Here’s a few facts and figures to wile away the hours until the Tour begins.
Just 1.24% (41.8km) of this year’s route will be made up of Time Trials, the lowest amount in the 1980 to 2015 period. The only other times it has taken up under 2% between 1980 and 2015 was with 1.47% in 2014, 1.67% in 2010 and 1.91% in 2011, with the average across 1980 to 2015 being 4.1% (151.3 km).
There will be 81.8km worth of final climbs at the 2015 Tour, the highest amount in 2000-2015.* This equates to 2.44% of the route – the only other two years in the 2000-2015 period over 2% were 2002 (2.4%) and 2011 (2.12%). The average gradient of these final climbs is 7.19%, almost bang on the average of 7.18. The highest average gradients were in 2013, when the 53.1km of final climbs averaged 7.96%, and the lowest was 2012, when the 42.4km of summit finishes were only 6.01% on average.
Anyone who wants to pick on Bradley Wiggins and say he had an easy ride at the 2012 Tour can point this low figure, plus the high 2.9% of the route that was made up of TT’s in 2012, as evidence as the stars aligning for him that year – interestingly, his other succesful GC campaign, 2009, saw another contextually high % of TT’s at 2.75%, and a mere 40.4km of summit finishes, the third lowest amount in the 2000-2015 period. But enough picking on Wiggo…
*It’s worth pointing out that this is just counting the final climbs, not the total ascent or the entirety of the mountains before hand. There could be a whole lot of summit finishes with not many climbs before hand, or lots of mountain stages finishing on descents that would scew this ratio, for instance.
– Belarus don’t have representation in the Tour for the first time since 2006.
– Daniel Teklehaimanot and Merhawi Kudus will become the first riders from Eritrea to ride the Tour.
– The 10 British riders on the Tour is the most since 2010, when there were eight.
– 2015 will be the first year Kazakhstan have only had one representative since 2009.
– In the first Schleck-less year since 2005, Luxembourg still have 3 riders, equaling their total in 2008, 2009 and 2014.
– With the Tour starting in Utrecht, the 20 Dutch cyclists starting the race is the most in the last 11 years (Only eight started in Rotterdam in 2010)
– South Africa’s four riders is their highest ever representation at the Tour.
– Switzerland will have a double figure number of riders for the first time in the 2005-2015 period.
– Spain’s 15 riders is the lowest they’ve had at the Tour in the 2005-2015 period – they peaked at 41 in 2007 and have averaged 28 in the period.
– The United States can only muster three riders – their lowest since 4 in 2008, and less than half of the 7 they’ve averaged between 2005 and 2015.
There will be three previous winners at the 2015 Tour: Alberto Contador (2007, 2009), Chris Froome (2013) and Vincenzo Nibali (2014).
Everyone seems to think this is quite a large, impressive number, but that’s not really the case. Since 1980, there’s been an average of 2.25 previous Tour winners in each Tour, so it’s not that much of an improvement (the maximum, if anyone is interested, was in 1992, where Indurain, Lemond, Delgado, Roche and Fignon were all present.) Similarly, the three are defending four Tour titles between them – again, since 1980, the average is 4.25 tour wins between competing riders.
I love a good graph, so here that is in graph function
There are a few grand Tour winners however – as well as the obvious Alberto Contador (Tour 2007, 2009, Giro 2008, 2015, Vuelta 2008, 2012, 2014), Chris Froome (Tour 2013) and Vincenzo Nibali (Vuelta 2010, Giro 2013, Tour 2014), there is also Ivan Basso (Giro 2006, 2010), Alejandro Valverde (Vuelta 2009), Ryder Hesjedal (Giro 2012), Michele Scarponi (Giro 2011) and Nairo Quintana (Giro 2014).
As for men who have previously finished on the podium, there is Alberto Contador (2007, 2009), Chris Froome (2012, 2013), Vincenzo Nibali (2012, 2014), Jean Christophe Peraud (2014), Thibaut Pinot (2014), Nairo Quintana (2013), Joaquim Rodriguez (2013) and Samuel Sanchez (2010), although Sanchez didn’t actually get on the podium physically, but he has been bumped up to 3rd after the DQ of Alberto Contador, with 2nd place vacant after Menchov’s DQ.
There will be 36 previous Tour stage winners at the 2015 Tour, with a whopping 105 stage wins between them, enough to take up 5 years of the Tour. Ivan Basso is the earliest winner, having won in La Mongie in 2004. The riders are:
Mark Cavendish GBR, Etixx Quick Step (25 – 2008 , 2009 , 2010 , 2011 , 2012 , 2013 )
Fabian Cancellara SUI, Trek Factory Racing (8 – 2004, 2007 -2010, 2012)
Andre Greipel GER, Lotto-Soudal (5 – 2011, 2012 -2014)
Alejandro Valverde ESP, Movistar (4 – 2005, 2008 , 2012)
Chris Froome GBR, Team Sky (4 – 2012, 2013 )
Peter Sagan SVK, Tinkoff Saxo (4 – 2012 , 2013)
Pierrick Fedrigo FRA, Bretagne Seche Environment (4 – 2006, 2009-2010, 2012)
Alberto Contador ESP, Tinkoff Saxo (3 – 2007, 2009 )
Rui Costa POR, Lampre Merida (3 – 2011, 2013 )
Sylvain Chavanel FRA, IAM Cycling (3 – 2008, 2010 )
Alexander Kristoff NOR, Katusha (2 – 2014 )
Christophe Riblon FRA, AG2R (2 – 2010, 2013)
Matteo Trentin, ITA Etixx Quick Step (2 – 2013, 2014)
Pierre Rolland, FRA, Europcar (2 – 2011, 2012)
Rafa Majka, POL, Tinkoff Saxo (2 – 2014 )
Simon Gerrans AUS, Orica GreenEdge (2 – 2008, 2013)
Brice Feillu FRA, Bretagne Seche Environment (1 – 2009)
Daniel Martin IRE, Cannondale Garmin (1 – 2013)
Ivan Basso ITA, Tinkoff Saxo (1 – 2004)
Jan Bakelandts BEL, AG2R (1 – 2013)
Joaquim Rodriguez ESP, Katusha (1 – 2010)
Lars Boom NED, Astana (1 – 2014)
Matteo Tossato ITA, Tinkoff Saxo (1 – 2006)
Michael Rogers AUS, Tinkoff Saxo (1 – 2014)
Nairo Quintana COL, Movistar (1 – 2013)
Pieter Weening NED, Orica GreenEdge (1 – 2005)
Ramunas Navardauskas LIT, Cannondale Garmin (1 – 2014)
Samuel Sanchez ESP, BMC (1 – 2011)
Thibaut Pinot FRA, FDJ (1 – 2012)
Tony Gallopin FRA, Lotto-Soudal (1 – 2014)
Tyler Farrar USA, MTN-Qhubeka (1 – 2011)
These are split fairly equally, with only 4 of the 22 teams not having a previous stage winner. That said, 4 teams have never won a stage at the Tour (Although 2 are debutants),and some have been waiting quite a while for a stage win. Lampre Merida haven’t won since 2010, for instance, but have 2013 stage winner Rui Costa on their roster now, whilst things look less rosy for Cofidis, who don’t have any previous stage winners and haven’t won a stage since 2008.
Yellow jersey wearers
11 riders have worn the yellow jersey before, for a total of 103 days, just under 5 Tours worth. Only one, Daryl Impey, has never won a stage, and Fabian Cancellara (2007), Vincenzo Nibali (twice in 2014) Alberto Contador (2009) and Chris Froome (twice in 2013) have all won stages in the yellow jersey. Cancellara has the honour of having worn the yellow jersey for the longest time without having actually won it outright.
Vincenzo Nibali ITA, Astana – 19 days (2014)
Chris Froome GBR, Sky – 14 days (2013)
Alberto Contador ESP, Tinkoff Saxo – 11 days (2007, 2009)
Jan Bakelandts BEL, AG2R – 2 days (2013)
Sylvain Chavanel FRA, IAM Cycling – 2 days (2010)
Simon Gerrans AUS, Orica GreenEdge – 2 days (2013)
There will be two previous winners on the Alpe d’Huez in the 2015 Tour – Christophe Riblon, who won in 2013, and Pierre Rolland, who won in 2011. Alberto Contador, sharing the image with Rolland, has also won on the Alpe, but that was in the Dauphine in 2010.
Opening time trial
2015 marks 10 years of a very special event. No, not Lance Armstrong’s 7th title – the last and only time Fabian Cancellara has lost an opening time trial. This is perhaps unfair, given that he has only competed in two. Confused? Well, Cancellara has entered (and won) four prologue time trials in 2004, 2007, 2010 and 2012, and, well, prologue TT’s have to be under 8km in length.
He has entered two opening time trials – 2005 had an 19km opener, in which Cancellara was 7th (although he was beaten by Zabriske, Armstrong, Vinokourov, Hincapie, Bodrogi and Landis – of which only Lazlo Bodrogi has no drug links). Cancellara also won the 2009 15km loop of Monaco, meaning that only Zabriske and Thor Hushovd (who won in 2006) have had a look in at opening TT’s since 2004. Quite a record for Spartacus.
Locking down on yellow
Whilst Alberto Contador has now lost his much admired record of having never lost a leader’s jersey when Fabio Aru, now surely at the very least destined to be an answer to that trivia question forever, pilfered it for a day at the Giro, he has still never lost yellow when he’s had it at the Tour (we’ll ignore that 2010 business, where he didn’t lose the jersey once he claimed it either, but would ultimately lose the whole thing).
Chris Froome is unable to become a rider who has never lost a leader’s jersey once he has claimed it, as he held the Vuelta’s red jersey for a day in 2011 before giving it back to Bradley Wiggins, but he has never lost the yellow jersey once he has held it.
Vincenzo Nibali may have held yellow for longer than any of the overall contenders, but he lent it out for a day on stage 10 to le Planche des Belle Filles, so he too has lost a jersey. Quintana, out of interest in this novel idea of the “big four”, has lost the Vuelta lead after crashing in a TT, so he can’t achieve the “never lost the jersey” feat either.
Fresh from the Giro where, in adding another stage win to his excellent palmares, the chiseled German Andre Greipel has already equaled Thor Hushovd’s feat of winning a grand tour stage for eight consecutive years (Hushovd 2004-2011, Greipel 2008-2015), but he also has the opportunity to extend his streak at the Tour de France to five years, as he has won every year from 2011.
This would put him within a year of equaling Mark Cavendish’s and Thor Hushovd’s 6 years on the trot (2008-2013 for Cavendish, 2006-2011 for Hushovd) at the Tour – it would be all the more impressive given, when that when Cavendish and Greipel weren’t so pally, Greipel was unable to take part in the Tour.
However, Greipel would still be off Lance Armstrong, who of course won stages for seven years in a row. Other riders who can extend their winning streaks at the Tour are both Etixx riders: Tony Martin, who has won the last two years and Matteo Trentin, who has achieved a similar feat. Of course, everyone who won a stage last year who is present this year (Nibali, Kristoff, Navardauskas, Boom, Gallopin, Majka and Rogers) can all double up this time around.
I’m unsure what the biggest time gap between winning stages is, but Ivan Basso could probably get close if he won one, as it would be 11 years since he won in 2004. The gap between a first and last stage might be more interesting – Thor Hushovd and Robbie McEwen had seven years between their first and last stage wins, with plenty in the middle, but David Millar has a 12 year gap, as he won in 2000 and 2012.
Alejandro Valverde wouldn’t be far off, as he won a stage in 2005, and with a finish on the Mur de Huy, he will be confident of winning stages 10 years apart. At Tinkoff Saxo, an Alberto Contador or Daniele Bennati stage win would get them up to eight years, and should the veteran Pierrick Fedrigo on Bretagne Seche Environment capture his 5th stage win, it would be nine years since his first, as it would for Matteo Tossato if he won.
Michal Kwiatkowski will be riding his third Tour, and obviously his first as World Champion, looking to improve on his 11th place in 2013 and 28th in 2014. Stage wins might be more interesting to him however, or simply attempting to do better than past World champions have managed. Here’s a run down of the last bunch of World Champions who’ve entered the Tour.
2014: Rui Costa – withdrew on the second rest day, with bronchitis, having been placed 13th overall, and thus allowing everyone keen to further the idea of the “curse of the rainbow jersey” more ammunition.
2012: Mark Cavendish – having been promised a shot at the green jersey, Cavendish found that a certain Mr Wiggins was calling the shots, finding himself only with Eisel and Boassen Hagen to occasionally lead him out as Sky was consumed with lust for the yellow jersey. He still won three stages though, but was clearly dissapointed at the service he was given, despite becoming the first World Champion since Oscar Freire to win in the rainbow jersey and the first (I think) to win on the Champs Elysees.
2011: Thor Hushovd – already peeved that he had targeted Paris-Roubaix, only to find that Jonathan Vaughters just wanted to use him as an anchor for Fabian Cancellara, Hushovd took a stage win that included a climb of the Hors Categorie Col de Aubisqye as well as a breakaway triumph to show his versatility and talent. Two stages helped him get out of Garmin-Cervelo and off to BMC, where, frankly, he was rubbish.
2010: Cadel Evans – Having ridden to 5th in the Giro earlier in the year, Evans looked on form to add to his second places and banish the memories of his slump to 30th at the 2009 Tour. He took yellow after the stage to Morzine Avoriaz, but had crashed earlier in the stage and suffered a hairline fracture of his elbow, which the team tried to keep secret from the rest (albeit under a covering of tape). Evans couldn’t keep up with the leaders the next day thanks to the injury, and was left in the unenviable position of cracking as both World champion and Tour de France leader. At the time, it looked like his last chance to claim Tour glory had slipped from his grasp…
2009: Alessandro Ballan – Ballan didn’t really do a lot at the Tour, only getting into breaks towards the end of the 19th stage to Aubenas, but he was swept up on the descent as Mark Cavendish added yet another win.
2006: Tom Boonen – With 17 victories under his belt including stages of Paris Nice, the Tour de Suisse, E3 and of course the Tour of Flanders, Boonen appeared to be the imperious sprinter at the the Tour, which would be passing through his homeland on stage 4. Thanks to time bonuses, Boonen secured the yellow jersey for that stage, but was now keen to get a win as world champion and the race leader. However, when the Gert Steegmans/Robbie McEwen partnership wasn’t beating him, Oscar Freire was, and a frustrated Boonen became the most miserable yellow jersey for some time. He eventually abandoned on the stage to Alpe d’Huez, having sprinter to 13th, 2nd, 4th, 4th, 2nd and 3rd.