Monday, 2 July 2012

Daily Cycling Facts 02.07.12

The Tour de France began on this day in 1904, 1911, 1930, 1982, 1994, 2005 and 2011.

6 stages, 2,428km.
Hippolyte Aucouturier
The first Tour, in 1903, had been more successful than anyone could even have hoped so, as soon as it was over, Henri Desrange set about organising the next one. Later, he'd pick up a bit of a reputation for changing rules that didn't necessarily need to be changed; but for now he decided that what wasn't broken didn't need to be fixed - so the race used an identical route and almost the same rules (the two differences were that in 1903, a rider could abandon a stage and then start again in the next though without results thereafter counting towards the General Classification whereas this time around any rider that abandoned a stage was out of the race; and while in 1903 only the first 50 riders to finish would receive an allowance of 5 francs a day this time around all riders, regarless of whether they finished or not, would get the same allowance). Maurice Garin, who had won in 1903, was favourite; Hippolyte Aucouturier and Lucien Pothier were also expected to do well. One rider, Henri Paret, was 50 years old and remains the oldest man to have ever taken part.

The edition was not such a success. There was a large crash after the first few kilometres, resulting in a broken finger and early abandonment for a rider named Lipman, then after 100km Pothier lost significant time when his bike broke and Ferdinand Payan was disqualified (we don't know why - it may have been for being helped by riders not in the race or for being helped by motor vehicle; many records of early Tours were lost in the Second World War). Aucouturier crashed just after the halfway checkpoint and finished the stage covered in blood, while Garin and Pothier were attacked and robbed by a gang of four masked men who chased them in a car after they broke away from the peloton. After the stage, "Samson" (real name Julien Lootens) was fined 250f for drafting behind a car, Pierre Chevalier was disqualified for taking a 45' rest (in a car following the peloton) during the race and Aucouturier was fined 500f for the slightly mysterious crime of having a cyclist who wasn't part of the race following him. It also turned out that Garin had asked the race official (also the man who first came up with the idea for the Tour) Géo Lefèvre - concerned that the race would suffer if the favourite hit la fringale, Lefèvre gave him some despite it being against the rules. When they found out - and realised Garin was not going to be punished as other riders had been - the crowd were not happy. During Stage 2 the race passed André Fauré's hometown and a violent mob came out to try to stop the other riders: Garin's hand was injured while Paul Gerbi was knocked out, then abandoned with two broken fingers and the mob only dispersed when race officials fired guns into the air. A little further on, but suspiciously close, persons unknown had strewn nails across the road and almost everyone except Fauré punctured, which allowed him to be the first up the Col de la République and tends to suggest that he might have known something about it. Near the end of the stage the riders were attacked again, this time by a large gang of cyclists: Garin's arm was hurt badly enough that he had to steer with only his other arm. At the finish line there was so much confusion with all the injuries and riders complaining about all the incidents that the times weren't properly recorded - Aucouturier won, but order and times usually given for the rest of the field might not be correct. Riders asked the organisers to neutralise the stage, but it didn't happen.

Julien Lootens, "Samson"
In Stage 3, angry Payan fans threw stones at the riders and tried to barricade the road as the race passed through his hometown Nimes, then grabbed César Garin's bike and smashed it up - he lost 15' while trying to locate a replacement. More nails had been spread on the road further on, after the first crop of punctures the riders carried their bikes over. Stage 4 passed - mercifully, for the long-suffering riders - without incident; in Stage 5 they encountered more nails and Henri Cornet had to ride the final 40km to the finish with flat tyres. On the last stage, riders signed in at the Ville d'Avray checkpoint where they told that the remainder of the race, up until the last kilometre, had been neutralised; when they reached the last kilometre they would be racing again. However, when they got there it was raining so heavily that organisers decided to abandon the last kilometre and declare Ville d'Avray the end of the race - therefore Aucouturier, who had been first to the checkpoint, won a fourth stage. Garin had the lowest accumulated time and was declared overall winner.

Of 88 riders, 27 finished - but the race had hardly ended before new reports of widespread cheating began to appear. Nine riders had been disqualified during the race, now the French Cycling Union launched an investigation into the new allegations and, in December, ten riders were disqualified - among them was Maurice Garin, who was banned from competition for two years (two others were banned for life), and another nineteen riders received fines or warnings. With the first four finishers disqualified, Henri Cornet - who had himself been warned for completing part of a stage in a car - became winner: he was 19 years, 11 months and 20 days old at the time and remains the youngest Tour winner ever.

Henri Cornet
Usually, the riders are said to have been disqualified for taking trains; however, the official reports from the investigation have never been published and are presumably lost. Researcher Jason Jellick has studied large numbers of documents preserved at the Bibliothèque Nationale and compared them with race times, coming up with a powerful argument that there was only one occasion that cyclists would have been able to catch a train and finish when they did. He also notes the severity of the punishments - Garin was banned for two years, but in fact he suffered far more than that and effectively vanished from history for many years - may be evidence that a major scandal was covered up. Whatever really happened, Desgrange was so shocked that he swore 1904 would be the last Tour (he also wasn't at all happy that the French Federation had given further punishments to riders he'd already punished - Desgrange always liked his word to be final on any subject, this time it wasn't and there was nothing he could do about it). It took some time to persuade him to organise another for 1905.

Top Ten Final General Classification
1 Henri Cornet (FRA) 96h 05' 55"
2 Jean-Baptiste Dortignacq (FRA) +2h 16' 14"
3 Aloïs Catteau (BEL) +9h 01' 25"
4 Jean Dargassies (FRA) +13h 04' 30"
5 Julien Maitron (FRA) +19h 06' 15"
6 Auguste Daumain (FRA) +22h 44' 36"
7 Louis Coolsaet (BEL) +23h 44' 20"
8 Achille Colas (FRA) +25h 09' 50"
9 René Saget (FRA) +25h 55' 16"
10 Gustave Drioul (BEL) +30h 54' 49"

15 stages, 5,344km.
Faber, who died a hero's death in the First
World War
Desgrange had initially been reluctant to send his race into the high mountains because he was afraid the riders would be robbed by bandits or eaten by bears, neither of which were uncommon in the more far-flung parts of France a century ago. In 1910, he'd been persuaded to include the Pyrenees and it had been such a success that he included the Alps too in 1911 - and the Tour took on a form that it retains to this day. Since 1906, the riders had crossed the border into German Alsace; now the uneasy truce between Europe's greatest nations was showing strain as the continent moved towards war and the German government would not allow it. During Stage 3, François Faber missed a checkpoint and was made to wait for 2'30" but still won the stage. Émile Georget was hit by a car and plunged into a ravine - he was unhurt and finished the stage, but 49' behind Faber.

In Stage 10 Paul Duboc, a rider with La Française who had been successfully catching up with overall leader Garrigou, was left with crippling abdominal pain, vomiting and diarrhoea after he supposedly drank from a bidon that had been poisoned. His manager gave him an emetic and, after some time, he recovered and was able to continue, eventually finishing the race in second place overall, and a man working for a third team was later shown to have been the culprit. In the meantime Duboc's fans put two and two together, decided that since Garrigou was the man who would most benefit if Duboc abandoned, he must have been the poisoner and it wasn't long at all before he started receiving death threats. Duboc himself appears never to have suspected Garrigou and was horrified to learn that in Rouen, his hometown and the place where his fans would be most numerous, persons unknown had put up posters saying "Citizens of Rouen: I would have been leading this race had I not been poisoned. You know what you have to do when the race reaches your city," followed by a forgery of his signature. By this point, Garrigou (at the suggestion of the organisers) had taken to wearing disguise, but the two men realised that if the angry Rouennais even suspected his true identity they were likely to become a lynch mob. Duboc offered to ride on ahead to the city and do what he could to placate them, but an equally concerned Henri Desgrange decided that extreme tactics were required. As a result, Garrigou rode through the city protected on all sides by three cars, each filled with the burliest men Desgrange could find.

Top Ten Final General Classification
1 Gustave Garrigou (FRA) Alcyon 43
2 Paul Duboc (FRA) La Française 61
3 Emile Georget (FRA) La Française 84
4 Charles Crupelandt (FRA) La Française 109
5 Louis Heusghem (BEL) Alcyon 135
6 Marcel Godivier (FRA) La Française 141
7 Charles Cruchon (FRA) La Française 145
8 Ernest Paul (FRA) Alcyon 153
9 Albert Dupont (BEL) Le Globe 158
10 Henri Devroye (BEL) Le Globe 171

21 stages, 4,822km.
Desgrange had been furious when Maurice Dewaele, who had been so ill during one stage that two team mates had to ride either side of him and hold him upright, won the 1929 Tour. "My race has been won by a corpse!" he proclaimed, and immediately set about finding ways to prevent such a thing ever happening again. He'd had problems which he blamed on trade teams who, due their commercial interest in promoting themselves, he suspected used all sorts of dirty tricks to try to ensure their riders won (he was right, too - they got up to all sorts of things) and so as soon as that edition was over he started trying to come up with a way to prevent it happening again. The answer, he believed, was national teams; in 1930 they replaced the trade teams. The Caravan made its first appearance but was a fraction of the size it would become and had hardly even begun to realise the day-glo technicolour glory of the future. It was also the first time the reporters broadcast live from the Tour - in the past they had recorded reports which would then be sped to Paris for broadcast. During Stage 16, André Leducq crashed and was left briefly unconscious but recovered and was helped back by his team. Later on, his pedal snapped off; he borrowed one from a spectator's bike and continued, winning the stage and, five stages later, overall. Charles Pélissier won eight stages, including Stage 1 and the last four.

Top Ten Final General Classification
1 André Leducq (FRA) France 172h 12' 16"
2 Learco Guerra (ITA) Italy +14' 13"
3 Antonin Magne (FRA) France +16' 03"
4 Jef Demuysere (BEL) Belgium +21' 34"
5 Marcel Bidot (FRA) France +41' 18"
6 Pierre Magne (FRA) France +45' 42"
7 Frans Bonduel (BEL) Belgium +56' 19"
8 Benoît Fauré (FRA) Touriste-routier (South-East regional team) +58' 34"
9 Charles Pélissier (FRA) France +1h 04' 37"
10 Adolf Schön (GER) Germany +1h 21' 39"

22 stages (one split into parts A and B) + prologue. 3,507km.
The French Sports Minister, Edwige Avice, complained that the race was being ruined by excessive advertising and suggested that organisers might consider returning to a national teams format; however, they pointed out (in public, to make sure they were supported) that it was only through commercial sponsors and their adverts that the Tour could possibly be as big as it is and entirely free to watch without costing the nation's tax-payers one single centime. A new rule stated that cyclists would be fined, lose all prize money amassed so far and be banned the following year if they chose to leave the Tour without providing a good reason to organisers; this being in response to incidents the previous year when the Plackaert brothers Walter and Eddy, along with Swiss track rider Urs Freuler (brought in as a last-minute replacement for sprinter Jan Raas - manager Peter Post believed he'd be dead weight in the mountains and sent him home after Stage 15, just before the Alps) had left. Stage 5 was halted and neutralised due to protesting steel workers, then during Stage 16 is was stopped again by protesting farmers who drove their tractors along in front of the peloton - a photograph of overall victor Bernard Hinault being given a lift on the back of an official's motorbike with his bike wheeling along beside them had become one of the most iconic images of that year's Tour, as have photographs of the final stage when he broke with tradition and beat 125 riders in the sprint to the finish line. After the race, organisers were inspired by the huge audience of the soccer world cup and discussed running the Tour every four years with the main part in France and subsequent races held in other nations around the world. Thankfully, little came of the plan.

Top Ten Final General Classification
1 Bernard Hinault (FRA) Renault 92h 08' 46"
2 Joop Zoetemelk (NED) Mercier +6' 21"
3 Johan van der Velde (NED) Raleigh +8' 59"
4 Peter Winnen (NED) Capri Sonne-Campagnolo-Merckx +9' 24"
5 Phil Anderson (AUS) Peugeot +12' 16"
6 Beat Breu (SUI) Cilo +13' 21"
7 Daniel Willems (BEL) Sunair-Colnago-Campagnolo +15' 33"
8 Raymond Martin (FRA) Mercier +15' 35"
9 Hennie Kuiper (NED) DAF Trucks-Teve Blad-Rossin +17' 01"
10 Alberto Fernández (ESP) Teka +17' 19"

Chris Boardman
21 + prologue, 3,978.7km.
Lille hosted the prologue (won by Chris Boardman) and the Grand Depart, then the race made its way to the Eurotunnel at the end of Stage 3 ready for its first visit to Britain for 20 years. Stage 4 ran from Dover to Brighton, then Stage 5 started and ended in Portsmouth. In both cases, thousands of fans turned out to watch and the visit was magnitudes more successful than the previous attempt when a few hundred people turned out to watch fed-up riders going through the motions on an unopened by-pass near Plymouth. Miguel Indurain took his fourth consecutive win.

Top Ten Final General Classification
1 Miguel Indurain (ESP) Banesto 103h 38' 38"
2 Piotr Ugrumov (LAT) Gewiss-Ballan +5' 39"
3 Marco Pantani (ITA) Carrera +7' 19"
4 Luc Leblanc (FRA) Festina +10' 03"
5 Richard Virenque (FRA) Festina +10' 10"
6 Roberto Conti (ITA) Lampre-Panaria +12' 29"
7 Alberto Elli (ITA) GB-MG +20' 17"
8 Alex Zülle (SUI) ONCE +20' 35"
9 Udo Bölts (GER) Telekom +25' 19"
10 Vladimir Poulnikov (UKR) Carrera +25' 28"

21 stages, 3,592.5km.
David Zabriskie
David Zabriskie, riding his first Tour, won Stage 1 (which was an individual time trial but wasn't a prologue on account of being 19km - a prologue must be 8km or less) - the next time a debutant won Stage 1 was Peter Sagan in 2012, and it had last happened when Fabio Baldato won Stage 1 after an initial time trial in 1995. He crashed during the Stage 4 team trial and lost the maillot jaune to team mate Lance Armstrong who initially refused to wear it until being forced to do so by organisers, who threatened him with disqualification if he failed to comply. Stage 9 climbed Ballon d'Alsace, marking 100 years since the mountain was the first to feature points for the first men to the top in Tour history (there had been mountains in the Tour previously, but organisers didn't distinguish between plain and mountain stage and no points were awarded for cimbing them), then Stage 15 climbed the Col du Portet d'Aspet to mark the ten years since Fabio Casartelli died there in the 1995 Tour. Many books and websites state that Stage 10 began in Grenoble, in fact official ASO documents show that the start was relocated to Froges. In the last stage, organisers made use of a so-called "rain rule" and declared the first rider of the first passage of the finish line to be stage winner rather than the first rider of the eighth passage, which was fortunate for Alexandre Vinokourov as he'd escaped solo 1km beforehand and moved into fifth place overall. In a break with tradition, overall winner Lance Armstrong was permitted to take the microphone on stage and talk to the crowd; every winner since has been permitted to do the same. Jan Ullrich, who had crashed his bike into his directeur sportif's car the day before the race started, came third overall. Later he would become embroiled in the Operacion Puerto doping case and was stripped of the result - at the time of writing, riders who finished with slower times have not yet been upgraded and third place remains vacant.

Top Ten Final General Classification
1 Lance Armstrong (USA) Discovery Channel 86h 15' 02"
2 Ivan Basso (ITA) Team CSC +4' 40"
Disq. Jan Ullrich (GER) T-Mobile +6' 21"
3 Francisco Mancebo (ESP) Illes Balears-Caisse d'Epargne +9' 59"
4 Alexandre Vinokourov (KAZ) T-Mobile +11' 01"
5 Levi Leipheimer (USA) Gerolsteiner +11' 21"
6 Michael Rasmussen (DEN) Rabobank +11' 33"
7 Cadel Evans (AUS) Davitamon-Lotto +11' 55"
8 Floyd Landis (USA) Phonak +12' 44"
9 Óscar Pereiro (ESP) Phonak +16' 04"
10 Christophe Moreau (FRA) Crédit Agricole +16' 26"

21 stages, 3,430km.
Cadel Evans
One of the most mountainous editions for some years, the 2012 Tour began with a mass-start stage starting off with a neutral (non-raced) route along the Passage du Gois causeway. The first half of the race was criticised by many fans and some riders due to what seemed an unusually high number of crashes (whether or not the crashes were statistically significant, which would suggest an unusually dangerous parcours, doesn't appear to have been shown) and several of the favourites, including Alberto Contador, lost large amounts of time that had to be made up later in the race; other riders, including British favourite Bradley Wiggins, were not so fortunate and had to abandon the race (Alexandre Vinokourov broke his pelvis and announced his retirement, but later returned to the sport). Andy Schleck provided one of the Tour's all-time highlights with a stunning Stage 18 solo break on Galibier (which was climbed again in Stage 19, before the Alpe d'Huez), riding away from the peloton and winning the stage - brother Frank was second, 2'07" behind. Many fans believed that Schleck had won the Tour, but as ever nothing was decided until the end: Cadel Evans turned a 57" disadvantage at the start of the Stage 20 individual time trial into a 1'34" advantage and, with that, became the first ever Australian rider to win the Tour. Mark Cavendish left nobody in any doubt that, when he's feeling his best, he's the fastest sprinter in the world with five stage wins.

Top Ten Final General Classification
1 Cadel Evans (AUS) BMC Racing Team 86h 12′ 22″
2 Andy Schleck (LUX) Leopard Trek + 1′ 34″
3 Fränk Schleck (LUX) Leopard Trek + 2′ 30″
4 Thomas Voeckler (FRA) Team Europcar + 3′ 20″
5 Samuel Sánchez (ESP) Euskaltel-Euskadi + 4′ 55″
6 Damiano Cunego (ITA) Lampre-ISD + 6′ 05″
7 Ivan Basso (ITA) Liquigas-Cannondale + 7′ 23″
8 Tom Danielson (USA) Garmin-Cervélo + 8′ 15″
9 Jean-Christophe Péraud (FRA) Ag2r-La Mondiale + 10′ 11″
10 Pierre Rolland (FRA) Team Europcar + 10′ 43″

Cyclists born on this day: Jürgen Roelandts (Belgium, 1985);Walyer Godefroot (Belgium, 1943); Rob Peeters (Belgium, 1985); Frank Southall (Great Britain, 1904); Amar Singh Sokhi (India, 1935); Andrea Collinelli (Italy, 1969); Armando Martínez (Mexico, 1931); Daniel Olivares (Philippines, 1940); Nikolay Trusov (USSR, 1985); Gustavo Martínez (Guatemala, 1932); Petre Nuţă (Romania, 1928); Michael Turtur (Australia, 1958); Mogens Frey Jensen (Denmark, 1941); Clive Saney (Trinidad and Tobago, 1948); Petr Lazar (Czechoslovakia, 1976).

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