- The race 2011
- All about the race
Mark Cavendish© Presse Sports
Matt Goss© Presse Sports
Andre Greipel© Presse Sports
Marcel Kittel© Presse Sports
Peter Sagan© Presse Sports
Like in athletics, people are fascinated to know the name of the world’s fastest man. When it comes to cycling, the fastest speeds are judged according to the more or less massive sprints, for which points are awarded. While this field has been dominated by Mark Cavendish for several seasons, the struggle for the green jersey is especially rewarding for those who perform the most consistently throughout the race. The new intermediate sprint rules adopted last year also add a strategic dimension to the debate.
Throughout the week, letour.fr will be listing all the champions expected to lead in the various Tour de France rankings. Episode 2: Winning the Green Jersey.
The favourite: Mark Cavendish (Team Sky)
As winner of last year’s Tour de France points ranking, it is only logical that Mark Cavendish should be a contender for a second green jersey in Paris. His clutch of stage victories – which amount to twenty from his last four events – promises another points victory. The British rider is easily the world’s fastest. For him, the crucial part of the event will be played out over three days, between Rouen and Metz, after a first meeting with the other pure sprinters in Tournai (2nd stage). But Cavendish cannot expect to be handed victory on a plate. Mainly because of stiff competition from two young winners: Peter Sagan and Marcel Kittel. This Slovak gets everywhere! Cavendish’s other handicap is the presence of his teammate Bradley Wiggins in Team Sky, who has also set his sights on the overall ranking. The two teammates are expected to give priority to mobilising the team from the end of the first week, in other words from the moment when those battling for the green jersey are likely to stumble on the intermediate sprints. Sky will not annihilate all the stragglers if it means compromising priority objectives, Cavendish’s main goal being to prepare for the London Olympics!
Setting their sights on victory
Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale) is a major contender for the green jersey as he can win all kinds of sprints: on the flat and especially on the slopes (he should enjoy Seraing and Boulogne-sur-Mer!). He also knows how to make his mark in the intermediate sprints and has enough stamina for anything – even over three weeks!
Marcel Kittel (Argos-Shimano) has already chalked up an impressive track record, by the middle of his second pro season. That of a real winner. In mid-June, the German beat Cavendish twice in the sprint. He should not therefore rule out any hopes of a Tour victory and especially not that of winning the green jersey in Paris… even if this is only a medium-term goal.
Matt Goss (Orica-GreenEdge) carries on his shoulders the sole objective announced by the promoters of new Australian team Green Edge, when it was first created - that of winning the green jersey. The word “green” is even part of its name! The world’s runner-up champion has only notched up one victory this year, a stage in the Giro, but it points towards further successes.
José Joaquin Rojas (Movistar) won the green shirt last year before passing it to Mark Cavendish, but he remains a serious candidate as he was (almost) placed in the massive sprints and has been consistent in his performance on different terrains. However, the return of his team and training partner, Alejandro Valverde, reduces his room for manoeuvre.
André Greipel (Lotto-Belisol), world No.1 in terms of victories (13) before the national championships, is a sprinter of such quality that the green jersey is definitely within his reach. But he only succeeded in beating Cavendish once during the 2011 Tour, whose flair reduces his self-confidence. But if the road ahead is clear…
A few names that could take us by surprise
Tyler Farrar, winner of the third stage in Redon last year, won against the clock as part of his team with Garmin-Barracuda, but failed to win any sprints before this year’s Tour de France! Yauheni Hutarovitch, who has also yet to win a sprint, unlike the young riders from FDJ-BigMat (Démare, Bouhanni), hopes to come out of his shell… Oscar Freire (Katusha), green jersey winner in 2008, is preparing for the Olympics. Retirement beckons. He might well make the most of this last opportunity! Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre-ISD), winner of the points ranking in 2010, snapped up the Giro, which makes him more likely to win the Tour despite being 38. Mark Renshaw has left the Cavendish camp, with the aim of making a name for himself by sprinting for Rabobank, which expects more than a single victory (fourth stage of the Tour of Turkey). Tony Gallopin (RadioShack-Nissan) gained a taste for the green jersey on the Dauphiné, but was beat to the finishing line by Cadel Evans. A great all-rounder and incisive, he is able to pick up points almost everywhere!
© Presse Sports
At the end of the day, only one rider will go down in history. The supreme goal on the Tour de France is the Yellow Jersey awarded to the leader of the final general individual classification. Cyclists worldwide dream about it, but only a handful will be concerned by this battle at the summit of the sport over three weeks of racing. Here, we take a look at the pretenders for the title on the 99th edition.
Throughout the week, letour.fr will be taking stock of the riders likely to play a leading role in the different classifications on the Tour de France. Episode 1: the battle for the Yellow Jersey.
Cadel Evans owes his status as favourite to being the current title holder. A duel with Bradley Wiggins is looking likely. The Englishman is virtually unbeaten (like the Australian last year) on the stage races he has taken part in this year. He won Paris-Nice, the Tour of Romandy and the Critérium du Dauphiné. If the time-trials are to be the crucial point, then the Team Sky leader has the edge. However, Evans has the advantage of already having won Le Tour and being a better all-round rider: probably a better climber, especially in the sequence of difficulties on the programme in two mountain stages (the 11th, in the Alps, and the 16th, in the Pyrenees), undoubtedly a better puncher, with a capacity to pick up seconds through short, intense bursts of effort (at the finishes in Seraing, Boulogne-sur-Mer, la Planche des Belles Filles, and Bellegarde-sur-Valserine), and certainly a better downhill racer!
Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky) holds the role of official challenger. Fifty years after the first Englishman in yellow (Tom Simpson in Saint-Gaudens) has the time come for an Englishman to wear yellow in Paris… five days before the Olympics Games start in London? It is a question of time: this Tour gives time-trials, his speciality, pride of place.
Denis Menchov (Katusha), after the most discrete start to a season of his career, is making is comeback on Le Tour. On his last participation (2010), on the podium in Paris he stood next to the two major absentees of this year thanks to a major feat in the final time-trial. Already a winner of the Vuelta and the Giro, he will be waiting for the opportunity to spring an ambush…
Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale) will be flying the flag for Italy’s hopes and the new generation against the thirty-somethings. Having won the Tirreno-Adriatico race, he is focusing his 2012 season on Le Tour. His experience of victory on the Vuelta (in 2010) and the assistance of Ivan Basso can also be added to his status as a fine overall rider with plenty of stamina.
Levi Leipheimer (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) is growing in stature. Third on the Tour of Switzerland, a place he also occupied on the podium on the Tour de France in 2007, the American does not see his age of 38 years as a handicap. The time-trials could put him in a position from which only a fall (to which he is rather prone) could knock him off.
Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Barracuda) is a different man since he won the Tour of Italy. Following in the footsteps of Cadel Evans, previously a mountain biker who has been a latecomer to road racing, the Canadian has all the qualities and now the confidence in his abilities to transform his 7th place on Le Tour in 2010 into a podium finish.
Riders who could spring a surprise
Chris Froome and Richie Porte are the two emerging riders in Team Sky, able to take on the baton from Bradley Wiggins in case of problems, like in 2011 (when the Englishman withdrew after breaking his collar bone following a fall). Peter Velits (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) does not intend to content himself with his victory on the Tour of Oman. Janez Brajkovic (Astana) in recently winning the Tour of Slovenia may have taken a step on the way to greater things… Bauke Mollema is an alternative, in the Rabobank team, to leader Robert Gesink, who promises much but does not always deliver. Pierre Rolland (Europcar) is reaching riding maturity to take up the reins from Thomas Voeckler, who is suffering with knee problems. Chris Horner, now a tricky forty-something, pulled out of the hat by RadioShack-Nissan, is capable of superseding Fränk Schleck as a replacement for the latter’s injured younger brother Andy.
© Province de Liège
© Province de Liège
The Grand Start of the Tour de France has traditionally been the time when the last tweaks are made and the first emotive and convivial moments take place. Liège will provide the backdrop for a series of events over next week, ranging from the opening of the Avant-Tour to the team presentation.
Once the final countdown has crept down into the single figures, the Tour de France takes shape. And nowhere is the approach of the big day as conspicuous as in the city hosting the Grand Start. The citizens of Liège have already been involved in the preparations for several months and now they are about to see the atmosphere get increasingly electric over next week, culminating in the first two days of racing: the prologue on Saturday, June 30 and stage 1 on Sunday, July 1.
The Tour de France is officially opening its doors in the Province of Liège on June 27, with the inauguration of the organisation’s reception point and the press centre in Liège's Country Hall (Bois Saint-Jean complex). Those who live there will see things getting eclectic, while in the meantime the party begins in the Halle des Foires. There, visitors to the Avant-Tour get the opportunity to get riders' autographs, discover the vehicles of the advertising caravan before anyone else, and enjoy the activities organised by the race sponsors, all for free. There is also a third place where the presence of the Tour will be felt in a more indirect way when Bernard Hinault, Bernard Thévenet and Gilbert Duclos-Lassalle inaugurate the Village Gaulois (Gallic Village), which celebrates French culture and cuisine every summer on Liège's Place Saint-Paul.
Before focusing on the sport proper, the pre-race events will continue on Thursday, June 28 with the team presentation ceremony against the stately backdrop of the Place Saint-Lambert, in front of the Prince-Bishops' Palace. Musician Pierre Theunis and his colleagues will provide the music with melodic references to the Tour de France's previous visits to Belgium. By then, the 198 starters in the 99th Tour de France will have just one day left to relax and/or psych up before charging through the streets of Liège.
The highlights of the Grand Start in the Province of Liège
> Wednesday, June 27: Opening of the reception point and press centre in Bois Saint-Jean (Liège's Country Hall) - Allée du Bol d'Air, 13 in 4031 Liège (Angleur); opening of the Avant-Tour in the Halle des Foires de Liège.
> Thursday, June 28: from 6:30 pm, official team presentation on Liège's Place Saint-Lambert.
> Saturday, June 30: from 2:00 pm, individual time trial with start and finish in the Parc d'Avroy
> Sunday, July 1: Stage 1, Liège–Seraing (198 km)
> Monday, July 2: Stage 2, Visé–Tournai (207.5 km)
When it comes to a three-week competition like the Tour, viewers also have to do their homework.
The race offers a generous and varied menu, with many protagonists, numerous challenges and sometimes complex strategies. This is why, both before and during the competition, the Official Programme is THE guide you need to see the course of each stage in detail, check the timetable or look up the gradient of a climb. Readers of this comprehensive guide will not just find all the technical details of the Tour, but also the Bernard Hinault’s analyses and interviews with the big favourites. This year too, the Official Programme has been tailored to all the viewers of the Tour, with a total of eleven versions printed by partner newspapers from all over the world.
The 11 versions of the Official Tour Programme: Australia, Denmark, France, Germany, Japan, Netherlands, Norway, South Africa, United States, United Kingdom, Taiwan
On 27th, 28th and 29th June, the Pre-Tour will be the main meeting point for the players on Le Tour and its spectators. Tourists, amateur riders, journalists or simply passers-by will have an opportunity in Liege to savour the atmosphere of the race.
In July, the Tour de France will be on the road every day. Before reaching its cruising speed, it will set up camp for several days in the city that is hosting the Grand Start. It will be a time of re-acquaintances, final preparations, predictions and intimidations. The time Le Tour will spend in Liege this year will especially be an opportunity to bring together all lovers of cycling, whether they will be setting off on the Big Loop or not. And for the second consecutive year, cycling enthusiasts are invited to come together in a setting designed for exchanges and interaction: the Pre-Tour.
With free admission to spectators over a three day period, the Pre-Tour will be at the crossroads of everyone involved in Le Tour as the clock ticks down to the first movements of the pack. Whilst the sponsor’s fine-tune their recently prepared parade vehicles, the riders will be in attendance for autograph-signing sessions, radio stations and television channels will be setting up their studios to broadcast from the heart of the event and 80 exhibitors in total will take possession of the Halle des Foires in Liege. As for the spectators, exhibition stands will be devoted to advice on how to maintain and repair bicycles, whilst children will be able to take part in an introduction to BMX riding on a 600 m² track. Everything will be in place for a genuine taste of Le Tour’s atmosphere, with interaction and enthusiasm as the watchwords.
Halle des Foires, Liege
. Wednesday 27th June: 1.30 PM – 9 PM
. Thursday 28th June: 10 AM – 9 PM
. Friday 29th June: 10 AM – 6 PM
© Alain Conter
Officially the winner of the 97th Tour de France following the disqualification of Alberto Contador, Andy Schleck received the honour of being presented with the Yellow Jersey for the 2010 edition in his home town, by Christian Prudhomme in person.
The Tour de France 2010 finished on a regretful note for Andy Schleck, who missed out on triumph by 39 seconds, lost partly due to a mechanical incident in the Pyrenees and then on the time-trial in Pauillac. Since the disqualification of Alberto Contador, the rider from Luxembourg has regained first place in the final overall classification. After having worn the White Jersey for best young rider on the podium on the Champs-Elysées at the time, Andy Schleck was this morning presented with the winner’s Yellow Jersey for Le Tour 2012 by Christian Prudhomme. The ceremony, to which 150 people were invited, was organised in the home town of the two Schleck brothers, Mondorf-lès-Bains, in the presence of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg Minister for Sport, Romain Schneider, in particular.
© Presse Sports
The Tour de Franche-Comté and the Tour de Corse are both scheduled to start tomorrow morning. Two races in which amateur cyclists will act as trailblazers in two stage finishes due to feature for the first time in the Tour de France: La Planche des Belles Filles next July 7 and Ajaccio on June 30, 2013.Serendipity is a special word in the vocabulary of the Tour de France, and the coincidence which will take place on Sunday, May 20 is highly symbolic. Two places which are set to become part of the history of the Tour will take the centre stage at the same time in two major amateur stage races. The Tour de Franche-Comté will visit Les Rousses resort (which has had a special place in Sylvain Chavanel's heart since he won a stage here during the 2010 Tour) before coming to a grand finale with the climb up to La Planche des Belles Filles resort. This choice of course emphasises the values shared by the various cycling disciplines and certainly makes Christian Prudhomme a happy man: "It’s exciting to see how we can draw inspiration from one another. La Planche des Belles Filles was originally visited by cyclotourists. In July it will host the Tour de France and today it will receive the Tour de Franche-Comté. The Tour de Bretagne recently had a stage finish on the Mûr-de-Bretagne too, which confirms this trend". The organiser of the Tour de Franche-Comté, Gilles Da Costa, agrees wholeheartedly with the boss of the Tour: "When the Tour was presented in October, we set ourselves the goal of organising this stage finish. I’ve seen an enormous craze for this finish grow since we revealed our race course".
Less than two months from the start of Le Tour, the editorial team of Young Reporters for 2012 came together for a full meeting. It was an opportunity to get to know each other and to look ahead to the adventure that awaits them next July.The team of young reporters for Le Tour has now come into being: on Saturday, the six Young Reporters selected in Paris by sports daily newspaper L’Equipe, in Brussels by La Dernière Heure and in Luxembourg by the sportspress.lu web site, were invited to spend the morning at the offices of A.S.O. for an initial group meeting. The newspaper A Notre Tour (now for our tour), which will be published and distributed every two days during the race, now has an editorial team that will stand out in the Tour de France press room thanks to its composition: it will definitely be the youngest, the most egalitarian as well with three girls and three boys, and probably one of the most cosmopolitan with three nationalities represented.
After the four young people selected in Paris with the daily sports newspaper l’Equipe, Joy Mentgen has won the competition in Luxembourg to join the Young Reporters editing team on Le Tour 2012. To complete the team, all that is needed is a Belgian journalist.
Joy will not be able to go and see the Red Hot Chili Peppers, but this is good news nonetheless! The 16-year old school pupil from Luxembourg is often involved in an association that organises cultural projects, such as this journey to Paris planned for 30th June. However, her natural curiosity, rather than her interest in cycling, incited her to take part in the selection of Young Reporters organised for the first time in Luxembourg, in partnership with the press group spotpresse.lu. “To really have my finger on the pulse, I went to see my grandfather who explained lots of things about cycling and the Tour de France. He also gave me some books and I prepared for this day in the same way I would prepare for an exam”. On the face of it, she learned her lessons well, sufficiently to comfortably conduct an interview with a fake Mark Cavendish played by Bernard Hinault, or to find relevant questions in order to discover the role of a time-keeper on the Tour de France.
These are exactly the type of situations that she will encounter on Le Tour from 28th June onwards as a member of the editing team on the newspaper ‘A Notre Tour’ (Now for our Tour), because yesterday evening it was indeed the name of Joy Mentgen that was announced by the Minister for Sports, Romain Schneider, on completion of a series of exercises performed by ten teenagers from Luxembourg, all of who speak four languages! From now on, the competition winner is looking ahead to the race in July: “I really don’t know what to expect, but I can’t wait to find out. I’ll be able to meet riders, but also see how the journalists work. As a first article, I’d love to do an interview with a rider from Luxembourg… Andy Schleck”.
The organisers of the Tour de France have completed selection of the teams for thenext edition of the event, which will start from the Province of Liege on Saturday30th June and finish in Paris Champs-Elysées on Sunday 22nd July.
In accordance with International Cycling Union rules, the following eighteen “ProTeams” are systematically selected:
AG2R La Mondiale (Fra)
Astana Pro Team (Kaz)
BMC Racing Team (USA)
Euskaltel – Euskadi (Esp)
FDJ – Big Mat (Fra)
Garmin – Barracuda (USA)
Greenedge Cycling Team (Aus)
Katusha Team (Rus)
Lampre – ISD (Ita)
Liquigas – Cannondale (Ita)
Lotto Belisol Team (Bel)
Movistar Team (Esp)
Omega Pharma – Quickstep (Bel)
Rabobank Cycling Team (Hol)
Radioshack – Nissan (Lux)
Sky Procycling (Gbr)
Team Saxo Bank (Dan)
Vacansoleil – DCM Pro Cycling Team (Hol)
In addition to these eighteen teams, the organisers have issued four invitations, meaning twenty-two teams will be present at the start of the 99th edition of the Tour de France. They are:
Argos – Shimano (Hol)
Cofidis, le crédit en ligne (Fra)
Saur – Sojasun (Fra)
Team Europcar (Fra)
100 days before the prologue that will take place on 30th June, the Tour de France has already taken a taste of the Belgian atmosphere. Yesterday evening, Paris was the venue for the presentation of the trophy that will be awarded to the winner of the inaugural time-trial. Today, early in the morning, a prestigious delegation took the Thalys high-speed train to Liege, for a symbolic reconnoitring mission of the route which the riders will take.
“If there were trophies like that in my day, I would have wanted to win 25!” joked Bernard Hinault. Indeed, although he won five prologues in his career on Le Tour, the former champion never received a masterpiece equal to the one that will be awarded to the winner in Liege on 30th June. For the presentation of the sculpture designed and created by glass-maker Louis Leloup, a trio of winners came together in Paris. Eddy Merckx, Bernard Hinault and Bernard Thévenet, with a total of 12 Tour de France triumphs between them, teamed up for the unveiling of the creation by the artist from Liege.
Biking tales often unfold on the road, but the story of this small team continued on the train this morning, in a Thalys high-speed train decked out in Tour de France colours which whisked the former winners of the Big Loop away to Belgium. Invited by André Gilles, President of the Province of Liege, on their arrival in the sumptuous Guillemins railway station they attended the ceremonial start of one of the countdown clocks set up in the city. To get a taste of the programme that the riders will tackle in a little more than three months’ time, the former champions, also accompanied by Jean-Etienne Amaury and Christian Prudhomme, took a tour along the route of the prologue. The visit especially brought back some fond memories for Eddy Merckx and refreshed the memories of his rival from yesteryear, Bernard Thévenet: “Don’t you remember? This is where I left you in my wake on the finish of Liege-Bastogne-Liege in 1975!” The matter could be settled by a duel on the bikes on the morning of 30th June. To be continued…
© Presse Sports
Alberto Contador was banned yesterday in Lausanne by the Court of Arbitration for Sport, following a positive test for the stimulant clenbuterol, forbidden according to anti-doping rules, on the rest day on 21st July 2010.The CAS suspended the Spanish rider for two years. He was also stripped of the title for the Tour de France 2010 as well as his victories in 2011, including the Giro d’Italia. On the basis of this verdict, the International Cycling Union is likely to award victory for the 2010 edition to Andy Schleck, the runner-up in the race.
© Presse Sports
Following the Corsican stages which will set in motion the 2013 Tour de France, the pack will travel to Nice for a team time trial which will inaugurate the "mainland" stages of the 100th edition of the race.The Tour de France will explore new horizons on Corsica for the Grand Start of the 100th edition, but its return to the mainland will take it to one of the race’s most frequent stops: Nice, which already featured in the 1906 edition and has hosted the Tour on a total of 35 occasions. In addition to the many times it has welcomed the Grande Boucle, the capital of the French Riviera receives every year the elite peloton of the Paris-Nice, the first great stage race of the year in Europe.
This morning, Christian Prudhomme, director of the Tour de France, unveiled in the company of Paul Giacobbi, Chairman of the Executive Council of Corsica, the programme for the Grand Start of the race’s one-hundredth edition, in 2013. For the Tour’s first visit to Corsica, three stages have been drawn up between the sea and mountains.
The hundredth edition of the Tour de France will start with something brand new. After having visited all the departments of mainland France, the Tour de France is readying itself to add the island of Corsica to that list. To bring this historical anomaly to a close, a prestigious stay has been programmed on the Isle of Beauty during which the pack will explore all its facets. Regular competitors and spectators of the Critérium International have already discovered Porto-Vecchio and the relief of Southern Corsica. It is in this seaside resort at the foot of the mountains that riders and followers of the Tour will be coming together. They will experience an episode that will symbolically be of capital importance and will continue with an equally decisive sequence, since three stages will take place in Corsica.
Before arriving in Bastia during the first stage, the pack will take a large detour to admire the cliffs of Bonifacio. On the ride up the coast, the riders will then travel along one of the rare flat roads on the island, but the very next day the change in tone will be demanding. The diagonal route over the Isle from Bastia-Ajaccio, via Corte, will give the climbers the first opportunity to express themselves with climbs up the Col de Bellagranajo, Col de la Serra and Col de Vizzavona passes. Lastly, for the third part of this insular series, the road to Calvi, with its spectacular viewpoints over the coves at Piana, will also be a stage on which to make a mark for challengers for the yellow jersey.
The Corsican stages of Le Tour 2013:
> Saturday 29th June: Porto-Vecchio - Bastia, 200 km
> Sunday 30th June: Bastia - Ajaccio, 155 km
> Monday 1st July: Ajaccio - Calvi, 145 km
Bernard Hinault, with the famous top model and actress Hasegawa Rie
Two special programmes will today be devoted to the Tour de France, in Japan and Belgium. Cycling culture is a world apart in the two nations, but through the Tour de France they will be speaking the same language…
Seven months before the start of the 99th edition, the Tour de France will be taking a great stride across the planet. Chronologically, the party will begin with the Nuit du Tour (Night of the Tour) organised in Japan in partnership with the TV channel J-Sports, which has been broadcasting the race during July since 1999. Galvanised by the event and the recent results of their representatives in 2009 (Beppu and Arashiro, the first Japanese riders to finish), the viewers from the land of the rising sun are now used to following a special presentation in December. This year, Bernard Hinault has travelled to Tokyo to present the route and the stakes of the next edition during a special programme.
The history of Belgian riders, who have won everything on the Tour de France, has nothing in common with that of the Japanese. Nonetheless, the enthusiasm that drives lovers of cycling on the country of Merckx, Van Impe or Boonen, is still as strong as ever. Just like on each of the Tour’s visits to Belgium, a warm welcome is promised from the crowds for the Grand Start in 2012. To be precise, the second edition of the Night of the Tour will take place in Liège on 2nd December. To mark the occasion, the people of Liège have been invited to inaugurate the route of the prologue on which the elite riders will do battle on 30th June next year. This bicycle ride will be followed by a sound and light show projected onto the façade of the Provincial Palace. In attendance will be Christian Prudhomme, director of the Tour de France, André Gilles, deputy president of the Liège Provincial Parliament and Philippe Gilbert, the local hero who has completed an outstanding season with first place in the world rankings.
Mister Paul Giacobbi, President of the “Collectivité Territoriale de Corse” and Mister Christian Prudhomme, Director of the Tour de France, have the great pleasure of announcing that the Grand Depart (start) of the 100th edition of the Tour de France will take place in Corsica in 2013.
It will be the first time that the ‘Beauty Island’ and its two departments will welcome the peloton of the greatest cycling race in the world. Despite the fact that many cycling events have already taken place on its territory, Corsica remains the only region of metropolitan France to have never received the visit of the Tour de France.
The details of the Grand Départ and the stages selected for it will be revealed on the occasion of a press conference held on Tuesday the 6th of December 2011 at the Hôtel de Région in Ajaccio.
The day after the presentation at the Palais des Congrès, Christian Prudhomme and Jean-François Pescheux went their separate ways to scout the roads of the 2012 Tour and explain their key points. There are just over eight months left to dissect the new features of the 99th edition.
The presentation of the 2012 Tour route revealed a few surprises. Next year's key points will certainly be reconnoitred in great detail by the teams selected to take part in the race. In the meantime, the Tour teams visited once again the places where the next edition may be decided. Thus, Christian Prudhomme went to the Pyrenees to meet elected representatives and journalists, all of them keen on discovering the ins and outs of the Foix, Pau Bagnères-de-Luchon and Peyragudes stages. Among other places, the scouts took their convoys and cars to explore the Mur de Péguère, a new climb due to make its debut in the 14th stage. Upon reaching Peyragudes, the resort where the final summit finish of the 2012 Tour will be decided, the general director of the Tour got an historical overview from Michel Pélieu, the President of the General Council of the Hautes-Pyrénées: "I learned that Peyragudes already submitted a bid when the Tour first visited the Louron valley in 1991, but Jean-Marie Leblanc preferred Val Louron. An additional road has since been built, which makes this finish possible, over twenty years after Claudio Chiappucci's first stage victory", explains Prudhomme.
On the other hand, Jean-François Pescheux went to northern France to join Bernard Hinault to study the different ways the Boulogne-sur-Mer stage may unfold. Indeed, all five climbs at the end of the stage could act as a launching pad for bold attacks. The next day, the race director met Jérôme Coppel to scout a big part of the Mâcon - Bellegarde-sur-Valserine stage: the climb up the Col du Grand Colombier. Although it has never been used by the Tour de France, this gruelling climb is no mystery for the leader of the Saur team, who will probably be one of those in the peloton who know the climb best: "We are not far from where I live, so I know this climb very well. I use it very often for mountain-specific training. I think it is the toughest climb in the area. Of course, this stage attracts me, and I also think it could be the right place for a big attack. That is because the finishing line is far from the climb, but the remaining terrain is still rough. Just after the descent, cyclists will immediately tackle the Col de Richemond, and there is yet another small rise just before the end."
© Presse Sports
The 2012 Tour de France route, revealed this morning in Paris' Palais des Congrès, casts the spotlight on the potential of intermediate mountain ranges. Christian Prudhomme has turned to novelty and to the cyclists' fighting spirit to keep the race for the Yellow Jersey open for as long as possible.
Place and date: Liège, Saturday, June 30, 2012. This will be the fourth time that the Tour de France kicks off in Belgium, a country which has always known how to instil a sense of panache into the peloton. It is precisely this sense of courage which inspired the design of the route of the 99th edition, one in which fortune will favour the bold, even in places where no-one expects it. Punchy riders will get their chance to shine on the rolling terrain of the Province of Liège and, later, Northern France. Those vying for the final victory will be able to go head-to-head before the end of the first week. They may even be able to open gaps if they make the most of the mountaintop finish at the Planche des Belles Filles (which makes its debut in the Tour) or the finale of the Porrentruy stage, right in the heart of the Swiss Jura.
While the favourites to win the Tour will be expected to dig deep on mountains which until now were labelled "intermediate", they will also have their work cut out for them on the Alpine and Pyrenean stages, whose profiles are especially dynamic. The 140-km-long stage between Albertville and La Toussuire - Les Sybelles will offer no respite to those poor riders who choose to play the waiting game. In the Pyrenees, the discovery of the Mur de Péguère, right before diving to Foix, together with the Aubisque-Tourmalet-Aspin-Peyresourde sequence on the Bagnères-de-Luchon stage and the Peyragudes summit finish, will give climbers the opportunity to shine. Cyclists will have no choice but to spring into action at the decisive moments. Indeed, the Liège prologue and the stages in Besançon and Chartres will force them to defend their positions in the race against the clock over a combined length of more than 100 kilometres.
Stage win - Powerbar. Every day, the Tour de France honours the first rider across the finishing line.
Yellow Jersey - LCL. This jersey is worn by the leader of the general classification. This year, this and the other ones will be dressed by Le Coq Sport, which makes its return to the Grande Boucle.
Green Jersey - PMU. This jersey is worn by the leader of the points classification. The changes introduced in 2011, with just one intermediate sprint but with more points on offer, will be kept for the 2012 edition.
Polka Dot Jersey - Carrefour. This jersey is awarded to the leader of the mountains classification. The points scale was modified in 2011. The same one will be used again with a few changes. For example, points will be awarded to the first ten riders to reach the summit of an hors catégorie climb.
White Jersey - Škoda. The rider aged 25 or under who ranks highest in the general classification gets to wear the white jersey.
Team classification - Digital. This classification is calculated by adding the times of each team's three best riders on each stage. Riders belonging to the leading team wear yellow back numbers.
Brandt Combativity Award. Every day, a jury made up mainly of journalists selects the most deserving rider, one who has stood out for his attacking spirit, braveness or fair play. The winner gets to wear a red back number on the following stage. A super-combativity award is also given out at the end of the Tour.
© 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.