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by Shane Stokes
October 21, 2015
Photography by Jered Gruber, Cor Vos, ASO
Mountainous Tour de France unveiled for 2016 edition; Andorra, Ventoux and Switzerland all feature; Froome believes 2016 Tour suits him better than this year’s race did; Contador: ‘It’s a Tour suited to climbers…it’s a parcours that I like’; Quintana, Valverde hail route of 2016 Tour de France. ‘It’s a good parcours for us’; Cavendish: More sprint opportunities this time around; Greipel also relishes his chances; Glenn O’Shea inks contract with One Pro Cycling; Where it went wrong for Matt Goss: “The last two years haven’t been perfect”; The best moments of the 2015 Tour de France; Tribute to Raymond Poulidor; The GCN Show Ep. 145 – Is The New Lance Armstong Film Any Good?
Spreading out nine mountain stages and avoiding the customary Alpine and Pyrenean pattern, the organisers of the Tour de France have unveiled a route that they hope will lead to greater suspense in the 2016 edition.
Race organiser Christian Prudhomme explained the tactic at the launch on Tuesday in Paris.
“The mountain stages have been spread out between the fifth and the 20th stages, from the Massif Central to the Alps via the Pyrenees and the Jura,” he said. “I am willing to bet that, once again, the intermediate mountain ranges will not just provide us with indicators. They will make the selection.”
Under Prudhomme the route of the race has been less conservative than under his predecessor, Jean Marie Leblanc. Influenced perhaps by Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a España courses that have introduced mountains earlier than the Tour previously had, Prudhomme has tended to move away from an opening week that almost always was the domain of the sprinters.
Instead, as was seen during this year’s edition, the general classification racing starts much earlier on, heightening the drama and making it crucial that the big guns stay out of trouble and don’t miss any early moves.
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It’s something his rivals won’t like to hear: Chris Froome, who took his second Tour de France this July, believes that the 2016 edition will play more to his strengths, thus boosting his chances.
“It certainly suits me better than this [year’s] Tour did,” the Briton said after attending the route announcement. “This year obviously went really well for us. It’s great that it’s a well-rounded Tour next year.”
Twelve months ago Froome expressed his dissatisfaction with the parcours, even suggesting that he might not take part. Despite that, he quickly rode his way into the Maillot Jaune this July and then further extended his lead on the first mountain stage.
“It’s not necessarily that I was disappointed with the lack of time-trialing, but more that I was disappointed that, to me, the Tour de France has always been a race that needs to challenge every aspect of a rider,” he said, looking back.
“You’re not just going to get a pure climber or a pure time-trialist winning it. It always has been a race for me that the best all-round rider can win, so next year’s route is definitely much more that kind of Tour.”
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Alberto Contador’s goal of winning one more Tour de France before he retires got a boost on Tuesday when a route was unveiled that the Spaniard believe will play to his strengths.
“Overall, it is a parcours that I like,” he said, while noting that in Grand Tours things are unpredictable. “Without any doubt, it can be a nice and attractive Tour and I will prepare for it one hundred percent.”
Contador won the Tour de France in 2007, taking the yellow jersey after the-then leader Michael Rasmussen was removed from the race. He missed the event in 2008 when his Astana team wasn’t invited, but returned the following year and dominated.
He was also first home in 2010, but later lost that title due to a Clenbuterol positive.
In addition to his success in France, he has also taken two editions of the Giro d’Italia, in 2008 and 2015, plus three of the Vuelta a España. He won these in 2008, 2012 and 2014.
Second and third overall this season, Nairo Quintana and Alejandro Valverde have both said that the course of the 2016 Tour de France appeals to them and should suit their characteristics. The duo will both represent the Movistar team in the race and believe that they can challenge for yellow next July.
Quintana was, unsurprisingly, in favour of a route that offers much for climbers.
“It’s a good parcours for us,” he said on Tuesday, giving his initial impressions. “I think the mountains really suit us, plenty on them on the course with some finishes I know and shone in in the past, like Mont Ventoux or Morzine. Also, from what I could see, the long ITT isn’t completely flat, so it shouldn’t be bad for us.”
He said that the absence of the cobblestone sectors seen in 2014 and 2015 plus a first week he regards as easier than in those Tours means that they will have more confidence in the opening stages. However he regrets another change.
“What I really miss on this year’s route is the TTT,” he said, referring to the team time trial which has helped in the past.
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He clocked up just one stage win in the 2015 Tour de France but Mark Cavendish believes that there is greater scope for riders like him to take victories in next year’s event.
“I counted six stages for sprinters,” Cavendish said, speaking after attending the route presentation in Paris on Tuesday. “It’s such a difficult parcours again, but there are more sprint opportunities than last year.”
Cavendish will be riding the race with his new team, Dimension Data [currently known as MTN Qhubeka] and is motivated to take multiple stages. Still, he believes the other days will be tough for him and others.
“Definitely, from a sprinter’s perspective, it’s super hard. We’ll have to go full gas in the sprint days. You can’t relax. So you look forward to the stages were it’s flat, with a mountain at the end. But there’s only one of them, and that one is Mont Ventoux. You can’t go easy on Mont Ventoux anyway. So, the chance to relax is pretty limited.
“Even the time trials you have to push to make the time cut. There are a lot of stages with climbs from the beginning, so there will be a big gruppetto. In 2015 the gruppetto worked really well together. If that can carry on to 2016 then it should make it a little easier for us. I am sure, after 21 days, we’ll all be really cooked again. But that’s the beauty of Le Tour.”
Another fastman who gave the course a thumbs up was Andre Greipel, the dominant sprinter of this year’s Tour with four wins. He was attending the route presentation for the first time in his career and, like Cavendish, said that there were more opportunities in 2016 than in 2015.
“Just like the Grand Depart in Corsica and Yorkshire, we start with a flat stage which is the ideal chance for sprinters to take the yellow jersey,” he said. “I really look forward to that and also to the remainder of the first week where there are a few sprint opportunities.
“Hopefully we get five bunch sprints, but that depends on how the race evolves. Not every stage that is suitable for a sprint finish, ends in a bunch sprint. For example, the wind could play a role already in the first stage.”
He identified several days where he will try to do something big. “Next to the opening stage, there are some traditional sprint finishes like Montpellier and the Champs-Elysées [where he won in 2013 and 2015, respectively] where I’d like to win again.
“It’s still early to speak about contenders, given that the start of the Tour is still a long time from now. If all the best sprinters are there, then we will have some nice sprinting duels.”
Joining his fellow Australians Matt Goss and Steele Von Hoff, Glenn O’Shea will also line out with the One Pro Cycling team in 2016. The 26 year old Australian team pursuit squad member is a former world champion and Commonwealth Games gold medallist on the track and will transfer across from Team Budget Forklifts.
“I’m really excited to be joining ONE Pro Cycling for 2016,” he said. “I have followed the teams’ progression closely after meeting Matt Prior at the start of the year and have been really impressed by what they’ve accomplished in just their first season.
“I really believe that the team is a perfect fit for me and will help me combine my ambitions on the road with my goals at the 2016 Olympic games in Rio.”
The squad is aiming to move up to the Pro Continental ranks and to dispute races on the continent. O’Shea has impressed in the past on the road, taking a stage of the 2013 Ronde de l’Oise and finishing third in the general classification, plus netting eighth overall in the 2014 Herald Sun Tour.
O’Shea will line out in the London Six-Day at Lee Valley velodrome in Stratford this weekend.
by Sophie Smith
Matt Goss is determined to strike early in 2016 and quickly repay the faith new team One Pro Cycling has showed in signing him on the back of some self-assessed “bad” years.
The ink on the contract with the British squad founded by former England cricketer Matt Prior has barely dried but 28-year-old Goss is no less motivated to turn around a hapless streak that has haunted him since 2014.
Plainly speaking, Goss has not been the same versatile sprinter who led the Tour Down Under, Paris-Nice and won Milan-San Remo in 2011 with HTC-Highroad.
Nor has he been the same rider that celebrated a stage victory at the Giro d’Italia, marked a string of minor places at the ensuing Tour de France and finished third on the points classification as the No.1 man at Orica-GreenEdge in 2012.
With One he has another opportunity to wipe the slate clean, as he had hoped to do at MTN-Qhubeka this year, and start afresh.
Another video from Tuesday’s launch of the 2016 Tour de France. This charts some of the career highlights of the legendary French rider Raymond Poulidor, eight times a podium finisher in the Tour and one of the top rivals to Jacques Anquetil and Eddy Merckx
The GCN Show Ep. 145 – Is The New Lance Armstong Film Any Good?
And finally this morning, here are a few things you might have missed at CyclingTips in the past few days: