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 3 review

Stage 3: Orchies to Boulogne-sur-Mer, 197km

The ‘Tourminater’ aka Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale) easily triumphed once more on a stiff ramp and celebrated with a new Forrest Gump-style victory dance. He insouciantly sailed over the line ahead of runner-up Edvald Boassen Hagen (Sky). Peter Velits (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) was third, while Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack-Nissan) finished fourth to retain the maillot jaune.

Ruben Plaza (Euskaltel-Euskadi) initiated the day’s five-man breakaway, which was never allowed more than a five-minute advantage. Andriy Grivko (Astana) and mountains jersey wearer Michael Morkov (Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank) – the latter in his third consecutive breakaway, earning him today’s most combative rider prize – were the last to be taken back. By then the race had already imploded with around 30km remaining, after a series of crashes and punctures on narrowing roads split in the peloton.

French housewives’ favourite Sylvain Chavanel (OPQS) launched his attack 5km from the finish on a course where last year he won his national road race. After almost coming to grief at a roundabout, he was reeled back in by the decimated, BMC-led chasing pack whose trajectory was halted in the final few hundred metres by a Vacansoleil rider falling in their midst.

As the final climb ramped up, Sagan jumped away and powered to his second win in three days, emulating a feat – two wins in a debut Tour – last achieved by Tom Boonen. He now has a firm hold on the green jersey, while Cancellara‘s still looking imperious in yellow.

VeloVoices rider of the day

This was a tricky one. In the end I went for Saxo Bank’s Michael Morkov. This is the third consecutive day he’s been in a breakaway, hoovering up King of the Mountains points to consolidate his hold on the jersey. A smart move, as his leader-less team needs both points and exposure.

Like Sagan, he too is a Tour virgin but, as his super smooth pedalling style reveals, he’s one of Denmark’s many, and probably most decorated, track stars. I’m hoping Saxo’s kit provider is finally going to spring for some spotted shorts and socks to go with the shirt, helmet and matching handlebar tape. At this stage, a spotted bike would be totally over the top – although team chef Hannah Grant has obviously been busy:

Morkov is also clearly a fan of the film Mary Poppins because in the post-race interview below (audio only) he described Sagan’s victory today as “supercalifragilisticexpialidocious”.

Observations

With about 20km of the stage remaining, it looked as if Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi), escorted by a handful of his teammates, had punctured but it was instead a problem with his derailleur. His team car couldn’t get up to him so he resorted to the Mavic neutral service vehicle which was visibly ‘tangoed’ by the excitable orange-clad posse all shouting instructions in Spanish and Basque to the French-speaking mechanic. Fortunately, he rapidly resolved the problem and Samu and his boys shot off in pursuit of the leading group.

The various crashes in the final hour produced the first three abandons of the race: Kanstantsin Siutsou (Sky) fractured his left tibia and Jose Joaquin Rojas (Movistar) broke a collarbone, while Maarten Tjallingii withdrew after making it to the finish with a fractured hip.

Tactical analysis

Event director Jean-Francois Pescheux warned that today’s stage contained potential perils and that the Tour could be lost here. After a few seemingly innocuous spills and punctures in the first 100km of the race, it all blew apart in the final 30km. Those with the wit or luck to be up the front of the peloton took advantage of the crashes, punctures and narrow roads to decimate the bunch. So who were today’s losers?

Despite crashes, punctures and mechanicals, none of the GC contenders lost any time on today’s stage. Three riders – Philippe Gilbert (BMC), Simon Gerrans (Orica-GreenEdge) and Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) – all of whom might have hoped to be in contention for today’s stage win, were distanced by the crashes and didn’t figure. Voeckler finished nearly 7½ minutes down complaining about the injured knee which nearly kept him out of the Tour.

More significantly, Sky have lost a valuable workhorse in Siutsou which puts team leader Bradley Wiggins at a disadvantage. Similarly Robert Gesink’s chances are diminished by the loss of Tjallingii. Garmin-Sharp’s Ryder Hesjedal may be in a similar situation if Tom Danielson’s shoulder injury prevents him from taking the start line tomorrow.

Conversely, who were today’s winners? One word: Sagan, who cemented both his growing reputation and his grip on the green jersey, extending his lead over Sky’s Mark Cavendish to 43 points.

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 1 review

Stage 1: Liege to Seraing, 198km

A six-man break escaped early on, including Yohann Gene (Europcar), Pablo Urtasun (Euskatel-Euskadi), Maxime Bouet (AG2R La Mondiale), Nicolas Edet (Cofidis), Anthony Delaplace (Saur-Sojasun) and Michael Morkov (Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank), with Morkov the first over three of the four Cat 4 climbs en route to take the early lead in the mountains classification.

But with around 20km to go the racing took a nervous, twitchy turn as the pace ramped up in the peloton. There were two crashes in quick succession, one caused by a camera-wielding, over-eager spectator, which effectively wiped out the entire second half of the peloton. After the crashes, first BMC and then Lotto-Belisol took up the pacemaking, after Jens Voigt (RadioShack-Nissan), who had been sat on the front for nearly the entire day, fell backwards.

The breakaway were caught with 9km to go. As the steepest part of the concluding 2.4km climb took hold, the attacks started. The most notable came from French favourite Sylvain Chavanel (Omega Pharma-Quick Step). But he failed to force a gap, and with just over 1km remaining the maillot jaune Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack-Nissan) gloriously launched himself out of nowhere, with Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale) locked on to his wheel. Cancellara impressively led himself and Sagan away off the front, with Edvald Boasson Hagen (Sky) eventually bridging across. Unsurprisingly, the in-form Sagan sprinted away from the duo to take his first Tour stage win in style. Cancellara impressively held off Boasson Hagen to finish second.

VeloVoices rider of the day

Sagan claimed a maiden Tour win with ease (image courtesy of Wikipedia)

As predictable as it may be, the rider of the day must go to Peter Sagan.

Unlike Philippe Gilbert, who finished fourth, Sagan lived up to expectations with a terrific victory, his 14th of the season. With his ability to stay strong on hilly climbs there is very little that he can’t do, and he will provide a strong challenge for the green jersey, for which he is the favourite.

It will be fascinating to see if the 22-year-old Slovakian national champion can match the likes of Mark Cavendish (Sky) and Andre Greipel (Lotto-Belisol) on the flatter finishes. He rode intelligently here, deliberately riding behind Cancellara, anticipating an attack from the current race leader:

It was a good day today, the finale was very hard. I knew Cancellara would attack so I stayed behind him. I did not overtake him before the final stretch because he was riding so fast.

Observations

It was the second consecutive year that a spectator-induced crash claimed numerous big names, as Thomas Voeckler (Europcar), Luis Leon Sanchez (Rabobank) and Maxime Monfort (RadioShack-Nissan) were amongst the riders who went down, after Alberto Contador was taken out early in last year’s edition.

One of my favourite moments of the stage was Saxo Bank’s Michael Morkov celebrating like he’d won a stage after learning out on the course that he had done enough to take the polka dot jersey. The Dane is 27years old and has been a professional since 2005, but finding out he was the Tour’s King of the Mountains brought back the enthusiasm and excitement of a young neo-pro. Congratulations, Michael!

World time trial champion Tony Martin (OPQS), who suffered a puncture in yesterday’s peloton, crashed early in the stage and rode in pain to the finish. It was initially suggested that he had abandoned with a broken collarbone, although it was later reported that he had a wrist injury and a final decision had not yet been made.

Tactical analysis

Sagan‘s victory was an exercise in good strategy and perfect timing. Whereas Sylvain Chavanel‘s attack came too early to have any chance of holding off the entire field, Sagan coolly locked on to the yellow jersey’s wheel and was in perfect position to track his attack. As at Milan-San Remo earlier in the year, Cancellara was a victim of his own strength as his rivals forced him to lead-out and the Slovak picked his moment to accelerate away for an easy win. Nonetheless, the fact that the maillot jaune was still able to hold off Boasson Hagen was mightily impressive. There can be no doubt: Cancellara is back and fully fit again.

The bunch was quick enough in the closing metres to eliminate any time losses for most of the GC contenders. However, Levi Leipheimer (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) and Jerome Coppel (Saur-Sojasun), who finished 14th overall last year, lost 17 and 23 seconds respectively, Chris Horner (RadioShack-Nissan) almost a minute, and Bradley Wiggins‘ mountain lieutenant Chris Froome (Sky) was 1:25 adrift after a late puncture.

In collecting three points and the race’s first polka dot jersey, Morkov provided a much-needed lift for the beleaguered Contador-less Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank team. With just a single point available in tomorrow’s stage, he will spend at least another day in the jersey, and will no doubt be keen to get into the break the following day to try to protect his lead. With no GC contender, expect to see them animating breakaways on a regular basis.

At the intermediate sprint Matt Goss (Orica-GreenEDGE) won a hotly contested gallop from the main bunch, beating Mark Cavendish (Sky). Despite Cavendish downplaying his focus on the points classification, he did clearly contest the sprint, and must therefore still consider a second consecutive maillot vert as a possible option, no matter how much he suggests otherwise.

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