Tour de France analysis: Week 1 in numbers

Depending on how you look at it, we’re either one-third of the way through the Tour de France – because we’ve just arrived at the first rest day – or nearly halfway through it in terms of stages completed and total distance covered. However you choose to look at it, it’s been a pretty eventful race so far, so here’s a quick review of week one of the 2012 Tour in numbers.

The race

10 – Stages completed, out of a total of 21.

1,616.5 – Distance (in kilometres) covered so far, out of a total of 3,497. (That’s 46%, stat fans.)

1 – Summit finishes to date: La Planche des Belles Filles on stage seven. There are two still to come.

Stage winners

Sagan is the only three-time winner so far (image courtesy of Danielle Haex)

7 – Number of different stage winners: Peter Sagan (three), Andre Greipel (two), Fabian Cancellara, Mark Cavendish, Chris Froome, Thibaut Pinot and Bradley Wiggins.

5 – Number of teams to have registered a stage win: Liquigas-Cannondale (three), Sky (three), Lotto-Belisol (two), RadioShack-Nissan and FDJ-Big Mat.

4 – Stages won by 22-year olds: Sagan (three), Pinot.

2 – Stages won by riders currently in the top 20 of the general classification: Froome (stage seven) and Wiggins (stage nine).

21 – Tour career wins for Mark Cavendish after his stage two victory.

16Peter Sagan‘s three victories to date take his 2012 win total to 16.

3 – For the first time ever, three British riders have won stages at the same Tour: Cavendish, Froome and Wiggins.

The yellow jersey

2 – Number of riders who have led the 2012 race: Fabian Cancellara (seven days) and Bradley Wiggins (three).

28 days in yellow for Cancellara (image courtesy of Danielle Haex)

28Cancellara has now accumulated 28 days in yellow during his career – more than any non-overall winner, passing the record of Rene Vietto (26 days).

50Wiggins took the yellow jersey on stage seven on July 7th, one day after the 50th anniversary of the first British rider to claim the overall race lead: Tommy Simpson in 1962.

6 – Only six riders are within five minutes of the race leader in the general classification. A further six are between five and six minutes in arrears.

Other jerseys

32Peter Sagan leads the green jersey competition with 217 points, 32 more than second-placed Matt Goss. He has led the classification since winning stage one.

Morkov was the early leader of the mountains classification (image courtesy of Wikipedia)

6 – Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank’s Michael Morkov wore the King of the Mountains’ polka dot jersey for six days.

21Fredrik Kessiakoff (Astana) currently leads the mountains classification with 21 points. There are 27 points available on tomorrow’s stage alone.

42 – In seconds, Tejay van Garderen‘s advantage over Rein Taaramae in the young rider comperition. They are the only two riders to have worn the white jersey so far, although RadioShack’s Tony Gallopin is just three seconds behind Taaramae in third.

Miscellaneous

17  – Tour starts for BMC’s George Hincapie, a new record.

Zubeldia is the highest placed RadioShak rider in the GC (image courtesy of RadioShack-Nissan)

5 – Number of RadioShack-Nissan riders in the top 17 of the general classification: Haimar Zubeldia (sixth), Maxime Monfort (seventh), Tony Gallopin (13th), Andreas Kloden (15th) and Frank Schleck (17th).

23 – Since 2008, British riders have won 23 stages of the Tour (Cavendish 21, Wiggins and Froome one each) – only one fewer than between 1903 and 2007 .

21 – At the time of writing, there have been 21 abandonments from the race – this includes Tony Martin, who withdrew after yesterday’s time trial.

8 – Eight of the 21 riders to have quit the race are Spanish: Mikel Astarloza, Amets Txurruka, defending King of the Mountains Samuel Sanchez and Gorka Verdugo (all Euskaltel-Euskadi), J J Rojas, Imanol Erviti and Jose Ivan Gutierrez (all Movistar) and frmer green jersey and three-time world champion Oscar Freire (Katusha).

Some data courtesy of Infostrada Sports.

VeloVoices will bring you previews of each day’s stage every morning, live coverage of every stage on Twitterreviews in the evening and in-depth analysis after selected stages.

Link: Tour de France official website

Tour de France: Stage 8 review

Stage 8: Belfort to Porrentruy, 157.5km

There may not have been any great changes in the GC after the difficult stage eight, but it was an unpredictable and exciting day in the saddle, narrowly won by FDJ’s Thibaut Pinot after a long breakaway. There were seven categorised climbs as the race rolled into Switzerland, with all the main GC contenders finishing together.

Speaking of Swiss rolls, Samuel Sanchez took a tumble early on in the stage, rendering the Euskaltel-Euskadi rider unable to continue. In the land of the Red Cross, the Spaniard was carted off in an ambulance with a broken rib, collarbone and wrist.

Sky worked as efficiently as a luxury timepiece in shutting down the opening breakaways, preventing the likes of Sylvain Chavanel (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), Philippe Gilbert (BMC), David Millar (Garmin-Sharp) and Jens Voigt (RadioShack-Nissan) gaining ground early on. Eventually a break did manage to create a gap, headed by last year’s most combative rider Jeremy Roy. FDJ’s Frenchman attacked alone, slipping away from the other escapees, before Astana’s Fredrik Kessiakoff managed to bridge across to the leader on the Côte de Saignelégier.

But by the time the penultimate climb had come around, Roy had been dropped and Kessiakoff was all on his own. Liquigas had taken up the pace-making in the peloton, with RadioShack’s Tony Gallopin and FDJ’s Pinot dangling between the leader and the bunch.

Kessiakoff’s lead to the maillot jaune had stabilised at around about three minutes, but on the final climb it was Pinot who he had to worry about. The gutsy FDJ rider attacked inside the final 20km, and by the time they reached the top he had caught and ridden straight by the Swede.

All of a sudden the favourites were galvanised into picking up the pace, with first Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas) and then Cadel Evans (BMC) both seeing whether they could make up time on the other GC contenders on the descent and flat run to the finish. Kessiakoff was caught, but would Pinot hold on? The gap had been rapidly closed down to under a minute, and he seemed to be running out of steam. Fortunately he could, taking the stage by 26 seconds, with the GC contenders coming across the line together behind him.

VeloVoices rider of the day

This award has to go to stage winner Thibaut Pinot. FDJ’s young revolution continues, with Pinot – the youngest rider in this year’s race – taking his first Grand Tour victory at the age of 22. It was a heroic effort and the French outfit will have pleased their sponsors in fulfilling their stage win hopes already. His palmares – which includes a mountains classification win in the 2010 Tour de Romandie – suggests that he is a rider capable of challenging for mountain victories again in the future, and could maybe even fight for yellow.

Observations

Seeing FDJ directeur sportif Marc Madiot – a former Tour stage victor himself and twice winner of Paris-Roubaix – screaming at Pinot from the window of the team car in the closing kilometres was a magnificent sight. A very popular character, it was obvious what this win meant to Madiot and his small French team, who punch above their weight at the Tour de France every year. What’s more, a successful July will always please the sponsors, even securing the team’s future. Let’s hope this win is the first of many.

FDJ DS Marc Madiot urges Pinot on to victory (image courtesy of Andy Jessop)

Tactical analysis

Kessiakoff has a small consolation for missing out on the stage win – he has taken over the lead of the polka dot jersey by a single point. Sky’s Chris Froome remains in second place, with Cadel Evans two points further back in third. However, Sky won’t be wearing the controversial yellow helmets on tomorrow’s stage, with RadioShack-Nissan ironically taking over the lead in the team classification – this despite their awful season and Tour to date. Their Basque rider Haimar Zubeldia is the highest placed in the GC, 59 seconds behind Wiggins in fifth place. Belgian Maxime Montfort continues to impress in seventh.

Sky looked slightly more fallible today than in their supreme efforts recently. After comparisons to Lance Armstrong’s dominating US Postal Service team, today they looked slightly weaker, with riders being dropped relatively early on in the stage. It is clear that if Bradley Wiggins is going to match the likes of Vincenzo Nibali and Cadel Evans in the mountains, Chris Froome will be vitally important.

Rein Taaramae will continue wear the white jersey of best young rider tomorrow, with Tony Gallopin in second place. BMC’s Tejay Van Garderen has fallen down to fourth behind Pinot after losing time today, perhaps a cause for concern for Evans, given that the American has looked like his key domestique so far this Tour.

VeloVoices will bring you previews of each day’s stage every morning, live coverage of every stage on Twitterreviews in the evening and in-depth analysis after selected stages.

Link: Tour de France official website

Tour of Austria preview

The 64th edition of the Tour of Austria [you mean not everybody’s at the Tour de France?!? – Ed] – or the Osterreich Rundfahrt to give its correct name – kicks off on Sunday 1st July and finishes eight stages later the following Sunday. It attracts a mix of World Tour (six), Pro Continental (eight) and local Continental (four) teams and provides an attractive alternative for those riders more at home in week-long stage races, those teams that didn’t get Tour invites, racers that have already ridden the Giro and young up-and-coming talent.

What kind of race is it?

An eight-stage race covering 1,153.9km, the Tour provides a number of challenging, mountainous stages but also gives the sprinters and time-triallists an opportunity to shine. The Tour is classified as a 2HC race, just below a ProTour race, on the UCI Europe circuit.

The past five winners are:

2007: Stijn Devolder (Discovery Channel)

2008: Thomas Rohregger (Elk-Haus Simplon)

2009: Michael Albasini (HTC-Columbia)

2010: Riccardo Ricco (Ceramica Flaminia)

2011: Fredrik Kessiakoff (Astana)

What happened last year?

While it was a bleak day in France where team leader Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana) crashed out of the race, the sun was shining in Austria as Fredrik Kessiakoff took the final general classification, having assumed the lead after a brilliant victory on stage two  – his maiden professional win – which the team, and he, staunchly defended. The GC podium was completed by runner-up Leopold Konig (NetApp) and former Tour de France winner Carlos Sastre (Geox).

RadioShack’s sprinter Robbie Hunter took the first stage before the GC was turned upside-down on the second day’s summit finish on the HC Kitzbuheler Horn, when Kessiakoff soloed off to victory and the leader’s jersey over a minute ahead of Mauro Santambrogio (BMC) and Konig. On day three, Astana preserved their man Kessiakoff’s lead as Jens Keukeleire (Cofidis) won the sprint from a group of over 20 riders on the uphill finish.

Stage four saw Alexandre Geniez (Skil-Shimano) leave his six breakaway companions behind on the monster climb of the Grossglockner. Sky’s hard-as-nails Ian Stannard won stage five by outsprinting his breakaway companions, while Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) took a welcome victory on stage six – his first since a stage in the 2008 Vuelta a Espana – narrowly beating new Irish champion Matthew Brammeier (HTC-HighRoad) and Daniele Bennati (Leopard-Trek).

Newly crowned German time trial champ Bert Grabsch (HTC-Highroad) took stage seven’s 30km individual time trial ahead of young New Zealander Jesse Sergent (RadioShack), while Kessiakoff rode the time trial of his life to finish fifth, putting more time into the competition. Sprinter Daniele Bennati (Leopard-Trek) claimed the final stage, while Kessiakoff finished safely in the pack to secure an unexpected victory. Astana were top team while Van Avermaet won the points jersey, Nicolas Edet (Cofidis) the mountains jersey and Konig was best young rider.

1. Fredrik Kessiakoff (Astana) 26:59:26

2. Leopold Konig (NetApp) +2:28

3. Carlos Sastre (Geox) +3:05

4. Thomas Rohregger (Leopard-Trek) +3:59

5. Denis Menchov (Geox) +4:02

6. Mauro Santambrogio (BMC) +4:34

7. Morris Possoni (Sky) +4:36

8. Jan Barta (NetApp) +4:46

9. Geoffroy Lequatre (RadioShack) +4:59

10. Andrey Mizurov (Astana) +5:09

This year’s race

The Tour of Austria debuts for the first time in Innsbruck before ending, eight days later, for the 55th time in the capital, Vienna. Riders will  cover 1,153.9km – including a 24km time trial –  and 12,900 metres of climbs including the famous Kitzbuheler Horn and the Grossglockner.

The first stage, with both the start and finish in Innsbruck, features five laps of a 30km long course. The climbing starts on the second stage, which finishes atop the Kitzbueheler Horn. Stage three is undulating but finishes on the flat, offering the sprinters a chance of victory.

Day four heralds the queen stage, with the HC Grossglockner midway. That marks the end of the major climbs, although the fifth stage, the longest at 228.3km, ends with a short but steep (up to 22%) climb up to Sonntagberg.

The sprinters will have a further opportunity on the sixth stage, and the time trial specialists the following day. The race finishes as usual in Vienna, where the overall winner will be crowned.

Who to watch

Defending champion Kessiakoff is taking part in the Tour de France, but nonetheless Astana are looking to mount a strong defence of the title with Tour of Turkey runner-up Alexandr Dyachenko supported by newly crowned road champion of Kazakhstan, Assan Bazayev and every commentator’s nightmare, Yevgeniy Nepomnyachshiy. [Every editor’s nightmare too! – Ed]

We'll be watching Carlos Betancur  (image courtesy of Acqua & Sapone)

We’ll be watching Carlos Betancur (image courtesy of Acqua & Sapone)

BMC are pinning their hopes on Brent Bookwalter, Steve Morabito and Ivan Santaromita. Following his third place in the Italian national time-trial championships, Marco Pinotti – winner of the final time trial at the Giro d’Italia – will be looking to take the 24.1km time trial on the penultimate day.

The race also features last year’s runner-up Czech Loepold Konig (NetApp) and a number of Austrians who will be out to impress in their home race including former race winner Thomas Rohregger (RadioShack-Nissan). Those high mountains are going to suit the diminutive climbers such as Giro del Trentino winner Domenico Pozzovivo (CSF-Colnago) and young Colombian and recent Trofeo Melinda winner Carlos Betancur (Acqua & Sapone). At VeloVoices we’re going to be keeping an eye on the latter, number 91. Let’s see what he can do.

Race details

July 1st: Stage 1 – Innsbruck Circuit, 153km

July 2nd: Stage 2 – Innsbruck to Kitzbuheler Horn, 157.4km

July 3rd: Stage 3 – Kitzbuhel  to Lienz, 141.8km

July 4th: Stage 4 – Lienz to Skt. Johann/Alpendorf, 141.3km

July 5th: Stage 5 – Skt. Johann/Alpendorf to Sonntagberg, 228,3km

July 6th: Stage 6 – Waidhofen/Ybbs to Melk, 185.2km

July 7th: Stage 7 – Podersdorf am Neusiedler See, 24.1km individual time trial

July 8th: Stage 8 – Podersdorf am Neusiedler See  to Wien, Burgtheater, 122.8 km

The Tour of Austria starts on Sunday 1st July and concludes on Sunday 8th. For live coverage check cyclingfans.com.

Link: Official website