A Two Week Tour de France?

Tour de France crowds

A two week Tour de France? Non. Or to use the phrase beloved of many a French hotelier, c’est pas possible. Still it’s good to question established ideas and tenets. There’s no rule that says the Tour de France must be three weeks long and if there were, we should question that too.

It’s a current topic since UCI President Brian Cookson was in Madrid to award Spain and Movistar their UCI World Tour prizes. He spoke to the media when asked about a shorter Vuelta and Tour de France implied nothing was off the table. Let’s explore why an abbreviated Tour won’t suit anyone.

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The Moment The Race Was Won – Tour de Suisse

Mathias Frank, Bauke Mollema and Rui Costa are on the attack knowing they have to put time into Tony Martin in order to get on the podium. This was the moment the race was won.

Like the Dauphiné the final stage of the Tour de Suisse saw a reversal of fortunes although this time the script was more predictable with Rui Costa riding away to win the stage while lower down the mountain Tony Martin was left to pace himself in a private mountain time trial.

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The Future of Pro Cycling Revealed

The UCI’s plans for pro cycling in 2015 and 2017 as the plans for reform appear in full thanks to a leaked document on Cicloweb.it

We got a glimpse of this earlier this month with the details buried in a technical bulletin but now a copy of the whole presentation has emerged.

The takeaway is that if the reforms are expected to be completed by 2020, radical change will be coming as soon as 2015. Within the next few years races like the Eneco Tour and Tour de Pologne will get downgraded. Germany’s Bayern Rundfahrt gets promoted. Meanwhile Paris-Nice, Tirreno-Adriatico, the Dauphiné and Tour de Suisse all shrink. Other races vanish.

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Tour de Suisse Stage 5 Preview

Arnaud Demare

Peter Sagan probably didn’t read the road book for Stage 4 as he was caught up in the middle of the peloton heading into the last corner. He tried to make up for it but he went the wrong way around and almost crashed against the barrier. He still managed to finish 7th on the stage and I think he is eager for revenge.

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Tour de Suisse Stage 3 Preview

Bauke Mollema timed his attack perfectly on Stage 2 when he caught Ryder Hesjedal on the final kilometer and soloed away to win the stage. After the stage, Mollema was quick to point to the overall podium as his new target in the race, something I had him down for in my overall preview as well. Unfortunately the Dutch climber got a 20 seconds penalty after the stage since he had gotten a bottle of water from his team car within the last 20 km. Mollema is now 34 seconds after Cameron Meyer in the GC and that means he needs to attack more the up-coming days.

Stage 3 is 204.9 km long but the first 165 km are more or less flat. As the riders enter Meiringen the road kicks up with a small category 4 climb on Grimselstrasse. The 1.9 km with an average of 5.6 % won’t make a big selection but the following category 1 climb will indeed.

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The Moment The Race Was Won: Tour de Suisse

Rui Costa Tour de Suisse Verbier

The Tour of Switzerland is arguably the fourth biggest stage race on the calendar. Prestigious, historic, challenging and at the height of the season this is an important event on the calendar. The 2012 race was won by Rui Costa (Movistar).

He staked his claim on Stage 2, the first road stage of the race with a summit finish in the upmarket ski resort of Verbier. The race passed over the Simplon Pass, plenty to tire the legs. As they approached the foot of the final climb the pace was fierce and a select group formed on the final climb. From this Frank Schleck attacked with six kilometres to go, a man who can now carry the adjective “aggressive” after several sharp moves during the week. It was a strong move but the group began to close in and Rui Costa jumped out. He passed Schleck in the final moments of the stage, overhauling him by just four seconds and taking the overall lead by eight seconds. This late move to catch and pass Schleck was the moment the race was won.

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Is Andy Schleck Off The Pace Or Right On Track?

Schleck Tour de Suisse

With less than a month to go before the Tour de France Andy Schleck is well off the pace. When there is a climb or a time trial the Luxembourger seems to go backwards. Fans are frustrated, journalists exasperated and management nervous. Is this the 2012 Dauphiné? No, I’m talking about the June 2011 and the Tour of Switzerland.

Here’s the breakdown of Andy Schleck’s riding in the Swiss race last year listed stage by stage. As you’ll see he was struggling with the pace on some climbs only to put on a mountain masterclass on the penultimate day… and then finish second in the Tour de France weeks later.

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What’s Next?

Many seem to have enjoyed the Giro, especially with the final week and the suspense that went all the way to the last moments of the final stage. Sport offers highs and lows and in reality there can be many moments of boredom. Indeed lest we forget the Giro had its siesta moments too, inevitable during three weeks.

So what’s next? We’re right in the middle of the pro cycling season. April and its spring classics offer plenty of excitement but this time of year has plenty to offer as well. Many from the Giro will take a break but many big names are starting their approach to the Tour de France.

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Highlights of 2011 – Part IV

Five moments from 2011. They are a personal choice like any list sometimes you omit more than you include but I’ll explain each moment. They’re presented in no particular order.

This time Stage 3 of the Tour de Suisse. Arguably the fourth biggest stage race in the world, Switzerland is Europe’s mountain nation and full of stunning roads. In this highlight of 2011 you get clever tactics, a master class descending and Peter Sagan showing that a vicious mountain pass like the Grosse Scheidegg (16km, 7.7% average, several sections at 12%) doesn’t worry him.

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