Tour de France shorts: Dutch police scrap planned protest, Alpecin drops 'doping' slogan for Tour

Europcar finalise line-up, ASO introduces live rider tracking, UCI adds drivers' ed course

No police protest at Tour de France in Utrecht, Rotterdam

A planned protest by the Dutch police union, which threatened to disrupt the second stage of the Tour de France has been called off, AD.nl reported today. The police unions planned to stop the Tour caravan for a traffic control on the Erasmus Bridge in Rotterdam on stage 2 to draw attention to their prolonged battle to improve pay wages.

Police also planned to interrupt the Grand Depart in Utrecht, but decided against it even though there has been no new collective labour agreement. Negotiations are continuing this week.

Justice Minister Ard van der Steur and Rotterdam Mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb planned to ask the courts for an injunction to stop the protest from interfering with the Tour. “I regret this action and I find it incomprehensible that this event, followed by so many cycling fans, is being used for this action,” Aboutaleb said to ANP.

“I have a lot of sympathy for the police officers who are fighting for a better collective labour agreement, but I don’t think that objective should be obtained in this manner."

Alpecin drop 'doping for hair' slogan during Tour

Hair product manufacturer Alpecin, co-sponsor of the Giant-Alpecin team, announced on Tuesday that it has dropped its controversial slogan, 'doping for your hair' ahead of the Tour de France, and for the duration of the race in order to make sure the focus stays on the team's riders, reported AFP

“I would hope that Alpecin as sponsors, and above all the cyclists, will not be the subject of any discussions during the next three weeks of the Tour,” said Alpecin’s managing director Edward R. Doerrenberg in a statement. “We are aware of our responsibility and therefore distinguish clearly between the claims of an effective product and fraud in sport.”

John Degenkolb will lead Giant-Alpecin at the Tour de France this year. The team's star sprinter Marcel Kittel will not start after battling long-term illness for most of the early season.

Giant-Alpecin for the Tour de France: Warren Barguil (Fra), Roy Curvers (Ned), John Degenkolb (Ger), Tom Dumoulin (Ned), Simon Geschke (Ger), Koen De Kort (Ned), Georg Preidler (Aut), Ramon Sinkeldam (Ned) and Albert Timmer (Ned)

Marcel Kittel (Giant-Alpecin) signs autographs for the fans

Europcar to support Rolland in the overall, Coquard in the sprints

Europcar has finalised their roster for the upcoming Tour de France and will put an emphasis on Pierre Rolland for the climbs and a top overall placing, Bryan Coquard for the sprint stages and Thomas Voeckler for the breakaways.

Rolland, winner of the best young rider competition back in 2011, has won two stages of the French Grand Tour in 2011 and 2012. His highest overall placing was eighth in 2012, but he was also 10th in 2011 and 11th overall last year.

This year, Rolland heads into the Tour with strong performances under his belt; second place in a stage at the Volta Ciclista a Catalunya and Circuit Cycliste Sarthe, and the overall win at the Vuelta a Castilla y Leon. He also took two top-10 finishes at the recent Tour de Suisse where he ended up 25th overall, making him a contender for the mountain stages and perhaps for another top 10 in the GC at the Tour.

Voeckler, a four-time stage winner at the Tour, will likely head into the race with his recognizable aggressive style of racing, aiming for more stage wins, while Coquard will focus on the sprints. Coquard as shown top form recently after winning two stages and the points classification at the Route du Sud. He was second in the prologue at the Tour de Luxembourg and took a stage win at the 4 Jours de Dunkerque, and a series of podium places at the Paris-Nice and Volta Ciclista a Catalunya.

Europcar team for the Tour de France: Bryan Coquard (Fra), Cyril Gautier (Fra), Yohann Gene (Fra), Bryan Nauleau (Fra), Perrig Quemeneur (Fra), Pierre Rolland (Fra), Romain Sicard (Fra), Angelo Tulik (Fra) and Thomas Voeckler (Fra).

Pierre Rolland (Europcar) had a go
Photo: Bettini

ASO partners with Dimension Data to offer live Tour de France tracking

Fans of the Tour de France will be able to track their favourite riders in live time thanks to a partnership between Dimensions Data and the ASO. The pair already tested the technology during the Critérium du Dauphiné, using GPS tracking on each rider.

The technology will enable viewers to see the speed and position of each rider, distance between riders and the composition of groups on the road.

"This top notch technological development will enable a better analysis of the race, highlight the race tactics, and also show how essential in this sport is each rider’s role within his team," Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme said. "It will now be possible to understand how to prepare for a sprint finish in the last few kilometres of a stage, feel the wind’s impact on the rider’s speed, and so much more. Our efforts combined with those of Dimension Data will permanently change the way we follow cycling and the Tour de France.”

Dimension Data’s Executive Chairman, Jeremy Ord, said the company would be adding new capabilities during the Tour. “The technology will allow cycling fans to follow the race in ways they’ve never been able to before," Ord said. "Until now it was difficult to understand what was happening outside of what could be shown on the live television coverage. The ability to follow riders, get accurate information about which riders are in a group, and see real time speed are just some of the innovations that will be realised through this solution. During the duration of the three week race, we’ll be rolling out a range of new capabilities, including a beta live tracking website.”

Tour de France statistics: 32 different nations in the peloton

All 22 teams have named their squads for the Tour de France, generating some interesting statistics about this year’s peloton.

According to the Pro Cycling Stats website, the average of the peloton is 29.67 years. Matteo Tosatto, Alberto Contador’s key domestique at Tinkoff-Saxo, is by far the oldest rider in the race at 41. Talented Eritrean climber Merhawi Kudus of MTN-Qhubeka is the youngest at 21.

The Tour de France will be the 32nd Grand Tour of Tosatto’s 18-year career, while 45 riders will make their Tour de France debut this year. These include Britain’s Adam Yates (Orica-GreenEdge), Luxembourg champion Bob Jungels (Trek Factory Racing), South Africa’s Louis Meintjes (MTN-Qhubeka), Irish sprinter Sam Bennett (Bora Argon 18), French climber Warren Barguil (Giant-Alpecin), Luke Rowe (Team Sky) and Zdenek Stybar (Etixx-QuickStep), who finally gets his first taste of Tour at 29.

As expected, France fields the most riders, with 41 Frenchmen in action on home turf. There will be 20 Dutch riders, 16 Italians, 15 Spaniards and 11 Belgian racing, while Australia and Britain both field ten riders. 32 different nations will be represented during the Tour.

Surprisingly there will only be three riders from the USA in this year’s peloton, with Tejay van Garderen (BMC) a definite overall contender. Canada can count on two thanks to Ryder Hesjedal and Svein Tuft.

Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) tops the list of the most successful Grand Tour riders. He has won seven (even if he counts the races taken away from him after his ban for doping). Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) is next with three Grand Tour wins (one in each of the races), followed by fellow Italian turned domestique Ivan Basso (Tinkoff-Saxo), who has won the Giro d’Italia twice.

Matteo Tosatto having fun before the start of the final stage

UCI adds driver training class in Utrecht

The UCI announced today it would add a driver education course in Utrecht on July 3 ahead of the Tour de France. The governing body added a requirement for any press wishing to drive in a race convoy to have a special certification. The move followed the dramatic crash of Johnny Hoogerland and Juan Antonio Flecha in the 2011 Tour de France, caused by a driver of the France 2 media car.

Hoogerland still has scars from being bumped off the road into a barb wire fence, and was finally given an unspecified settlement from France 2's insurer AIG last November.

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