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2012 Tour de France Wrap-up

29 Jul

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    alljerseys win letour cropWaiting to write the final post on the 2012 Tour de France was wise. A few days to reflect and to view the Tour as a whole and in parts – individual stages – has improved the view.

    The Tour de France is more than just the fight for the yellow jersey. Every day there are multiple races occurring. Besides the race for overall GC, there is the race to win the stage, the race for sprint points for the green jersey, the race for points on climbs for the polka-dot jersey, racing for the best young rider’s white jersey, and the team classification – all occurring every day in every stage for three weeks.

    So, when comments are made that the 2012 Tour was boring – what most of us are complaining about is the race for yellow and the supremacy of Bradley Wiggins and team Sky.

    The race for yellow was completely dominated by Wiggins and his teammates. Once Wiggins captured the yellow jersey in the 7th stage it was never relinquished. Capturing it in the first week of the Tour set the tone for weeks two and three – controlled racing by Sky. No wasted effort, no reactive racing, just a methodical execution of their plan to win the Tour.

    Wearing the yellow jersey with the expectation of keeping it isn’t just about being the strongest, it also requires riding defensively, preserving energy, taking calculated chances with the biggest chance of payoff, and not taking any unnecessary risks – Wiggins and Sky did that better than anyone else.

    The biggest difference between Wiggins, Evans and even Vincenzo Nibali although to a lesser extent than Evans – was the difference between their teams. BMC brought a team designed for the spring classics more than a grand tour and it hurt him.

    Did it cost Evans the Tour – no, but it might have cost him a place on the podium. Evans is a guy that needs his team around him, as much for moral support as anything else. Although Tejay Van Garderen was there and supported him, he was also concerned with keeping his white jersey and high overall GC place.

    As far as Nibali, he seemed happy to have a spot on the podium. For all the talking and dissing of Wiggins he did in the first week, he really didn’t do much to show he was capable of winning the Tour.

    It might not have been the most exciting Tour in terms of surprises and changes in the general classification but it was a Tour filled with many remarkable moments.

    The Highs:

    • For starters, the yellow jersey contest wasn’t the only lopsided jersey competition – so was the green jersey thanks to Peter Sagan. Sagan was a highlight of the Tour winning the green jersey by the widest margin in almost 30 years. He is the real deal, immensely talented, and fun to watch, especially with the victory salutes. He isn’t “just” a sprinter, the guy can climb – and he’s only 22. Sagan has what looks to be a brilliant future ahead of him, imagine him in the spring classic races.

    • The daily breakaways – for a change we had breakaways succeed. Some of the best moments of the Tour came from breakaways – Europcar’s wins, David Millar for Garmin winning and salvaging their Tour, LL Sanchez doing the same for Rabobank. The action in the breaks made for much of the excitement in this year’s Tour. Chris Anker Sorensen winner of the most combative rider was in numerous breakaways as was Fredrik Kessiakoff who battled Voeckler for the climber’s jersey.

    • The little team that could – Europcar. In the current climate of the super-teams like RadioShack-Nissan, Sky, and others it’s nice to see a continental caliber team do so much with seemingly so little. Big heart = big payoff for the team and Tour fans.

    • The old guys, George Hincapie, Jens Voigt, Chris Horner all had great Tours. Jens Voigt was an animal, getting in numerous breaks throughout the Tour and setting the pace at the front for the first week of the race while his teammate Fabian Cancellara had the yellow jersey. Chris Horner finished a very respectable 13th overall in the Tour and George Hincapie was just Big George. He protected his team leader Cadel Evans in the flats and shepherded him to the finish when the Tour was unofficially over for Evans. Sky provided Hincapie with a great show of respect as they had him ride at the front as the peloton rode onto the Champs.

    • The young guys – Van Garderen, Thibaut Pinot, Pierre Rolland, Sagan, all provide us with much hope for the future of cycling and Tours to come.

    • The true grit and extraordinary toughness shown by many riders in this Tour: Tom Danielson rode for days with a separated shoulder, only dropping out of the Tour when he got a 2nd shoulder separation in the worst crash of this Tour on Stage 6; Giro winner and Tour GC contender Ryder Hesjedal finished stage 6 after injuring his hip and leg then having to be helped off his bike – he had to abandon; Johan van Summeren crashed in stage 6 and finished not only the stage but the Tour – as did Tyler Farrar who crashed 4 times yet fought through it and finished the Tour.

    The Lows:

    • The parcours – too many time-trials not enough high mountains.

    • Lack of attacks within GC – but given the circumstances understandable – but still disappointing.

    • The carnage of the first week, so many crashes with serious results to the GC.

    • Frank Shleck’s positive test for a banned substance but also his lackluster performance this year.

    • Evans difficulties, not only in the Tour but the year as a whole. He just never had the form he had last year, but he continued to battle hard throughout and stay positive – which he has had trouble doing in the past. Evans handled himself like a champ and I believe we will see him compete again.

    • Denis Menchov, great form but still the disappearing assassin of recent Tours, Philippe Gilbert.

    • Horner horning in on Big George’s moment on the Champs. Horner has been asked why he did it, but has yet to answer. BMC didn’t ask him too, I think he just did it to get in the spotlight. Poor judgment by Horner.

    What we witnessed in the 2012 Tour de France was a systematic undoing of all other GC hopefuls by Wiggins and Sky. It may not have had the fireworks of previous Tours, but the way Wiggins and Sky pulled it off was masterful and impressive.

    In years past, we had become used to seeing beyond-human feats – tireless climbing and relentless attacking – this Tour didn’t offer that. What generated many of those memorable performances of the past whether we want to admit it or not were banned substances – and although I’m not naïve enough to believe this was a clean Tour, I do believe it was a cleaner Tour. Future Tours may look similar to this year’s Tour only with an improved parcours. 😉

2012 Tour de France–Stage 20

22 Jul

Stage 20, the last stage of the 2012 Tour was part processional and part bike race. The last stage always is.

The first 50k or so is for pictures, offers of congratulations, conversation, and to give the guys time to soak up the final moments of this epic bike race. Just finishing the Tour is a remarkable feat, especially this year. Of the 198 riders who started the race this year, only 153 finished, the lowest number in many years. Most of them abandoned due to injuries suffered in the many crashes this Tour.

Today was a day for all the remaining riders to celebrate not just those that won 1 of the 4 jerseys or finished in one of the top 3 places on the podium.

In the Tour de France – to finish is to win.

 

4 jerseys getty images

The 4 jersey winners: Van Garderen, Wiggins, Sagan & Voeckler.
 




champagne getty

Champagne is always present on the last stage of ever Tour, hard to tell if Wiggins had any. 




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Winner Bradley Wiggins, 2nd place Christopher Froome and Sky teammates.
 



best eifel letour

The peloton making their way to Paris.





george goodbye ansel

George Hincapie riding in his last, a record-setting 17th Tour de France.
 



stage 20-gens roadcyclinguk

Jens Voight doing what he does – fighting for a stage win in a breakaway.




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All the winning jerseys and the world champ, Cavendish.



the sprint stage 20 getty

Cavendish wins, Sagan 2nd, Goss 3rd

The last part of the race is all-out racing. This year the team of the yellow jersey was also racing to win the stage so  they had to stay at the front of the peloton more than is typical for the…. Sky also had to do most of the work initially to chase down the break, but eventually got Liquigas and Saxobank to pull. I never thought the break would make it even when it was getting down to the wire. It rarely happens on the Champs-Elysées and it certainly wasn’t going to happen this year – not with Cavendish going for a record-setting 4th win here.

With a lead-out of Tour winner Bradley Wiggins, then teammate Edvald Boasson-Hagen, Cavendish got the win he seemed destined for. Green jersey wearer Peter Sagan came from the pack to pass Matthew Goss from the winless GreenEdge team who got 3rd.

 

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Cavendish is the first to win 4 times on the Champs-Elysées


Everything today worked as planned for Sky just as the whole Tour has.

George Hincapie raced in his 17th and final Tour de France. He will be sorely missed, there aren’t many like him: loyal and devoted to his team and a leader to his younger teammates. Having Hincapie on the road is like having a director sportif on the road. I hope he stays involved with professional cycling. This was not a close Tour – the time gaps were the largest I can remember. More about that later.

Check back later this week when I post my thoughts on this year’s Tour – its winners and losers.


Final General Classification:

1. WIGGINS, Bradley (SKY PROCYCLING) 87:34:42
2. FROOME, Christopher (SKY PROCYCLING) + 3:21
3. NIBALI, Vincenzo (LIQUIGAS-CANNONDALE) + 6:19
4. VAN DEN BROECK, Jurgen (LOTTO BELISOL) + 10:15
5. VAN GARDEREN, Tejay (BMC RACING) + 11:04
6. ZUBELDIA, Haimar (RADIOSHACK-NISSAN) + 15:43
7. EVANS, Cadel (BMC RACING) + 15:51
8. ROLLAND, Pierre (EUROPCAR) + 16:31
9. BRAJKOVIC, Janez (ASTANA) + 16:38
10. PINOT, Thibaut (FDJ-BIG MAT) + 17:17
11. KLÖDEN, Andreas (RADIOSHACK-NISSAN) + 17:54
12. ROCHE, Nicolas (AG2R LA MONDIALE) + 19:33
13. HORNER, Christopher (RADIOSHACK-NISSAN) + 19:55
14. SÖRENSEN, Chris Anker (SAXO BANK-TINKOFF BANK) + 25:27
15. MENCHOV, Denis (KATUSHA) + 27:22
16. MONFORT, Maxime (RADIOSHACK-NISSAN) + 28:30
17. MARTINEZ, Egoi (EUSKALTEL-EUSKADI) + 31:46
18. COSTA, Rui Alberto (MOVISTAR) + 37:03
19. VORGANOV, Eduard (KATUSHA) + 38:16
20. VALVERDE, Alejandro (MOVISTAR) + 42:26

 

Stage 20 Results:

1. Mark CAVENDISH, Sky, in 3:08:07


2. Peter SAGAN, Liquigas-Cannondale, at 0
3. Matthew Harley GOSS, Orica-GreenEdge, at 0
4. Juan José HAEDO, Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank, at 0
5. Kris BOECKMANS, Vacansoleil-DCM, at 0
6. Greg HENDERSON, Lotto-Belisol, at 0
7. Borut BOZIC, Astana, at 0
8. André GREIPEL, Lotto-Belisol, at 0
9. Edvald BOASSON HAGEN, Sky, at 0
10. Jimmy ENGOULVENT, Saur-Sojasun, at 0
11. Tyler FARRAR, Garmin-Sharp, at 0



2012 Tour de France-Stage 19

21 Jul

wiggins stage 19 joel sagetToday’s time-trial, the third and longest of this Tour, ended the way most of us thought it would. The soon-to-be anointed 2012 Tour de France champion Bradley Wiggins won today finishing 1:29 ahead of his closest rival – no surprise here either – Chris Froome, his Sky teammate and 2nd place finisher overall.

As impressive as Cavendish was yesterday in his win, Wiggins was just as impressive on that black and yellow TT bike. He looked like a machine turning the cranks, completely aerodynamic, powering forward and setting the best time at every single time check. Sky has the biggest budget of all the pro ranked teams and it shows. Sky claimed 3 of the top 5 spots in Stage 19: Richie Porte, another so-called domestique took 5th.

The biggest disappointment today was Cadel Evans who finished in 52nd place and worse than that he got passed by his teammate, Tejay Van Garderen who started the time-trial 3 minutes after Evans. Must have been a horrible moment not just for Evans but for Van Garderen too. Evans slipped from 6th overall to 7th but at least he stayed in the top 10. I hope Evans can recover and redeem himself (for himself, not fans) in the Olympic games. What we saw in this year’s Tour is not typical of Evans, hopefully he’s okay. He was a great Tour champion last year and hopefully can come back one more time and truly compete. He will not want this to be his final mark on the Tour de France.

Van Garderen had a solid time-trial finishing in 7th place for the stage. His effort wasn’t enough to move him from 5th to 4th but 5th place overall in what’s just his 2nd Tour was outstanding. Especially when you consider he wasn’t riding for himself until late in the Tour. It’s likely he would have podiumed if he had been protected instead of Evans.

Nibali, in 3rd place overall had a good time-trial for him, finishing in the top 20 and securing the 3rd spot on the final podium. Nibali didn’t race in his home country’s grand tour, the Giro in order to give himself the best shot at the Tour de France and his finishing 3rd is a victory.

Otherwise there isn’t much left to say about Stage 19. After 3 weeks of racing there were tired legs and bodies and guys just wanting to finish. The sprinters and teams (other than the top finishers like Wiggins, Froome, Nibali and Van Garderen) were saving their legs for the biggest sprint of them all – the sprint along the  Champs-Elysées tomorrow in Paris.

Tomorrow’s stage is more of a processional than a race – until they get to Paris and the real racing occurs for one last time in this year’s Tour. It is every sprinter’s dream to win on the Champs-Elysées, but with Cavendish looking for a record setting 4th win tomorrow, it’s unlikely anyone else’s dream will be realized. Stage 20 will likely be just another example of the domination in this Tour by team Sky.

I love the Tour and will enjoy the celebration by Wiggins, Froome and their teammates as they toast their success with champagne while riding their bikes – something I have yet to ever do but thinking I should. I’ll also love watching Peter Sagan, Van Garderen, and of course Voeckler on the podium claiming their jerseys – and I’ll love watching  all of the riders celebrate their victory – finishing the Tour de France.

Vive le Tour!

Stage results

  • 1. Bradley WIGGINS, Sky, in 1:04:13
  • 2. Christopher FROOME, Sky, at 1:16
  • 3. Luis Leon SANCHEZ GIL, Rabobank, at 1:50
  • 4. Peter VELITS, Omega Pharma-Quick Step, at 2:02
  • 5. Richie PORTE, Sky, at 2:25
  • 6. Patrick GRETSCH, Argos-Shimano, at 2:28
  • 7. Tejay VAN GARDEREN, BMC Racing, at 2:34
  • 8. Vasil KIRYIENKA, Movistar, at 2:46
  • 9. Rein TAARAMAE, Cofidis, at 2:50
  • 10. Jérémy ROY, FDJ-BigMat, at 3:05
  • 11. David ZABRISKIE, Garmin-Sharp, at 3:12
  • 12. Matthieu SPRICK, Argos-Shimano, at 3:20
  • 13. Ruben PLAZA MOLINA, Movistar, at 3:24
  • 14. Daniel OSS, Liquigas-Cannondale, at 3:27
  • 15. Anthony ROUX, FDJ-BigMat, at 3:34
  • 16. Vincenzo NIBALI, Liquigas-Cannondale, at 3:38
  • 17. Christian VANDEVELDE, Garmin-Sharp, at 3:40
  • 18. Bert GRABSCH, Omega Pharma-Quick Step, at 3:43
  • 19. Jens VOIGT, RadioShack-Nissan, at 3:49
  • 19. Andreas KLÖDEN, RadioShack-Nissan, at 3:49
  • 21. Christophe KERN, Europcar, at 3:56

General classification

  • 1. Bradley WIGGINS, Sky, in 84:26:31
  • 2. Christopher FROOME, Sky, at 3:21
  • 3. Vincenzo NIBALI, Liquigas-Cannondale, at 6:19
  • 4. Jurgen VAN DEN BROECK, Lotto-Belisol, at 10:15
  • 5. Tejay VAN GARDEREN, BMC Racing, at 11:04
  • 6. Haimar ZUBELDIA AGIRRE, RadioShack-Nissan, at 15:43
  • 7. Cadel EVANS, BMC Racing, at 15:51
  • 8. Pierre ROLLAND, Europcar, at 16:31
  • 9. Janez BRAJKOVIC, Astana, at 16:38
  • 10. Thibaut PINOT, FDJ-BigMat, at 17:17
  • 11. Andreas KLÖDEN, RadioShack-Nissan, at 17:54
  • 12. Nicolas ROCHE, Ag2r La Mondiale, at 19:33
  • 13. Christopher HORNER, RadioShack-Nissan, at 19:55
  • 14. Chris Anker SÖRENSEN, Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank, at 25:27
  • 15. Denis MENCHOV, Katusha, at 27:22
  • 16. Maxime MONFORT, RadioShack-Nissan, at 28:30
  • 17. Egoi MARTINEZ DE ESTEBAN, Euskaltel-Euskadi, at 31:46
  • 18. Rui Alberto FARIA DA COSTA, Movistar, at 37:03
  • 19. Eduard VORGANOV, Katusha, at 38:16
  • 20. Alejandro VALVERDE BELMONTE, Movistar, at 42:26

2012 Tour de France-Stage 18

20 Jul

The dominance of Team Sky continued today – this time with a different star – sprinter Mark Cavendish. Never has it been more clear why the world’s fastest man on a bike has the nickname “Manx Missile”. Cavendish looked like a short range missile when he shot from the peloton to take his 2nd stage win in this year’s Tour and 22nd overall. Cavendish rocketed past the two remaining riders in the front, Roche and Sanchez and made them appear like they were standing still – he was going so bloody fast – since the Brits are taking over the Tour I thought I would jump on the bandwagon.

Seriously though, it was amazing how fast Cavendish exploded from the pack and sprinted to the finish.

Stage 18 most believed, would be a stage that would be won by someone in a break and until fairly late it appeared that’s how it would be. The peloton didn’t even catch the remaining riders from the breaks until inside the last kilometer.

The break had 16 riders, many from the 13 teams without a stage win this Tour. The peloton was selective of who they let get away, there were numerous attacks at the gun, but a break wasn’t allowed to form until almost an hour into the stage. Their lead built up to as high as 3 minutes before different teams committed 1 or 2 riders to the front of the main group to chase them down. We saw Euskaltel-Euskadi, Quickstep, Ag2R, Rabobank, Sojasun and Liquigas all commit to chase the break down. As the gap was reduced to around 1 minute when the riders in the break started attacking each other. Vinokourov, Hansen, Paolini, Kloden, Roche and LL Sanchez tried to stay alive to battle for the win, but to no avail.

Nearing the finish with 3 kilometers to go, Sky made their plan known and went to the front to reel in the remaining 6 riders. Around the final kilometer yellow Jersey wearer Wiggins led out Cavendish with Boasson-Hagen between them. Once Wiggins peeled off Boasson-Hagen provided the final lead-out and at the 300 k mark Cavendish took matters into his own hands – make that legs. The charging peloton engulfed the remaining riders except for Roche and Sanchez, Cavendish ever so briefly hovered on their wheel before – BOOM he was gone and they wondered what the hell happened. Sagan and Goss managed to claim 2nd and 3rd, but no one was remotely close to Cavendish.

Truly amazing strength and speed!

cav passing sanchez roche stage 18 ap photo

stage 18 cav the telegraph

Cavendish has been bottled up this Tour as he and the team focused on getting and keeping the yellow jersey and 2nd place. How bottled up Cavendish has been was evident today in the way he rocketed to the finish. I’ve never seen anything like it. You must see the video shot from above to truly appreciate what he did – Manx (he’s from the Isle of Man) Missile (no explanation needed) – indeed.

There was no change in the overall classification, none was expected. It was obvious that all the jersey competitions are over – the green has been since Stage 1 really, yellow since Stage 7 and the polka-dot jersey for King of the Mountain was cemented yesterday. Apparently giving Mr. Voeckler, his team, and sponsors time to complete his ensemble for today’s stage.

In the words of Phil Liggett (tweaked), Thomas looked resplendent in polka-dots.

Voeckler stage 18 Voeckler FB page

Stage results

  • 1. Mark CAVENDISH, Sky, in 4:54:12
  • 2. Matthew Harley GOSS, Orica-GreenEdge, at 0
  • 3. Peter SAGAN, Liquigas-Cannondale, at 0
  • 4. Luis Leon SANCHEZ GIL, Rabobank, at 0
  • 5. Nicolas ROCHE, Ag2r La Mondiale, at 0
  • 6. Tyler FARRAR, Garmin-Sharp, at 0
  • 7. Borut BOZIC, Astana, at 0
  • 8. Sébastien HINAULT, Ag2r La Mondiale, at 0
  • 9. Daryl IMPEY, Orica-GreenEdge, at 0
  • 10. Samuel DUMOULIN, Cofidis, at 0

General classification

  • 1. Bradley WIGGINS, Sky, in 83:22:18
  • 2. Christopher FROOME, Sky, at 2:05
  • 3. Vincenzo NIBALI, Liquigas-Cannondale, at 2:41
  • 4. Jurgen VAN DEN BROECK, Lotto-Belisol, at 5:53
  • 5. Tejay VAN GARDEREN, BMC Racing, at 8:30
  • 6. Cadel EVANS, BMC Racing, at 9:57
  • 7. Haimar ZUBELDIA AGIRRE, RadioShack-Nissan, at 10:11
  • 8. Pierre ROLLAND, Europcar, at 10:17
  • 9. Janez BRAJKOVIC, Astana, at 11:00
  • 10. Thibaut PINOT, FDJ-BigMat, at 11:46
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For the Love of Bikes Blog by Susan Lash (2009 - 2014) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
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