Nibali, Contador and others recon the pavé one last time
For the second year running, the Tour de France will include sectors of pavé and plenty of teams have been heading out for some final recon rides ahead of the Grand Départ on Saturday. The chaos that ensued last year during the rain-soaked cobbled stage, where Vincenzo Nibali stamped his authority on the general classification, is sure to be looming large in the minds of many riders.
Nibali was back on the cobbles on Wednesday, as were plenty of riders he dropped that day, including Alberto Contador and Romain Bardet. Joining Astana, Tinkoff-Saxo, and AG2R in packing in the preparation were Nairo Quintana's Movistar, and Lampre-Merida, among others.
The cobbles in this year's Tour come on stage 4 from Seraing to Cambrai, where seven sectors await, some of which formed part of this year's Paris-Roubaix.
The Tour de France in numbers
There are always plenty of statistics thrown around as the Tour de France rolls into town. For instance, if we have a new winner this season it will be the eighth different rider in eight years to win the Tour – something that has never happened in the race’s history. We can thank Twitter user Cillian Kelly for that particular nugget. Here are a few other numbers from this year’s race.
21: That’s the age of Merhawi Kudus, the youngest rider in the race. He also makes history as one of two Eritrean riders at the Tour de France.
2,030,150: That’s the amount of prize money, in euros, that will be awarded throughout the entire Tour de France. Some 450,000 euros of that will be given to the overall winner.
5,000: The amount of money awarded to the winner of the Henri Desgrange prize, the first rider over the highest mountain during the race. This year that honour goes to the Col d’Allos.
3: The number of former winners riding at this year’s race with Alberto Contador, Vincenzo Nibali and Chris Froome taking to the start line.
42.8: The number of kilometres against the clock, the least since 1933 when there were no time trials at all.
39: The number of French riders at this year’s race. It’s been 30 years since a Frenchman wont he Tour, could this be their year?
41: The age of Matteo Tosatto, the oldest rider in the race. This will also be his 32nd Grand Tour appearance, experience that could pay off for his team leader Contador.
Mikel Landa sights set on the Vuelta a España
While the cycling world revolves around France for a month, there is a distinctly Spanish flavour to Mikel Landa’s plans as he heads in to the second part of his season.
The Basque rider was one of the standout performers at the Giro d’Italia in May and will now turn his attentions to the third and final Grand Tour of the season – the Vuelta a España in August and September.
After what will have been a two-month period since the Giro, Landa will return to racing at the Clásica de San Sebastián on August 1, according to Biciciclismo. In between the one-day race and the three-week Grand Tour will be an outing at the five-stage Vuelta a Burgos.
He’ll also be training on Spanish soil, with a two-week block in Navacerrada scheduled for July 11-25. After the Vuelta, the plan is to ride Italian classics Milan-Turin and the Gran Peimonte.
The Basque rider has enjoyed an eye-catching 2015 season in general, with impressive showings at the Vuelta al País Vasco and the Giro del Trentino. It was the Giro, though, where he really set people talking with third overall, two mountain stage wins, and the mountains jersey.
Since then, he’s been on trips to his hometown of Murgia and to Kazakhstan, home nation of his team, and has enjoyed a recovery period before getting back on the bike. He will want to prove himself further at the Veulta, where he has finished 69th, 39th, and 28th in the past three editions.
Tinkoff-Saxo invite young riders to training camp
A group of under-23 riders will be given the opportunity to train with Tinkoff-Saxo this summer. While Alberto Contador and eight of his teammates are riding at the Tour de France, the remainder of the team will be taking part in a training camp in Livigno, Italy.
One of the lucky riders will be Fernando Berceló from Contador’s under-23 Specialized-Fundación squad. He’s the second rider from the team to train with the Tinkoff-Saxo riders, after Enric Mas took part in one of their off-season training camps. Rabobank development riders Antwan Tolhoek and Martijn Tusveld have also been invited along.
The riders will train with the team between 4-19th July.