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Posts Tagged ‘Tour de France’

Yesterday (Sunday 24 June) cyclist Chris Froome won his third Tour de France, and his second in a row (he also won in 2013). He becomes the first cyclist to retain the Tour de France title since Miguel Indurain did so in 1994 and 1995 (Lance Armstrong’s wins have been erased from the record books, as they should, for cheating).

Winning the Tour de France is quite an achievement, one could argue the hardest achievement in sport. 3 weeks of cycling for 5-6 hours each day, with only two rest days over the 21-day race. It is the supreme test of endurance, which is sadly why doping is (was?) so common; if you can gain just a few percent in your recovery or endurance it will add up to a large advantage over 3 weeks.

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Chris Froome is a Kenyan-born cyclist who spent his childhood in both Kenya and South Africa. Whether he is “British” is a matter of debate, but he is a first rate cyclist!

Froome is a quiet character, very determined but not particularly interested in being a friendly, chatty sports star. This is probably the reason that he has not really been taken to the hearts of the British public. He is not as obviously funny or entertaining as Bradley Wiggins, who was the first British cyclist to win the Tour de France, in 2012. Whereas Wiggins has been made a “sir”, Froome has not, and surely this will be rectified in the New Year’s honours list at the end of this year. Not that getting a knighthood should be any validation of anything, but it is patently not fair for Wiggins to have been so honoured and for Froome not to have been.

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Froome won his third Tour de France yesterday (24 June 2016), having also won in 2015 and 2013. He thus becomes the first cyclist to retain the title since Miguel Indurain (as Lance Armstrong’s wins have been erased from the record books).

Froome is now 31 and, according to an interview I heard on the radio with the Sky team manager David Brailsford, there is no reason why he cannot go on for several more years and win a fourth and fifth (and even sixth) title. Brailsford thinks Froome has the ability physically to win 2 or 3 more, it is really a question of whether he can motivate himself to make the sacrifices necessary to do so.

There are four cyclists who have won the Tour de France five times,

  • Jacques Angquetil (1957, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964)
  • Eddy Merckx (1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1974)
  • Bernard Hinault (1978, 1979, 1981, 1982, 1985)
  • Miguel Indurain (1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995)

Of these, only Indurain has won the five titles consecutively. With 3 wins now under his belt, there can surely be no greater motivation for Froome than to join this elite group of 5-time winners, and even to try to surpass them and win a sixth.

 

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Yesterday (Sunday the 26th July), Chris Froome won the Tour de France for the second time, having also won it in 2013. He won by one of the narrowest margins in recent history, with Colombia’s Nairo Quintana only 72 seconds behind him. Had Quintana not had a very poor ride on the second day of the 19-stage tour, when he lost over one and a half minutes to Froome, it may well have been Quintana winning the 2015 tour.



Chris Froome won the Tour de France for the second time, having also won in 2013.

Chris Froome won the Tour de France for the second time, having also won in 2013.



Two things have struck me about this year’s tour. Let me first talk about the good – the penultimate stage up Alpe d’Huez, the most legendary climb in Tour de France history. With Quintana being a climbing specialist, Froome was in real danger of losing his overall lead to the Colombian. In an epic ride up the tortuous hairpins (“switch-backs” for my American reader(s) ) of this fearsome stage, Quintana attacked again and again, and Froome and his Sky teammates did all they could to make sure the gap that the Colombian opened up was not too great. It was mesmerising TV, with the sheer determination of Froome’s face evident as he dug in to make sure he did not lose too much time to the prolific mountain climber. Although Quintana halved Froome’s lead, it was not enough to surpass him in the General Classification, and Froome knew at the top of the mountain that he had won the Tour.

Now let me talk about the bad – the way that certain elements of the French press and public have treated Froome. It is appalling. He has had urine thrown at him, been spat at countless times, and why? Because the French don’t like him? I am a little unsure whether Britain should be claiming that Froome is British, given that he was born in Kenya and grew up in South Africa; but whatever his nationality he deserves some respect from the cycling press and fans. Surely we should be applauding cyclists like Froome and Bradley Wiggins, who ride drug-free and are trying to help cycling regain its reputation as a reformed sport after the debacle of Lance Armstrong and the institutionalised doping of which he was the most prominent example. Why some elements are so anti-Froome is beyond my comprehension, he comes across as humble and hardworking; not the kind of brash over-confidence that Armstrong exhibited.

Now we can move on to the most exciting three months of sport of 2015 – the Rugby World Cup! Wales have their first warm-up match against Ireland on the 8th of August in Cardiff, and I will be blogging about that on the 10th. I can’t wait!!!!

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Yesterday the 100th Tour de France was concluded in the Champs Elysees. Chris Froome, the DUK based cyclist, won to give Sky Cycling their second successive win after Bradley Wiggins won last year. It amuses me that the media are referring to Froome as British, but I guess he has adopted Britain after being born in Kenya and growing up in South Africa. I am not sure how international cycling works, but in a sport like football or rugby he would qualify to represent either the country of his birth or the country of one of his parents or grandparents. Froome has british grandparents and a British father.


Chris Froome wins the 100th Tour de France.

Chris Froome wins the 100th Tour de France.


Anyway, his nationality is irrelevant. It was an impressive win. He had been in the maillout jaune since Stage 8, and never really looked like losing it. For me the highlight of this year’s Tour was Stage 18, which was a stage up the fearsome Alpe d’Huez mountain. Except, in a cruel twist, the route took the cyclist back down from the top only to climb it a second time!

Race cycling has never been more popular in the DUK than it currently is, and this is due in large part to the successes of the track and now road cycling teams. I notice at weekends there are more and more people out on road bikes (rather than mountain bikes), many in pro-cycling colours, a fantastic form of exercise. So that can only be good for everyone.

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It has to be one of the most eagerly anticipated interviews in the sporting world in a long time. On Thursday evening, 9pm EST/PST (2am Friday Dinsunited Kingdom time), the Oprah Winfrey Network will transmit an interview with the cycling legend Lance Armstrong. For those of you who’ve been living in a cave for the last 15 years, Armstrong is the cyclist who came back from cancer and went on to win cycling’s most prestigious race, the Tour de France a record 7 consecutive times from 1999 to 2005.


Lance Armstrong is to appear in an interview with Oprah Winfrey on her channel on Thursday evening.

Lance Armstrong is to appear in an interview with Oprah Winfrey on her channel on Thursday evening.



Lance Armstrong is due to appear in an interview with Oprah Winfrey on Thursday evening.

Lance Armstrong is due to appear in an interview with Oprah Winfrey on Thursday (17/01/2013) evening, 9pm EST/PST.


A few months ago I blogged about the news that Lance Armstrong had been labelled a cheat in an official US Anti Doping Agency report. In that blog, I put a link to a radio show (still available here) which had been put together by BBC Radio 5, in which some of the details of the evidence against Armstrong were given. Then, in December I read the book by Tyler Hamilton, entitled The Secret Race. Hamilton is a former teammate of Armstrong on the US Postal Service cycling team. The book gives details of the cheating Armstrong undertook in his racing career. After reading the book, any residual doubt I had that Armstrong had not cheated were gone; the level of detail Hamilton gives in his book of his former teammate’s efforts to dope leaves one in no doubt that the book and its allegations against Armstrong are true.


Tyler Hamilton's book "The Secret Race", which details his and Lance Armstrong's history of doping.

Tyler Hamilton’s book “The Secret Race”, which details his and Lance Armstrong’s history of doping.


The Oprah Winfrey interview has, at the time of my writing this, already been recorded. Although the Oprah Winfrey Network is remaining tight-lipped about the details of the interview, Oprah Winfrey has already gone on TV in America and said that some of his answers to her questions were “unexpected“. Rumours have begun that Armstrong does indeed confess to having taken performance enhancing drugs during his cycling career, which even in itself will be a first.


Oprah Winfrey has told CBS that Armstrong confesses to doping in her interview with him.

Oprah Winfrey has told CBS that Armstrong confesses to doping in her interview with him.


Armstrong has not only repeatedly denied ever having taking performance enhancing drugs, but he has pursued those who imply that he has. This includes journalists, newspapers and other cyclists. One of the questions about how far he will go in his confessions in this TV interview is how many cycling and sporting officials will be implicated in what must have been a sophisticated cover-up. Armstrong was too valuable to cycling to be exposed during his career. Not only did he make millions of dollars personally, but he made professional cycling a rich sport. The feeling is that some high-up officials in both cycling and, possibly, the Olympics’ governing bodies, were part of the effort to make sure his doping remained a secret. It has even been suggested that, if cycling’s governing body is implicated in the cover-up, the Olympics will drop cycling as one of its sports.

The interview will be fascinating viewing, but the next few months should be too as the repercussions of his confessions unfold.


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Lance Armstrong won the Tour de France a record 7 times. He was to many, including me, a sporting icon. Someone who overcame potentially terminal cancer and went on to dominate the sport of cycling for a decade. He transcended the sport, and raised cycling’s profile in the process. And, now we know that he was a cheat.


Lance Armstrong, who won the Tour de France a record 7 times, has been shown to have been a cheat.


Last week, the US Ant Doping Agency (USADA) published a 1,000 page report which provides convincing evidence that Lance Armstrong and the United States Postal Service cycling team “ran the most sophisticated doping scheme ever”.


An excerpt from The Guardian article on the US Anti Doping Agency’s 1,000 page report on Lance Armstrong


One of the many newspaper articles on this sorry story is here. And here is a link to a programme transmitted on BBC Radio 5 on Monday (15th of October). After listening to it, I am left in little doubt that Armstrong did indeed cheat the sport of cycling. But, much sadder I think, he cheated millions of people who believed in his sporting prowess.

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