusing anecdotes and bad jokes. Out on the road we had giant pears, tricolour cows, French workers emulating The Full Monty from the roof of their warehouse, small hovercraft racing along the river Rhone and spectators in fancy dress. Even over on Twitter, we had to work hard to keep ourselves amused.

With little or no action of note on the road, everyone fell back on yesterday’s WAG story in which the respective other halves of Messrs Wiggins, Cavendish and Froome indulged in a cat fight. I think they’ve yet to kiss and make up a la Vincenzo Nibali and Wiggins.

Tactical analysis

Today was one of those famous transition stages where the successful breakaway provided a welcome reversal of luck for one of the teams staring down the barrel of a potentially empty-handed Tour. It had absolutely no impact on either the jerseys or the general classification. Instead it provided all, bar the five in the breakaway, with a recovery day ride.

Tomorrow’s stage heads down to the coast on a stage for the sprinters but the overall contenders need to be aware that the likelihood of coastal winds, in particular the Mistral, could wreak further havoc and more broken dreams.

VeloVoices will bring you previews of each day’s stage every morning, live coverage of every stage on Twitterreviews in the evening and in-depth analysis after selected stages.

Link: Tour de France official website