WWI tribute for 2014 Tour de France
The Tour de France will pass through the scene of some of the worst fighting of World War One next year, organisers revealed on Wednesday, as they unveiled a route likely to challenge champion Chris Froome.
One hundred years after the start of the Great War, cycling’s most famous race will pay tribute to the millions killed in one of history’s bloodiest conflicts, visiting towns and countryside devastated by four years of fighting.
Stage five starts in Ypres, in the Flanders region of western Belgium, which was the scene of sustained and intensive fighting between German and Allied forces. Stages six and seven visit Arras, the Chemin des Dames, Verdun and Douaumont — all sites of key battles and home to memorials to the fallen — and a finish in Reims, in Champagne country, where French kings were once crowned.
Overall, the 101st edition of the Tour de France includes six mountain stages with five summit finishes and a stage which features 15km of cobblestones spread over nine different sections.
There is also just one time-trial for the first time since the 1950s, all of which will provide defending champion Chris Froome with a tough test in a race likely to favour smaller, lighter climbers.
Kenya-born Briton Froome, who rides for Team Sky, said he was undeterred, declaring that he relished the prospect and racing on cobbles would be an “exciting challenge”. Spain’s two-time Tour winner Alberto Contador, said the cobbled section could prove decisive.
“This stage will be difficult, very nervy, with fear of falls or mechanical problems that could lose you the Tour,” he said.
British cycling fans will be hoping for a third straight win for the nation, particularly as the race starts on July 5 in the northern English city of Leeds and includes two opening stages in the county of Yorkshire.
The peloton will head to mainland Europe on July 8 after a third stage from the historic university city of Cambridge in eastern England with a finish outside Queen Elizabeth II’s London residence Buckingham Palace.
Froome’s potential challengers next year are likely to be 2013 King of the Mountains Nairo Quintana, Giro D’Italia winner Vincenzo Nibali and Contador.
The penultimate stage, a 54-kilometre (33.5-mile) test against the clock between Bergerac and Perigueux in the southwestern Dordogne region, could provide Froome with his last chance to overhaul the climbers before they arrive in Paris.
Click here to read more about the route for next year’s Tour de France. Text via AFP.
Where the 2014 Tour de France could be won and lost
Here are the key stages of next year’s Tour de France:
Stage 5 – Ypres to Arenberg Porte du Hainault, 156km
Race organisers have decided to spice up the 2014 race with cobblestones, which will strike fear into the main contenders. There may be only 15.4km of cobblestones — compared to the 50km that form part of Paris-Roubaix, which passes through the same territory — but it only takes one little section of bumps to bring riders crashing down and sending some home with a broken collarbone.
The cobblestones are spread out over nine separate sections so expect the overall contenders’ teams to be jittery during the last 70km of this stage, which is where the cobblestones make their appearance. The Tour may not be won here but it can certainly be lost.
Stage 10 – Mulhouse to La Planche des Belles Filles, 161km
The 5.9km finish up to La Planche des Belles Filles made its Tour debut last year but proved so popular and spectacular that it has been brought back. Although the average gradient is only 8.5% — a punishing challenge in itself — it starts with a 13% section and the final ramp is an incredible 20%.
It was here in 2012 that defending champion Chris Froome gained his first ever Tour stage victory having chased down an attack by Cadel Evans, who was then reigning champion.
Froome will not be the favourite, with the finish more suited to the likes of Nairo Quintana or Joaquim Rodriguez. Either way, this will be the first real chance for the contenders to take time out of each other.
Stage 14 – Grenoble to Risoul, 177km
The first stage in the High Alps includes more than 65km of climbing, including the final 12.6km slope up to Risoul at an average gradient of 6.9%.
The first climb is not tough at an average 3.9% but it labours on for 34km. Perhaps the real damage will be done in the middle climb, the Izoard, which at 19km and 6% will really test the contenders’ legs.
Stage 17 – Saint-Gaudens to Saint-Lary-Soulan, 125km
This may be the shortest stage of the race apart from the time-trial but it is not going to be easy. This has four categorised climbs ranging from 8.3km to 13.2km in length and at between 7% and 8.3% average gradient. The short length of the stage suggests this one could be tackled at speed, meaning those with heavy legs and weary bodies will likely wilt in the mountain sun.
Expect a breakaway on this stage a long way from home that may go all the way, even though the true fireworks will take place amongst the contenders.
Stage 20 – Bergerac to Perigueux, 54km time-trial
The one and only time-trial in the 2014 edition comes in the penultimate stage. With no team time-trial and only this one race against the clock, it will likely be a last chance, probably for Froome, or perhaps even Alberto Contador, to snatch victory from the more specialist climbers.
Tour director Christian Prudhomme said organisers deliberately left this stage until late in the hope of encouraging the climbers to fight right to the end. If things go to plan, this could be the stage for a dramatic see-saw battle with Froome, or Contador, chasing down Vincenzo Nibali or Quintana in the battle for overall success.
Text via AFP.
Tour de France 2014: Yorkshire Grand Depart launch video
We’ve known for a while now that the 2014 Tour de France will start in Yorkshire, UK but to coincide with last night’s route announcement, Yorkshire’s official visitor site has put together this terrific Grand Depart promo video, complete with a suitably rousing backing track.
CAS rules in favour of Contador, Valverde in case of docked points
The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has overturned a controversial UCI rule that blocks riders who have returned from doping bans from receiving WorldTour points.
The case was brought to CAS by Saxo Tinkoff owner Bjarne Riis who was protesting the UCI’s decision to block Alberto Contador from accruing points, saying the ban was above and beyond what was reasonable.
Meanwhile WADA is in the process of introducing four-year bans for serious doping offences — a doubling of the current ban — creating a far greater impact than the loss of points.
Click here to read more at VeloNation.
Corporate investigators secured UCI’s computers minutes after Cookson was elected
Mere minutes after being elected UCI president last month, Brian Cookson moved to prevent any last minute changes to UCI documents, instructing corporate investigators to take control of the organisation’s computers.
“They had to secure the computers,” Cookson told the Financial Times. “They took all the back-up tapes and all the IT stuff. They were available to make sure that nothing was destroyed that shouldn’t be destroyed.”
Cookson has pledged to investigate the actions of the UCI and others during the Armstrong Era and Cookson’s moves are an attempt to ensure that allegations of corruption against the UCI can be thoroughly examined.
Click here to read more.
Amy Cure signs with Lotto-Belisol Ladies
Tasmanian cyclist Amy Cure has signed with the Lotto-Belisol Ladies team for 2014 after spending the latter parts of this year riding as a stagiaire for Orica-AIS.
— Lotto Belisol Ladies (@LB_Ladies) October 23, 2013
Cure won stage 5 of this year’s Trophee d’Or, two stages and the overall classification at the Czech Tour and two stages and the overall at the Tour of Adelaide in the National Road Series. Cure was also selected to represent Australia in the women’s road race at the road world championships last month.
Cure is a former junior world and and national champion on the track and is seen as a strong allrounder on the road.
The Netherlands, bike infrastructure and new residential developments
We all know The Netherlands is a world leader when it comes to cycling infrastructure and this video is just further proof. It shows the way planners have integrated bike paths into the design of new residential developments and the effects these measures have had. Take a look.
Click here to read more.
Bikes, sexism and Australia
Here’s an eye-opening piece about blatant (and downright ugly) sexism that seems to exist on Melbourne’s roads. Here’s a snapshot:
““Within my first two weeks back on the road, I had been verbally abused on the basis of my body shape and gender no fewer than five times. I wanted to point out that in a majority of cases, it was middle-aged men in expensive cars, but that even a carload of young women had deliberately tried to scare me off my bike. When I knocked on their window at the next set of lights, they told me, ‘F***ing get over it, BITCH!’ and sped off.”
We’re certainly not saying all road users behave like this, but the fact that even a handful do (at the very least) is more than concerning.
Click here to read the full article.
Strava partners with Sufferfest
They’re two of the biggest names in the modern cycling industry and now Strava and the Sufferfest have joined forces to deliver the latter’s gut-busting workouts to Strava’s premium users.
Three Sufferfest videos are currently available through the Strava Android App, with the videos becoming available for Apple’s iOS soon.
Click here to read more.
How to know when your training partner is struggling
Backflip over a 22-metre canyon
You might have already seen this video (we shared it around via social media yesterday, as did many others) but if you haven’t, it’s worth setting aside 2 minutes for.