July is, of course, dominated by the 100th Tour de France. But what else is happening this month? Plenty. Let’s take a look, shall we?
The Tour de France straddles July like a colossus in any year, even more so in 2013 given the spectacular parcours which has been laid out for the 100th edition. Today sees the third of this year’s 21 stages, with the race finishing at twilight in Paris on the 21st, calling on Mont Ventoux and Alpe d’Huez (twice) in the process.
Two other WorldTour races are also scheduled this month. The Clasica San Sebastian takes place on the Saturday after the Tour (27th), a one-day classic typically won by a punchy climber. Belkin’s Luis Leon Sanchez took his second victory last year, with recent winners including Philippe Gilbert and Alejandro Valverde.
Also starting on the same day is the eight-day Tour of Poland, which comprises a mix of challenging medium mountains and flatter stages, making it attractive for climbers, classics men and sprinters alike. Cannondale riders have won in each of the past two years: Peter Sagan in 2011, Moreno Moser last year.
There are also plenty of non-WorldTour races occurring during the month for those not selected for the Tour. Two of the more notable events are a pair of five-day races: the Tour de Wallonie (20th-24th) and the Tour of Denmark (which starts on the 31st).
Let’s kick off this month’s selection with today’s birthday boy. Tour Down Under winner Tom-Jelte Slagter (Belkin) celebrates his 24th today. I wonder if he’ll be relaxing in front of the TV watching the Tour with a celebratory beer?
Three sprinters with birthdays this month have a realistic shot at celebrating with a stage win. Lotto-Belisol’s Andre Greipel, winner of ten Tour stages, turns 31 on the 16th. Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) will be hoping to celebrate his 26th birthday on the 5th with victory in what looks likely to be a bunch sprint on stage seven. Meanwhile FDJ’s former French champion Nacer Bouhanni has the luxury of waiting until after the Tour (the 25th) to turn 23, but will nonetheless be keen to break his grand tour duck.
Former world champion Philippe Gilbert (BMC) shares the same birthday as Kristoff, although he will have five more candles to blow out. His teammate Jurgen Roelandts, a podium finisher at the Tour of Flanders this year, will be 28 tomorrow (2nd), the day of the team time trial.
Some of the riders who have birthdays during the Tour face relatively easy stages on their big day. Saxo-Tinkoff’s Nicolas Roche, for instance, will mark his 29th birthday on the 3rd with a benign transition stage to Marseille. Others are less fortunate. Last year’s King of the Mountains at the Vuelta, Simon Clarke (Orica-GreenEDGE), must climb Alpe d’Huez twice on the day he turns 27 (18th). Ouch.
Finally, how about this for a generation gap? Stefano Garzelli (Vini Fantini-Selle Italia) will celebrate his 40th birthday on the 16th. Ten days later, Vacansoleil-DCM’s Danny van Poppel, the youngest Tour starter since before WWII, will turn 20. Van Poppel was still six when Garzelli won the Giro in 2000!
Happy birthday one and all!
Also on the blog
We’ll be here with our daily previews and reviews during the Tour, as well as providing comprehensive post-race coverage in the week following the conclusion in Paris.
Every Monday during the Tour we’ll have the VeloVoices podcast, with Tim, Kitty and Panache shooting the breeze about the week’s events. This month we’ll also be bringing you a four-part series by guest contributor Nathalie Novembrini, who will be focussing on the psychological aspects of racing in a three-week grand tour.
It’s all fun on Tuesdays with Kitty’s Tweets of the Week, while on Wednesdays Tim gets serious with his Talking Tactics column, where he’ll focus on the team and rider strategies which are shaping the race.
AntBanter‘s on Thursdays, including the Voices’ thoughts on our June Rider of the Month. We’ll also have plenty of Tour-related food for the soul in our July Friday Features, followed on Saturdays by Tour-related food for the stomach with Sheree’s recipes in The Musette.
And, it being July, look out for a little something to celebrate Bastille Day on the 14th, brought to you with that unique VeloVoices touch.
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