Sunday, December 5, 2010

YAHOO/Eurosport & CYCLINGNEWS items on 2011 TDF

This is Yahoo/Eurosport report on the 2011 Tour de France Presentation. Looks like i will be in Europe in July so will ride for the 14th consecutive year.

Whilst i ride alone, i am prepared to have others join me IF they have properly prepared and have their support to fall back on in adverse conditions. I don't mind people drafting when they are able to contribute to an improvement in the overall performance but over the years i have found too many looking to be passengers. Better to join me at Giro, Dauphinee or TDS as a warm up event.

Tour de France - 2011 Tour route to suit climbersTue, 19 Oct 11:22:00 2010

The 2011 Tour de France route will perfectly suit climbers such as Alberto Contador although it remains unclear whether the three-times champion will be allowed to take part.

Related Links2011 Tour de France route Saxo Bank to stay even if Contador is bannedThe Spaniard has been provisionally suspended pending further investigations into his positive test for the anabolic agent clenbuterol.

Should, however, the 2007, 2009 and 2010 champion take part next year he will find the route ideal.

There are four mountaintop finishes - two in the Pyrenees, two in the Alps - for 2011 with a prestigious mountain finale on the Alpe d'Huez two days before the Champs Elysees parade.

"We wanted a balanced route. We tried to keep the suspense for the Alps but also to have a big battle as early as the Pyrenees," Tour director Christian Prudhomme told a few selected reporters before the official unveiling ceremony.

Tour de France 2011 : Prés

The Tour will start on July 2 in Brittany, the heartland of French cycling and Prudhomme is hoping the opening week will be filled with action.

"That is why we have this finish at Mur de Bretagne (known as the Alpe d'Huez of Brittany)," Prudhomme said.

"I'm confident I'll have a strong team to help me win this tour," said this year's runner-up Andy Schleck of Luxembourg, who left Saxo Bank with his brother Frank to launch a new outfit starting next year.

Schleck, however, did not mention Contador as one of his rivals.

"A lot of riders want to win this Tour, with (Vuelta champion Vincenzo) Nibali, (Ivan) Basso and (Cadel) Evans being strong contenders," he said.

The peloton will then head south through the Pyrenees, where the riders will tackle the testing Col du Tourmalet and also the Col d'Aubisque.

Organisers said they wanted to celebrate the centenary of the Alps in the Tour, with the punishing Col du Galibier section twice on the menu.

The loss of Contador though would be hugely disappointing for organisers.

The Spaniard has claimed that the banned anabolic agent found in his test came from contaminated meat and the International Cycling Union and the World Anti-Doping Agency are investigating the case further before making a final decision.

"It's a very important case and we need to be compeltely sure (of the facts) when the decision is taken," UCI president Pat McQuaid said.

"It's quite complicated. We are waiting for the results to come back and I don't know how long it's going to take.

"In fairness to Contador, to the Tour de France, we need to go into the details to make sure the decision taken is the right one."

Contador was not seen at Tuesday's ceremony at the Palais des Congres in Paris.

Spain's Secretary of State for Sport Jaime Lissavetzky told Telemadrid he was hoping for a quick resolution to the case because any delay was "damaging for Contador, for cycling and for Spanish sport".

"Suspicion does not mean guilt. We are waiting for the conclusions of the UCI and WADA's investigation," said Prudhomme. "We strongly hope that we won't have to wait too long."

Prudhomme said the Tour would not be harmed if Contador fails to take part.

"We still have 250 cities who applied to host a stage, 50 of them being foreign cities. Barcelona, Salzburg, Krakow were candidates," he said.

"Last week I was in Shanghai and I was amazed by the Chinese's knowledge of the Tour, by their passion for the race.

"The Tour is huge. It is broadcast in 137 countries. In France, it is viewed twice more than Roland Garros (French Open tennis), for example."

Prudhomme, who took over the running of the race in 2006, believes the fight against doping is showing results.

"Pierre Bordry, the former head of the French Anti-Doping Agency, said himself that he thought the vast majority of the peloton is clean," he said.

"Cycling is doing more than any other sport in the fight against doping. If (bloodboosters) EPO, CERA are being detected, it is because cycling is a pioneer in the fight against doping."

Tuesday's ceremony began with a video tribute to former Tour champion Laurent Fignon, who died of cancer earlier this year, with the 4,000 spectators applauding after being shown highlights of the Frenchman's career.highlights of the Frenchman's career.


Stage 1Saturday, July 2 2011
Passage du Gois La Barre-de-Monts - Mont des Alouettes Les Herbiers
191 km
Stage 2Sunday, July 3 2011
Les Essarts (TTT)
23 km
Stage 3Monday, July 4 2011
Olonne-sur-Mer - Redon
198 km
Stage 4Tuesday, July 5 2011
Lorient - Mûr-de-Bretagne
172 km
Stage 5Wednesday, July 6 2011
Carhaix - Cap Fréhel
158 km
Stage 6Thursday, July 7 2011
Dinan - Lisieux
226 km
Stage 7Friday, July 8 2011
Le Mans - Châteauroux
215 km
Stage 8Saturday, July 9 2011
Aigurande - Super-Besse Sancy
190 km
Stage 9Sunday, July 10 2011
Issoire - Saint-Flour
208 km
Rest Day 1Monday, July 11 2011
Stage 10Tuesday, July 12 2011
Aurillac - Carmaux
161 km
Stage 11Wednesday, July 13 2011
Blaye-les-Mines - Lavaur
168 km
Stage 12Thursday, July 14 2011
Cugnaux - Luz-Ardiden
209 km
Stage 13Friday, July 15 2011
Pau - Lourdes
156 km
Stage 14Saturday, July 16 2011
Saint-Gaudens - Plateau de Beille
168 km
Stage 15Sunday, July 17 2011
Limoux - Montpellier
187 km
Rest Day 2Monday, July 18 2011
Stage 16Tuesday, July 19 2011
Saint-Paul-Trois-Châteaux - Gap
163 km
Stage 17Wednesday, July 20 2011
Gap - Pinerolo
179 km
Stage 18Thursday, July 21 2011
Pinerolo - Galibier Serre-Chevalier
189 km
Stage 19Friday, July 22 2011
Modane - Alpe-d’Huez
109 km
Stage 20Saturday, July 23 2011
Grenoble (ITT)
41 km
Stage 21Sunday, July 24 2011
Créteil - Paris Champs-Élysées
160 km


The 2011 Tour de France map

A centenary celebration of the Alps

After a 2010 edition dedicated to the centenary of the Pyrenees, the 2011 Tour de France will celebrate the centenary of the first time the race climbed the Alps.

At the launch of next year's event in Paris, race director Christian Prudhomme unveiled a parcours ideal f climbers, with only 64 time trial kilometres of which 23 are a team time trial. Again, there will be no time bonuses on the road from the Vendée region to Paris, while a testing third week in the Alps sees the Tour return to the Galibier and L’Alpe d’Huez: two of its most legendary climbs.

A diverse start

The 2011 Tour's Grand Départ is in the windy Vendée region in Western France, on the Atlantic coastline. The first stage will see the peloton cross the famous Passage du Gois before the first uphill finish on the Mont des Alouettes in Les Herbiers, famous for organising the Chrono des Nations time trial.

The team time trial is back after a one-year absence, around the town Les Essarts, the home of Jean-Rene Bernadeau's team. The collective test against the clock has a totally flat profile and will certainly re-shuffle the general classification, even if the distance of 23 kilometres might not open up significant time gaps.

Stage three (Olonne-sur-Mer to Redon) will see the riders gear up for a probable bunch sprint as the Tour heads northwest from Vendée towards Brittany. On the next day, an uphill finish on the steep Mûr-de-Bretagne in central Brittany will suit the Classics riders and strong finishers, with the yellow jersey probably again up for grabs.

The Tour will then move northwards on stage five from Carhaix to Cap Fréhel, finishing on a windy and especially treacherous section of coast line. On the next day, the bunch will move over into Normandy for stage six from Dinan to Lisieux, the Tour’s longest stage with 226 kilometres.

Moving south: the medium mountains

After the first week in north-western France, the Tour route heads south into France's central mountain range via Châteauroux. The stage starts in Le Mans and is another sure bet for a bunch sprint. The first "real" uphill finish is scheduled for Saturday, July 8 in Super-Besse Sancy, followed by a perfect day for audacious escapists on the hilly stage nine from Issoire to Saint-Flour on Sunday July 10. Three Category 3 climbs await the riders, with the Puy Mary located more than 1500 metres above sea level.

The riders will be able to enjoy the first rest day on July 11 in Le Lioran in the Cantal cheese region. Two transitional stages will then pave the way south to the Pyrenees on July 12, with stage 10 from Aurillac to Carmaux and then stage 11 from Blaye-les-Mines to Lavaur. Many expected a first individual time trial at this point in the race but the 2011 Tour is set to feature even less time trialling than in 2010, with Prudhomme sticking to one race against the clock only as opposed to two in the past.

The Pyrenees: more than an appetizer

Three days in the Pyrenees with two mountain top finishes will provide plenty of climbing action in the second week and will reveal who has a real chance of victory before the Grande Finale in the Alps in the third week.

Stages 12 and 14 will end on top of Luz-Ardiden and the Plateau de Beille respectively, with the hard day from Pau to Lourdes surely to tempt the climbers to chase mountain points for the polka-dot jersey.

Stage 12 to Luz-Ardiden also has the famous Tourmalet on its profile, and stage 14 includes a total of four passes before the final ramps of the Plateau de Beille: Portet d’Aspet, Col de la Core, Latrape and Agnes.

After another transitional stage 15 from Limous to Montpellier, a day that should be marked green on the sprinter’s calendars, the race will head east across the south of France for the second rest day in the Drôme region on July 18 before the 2011 Tour reaches its climax in the Alps in the third week of racing.

A centenary in the Alps: the big showdown

The Tour De France climbed the Alps for the first time in 1911, with a 366km-long stage from Chamonix to Grenoble taking the riders over four testing passes: the Aravis, Télégraphe, Lautaret and Galibier.

100 years later, stage 16 from Saint-Paul-Trois-Châteaux to Gap serves as a taste of the pain to come and three days in the high mountains begin on July 20 as the peloton departs on a 179km-journey from Gap to Pinerolo in Italy. Three categorized climbs are on the menu: Col de Montgenèvre, Sestrières and the Côte de Pramartino.

Italy will be the only foreign country visited by the 2011 Tour. Riders will return to France on the next day for back to back mountain-top finishes. Stage 18 – the queen stage, no doubt - will finish on the prestigious Galibier (2645m), after crossing some of the most challenging climbs of the Alps: the Col d’Agnel (2774m) and the Izoard (2360m).

The Galibier will be re-visited on the next day via its northern side as the 109km-long 19th stage finishes with the climb to L’Alpe d’Huez. Although a short stage, it seems this one could be just as decisive as the 41km-long individual time trial that will follow on the race’s penultimate day in Grenoble.

No time bonuses, but secondary classifications changed

Again, Prudhomme has prefered a “real-time” general classification without any time bonuses. But the Tour organisers have altered the points systems in the hope of intensifying the fight for the green and polka-dot jerseys.

Prudhomme announced there one single intermediate sprint per stage, awarding half the points on offer at the stage finish. This way, the sprinters will have to sprint twice a day if they want to be a contender for the green jersey. The changes will surely change the pattern of the racing on most days and affect the chances of breakaways making it to the finish.

The mountains classification will also be changed, with double points up for grabs at the four mountain-top finishes of the race. This may be an additional lure for the strong climbers to show off their talent in the high mountains.

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