Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) has finally succeeded in toppling Rui Costa (Lampre-Merida) as the rider who receives the most fan mail in the Tour de France, Docapost, the company responsible for organising the race’s internal post-service has revealed.
Valverde rose from third place in 2013 to second place in the fan mail rankings behind his former teammate, and he is now getting the most correspondence from the public.
“The most popular is Valverde with 123 letters, second is Rui Costa, even if he’s abandoned, and third is [Alberto] Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo), fourth is Chris Froome (Team Sky) and fifth is [Jean-Christophe] Péraud (Ag2R La Mondiale),” Sylvain Fourre of Docapost told Cyclingnews.
Abandons don’t seem to make much of a difference, given last year Contador, even after crashing out, received a lot of support. And Costa, too, continues to receive mail even though he abandoned the race on stage 11 over the Col du Tourmalet.
Illness and injuries tend to bring a surge of popularity, Fourre tells Cyclingnews. “Jean-Christophe’s accident saw him get a big boost in his correspondence. But it’s a bit surprising we haven’t had more support for the French.
“Last year, Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) got a lot of backing” - he was the most popular in 2012 - “and at this same point in the race last year, he would be in second, third or fourth, this year he’s maybe seventh or eighth. I think maybe Valverde is getting so much support because he’s always on the attack.”
Whilst written correspondence has fallen off notably, emails, which are then printed out, are proving very popular.
Costa seems certain to retain the record for fan mail in over the recent years. In 2013 the rider, who was subsequently crowned world champion, received 285 letters of around 600 in total on the race, while Valverde had 38 and Voeckler 36.
Information on how to send riders standard postcards or e-cards is available on www.docapost.com.
Alasdair Fotheringham has been reporting on cycling since 1991. He has covered every Tour de France since 1992 as well as numerous other bike races of all shapes and sizes, ranging from the Olympic Games in 2008 to the now sadly defunct Subida a Urkiola hill climb in Spain. Apart from working for Cyclingnews.com, he is also the cycling correspondent for The Independent and The Independent on Sunday.
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