2010 Tour de France
The 2010 Tour de France was the 97th edition of the Tour de France cycle race, one of cycling's Grand Tours. It started on 3 July with an 8.9 km prologue time trial in Rotterdam, the first start in the Netherlands since 1996. The race visited three countries: the Netherlands and France, finished on 25 July on the Champs-Élysées in Paris; the total length was 3,642 kilometres including 60.9 kilometres in time-trials. Following an opening prologue time trial, the first three stages passed through the Netherlands and Belgium on routes designed to replicate some features of the spring classic cycle races; this included seven cobblestone sectors totaling 13.2 kilometres, the longest distance of cobblestones in the Tour since 1983, on stage 3. There were six mountain stages, three of them with mountaintop finishes, two medium mountain stages. In the 100th anniversary year of their first inclusion on the Tour, the emphasis was on the Pyrenees, with two ascents of the Col du Tourmalet; the Tour was won by Alberto Contador, revealed to have failed a doping test.
After a series of events, the CAS decided in February 2012 that Contador lost his results from 2010, declaring Andy Schleck the new winner. Schleck won the young riders' competition for the third time running. France's Anthony Charteau won the polkadot jersey as the King of the Mountains whilst the Italian sprinter Alessandro Petacchi won the green jersey for victory in the points classification. Twenty-two teams accepted invitations to participate in the 2010 Tour de France. Sixteen of the teams were covered by a September 2008 agreement with the Union Cycliste Internationale, including two no longer part of the UCI ProTour; the sixteen teams were: Six other teams, including the four ProTour teams not guaranteed a place, accepted their invitations. The teams entering the race were:Qualified teams Invited teams: Teams not part of the ProTour. Before the start of the race, Contador was the overall race favorite. Among the other favorites were Andy Schleck, Cadel Evans, Lance Armstrong; the US media, led by the US Tour broadcaster Versus, pitched the race as a showdown between Contador and Armstrong, both multi-tour champions going in.
It has been since pointed out, that Armstrong's chances were exaggerated prior to the race. The official Tour presentation was held on 14 October 2009, it was the third consecutive Grand Tour to begin in the Netherlands, as the 2009 Vuelta a España began in Assen, the 2010 Giro d'Italia in Amsterdam. The race consisted of nine flat stages, six mountain stages, four medium mountain stages, two individual time trials, one of them being the opening prologue in Rotterdam; the race started in Rotterdam with a 9 km prologue won by Fabian Cancellara. Sylvain Chavanel claimed the lead from Cancellara on Stage 2, after a massive crash which involved many riders, most notably Andy Schleck, a contender for overall victory, Alessandro Petacchi; the riders in the peloton chose to wait for the fallen riders. However, on the cobbles of Stage 3, Cancellara retook the overall lead. Fränk Schleck had to retire from the race, having sustained a collarbone fracture on a crash which delayed many of the riders in the peloton, including Contador and Armstrong who were hopeful of finishing high in the general classification.
A number of their rivals, including Cancellara, Andy Schleck, Cadel Evans and Thor Hushovd, were ahead of the crash and so were able to gain a time advantage. On the same stage, Tony Martin, wearing the white jersey since the prologue, lost it to Geraint Thomas, after winning the stage, Thor Hushovd took the lead in the points On Stage 7 Chavanel again raced away from the field to take his second stage win and maillot jaune of the 2010 edition of the race, whilst Andy Schleck took the young riders' classification lead from Thomas. Evans took the yellow jersey from Chavanel the following day on Stage 8, in turn lost the lead to Schleck on Stage 9 following a rest day. In Stage 11, Petacchi took the green jersey from Hushovd. On Stage 15 Schleck was race leader and pressing the pace over the day's final climb of Port de Bales when he threw his chain. Contador and Denis Menchov moved to the front and attacked, pressing the advantage over the crest of the climb and all the way back down into Bagneres-de-Luchon.
They were aided by Sammy Sanchez and two others making a group of five riders, all looking to gain time. Schleck had no other riders to help bridge the gap. By stage's end, he had lost 39 seconds to Contador. Contador, who now had an eight-second lead in the race, met with a mixed reception as he received the yellow jersey on the podium at the end of the stage. Contador said that he did not know that Schleck had technical trouble, that he had launched an attack by but review of the race shows that he was chasing an attack by Schleck, that he nearly struck Schleck as he moved past him, that he looked back on the climb while Schleck struggled to close down the gap. Hours he apologised for the incident. Although he was criticised by Sean Kelly and a number of riders both past and current, he found support from the likes of Bernard Hinault, Miguel Indurain, Eddy Merckx and Laurent Jalabert. Cervélo team owner Gerard Vroomen commented: "Contador just gained a great chance to win, but he lost the chance to win greatly."
This same sta
Skiing can be a means of transport, a recreational activity or a competitive winter sport in which the participant uses skis to glide on snow. Many types of competitive skiing events are recognized by the International Olympic Committee, the International Ski Federation. Skiing has a history of five millennia. Although modern skiing has evolved from beginnings in Scandinavia, it may have been practiced more than 100 centuries ago in what is now China, according to an interpretation of ancient paintings; the word "ski" is one of a handful of words. It comes from the Old Norse word "skíð" which means "split piece of wood or firewood". Asymmetrical skis were used in northern Sweden until at least the late 19th century. On one foot, the skier wore a long straight non-arching ski for sliding, a shorter ski was worn on the other foot for kicking; the underside of the short ski was either plain or covered with animal skin to aid this use, while the long ski supporting the weight of the skier was treated with animal fat in a similar manner to modern ski waxing.
Early skiers used spear. The first depiction of a skier with two ski poles dates to 1741. Skiing was used for transport until the mid-19th century, but since has become a recreation and sport. Military ski races were held in Norway during the 18th century, ski warfare was studied in the late 18th century; as equipment evolved and ski lifts were developed during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, two main genres of skiing emerged—Alpine skiing and Nordic skiing. The main difference between the two is the type of ski binding. Called "downhill skiing", Alpine skiing takes place on a piste at a ski resort, it is characterized by fixed-heel bindings that attach at both the toe and the heel of the skier's boot. Ski lifts, including chairlifts, bring skiers up the slope. Backcountry skiing can be accessed by helicopter, snowcat and snowmobile. Facilities at resorts can include night skiing, après-ski, glade skiing under the supervision of the ski patrol and the ski school. Alpine skiing branched off from the older Nordic type of skiing around the 1920s when the advent of ski lifts meant that it was not necessary to walk any longer.
Alpine equipment has specialized to the point. The Nordic disciplines include cross-country skiing and ski jumping, which both use bindings that attach at the toes of the skier's boots but not at the heels. Cross-country skiing may be practiced in undeveloped backcountry areas. Ski jumping is practiced in certain areas that are reserved for ski jumping. Telemark skiing is a ski turning technique and FIS-sanctioned discipline, named after the Telemark region of Norway, it uses equipment similar to Nordic skiing, where the ski bindings are attached only at the toes of the ski boots, allowing the skier's heel to be raised throughout the turn. The following disciplines are sanctioned by the FIS. Many are included in the Winter Olympic Games. Cross-country – Encompasses a variety of formats for cross-country skiing races over courses of varying lengths. Races occur on homologated, groomed courses designed to support classic and free-style events, where skate skiing may be employed; the main competitions are the FIS Cross-Country World Cup and the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships, various cross-country skiing events have been incorporated into the Winter Olympics since its inception in 1924.
The discipline incorporates: cross-country ski marathon events, sanctioned by the Worldloppet Ski Federation. Paralympic cross-country skiing and paralympic biathlon are both included in the Winter Paralympic Games. Ski jumping – Contested at the FIS Ski Jumping World Cup, the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships, the FIS Ski Jumping Grand Prix, the FIS Ski Flying World Championships. Ski jumping has been a regular Olympic discipline at every Winter Games since 1924. Freeriding skiing – This category of skiing includes any practice of the sport on non-groomed terrain. Nordic combined – A combination of cross-country skiing and ski jumping, this discipline is contested at the FIS Nordic Combined World Cup, the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships, at the Winter Olympics. Alpine skiing – Includes downhill, giant slalom, super giant slalom, para-alpine events. There are combined events where the competitors must complete one run of each event, for example, the Super Combined event consists of one run of super-G and one run of slalom skiing.
The dual slalom event, where racers ski head-to-head, was invented in 1941 and has been a competitive event since 1960. Alpine skiing is contested at the FIS Alpine Ski World Cup, the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships, the Winter Olympics. Para-alpine skiing is contested at the World Para Alpine Skiing Championships and the Winter Paralympics. Speed skiing – Dating from 1898, with official records beginning in 1932 with an 89-mile-per-hour run by Leo Gasperi, this became an FIS discipline in the 1960s, it is contested at the FIS Speed Ski World Cup, was demonstrated at the 1992 Winter Olympics in Albertville. Freestyle skiing – Includes mogul skiing, ski cross, half-pipe, slopestyle; the main freestyle competitions are the FIS Freestyle Skiing World Cup and t
Col de Joux Plane
Col de Joux Plane is a high mountain pass in the Alps in Haute-Savoie, linking Morzine with Samoëns. The climb has been featured several times in the Tour de France cycling race Starting from Samoëns, the Col de Joux Plane is 11.7 km long with an average percentage of 8.5% and a maximum gradient of 10%. Starting from Morzine, the Col de Joux Plane is 10.9 km long with an average percentage of 6.5% and a maximum gradient of 11%. Col de Joux Plane has been used a total of 12 times by the Tour de France since its debut in 1978. List of highest paved roads in Europe List of mountain passes Col de Joux Plane profile from Samoens at climbbybike.com Col de Joux Plane profile from Morzine at climbbybike.com Col de Joux Plane on Google Maps Col de Joux Plane on Facebook
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
France the French Republic, is a country whose territory consists of metropolitan France in Western Europe and several overseas regions and territories. The metropolitan area of France extends from the Mediterranean Sea to the English Channel and the North Sea, from the Rhine to the Atlantic Ocean, it is bordered by Belgium and Germany to the northeast and Italy to the east, Andorra and Spain to the south. The overseas territories include French Guiana in South America and several islands in the Atlantic and Indian oceans; the country's 18 integral regions span a combined area of 643,801 square kilometres and a total population of 67.3 million. France, a sovereign state, is a unitary semi-presidential republic with its capital in Paris, the country's largest city and main cultural and commercial centre. Other major urban areas include Lyon, Toulouse, Bordeaux and Nice. During the Iron Age, what is now metropolitan France was inhabited by a Celtic people. Rome annexed the area in 51 BC, holding it until the arrival of Germanic Franks in 476, who formed the Kingdom of Francia.
The Treaty of Verdun of 843 partitioned Francia into Middle Francia and West Francia. West Francia which became the Kingdom of France in 987 emerged as a major European power in the Late Middle Ages following its victory in the Hundred Years' War. During the Renaissance, French culture flourished and a global colonial empire was established, which by the 20th century would become the second largest in the world; the 16th century was dominated by religious civil wars between Protestants. France became Europe's dominant cultural and military power in the 17th century under Louis XIV. In the late 18th century, the French Revolution overthrew the absolute monarchy, established one of modern history's earliest republics, saw the drafting of the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, which expresses the nation's ideals to this day. In the 19th century, Napoleon established the First French Empire, his subsequent Napoleonic Wars shaped the course of continental Europe. Following the collapse of the Empire, France endured a tumultuous succession of governments culminating with the establishment of the French Third Republic in 1870.
France was a major participant in World War I, from which it emerged victorious, was one of the Allies in World War II, but came under occupation by the Axis powers in 1940. Following liberation in 1944, a Fourth Republic was established and dissolved in the course of the Algerian War; the Fifth Republic, led by Charles de Gaulle, remains today. Algeria and nearly all the other colonies became independent in the 1960s and retained close economic and military connections with France. France has long been a global centre of art and philosophy, it hosts the world's fourth-largest number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites and is the leading tourist destination, receiving around 83 million foreign visitors annually. France is a developed country with the world's sixth-largest economy by nominal GDP, tenth-largest by purchasing power parity. In terms of aggregate household wealth, it ranks fourth in the world. France performs well in international rankings of education, health care, life expectancy, human development.
France is considered a great power in global affairs, being one of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council with the power to veto and an official nuclear-weapon state. It is a leading member state of the European Union and the Eurozone, a member of the Group of 7, North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the World Trade Organization, La Francophonie. Applied to the whole Frankish Empire, the name "France" comes from the Latin "Francia", or "country of the Franks". Modern France is still named today "Francia" in Italian and Spanish, "Frankreich" in German and "Frankrijk" in Dutch, all of which have more or less the same historical meaning. There are various theories as to the origin of the name Frank. Following the precedents of Edward Gibbon and Jacob Grimm, the name of the Franks has been linked with the word frank in English, it has been suggested that the meaning of "free" was adopted because, after the conquest of Gaul, only Franks were free of taxation.
Another theory is that it is derived from the Proto-Germanic word frankon, which translates as javelin or lance as the throwing axe of the Franks was known as a francisca. However, it has been determined that these weapons were named because of their use by the Franks, not the other way around; the oldest traces of human life in what is now France date from 1.8 million years ago. Over the ensuing millennia, Humans were confronted by a harsh and variable climate, marked by several glacial eras. Early hominids led a nomadic hunter-gatherer life. France has a large number of decorated caves from the upper Palaeolithic era, including one of the most famous and best preserved, Lascaux. At the end of the last glacial period, the climate became milder. After strong demographic and agricultural development between the 4th and 3rd millennia, metallurgy appeared at the end of the 3rd millennium working gold and bronze, iron. France has numerous megalithic sites from the Neolithic period, including the exceptiona
Mont Blanc, meaning "White Mountain", is the highest mountain in the Alps and the highest in Europe west of Russia's Caucasus peaks. It is ranked 11th in the world in topographic prominence; the mountain stands in a range called the Graian Alps, between the regions of Aosta Valley and Savoie and Haute-Savoie, France. The location of the summit is on the watershed line between the valleys of Ferret and Veny in Italy and the valleys of Montjoie, Arve in France, in the middle of what is considered to be the border between the two countries. In June 2015, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi expressed repeated claims on the territory; the Mont Blanc massif is popular for outdoor activities like hiking, trail running and winter sports like skiing, snowboarding. The three towns and their communes which surround Mont Blanc are Courmayeur in Italy; the latter town was the site of the first Winter Olympics. A cable car ascends and crosses the mountain range from Courmayeur to Chamonix, through the Col du Géant.
The 11.6 km Mont Blanc Tunnel, constructed between 1957 and 1965, runs beneath the mountain and is a major trans-Alpine transport route. The first recorded ascent of Mont Blanc was on 8 August 1786 by Jacques Balmat and the doctor Michel Paccard; this climb, initiated by Horace-Bénédict de Saussure, who gave a reward for the successful ascent, traditionally marks the start of modern mountaineering. The first woman to reach the summit was Marie Paradis in 1808. Nowadays the summit is ascended by an average of 20,000 mountaineer-tourists each year, it could be considered a technically easy, yet arduous, ascent for someone, well-trained and acclimatized to the altitude. From l'Aiguille du Midi, Mont Blanc seems quite close, but while the peak seems deceptively close, La Voie des 3 Monts route requires much ascent over two other 4,000 m mountains, Mont Blanc du Tacul and Mont Maudit, before the final section of the climb is reached and the last 1,000 m push to the summit is undertaken. Each year climbing deaths occur on Mont Blanc, on the busiest weekends around August, the local rescue service performs an average of 12 missions directed to aid people in trouble on one of the normal routes of the mountain.
Some routes require knowledge of high-altitude mountaineering, a guide, all require proper equipment. All routes are long and arduous, involving delicate passages and the hazard of rock-fall or avalanche. Climbers may suffer altitude sickness life threatening if they do not acclimatize to it; the border between Italy and France passes through the summit of Mont Blanc, making it both French and Italian. Since the French Revolution, the issue of the ownership of the summit has been debated. From 1416 to 1792, the entire mountain was within the Duchy of Savoy. In 1723, the Duke of Savoy, Victor Amadeus II, acquired the Kingdom of Sardinia; the resulting state of Sardinia was to become preeminent in the Italian unification. In September 1792, the French revolutionary Army of the Alps under Anne-Pierre de Montesquiou-Fézensac seized Savoy without much resistance and created a department of the Mont-Blanc. In a treaty of 15 May 1796, Victor Amadeus III of Sardinia was forced to cede Savoy and Nice to France.
In article 4 of this treaty it says: "The border between the Sardinian kingdom and the departments of the French Republic will be established on a line determined by the most advanced points on the Piedmont side, of the summits, peaks of mountains and other locations subsequently mentioned, as well as the intermediary peaks, knowing: starting from the point where the borders of Faucigny, the Duchy of Aoust and the Valais, to the extremity of the glaciers or Monts-Maudits: first the peaks or plateaus of the Alps, to the rising edge of the Col-Mayor". This act further states that the border should be visible from the town of Courmayeur. However, neither is the peak of the Mont Blanc visible from Courmayeur nor is the peak of the Mont Blanc de Courmayeur visible from Chamonix because part of the mountains lower down obscure them. After the Napoleonic Wars, the Congress of Vienna restored the King of Sardinia in Savoy and Piedmont, his traditional territories, overruling the 1796 Treaty of Paris.
Forty-five years after the Second Italian War of Independence, it was replaced by a new legal act. This act was signed in Turin on 24 March 1860 by Napoleon III and Victor Emmanuel II of Savoy, deals with the annexation of Savoy. A demarcation agreement, signed on 7 March 1861, defined the new border. With the formation of Italy, for the first time Mont Blanc was located on the border of France and Italy; the 1860 act and attached maps are still valid for both the French and Italian governments. One of the prints from the 1823 Sarde Atlas positions the border on the summit edge of the mountain; the convention of 7 March 1861 recognises this through an attached map, taking into consideration the limits of the massif, drawing the border on the icecap of Mont Blanc, making it both French and Italian. Watershed analysis of modern topographic mapping not only places the main summit on the border, but suggests that the border should
Richard Virenque is a retired French professional road racing cyclist. He was one of the most popular French riders with fans for his boyish personality and his long, lone attacks, he was a climber, winning the King of the Mountains competition of the Tour de France a record seven times. He is best remembered as the central figure in a widespread doping scandal in 1998, his being displayed as a moronic rubber puppet with hypodermics in his head on the satirical television programme, Les Guignols de l'info. Virenque finished twice on the podium in the Tour de France and won several stages, among them Mont Ventoux in 2002, he is the 18th rider in the Tour to have won stages over 10 years apart. Virenque, his parents, his brother Lionel and sister Nathalie lived in the Iseba district of Casablanca; the family was affluent, employing both a nurse. His mother described Richard as a gentle, kind boy, full of life, who enjoyed helping her in the garden, his idol was Michael Jackson. His father, ran a tire company.
As a child, Virenque began cycling by riding round the garden of the family's house. "It wasn't much of a bike," he said. "It had no mudguards, no brakes, I had to scrape my foot along the ground to stop." Virenque skipped school to fish on the beach. He told a court during the Festina doping inquiry: The family moved to La Londe-les-Maures, near the Côte d'Azur, in 1979 when he was nine. There his father failed to find the same sort of job and relations between his parents suffered. Jacques and Bérangère Virenque divorced soon afterwards and Virenque said he was devastated, he couldn't stand being in school any longer than he had to, he said, he left to work as a plumber. Cycle-racing did not inspire Virenque, his brother, cycled, read specialist magazines and watched the Tour de France on television. He rode for the Vélo Club Hyèrois from the age of 13 where, encouraged by his grandfather, he took out his first licence with the Fédération Française de Cyclisme He said he knew he could climb well from the start.
His first win was in a race round the town at La Valette-du-Var, when he and another rider, Pascale Ranucci, lapped the field. He did his national service in the army battalion at Joinville in Paris to which talented sportsmen were sent, he spent his last period as an amateur with the ASPTT in Paris. In 1990 he came eighth in the world championship road race at Utsunomiya, Tochigi in Japan, riding une course d'enfer to impress Marc Braillon, the head of the professional team, RMO, said Pascal Lino. "I was riding like a kamikaze. I rode out of my skin," Virenque said, it worked: Braillon offered him a contract. He turned professional for RMO in January 1991. Lino said: When I saw him arrive in the team, I soon understood, he was scared of nothing and he mouthed off at the slightest thing. From his first races, it was a festival at the Tour Med... We were riding at 60kmh and he attacked and held the peloton in respect for two kilometres. On the other hand, he was less impressive in the team time-trials."
Virenque rode his first Tour de France in 1992 as a replacement for another team member, Jean-Philippe Dojwa. He was earning 15,000 francs a month, he said he dreamed only of "being able to follow the best in the mountains, riders like Claudio Chiappucci, Indurain, LeMond, Thierry Claveyrolat." On the third day he took the yellow jersey as leader of the general classification after a long breakaway with two other riders on the col de Marie-Blanque in the Pyrenees. He held it for a day, losing it next day to his team-mate Pascal Lino, who led for the next two weeks. Virenque finished second in the climbers' competition, he said of his talent in the mountains: Virenque was sought by several teams after his first Tour and Cyrille Guimard said at the world championship at Benidorm that he had arranged for him to join his Castorama team, where he would replace Laurent Fignon. But the announcement was premature and Virenque joined another French team, Festina, he stayed there until the team dissolved in the wake of a doping scandal in 1998.
Virenque first wore the yellow jersey of the Tour de France in 1992 and for the last time in 2003. In 2003 he wore the jersey on the climb of Alpe d'Huez, he recalled: Virenque was a talented climber but a modest time-triallist. He was coached for time-trials by her husband. In 1998 the Festina cycling team was disgraced by a doping scandal after a soigneur, Willy Voet, was found when crossing from Belgium to France to have drugs used for doping, they were, said John Lichfield, the Paris correspondent of The Independent in Britain: "235 doses of erythropoietin, an artificial hormone which boosts the red cells but can thicken the blood to fatal levels if not controlled properly. They found 82 doses of a muscle-strengthening hormone called Sauratropine,. Bruno Roussel, Virenque's directeur sportif, told L'Équipe that Virenque responded to the news by saying: Virenque's teammates, Christophe Moreau, Laurent Brochard and Armin Meier, admitted taking EPO after being arrested during the Tour and were disqualified.
Virenque maintained his innocence. While his former team-mates were served six-month suspensions and returned to racing in spring 1999, Virenque changed teams to Polti in January 1999 and prepared for the 1999 Tour by riding the Giro d'Italia, in which he won a stage. Another Italian, his team-mate Enrico Cassani, said Virenque was referred to in Italy as "the shit", he said