2015 Tour de France to start with Utrecht ITT

Tour de France organisers Amaury Sports Organisation (ASO) revealed Thursday that the opening stage of the Tour de France in 2015 will be an individual time-trial.

The strees of Utrecht will host stage 1 of the 2015 Tour de France.

It had already been announced three weeks ago that the 2015 Tour would begin in Utrecht in the Netherlands.

Tour Director Christian Prudhomme announced at a press conference at the residence of the Dutch ambassador to France, Ed Kronenburg, that a 13.7km time-trial will kick things off on Saturday, July 4. The second stage on Sunday, July 5 will also begin in Utrecht before the Tour moves back to its homeland a day later.

It will be a record sixth time for a foreign country that the Netherlands hosts the “Grand Depart” for the Tour, having first done so in 1954 when Amsterdam was afforded the honour.

The last time the small and largely flat country was called upon to do so was only three years ago when it fell to Rotterdam. A total of nine Dutch towns and cities have hosted Tour stages over the years.

Prudhomme explained that the first stage was a time-trial rather than a prologue, which is often the preferred manner to begin a tour.

“After two editions which will have begun with a race to the line (this year in Corsica and next year in Yorkshire, England) we are returning to the traditional time-trial,” said Prudhomme, before explaining why it wasn’t a prologue.

“International Cycling Union (UCI) rules stipulate that the maximum distance for a prologue is 8km.”

Although this makes little difference to the riders, it does mean that they risk being eliminated on that very first stage, however unlikely that may be. A rider cannot be eliminated after the prologue, no matter how far behind the winner he finishes, but for a normal time-trial, there is the standard time-based cut-off point.

Given the distance being covered it also means the specialists against the clock, such as current champion Briton Chris Froome, will get an early opportunity to put some time into their rivals.

Prudhomme explained the decision to bring the start back to Holland was a logical one.
“This year 85 percent of French people watched at least one stage of the Tour de France,” he said.

“That number was surpassed by only one country, I imagine you’ve worked out that it was the Netherlands, who had almost 86 percent. In fact 85.7 percent of Dutch people watched at least one stage of the Tour.”

Aleid Wolfson, the mayor of Utrecht, said: “Cycling is a passion in the Netherlands and especially in Utrecht where there are more bicycles than people.”

The official mascot and logo for the Tour were also unveiled, the logo being painted on one of the inner walls of the courtyard at the Dutch residence in Paris by Dutch graffiti artist Marbl and designer Tom Bogman.

Text via AFP.

Nationals road race returns to laps of single Buninyong circuit

The course for the 2014 Nationals road races has been shortened from previous years, removing the 25km loop which was introduced last year and returning to simple laps of a 10.3km circuit.

map

The elite men will do 18 laps of the circuit which climbs halfway up Mt. Buninyong, for a total of 183km. The combined elite women’s and women’s U23 race will be contested over 10 laps (103km) while the men’s U23 race will take in 13 laps for a total of 133km.

Last year the elite men’s road race was won by Luke Durbridge from a long-range solo breakaway while Gracie Elvin sprinted to victory in the women’s road race.

Click here to read more at Cycling News and click here to read more about the Road Nationals carnival.

Luis Leon Sanchez reviewing several offers for 2014

Luis Leon Sanchez will have a contract for next season, his manager Angel Buenache told Biciciclosmo.com, saying “We are relaxed. Luis Léon will ride next year. Now it’s time to make up our mind about the offers that are on the table.”

Paris - Nice 6e etappe 2012

Sanchez was recently released from his contract with Belkin after the rider apparently attracted too much attention from anti-doping authorities.

While Sanchez has been linked with Movistar and Spanish ProConti squad Caja Rural, both teams are now full.

“There are several teams interested in signing Luis Léon. Those teams have got confidence in him and that’s the most important thing for us”, Angel Buenache said. “We want a team where he can train and ride in peace without all sorts of speculation and without people wanting to hurt him. We hope to make our decision before the end of the year.”

Click here to read more at Cycling News.

RCS Sport says re-named Vini Fantini not ruled out of Giro

Yesterday we reported that the Vini Fantini team (now rebranded as Yellow Fluo) had missed the longlist of eight teams vying for a wildcard place at next year’s Giro d’Italia. Overnight RCS Sport, organisers of the Giro, clarified that the Italian team could still be considered for a spot.

“What came out yesterday is just something about the teams that have applied until this point, returning the forms that RCS Sport has sent out to all the teams,” said RCS spokesman Matteo Cavazzuti to VeloNation. “The closing date is actually December 18th, so it is possible that Yellow Fluo and other teams will reply in the next few days.”

Vini Fantini had an inglorious Giro this year with Mauro Santambrogio testing positive to EPO on the opening day of the race (although a B sample tested negative) and Danilo Di Luca testing positive in the lead-up to the race.

Click here to read more at VeloNation.

Sammy Sanchez plays down talk of Dubai contract

Despite rumours that he will be riding with the new Sky Dive Dubai team in 2014, 2008 Olympic road race champion Sammy Sanchez is playing down the suggestion.

Samuel Sanchez (ESP) after the finishline

“I was only in the home of the president of the Federation and he treated me exceptionally, but nothing more,” Sanchez told Ciclismo Internacional.

The Sky Dive Dubai team will start as a Continental squad in 2014 but has aspirations to join the Tour de France in the years to come.

Sanchez has reportedly received several offers from other teams since his Euskaltel-Euskadi WorldTour team folded, included Team Colombia.

And in what must be described as an audacious move, one of the smallest Australian NRS teams, the Cellarbrations Racing Team (coached by Scott Sunderland), has made an official pitch for Sammy Sanchez.

The team media release reveals that no riders on the team receive a salary and that Sanchez would have to be willing to take a “significant — if not total — pay cut”. But on the plus side, the release continues, Sanchez could be attracted by the “lure of the superb Australian lifestyle.”

Click here to read more at VeloNation.

The hour record through the ages

There’s been much talk in recent weeks about Fabian Cancellara, Bradley Wiggins and Tony Martin having a tilt at the long-standing hour record and now The Inner Ring has published an interesting piece about the history of the record, what the rules are when attempting to break it and so on.

The Inner Ring article features a graph showing the various attempts that have been made in the last century or more, but we reckon the following graph is pretty great too:

Image via Wikimedia Commons.

Image via Wikimedia Commons.

Click here to check out The Inner Ring’s article. Thanks to Reddit user tdm911 for the link to the alternate graph.

Queensland government proposes minimum passing distance, no helmets on bike paths

The Queensland State Government’s Transport, Housing and Local Government Committee will today table a 200-page report on cycling laws which includes 68 recommendations after a five-month inquiry.
Some of the proposals include:

– relaxing helmet laws on bike paths and footpaths for riders over 16 years old
– a minimum safe passing distance of 1m on streets with a speed limit of 60km/h and 1.5m on roads with higher limits
– allowing cyclists to treat stop signs as give-way signs if safe to do so.

Click here to read more about the proposals. And click here to check out the Courier Mail’s editorial about the issue.

Movember ends tomorrow!

Movember is drawing to a close for another year and there are few of us here looking forward to being clean shaven again. But it’s all been for a great cause and the CyclingTips network has raised nearly $80,000. Thank you to everyone that’s donated (or raised money with us) and if you’d like to help us tip over the $80k mark, you can leave a donation here. Thanks for your support!

Tour of Bright starts today

Good luck to everyone racing the Tour of Bright this weekend! The tour starts with time trials today from noon. If you’re not at the race but want to keep track of what’s happening, follow this link for live results, and follow the #TOB13 hashtag on Twitter.

The Rocacorba Recap

And finally this morning, here are a few things you might have missed this week:


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The feature image was taken by Veeral Patel and shows the podium from the men’s nationals road race earlier this year.