Evans Admits Defeat

Whilst Thomas Voeckler took first place on yesterday’s Stage 16 of the Tour de France (197km, Pau – Bagnères-de-Luchon) and Sky’s Bradley Wiggins maintained his lead for a staggering 10th day in yellow, there was less to celebrate for reigning champion Cadel Evans. The 35-year-old started the day 3’19” behind Wiggins but after clearly struggling on the climbs – finally losing sight of the front on the Col de Peyresourde some 20km from the finish line – he ended it more than 8 minutes adrift, effectively ending any chance of him retaining his title. The BMC rider reported that he had been suffering stomach problems before the day’s event, saying afterwards, ‘I didn’t think it would affect me in the race but obviously that’s not my normal level and it’s pretty much the Tour de France over for me.’



Tacks Blight Tour

Investigations are continuing today after sabotage on Stage 14 (Limoux – Foix) brought chaos to the Tour de France. Multiple punctures were caused around 200m from the summit of Mur de Peguere by carpet tacks that had been scattered in the path of riders; both Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome escaped unscathed but defending champion Cadel Evans dismounted at the summit to make good his bike. In accordance with Tour etiquette Wiggins slowed the peloton pace to avoid taking advantage of others’ misfortune.


Rabobank’s Luis Leon Sanchez went on to win the stage in 4hrs 50’29”, with Peter Sagan in second and Sandy Casar third. Wiggins retained his Yellow Jersey to extend the British record number of days and maintained his lead of 2’05” over team mate Froome. Evans goes into Stage 15 (158.5km Samatan – Pau) sitting at fourth and 3’19” behind Wiggins.



Fear Them

Whilst watching Cav rip up Stage Two of the Tour de France might well bode well for London 2012, it’s easy to forget just how tough the competition is going to be at the Olympics. Take, for example, the deadly-looking line up that the Australians have announced: one Tour de France winner, one Paris-Roubaix winner, two Milan-Sanremo victors and a three-time world time trial champion. Filling the available spots – five for the Road Race, two for Time Trials – will be BMC’s Cadel Evans, Team Sky’s Michael Rogers and triple Orica-GreenEdge entries Stuart O’Grady, Simon Gerrans and Matthew Goss. Details of who will take what have yet to be announced but the smart money is on Evans and Rogers for the Time Trials.


The three qualified for places for the Women’s Road Race will be filled by Shara Gillow, Chloe Hosking and Amanda Spratt, hoping, we assume, to replicate Sara Carrigan’s gold from the Athens Games.



TdF Weekend Roundup

Tour de FranceAn exhilarating weekend opening for the 2012 Tour de France, which saw RadioShack-Nissan’s Fabian Cancellara take the Liege ITT Prologue win with Sky’s Bradley Wiggins in second and Omega Pharma-Quickstep’s in third. Wiggins, something of a TdF favourite this year, began his attack 11th last out on the 6.4km course with a time of 7minutes 20 (set by Sylvain Chavanel of Omega Pharma-QuickStep) to beat, but finishing his run with the new benchmark set (and ten riders still to race.) Despite ultimately taking second once Cancellara had turned out, Wiggins saw himself well set-up for the coming days and without the undue pressure of being first in the overalls; always magnanimous Wiggins commented, ‘Fair play to Fabian, he’s the best in the world at what he does and I think he proved that again today.’


With a tough climb finish on Stage 1 (Day 2) it was Liquigas-Cannondale’s Peter Sagan that crossed the line first after 198km of racing that, for a long time, had seen no clear leader. Prologue winner Cancellara took the second place (thus retaining his first overall standing) and Sky’s Edvald Boasson Hagen third, both on equal timings to Sagan. Misfortune with a puncture within 10km of the finish line saw Sky’s Chris Froome finish a disappointing 95th on the day, whilst last year’s champion, Cadel Evans (BMC Racing), currently sits at eighth overall.


The TdF continues today (July 2) with the 207.5km leg from Visé to Tournai.


Featured Features

Tour de France 2012

June already? That must mean it’s time for the annual Cyclo guide to the biggest event of the season – true to say, we feel, even in an Olympic year – with details of all the upcoming stages (plus a little history) of the Tour de France 2012.


2012 sees the 99th edition of the greatest cycling race in the world (sorry Italy and Spain…) which this year runs from Saturday June 30 to Sunday July 22, comprises of one prologue and 20 stages to cover a total energy-sapping distance of 3,497km. In addition to the 6.4km prologue in Liège and the two rest days on July 10 and 17, the TdF will this year comprise of nine flat stages, four medium mountain stages, five mountain stages and two Individual Time Trials (July 9 & 21) – there are also three summit finishes to look forward to. When it comes to stunning backdrops to the cycling action the TdF is always hard to beat and this year nine new stage towns, including Samatan, Abbeville and Bellegarde-sur-Valserine, have been added to the roster; as Christian Prudhomme, Director of the Tour de France, rightly says, ‘To love cycling, inevitably means to love geography and, additionally, the different regions.’


Naturally all of the big name teams will be present and correct for 2012 although there will be notable absences from a couple of star riders; Alberto Contador remains suspended for doping violations and won’t rejoin his Saxo Bank team again until August 5 (debate amongst yourselves whether this is a loss to the TdF or not) and the man who officially won the 97th Tour as a result of Contador’s disqualification, Andy Schleck, will remain sadly road-side due to injuries sustained in the Critérium du Dauphiné.


Arguably, the mighty defending champion Cadel Evans aside, this leaves the way far clearer for Sky’s Bradley Wiggins (winner of this year’s Critérium du Dauphiné) although that perhaps misses the more complex and subtle points of pro cycling where team work and homogeneous ‘whole’ can often outweigh individual skill and ability. Beyond that, as Wiggin’s knows all to well from the disastrously race-ending collarbone fracture he suffered on stage 7 last year, the TdF is a race where anything can happen. And often does…


Before looking at this year’s stage breakdowns, Cyclo, as always, feels a little factoid session may be in order:


* The oldest winner was in 1922 – Firmin Lambot, aged 36. The youngest was Henri Cornet, aged 19, all the way back in 1904.


* Lance Armstrong is the only rider ever to have won seven times at the TdF (consecutive years 1999 to 2005)


* Jacques Anquetil, Eddy Merckx, Bernard Hinault and Miguel Indurain have each won five times, but only Indurain did so in consecutive fashion, with wins from 1991 to 95.


* Seven riders have tasted double-victory with wins in the same year at both the TdF and Giro d’Italia: Marco Pantani, Stephen Roche, Jacques Anquetil, Fausto Coppi (twice, 49 and 52), Bernard Hinault (twice, 82 and 85), Miguel Indurain (twice, 92 and 93) and the great Eddy Merckx who managed it three times – 1970, 72 and 74.


2012 Tour de France Stages:

Prologue (June 30) Liège – Liège – 6.4 km

Stage 1 (July 1) Liège – Seraing – 198 km

Stage 2 (July 2) Visé – Tournai – 207.5 km

Stage 3 (July 3) Orchies – Boulogne-sur-Mer – 197 km

Stage 4 (July 4) Abbeville – Rouen – 214.5 km

Stage 5 (July 5) Rouen – Saint-Quentin – 196.5 km

Stage 6 (July 6) Épernay – Metz – 207.5 km

Stage 7 (July 7) Tomblaine – La Planche des Belles Filles – 199 km

Stage 8 (July 8 ) Belfort – Porrentruy – 157.5 km

Stage 9 (July 9) Arc-et-Senans – Besançon (ITT) – 41.5 km

Rest Day (July 10)

Stage 10 (July 11) Mâcon – Bellegarde-sur-Valserine – 194.5 km

Stage 11 (July 12) Albertville – La Toussuire – Les Sybelles – 148 km

Stage 12 (July 13) Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne – Annonay Davézieux – 226 km

Stage 13 (July 14) Saint-Paul-Trois-Châteaux – Le Cap d’Agde – 217 km

Stage 14 (July 15) Limoux – Foix – 191 km

Stage 15 (July 16) Samatan – Pau – 158.5 km

Rest Day (July 17)

Stage 16 (July 18) Pau > Bagnères-de-Luchon – 197 km

Stage 17 (July 19) Bagnères-de-Luchon – Peyragudes – 143.5 km

Stage 18 (July 20) Blagna –  Brive-la-Gaillardev222.5 km

Stage 19 (July 21) Bonneval – Chartres (ITT) – 53.5 km

Stage 20 (July 22) Rambouillet – Paris Champs-Élysées – 120 km



Wiggins Takes Lead

20120605-103929.jpgSunday (June 3) saw defending champion Bradley Wiggins beaten into second place by 21-year-old junior world Time Trial champion Luke Durbridge at the prologue of the Critérium du Dauphiné; whilst yesterday’s 187km route (Seyssins to Saint Vallier) was bagged by Cadel Evans, with Wiggins in 61st place. Despite this, Wiggins takes the overall lead, one second ahead of the Australian TdF champ as they move into today’s Stage 2 160km from Lamastre to Saint-Felicien in the Ardennes.


Wiggins was clearly irked by questioning from reporters post-race who suggested that with the TdF just weeks away he had potentially peeked too soon here; the Team Sky rider snapped back: ‘I can never win whatever I do… If I didn’t take the jersey or perform here then I’m the biggest piece of rubbish out there but if I win here I’ve peaked too soon.’ – The Critérium du Dauphiné concludes on June 10.



Critérium du Dauphiné

Just time between getting over the excitement of the Giro d’Italia and revving up for the Tour de France to squeeze in the ever excellent Critérium du Dauphiné which runs its eight stages between June 3 and 10. Established, like so many great cycling events, by a newspaper (the Dauphiné Libéré) looking to promote both itself and the Dauphiné of France, the first running of the event took place in 1947 – Won by Polish rider Edouard Klabinski – and has always been seen as a precursor to the TdF.


Now celebrating its 64th Edition the Critérium du Dauphiné, which shortened its name from Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré in 2010 when Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO) took over full organisational responsibility, will once again see top teams sporting top riders lining up for the 5.7km prologue in Grenoble this coming Sunday. Amongst them will be Sky’s Bradley Wiggins who finished first in the 2011 Overall Standings (on time, with 26h 40′ 51″) managing to nudge Cadel Evans into seconds at + 01′ 26″, making it clear what an indicator of the TdF it can be given that Evans went on to win le Tour (Wiggins crashing out).


In many ways the Critérium du Dauphiné can also be viewed as a distillation of all that is great about the TdF – the hills, the TTs, the dramatic sprints, the irrepressible French crowd support, the sheer Joie de vivre. Christian Prudhomme, Director of Tour de France, describes the 2012 edition thus: ‘After a long absence lasting 24 years, the Col du Gran Colombier ascent is back on the Critérium du Dauphiné agenda. Sports fans are waiting with bated breath to witness this year’s hot topic – the strengths and weaknesses in the time trials – between the prologue stage in Grenoble and the 53 km individual time trial between Villié-Morgon and Bourg-en-Bresse. The Rhone Alps region offers competitors a real chance to test their mettle, with its extremely wide range of landscapes, the slog of the roads through the Ardèche and the ascents leading to the mountain passes of Joux-Plane or Colombière. Perhaps this is where Bradley Wiggens, expected to reclaim his title this year, will have to fend off the threats of Cadel Evans, four-time runner-up and winner of the 2011 Tour de France.’


Prologue June 3 Grenoble – Grenoble    5.7 km

Stage 1 June 4  Seyssins – Saint-Vallier             187 km

Stage 2 June 5 Lamastre – Saint-Félicien 160 km

Stage 3 June 6 Givors – La Clayette 167 km

Stage 4 June 7 Villié-Morgon – Bourg-en-Bresse 53.5 km (ITT)

Stage 5 June 8 Saint-Trivier-sur-Moignans – Rumilly 186.5 km

Stage 6 June 9 Saint-Alban-Leysse – Morzine 167.5 km

Stage 7 June 10 Morzine – Châtel 124.5 km


Full details at



Under the Same Sky

Today, Tuesday April 24, sees the start in Lausanne of the 431-mile Tour de Romandie. This, the 66th edition of the Swiss six-stager, will be of particular interest to GB and Team Sky fans as the event sees the first time that Bradley Wiggins and Mark Cavendish have competed together in the same colours; Brits Geraint Thomas and  Chris Froome also add to the weight of the eight-man squad. TdF winner, Cadel Evans, will be hoping to defend his 2011 Tour de Romandie title against strong competition, which draws to a close with a 16.5km Time Trial in the ski resort of  Crans-Montana on Sunday, April 29.