The Latest: For Froome, Tour de France really starts now
PAU, France (AP) The Latest from the first rest day of the Tour de France (all times local):
Ivan Basso's Tinkoff Saxo Bank team says he needs to undergo more tests to be 100 percent sure whether he has testicular cancer.
The Italian veteran shook the Tour de France circuit on Monday's rest day by announcing at a team news conference that he was pulling out of the race because he has cancer in his left testicle. He said he'd found out just two hours earlier.
Team spokesman Pierre Orphanidis explained afterward that ''the probabilities are very high'' that the 37-year-old rider has a cancerous tumor, not a benign one, but that ''a long list of tests'' was needed to be entirely sure.
Until then, ''we cannot state that it is cancer,'' he said. Basso said he was returning home to Italy for further tests.
After a ''crazy'' nine days of mostly flat racing at the Tour de France when ''everybody went 100 percent,'' Nairo Quintana wants to see how ready his rivals are for a punishing few days in the Pyrenees mountains, starting in Tuesday's Stage 10.
Many race experts say the 25-year-old Colombian, who won last year's Italian Giro, is perhaps the rider to watch among three top challengers to 2013 Tour champion Chris Froome, who has the overall lead. Froome, Quintana, two-time Tour winner Alberto Contador and defending champion Vincenzo Nibali were the top pre-race favorites to win the three-week cycling showcase, which ends July 26.
Quintana, who is 1 minute, 59 seconds behind in ninth place, is coveting the hard climbs that loom. He said he's taking it day-by-day to find a time to possibly cut into Froome's lead.
''We haven't seen anything yet to know how the main rivals are,'' Quintana said at a Movistar news conference on Monday's rest day in southwestern Pau. ''Tomorrow will be the first day when we see how they are feeling and how their physical condition is ... Everything will depend on the heat. If it's too hot, there's going to be big differences.''
Contador entered the Tour on the back of winning his second Italian Giro in May, and is fifth place overall: 1:03 back of Froome. Nibali sits 2:22 behind, in 13th spot.
Richie Porte has been a faithful friend and support rider for 2013 Tour de France champion Chris Froome on Team Sky. Now the Australian plans to leave to become a team leader himself, but not before helping ''Froomey'' through this Tour first.
Porte, a two-time winner of the Paris-Nice race, put to rest speculation Monday about his ambitions in the ''Tour de France Diary'' that he has been contributing to the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper. ''Yes, it's true ... I am leaving the team,'' he wrote.
He didn't specify when he will leave or what team he'll join.
At a rest-day news conference, the 30-year-old said he's looking forward to chasing Froome's rivals like Colombian climbing star Nairo Quintana, the winner of last year's Italian Giro, and defending Tour champion Vincenzo Nibali as the race moves into three days in the Pyrenees, starting with Tuesday's 10th Stage.
''To be honest, I'm here with Team Sky and the Sky kit. Love this team. Froomey is one of my closest friends, and so are the rest of the guys,'' Porte said. ''I know what my job is here.''
Don't ask Sky to comment, though. Manager Dave Brailsford said simply: ''We can't talk about contracts until Aug. 1. I just don't want to break the rules.''
Italian veteran Ivan Basso, a two-time Giro d'Italia winner and once a great rival of Lance Armstrong, has announced that he has cancer in his left testicle and is dropping out of the Tour de France.
A visibly shaken Basso says he felt pain in his left testicle after a crash in Stage 5 and a medical check later revealed the cancer. ''We discovered this two hours ago,'' he said.
The departure of Basso, who will return home to Italy for further tests, is a blow both personally and professionally to Tinkoff Saxo Bank team leader Alberto Contador. The Spaniard, his voice cracking with emotion, put his arm around Basso and said the news was ''hard for me.'' He said he had ridden about 120 of 180 days with Basso this season in training.
Contador said he would do his best to honor Basso by winning the Tour: ''You can be sure that we will fight for the yellow (jersey) to bring him the yellow in Paris.''
The Tinkoff Saxo Bank team then cut short its news conference on the race's rest day Monday, saying that it was no time to be talking about the race after the news about Basso.
Armstrong famously returned from a case of testicular cancer to win the Tour seven times, before those titles were stripped for doping.
The Tour de France's ''Fab Four'' have, with Tejay van Garderen, become five.
The rider for the BMC team wasn't seen by many as a potential Tour winner when the race set off from Utrecht on July 4. But nine stages later, the American heads into the high mountains of the Pyrenees trailing race leader Chris Froome by just 12 seconds.
That means the American is now being mentioned in the same breath as 2013 winner Froome, 2007 and 2009 champion Alberto Contador, 2014 winner Vincenzo Nibali and 2013 runner-up Nairo Quintana.
Van Garderen sees the funny side of being left off that list of pre-race list of favorites, saying Monday on the first rest day of this 102nd Tour that it ''seemed a little incomplete'' without him and noting that ''the Backstreet Boys have five guys.''
Van Garderen, who finished fifth at the 2012 and 2014 Tours, said he expects this year's race will be decided next week on climbs in the Alps and not this week in three days of ascents in the Pyrenees, which start Tuesday.
Tour de France leader Chris Froome says it's time for the race favorites to lay their cards on the table.
Speaking Monday on the first rest day, the Sky team leader says the high mountains that start Tuesday with an ascent into the Pyrenees will offer the first true gauge of his rivals' fitness.
Froome described the mountains as ''the heart of the race'' and ''where the real race for yellow truly starts'' because ''we are going to see who has done their homework, who has got what.''
When he won in 2013, Froome made an immediate impression on the first Pyrenean stage, with a swashbuckling ride that left rivals eating his dust. This time, he is not obliged to attack thanks to the already sizeable time advantage he built up in the first nine stages over some other main contenders.
That puts the onus on them to make up the lost minutes. Froome needs only to ensure that they don't ride off ahead of him on the uphill roads.
Froome's team manager Dave Brailsford noted that ''if nobody attacks, we've won the race.'' He says Sky wants to attack, ''but we're not going to be reckless.''