Classic cycle races
The classic cycle races are the most prestigious one-day professional road cycling races in the international calendar. Some of these events date back to the 19th century, they are held at the same time each year. The five most revered races are described as the cycling monuments. For the 2005 to 2007 seasons, some classics formed part of the UCI ProTour run by the Union Cycliste Internationale; this event series included various stage races including the Tour de France, Giro d'Italia, Vuelta a España, Paris–Nice and the Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré. The UCI ProTour replaced the UCI Road World Cup series. Many of the classics, all the Grand Tours, were not part of the UCI ProTour for the 2008 season because of disputes between the UCI and the ASO, which organizes the Tour de France and several other major races. Since 2009, many classic cycle races are part of the UCI World Tour. Although cycling fans and sports media eagerly use the term "classic", there is no clear consensus about what constitutes a classic cycling race.
UCI, the international governing body of cycling, has no mention at all of the term in its rulings. This poses problems to define the characteristics of these races and makes it impossible to make precise lists. Several criteria are used to denote the importance of a cycling race: date of creation, historical importance and tradition, commercial importance, level of difficulty, level of competition field, etc. However, many of these paradigms tend to shift over time and are opinions of a personal nature. One of the few objective criteria is the official categorization of races as classified by the UCI, although this is not a defining feature either, as many fans dispute the presence of some of the highest-categorized races and some older races are not included in the UCI World Tour; because of the growing ambiguity and inflation of the term "classic", the much younger term "monument" was introduced in the 21st century to denote the five most revered of the classic cycling races. Given the lack of a clear definition of classic races, these are professional races regarded as classics.
It includes some of the one-day events of the UCI World Tour and additional races of historical importance. Together, Milan–San Remo, the Cobbled classics and the Ardennes classics make up the "Spring Classics", all held in March and April. Strade Bianche – race that includes sections of strade bianche gravel roads. Despite its short history, the Strade Bianche has gained prestige. First held in 2007. Milan–San Remo – the first true Classic of the year, its Italian name is La Primavera or La classicissima; this race is held on the Saturday closest to the vernal equinox. First run in 1907. It's the longest classic. E3 Harelbeke – the first of the "Spring Classics" in Flanders, first held in 1958. Gent–Wevelgem – first raced in 1934, in recent years held on the Sunday between Milan-San Remo and the Tour of Flanders. Tour of Flanders – is raced in early April, first held in 1913. Paris–Roubaix – La Reine or l'Enfer du Nord is traditionally held one week after the Tour of Flanders, was first raced in 1896.
Amstel Gold Race – held mid-April, it is the first of the three Ardennes Classics or hill classics, one week after Paris–Roubaix. First run in 1966. La Flèche Wallonne – the Walloon Arrow is the second Ardennes Classic, since 2004 held mid-week between the Amstel Gold Race and Liège–Bastogne–Liège. First run in 1936. Liège–Bastogne–Liège – La Doyenne, the oldest Classic, was first raced in 1892, it is the third Ardennes Classic, held in one week after the Amstel Gold Race. The summer classics are held from July to September. Clásica de San Sebastián – known as Donostia–Donostia in the Basque Country EuroEyes Cyclassics HEW Cyclassics and Vattenfall Cyclassics – known as the Hamburg Cyclassics Trittico Lombardo – three separate races in Lombardy, traditionally in August but moved to September: Coppa Ugo Agostoni Coppa Bernocchi Tre Valli Varesine – the Three valleys of Varese. Bretagne Classic – held in late August on a circuit near the small Breton village of Plouay Laurentian Classics – two one-day races in Canada, named after the Saint Lawrence River that runs through Quebec, organized since 2010 Grand Prix Cycliste de Québec – raced on a Friday in early September Grand Prix Cycliste de Montréal – held two days after the Grand Prix de Québec The autumn classics are held from September to November.
Paris–Brussels – First held in 1893, since 2013 renamed the Brussels Cycling Classic and only run on Belgian territory Grand Prix de Fourmies – held since 1928 in Northern France Paris–Tours – known as the "Sprinters' Classic", first race in 1896 Trittico di Autunno – three Italian races in the week after the World Championship late September: Giro dell'Emilia – one week before the Giro di Lombardia, one of the hardest Classics on the calendar, with the famous San Luca, Bologna circuit. Milano–Torino – first run in 1876, the race had some continuity problems due to financial problems but has returned to the UCI calendar in 2012. Giro del Piemonte – first run in 1906 Giro di Lombardia – known as the "Race of the Falling Leaves", first held in 1905 as Milano–Milano. Considered the biggest Autumn Classic in cycling Japan Cup – held since 1992, at the end of October, around Utsunomiya Season openers are not regarded as as other classics, but receive a lot of attention because of their position early in the season in February.
Omloop Het Nieuwsblad – opening the Belgian cycling season, forming a double header with Kuurne–Brussels–Kuurne, held the following day Grand Pri
Brussels Cycling Classic
The Brussels Cycling Classic is a semi classic European bicycle race, one of the oldest races on the international calendar. Paris–Brussels was first run on 12 August 1893 as an amateur event over a distance of 397 km, Belgian Andre Henry took the inaugural victory from compatriot Charles Delbecque with France's Fernand Augenault coming in third; the race did not return to the racing calendar until 1906 when it was run as a two-day event on 3 and 4 June. The first stage of this 1906 event was run from the Paris suburb of Villiers-sur-Marne to Reims over 152 km and was won by France's Maurice Bardonneau. Albert Dupont took the more challenging second stage on the following day from Reims to Brussels over 239 km to take the overall race victory from compatriots Jules Patou and Guillaume Coeckelberg; the following year the race reverted to being a one-day race and established itself as one of the Spring Classics with a date towards the end of April, between Paris–Roubaix and Gent–Wevelgem. The event lost its prestige during the 1960s when the race was beset by traffic problems between the two capitals and the Dutch promoted Amstel Gold Race took its place on the classics calendar.
The race was not run between 1967 and 1972. When the race returned in 1973 it was staged on a midweek date towards the end of September, just before Paris-Tours; the 1973 race was won by Eddy Merckx. In 1996 the race was switched from its midweek date back to being run on a Saturday; the most individual wins stood for a long time by Octave Lapize and Felix Sellier. Lapize won in 1911, 1912 and 1913 and Sellier in 1922, 1923 and 1924. Lapize could have been a four time winner but was disqualified after crossing the line first in the 1910 race when he and two other riders did not observe a mid race neutralised section, Maurice Brocco who crossed the line in fourth place was declared the eventual winner. In 2007, Robbie McEwen broke the record by winning his fourth race, bettered this again with a fifth win in 2008. In 2005 the race was set to change its name to the Grand Prix Eddy Merckx when an agreement was reached by the race organisers to amalgamate the two events. However, the deal fell through at the last minute and Paris–Brussels retained its name and the Grand Prix Eddy Merckx, a two rider time trial event, disappeared from the racing calendar.
In 2013 the race became the Brussels Cycling Classic and took place in Belgium. Octave Lapize’s second victory in 1912 had an element of good fortune about it, Lucien Petit-Breton and Cyrille van Hauwaert had broken away and the race looked certain to be decided between them when both riders were knocked off their bikes by a police horse allowing Lapize to overtake and claim victory; the 1921 race won by Frenchman Robert Reboul was made controversial by the fact that a group of riders chasing a 15-man breakaway was sent down the wrong route by the race director. One of the riders sent the wrong way in that 1921 race was Felix Sellier who made up for that disappointment by triumphing in the next three editions of the race, his three victories were not without difficulties however, in 1922 he survived a fierce attack from a cloud of insects, in 1923 he had to catch a break that had gained a fifteen-minute advantage and in 1924 he suffered two punctures in the latter part of the race just as the vital break was forming.
The victory by Belgian Ernest Mottard in 1930 featured one of the great escapes in the history of the race, Mottard broke away from the peloton with 130 miles remaining and stayed away until the finish. Ireland’s Shay Elliott was unfortunate in 1958, he had a lead of over a minute with only three miles remaining when he smashed the frame of this bike with no team car near at hand, he was offered a touring bicycle by a spectator but was caught by the chasing bunch and finished well down the field with Belgium‘s Rik Van Looy taking final victory; the 1963 edition of the race was made memorable by a small breakaway forming well before the border into Belgium, a rare event in itself. The break established a 13-minute lead and included Britain’s Tom Simpson, expected to win, being the best sprinter in the break, however his gears slipped in the final sprint and he lost out to France’s Jean Stablinski; the 1966 edition of Paris–Brussels was to be the last for seven years, as the race was beset by traffic problems to the route and a loss of prestige as the Amstel Gold Race took its place on the Spring Classics calendar.
However, the 1966 race was made memorable by Italian Felice Gimondi who had won the 1965 Tour de France and seven days earlier had triumphed at Paris–Roubaix. Gimondi was the favourite for the race and a marked man, he lived up to his billing by breaking away with the help of team mate Dino Zandegu and winning the race in what was a record time. Marc Demeyer claimed a close victory from Roger De Vlaeminck and Roger Rosiers in 1974 in the town of Alsemberg which hosted the finish of the race between 1973 and 1980. Gimondi’s record time lasted until 1975 when Freddy Maertens won the race in what was a record average speed for a professional race and being awarded the Ruban Jaune for averaging 46.11 km per hour throughout the 285.5 km course. Felice Gimondi won again in 1976, ten years after his first victory, once more breaking away while the sprinters watched each other; the 1983 race saw. The 1994 race saw a breakaway by Sean Yates, Rolf Sørensen and Franco Ballerini, animosity existed between Yates and Sørensen after a shirt pulling incident in the Tour de France of that year, however, Sørensen dropped his breakaway companions and triumphed.
The 1983 victory by Prim saw the start of the trend of the Paris
2007 Tour de France
The 2007 Tour de France the 94th running of the race, took place from 7 to 29 July. The Tour began with a prologue in London, ended with the traditional finish in Paris. Along the way, the route passed through Belgium and Spain, it was won by Spanish rider Alberto Contador. The Tour was marked by doping controversies, with three riders and two teams withdrawn during the race following positive doping tests, including pre-race favorite Alexander Vinokourov and his Astana team. Following Stage 16, the leader of the general classification, Michael Rasmussen, was removed from the Tour by his Rabobank team, who accused him of lying about the reasons for missing several drug tests earlier in the year; the points classification, indicated by the green jersey, was won for the first time by Tom Boonen, who had failed to complete the previous two Tours after leading the points classification at times during each. The mountains classification, indicated by the polkadot jersey, was won by Mauricio Soler in his first Tour appearance.
The general classification, indicated by the yellow jersey, was contested until the final time trial on stage 19. The top three riders, Alberto Contador in the yellow jersey as the leader, Cadel Evans in second, Levi Leipheimer in third, were separated by only 2:49, with both Evans and Leipheimer recognized as far superior time trialists to Contador. In the end, each rider held his place after the final time trial, but with slimmer margins, as the Tour ended with the smallest-ever spread of only 31 seconds among the top three riders. Alberto Contador won the young rider classification, indicated by the white jersey, as the best young rider. A total of 21 teams were invited to the 2007 Tour de France; each team sent a total of nine riders to participate in the Tour, which brought the starting total of the peloton to 189 riders. The presentation of the teams – where each team's roster are introduced in front of the media and local dignitaries – took place at Trafalgar Square in London, the day before the opening prologue held in the city.
The teams entering the race were:UCI ProTour teams Invited teams After the retirement of seven-time winner Lance Armstrong and with Ivan Basso and Floyd Landis not entering the Tour, the bookmakers' favourite to win the 2007 Tour de France was Alexander Vinokourov, unable to start in 2006 due to lack of team members, but did win the 2006 Vuelta a España. The main challengers were expected to be the 2006 Tour de France second-place finisher Andreas Klöden; the organisers of the Tour and London mayor Ken Livingstone announced on 24 January 2006 that the start of the Tour would take place in London. Livingstone noted the two stages would commemorate the victims of the 7 July 2005 London bombings, saying "Having the Grand Départ on the seventh of July will broadcast to the world that terrorism does not shake our city." The routes for the Prologue in London and the first full stage through Kent, finishing in Canterbury, were announced on 9 February 2006 at the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre.
This was the third time the Tour visited United Kingdom, including Plymouth in and two stages in Kent and Hampshire in. Tour director Christian Prudhomme unveiled the 2007 route in Paris on 26 October 2006. In total, the route covered 3,570 km; the first scandal arrived when it was made public on 18 July that rider Patrik Sinkewitz from the T-Mobile Team had tested positive one month before the Tour started. Sinkewitz had withdrawn from the race having incurred an injury during the 8th stage; the scandal was big enough to prompt German TV broadcasters ARD to drop their coverage. The Tour was dealt a major blow when the first-place Astana team withdrew from the race on 24 July 2007, after team member and pre-race favorite Alexander Vinokourov from Kazakhstan tested positive for an illegal blood transfusion. Vinokourov's teammates Andreas Klöden and Andrey Kashechkin were in 5th and 7th place at the time. At the start of the 16th stage on 25 July, some teams made a protest against the laxness of the official attitude to doping in the race.
After the stage, race officials announced that Cofidis team member Cristian Moreni of Italy had tested positive for elevated levels of testosterone, the Cofidis team withdrew from the race. Spanish cyclist Iban Mayo tested positive for EPO on 24 July. French prosecutors wanted to start a legal case against Vinokourov and Moreni, requested the UCI to hand over the doping samples; the UCI refused to give them, in May 2011 the investigation was stopped. German cyclist Marcus Burghardt collided with a Labrador Retriever during Stage 9; the bike struck the dog on its backside, which buckled the front wheel and threw Burghardt over the handlebars onto the road. Remarkably the dog was unhurt by the collision, it was grabbed by a spectator before it could cause any more damage. A second incident involving a dog occurred on Stage 18. Sandy Casar and Frederik Willems were in a four-man break when Casar collided with a dog running across the road, causing both him and Willems to fall. Casar was able to rejoin the break with the help of Axel Merckx despite receiving road rash on his right buttock, while Willems returned to the peloton.
Casar went on to win the stage. After Stage 16, overall leader Michael Rasmussen was fired by his team, for violating team rules after he told the team that he was in Mexico with his wife in June being sighted training in Italy by Italian journalist Davide Cassani. Rasmussen disputed this claim. Thus, at the start of stage 17 there was
2008 Tour de France
The 2008 Tour de France was the 95th running of the race. The event took place from 5 to 27 July. Starting in the French city of Brest, the tour entered Italy on the 15th stage and returned to France during the 16th, heading for Paris, its regular final destination, reached in the 21st stage; the race was won by Carlos Sastre. Unlike previous years, time bonuses were no longer awarded for intermediate sprints and for high placement on each stage; this altered the way. Long running disputes between the event organisers, the ASO and the UCI reached a head when the race organisers insisted upon the right to invite, or exclude, whichever teams it chose for the event. Under UCI rules, any ProTour event must be open to all member teams of the UCI's top level; the ASO made it clear that, despite changes in team management and personnel, it intended to exclude Astana from the event as a result its involvement in the doping scandals that marred the 2007 Tour and its links to the 2006 Operación Puerto doping case.
This meant that the champion and third-place finisher from 2007, both of whom had since signed with Astana, could not compete in the 2008 Tour. The ASO announced on 20 March 2008 that all ProTour teams except Astana would be invited, along with three wildcard teams: Agritubel and Slipstream–Chipotle. With each team consisting of nine riders, 180 riders started the Tour; the teams entering the race were:UCI ProTour teams Invited teams Because Astana was not invited to the 2008 Tour de France, the winner of the 2007 Tour de France, Alberto Contador, the 3rd-place finisher Levi Leipheimer and the 2004 and 2006 Tour de France runner up Andreas Klöden did not compete. Ten days before the start of the tour, Contador picked Cadel Evans as the winner for 2008. Shown in the table below are the riders that, according to the bookmakers in the months before the start of the 2008 Tour de France, had a chance of winning the 2008 Tour better than or equal to 25/1; the odds shown are the odds in July 2008, directly before the start of the race.
Thomas Dekker and Michael Rogers were given odds in this range, but were not included in the Tour de France. The 2008 Tour de France was entirely in France, with only a small part in Italy. In previous years, the Tour started followed by a week of flat stages; the flat stages were dominated by the sprinters' teams, the yellow jersey was worn by a sprinter who had a good prologue. At the presentation of the Tour de France 2008 schedule, Tour Director Christian Prudhomme announced that the 2008 Tour would be different: "We have wanted a first week of racing with much more rhythm. With no prologue, an uphill finish that will suit different types of sprinters at the end of stage one, with a short time trial on stage four and the first mountain at Super-Besse only 48 hours we have decided to change the scenario." The time bonuses at the end of each stage were removed, there was 82 kilometres of time trials, less than usual. In the first week of the 2008 Tour de France, the stages were flat; as traditionally in the Tour de France, this resulted in small breakaways of cyclists, the sprinters' teams trying to get them back.
In the first stage, the sprinters won, with Thor Hushovd winning the stage, but in the second stage, four cyclists managed to stay away. The fourth stage was a time trial, won by Stefan Schumacher. In the fifth stage, the sprinters won Mark Cavendish won the stage; the Massif Central mountains were visited in seven. In stage six, all the breakaways were caught, the favourites stayed together and finished together. In stage seven, the same scenario, only now Luis León Sánchez managed to stay a few seconds ahead and win the stage; the eighth stage was a sprinter stage, won by Cavendish. From stage nine, the Pyrénées were climbed. Riccardo Riccò broke away from the bunch on the final climb, won the stage. On stage 10, a group of four with some main contenders escaped, Leonardo Piepoli won the stage. Stage eleven had easier climbs, a group of four riders, not important for the overall classification, were allowed to break away and win 14 minutes. Stages twelve to fourteen were flat stages, were dominated by the sprinters.
Mark Cavendish won another two stages, Óscar Freire took his first. In the fifteenth stage, a group of four cyclists escaped and stayed away, a similar thing happened in stage sixteen. In the seventeenth stage, Carlos Sastre placed his decisive attack for the general classification, won the stage; the eighteenth and nineteenth stage again saw breakaways of cyclists not important for the general classification. The twentieth stage, a time trial, was won by Stefan Schumacher who had won the first time trial; the last stage was a sprinters' stage, won by Gert Steegmans. On 26 May 2008, the 2007 green jersey winner Tom Boonen tested positive for cocaine. Since this was outside competition, Boonen was not sanctioned by the UCI or WADA, but he was barred from the 2008 Tour de France. Following protracted disagreement between the organisers of the Tour de France and the UCI, the race was sanctioned by the Fédération Française de Cyclisme, as was the 2008 Paris–Nice in March, thus the FFC were in charge of the doping controls before and during the race, rather than increasing the number of doping controls during the Tour, they applied a more targeted approach on suspect riders.
The French government's anti-doping agency AFLD carried out 60 random and targeted tests in the weeks leading up to the Tour. They took blood samples from all the 180 riders in
General classification in the Tour de France
The general classification is the most important classification, the one by which the winner of the Tour de France is determined. Since 1919, the leader of the general classification wears the yellow jersey; the winner of the first Tour de France wore a green armband, not a yellow jersey. After the second Tour de France, the rules were changed, the general classification was no longer calculated by time, but by points; this points system was kept until 1912. At that time, the leader still did not wear a yellow jersey. There is doubt over; the Belgian rider Philippe Thys, who won the Tour in 1913, 1914 and 1920, recalled in the Belgian magazine Champions et Vedettes when he was 67 that he was awarded a yellow jersey in 1913 when the organiser, Henri Desgrange, asked him to wear a coloured jersey. Thys declined, saying making himself more visible in yellow would encourage other riders to ride against him, he said: "He made his argument from another direction. Several stages it was my team manager at Peugeot, Baugé, who urged me to give in.
The yellow jersey would be an advertisement for the company and, that being the argument, I was obliged to concede. So a yellow jersey was bought in the first shop, it was just the right size, although we had to cut a larger hole for my head to go through." He spoke of the next year's race, when "I won the first stage and was beaten by a tyre by Bossus in the second. On the following stage, the maillot jaune passed to Georget after a crash." The Tour historian Jacques Augendre called Thys "a valorous rider... well-known for his intelligence" and said his claim "seems free from all suspicion". But: "No newspaper mentions a yellow jersey before the war. Being at a loss for witnesses, we can't solve this enigma."According to the official history, the first yellow jersey was worn by the Frenchman Eugène Christophe in the stage from Grenoble to Geneva on July 18, 1919. The colour was chosen either to reflect the yellow newsprint of the organising newspaper, L'Auto, or because yellow was an unpopular colour and therefore the only one available with which a manufacturer could create jerseys at late notice.
The two possibilities have been promoted but the idea of matching the colour of Desgrange's newspaper seems more probable because Desgrange wrote: "This morning I gave the valiant Christophe a superb yellow jersey. You know that our director decided that the man leading the race should wear a jersey in the colours of L'Auto; the battle to wear this jersey is going to be passionate."Christophe disliked wearing it, complained that spectators imitated canaries whenever he passed. It was a habit encouraged by his nickname of Cri-Cri, French babytalk for a bird. Christophe remembered riders and spectators teasing: "Ah, the yellow jersey! Isn't he beautiful, the canary? What are you doing, Madame Cri-Cri", adding, "And that lasted the whole course."There was no formal presentation when Christophe wore his first yellow jersey in Grenoble, from where the race left at 2am for the 325 km to Geneva. He was given it the night before and tried it on in his hotel. In the next Tour de France in 1920, the yellow jersey was not awarded, but after the ninth stage, it was introduced again.
After Desgrange's death, his stylized initials were added to the yellow jersey on the chest. They moved in 1969 to the sleeve to make way for a logo advertising Virlux. A further advertisement for the clothing company Le Coq Sportif appeared at the bottom of the zip fastener at the neck, the first supplementary advertisement on the yellow jersey. Desgrange's initials returned to the front of the jersey in 1972, some years on the left, others on the right, they were removed in 1984 to make way for a commercial logo but Nike added them again in 2003 as part of the Tour's centenary celebrations. One set of initials is now worn on the upper right chest of the jersey. In 2013, a nighttime finish on the Champs-Élysées for the final stage was done to commemorate the race's 100th edition. Race leader Chris Froome wore a special yellow jersey covered in small translucent sequins into Paris as well as on the podium to allow him to be more visible under the lights; the original yellow jerseys were of conventional style.
Riders had to pull them over their head on the rostrum. For many years the jersey was made in only limited sizes and many riders found it a struggle to pull one on when tired or wet; the presentation jersey is now made with a full-length zip at the back and the rider pulls it on from the front, sliding his hands through the sleeves rather like a strait-jacket. He receives three further jerseys each day, plus money for each day he leads the race. There is no copyright on the yellow jersey and it has been imitated by many other races, although not always for the best rider overall: in the Tour of Benelux yellow is worn by the best young rider. In professional surf, the current male and female leaders of the World Surf League get to wear a yellow jersey on all the heats of a tour stop. In American English it is sometimes referred to as the mellow johnny, a mispronunciation of its French name by Lance Armstrong, who wore it many times while riding in the 1999-2005 races. Armstrong uses the name "Mellow Johnny" for his Texas-based bike shop.
The Lance Armstrong Foundation donated the yellow jersey from Armstrong's fourth Tour de France win to the National Museum of American History. The Tour de France, other bicycle stage races, are decided by totalling the time each rider takes on the daily stages. Time can be added or subtracted
Charly Gaul was a Luxembourgian professional cyclist. He was an accomplished time triallist and superb climber, his ability earned him the nickname of The Angel of the Mountains in the 1958 Tour de France, which he won with four stage victories. He won the Giro d'Italia in 1956 and 1959. Gaul rode best in wet weather. In life he became a recluse and lost much of his memory. Charly Gaul was a fragile-looking man with a sad face and disproportionately short legs, he had "a sad, timid look on his face, marked with an unfathomable melancholy an evil deity has forced him into a cursed profession amidst powerful, implacable riders," as one writer put it. Gaul worked in a butcher's shop and as a slaughterman in an abattoir at Bettembourg before turning professional on 3 May 1953 for Terrot, at the age of 20. By he had won more than 60 races as an amateur having started racing in 1949, they included the Tour of the 12 Cantons. He won a stage up the climb of Grossglockner during the Tour of Austria when he was 17, setting a stage record.
It was his first race outside Luxembourg. His first professional race was the Critérium de la Polymultipliée, his first professional win was in 1953 in the national cyclo-cross championship. He came second the same year in the Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré stage race; the following year he was second in the Luxembourg road championship, won a stage in the Dauphiné Libéré, won a bronze medal in the 1954 world championship. Gaul abandoned on the sixth stage, he started the 1954 Tour but again abandoned before the finish. He came to the 1955 Tour after winning the mountainous Tour de Sud Ouest and finishing third in the Tour of Luxembourg, he conceded a lot of time on the opening flat stages, not helped by being in a weak team. His fight back started in the Alps, he dropped the Dutch climber, Jan Nolten. Crossing the col du Télégraphe he had five minutes on his chasers. By the finish he had moved from 37th to third, he was on his way to winning the next day as well. He attacked again when the race reached the Pyrenees, winning stage 17 from ahead of the eventual overall winner, Louison Bobet.
He finished third in Paris. After a hard-fought victory in the 1956 Giro d'Italia, Gaul was half an hour down after six days' racing in the 1956 Tour de France, but he was confident he could close the gap in the mountains, he won the mountains prize again, two more stages – a mountain individual time trial on stage three and stage 18 to Grenoble. But his efforts did little good. Gaul abandoned after two days with no stage wins. Gaul returned to the Tour in 1958. Third in that year's Giro, he started dominantly and won four stages, three of them time trials, including the ascent of Mont Ventoux, his time of 1h 2m 9s from the Bédoin side, which in those days was cobbled in the first kilometres and poorly surfaced to the summit, stood as a record until Jonathan Vaughters beat it 31 years in the Dauphiné Libéré. On the last day in the Alps, his manager, Jo Goldschmidt looked at the rain falling and woke Gaul with the words: "Come on soldier... This is your day." Gaul woke delighted at the cold rain and angry at the memory of how he had been denied the Giro the previous year, when he was attacked as he stopped by the roadside.
A lot of riders took advantage of his halt but he most blamed Bobet, a man as refined and diffident as Gaul was coarse and brusque. His feelings for Bobet had turned to "flaming hatred," said the historian Bill McGann, he sought out his tormentor. The impact was all the greater because the two had spoken to each other since the Giro. "You're ready, Monsieur Bobet?", he asked, laying emphasis on the false politeness of the monsieur. "I'll give you a chance. I'll attack on the Luitel climb. I'll tell you which hairpin. You want to win the Tour more than I do? Easy. I've told you what you need to know."There was a prize of 100,00 francs at the top of the col de Lautaret in memory of the race's founder, Henri Desgrange. The Dutchman Piet van Est won it, with Bahamontes behind him. A small group had eight minutes on the rest. Gaul began the chase and shed rider after rider, including the Spaniard, Salvador Botella, who held eighth place. Botella covered his head in his hands and wept. Teammates turned back to encourage him.
Gaul and Bahamontes dropped the rest. At first the rest thought that Gaul had lost too much time earlier in the race to be a threat, that he was looking only at the best climber's prize, but on the climb to the col de Luitel Gaul dropped Bahamontes as well. He was within three minutes of the leaders with Bahamontes a minute behind. Gaul took the lead and moved ahead as the race progressed through "a curtain of water, a deluge without an ark", as L'Équipe described it. Michel Clare, reporting for the paper, said: "I was on a motorbike and I had to stop at Granier for a hot grog. I was so cold that afterwards it was an hour before I could start writing." When he began his report in the press room at Aix-les-Bains, he wrote: "I remember only a curtain of rain. A deluge without an Ark; the ca
Tour de France
The Tour de France is an annual men's multiple stage bicycle race held in France, while occasionally passing through nearby countries. Like the other Grand Tours, it consists of 21 day-long stages over the course of 23 days; the race was first organized in 1903 to increase sales for the newspaper L'Auto and is run by the Amaury Sport Organisation. The race has been held annually since its first edition in 1903 except when it was stopped for the two World Wars; as the Tour gained prominence and popularity, the race was lengthened and its reach began to extend around the globe. Participation expanded from a French field, as riders from all over the world began to participate in the race each year; the Tour is a UCI World Tour event, which means that the teams that compete in the race are UCI WorldTeams, with the exception of the teams that the organizers invite. Traditionally, the race is held in the month of July. While the route changes each year, the format of the race stays the same with the appearance of time trials, the passage through the mountain chains of the Pyrenees and the Alps, the finish on the Champs-Élysées in Paris.
The modern editions of the Tour de France consist of 21 day-long segments over a 23-day period and cover around 3,500 kilometres. The race alternates between counterclockwise circuits of France. There are between 20 and 22 teams, with eight riders in each. All of the stages are timed to the finish; the rider with the lowest cumulative finishing times is the leader of the race and wears the yellow jersey. While the general classification garners the most attention, there are other contests held within the Tour: the points classification for the sprinters, the mountains classification for the climbers, young rider classification for riders under the age of 26, the team classification for the fastest teams. Achieving a stage win provides prestige accomplished by a team's cycling sprinter specialist; the Tour de France was created in 1903. The roots of the Tour de France trace back to the emergence of two rival sports newspapers in the country. On one hand was Le Vélo, the first and the largest daily sports newspaper in France which sold 80,000 copies a day.
On the other was L'Auto, set-up by journalists and business-people including Comte Jules-Albert de Dion, Adolphe Clément, Édouard Michelin in 1899. The rival paper emerged following disagreements over the Dreyfus Affair, a cause célèbre that divided France at the end of the 19th century over the innocence of Alfred Dreyfus, a French army officer convicted—though exonerated—of selling military secrets to the Germans; the new newspaper appointed Henri Desgrange as the editor. He was a prominent owner with Victor Goddet of the velodrome at the Parc des Princes. De Dion knew him through his cycling reputation, through the books and cycling articles that he had written, through press articles he had written for the Clément tyre company. L'Auto was not the success. Stagnating sales lower than the rival it was intended to surpass led to a crisis meeting on 20 November 1902 on the middle floor of L'Auto's office at 10 Rue du Faubourg Montmartre, Paris; the last to speak was the most junior there, the chief cycling journalist, a 26-year-old named Géo Lefèvre.
Desgrange had poached him from Giffard's paper. Lefèvre suggested a six-day race of the sort popular on the track but all around France. Long-distance cycle races were a popular means to sell more newspapers, but nothing of the length that Lefèvre suggested had been attempted. If it succeeded, it would help L'Auto match its rival and put it out of business, it could, as Desgrange said, "nail Giffard's beak shut." Desgrange and Lefèvre discussed it after lunch. Desgrange was doubtful but the paper's financial director, Victor Goddet, was enthusiastic, he handed Desgrange the keys to the company safe and said: "Take whatever you need." L'Auto announced the race on 19 January 1903. The first Tour de France was staged in 1903; the plan was a five-stage race from 31 May to 5 July, starting in Paris and stopping in Lyon, Marseille and Nantes before returning to Paris. Toulouse was added to break the long haul across southern France from the Mediterranean to the Atlantic. Stages would go through the night and finish next afternoon, with rest days before riders set off again.
But this proved too daunting and the costs too great for most and only 15 competitors had entered. Desgrange had never been wholly convinced and he came close to dropping the idea. Instead, he cut the length to 19 days, changed the dates to 1 to 19 July, offered a daily allowance to those who averaged at least 20 kilometres per hour on all the stages, equivalent to what a rider would have expected to earn each day had he worked in a factory, he cut the entry fee from 20 to 10 francs and set the first prize at 12,000 francs and the prize for each day's winner at 3,000 francs. The winner would thereby win six times; that attracted between 60 and 80 entrants – the higher number may have included serious inquiries and some who dropped out – among them not just professionals but amateurs, some unemployed, some adventurous. Desgrange seems not to have forgotten the Dreyfus Affair that launched his race and raised the passions of his backers, he announced his new race on 1 July 1903 by citing the writer Émile Zola, whose open letter J'Accuse…! led to Dreyfus's acquittal, establishing the florid style he used henceforth.
The first Tour de France started outside the Ca