Last weekend’s stages in the Pyrenees will live long in the memory, first building up Sky‘s aura of invulnerability and then just as quickly exploding that myth. It was a brutal two days that taught us as much about Chris Froome‘s strength as it did about his team’s weaknesses. But here’s the kicker: it was really just a dress rehearsal for the final week’s Alpine stages, which bear more than a passing resemblance to their Pyrenean counterparts – only more brutal.
The Route du Sud is the last chance saloon for any of the French riders still hoping to secure their Tour de France berth. Now in its 36th edition, it takes place from Thursday 14th to Sunday 17th June in the spectacular French Pyrenees. Some will use this race as a warm-up for the Tour de France, although many top riders consider it to be too hard and too close to the Tour for preparation. The field is mostly made up of domestic and pro continental riders who come July, like you and me, will be watching the Tour de France on TV.
A number of well-known riders have won this race early in their careers, including David Moncoutie, Thomas Voeckler, Sandy Casar, Michael Rogers, Levi Leipheimer, Jonathan Vaughters and Laurent Jalabert.
What kind of race is it?
The Route du Sud is a short, four-day 2.1 Europe Tour stage race, a kind-of condensed Criterium du Dauphine. Winners from the last five years were:
2007: Oscar Sevilla (Relax-GAM)
2008: Daniel Martin (Slipstream-Chipotle)
2009: Przemyslaw Niemiec (Miche-Silver Cross)
2010: David Moncoutie (Cofidis)
2011: Vasiliy Kiryienka (Movistar) Continue reading