The tour de France in numbers

  • More than 10,000 cyclists have taken part In the Tour de France since it started.
    • it is estimated they have covered more than 350,000km.
    • At 5,745km, the 1926 Tour was the longest.
      • Three Tour riders have died while racing (Francisco Cepeda, Tom Simpson and Fabio Casartelli).
      • The youngest winner was Henri Comet, who won in 1904 at the age of 20.
        • France has won the race 36 times, followed by Belgium with 18 wins.
          • Eddy Merckx has amassed the greatest number of stage wins 36.

Tacks are one thing – a stab in the back from a teammate would be the Caesar moment


From the guardian

Chris Froome made it very clear on Sunday that, despite the brief but much discussed incident on the climb to La Toussuire last Thursday, when he seemed about to prove himself a stronger climber than Bradley Wiggins until he heeded his sporting director’s instruction to slow down, he will be riding to orders to help ensure that his team leader becomes the first British rider to win the Tour de France.

“Everyone’s been asking me about that,” the 27-year-old Kenyan-bornTeam Sky rider told L’Equipe. “I understand it and I know that I’d be capable of winning this Tour, but not with Sky. We’ve got a definite strategy and everybody respects it.”

Although that sounds like the last word on the matter, it is entirely dependent on this week’s events. Elsewhere in the interview Froome indicated the extent of his ambition and his desire to be treated as a potential Tour winner sooner rather than later.

His other-worldly air may be misleading. He spoke of a self-sufficiency honed as a boy when his family moved from Kenya to South Africa and he was thrust into unfamiliar surroundings. “I like to fight alone,” he said, referring to his fondness for the solitary effort of time trialling and for the pleasure of riding in the mountains – the two disciplines in which he excels.

Even more significant may have been his description of the decision to live in Italy when he was racing for the Barloworld team, to make it easier for his girlfriend to travel to her job in Milan. After they broke up, he told himself: “Now the only thing I’m going to think about is my career as a rider.”

Team Sky’s strategy this month, which has roots going back four years, is to maximise Wiggins’s talents and minimise his weaknesses in order to put him on the top step of the podium in Paris next Sunday. It did not work in 2010, Sky’s debut season, when his form and the team’s naivety combined to destroy the hopes that had been raised by his fourth-place finish for the Garmin team the previous year, and 12 months later an early crash removed him from contention.

This year the 32-year-old triple Olympic champion has a handpicked squad, only slightly compromised by the need to give Mark Cavendish, the team’s big winter signing, the chance to mount a token defence of the green jersey while wearing the world champion’s rainbow stripes and to attempt a fifth consecutive win on the Champs-Elysées next Sunday. But the wild card, as it turns out, is Froome, who signed for the team in 2010 but is only now making his first appearance in the Tour for the team, having made his debut with Barloworld in 2008.

Although planned down to the minutest detail, what the team’s strategy for this year’s race cannot account for is the sort of unexpected change that so often happens in the Tour. In a three-week stage race a rider’s form, no matter how carefully monitored in the months before the Tour, can suddenly hit a wall.

There is also the possibility that the kind of incident that took Wiggins out of the race 12 months ago could repeat itself. Or stages requiring different gifts can expose inherent failings.

Wiggins is currently 2min 5sec ahead of Froome, who sits just behind him in the general classification, and the Sky leader can expect to take a further two minutes out of his principal rivals – Cadel Evans and Vincenzo Nibali – in next Saturday’s penultimate stage, a 53.5km time trial in which the final order will be determined before the ceremonial procession into Paris.

But anything can happen in the last week of the race and from Wiggins’s point of view the most threatening of the remaining stages are likely to be on Wednesday and Thursday, when the riders enter the High Pyrenees to tackle a series of huge climbs.

The Aubisque, the Tourmalet, the Aspin and the Peyresourde come in succession on the first of those days, followed on the second by the Col de Menté and the Port de Balès, with the stage finishing at the 1,600m summit of Peyragudes, where a challenger will probably have a last chance to snatch the yellow jersey.

What, Froome was asked, would he do if Wiggins showed frailty in the mountains? “If I thought we were going to lose the Tour, I’d follow the best, who could be Nibali or Evans, in order to preserve our chances, to make sure of a Sky presence.”

After finishing second in last year’s Vuelta a Espana, a race he might have won but for Sky’s tactical confusion, and attracting interest from other top teams, Froome signed a new – and very lucrative – four-year contract with the British outfit.

However he was willing to say that he expects preferential treatment if next year’s Tour route suits his strengths. “In that case I would expect Sky to be honest and put my team-mates at my disposal, with the same loyalty that I’m showing now,” he said.

For the moment Sky are perfectly placed with their leader and his first lieutenant at the top of the standings heading into the final week. And orders are orders. But on Thursday night in Peyragudes, when Froome may need to chase down a last attack, the reality of those detailed plans and honourable intentions could emerge in a very different light.

A classic stage today in the TDF – drama in the hills

what a stage today in the tdf …. So glad the dominant years of past are over – yellow seeming far from safe today as attack after attack came.
Roland who won was fantastic … And tegay van garderan from BMC could have easily caught him if he wasn’t pegged back under team orders to help Cadel Evans. There should be a ‘call of duty’ award for the faithful lieutenant although Tegay may have had to share that prize today with Chris Froome who stayed back to help Wiggins but was rewarded with a second place when the pace dropped Cadel and Froome got himself second place. It’s a long time since I saw a 1,2 from the same team ….. Froome could easily get poached by a team as a future leader so Sky will have to make him stay …..

If there was any lingering doubt about the strength of the Sky team, then wonder no more: the British outfit is the dominant force in the 99th Tour de France. The stage to La Tourssuire might have been won by a Frenchman – with Pierre Rolland pulling off another tremendous climbing coup to go alongside his triumph at Alpe d’Huez from the 2011 Tour – but Great Britain is in complete command of the general classification. Wiggins increased his advantage over last year’s champion, Cadel Evans, after the Australian suffered a little crisis on the final climb and had to be nursed home by the leader of the youth classification Tejay van Garderen. While Evans battled his way up the last mountain, Rolland danced ahead to an emphatic victory and then came the battle for minor places on GC, which was won by Christopher Froome who now moves up to second overall, 18 seconds ahead of another of today’s aggressors, Vincenzo Nibali. The result sheet tells much of the story but it was a race with many attacks, several winners and quite a few losers.

The progress reportThe 148km 11th stage of the 2012 Tour began at 1.17pm with 174 riders in the race. The non-starter was Fabian Cancellara (RNT). The mountains on the course were ‘HC’ col de la Madeleine (2,000m high at 40km), ‘HC’ col de la Croix de Fer (2,067m high at 93km), category-two col du Molland (1,638m at 113km) and the finishing climb to La Toussuire (category-one, at the end of the 148km stage). The final rise offered double points in the climbing classification. The intermediate sprint was in St-Etienne-de-Cuines (at 70km).

The attacks begin earlyGesink attacked the peloton as soon as the stage began. He was joined by 30 others and, at 10km, they had a lead of 20”. Others in the early move were: Burghardt, Cummings, Gilbert (BMC), Popovych (RNT), Malacarne (EUC), Koren (LIQ), Martin (GRS), Cherel and Riblon (ALM), Hoogerland (VCD), Paolini (KAT), Karpets (MOV), Sorensen and Sorensen (STB), Grivko, Iglinskiy, Kieserlovski and Vinokourov (AST), De Weert and Pineau (OPQ)… there were others but by the 20km mark there were just seven in the lead: Koren, Martin, Riblon, Hoogerland, C. Sorensen, Kieserlovski and Vinokourov. Valverde (MOV) chased them down at 23km. At 24km the eight leaders were joined by: Kiryienka, Horner, Malacarne, Kadri, Basso, P. Velits and Weening. Boasson Hagen led the peloton all the way up the Madeleine climb. Kessiakoff tries to take back the polka-dot jerseyAt the top of the Madeleine there were 28 with a lead of 2’55” on the peloton. The lead group was composed of: Moinard (BMC), Horner (RNT), Kern, Malacarne and Rolland (EUC), Scarponi and Marzano (LAM), Koren and Basso (LIQ), Martin (GRS), Kadri and Riblon (ALM), Feillu (SAU), Hoogerland (VCD), Ten Dam and Kruiswijk (RAB), Valverde and Kiryienka (MOV), C. Sorensen (STB), Kessiakoff, Kiserlovski and Vinokourov (AST), Leipheimer and P. Velits (OPQ), Weening (OGE). Velits led Kessiakoff over the top to claim the 25 points and they continued their attack on the 19km downhill. They led the Valverde group by as much as 50” but the lead pair was caught by the other escapees at 63km. Col de la Croix de Fer: Evans goes on the attackEarly on the second climb, there was a regrouping at the front and 22 were in the lead: Moinard, Horner, Kern, Rolland, Scarponi, Marzano, Basso, Martin, Kadri, Trofimov, Ten Dam, Valverde, Kiryienka, Sorensen, Kessiakoff, Kisierlovski, Vinokourov, Leipheimer, Veltis and Weening. They led the peloton by 2’30”. Scarponi, Marzano and Moinard were the first to drop out of the lead group. With 15km to climb Leipheimer also quit his efforts in the lead group, then Valverde and Basso.At 79km, van Garderen (BMC) attacked the yellow jersey’s group but there was no reaction from Wiggins et al. It was clearly a plan hatched by the team of the defending champion for, at 81km, Evans launched an attack and soon caught his team-mate. They worked together to build a maximum advantage on the yellow jersey of 20” but were caught after 5km on the attack. Rogers was responsible for the capture, leading Wiggins, Porte and Froome up to Evans and the white jersey without once getting out of the saddle to increase his tempo.Rolland took the ‘Souvenir Henri Desgrange’ by beating Kessiakoff in a tight sprint for honours atop the highest pass in the Alps. The yellow jersey was 2’10” behind at the top of the col de Croix de Fer. Evans cracks on the final climb slips down the rankings…After a shortlived attack by Velits, Rolland and Kiserlovksi found themselves at the front of the stage with 40km to go. They were caught by Kiryienka at 39km to go and, at the top, this was the situation: Rolland was first (taking 5pts) with his trio in tact. Then came Sorensen at 10”, Ten Dam at 1’00”, Velits at 1’25”, Martin and Kessiakoff at 2’05”, Horner at 2’38”, Pinot at 3’08” and the peloton at 3’20”. Rolland crashed on a left turn on the descent, 26km from the finish but he rejoined the lead with 22km to go. The four leaders started the final climb with an advantage of 1’15” to Ten Dam and Velits, 2’55” to Martin and Kessiakoff, and 3’30” to the peloton. There were 16 in the yellow jersey group: Wiggins, Porte, Froome, Evans, van Garderen, Schleck, Horner, Zubeldia, Kloden, Nibali, Roche, Coppel, Pinot, van den Broeck, Cobo and Brajkovic. Nibali attacked the yellow jersey with 12km to go, eliminating all but Evans, Wiggins, Froome, Schleck and Van Garderen from the yellow jersey group. He was caught after 1.5km but the Italian attacked again with 10km to go. He joined van den Broeck, Brajkovic and Pinot. With 6.5km to go, Evans was dropped from the yellow jersey group. Once Wiggins and co caught Nibali (around 4.5km to go) there seemed to be a discussion between the Sky riders and Froome attacked shortly afterwards. Pinot reacted quickly and so too did the others but Wiggins couldn’t match the pace. Froome quickly quit his effort but still this group was able to gain time on Evans who was struggling to hold the wheel of van Garderen. Eventually the Australian would lost 1’26” to the overall leader meaning he slipped down the rankings and Sky assumed first and second place overall, with Froome finishing two seconds ahead of his leader, Wiggins. Rolland races to another impressive mountain stage winPierre Rolland was on his own at the front of the stage with 10km to go and he never looked back. Just like last year at Alpe d’Huez he not only held off the challenge of his former escape companions, he put time into them and ultimately was the only rider to finish the stage ahead of the yellow jersey’s group. Wiggins managed his strength and was able to ride the final section of the climb in the slipstream of Froome but, in the closing 500m the domestique was given the nod to race for second place honours and improve his position on GC. Pinot outsprinted Froome for second place and gave the host nation a first-second in the 11th stage. The yellow jersey was sixth over the line – in the same time as Nibali who moved up to third overall. Cadel Evans slipped from 2nd to fourth overall, 3’19” behind Wiggins.Bradley Wiggins leads his team-mate Froome by 2’05” at the top of the general classification and he will wear the yellow jersey in stage 12.

all the champions in the Tour De France

Tom Boonen and Edvald Boasson Hagen are among the riders who will be sporting new national champion’s jerseys during this year’s Tour de France after a hectic weekend’s racing in Europe and beyond, those riders regaining their titles in, respectively, Belgium and Norway.

Among other performances worthy of note are Liverpool-born Matt Brammeier, pretty much the first to congratulate former British Olympic Academy alumnus Mark Cavendish on his world championship victory last September, winning the Irish championship for the third year in a row.

Meawhile, his Omega Pharma-Quick Step colleague Niki Terpstra took on most of the Rabobank team single-handedly – 18 entrants were registered either to the ProTeam or its development team – to win back the Dutch road race title he had previously won in 2010.

Elsewhere, on a very tough course in Italy, Franco Pellizotti, who only last month returned from a two-year ban imposed as a result of biological passport irregularities, is the new Italian champion after launching the Androni Giocattolo rider launched a solo attack in the last lap of the race in Borgo Valsugana.

Here’s an updated (though not exhaustive) list of the current national champions in both the road and time trial disciplines.

National road champions

Australia: Simon Gerrans (GreenEdge)
Belgium: Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma)
Canada: Ryan Roth (SpiderTech)
Croatia: Vladimir Miholjevic (Acqua & Sapone)
Czech Republic: Milan Kadlec (ASC Dukla Prague)
Denmark Sebastian Lander (Glud & Marstrand)
Estonia: Tanel Kangert (Astana)
France: Nacer Bouhanni (FDJ-BigMat)
Germany: Fabian Wegmann (Garmin)
Great Britain: Ian Stannard (Sky)
Ireland: Matthew Brammeier (Omega Pharma)
Italy: Franco Pellizotti (Androni)
Kazakhstan: Assan Bazayev (Astana)
Latvia: Aleksejs Saramotins (Cofidis)
Luxembourg: Laurent Didier (RadioShack)
Moldova: Alexandr Pliuschin (Leopard)
Netherlands: Niki Terpstra (Omega Pharma)
Norway: Edvald Boasson Hagen (Sky)
Poland: Michal Golas (Omega Pharma)
Russia: Eduard Vorganov (Katusha)
Slovakia: Peter Sagan (Liquigas)
South Africa: Robert Hunter (Garmin)
Spain: Francisco Ventoso (Movistar)
Switzerland: Martin Kohler (BMC)
Ukraine: Andriy Grivko (Astana)
USA: Timothy Duggan (Liquigas)

National time trial champions

Australia: Luke Durbridge (GreenEdge)
Canada: Svein Tuft (GreenEdge)
Czech Republic: Jan Barta (Netapp)
Denmark: Jakob Fuglsang (RadioShack)
Estonia: Rein Taaramae (Cofidis)
France: Sylvain Chavanel (Omega Pharma)
Germany: Tony Martin (Omega Pharma)
Great Britain: Alex Dowsett (Sky)
Italy: Dario Cataldo (Omega Pharma)
Latvia: Gatis Smukulis (Katusha)
Luxembourg: Bob Jungels (Leopard)
Netherlands: Lieuwe Westra (Vacansoleil)
Russia: Denis Menchov (Katusha)
Spain: Luis Leon Sanchez (Rabobank)
Switzerland: Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack)
Ukraine: Andriy Grivko (Astana)
USA: David Zabriskie (Garmin)

Ayr Duathlon – my first race – what a great day

5km run

28km cycle

5 km run

It hadn’t started out to well – I had pulled my calf last week doing hill repeats and it didn’t seem to clear up – it was niggling and I had avoided running for a whole week … did a slow 5km yesterday just to feel it and it was painful. I had doubts as to whether it might make me pull out of the race so it was weighing on my mind.

Last nights sleep was also pretty awful woke up 3 times with the kids and nightmares then the youngest stomped in a 6am in far from the best mood … so I did what any sensible person would do and I went downstairs for a leisurely porridge and honey breakfast.

Picked up Steven my brother in law at 7:40am then headed down to Ayr for the Duathlon … we arrived pretty early and registered looking out at the clear blue sky and the fact the air temp was only 6 degrees C. there was a fair share of TRI bike – saw at least 3 Cervelo P3’s and other TRI  bikes. Also glad to see another plain ti Racer like mine … (a van nicholas but any ti bride is good)

Duathlon prep - freebie shirt and deep heat applied

I decided to do the whole race wearing running tights (the compression i figured would help my calf) and a long sleeve cycling top. A pretty relaxed briefing then we were off …. a short run around the school where the run was based and then off to the coast road – a dirt track with its fair share of potholes. It is an out and back run so by the half way point the leaders were already 500m ahead.

Run 1

By transition I had my first attempt at doing transitions on my Polar RCX5 (which allows you to change sport in the same workout which is great and it also allows you to export separate gps .gpx files for each part) By the time I had my bike shoes on and was gulping down a gel Steven was also in transition. I left about 20 seconds in front of him and then looked down to see that i hadn’t restarted the watch – so add 30 sec and 300 metres to the time on this leg.

bike route and elevation

The ride was great – although I think the boys and girls on their all carbon TRI  bikes must have queried their decision as the road was pretty tatty and the route was quite hilly. You could definitely hear them as the carbon rattled over every bump and hole … I could see sense in an aero machine on a flat well surfaced road but South Ayrshire obviously hasn’t spent money on resurfacing in years and they must have flt every bump. There were a couple of uphills where I stood to climb as the lack of padding despite the lovely ti frame was very much felt.

There were great views and lovely sweep descents and the car drivers were passing very carefully which was great. At one stage I was getting a bit tired but sucked down another gel and then some water (they sure are gloopy) but then suddenly I was back at transition.

2nd transition was quick although my legs felt like they belonged to someone else.

2nd run

Second run was identical and after exiting I got to see the first person storming down the hill to the finish – so a 18min lead over what I would do. There is a little hill just in the first km and I was struggling … but after that first km I felt steady although my calf was pulling so just kept up with my pace. After the turn around i was heading back and saw Steven again about a km behind me. Had a mid road high 5 that nearly took me off my feet and then was aiming for the guy in front but could make no gain on him.

run comparison
Polar software breakdown

finished feeling good – just really happy that calf felt no worse … chatted briefly to chap in from then just waited for Steven … Watched a guy come in that was at least 60 and looked in better shape than I have ever been in my life and then another man just behind Steven that must have been at least 70 …. really inspiring.

So my first Duathlon finished and i loved it … big shout out to the Marshals who did a great job and the organisers …. I will be be back hopefully with a good calf and a better transition strategy.

Alloa Half Marathon – race report

Woke up at 7am and looked out the window to the most glorious weather … Bright sunshine and hardly any wind. Temp slightly fresh at 4 degrees but bound to warm up.
Had my staple breakfast of raw porridge and banana and picked up Findlay at 8am for the drive to Alloa. We arrived early and had too much time on our hands for parking, registration and in findlays case, plenty of time to regret the curry he had the night before.
Temp was still hovering around 5 degrees but I learnt my lesson running the Jedburgh half marathon when my legs were sweating for most of the run, so shorts were donned but realised I only had a vest which might be a bit chilly. Borrowed findlays spare t shirt. Which was two sizes too big but had my vest on top to keep it snug.

Course map – showing long straight where the wind was in our face.

This time I remembered to take plasters to tape over my nipples – one of the problems of being born with nipples which seem to come out under the side of my chest … Maybe I was born to breast feed small animals anchored under my armpit hair.
I have only done one run, 7 miles in the sweaty heat of Baghdad where the seam of the vest chafed away at me and I finished that run in agony. LESSON LEARNED.

Back to the run. Organisation at this event was flawless. Good start zone, electronic chips for the shoes, plenty of changing facilities and loos both on the leisure centre and portaloos near the start.

Start was massive – so many people that it took me about a minute to cross the start line. The first 2 km were spent weaving through slower traffic and over eager athletes that had pushed to front of start line. From 3km there was plenty of space to pass for those overtaking and for those being overtaken. The police did a great job of marshalling and the cars were either kept back or their speed was curtailed by the often passing police motor cycle.

My legs post injury are still not up to speed so I kept my pace quite regular around the 4:30/km. I knew I wasn’t going to get my 1h31 PB in this this race but by the end was very chuffed to get a 1h36m as I was only hoping for sub 1h45

Alloa is a great race and I think I will do it again next year.


Only one slight problem with the race was my polar HR belt had a slight wobble. I don’t use gel on the belt but think that maybe the wicking nature of the shirt meant I dried up on my chest. Suddenly my HR said it was 97 – if only – I only noticed this after 3 km of bad reading – I was only glancing down at monitor every time the watch auto lapped the km to make sure I was doing alright and not flagging too quickly. I can only think the belt was dry as soon as I shifted it it read accurately again.
Still love the RCX5 though …..

Giro d’Italia 2012

Organisers of the Giro d’Italia have unveiled the poster for next year’s race, which starts six months tomorrow. While the race gets under way in Denmark, the majestic scenery in the picture is very much Italian and commemorates two cyclists who will forever be linked with the race.

Those riders are four-time winner, Fausto Coppi, and Wouter Weylandt, the Leopard Trek rider who died following a crash on a descent on Stage 3 of this year’s race.

The Giro commemorates the legendary Italian rider known as ‘il campionissimo’ each year through designating the highest point of each year’s race as the ‘Cima Coppi’ (Coppi summit).

That honour that this year fell to the Passo di Giau near Cortina d’Ampezzo in the Dolomites, where the stunning picture on the poster was taken.

The words ‘Coppi è sempre presente’ – Coppi is always here – appear painted on the tarmac along with Weylandt’s initials and race number, 108, plus the phrase ‘Campioni non muiono MAI’ – ‘champions NEVER die.’

A lone rider sweeps through the past, trailing the Giro’s signature pink behind him.

Weylandt himself has had Stage 3 of next year’s race dedicated to him, reflecting not only the number of the stage on which he lost his life six months ago, but also the one in the 2010 race where he took his second Grand Tour win as the Giro visited the Dutch town of Middelburg, having previously won a stage of the 2008 Vuelta.

The Belgian’s race number has also been permanently retired from the Giro.

Shot by photographer Jered Gruber, if the poster looks familiar it’s because a huge print of the non-retouched version was used by cycle clothing brand Castelli as the backdrop for their Castelli Café at last month’s Cycle Show in Birmingham.

You can find the official brochure for the 2012 Giro d’Italia here – be warned, it’s a big file, but if you’re a fan of the race, it’s definitely worth it.


Schwalbe redesign their racing Ralph

The Racing Ralph gets a new tread pattern this year along, and will utilize the cross-country PaceStar Compound. The new profile has rearranged the knobs, and should give a more consistent feel (* for me this is important of sliding on my arse with the slightest amount of mud on the tyre – grip goes instantly with no warning), with better transitioning and traction.

The 29er profile was also tweaked, and is more spread out then the 26er, to take advantage of the big wheels larger contact area. They did a major overhaul on the casing, changing it from 67tpi to 127tpi, giving it a more supple feel, and losing 30 grams and decreasing the rolling resistance by 20 percent. The new tires are certainly light, coming in at 455 grams for the 26×2.1, 495 grams for the 26×2.25, 495 grams for the 29×2.1, and 535 grams for the 29×2.25 size. The tires are all tubeless ready (except for the Performance series), and come in a slew of version and sizes, including 26×2.1, 26×2.25, 27 1/2 x 2.25, 29×2.1, 29x 2.25 and a big wide 2.9×2.35. The TL ready tires have some optional sidewall versions, such as SnakeSkin and DoubleDefense, and they even have hand-made tubulars. They also added a 4Cross edition of the Racing Ralph using the new GateStar compound with SnakeSkin sidewalls and come in a 26×2.25 sizing. The GateStar is a combination of the PaceStar for the center section, and the downhill VertStar for the shoulders, giving it great usage for 4Cross, SuperD and Enduro racing.

A confusing mix all with the same name …..  more info here 

Here is just part of the dizzying variety on offer. Do you think they need to make the difference clearer?