Le tour de France or simply called Le Tour is the biggest cycling event in the world. As a Francophil I have been following this french annual cycling sport event ever since I lived in Indonesia. At that time I found it amusing to see the cyclists passed the idyllic sceneries in France. Since I lived in The Netherlands I have been attracted to the sport itself and the sphere around Le Tour.
Tour de France 2011
Saturday July 2nd to Sunday July 24th 2011, the 98th Tour de France will be made up of 21 stages and will cover a total distance of 3,430.5 km.
These stages (etappes) have the following profiles:
- 1 prologue
- 10 flat stages,
- 6 mountain stages and 4 summit finishes,
- 3 medium mountain stages,
- 1 individual time-trial stage (42.5 km).
- 1 team time-trial stage (23 km).
Participating teams at Le Tours consist of 9 cyclists. Each cyclist has varying responsibilities but yet team work is needed to win the event.
The routes show the beauty of France itself. It requires strength and good condition of the cyclists both physically and mentally. Le Tour begins mostly with flat routes the first 3 – 4 days. The altitude will rise to the height of the Alps mountains. It is once said the cyclist who wins the mountain stages wins Le Tour. At 14 of July, French independence day, there is a rest day.
Watching Le Tour riders pass by you surely will notice 4 jerseys worn by 4 cyclists. Hereby the jersey colours in the order of importance:
- yellow jersey is for the overall cyclist who leads Le Tour. Price 45.000 EUR
- green jersey is for the cyclist with the best time in one stage. Those who wear green jersey are mostly sprinters. As there are points to score easily during flat stages. Price 25.000 EUR
- polka dot jersey is for the king of the mountains (the winner of the climbing stages in the mountains). Price 25.000 EUR
- white jersey is for the best young cyclist under 25 years of age. Price 20.000 EUR
One cyclist can be an overall leader and a king of the mountain or the fastest in one stage at once. In this case he must wear the yellow jersey according to the order of importance.
Le tour de doping
Ever since the start in 1903 Le Tour have been dealing with allegations regarding the use of doping hence the nickname Le Tour de Doping. American cyclist Lance Armstrong who won Le Tour 7 times in a row has been accused of using a blood-boosting hormone called EPO (erythropoietin) but there was lack of evidence to prove him positive. Another ending applies to Flloyd Landis. Flloyd Landis had been found positive of doping only a week after he won Le Tour in 2006. During the contra expertise trial he was found guilty. In September 2007 Landis officially lost his title to the runner-up Oscar Pereiro. Landis had retired from the cycling sport but he still maintained his defense that he was innocence. Another doping case applies on Alberto Contador, the spanish King of the mountain and Le Tour’s winner in 2010 for the third time. In August, a couple of weeks after he won, Contador was founded positive of clenbuterol. This sort of doping enhances muscles strength. Contador has claimed this medicine should have come from contaminated food. The end trial of this case is approaching as we speak.
This year’s favorites
Contador is one of the favorites but he was one of the cyclists with bad luck who fell with the big group on the first day of the tour last Saturday. Contador must catch up the others who are on top of the ranking. Due to that unfortunate fall he doesn’t even reach the top ten, yet. Andy Schleck is a favorite too but we have n’t seen much of him.
So, may the best crazy man wins. I see the winner of Le Tour as a crazy man cause what he achieves is inhuman. It is a result of discipline, non stop training and in some cases with or without a little help of doping.
Official site of Le Tour.fr