June 30, 2012

Where are they from, 2012 edition

Every year, I run down the countries represented by Tour racers, with special attention to the English-speaking countries.


Cadel Evans, BMC
Jonathan Cantwell, Saxo Bank-Tinkoff
Baden Cooke, Orica-Greenedge
Simon Gerrans, Orica-Greenedge
Matthew Goss, Orica-Greenedge
Adam Hansen, Lotto-Belisol
Brett Lancaster, Orica-Greenedge
Matthew Lloyd, Lampre-ISD
Stuart O'Grady, Orica-Greenedge
Richie Porte, Team Sky
Mark Renshaw, Rabobank
Michael Rogers, Team Sky

With the advent of Orica-Greenedge, Australia jumps from six to 12 riders; there were 11 in 2010. All six of last year's riders are back, plus Rogers, Lloyd, Lancaster, Cantwell, Hansen, and Cooke.


Ryder Hesjedal, Garmin-Sharp

Just one again, but that one just happens to have won the Giro d'Italia in May.

Great Britain

Mark Cavendish, Team Sky
Stephen Cummings, BMC
Chris Froome, Team Sky David Millar, Garmin-Sharp Bradley Wiggins, Team Sky

No Ben Swift or Geraint Thomas this year, but Cummings and Froome keep the overall count steady at five.


Nicolas Roche, AG2R La Mondiale
Dan Martin, Garmin-Sharp

Roche finally gets company from Garmin's Dan Martin.

New Zealand

Greg Henderson, Lotto-Belisol

Henderson in, Julian Dean out, so still one from New Zealand.

South Africa

Robbie Hunter, Garmin-Sharp
Daryl Impey, Orica-Greenedge

South Africa jumps from zero to two.


Tom Danielson, Garmin-Sharp
Tyler Farrar, Garmin-Sharp
George Hincapie, BMC
Chris Horner, Radio Shack-Nissan
Levi Leipheimer, Omega Pharma-Quick Step Christian Vande Velde, Garmin-Sharp
Tejay Van Garderen, BMC
David Zabriskie, Garmin-Sharp

After 10 riders in the 2011 Tour, the US drops back to 8 with Brent Bookwalter and Danny Pate at home this year. Every other US rider that started last year's Tour is on hand for this year, as well.

An interesting sideline to "where are they from?" this year is "when are they from?" as we see the aging of the English-speaking riders continue, with a few youngsters, including Van Garderen, Farrar, and Porte overbalanced by a lot of riders nearing retirement, like Hincapie, Rogers, Horner, Hunter, Leipheimer, and Vande Velde.

My count is off by one somewhere (my country totals only come to 197), so corrections welcome, but here's the rundown for other countries, with 2011 in parentheses:

44: France (40)
21: Spain (26)
18: Netherlands (12)
16: Italy (17)
14: Belgium (15)
12: Germany (12)
5: Denmark (5), Russia (9)
4: Belarus (1), Kazhakstan (5), Slovenia (4)
3: Slovakia, Switzerland (4), Ukraine (3)
2: Portugal (2), Sweden (0)
1: Croatia (0), Estonia (1), Japan (0), Poland (3), Luxembourg (2), Argentina (0), Norway (2), Austria (1)

Posted by Frank Steele on June 30, 2012 in Top Stories | Permalink | E-mail this post to a friend | Comments (0)

July 23, 2011

Stage 20 as it happens

Cancellara unsurprisingly set the best early time with a 57:15. First to top his time was Saxo Bank's Australian Richie Porte, taking the lead with his 57:03.

Edvald Boasson Hagen and Vacansoleil's Thomas de Gendt both flirted with the stage lead at their intermediate time checks, with Boasson Hagen setting the best time at Time Check 1, and de Gendt hitting Time Check 2 24 seconds faster than Cancellara.

Saxo Bank's Richie Porte came through in 57:03 to take the stage lead.

De Gendt finished in 57:02, taking the stage lead.

Tony Martin, who won an identical stage at the Criterium du Dauphiné Libéré in June, set the new best time at Time Check 1 in 20:12, :22 faster than Boasson Hagen. Boasson Hagen broke an aerobar extension, and finished in 57:43, 4th at that point.

Tony Martin looks like he could repeat his Criterium du Dauphiné victory, hitting Time Check 2 in 40:26, 37 seconds faster than anyone else so far, and Time Check 3 in 49:53, more than a minute faster than any other rider so far. At the finish, it's Martin in 55:33 taking the lead of the stage.

When the GC men took the course, it didn't take long to see that Cadel Evans was putting a serious hurt on the times of both Schleck brothers.

At the first time check, Evans and Contador were even, :21 behind Martin, :34 ahead of Frank Schleck and :36 ahead of Andy Schleck.

At TC2, Contador faded, but Evans closed on Martin's time with a 40:33, just :07 behind HTC's German. GPS put Evans into the virtual lead of the race, with his lead growing steadily. The Schlecks hit TC2 more than 1:40 down on Evans.

By the third time check, it was clear all Evans had to do was stay upright to the finish to take the yellow jersey and very likely the overall Tour victory. The big question was whether his scorching time would be enough to bring him the stage win, as well. At the finish, Evans clocked a 55:40, seven seconds off Martin's stage-winning time. When the Schlecks finally arrived, they clocked almost identical times, in 58:14 for Frank and 58:12 for Andy.

Pierre Rolland held a 1:36 lead over Estonian time trial champion Rein Taaramae in the white jersey competition, but ceded just :48 on the day to hold the jersey, and a place on the final podium for himself and his Europcar team.

Notable times:
Tony Martin, HTC-Highroad, 55:33
Cadel Evans, BMC, 55:40
Thomas de Gendt, Vacansoleil, 57:02
Richie Porte, Saxo Bank, 57:03
Fabian Cancellara, Leopard Trek, 57:15
Peter Velits, HTC-Highroad, 57:36
Tom Danielson, Garmin-Cervelo, 57:41
Edvald Boasson Hagen, Sky, 57:43
Andy Schleck, Leopard Trek, 58:12
Frank Schleck, Leopard Trek, 58:14
Christian Vande Velde, Garmin-Cervelo, 58:33
Danny Pate, HTC-Highroad, 59:03
David Millar, Garmin-Cervelo, 59:14
George Hincapie, 1:00:22
Brent Bookwalter, BMC, 1:01:24
Mark Cavendish, HTC-Highroad, 1:04:08

Posted by Frank Steele on July 23, 2011 | Permalink | E-mail this post to a friend | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Stage 20 Preview

As so often happens, the Tour will be decided in today's final time trial. It's a 42.5 km course, with the start and finish in Grenoble. It's not pancake flat, with the high and low points of the course differing by almost 400 meters in altitude. It's on the hilly side of rolling.

There are two primary hills on the course, and time checks are in Vizille, after the first descent, and Saint Martin d'Uriage near the top of the second hill and before the 15-kilometer descent to the finish.

The exact same course was used in the 2011 Criterium du Dauphiné Libéré in June. There, it was won by Tony Martin, followed by Brad Wiggins, Edvald Boasson-Hagen, and Dave Zabriskie, with Cadel Evans in 6th, 1:20 behind the leader. Both Andy and Fränk Schleck used the Tour de Suisse instead of the Criterium du Dauphiné in their preparation, so we don't have a direct comparison of their times.

When Cadel Evans and Andy Schleck have gone head-to-head in Tour time trials, Evans has won every time but one, last year's final TT when Evans, riding with a broken arm, finished more than 10 minutes off Fabian Cancellara's winning time. In that TT, Andy Schleck beat Evans by 4:41. In every other Tour TT they have both raced, Evans has beaten Andy by at least :30: 2008 Stage 4, it was 1:02; 2008 Stage 20, it was 2:00; 2009 Stage 1, it was :37; 2009 Stage 18, it was :34; and in the 2010 Prologue, it was :30. Today, Schleck starts with :57 on Evans (and Fränk Schleck sits in the middle with just :04 advantage to Evans).

I never pick against Fabian Cancellara in a time trial. Tony Martin's obviously another favorite, having already won on the same course.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 23, 2011 | Permalink | E-mail this post to a friend | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

July 15, 2011

Stage 13 as it happens

Stage 13 started fast, with five or six atttempts to make a breakaway all being chased down and the field averaging around 50 km/hr or 31 mph.

The high pace put Andreas Klöden in trouble off the back of the peloton. Klöden is still suffering from injuries to his lower back suffered in a crash in Stage 9, and with about 40k ridden, Klöden abandoned the Tour, barely able to climb off his bike, or to stand up once he was helped off. His abandon leaves just 5 Radio Shack riders in the Tour.

Continue reading "Stage 13 as it happens"

Posted by Frank Steele on July 15, 2011 in 2011 Stage 13, Alessandro Petacchi, Andreas Klöden, David Moncoutié, Philippe Gilbert, Thor Hushovd | Permalink | E-mail this post to a friend | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Stage 13 Preview: 152.5 km Pau to Lourdes

Stage 13 sets up as a bit of a palate-cleanser for the GC riders, fresh from the first big all-you-can-eat hurt buffet of the Tour.

The major feature of the stage is the Col d'Aubisque, an hors categorie climb that could put some of the GC pretenders to shame. The summit comes with 35 kilometers to the finish, so there will be ample opportunity for a regrouping on the descent to Lourdes. Two other categorized climbs are on tap: the 3rd Category Côte de Cuqueron at 42.5 km is short and steep, and could be a spot for a breakaway, and the 4th Category Côte de Belair, which comes at the end of about 8.5k of rising road, even though the official climb is just 1 km.

Continue reading "Stage 13 Preview: 152.5 km Pau to Lourdes"

Posted by Frank Steele on July 15, 2011 in 2011 Stage 13 | Permalink | E-mail this post to a friend | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

July 14, 2011

Stage 12 Preview: 211 km Cugnaux to Luz-Ardiden

Today the focus shifts from sprints to a marathon, as the Tour de France comes to the Pyrenees. Stage 12 is 211 kilometers/131 miles, with 3 climbs ranked at least 1st Category.

Continue reading "Stage 12 Preview: 211 km Cugnaux to Luz-Ardiden"

Posted by Frank Steele on July 14, 2011 in 2011 Stage 12 | Permalink | E-mail this post to a friend | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

July 13, 2011

Cavendish takes 3rd victory, green jersey on Stage 11

HTC-Columbia's Mark Cavendish continued his reign as the Tour's dominant sprinter, riding clear of André Greipel and Tyler Farrar for his 18th career Tour stage win.

The day's breakaway, and a competing effort to set up their sprinter by Garmin-Cervelo, splintered HTC's leadout train, but Cavendish and Mark Renshaw followed Sky's Geraint Thomas (rumored to be a teammate of Cav's in 2012), with Renshaw, then Cavendish going hard up the right side of the road. Stage 10 winner André Greipel and Stage 3 winner Tyler Farrar couldn't bring the speed to close down the Manxman, and Cavendish had his third stage win of the 2011 Tour.

Continue reading "Cavendish takes 3rd victory, green jersey on Stage 11"

Posted by Frank Steele on July 13, 2011 in 2011 Stage 11, Andrei Greipel, Mark Cavendish, Philippe Gilbert, Thomas Voeckler, Top Stories, Tyler Farrar | Permalink | E-mail this post to a friend | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Stage 11 Preview: 167.5 km Blaye-les-Mines to Lavaur

There's really not that much to say about today's stage. It's another day for the sprinters, and Cavendish will be super motivated after coming up a little short in Stage 10.

Just two categorized climbs today, as riders face a 3rd Category climb at the 28.5-km mark, and a 4th Category at 135.5 km. This means Johnny Hoogerland will hold the King of the Mountains jersey into the high mountains tomorrow, since he leads by more points than are on offer today.

Voeckler will hold yellow for another day, barring a lightning strike. There's no way a meaningful breakaway stays away today. And with the mountains looming, even meaningless breakaways are going to get reeled back in by the sprint teams.

Continue reading "Stage 11 Preview: 167.5 km Blaye-les-Mines to Lavaur"

Posted by Frank Steele on July 13, 2011 in 2011 Stage 11 | Permalink | E-mail this post to a friend | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

July 12, 2011

NBC Sports All Access iOS app gets on-demand stages

I typically watch Tour stages with one display on Versus, and a second showing the English-language video stream they provide, with commentary by Matt Keenan, then Phil and Paul once the on-air broadcast is underway.

I have paid for the Flash-based video stream to my Mac, but last year, I used the Versus iPhone app on my iPhone and iPad (using the iPhone app double-sized) to track the race during broadcast commercials or when I was away from a TV. Updated iOS Tour app

This year's app is much better, with far more video, at least a dozen good quality photos per stage, full iPad support, and fewer crashes. In one way it was worse, however. Last year's app allowed (and still allows, if you've got the 2010 Tour app installed) you to go back and watch the full video of the stage, while this year's offered only highlights (typically, crashes and finishes) once the live video was done.

Until today, that is. There's a new version 1.2.0 of the iOS app that allows subscribers to go back and watch previous Tour stages in their entirety. For now, the full stream goes back to Stage 6, but it's promised that previous stages will be available soon. It's done through a browser window, launched by the app, and allows you to scrub through the video to look for your particular highlight. Stage 6 and Stage 8 have about 3:20 of video, Stage 7 and Stage 9 around 4:15. As I write this at 7:25 Eastern on Tuesday, Stage 10 hasn't yet appeared.

Video quality may be a bit lower than the initial stream -- I'm not in a position to test it with a good quality broadband connection right now.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 12, 2011 in About the Tour, Television, Top Stories, Tour Tech | Permalink | E-mail this post to a friend | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Stage 10 Preview: 158 km Aurillac to Carmaux

This is the shortest stage of the 2011 Tour at 158 kilometers/98.2 miles. The profile looks a little easier than Stage 9, with four categorized climbs, alternating 3rd-4th-3rd and 4th category. The last climb of the day comes with about 15k left after a 20-kilometer downhill, and could possibly be a springboard for an attack to the line.

More likely, though, we'll see the breakaways kept under control. With Thomas Voeckler in yellow, Europcar will check any move that would threaten his lead, and HTC and Garmin (heck, maybe even Movistar for Rojas) will likely work to set up a sprint finish. There are just 4 more stages that look to favor the sprinters: today, tomorrow's Stage 11, Stage 15 on Sunday and the final stage into Paris on the Champs-Élysées. Make me choose a winner for today, and I've gotta go with Cavendish.

The intermediate sprint is only 37 downhill kilometers into the race, so we'll likely see it contested by all the riders with an interest in the green jersey: Gilbert, Rojas, and Cavendish included.

If Vacansoleil's Johnny Hoogerland can ride after his horrific Stage 9 injuries, he should hold the King of the Mountains jersey through the day; he's up by 6 points on Voeckler with only 6 points available to any one rider today.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 12, 2011 in 2011 Stage 10, Thomas Voeckler | Permalink | E-mail this post to a friend | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

July 10, 2011

Stage 9: Luis Leon Sanchez wins ‘Tour de Fracture’

Stage 9 looked like one for the break, but no one could predict just how many breaks we would see.

Juan Mañuel Garate of Rabobank didn't make the start, leaving 188 riders active. Early in the stage, there were three more abandons: Pavel Brutt of Katusha, Wouter Poels of Vacansoleil, and Amets Txurruka of Euskaltel-Euskadi.

Veteran escape artists Thomas Voeckler of Europcar, Luis Leon Sanchez of Rabobank, Juan Antonio Flecha of Sky and Sandy Casar of FDJ broke away with Vacansoleil's Johnny Hoogerland. All but Hoogerland are past stage winners, while Hoogerland, in his first Tour, was apparently in search of the King of the Mountains jersey, where he started the stage a point behind Tejay Van Garderen. They were initially joined by Quick Step's Nicki Terpstra, who faded back to the field when the group found the mountains. Hoogerland would take maximum points over most of the day's climbs, with Voeckler, best placed of the breakaway, looking to finally take the yellow jersey from Garmin-Cervelo's Thor Hushovd, who had held it since the team time trial last Sunday.

Continue reading "Stage 9: Luis Leon Sanchez wins ‘Tour de Fracture’"

Posted by Frank Steele on July 10, 2011 in 2011 Stage 9, Alberto Contador, Alexandre Vinokourov, Andreas Klöden, Christian Vande Velde, Dave Zabriskie, David Millar, Fabian Cancellara, Jurgen van den Broeck, Levi Leipheimer, Luis Sanchez, Mark Cavendish, Philippe Gilbert, Thomas Voeckler, Thor Hushovd, Tom Danielson, Tony Martin, Top Stories, Vuelta a España | Permalink | E-mail this post to a friend | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

July 08, 2011

Stage 7 Preview: 218 km Le Mans to Chateauroux

From the Tour's longest stage on Thusday to the flattest on Friday, Stage 7 ends in Chateauroux, where HTC sprinter Mark Cavendish took his first stage win back in 2008.

If Cavendish really wants to take 5-7 stages of this year's Tour, as he said before the race, he's going to need today's stage. A win here would also be a big help for Cav in the green jersey competition before the race moves into the mountains, where Philippe Gilbert and Thor Hushovd are likely to find opportunities to collect points while Cavendish rides in the grupetto.

It's a stage with no real features to speak of. Johnny Hoogerland will hold the KoM jersey for another day if he can make the finish, with no mountains points on offer. The sprint configuration is interesting, with the "intermediate" sprint coming with 192.5 km ridden, just 25 k/15.5 miles from the finish. Will HTC let a breakaway stay away through the intermediate sprint, or contest two sprints in 16 miles?

Cavendish is the favorite, with Farrar, Galimzyanov, or Feillu possible alternates if HTC misfires.


letour.fr | Stage 7 - LeMan -> Châteauroux 218 km

forum.cyclingnews.com | Le Mans Châteaurou 218 km

Posted by Frank Steele on July 8, 2011 in 2011 Stage 7 | Permalink | E-mail this post to a friend | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

July 07, 2011

Boasson Hagen powers to Stage 6 win

Edvald Boasson Hagen won Stage 6 of the Tour on Thursday, holding off yellow jersey Thor Hushovd and Stage 1 winner Philippe Gilbert in the closing meters to take his first Tour stage and the first for his Team Sky.

The day's finish profile discouraged Cavendish, Farrar, and their ilk, favoring the torquier sprinters. With 1k to ride, Garmin-Cervelo's David Millar led the way, with Gilbert, Evans, and Hushovd close behind, and HTC trying to set up a leadout on the right of the pack, with Matthew Goss in its sweet spot. Astana's Alexandre Vinokourov tried to escape, but was countered by Rabobank's Bauke Mollema. With a few hundred meters to ride, Boasson Hagen launched off the wheel of teammate Geraint Thomas, outkicking Hushovd and Gilbert, stacked up behind him. At the line, in fact, it was Matthew Goss, closing fast, who would take 2nd on the stage, with Hushovd third.

Continue reading "Boasson Hagen powers to Stage 6 win"

Posted by Frank Steele on July 7, 2011 in 2011 Stage 6, Edvald Boasson Hagen, Levi Leipheimer, Mark Cavendish, Philippe Gilbert, Thor Hushovd, Top Stories | Permalink | E-mail this post to a friend | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)