le Tour de France, 2009
The results after the individual time trial in Monaco on 4th July.
The circus is about to begin! Roadside preparations have started:
Out of the one hundred and eighty cyclists, who will do well, or even actually win the greatest show in the world?
Contador is reckoned to be unbeatable, but with Lance Armstrong coming back, and strongly as usual, who knows. Watching the interplay of these fellow cyclists in the Astana team could be interesting.
Note also that Astana, who had been thrown out of the Tour for almost institutional drugging of its cyclists, is now rehabilitated and, after two years, has been allowed to again participate in the Tour.
Transbordeur bridges in France and the world 2: focus on Portugalete, Chicago,
Another cyclist to watch, we at least while he’s still in the race, is the Briton, Mark Cavendish [Team Columbia-High Road], who a rather less blatant version of the Italian cyclist, Cipollini. He appears to be taking up Cipollini’s style of racing. Going extremely fast in the first few stages on the flat, winning stages and the yellow jersey perhaps, the fading and dropping out of the race as soon as it hits the steep mountain stages.
In the Italian Giro, Cavendish won the Team Time Trial and three stages, before abandoning after his stage 13 win. He had braved three mountain stages, but was faced with five more in seven days. He is still young at just 24 years old, and it usually takes longer than that for a cyclist to reach his full strength, 24 is a bit early for a cyclist to come to his peak power.
The Great Departure of the Tour 2009 will be from the Principality of Monaco.
By spreading the mountain stages over two weeks, the Tour organisers will ensure that the public watch a battle until the penultimate stage. From the arrival in the Andorran ski resort of Arcalis, on the 11th July, until the ascent of the fearsome Mont Ventoux on the eve of the arrival in Paris, the Yellow Jersey could change shoulders many times.
To give opportunities for more competitors, the format for the against-the-clock stages has been reworked. The 55 kilometres total for the individual time-trials will be one of the shortest since its systematic introduction in 1947. The Tour 2009 will also mark the return of the team time-trial, for the first time since 2005.
A spectacular moving showcase, the Tour races through the great range of landscapes, monuments and architecture of France. This year, the theme of the sea occupies a central place, with the visit of three great beacons of the Mediterranean: Monaco, Marseille and Barcelona. The Tour’s route then takes the peleton into the Pyrenees, through the centre of France, then east to the Vosges and the Alps, before going north from Mont Ventoux in Provence.
Never before in the history of the race has there been a mountain stage on the eve of the final day and the arrival at Paris.But this will be the case with the 20th stage finish at the summit of Ventoux.
After the Grand Départ in Monaco, the Tour will go to France, Spain, Andorra and Switzerland, with a little detour into Italy, thus visiting six countries. (The record number of countries visited was in 1992, with seven countries.)
This year’s prize money will total 3.2 million euros, with 450,000 euros going to the winner of the Yellow Jersey.
Remember the dates, 4th to 26th July, and the map below when planning any visit to France later this year!
There will be 21 stages, of which seven are mountain stages [Alps 4, Pyrenees 3], one medium mountain stage, one team against-the-clock and two are individual against-the-clock [contre-le-montre] time trials. There are 2 rest days. All other days are ‘on the plain’ - relatively flat days, almost touring through France. The total distance ridden will be about 3,500 kilometres, or roughly 2,175 miles.
Not the most exciting Tour so far. While the circus proceeds with its usual carnival and hilarity, some fool has decided to put innovation for innovation’s sake and pandering to sponsors above the excitement and gladiatorial aspects. Doubtless, they believe this will keep the attention until the end of the Tour, an attitude that demonstrates very poor understanding of the nature of cycling and, in particular, the Tour de France.
It is clear that they are attempting to make all stages, until near the end in the Alps, as boring as possible. Yes, we have one or two good climbs in the Pyrenees, pretty well ruined by long run ins at the end of the stage, thus allowing large numbers of those defeated by the mountains to close in on the heroes who work so hard to touch the heavens.
Despite this, quality will still out, with Cantador and Armstrong leading and the wild card Nocentini holding the Yellow jersey for several days. He is very likely to be blown away in the next day or two as, at last, we come to the serious stages in the Alps.
Meanwhile, Mark Cavendish, who appears to have been supplied with an extra pair of rocket boosters, has won four stages and the Green Jersey, but only for a day - today’s hills allowed his rival to regain the Green Jersey. Cavendish is the best stage sprinter the UK has ever produced, a full notch above all his competition. In the Green Jersey competition, it is between Cavendish and Thor Hushovd, who has now jumped ahead by five points. Hushovd is the better climber, whereas Cavendish is the world dominant sprinter.We had a hilly day today, so Hushovd has leapfrogged Cavendish again.
Leipheimer, one of Astana’s heroes has dropped out with a broken hand, allowing another Brit, Bradley Wiggins, to move up to fourth position overall. Perhaps not quite the way he would hope to advance, but another sign that some British riders are now becoming serious contenders at the levels of the greatest cycle marathons.
A brilliant solo ride, made by the up and coming German-Australian Heinreich Haussler, brightened another otherwise dull and wet day. He is unusual in that he lives within thirty kilometres of Colmar at the end of today’s stage, and so knows the area well. Haussler also claims to love the soaking conditions of today’s ride. Perhaps he has to, as this hilly area can be subject to sudden, incredible downpours. (Colmar in the hilly areas of eastern France.)
Just to make sure that ‘innovation’ trumps the heart of the Tour, two days have been set aside for riding without radios. This introduces a host of foolishnesses - get a puncture and you must wait by the roadside until the support cars find you; depend on chalk boards on motor cycles, rather than effective information from the radios and satellites... Why not have a day riding one-wheeled bikes, or nineteenth-century wooden frames, if the bureaucrats really want to prove their ‘originality’? After all, the Tour is about them, not about cycling. Naturally, the cyclists are responding with go-slows on the days of the great experiment. Bring back Jean Marie Leblanc! No doubt Christian Prudhomme wants to put his mark on the Tour, but it’s a very dull mark. This is one of the basic errors of marketing, only an idiot tries to change a good and successful product. Perhaps Prudhomme will be welcome at Coca Cola?