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July 1, 2012
NEWS & RACING BROUGHT TO YOU BY CHAPTER2 BIKES
It’s exciting to be here in Liege for the 99th edition of the Tour de France. The weather is beautiful, the people are friendly, the beer is devine and plentiful. Some of that will be changing when we cross the border from Belgium to France in a few days, but I’m quite enjoying the Ardennes in summer!
It was eight years ago when Fabian Cancellara won his first yellow jersey on a similar prologue course in Liege. In 2004 he beat the eventual winner, Lance Armstrong, by two seconds. This time around he beat another one of the favorites, Bradley Wiggins by seven seconds. This is Cancellara’s fifth prologue win at the Tour and today it came around full circle. He smashed the 6.4km course in 7:14 and averaged 53.21km/hr (that’s nearly 1km per minute!).
Cancellara, Wiggins, Evans were to be expected high up in the results, but the surprises for me were Sylvain Chavanel covering the course with an average speed of 52.3km/h for third place and Philippe Gilbert taking fourth place. Both are their respective National TT champions so the good results are fitting. Sagan was picked by some to be a favorite and set off with a good time until he nearly crashed on a tight left turn and unclipped in order to save himself (finishing a respectable 53rd). My personal tip for the day was Tony Martin, but the Panzerwagen made an early mess out of my tipping competition due to a mechanical and change of bikes.
An interesting fact that I learned today. Have you ever wonder how they decide the starting order in prologues? The start order for individual time trials is obvious; it’s the descending order in which the riders are placed in the General Classification. But the order for prologues is very different.
The starting order for a prologue is based on the highest numbered team (in today’s case, Argos Shimano with riders numbered 211-219). That team nominates whichever rider they like to start first (Tom Veelers was first to start today). Then the next team in numbered order (Orica-GreenEDGE 201-209) nominates one of their riders (Simon Gerrans today). And so on…
And how does the Tour de France race organisers choose how the teams are numbered? They choose the highest placed rider from the team in last year’s Tour. For example, a team with its highest rider in 6th position will wear numbers 61-69.
It’s not necessarily the weakest rider on each team who goes first. We saw some fairly strong time trialists head off early in the day in some teams hopes that they could carry the virtual lead for some time. However, almost always the teams will send off their strongest riders off last. These riders numbers often end in a ‘1’ to signify that they are the team leader. Of course, last year’s winner (# 1, Cadel this year) is always the last rider to set off in the opening prologue.
See today’s Prologue start order here.
Tomorrow will incorporate some of the Liège–Bastogne–Liège parcours and has a profile that will suit riders like Gilbert, Evans, Iglinski, Sagan, etc. This is Gilbert’s home ground, so I’ll be tipping him for the win. Venga Venga Venga!
1. Which year did Robbie McEwen take his first ever Tour stage win?
Hint – page 84 in the RIDE Official Tour de France Guide
2. In last year’s Tour, Thor Hushovd wore the polka dot KOM jersey on stage 4 (in the team time trial). Why was it unusual for him to do so?
Hint – page 18 in the RIDE Official Tour de France Guide
3, Q. Who was first to win the yellow jersey in last year’s Tour de France?
Hint – page 27 in the RIDE Official Tour de France Guide.