Team Sky Announce Tour de France Squad

Team Sky Tour de France 2013 SquadTeam Sky has announced its line-up for the 100th edition of the Tour de France, which starts in Corsica on June 29. The team brings together riders from five different nations with leader Chris Froome one of four British riders in the line-up.


Aside Froome, the GB riders comprise Ian Stannard, Geraint Thomas and Peter Kennaugh, with Australia’s Richie Potre, Norway’s Edvald Boasson Hagen, Spain’s David López and Vasil Kiryienka and Kanstantsin Siutsou, both from Belarus, completing the squad. Eight of the team were together at the Criterium du Dauphine, where Froome came first and Richie Porte second.


Confirming the final selection for the Tour de France team, Team Principal Sir Dave Brailsford said, ‘Making the final selection of riders has been especially tough this year but we believe that we’ve found the right combination for the Tour de France.  We have a group of nine riders that are all in great form and ready for the challenge ahead… The Tour de France has been the main goal for Chris this season and he goes into the race in great shape. With four stage-race wins this year Chris has not only grown as a rider but also importantly as a leader.’


On the selection of the wider squad, Brailsford added, Around him (Froome) are eight quality riders who have each earned their place in the team. They will add the climbing ability and the engines to provide the perfect support for Chris, especially in the crucial mountain stages. We’ve seen what this group are capable of at the Dauphine and all have raced with Chris successfully at some stage this year.


Commenting further on the squad Chris Froome said, ‘I’m delighted with the balance in this team and every one of these riders is going to play a pivotal role once the racing begins. Most of us were at the Criterium du Dauphine and I was hugely impressed there with the way the team came together in control of the leader’s jersey. It gave me huge faith and I could not be happier with the selection.’



RadioShack Announce Tour de France Squad

Andy SchleckRadioShack Leopard Trek have finalised and confirmed their team for the 100th edition of the Tour de France, which begins in Corsica on June 29. Andy Schleck, the 2010 TdF champion, will lead the squad with support from Jan Bakelants, Laurent Didier, Tony Gallopin, Markel Irizar, Andreas Klöden, Maxime Monfort, Jens Voigt and Haimar Zubeldia. The Tour marks Schleck’s full return following on-going health problems after the pelvis fracture he suffered during the 2012 Critérium du Dauphiné.


RadioShack’s Team General Manager, Luca Guercilena, commented on the announcement, ‘We are happy to see that Andy is back… Little by little he has come back to the level where we expect him. The Tour de Suisse encouraged and convinced us to give him the role he deserves and to give him the opportunity to have dedicated riders surrounding and supporting him. Of course we don’t put pressure on our champion. After the last twelve months it would be unrealistic to expect a podium place. On the other hand, the lack of stress and pressure can be a positive stimulus to a brilliant performance…’


In addition to Schleck’s not inconsiderable TdF form RadioShack’s chances are bolstered by the presence of Andreas Klöden and Haimar Zubeldia, both Tour de France specialists; Klöden has twice finished second overall whilst Zubeldia has finished four times in the top ten places.


Featured Features

Origins of the Tour de France

tdf2013_logo_largeThe Tour de France is an event defined by tough stages, national pride and sporting supremacy. But above all it is an event defined by rivalry.


The origins or the Tour de France are as arcane and shrouded in legend as they are typically Gallic, and as the 100th edition approaches in an age of apps, blogs and social media it seems almost quaint to consider that it was rivalry within the printed newspaper mêlées of the early 20th Century that kick-started the greatest cycling race in the world.


Five years before those trailblazing cyclists set off for the first TdF in 1903, French novelist Émile Zola wrote an open letter to L’Aurore newspaper in defence of one Captain Alfred Dreyfus, a Jewish soldier accused (many felt unjustly) of spying for the Germans. Amongst those who supported both Zola and Dreyfus was Pierre Giffard, the then-editor of France’s first sports newspaper, Le Vélo – unfortunately many of Le Vélo’s backers and advertisers, many of whom were bike manufacturers, took umbrage at such a left-leaning and near-anti-national opinions and jumped ship.


The result was the launch of L’Auto-Vélo (later simply L’Auto), printed on distinctive yellow paper to differentiate it from green-tinged rival Le Vélo. Heading L’Auto-Vélo was Henri Desgrange, an avid cyclist with a host of pedal-powered records to his credit. Desgrange was joined by Victor Goddet, an astute financier, and by Géo Lefèvre, a sports journalist already of some repute. Together they began to forge a true rival to Le Vélo, even wrestling away control of the Paris-Brest-Paris race, which had been founded by poor Giffard, and establishing, in 1902, their own Paris-Bordeaux race.


Despite this, circulation was stagnant – what was needed was a real coup to ignite the French passion…


On Saturday December 20, 1902, Desgrange met with Lefèvre for lunch at the Brasserie du Madrid in Paris. Their meal complete, Lefèvre offered what he hoped would be an idea to save their beloved paper: the staging of a Tour de France. With hasty plans set in place – and with the financial wizardry of Goddet to the fore – it was on January 13, 1903 that the paper ran their tantalising intention to stage a ‘race like nothing before.’


In the 110 years since the first race – which covered a total distance of 2,428km and was won by Maurice Garin – the Tour de France has transformed itself in many ways; evolving and adapting across the span of the 20th Century but retaining the same ideal at its heart: rivalry…


The 100th Edition of the Tour de France begins in Corsica on June 29, finishing some 3,360km later on the Champs-Elysees, Paris on July 21. Full details at and on Cyclo as the action unfolds.



Tony Martin: Route Choice ‘irresponsible’

tony_martin_largeWith the Tour de France celebrating its centenary this year, you would expect something different, something exciting. But according to Omega Pharma-Quick Step’s Tony Martin the price of that extra frisson of excitement could come at the expense of riders. The two-times defending Time Trial World Champion, writing on his website, has described the decision to include a double take on the notorious Alpe d’Huez, which necessitates the use of the previously untested Col de Sarenne, as ‘irresponsible’.


Set to feature on Stage 18, the Col de Sarenne seems to have set alarm bells ringing in the usually unshakable German. He comments: ‘I was excited to ride the new road from Alpe d’Huez (during the Critérium du Dauphiné), the exact same route we’ll see in the Tour, I have to say that I was negatively surprised. The road is old and narrow. It’s a bad road, no guardrails. A mistake could see you falling straight down 30 metres…’


TdF organisers have agreed partial resurfacing of the Col – with short sections set to be partially leveled – but the fact remains that one of the world’s most experienced and fearless riders appears troubled by the road ahead.


Image ©



Bradley Wiggins out of Tour de France

Bradley Wiggins out of Tour de FranceWith continued ill-health Bradley Wiggins will not defend his title at this year’s Tour de France, Team Sky have announced. Two weeks ago, a worsening chest infection caused his withdrawal from the Giro d’Italia and he returned home for treatment, rest, and further assessment of an on-going knee condition. During his period of treatment and recovery Sky say he has been unable to train with any intensity and consequently will not be able to race at this month’s Criterium du Dauphine or Tour de Suisse.


Team Principal Sir Dave Brailsford today confirmed: ‘With illness, injury and treatment Brad has gone past the point where he can be ready for the Tour. It’s a big loss but, given these circumstances, we won’t consider him for selection… He hasn’t been able to train hard since the Giro and now he needs further rest. Whilst we all know these things happen in sport, it doesn’t take away from the fact that this is a huge disappointment for everyone in the team – and above all for Brad. It’s incredibly sad to have the reigning champion at Team Sky but not lining up at the Tour. But he’s a champion, a formidable athlete and will come back winning as he has before’


For his part Wiggins added: ‘It’s a huge disappointment not to make the Tour.  I desperately wanted be there, for the team and for all the fans along the way – but It’s not going to happen. I can’t train the way I need to train and I’m not going to be ready. Once you accept that, it’s almost a relief not having to worry about the injury and the race against time.’


‘I’ve been through this before, when I broke my collarbone,’ continued Wiggins, ‘so I know how it works. I’ll get this sorted, set new goals for this season and focus on those. This team has so many riders in great shape, ready for selection and we set incredible standards for performance, which shouldn’t be compromised.  We need to have the best chance to win.’


Books Featured Reviews

Tour de France 100th Race Anniversary Edition

tdf2013_book_largeOf course there are no end of books on various aspects of the Tour de France and numerous biographies of those you have ridden it to fill in the more personal (often painful) minutiae. But now, thanks to publishers Quercus, comes a book as rich and beguiling as the race itself. Tour de France 100th Race Anniversary Edition, authored by Françoise Laget, Gilles Montgermont, Serge Laget and Philippe Cazaban is an enormous volume that pulls off the seemingly impossible trick of being both concise and suitably detailed in turn.


Covering the birth of the TdF before dedicating a page per race through the subsequent one hundred editions, it includes overviews that capture the agony and ecstasy along with brief stats, such as final standings, total distances, average winner speed and map, all of which helps contextualise things. But this, perhaps, is not the book’s strongest selling point (excellent though the prose are) as Tour de France 100th Race Anniversary Edition is also a stunningly illustrated visual history with more than 250 photographs and illustrations – many previously unpublished – which elevates this beyond a ‘mere’ history.


Those that think they know the TdF are likely to find bountiful nuggets of archaic and obscure information here and the photographs will continue to captivate long after this year’s winner reaches the Champs-Élysées. As a written history, with substantial sidebars, this book is near perfect; as a collectable coffee table picture book it is unsurpassed.


Tour de France 100th Race Anniversary Edition is published by Quercus (ISBN-10: 1782064141) and worth every penny of the £30 cover price. Available from, amongst others,




Bradley Wiggins vs Chris Froome?

Bradley Wiggins and Chris FroomeCould a storm be brewing? Bradley Wiggins, very much man of the year in 2012, has again stated his intention of defending his historic Tour de France title, whilst team mate Chris Froome – hot off his win of the Tour de Romandie – insists he will be the man to lead out the squad come June 29, commenting, ‘I have been reassured by the management at Team Sky that I have their full backing.’ Wiggins had initially been expected to concentrate his efforts on the Giro d’Italia, which starts this Saturday (May 4), but has told reporters he will be looking for a double victory rather than playing any supporting role.


Kenya-born Froome, runner-up to Wiggins at last year’s TdF, insists that, ‘at no time has the leadership of the Tour (de France) team been in question’, yet Team Sky Principal, Sir David Brailsford, continues to maintain that a final decision is unlikely to be made until just days before the start.


In response to Brailsford’s pragmatic ‘I think whoever is in the best shape should be really’ pronouncement, Froome released a statement saying, ‘There has been much speculation regarding the leadership for Team Sky at the Tour de France this year. I have made it clear that winning the Tour would be my main objective for 2013… Attempting to win the Tour de France, is a massive undertaking and will take total commitment from each and every team member.’ Adding the rather pointed (barbed?) conclusion, ‘I have no doubt that the strongest and most willing riders will be there to support me.’


Inter-team rivalry rarely ends well; without resolution the situation could easily result in two losers, not one clear winner…



Froome to Lead Team Sky on Tour?

Chris Froome to lead Team Sky at Tour de France 2013After much speculation as to how Team Sky will play the big races of 2013 we seem to be a step closer to knowing with Sky boss Dave Brailsford commenting, ‘It does look as though the plan going into next year… is that the Tour of Italy would be a very good target for Bradley and leave Froomey then to focus on the Tour de France.’ Brailsford, speaking to reporters at UK Sport’s World Class Performance conference in Leeds, said: ‘We are just getting back into training now and need to do quite a lot of planning.’


Chirs Froome of course looked strong (arguably in contention for an overall win despite team instructions) at this year’s TdF and the idea of unleashing him unfettered on the 2013 Tour as every bit as exciting as the prospect of Wiggins adding a Giro title to his impressive roster. The Giro takes place May 4 – 26, whilst the TdF (the 100th edition, with a course likely to favour climbers like Froome) runs June 29 – July 21.