- The race 2011
- All about the race
© Presse Sports
The details of the route for The Tour de France 2012, which will take place between 30th June and 22nd July, will be unveiled on Tuesday 18th October in Paris, at the Palais des Congrès convention centre and live on the official web site, letour.fr.
At the same time, visitors to the web site letour.fr, who totalled more than 14 million during the race last July, will also be able to discover the menu for next summer live and in video. For the fourth consecutive year, the broadcast of the ceremony on the web will allow the cycling enthusiasts to discover in real-time the towns hosting the stages, the distances, difficulties and innovations of Le Tour 2012. If you do not want to miss a thing, make sure you are there at 11.30 AM.
© Presse Sports
© Presse Sports
In what was a 2011 edition packed with twists of fate and pivotal moments, Cadel Evans navigated through France with the confidence of a mature and pondering champion. The Grenoble time trial put him in the yellow jersey, which he wore for only one stage this year: the day he reached Paris and the Champs-Elysées to be crowned as the first Australian winner of the Tour.
"It was in 1991 that the idea first crossed my mind, watching the Tour de France for the first time and seeing Miguel Indurain blow the field apart." Twenty years on, it was Cadel Evans' turn to climb onto the podium on the Champs-Elysées and get a whiff of this yellow glory whose sweet scent is coveted by all the cyclists in the world. Evans enjoys his national anthem with his eyes closed and his body wrapped in the Australian flag, witness to this honour for the very first time. This is not a dream. The 34-year-old has just conquered the race which has always escaped him, the race which has been so close to being his but has always left him with a taste of disappointment.
The teenager who was raised in an aboriginal community showed extraordinary physical abilities from a ripe age, which came to the light during his first tests on mountain bike trails. He was only 17 years old when he became the youngest rider ever on the podium of a leg of the World Cup. He would go on to win this competition two years straight, in 1998 and 1999. He made his road race debut in 2001, when he was still a young cyclist ready to learn from his first experiences at the top level. The reserved young rider had quite an unassuming Tour debut, but he finished a promising 8th. He got a podium place two years later, when he finished 2nd, just 23" behind Contador. The disappointment of having to settle for the tantalising 2nd place was even more bitter the following year, when he looked poised to storm to the win in the final time trial but was unable to dislodge Carlos Sastre from the top spot. Most importantly, this new setback typecast him as the eternal runner-up, which he seemed to confirm by losing the leader's jerseys at the Tour of Italy, the Tour of Spain and the Critérium du Dauphiné. His breakthrough moment came in September 2009, when he seized the Road World Championship thanks to what cynics call the only attack in his life. Say what they may, the colours of the rainbow jersey heralded a new Evans who stepped up his game. The Australian won the Flèche Wallonne and assumed the mantle of a champion.
But his objective of winning the Tour de France depended on perfection and success. Lady Luck turned her back on him in 2010, when he finished the race with a fractured elbow which prevented him from defending his yellow jersey. This year round, the new Cadel has been able to fully exploit his conquering mindset and his vast racing experience. He showed a great deal of courage, especially on the final climb of the Mûr-de-Bretagne, where he grabbed his first road stage victory. Watchfulness and consistency were two more arrows in his quiver, which he proved by avoiding falls, peloton break-ups and potentially dangerous breakaways. Thomas Voeckler might have had a bigger advantage at Saint-Flour without the work of Evans' BMC teammates. Aware of his limits, the big favourite among the outsiders waited until the last possible moment to give it his all. This moment came during the climb up the Col du Galibier, when Luxembourger Andy Schleck was on his way to pull off a coup in the race's queen stage. Evans pulled by himself a not-too-cooperative peloton which broke into pieces in the last ten kilometres up the climb, reducing his rival's advantage to more manageable levels. Two days later, it was his turn to launch an all-out attack on the Schlecks, when Andy slipped on a yellow skin suit for the all-deciding time trial in Grenoble. Evans rose to the challenge this time, forcing the two brothers to settle for the lower steps of the podium. A testament to patience.
Mark Cavendish© Presse Sports
Alessandro Petacchi© Presse Sports
Thor Hushovd© Presse Sports
This year there is a significant change in the regulations for the points classification and the battle for the green jersey. Instead of the traditional two or three intermediate sprints per stage where points have, in the past, been awarded to the first three riders over the line it’s now just one sprint per stage. And the allocation goes down to the 15th rider of the ‘prime’. Furthermore the points on offer are far more significant (20pts for first, 17 for second, 15 for third… etc) and there is also a new allotment for the finish of the stage – this depends on the categorization of each stage: high mountain, undulating, flat or time trial.What is the schedule?
Andy Schleck© Presse Sports
Second to Alberto Contador in 2010, just 39 seconds behind in the overall standings, Andy Schleck is considered to be the number-one rival to the defending champion for the title of the Tour de France this year. During his press conference on the eve of the race, the Luxembourger wasn’t drawn in to speculation about a pending duel – preferring instead to mention the aspects of his preparation that he believes will help.The battle on the road hasn’t yet begun but the psychological games of comparing strengths and weaknesses has been going on for some time already between the favorites for the title in 2011. The leader of the Leopard-Trek team has already scored some points by gaining the respect and admiration from the fans and he made his observations known during the press conference of the squad that makes its Tour debut tomorrow.
The traditional team presentation for the Tour de France took place on Thursday afternoon in a replica Roman arena in the theme park of Puy du Fou. The ‘Triumph Sign’ was the venue where 198 riders from 22 teams were introduced to a full house of 7,000 people.After a casual lap of the new ‘Triumph Sign’ arena in Puy du Fou the riders retreated before the formal team presentation ceremony for the 2011 Tour de France officially began. Europcar, with its charismatic leader Thomas Voeckler, was the first to re-appear in the center stage to be introduced to the crowd by hosts of Eurosport – the network that broadcast the spectacle live this afternoon. Although it was the first to appear, this ‘local’ team – from the Vendée region of France – received the loudest cheers from the large crowd. When asked about his ambitions for the Tour, Voeckler responded with both humor and honesty, “We will not win it, that’s for sure… but we’ll take our chances when they come and try to animate the race.”
Thomas Voeckler© Presse Sports
Arnold Jeannesson© Presse Sports
With a training centre that hosts a special section for up-and-coming riders in La Roche-sur-Yon, and an amateur cycling team linked to the Europcar squad, the Vendée department is one of the most active in the field in detecting and guiding cyclists to the top. In the pack for the 2011 Tour de France, ten riders attended and were involved in these structures.
They come from the Vendée or elsewhere, but have often maintained strong emotional links from their stay in the area. At the Pôle Espoirs young riders centre in La Roche sur Yon, youthful up-and-coming cyclists receive training that is conducive to both their performance and balance as individuals. Although born in Alsace and brought up in Martinique, Thomas Voeckler is presented as the most prestigious ambassador of the Vendée in the pack. Indeed, he spent 4 years at the Pôle Espoirs, the time it took him to obtain a sales qualification whilst he prepared for what has become a brilliant career. In addition to this leading light, six other riders on Le Tour are amongst the centre’s alumni: Christophe Kern, Sébastien Turgot, Yohan Gene, Vincent Jérôme, Perrig Quemeneur and Arnold Jeannesson, the only rider born in the Vendée and also the only one to have joined the FDJ team!
In their rise towards the ranks of the elite, the best performers of the Pôle Espoirs are in fact quite naturally channelled to the Vendée U amateur team, founded 20 years ago by Jean-René Bernaudeau. Considered as the gates to the professional team, it welcomes the most promising talents. As such, several other riders have been shaped by the methods of the Vendée, starting with the brand new champion of France, Sylvain Chavanel, who wore the Vendée U jersey before swapping it for that of Brioches La Boulangère. At the time, he rubbed shoulders with Anthony Charteau, as well as Jérôme Pineau, who today is still his room-mate during the Tour de France.
Brad McGee has been a directeur sportif at Saxo Bank-SunGard for a couple of seasons. He worked with the runner-up last year and is now assisting the defending champion. LeTour.fr caught up with the Australian to get some of his thoughts on the two and what we can expect from Alberto Contador in the 2011 Tour.How do you compare the last few years – can you talk about working with Andy and Alberto?
Pascal Lino© Presse Sports
Jean-François Bernard© Presse Sports
Stéphane Heulot© Presse Sports
David Zabriskie© Presse Sports
Life in yellow starts at the end of a stage on the podium where the new leader of the individual general classification receives a special ceremonial Yellow Jersey, with a zip on the back. That evening, the happy recipient can admire a set of made to measure jerseys branded with the name of his team, to wear the next day. At the end of Le Tour, whether he wore yellow for just one day or whether he won the race, 10 to 30 extra jerseys are given to his team. Hence the following question: “What have you done with your Yellow Jersey?”
Pascal Lino, who wore the yellow Jersey for 9 days during the 1992 Tour de France, before finishing 5th in the final general individual classification.
“I kept some of them, though they are not hanging up on the wall at home. That said, recently I went to the old factories in Machecoul where the Gitane bicycles were made and I saw one of my Yellow Jerseys framed and hung up on the wall next to a bike that used to belong to Bernard Hinault”.
Phil Anderson, the first non-European wearer of the Yellow Jersey on completion of the 5th stage of the 1981 Tour de France, then again leader of the general individual classification for 9 days the following year.
“In Melbourne, we have a sports museum and in a few days time, there will be a ceremony in honour of the Yellow Jersey I received in 1981, to mark the 30th anniversary. As a result, I’m going to get it out of the wardrobe for it to be put on display there”.
Stéphane Heulot, who wore the Yellow Jersey for two days during the 1996 Tour de France whilst riding for the GAN team.
“Good question. I don’t really know where they are. All I know is that one of them is framed and hung up on the wall at the training centre of my team (Saur-Sojasun) which is also the HQ of my fan-club from that era”.
Bernard Hinault, five times winner of the Tour de France, who wore the Yellow Jersey for a total of 74 days.
“They are in my garage. I must have around thirty… I lent a lot of them out and very often I didn’t get them back. I’ve even seen one put on sale on a web site. As a result, I don’t lend them any more!”
Bradley McGee, wearer of the Yellow Jersey for three days after winning the prologue on the 2003 Tour de France.
“My brother framed my Yellow Jersey. It must be at my parents’ house now, under the bed in the spare bedroom. One day I’ll go and pick it up, to hang it up in my new house”.
Laurent Desbiens, wearer of the Yellow Jersey for two days following the 8th stage of the 1998 Tour de France.
“It is framed in my conservatory. It means a lot to me and I take good care of it. It’s the one I wore during the 9th stage of the 1998 Tour de France after receiving it the day before. Just next to it, there is also the Best Climber Jersey that I received in 1993 at the end of the stage that went through Mûr de Bretagne. Apart from that, I also gave a Yellow Jersey to my parents and another to my Godmother”.
Jean-Francois Bernard, who wore the Yellow Jersey for a day after his victory on Mont Ventoux in 1997.
“At the moment, my Yellow Jersey is framed somewhere in my office but not hung up. From time to time, it goes out and about, here and there. I’m often asked to lend it for exhibitions and events and I do so willingly”.
Jacky Durand, wearer of the Yellow Jersey after wining the prologue on the 1995 Tour de France.
“I’ve no idea. It must be in a suitcase with my other jerseys from that time. I used to say that I’d create a little museum at my house with the jerseys, but today there is nothing in my house that serves as a reminder that I was a professional cyclist”.
Jean-René Bernaudeau, who wore the Yellow Jersey for a day after the first stage of the 1979 Tour de France.
“I’m not really the type of person who keeps things or the type of guy to put my Yellow Jersey on display in my house. I gave one to the bicycle museum in Luc-sur-Boulogne”.
David Zabriskie, who wore the Yellow Jersey for three days after winning the opening time-trial of the 2005 Tour de France (19 km in Noirmoutier) whilst riding for the CSC team.
“It is somewhere in my cellar, in an old box. I’ve moved so often these last few years, between Utah and California, that I’ve never had the opportunity to get it back out again”.
The cyclists of the 98th Tour de France have begun arriving in the Vendée region that is hosting the Grand Départ in 2011. This year the race organizers have unveiled a few new initiatives to help spectators get a greater insight into the event. ‘Avant Tour’ is a new space that enables fans to get a glimpse inside the Tour – and 10,000 people had a look on Wednesday afternoon.It’s an obvious statement but this year’s Grand Départ is dedicated to the bike. Several official events took place yesterday including a ride from the race HQ in Les Herbiers to the first ‘Avant Tour’ expo space. The race director Christian Prudhomme was amongst of a peloton of officials who cycled on 150 bikes (that have been made available for the local region for the days around the big start of the 98th Tour) who ride to the site of the new initiative.
Puy du Fou
The competition for the riders will start on the road this Saturday (2 July) but the spectacle of the Tour de France will commence on Thursday 30 June with the team presentation, which takes place in the Arena of Puy du Fou at 3.45pm.It might be a coincidence but the title of the show that is usually conducted in the replica of the Coloseeum in Rome that has been built in the theme park of Puy du Fou is called ‘Le Signe du Triomphe’ – the sign of triumph. Furthermore, when the two previous visits to Puy du Fou for the Tour de France occurred two emperors of cycling stamped their authority on the prologue of the event: both Miguel Indurain (in 1993) and Lance Armstrong (in 1999). This year the riders will enter the arena on foot where 7,000 people are expected for the formal team presentation ceremony that will be broadcast live on Eurosport from 3.45pm.
In addition to the duel between Paulinho and Kiriyenka on the finishing line in Gap on Le Tour in 2010, a battle was also raging in the team classification© Presse Sports
Of all the individual sports, cycling is certainly the one in which the collective dimension plays the biggest role. As a result, the team classification, a discrete affair at first glance, is at the heart of many strategies. Here’s why…
The honour of the podium on the Champs-Elysées
It is rare that a team starts the Tour de France with the ambition of winning this secondary classification, when all eyes are understandably more focused on the Yellow Jersey for the general individual time classification. However, it is a competition in which appetite is whetted by success, once a team finds itself in a good position after overcoming some of the difficulties along the route. Last year, RadioShack triumphed, to follow on from the winners of the last ten editions: Kelme (2000-2001), ONCE (2002), CSC (2003), T-Mobile (2004, 2005, and 2006), Discovery Channel (2007), CSC-Saxo Bank (2008) and Astana (2009).
After falling twice during the eighth stage leading to the Rousses ski resort in Morzine-Avoriaz, Lance Armstrong immediately drew his source for motivation from the team classification, to replace his initial objective. Since he was taking part in his last Tour de France, he was determined to finish, in spite of everything, with the honour of being acclaimed by the crowd on the final podium on the Champs-Elysées.
Before being celebrated on the world’s most beautiful avenue, the leaders of the team classification have the distinction of wearing a yellow bib number, set up in 2006, whereas until 1990, the Tour de France organisers presented the leading team with yellow caps, made popular by Bernard Hinault. It was Hinault who gave this competition its letters of nobility by winning it with La Vie Claire in 1985 and 1986. In the 1970’s and 1980’s, there was a team points classification, but the formula was abandoned to avoid confusion.
It influences how the race develops
The team classification is established by adding the three best individual times from each team on each stage. As a result, the teams concerned owe it to themselves to put riders in the breakaways during what are known as the transition stages, and a form of marking develops, sometimes with extremely positive results, like on the stage of the 2010 Tour, between Chambery and Gap: sent to take part in a breakaway by Armstrong, Sergio Paulinho did not leave any room for manoeuvre for Vassil Kiryienka, a member of the Caisse d’Epargne team who at that point in the race led the RadioShack team by 31 seconds in the team classification. The two men stuck to each other like glue to such an extent that they distanced their companions in the breakaway and battled between themselves for the stage victory, which in the end went to the Portuguese rider.
Weakened by falls, Armstrong put his old soldiers, Andreas Klöden, Levi Leipheimer and Chris Horner, to work to make sure they recorded better times than their Spanish rivals in the difficult stages, until he managed to regain his strength and set off up the Aubisque pass with Horner, in a breakaway that also included two Caisse d’Epargne riders: Ruben Plaza and Christophe Moreau. This manoeuvre allowed the American champion to dream of a stage victory, but Frenchmen Pierrick Fédrigo and Sandy Casar turned out to be too fast for him on the sprint in Pau.
Sometimes the team classification dictates how the protagonists ride in the last stages of the race and prevents a competitor from gaining places in the general individual classification: in such a case, the leaders of the team classification hit the front of the pack behind the breakaway to reduce the gap and torpedo attacks that do not concern the same classification, due to diverging interests.
Cycling is a collective sport
Often perceived as an individual sport because its most legendary exploits feature a sole rider out in front or a head to head battle, cycling is nonetheless collective in nature. The athlete’s performance stems primarily from a structure in which coaching and logistics occupy a predominant place. It is supplemented by solidarity between team-mates, whose role is to put their leader in the position to win. Apart from several exceptions such as Greg LeMond, who won the 1989 Tour de France with a poor quality team (ADR), with only two team-mates finishing in Paris, a Tour de France winner is generally well looked after. Even though the team classification may be abandoned, by design or by force, by certain teams with other priorities at a given moment, it is systematically won by teams of the greatest esteem, which is not to be sniffed at when taking stock at the end of the race.
It can qualify a team for the following Tour de France
The team classification for the Tour de France underway involves honours and prizes (2,800 euros on each stage for the day’s best team, 50,000 euros for the team that wins the general classification and a total of 176,000 euros distributed over 21 days), but also points in the performance evaluation system set up at the end of 2010 by the International Cycling Union in order to establish a league table of the teams for the next season.
The team classifications of the leading races are taken into consideration, along with other criteria, to determine the 18 teams labelled UCI Pro Teams that are given de facto access to World Tour events and consequently the Tour de France. It is therefore in the interest of the teams in competition to score points in this type of classification, deemed secondary but which is in fact fundamental to how the sport of cycling operates.
In Asia, it is more important than the general individual classification!
Though cycling is globalising, it is not perceived in strictly the same manner on all continents. In Asia, where the experts are predicting a bright future for the discipline, the team classification is deemed to be the most important goal. In particular, for the Iranians, who run the progressive classification for the Asia Tour, participating in a stage race means concentrating first and foremost on the team classification, which enables them to promote their performances in the eyes of their countrymen and women. They sometimes abandon objectives in the general individual time classification, which puzzles certain European teams taking part in Asian events. International development of cycling also involves appealing to the Chinese and Indians, amongst others, who do not have the same sporting culture as those from the countries known as traditional cycling nations.
World’s Best Airline Supports World Famous Cycling Event. Cycling Legends Eddy Merckx and Bernard Hinault Attend Launch Event In Paris
Qatar Airways proudly announced it has been named Official Airline of the prestigious “Tour de France”, which attracts hundreds of cyclists competing in the world’s most famous cycle race. Expected to be watched by over hundreds of millions of television viewers around the world and millions of spectators lining the 3,500km route, this year’s edition – the 98th Tour de France – takes place between July 2 – 24.
Leading international cyclists such as Tom Boonen, Frank and Andy Schleck and Alberto Contador will be competing next month for the coveted winner’s yellow jersey, eyeing victory in arguably one of the world’s most difficult races as it meanders through France before reaching the finale day along the Champs Elysees in the French capital.
Announcing the exclusive partnership with the Tour de France organisers at a press conference in Paris were Akbar Al Baker, Chief Executive Officer of Qatar Airways – the national airline of the State of Qatar – Christian Prudhomme, Director of the Tour de France and Jean-Etienne Amaury, CEO of race organisers Amaury Sport Organisation. In attendance were legendary cyclists Eddy Merckx, of Belgium, and Frenchman Bernard Hinault, who each won the Tour de France five times.
As Official Airline of the Tour de France, Doha-based Qatar Airways will fly all competing cyclists from the French city of Grenoble to Paris Orly International Airport on July 24 before they disembark for the final stage of the race. The airline will transport cyclists, teams and media on the special charter flight operated by a state-of-the-art Airbus A330 aircraft.
The sponsorship is the latest sporting initiative by Qatar Airways which has a long track record of hosting sports and cycling events such as the “Tour of Qatar” which takes place each year in the State of Qatar. Addressing media at the press conference, Qatar Airways Chief Executive Officer Akbar Al Baker said: “Qatar Airways is delighted to support the world’s greatest cycling event and is proud to be associated with this prestigious international sporting competition. Qatar Airways has a strong affiliation with cycling both in Qatar and around the globe and our sponsorship of the Tour de France is an excellent way of reinforcing our passion for this sport. What better way to announce this partnership in a week when Qatar Airways was named the world’s best airline and now affiliated with the world’s most famous cycling event with both announcements right here in your beautiful city of Paris.”
© Presse Sports
Phil Anderson, Bernard Hinault© Presse Sports
It was thirty years ago, at a time when non-European representatives were few and far between on the roads of Le Tour. Phil Anderson blew this tradition apart, putting Australia on the world map of cycling by hoisting himself, at the tender age of just 23 years, to the top of the general classification in Saint-Lary Soulan, the finishing point of the 5th stage. For the first time in the history of Le Tour, a non-European rider got his hands on the mythical Yellow Jersey.
Phil Anderson, what was the discipline of cycling like in Australia at the start of the 1980’s?
It was a time when the amateur and professional spheres were separated by a big divide in Australia. There were no real professionals. Whoever wanted to make a career for themselves in cycling left for Europe. My aim was to put in a good performance at the Moscow Olympic Games in 1980, so I went to France in 1979 where I trained with the ACBB club (Boulogne-Billancourt). Things went so well at ACBB that the doors of the Peugeot team were opened for me, with a professional contract. So, I had to make a choice between a professional career and the Olympic Games. It was risky to not go to the Games, but I don’t have any regrets.
At the time, was Le Tour widely followed in Australia?
In 1980, there was no media coverage of the Tour de France in Australia. When I got the Yellow Jersey, the newspapers sent journalists who initially came to Europe to cover Wimbledon to Le Tour to report on me. Mind you, they didn’t really grasp the significance of the Yellow Jersey.
Tell us how you managed to capture the Yellow Jersey.
In the Peugeot team, I was only a support rider, what the French call a “domestique”. I was riding for my team leader, Jean-René Bernaudeau. I made a rather good account of myself during the first few days of the 1981 edition and during the 5th stage (Saint Gaudens-Saint Lary Soulan). I found myself amongst the group of race favourites. It was incredible to be in the company of my heroes. My team manager came alongside to ask me where my team leader was. He knew, but I hadn’t a clue where he was. In fact, he was quite some way behind. I finished the stage in third place after Hinault and Van Impe, so I got my hands on the Yellow Jersey.
And you repeated the achievement the next year as well…
In 1982, I wanted to prove that my Yellow Jersey the year before was not just a stroke of luck. I had become a young rider full of promise. I started to understand what it meant to be a team leader. I won the second stage in Nancy and wore the Yellow Jersey again, before finishing in 5th position in the overall general classification and the leading young rider on the race.
What was the attention from the media like?
It was nothing like it is today. There were some Australian journalists in 1982, but they came along more out of curiosity to see a young lad from the other side of the planet, from a country without any really cycling take on a great rider like Bernard Hinault. However, that second year still showed people that cycling was alive and well in Australia.
Since then, Australia has become a leading nation in cycling…
My results probably encouraged young riders to try out their luck. Europe was like an unattainable dream. When one of your countrymen manages to succeed, hope springs eternal. Good riders like Stuart O’Grady and Robbie McEwen went on to enjoy fine careers at the end of the 1990’s. They even told me that when they were young, they had heard about my adventure on Le Tour and the classics and that I was an inspiration to them.
In fact, cycling is continuing to develop “down under”…
It’s become a major sport, to such an extent that next year there will probably be a professional team, which may even take part in the Tour de France in years to come… And of course, there’s Cadel Evans. Despite his age, this year is perhaps his best chance to win the race. In any case, I hope he’ll be on the podium again.
Djamolidine Abdoujaparov© Presse Sports
Lucho Herrera© Presse Sports
Robert Hunter© Presse Sports
Greg LeMond© Presse Sports
Robbie McEwen© Presse Sports
The phenomenon of globalisation is everywhere. Cycling and the Tour de France in particular, may have taken its time, but since the beginning of the 1980’s, the event has taken on a genuinely international flavour. The Tour has broken down the frontiers of Old Europe, attracting more and more representatives from other continents, such as Phil Anderson, the first non-European Yellow Jersey wearer and stage winner. Today, the elite is made up of riders from Asia, Oceania, America and Africa.
In 1903 for the inauguration of Le Tour, 84 slaves to the asphalt entered into the history books, including 75 Frenchmen and only 9 foreign riders (from Switzerland, Germany and Belgium). Until the First World War, Le Tour was a battle between riders from the old continent, even if in 1912 Tunisian Ali Neffati took starter’s orders, though he was racing in French colours and did not manage to finish either of his two attempts at the event.
Then came the 1914 edition, with two gentlemen from the British Empire, Don Kirkham and Ivor Munro, making the long journey from Australia to start the race. In addition to being the first representatives of Oceania, they achieved honourable results on the event, with the 17th and 20th places. Besides Le Tour, Munro took advantage of his journey to Europe to take part in Milan-San Remo and Paris-Tours, finishing in the top 30 both times.
The inter-war period witnessed the participation of the very first Japanese rider on the Tour de France. The brave Kisso Kawamura, also the first Asian on Le Tour, started the 1926 edition and tried his luck once again the following year, but was forced to withdraw each time after the first stage. Australia, evidently inspired by previous events, made a comeback in 1928 with a “100% Aussie” team, made up of four riders, three of whom completed the race.
A new page was turned in 1935 with the presence of the first rider from South America. Argentinean Emiliano Alvarez dropped out after 12 stages, but came back the next year to finish Le Tour in 24th position.
Though African nations had not yet achieved independence, representatives of the North African states shone during the 1950’s. During the 1950 edition, Moroccan Custodio Dos Reis and Algerian Marcel Molines, both riding for the North Africa team, became the first stage winners from Africa, with a triumph in Perpignan for Molines, then for Dos Reis two days later in Toulon.
Officially, the wait for the first non-European to be victorious on the route of Le Tour lasted another thirty years. At the start of the 1981 Tour de France, there were only two riders who came from “elsewhere”, American Jonathan Boyer and a certain Phil Anderson. The Australian, freshly arrived from Melbourne and a former member of the amateur ranks of the ACBB, surprised everyone by picking up the leader’s Yellow Jersey in 1981, in the Pyrenees, for one day. He repeated his performance the following year, winning the second stage in Nancy, the first by an Antipodean, and wore the Yellow Jersey for 8 days.
From that point onwards, Le Tour took on another dimension, with an influx of riders from “other” continents. In 1984, 19 started, including 15 Colombians, the leading climbers at the time. In fact, it was during this very same year that Lucho Herrera put Colombia and South America on Le Tour’s roll of honour by winning the stage at Alpe d’Huez. Nicknamed “the little gardener of Fusagasuga”, he went on to twice grab the best climber prize on the event (in 1985 and 1987), with two further stage victories to his name.
As globalisation developed, 41 non-Europeans took starter’s orders for the 1986 edition, including a young Greg LeMond. Three weeks later, the Californian became the first American winner of Le Tour. The USA is still the only non-European country to boast winners of the Tour de France (10 times in all, thanks to the 3 triumphs of LeMond and Armstrong’s 7 victories).
Asia is by no means left trailing in the slipstream. The States of the former USSR have enjoyed their fair share of glory with Uzbek sprinter Djamolidine Abdoujaparov (9 stage victories), the first Asian stage winner in 1991, and Kazakh Alexander Vinokourov (4 stage victories). More recently, 2007 went down in history thanks to the first success for an African: South African sprinter Robert Hunter was victorious in the city of Montpellier, beating Switzerland’s Fabian Cancellara and Brazil’s Murilo Fischer, to once again display the international flavour of cycling. Since then, following a long time after in the footsteps of Phil Anderson, Cadel Evans has twice finished in second place, missing out on the title in 2007 by 23’’ to Contador and by 58’’ to Sastre in 2008.
At the start of the Tour de France last year, there were 27 riders from all continents outside Europe (4 from Asia, 1 from Africa, 11 from Oceania and 11 from the Americas).
Progression of non-European representation on Le Tour since the 1980’s:
0 in 1980 / 3 in 1982 / 13 in 1983 (including 10 Colombians) / 19 in 1984 (including 15 Colombians) / 16 in 1985 / 41 in 1986 (including 26 Colombians) / 32 in 1987 / 20 in 1988
24 in 1989 / 27 in 1990 / 22 in 1991 / 22 in 1992 / 13 in 1993 / 19 in 1994 / 14 in 1995 / 14 in 1996 / 16 in 1997 / 14 in 1998 / 16 in 1999 / 14 in 2000 / 18 in 2001 / 20 in 2002 / 19 in 2003 / 20 in 2004 / 27 in 2005 / 19 in 2006 / 21 in 2007 / 21 in 2008 / 21 in 2009 / 27 in 2010
Victories by non-Europeans on Le Tour:
10 victories on Le Tour:
Lance Armstrong (7)
Greg LeMond (3)
Australia: Robbie McEwen (3), Baden Cooke (1)
Uzbekistan: Djamolidine Abdoujaparov (3)
Polka Dot Jersey:
Colombia: Luis Herrera (2), Santiago Botero (1), Juan Mauricio Soler (1)
USA: Greg LeMond (1), Andrew Hampsten (1)
Colombia: Fabio Parra (1), Alvaro Mejia (1)
Australia: Phil Anderson (1)
95 stage victories:
USA: Lance Armstrong (25), Greg LeMond (7), Davis Phinney (2), Floyd Landis (2), George Hincapie (1), Tyler Hamilton (1), Andrew Hampsten (1), Levi Leipheimer (1), Dave Zabriskie (1), Jeff Pierce (1)
Australia: Robbie McEwen (13), Phil Anderson (2), Bradley McGee (2), Stuart O’Grady (2), Baden Cooke (1), Simon Gerrans (1), Neil Stephens (1), Cadel Evans (1)
Colombia: Santiago Botero (3), Lucho Herrera (3), Fabio Parra (2), Felix Cardenas (1), Chepe Gonzalez Pico (1), Victor Hugo Pena (1), Oliverio Rincon (1), Juan Mauricio Soler (1)
Uzbekistan: Djamolidine Abdoujaparov (9)
Kazakhstan: Alexandre Vinokourov (4)
Mexico: Raul Alcala (1)
Canada: Steve Bauer (1)
South Africa: Robert Hunter (1)
Brazil: Mauro Ribeiro (1)
This year, LCL is celebrating 30 years of partnership with the Tour de France. The bank’s new head offices were decked out in yellow to welcome Christian Prudhomme, who was invited to launch the celebrations of this anniversary.
Ten days before the first stage, the famous red car that opens the road for the riders on Le Tour has already been out on the tarmac. On board, Jean-Etienne Amaury, Chairman of A.S.O., Christian Prudhomme, Director of the Tour de France, and Bernard Thévenet, two-times winner of the event, were heading to Villejuif to discover a gigantic fresco placed on the façade of LCL’s new head offices. For the last 30 years, the French bank has been present on the Yellow Jersey and this anniversary coincides with the year LCL decided to leave its historical base at Boulevard des Italiens in Paris. By 2012, more than 3,000 LCL employees will be working in the 5 buildings built at the Villejuif site. Yesterday, the celebrations were kicked off with a photo exhibition on the theme “LCL and the Tour de France”. Anne Broches, the group’s Director of Human Resources reminded those in attendance that, “the tradition of partnership with the Tour de France has such a solid grounding that it is part of LCL’s DNA”. Before bidding farewell and heading for the Vendée in the race director’s car, Christian Prudhomme gave notice of another date in the diary of the imposing Yellow Jersey that covers the building: during the last stage on 24th July, the pack of riders will pass right in front of the LCL head offices on the road between Créteil and Paris.
© Presse Sports
Born from a traditional European sporting culture, the Tour de France crossed the oceans and won over audiences on all the world’s continents during the 1980’s. With a solid grounding in the cycling landscape, Le Tour is now an unmissable point in the viewing audiences’ diaries for Le Tour’s farthest flung viewers. The television broadcast, already global since many years, is continuing to boost audience figures, transmission times and image quality. It represents an unbeatable showcase for the cities, towns, villages and landscapes of France. Here’s what is new on TV for the 2011 edition…
Images broadcast in 190 countries
Thanks to agreements signed with around 100 channels, the images of Le Tour will travel to 190 countries in total this year. Two new nations will be watching the race: Thailand and South Korea. What’s more, 60 channels will be devoting a live broadcast to the Tour de France, a level of exposure that only half of these broadcasters were offering ten years ago.
And that’s not all: in many loyal countries, the national channels with their large audiences have this year decided to broadcast each day of Le Tour live, for example, the national channels in the Czech Rebublic (Czech TV) and in Slovakia (SVT).
A vision of the future
The presence of television channels on the Tour de France is accompanied by a commitment that all the parties would like to see established for the long-term. During 2011, several major long-term partnerships have been renewed, such as the ones with EBU (the European Broadcasting Union), Eurosport Asia and also SKY TV (New Zealand).
At the heart of the pack
The broadcasters who will be welcoming the Tour de France to their channels are counting on the story that they will tell to their viewers over a three week period. As such, they are placing their trust in the quality of images from the race, produced by France Télévisions. For these teams, the experience of the event is backed up by technological expertise which guarantees the delivery of a unique product that is in a state of constant change. This year, 6 stages will be shown from start to finish. Furthermore, a growing number of channels now broadcast the Tour de France in high-definition. In addition to some European channels, Versus (USA), JSports (Japan), Sky TV (New Zealand), SuperSports (Africa), SBS (Australia), ESPN Inter (South America) and Canal Evasion (Canada) have also made this choice.
© Presse Sports
Le coq sportif and Amaury Sport Organisation are delighted to announce the partnership, to take effect for the 2012 season, concerning A.S.O. cycling events, at the forefront of which is the Tour de France.
Unipublic announce the teams that have been selected to participate in Vuelta a España 2011 that will take place from 20th August to 11th September and begin in Benidorm with a team time trial.
2011 UCI ProTeams
AG2R LA MONDIALE (FRA)
BMC RACING TEAM (USA)
KATUSHA TEAM (RUS)
LAMPRE – ISD (ITA)
LEOPARD TREK (LUX)
MOVISTAR TEAM (ESP)
OMEGA PHARMA-LOTTO (BEL)
PRO TEAM ASTANA (KAZ)
QUICKSTEP CYCLING TEAM (BEL)
RABOBANK CYCLING TEAM (NED)
SAXO BANK SUNGARD (DEN)
SKY PROCYCLING (GBR)
TEAM GARMIN-CERVELO (USA)
TEAM RADIOSHACK (USA)
VACANSOLEIL-DCM PRO CYCLING TEAM (NED)
Besides these, Unipublic has invited other four teams selected from all nominations to participate in the Vuelta a España 2011.
ANDALUCIA CAJA GRANADA (ESP)
GEOX-TMC ( ESP)
COFIDIS, LE CREDIT EN LIGNE (FRA)
SKIL – SHIMANO (NED)
Unipublic reserves the right to modify this list if important circumstances are advising it to do so, always keeping the ethical responsibilities of the cyclist and his sport quality.
The European Broadcasting Union (EBU) and Amaury Sport Organisation (A.S.O.) have signed an agreement for broadcasting cycling events organized by A.S.O.The agreement covers the next few years from 2012 to 2015 and the events Tour de France,
© Presse Sports
The city of Barcelona officially submits its bid to host the Grand Départ of the 2014 Tour de France.
The Mayor of Barcelona, Jordi Hereu, received the organisers this morning to officially submit his city’s bid. Barcelona has welcomed the Tour on three occasions, most recently in 2009.
Prior to witnessing the victory of future World Champion Thor Hushovd, the Montjuïc hill was most notably the main venue of the 1992 Olympic Games and the start of the 2005 Dakar Rally. All this makes the city a strong candidate, but it will be facing competition from many foreign communities which have shown interest in organising the Grand Départ, including Scotland, the city of Florence and the Liguria region (Italy), the city of Salzburg and Tyrol (Austria), Utrecht (Netherlands) and Kraków (Poland).
The Grande Boucle will get under way from the Vendée (France) in 2011, following which the Province of Liège (Belgium) will host the Grand Départ in 2012.
The organisers of the Tour de France have completed selection of the 22 teams who will set off from the Vendée on Saturday 2nd July.
The following 18 teams have been selected in compliance with International Cycling Union rules:
OMEGA PHARMA-LOTTO (BEL)
QUICKSTEP CYCLING TEAM (BEL)
SAXO BANK SUNGARD (DEN)
MOVISTAR TEAM (ESP)
AG2R LA MONDIALE (FRA)
SKY PROCYCLING (GBR)
LAMPRE - ISD (ITA)
PRO TEAM ASTANA (KAZ)
TEAM LEOPARD - TREK (LUX)
RABOBANK CYCLING TEAM (HOL)
VACANSOLEIL-DCM PRO CYCLING TEAM (HOL)
KATUSHA TEAM (RUS)
BMC RACING TEAM (USA)
TEAM GARMIN-CERVELO (USA)
TEAM RADIOSHACK (USA)
4 other teams, invited by the organisers, will make up the field for the 98th edition of Le Tour:
COFIDIS, LE CREDIT EN LIGNE (FRA)
SAUR - SOJASUN (FRA)
TEAM EUROPCAR (FRA)
The organisers of the 109th Paris(Compiègne)-Roubaix yesterday carried out reconnoitring of the route, which this year will undergo several modifications.
In fact, with the double aim of preserving the 70 kilometres of cobbles available in the north and to avoid immobilising the route, the race, which will take place on 10th April, will make a significant incursion into the area around Valenciennes and will pass through the sectors of Aulnoy-lez-Valenciennes and Famars. The riders will also discover the Millonfosse section (1,400 m) 4,500 metres from the exit from the Trouée d’Arenberg. This sequence positioned at 70 kilometres away from the finishing line should be one of the strategic moments of the race.
In total, the riders will cross 31 sectors, totalling 53.4 kilometres, scattered all along the 258-kilometre route of the race.
The day before, the Paris-Roubaix Challenge, taking place between Saint-Quentin (Aisne) and the mythical Roubaix cycling stadium, will pass along the last 16 sectors on the menu for the professionals, allowing almost 4,000 amateur cyclists to discover the trials and tribulations of “The Hell of the North”.
The Cobbles zones
KM Lieu lg
98 Troisvilles à Inchy 2,2
104,5 Viesly à Quiévy 1,8
107,5 Quiévy à Saint-Python 3,7
112 Saint-Python 1,5
120 Vertain à St-Martin-sur-Ecaillon 2,3
126,5 Capelle-sur-Ecaillon à Ruesnes 1,7
137 Artres à Préseau 1,9
142,5 Aulnoy-lez-Valenciennes - Famars 2,6
146 Famars à Quérénaing 1,2
149,5 Quérénaing à Maing 2,5
152,5 Maing à Monchaux-sur-Ecaillon 1,6
164 Haveluy à Wallers 2,5
172,5 Trouée d'Arenberg 2,4
179 Millonfosse à Bousignies 1,4
183,5 Brillion à Tilloy-lez-Marchiennes 1,1
186,5 Tilloy à Sars-et-Rosières 2,4
192,5 Beuvry-la-forêt à Orchies 1,4
197,5 Orchies 1,7
204 Auchy-lez-Orchies à Bersée 2,6
209,5 Mons-en-Pévèle 3
215,5 Mérignies à Avelin 0,7
218,5 Pont-Thibaut à Ennevelin 1,4
224 Templeuve - L'Epinette 0,2
224,5 Templeuve - Moulin-de-Vertain 0,5
231 Cysoing à Bourghelles 1,3
234 Bourghelles à Wannehain 1,1
238,5 Camphin-en-Pévèle 1,8
241 Carrefour de l'Arbre 2,1
243,5 Gruson 1,1
250 Willems à Hem 1,4
257 Roubaix 0,3
Distance totale des secteurs pavés 53,4
The start in Benidorm and the come back to the Pais Vasco, beginning and end of a 3295 kilometres race in 21 stages, 2 of them time trial and 6 mountain finishes.
Today, at the new Auditorium of Alicante, the Official Route of La Vuelta 2011 has been disclosed. It will take place from August 20th to September 11th. The 66th edition of the Spanish race will have 21 stages with an average length of 175 kilometres.
Six mountain finishes, 2 of them unpublished, will gather thousands of fans along the road to watch the peloton pass. With the classic end of Sierra Nevada, it will be the twelfth time that a stage ends in the Province of Granada mountains.
Also, after several years, La Vuelta will arrive again to La Covatilla and the impressive Alto de L’Angliru. Other stage finals like Peña Cabarga, where last year Igor Anton was involved in an accident and forced to withdraw, will be part of a spectacular route.
Together with these well known arrivals, 2 new finishes will thrill the spectators, the “Estacion de Montaña Manzaneda” in Galicia and La Farrapona in Asturias.
Like last edition, La Vuelta will include exciting arrivals like Valdepeñas de Jaen, again in 2011, and San Lorenzo del Escorial that promises to be a show with 23% ramps in the last mile. As for the time trial stages, there will be only one individual time trial and will be held in Salamanca just before the first rest day and transfer Galicia.
La Vuelta 2011 will also feature the return of the race to the Pais Vasco 33 years later. The last part of La Vuelta 2011, with the stages in Bilbao and Vitoria, promises to not leave anyone indifferent and provide a great show for fans.
© Presse Sports / Yuzuru Sunada
Japanese viewers are following the Tour de France during the month of July with growing interest. For the fifth consecutive year, they also have been given a treat by the channel J-Sports which devotes a special evening during December to the event.
In the history of Japanese cycling, 2009 was a decisive step, with the presence of two of the country’s riders in the Tour de France pack. What’s more, Fumiyuki Beppu (Skill Shimano) and Yukiya Arashiro (BBox) went one better by being the first two Japanese riders to finish the race. In 2010, Arashiro was the island’s only representative, giving a noteworthy performance with a sixth-placed finish on the stage at Bourg-lès-Valence (won by Mark Cavendish). With Christian Prudhomme as the special guest, the main players in Japanese cycling, at the J-Sports studio last Sunday, relived these moments of national pride and looked ahead to what the future holds in store for Nippon cycling.
Daisuke Imanaka, who took part in Le Tour in 1996, was able to give the advice of a pioneer to the riders from the new generation, including current champion of Japan Takashi Miyazawa. The 350 spectators watching live in the studios also had the privilege of participating in a raffle. The luckiest audience members left with one of the distinctive Tour de France jerseys handed over by Christian Prudhomme in person.
© Presse Sports
For the first time since the disappearance of the Tour of Corsica in the 1980’s, cycling’s elite came back to Corsica in 2010 to compete on the Critérium International.
Since the race formula won over not only the riders but also the organisers, the representatives of the local authorities involved and the Corsican public, an agreement has been signed for the next three editions of this three-stage road race. Christian Prudhomme travelled to Porto-Vecchio for a meeting with the town’s Mayor, Georges Mela, to officialise the installation of the Critérium International in 2011, 2012 and 2013.
The dates for your diaries are the 26th and 27th March 2011 for a two-day competition over three stages that will cover the demanding roads of Southern Corsica, following the format which has ensured the event’s success since 1932: one mountain stage, one flatter stage and one short-distance time-trial.
Today at 12:00 am, Andre Gilles, President and Provincial representative, and Christian Prudhomme, Director of the Tour de France, have unveiled the details of the Grand Depart of the 2012 Tour de France in Liege. Bernard Hinault, Eddy Merckx, Miguel Indurain, Philippe Gilbert and many famous members of the great family of cycling attended the ceremony.
Things will start on Thursday, June, 28th with the official teams presentation. On Saturday, June, 30th, the Prologue will cover the exact course on which Fabian Cancellera claimed his first victory on the Tour in 2004. Then the bunch will leave Liege on Sunday, July, 1st, toward Seraing for a 180 kilometres explanation which may suit the sprinters. Last act on Monday, July, 2nd. The riders will leave Vise. Destination…
At this time, the 99th will really be launched.
The Province of Liège and Amaury Sport Organisation announce that the Grand Départ of The Tour de France 2012 will take place in Liège.Further details will be announced during the press conference on Thursday 8th November 2010 at 12 AM in the Provincial Palace of Liège in Belgium.
With 3,471 kilometres (2,517 miles) of racing, spread over 21 stages, including two time-trials, along the roads of 34 French departments, with a visit to Italy, the route of the Tour de France, unveiled this morning at the Paris Convention Centre, is akin to a journey through the midst of the country’s cycling heartlands.
After the Grand Start, hosted by the Vendée for the fifth time it its history, the pack will spend time in Brittany, before heading to the Massif Central for a first battle between the climbers at Super Besse. The race’s baptism with the high mountain roads will take place in the Pyrenees, with three tough gradient stages. On completion of this series, all eyes will be on the winner at the Plateau de Beille: to date every rider who has won there has also been triumphant at the end of Le Tour.
For the exploration of the Alps, the organisers insisted on the collaboration of their Italian neighbours who in 2011 will be celebrating the 150th anniversary of Italian unification and who have also given pride of place to the mountains throughout the long history of the Giro. On the return of the pack to France, there will be another anniversary to celebrate: during the 18th stage, the riders will head towards the Galibier pass which Le Tour discovered one hundred years ago, in 1911. This time, the finishing line will be the highest in history, at an altitude of 2,645 metres. However, the following day’s stage will probably be more decisive, with a relentless 109-km battle, taking the riders up the Galibier pass for a second time before climbing up the Alpe d’Huez. Forty-eight hours from the final finishing line, the struggle for the Yellow Jersey could still see some surprises on the sole individual time trial on Le Tour in 2011, in a loop around Grenoble.
CLASSIFICATIONS: INNOVATIONS FOR THE GREEN AND POLKA DOT JERSEYS
Stage victory - Powerbar. Each day, the Tour de France pays tribute to the first rider to cross the finishing line.
Yellow Jersey - LCL. It is awarded to the leader of the general individual classification, made up by adding the times achieved on each stage.
Green Jersey - PMU. It is worn by the leader of the points classification. New in 2011: the flat stages will only include one intermediary sprint with points awarded to the first 15 riders. The aim is to systematically involve the sprinters in the pack, even after the passage of a breakaway.
Polka Dot Jersey - Carrefour. It is worn by the leader of the best climber classification. New for 2011: the points system and number of riders awarded points on each climb has been revised in order to reduce the gaps between the competitors. For example, points will only be doubled for a finishing line at the summit of 2nd, 1st and highest level climbs.
White Jersey - Skoda. The best positioned rider in the general individual classification amongst those below the age of 25 years wears the White Jersey.
Team classification - Digital. It is based on the results of the best three riders in each team on each of the stages. The riders of the leading team wear a yellow number bib.
Most aggressive rider - Brandt. Each day, a jury mainly made up of journalists designates the most deserving rider, rewarded for his attacking temperament, boldness and fair-play. On the following day’s stage, he wears a red number bib. At the end of the race an overall award is also made.
© Presse Sports
The end of October marks the beginning of a new sequence with the official announcement of the route of the next edition of the Tour de France.
On Tuesday 19 October precisely, more than 4 000 persons and 500 medias from all over the world will descend on the Palais des Congrès in Paris to discover the detail of the stages of the 2011 Tour, which will take place from 2 to 24 July that year along the roads of France and …
For the moment the certainties concern the programme for the very first days of the race, with a Great Start organized in the Vendée and the final stage that has every chance of being judged on the Avenue des Champs-Elysées in Paris. Between the two speculation is rife as to the route through the Alps and the Pyrenees, the way through the intermediate uplands of the country, the format of the key stages of the Tour to come, etc.
At the same time as the spectators at the Palais des Congrès, the impatient impassioned and the curious can follow the presentation ceremony live and on video from 11.30 am on the official website. This summer more than ten million single visitors logged on each day on letour.fr to live the race while hundreds of thousands of bicycle fans kept in touch with their mobile phones. They have a new rendez-vous to find out all the staging towns, the mileages and the sporting innovations of the 98th edition.
© ERAI / Denis Dessus
© ERAI / Denis Dessus
While Expo 2010 Shanghai was busy welcoming its 60 million visitors, the Rhône-Alpes pavilion started its two weeks dedicated to the theme “Sport and Mountain”. The old ties between the region and cycling inspired the people behind the pavilion to call Jean-Etienne Amaury, Christian Prudhomme and Bernard Hinault for a presentation of the Tour de France to the media and to the Chinese public, 8 October last.
Bernard Hinault went to China more than twenty years ago, invited to follow the Tour of Beijing, since disappeared but replaced by a series of races that attest to the progress of the discipline throughout the country (the Tour of Hainan, Tour of Taihu and Tour of Qinghai Lake are all part of the Asia Tour). “Until recently, the Chinese thought that the bicycle was nothing more than a going-to-work tool. But now they have rounded a corner: there is a real interest in competition cycling, the practice is catching on and their champions are sure to come on in leaps and bounds”, said Hinault on his return from Shanghai. The considered opinion of the five-times winner of the Tour thus seconds the view of Christian Prudhomme, long questioned by journalists regarding the various problems of organization of the race: “First I was struck by the appetite of these people, who asked me why the Tour was not given more air time, although CCTV 5 broadcasts live and gives round-ups of all the stages. More than anything else, most of the questions concerned the environmental aspect, since they were touched by the beauty of the French landscapes. And if you think that they still have some way to go on these issues, I rather have the impression that they could very soon catch up with us and even overtake us. Because they too are beginning to rethink the role of the bicycle in society, especially in the city centres.” After a conference for sports students from Shanghai Sports University, an appointment was taken with Chinese cycling, this time on the roads of France. The President of the Chinese Cycling Association, Mr. Jiadong Cai, was invited to follow a stage of the 2011 Tour de France. “I also expect to see, say in the medium term, a Chinese team in the race”, predicts Christian Prudhomme.
This morning the organisers of the Tour de France were informed of the statement issued by the International Cycling Union (UCI), which confirmed that “the Spanish rider Alberto Contador returned an adverse analytical finding following the analysis of a urine sample″.
The UCI indicated that this case required “further scientific investigation” with the scientific support of the World Anti-Doping Agency, “before any conclusion could be drawn”.
Thus the Management of the Tour de France will await the results of this further analysis and the final decision of the UCI.
"The Intellectual" heading towards victory on the Alpe d’Huez in 1984© Presse Sports
Laurent was also the “Magnificent loser” of the 1989 edition.© Presse Sports
After two years of a tough and humble fight against illness, Laurent Fignon has died at the age of 50 from cancer of the digestive tract. The two times winner of the Tour de France, who followed the last five editions as a consultant for France Télévisions, exits the stage leaving the memory of a demanding and uncompromising observer of cycling. This temperament is also what made him one of the great champions of French sport.
On his arrival in the professional ranks, Fignon already stood out due to his style and past. A Parisian, he was also one of the rare holders of the ‘baccalaureate’ in the pack. What’s more the round glasses he wore quickly earned him the reputation and nickname of ‘the intellectual’. Comments about his long blond hair did not stop him from carving out a place for himself in the Renault team alongside Bernard Hinault, the leading rider at the time. An efficient team-mate, he soon became a rival as well. When Hinault had to forfeit Le Tour in 1983, this also meant that the ambitious would have a say in matters. Fignon took his chance and triumphed on his first participation in the Big Loop, benefitting from the withdrawal of Pascal Simon as well. The following year, he readily took on his status of title holder, showing even greater brashness in his fight with “the Badger” (Hinault’s nickname). After the climb up to Alpe d’Huez, on which the dual was won by the younger of the two, to crown it all, the French champion even declared during an interview, “Hinault really made me laugh when he attacked at the bottom of Alpe d’Huez!”
Dominant in the mountains and time-trials, now bearing the nickname Laurent le Magnificent, Fignon appeared to be heading for the top. His victory in 1984 was, however, his last on the Tour de France. At the end of the Hinault era, he went on to do battle over several episodes with Greg LeMond. The dual on Le Tour in 1989 is still one of the most striking of his career. He lost out on victory on the very last day, on the Champs-Elysées, at the end of a time-trial that he rode with an injury between Versailles and Paris. On the finishing line, he was lacking eight seconds to retain the Yellow Jersey, which went to LeMond. On the podium he wore a visibly and resolutely grim expression: the sincerity of his feelings was also his trade mark.
In 1993, he retired with a prestigious roll of honour to his name, including in particular a Tour of Italy triumph, a victory in the Flèche Wallonne and two Milan-San Remo wins. His commitment to professional cycling continued as he took over the organising of Paris-Nice, which he then sold to A.S.O. in 2002, and the creation of Paris-Corrèze in 2001. In tandem, his free, forthright and sometimes brutal views made him a much sought after pundit by radio stations and television channels. Weakened by the illness that he made public in 2009, Laurent Fignon made a point of following the last two editions of the Le Tour for France Télévisions. In his last public remarks, the former champion looked ahead to his passing away with courage and lucidity: “I’m not scared of dying. If it was to all end soon, I wouldn’t have any regrets. I’ve had a very good life”. Moved by the death of a loyal and unflinching fan of cycling, all those associated with the Tour de France would like to express their commiserations to the family and friends of Laurent Fignon.
For his third Tour de France victory – at the very young age of 27 – Alberto Contador has undergone three weeks of tough confrontation during which he never really reached his 2009 performance level. Andy Schleck who already finished 2nd last year finished the 2010 edition of the Tour 39” behind Contador after having worn the Yellow Jersey for six days and after winning his two first stages. This duel is not just boiling under the surface; it is the real McCoy.
The promising performance of Andy Schleck – who was twice Best Young Rider in the Tour and who finished second behind Contador in 2009 as well was pretty real although it was – for a long time – tainted with a touch of scepticism. The first stages of the 2010 Tour that confirmed – in the Prologue already – the deficiencies of Andy Schleck when racing against the clock nevertheless allowed clarifying – to his advantage – Andy’s position as the sole credible rival for Alberto Contador.
In Morzine: 10 very hopeful seconds...
In the elimination race that took place in week 1 of the Tour, Andy Schleck could have vanished in the depths of the rankings in the slippery slopes of the Stockeu descent that made him fall with many other riders. But Cancellara’s lobbying at the end of the stage in Spa convinced the pack – and Contador himself – of the need to neutralize the race in order to allow the Schleck brothers to catch up and not prematurely lose their chances of racing for victory.
The youngest of the Schleck brothers owes part of his good performance on cobblestones to his Swiss lieutenant who could not do anything – unfortunately – for Andy’s older brother who fell on the Route d’Arenberg and had to withdraw with a broken shoulder blade. In the meantime, Contador went through most of the race’s difficulties without too much trouble, doing much better than Armstrong who started losing ground where he was supposed to make time and win. The first day in the Alps meant the end for the 7-time Tour de France winner from the US who fell before starting the climb of the Col de la Ramaz, putting him at a very serious disadvantage, making him lose enormous ground in the overall rankings and bringing an end to all his hopes for final victory. The stage in Morzine was also some kind of generational turnover with the first stage victory of Andy Schleck. The Luxemburgish rider managed – for the first time in his life and career – to put some significant distance between himself and Alberto Contador in a mountain stage; his very own 10 seconds of hope.
Torero, yes... but matador no more...
Evans wore the Yellow Jersey on the way to Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne, but the whole secrecy surrounding his broken left elbow were short lived. In the climb to the top of the Col de la Madeleine, only two riders remained on the radar screens: Andy and Alberto, who embarked upon a bumpy and polite duel. In Mende, Contador’s attack was too short to get him in the Yellow Jersey. On the road to Port de Balès, the attack of Schleck was suddenly stopped by a broken chain that made him lose ground on his opponent who was obviously racing for the Yellow Jersey. The climb of the Tourmalet, at the very end of the Pyrenean stages, showed both riders neck-a-neck with – still – a small advantage for Contador. Each passing day became – for him – a new huge step towards a third Tour victory.
But it was at the end of the Tour that Contador’s weaknesses became harder to hide. The Spaniard has lost his edge in the steepest climbs; a torero he may still be but the matador is gone. If Contador is a convincing and legitimate Tour de France winner in his own right, this year he was nevertheless unable to hit hard enough to kill all the hopes of his contender of the year. As he demonstrated in the Pauillac time-trial stage, he however compensated his lack of performance with the tremendous will-power of his experience. The head and the legs together: here is the perfect definition of a fully-fledged rider.
In the 2010 Tour de France, French riders showed their top skills by winning a total of six stages, even better than Mark Cavendish who added another 5 stage victories to his overall Tour de France track record.
Red, White and Blue Bouquets
Even if it is not part of the official ranking statistics, we can nevertheless establish a stage victory table as is the case in the Olympic Games. If we were to do so, France would be on top with six stage victories, a performance unseen since the 1997 edition of the Tour for the French. Moreover, this statistical rarity was also accompanied by pretty emotional moments like the two stage victories of Sylvain Chavanel, which also gave him the opportunity of wearing the Yellow Jersey... an honour even sweeter if we know that two months before, a very bad fall had deprived the French rider of almost all hopes of even taking part in the Tour de France. Then, it is in the mountain stages that the intuition and punch of the French was also rewarded: Sandy Casar in Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne, Christophe Riblon in Ax-3-Domaines, Thomas Voeckler and his red-white-and-blue jersey in Luchon, and Pierrick Fédrigo in Pau.
Cavendish, the Sprint Machine
Just behind France in the number of stage victories per country is the UK with a total of five stage victories that are all the fruits of the arms and legs of one tough and prolific rider named Mark Cavendish. The sprinter of HTC-Columbia team started the Tour surrounded by an aura of doubt and a bad boy reputation. We had to wait for the Montargis stage to see him open-up the list of his many victories. “Cav” did it again in Gueugnon the next day, and then in Bourg-lès-Valence. The little setback of seeing his powerful scout Mark Renshaw expelled from the race did not even prevent him from winning in Bordeaux and then in Paris. He becomes the very first rider with a track record of 15 stage victories in only three Tour de France participations.
Petacchi in Green
This being said, Cavendish’s stage victory collection did not take him to the top of the points ranking. Hiding in ambush during week one, Cavendish started with a significant handicap over Alessandro Petacchi and Thor Hushovd, who kept sharing the Green Jersey during most of the Tour. A winner on the cobblestones of the North and more at ease in the mountain to gain the points that the other sprinters were unable to steal from him, the Norwegian was able to keep his hopes high of finishing in Paris with Green Jersey for the third time. But Petacchi – stronger and more explosive in the sprints – was able to slowly but surely catch up and reach – between Bordeaux and Paris – first place in the points classification, which had not seen any Italian victory since Franco Bitossi in 1968.
A Polka-Dot Jersey for Charteau
The collection of trophies continued for the French with Anthony Charteau winning the Polka-Dot Jersey. After spending a long time neck-a-neck with Jérôme Pineau, the Bouygues Télécom rider had to resist the assaults of Christophe Moreau, who would have easily pictured himself across France wearing the Polka-Dot Jersey for his very last Tour. At the end of the Tour, Charteau was the cherry on the cake of the French’s track record of the Tour, the very first Frenchman being 19th in the overall rankings (John Gadret). Moreover, if the French stage victories all went to riders of the 30-year-old generation, a closer look at the raking of the young riders also gives France good reasons to believe in its cycling future. Far behind Andy Schleck – who wins the White Jersey for the third time – and also far behind Robert Gesink and Roman Kreuziger, two more French riders rank 4th and 5th in the youth ranking, i.e. Julien El-Farès and Cyril Gautier.