This page is basically a hub for a recent project I’ve done on the Grand Tours between 1998 and 2014 (lots more posts on that coming) Essentially, the aim originally was to look at what position each rider was in over the course of the race and make a graph, and then after I’d done that (which took a while…) I figured it might actually be more interesting to see what time they were behind the leader. Hence, the below graphs show the time that each rider who finished in the top 10 of the race was behind the leader. Personally, and not very modestly given I spent waaaay too long making the things, I think they’re quite aesthetically pleasing (saying “beautiful” seemed a bit overly pretentious) and help tell a story of the races they represent.
I’ll go into more detail about them on the actual pages about each individual Grand Tour, but here’s some of the figures and points I collated from the whole thing.
All Grand Tours 1998-2014
Giro d’Italia 1998-2014
For a more complete look at the Giro, see
Tour de France 1998-2014
For a more complete look at the Tour, see
Vuelta a Espana 1998-2014
For a more complete look at the Vuelta, see
Top 10s Comparison 1998-2014
This graph shows all the Grand Tours together on one graph, by the time distance they were behind the leader. It is tricky to elucidate many trends from this, aside from that post-2006, there seemed to be less distance on average between 1st and 10th as gaps narrowed between contended (draw your own conclusions!). Similarly, the 2nd place line seems to be increasinglt closer to the winner after 2005, although in the last couple of years it seems that both the podium and the top 10s have seen increasing time gaps behind the winner. There have been some very hard courses in the last few years mind.
Comparing just the podium finishers can give us a clearer look, and it certainly seems, bar the anomalous 2006 Giro, that podiums were every so slowly getting closer together until 2007, where the Tour had the closest ever podium finish with Contador, Evans and Leipheimer seperated by a measly 31 seconds. However since then, the gaps seem to have been extending for third place at least, as there have been numerous close (under a minute) calls between 1st and 2nd, with 11 since 2005, compared to just 5 in the 7 years before hand.
Closest Grand Tours 1998-2014
These are the top five closest Grand Tours in the 1998-2014 period, all of which were decided by under 30 seconds. All bar the 2012 Giro and the 2003 Vuelta (As far as I can make out) had time bonuses avaliable, which seems to defeat the traditional argument that the bonuses don’t make racing as close. A fairly impressive 15 out of 51 Grand Tours (29%, comprising 4 Tours, 3 Giros and 8 Vueltas) have been decided by under 60 seconds, whilst 27 (53%) have been won by 2 minutes or less.
1. 2011 Vuelta a Espana – Juan Jose Cobo (Geox-TMC) with Chris Froome (Sky) @ 13 seconds
2. 2012 Giro d’Italia – Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Barracuda) with Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) @ 16 seconds
3. 2007 Tour de France – Alberto Contador (Discovery Channel) with Cadel Evans (Davitamon-Lotto) @ 23 seconds
4. 2003 Vuelta a Espana – Roberto Heras (US Postal) with Isidro Nozal (Once-Eroski) @ 28 seconds
5. 2005 Giro d’Italia – Paolo Savodelli (Discovery Channel) with Gilberto Simoni (Lampre-Caffita) @ 28 seconds.
The time bonuses do make things odd though. For instance, at the 2011 Vuelta, Juan Jose Cobo scored 32 seconds more in time bonuses then Chris Froome, yet won by only 13 seconds – meaning Froome was actually 19 seconds quicker around the course. This isn’t the closest finish if we remove time bonuses however – that honour falls to the 2008 Vuelta. Alberto Contador beat his Astana stablemate Levi Leipheimer by 46 seconds according to the record books. The amount of extra bonus seconds he had accured over the American? 46 seconds. Contador would still have won the event on the time trial tie breaker, as the times in these events are rounded to the nearest second, so Contador was essentially the fastest man around the course by tenths of a second.
This is a flawed hypothetical scenario though – Contador and Leipheimer were teammates, so weren’t attacking one another, and time bonuses (or lack there of) can drastically change how races are run. The rules are all known before hand, so making a case for someone being faster afterwards is pontless.
Closet Grand Tour Podiums 1998-2014
This is just the gap between first and third overall.
1. 2007 Tour de France – 3rd Place @ 31 seconds
2. 2005 Giro d’Italia – 3rd place @ 45 seconds
3. 2008 Tour de France – 3rd place @ 1:13
4. 2006 Tour de France – 3rd place @ 1:29
5. 2009 Vuelta a Espana – 3rd place @ 1:32
These too can be affected by time bonuses. At the 2007 Tour, Alberto Contador got 28 seconds of bonuses, Cadel Evans got 8, and Levi Leipheimer got 12. On this basis, the Tour could have ended as 1st: Contador, 2nd: Evans @ 3 seconds, 3rd Leipheimer @ 19 seconds. Leipheimer actually got a 10 second penalty for drafting at some point as well, so theoretically (and I heavily stress that word…), the podium could have had just 9 seconds across it.
Closest Grand Tour Top Tens 1998-2014
The gap between first and tenth place – theoretically, the closer the gap, the more interesting and varied the race would be.
1. 2011 Vuelta a Espana – 10th place @ 5:33
2. 2010 Vuelta a Espana – 10th place @ 7:34
3. 2004 Giro d’Italia – 10th place @ 7:47
4. 2003 Vuelta a Espana – 10th place @ 7:56
5. 2012 Giro d’Italia – 10th place @ 8:32
Biggest Grand Tour Winning Margins 1998-2014
The size of winning margins came under scrutiny in 2014 when Vincenzo Nibali equalled Lance Armstrong’s 1999 Tour de France winning margin, which, by some (ie those desperate to insinuate doping out of anything), was taken as evidence that Nibali was up to something on the basis that Armstrong had been in 1999. This ignored the fact that major rivals were absent (Ullrich in 1999, Froome/Contador/Quintana in 2014), and was generally a lot of hokum. That said, the biggest winning margin of recent years was almost certainly “fuelled up” – whilst Ivan Basso denies that he blood doped at the 2006 Giro (admittedly against a weak field), his claim that he then banked his blood because he thought he’d need it at the Tour seems a little hollow considering his 9 minute plus victory margin. But hey…
1. 2006 Giro d’Italia – Ivan Basso (CSC) won by 9:18 from Jose Enrique Guttierez (Phonak)
2. 1999 Tour de France – Lance Armstrong (US Postal) won by 7:37 from Alex Zulle (Banesto)
3. 2014 Tour de France – Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) won by 7:37 from Jean Christophe-Peraud (AG2R-La Mondiale)
4. 2001 Giro d’Italia – Gilberto Simoni (Lampre-Daikin) won by 7:31 from Abraham Olano (Once-Eroski)
5. 2002 Tour de France – Lance Armstrong (US Postal) won by 7:17 from Joseba Beloki (Once-Eroski)
Out of interest, the 9:18 gap at the 2006 Giro represents just a 0.169% difference in the times of the riders in 1st and 2nd, which is pretty incredible considering what a thrashing it is. To put it in context, the last placed rider on the race, Carl Naibo of Ag2R, was 4.762% slower at over four and a half hours behind Basso. The closest Grand Tour finish in the period, the 13 second between Cobo and Froome at the 2011 Vuelta, meant Froome was 0.00425% slower than Cobo.
Closest Giro d’Italias 1998-2014
These are simply the smallest gaps between 1st and 2nd at the Giro in the period. Out of interest, if the time bonuses rules applied at the 2013 Giro had been in force at the 2012 Giro (which had none), then the race would have been won (making the huge assumption that they would have raced exactly the same, which is daft considering Rodriguez essentially gave a stage away to Rabbotini) by Rodriguez by 4 seconds.
1. 2012 Giro d’Italia – Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Barracuda) with Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) @ 16 seconds
2. 2005 Giro d’Italia – Paolo Savodelli (Discovery Channel) with Gilberto Simoni (Lampre-Caffita) @ 28 seconds.
3. 2009 Giro d’Italia – Denis Menchov (Rabobank) with Danilo Di Luca (LPR-Brakes) @ 41 seconds
4. 2000 Giro d’Italia – Stefano Garzelli (Mercartore Uno) with Francesco Casagrande (Vini-Caldirola) @ 1:27
5. 1998 Giro d’Italia – Marco Pantani (Mercatore Uno) with Pavel Tonkov (Mapei) @ 1:33
Closest Tour de Frances 1998-2014
Closest finishes between Tour de France 1st and 2nd places. Of course, because these are before any revisions, the 2010 and 2006 Tours are included, whilst there official rankings would be:
2006 Tour de France – Oscar Pereiro (Caisse d’Epargne) with Andreas Kloden (T-Mobile) @ 32 seconds
The 2010 Tour is even more a mess, as whilst Contador is no longer the winner, Denis Menchov has also been disqualified from the 2nd place he was elevated to from 3rd, where he was 1:22 behind Andy Schleck. Thus, originally 4th placed Samuel Sanchez is technically 2nd at 3:01. Geez. Let’s not even get started on revisionism of the Armstrong Tours…
1. 2007 Tour de France – Alberto Contador (Discovery Channel) with Cadel Evans (Davitamon-Lotto) @ 23 seconds
2. 2010 Tour de France – Alberto Contador (Astana) with Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank) @ 39 seconds
3. 2006 Tour de France – Floyd Landis (Phonak) with Oscar Pereiro (Caisse d’Epargne) @ 57 seconds
4. 2008 Tour de France – Carlos Sastre (CSC-SaxoBank) with Cadel Evans (Silence-Lotto) @ 58 seconds
5. 2003 Tour de France – Lance Armstrong (US Postal) with Jan Ullrich (Bianchi) @1:01
Closest Vuelta a Espanas 1998-2014
Basically just the smallest gaps between 1st and 2nd at the Vuelta.
1. 2011 Vuelta a Espana – Juan Jose Cobo (Geox-TMC) with Chris Froome (Sky) @ 13 seconds
2. 2003 Vuelta a Espana – Roberto Heras (US Postal) with Isidro Nozal (Once-Eroski) @ 28 seconds
3. 2004 Vuelta a Espana – Roberto Heras (Liberty Seguros) with Santiago Perez (Phonak) @ 30 seconds
4. 2013 Vuelta a Espana – Chris Horner (Radioshack-Leopard) with Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) @ 37 seconds.
5. 2010 Vuelta a Espana – Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas) with Ezequiel Mosquera (Xacobeo-Galicia) @ 43 seconds
Grand Tours with the lead changing on the last day
It has long been a goal of the Grand Tours to have their race decided as late as possible. After all, its a bit dull if somebody assumes the lead on day two and is never really challenged. The 2009 Tour was essentially built on this principle, trying to make the race be decided on the slopes of Mount Ventoux the day before Paris. Unfortunately, that didn’t really work out, but races have been decided on the last day. This has only happened at the Vuelta and the Giro, as the Tour seems reluctant to move from its final day formula of an essential procession up and down the Champs Elysees, whilst the others are happy to finish with time trials. Indeed, it has been in last day time trials that the lead has changed hands, as shown below.
2012 Giro d’Italia – Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Barracuda) overhauls 31 second lead of Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) to win by 16 seconds (47 second swing)
2002 Vuelta a Espana – Aitor Gonzalez (Kelme-Costa Blanca) overhauls 1:08 second lead of Roberto Heras (US Postal) to win by 2:14 (3:22 swing)
2001 Vuelta a Espana – Angel Casero (Festina) overhauls 25 second lead of Oscar Sevilla (Kelme-Costa Blanca) to win by 47 seconds (1:12 swing)
Grand Tours with the lead changing on the penultimate day
This has been a more likely scenario given that the propensity for a last day criterium of sorts has made the penultimate stage a time trial, especially at the Tour de France. As a result, the lead has changed more often on the penultimate day of the race rather than the ultimate.
2011 Tour de France – Cadel Evans (BMC), 2nd, overturned 53 second advantage of Andy Schleck (Leopard Trek) to lead by 1:34 (won overall by 1:34, swing of 2:27)
2006 Tour de France – Floyd Landis (Phonak) overturned 30 second advantage of Oscar Pereiro (Caisse d’Epargne) to lead overall by 59 seconds (won overall by 57 seconds, swing of 1:29)
2003 Vuelta a Espana – Roberto Heras (US Postal), 2nd, overturned 1:55 advantage of Isidro Nozal (Once) to lead by 28 seconds (won overall by 28 seconds, swing of 2:23)
2000 Giro d’Italia – Stefano Garzelli (Mercatone-Uno), 2nd, overhauls 25 second advantage of Francesco Casagrande (Vini-Caldirola) to lead by 1:27 seconds (won overall by 1:27 seconds, swing of 1:52)
1999 Giro d’Italia – Ivan Gotti (Team Polti), 3nd, assumed the lead from Marco Pantani (Mercatore-Uno) when Pantani was removed from the race for exceeding the haemocrit limit to lead Paolo Savodelli (Saeco) by 3:35 (won overall by 3:35) after overhauling Savodelli with a 4:09 swing.
1998 Vuelta a Espana – Abraham Olano (Banesto), 3rd, overhauls 38 second advantage of Jose Maria Jimenez (Banesto) to lead by 83 seconds from Fernando Escartin (Kelme-Costa Blanca) (won overall by 83 seconds, 1:55 swing)
It is worth noting that Olano had been in the lead for a vast chunk of the race before the penultimate day, where he slipped to third before the time trial, the event he was World Champion in.
Least days in leaders jersey for Overall winner
NB: Number of days they wore the jersey rather than were awarded it.
It seemed fitting to include how long riders actually had the jersey on for. This can be confusing however, as it only counts days where they wore the jersey, not days where they were awarded it. As a result, the first two riders are recorded as having never worn the leaders jersey despite having won the race overall, which is because they only assumed the lead after the final stage and so never actually wore the jersey during the race.
This can be further complicated if someone lost the jersey during the race, as the day they were recorded as moving into the jersey, they did not wear it, but the day they are recorded as having lost the jersey, they did. Trust me, this makes more sense…somehow.
1. Angel Casero (Festina), 2001 Vuelta a Espana , wore jersey for 0 days (assumed lead on final day TT)
2. Aitor Gonzalez (Kelme-Costa Blanca), 2002 Vuelta a Espana, wore jersey for 0 days (assumed lead on final day TT)
3. Roberto Heras (US Postal) 2003 Vuelta a Espana, wore jersey for 1 day
4. Cadel Evans (BMC), 2011 Tour de France, wore jersey for 1 day
5. Ivan Gotti (Polti), 1999 Giro d’Italia, wore jersey for 1 day
6. Stefano Garzelli (Mercatone-Uno), 2001 Giro d’Italia, wore jersey for 1 day
Most days in leaders jersey for Overall winner
NB: Number of days they wore the jersey rather than were awarded it.
Similarly, it speaks of the dominance of a rider to see how many days they wore the leaders jersey for. This can be deceptive, as some riders (Armstrong in particular) were keen to give the jersey away to another team so that the team wouldn’t have to work so hard – this famously almost backfired in the 2006 Tour and 2010 Giro – but essentially it shows the strength of the winner.
1. Vincenzo Nibali (Astana), 2014 Tour de France, wore jersey for 18 days
2. Lance Armstrong (Discovery Channel), 2005 Tour de France, wore jersey for 15 days
3. Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) 2013 Giro d’Italia, wore jersey for 13 days
4. Ivan Basso (CSC), 2006 Giro d’Italia, wore jersey for 13 days
5. Chris Froome (Sky), 2013 Tour de France, wore jersey for 13 days
6. Bradley Wiggins (Sky), 2012 Tour de France, wore jersey for 13 days
7. Lance Armstrong (US Postal), 1999 Tour de France, wore jersey for 13 days
Average time behind winner for placings in all Grand Tours 1998-2014
This is what it says on the tin really, and is fairly self explanatory.
Graphically represented, this comes out as this:
Basically, what it shows is that the Vuelta is generally the race where the top 10 is closest to the winner, and the Tour is where they are furthest away, which follows, given the Tour is generally regarded to be the hardest race where everyone is at the top of their game. Interestingly, the gaps to the second place finisher are pretty similar between the Giro and the Tour, but the main thing to take is that all the lines have a pretty even gradient, suggesting that all the gaps between each position are essentially constant.
Top ten men wins
This table shows the number of stage wins by riders in the top 10, as well as the number of riders who actually won a stage. The final column of the three is then the wins by the champion rider. It’s split by grand tour, with a final colum averaging out each year.
This means that if running consecutively, the grand tour top ten win graph looks like this:
The only real noticeable tend is that 2010-2011 saw a drop in the number of stage wins by top 10 men, before climbing back up, as well as a smattering of grand tours where the winners (for shame…) failed to take a stage win. However, they’ve since started winning them again, and as the chart showed, a grand tour winner wins an average of 2 stages on their way to winning.
The table also suggests that Tour winners are the most likely to be dominant, with 2.17 stage wins on average compared to 1.53 at the Giro and 1.43 for the Vuelta/ The fact the Tour has the lowest average number of different winners in the top ten also suggests the race is more inclined to be dominated by a select few (or indeed one).
Lets look at the graphs for each individual grand tour:
Giro d’Italia top 10 wins
Tour de France top 10 wins
Vuelta a Espana top 10 wins
The Tour and Vuelta graphs especially suggest that the winners of those races are becoming increasinly dominant, given they win more stages, although at the Vuelta the number of winners is gradually increasing, whilst it has nose dived at the Tour. The Giro seems much more level in all categories, suggesting it has been consistently competitive.
Most stage wins by a Grand Tour champion
As seen previously, the winner of a grand tour usually wins a number of stages – this shows who has the most, not including team time trials. The Tour de France and Lance Armstrong are somewhat dominant here.
1: Lance Armstrong (US Postal) – 2004 Tour de France – 5 stages
2= : Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) – 2014 Tour de France – 4 stages
2= : Damiano Cunego (Saeco) – 2004 Giro d’Italia – 4 stages
2= : Lance Armstrong (US Postal) – 1999 Tour de France – 4 stages
2= : Lance Armstrong (US Postal) – 2001 Tour de France – 4 stages
2= : Lance Armstrong (US Postal) – 2002 Tour de France – 4 stages
Grand Tour winners who did not win a stage
Winning a grand tour is of course a great feat, but not winning a stage in doing so is almost considered bad form. of the 51 tours I looked at, 8 featured champions who did not win a stage (16%), with 4 at the Giro, 1 at the Tour and 3 at the Vuelta. They are as follows:
1999 Giro d’Italia – Ivan Gotti (Polti)
2001 Vuelta a Espana – Angel Casero (Festina)
2002 Giro d’Italia – Paolo Savodelli (Index-Allexia)
2008 Giro d’Italia – Alberto Contador (Astana)
2009 Vuelta a Espana – Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d’Epargne)
2010 Vuelta a Espana – Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas)
2010 Tour de France – Alberto Contador (Astana)
2012 Giro d’Italia – Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Barracuda)
Contador is the only man to win two with no stages, but given he is no longer the winner of the 2010 Tour, he is absolved of that. Novelly, the man awarded the 2011 Giro, Michele Scarponi, didn’t win a stage, and Oscar Pereiro didn’t win one in the 2006 Tour he is now owner of (Andy Schleck won two stages of the 2010 Tour). At the Vuelta, we don’t even really have an answer as to whether Roberto Heras or Denis Menchov is the 2005 winner, but they both won stages anyway.
For full breakdowns of which manufacturers have won the most of each individual Tour, you can go to the individual Tour’s page, but the full list for all three, see below. Essentially, Trek have a massive monopoly, mainly helped by Lance Armstrong, but if you strip him out they still share the top spot. In fact, American brands own the podium places on this metric…
Trek – 14 wins (Armstrong T99-05, Contador T07, G08, V08, T09, Savoldelli G05, Heras V03, Horner V13)
Specialized – 6/7 wins (Casero V01, Contador/Schleck T10, Contador G11, V12, V14, Nibali G13, T14)
Cannondale – 5 wins (Simon G03, Cunego G04, Di Luca G07, Basso G10, Nibali V10)
Pinarello – 5 wins (Wiggins T12, Froome T13, Pereiro T06, Olano V98, Valverde V09)
BH – 3 wins (Heras V04, V05, Vinokourov V06)
Cervelo – 3 wins (Basso G06, Sastre T08, Hesjedal G12)
Bianchi – 3 wins (Pantani G98, T98, Garzelli G00)
Coppi – 2 wins (Gotti G99, Savoldelli G02)
Look – 2 wins (Heras V00, Gonzalez V02)
BMC – 1/2 wins (Evans T11, Landis T06)
Fondriest – 1 win (Simon G01)
Willier – 1 win (Scarponi G11)
Giant – 1 win (Menchov G09)
Canyon – 1 win (Quintana G14)
Fuji – 1 win (Cobo V11)
Giant – 1 win (Ullrich V99)
Colnago – 1 win (Menchov V07)