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2011 Tour de France Thread

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  • 2011 Tour de France Thread

    From the Tour de France web site:

    The route of the 2011 Tour has been determined with two objectives in mind: to set the pace from the beginning of the race and maintain suspense right up until the very end.

    Last summer’s first week was thrilling, and this year it will offer the riders a difficult route, that will be spectacular and capable of providing various scenarios…

    From Vendée to Indre, we wanted to provide the riders with a variety of challenges, including final slopes which sometimes have very marked relief to finish the stages, a team time-trial for the specialists in this kind of exercise, a final stretch facing the sea, exposed to the wind, in the magnificent setting of Cap Fréhel, and of course “classic” flat finishes for pure sprinters. The route has been designed so that all kinds of riders will be able to make their presence felt during these first days where the favourites should already be apparent, especially in the Mûr-de-Bretagne, in an atmosphere and with an enthusiasm that we can already imagine.

    In the Massif Central, the race route will gain height, before moving on, very soon after, to the Pyrenees. During this second week, the peloton will discover the Tour’s new mountain passes, the promising Perthus, in the heart of Cantal, and the outstanding Hourquette d’Ancizan, on the Luz-Ardiden road: the slightest weakness will be fatal, such as on the slopes of the Aubisque or on the Plateau de Beille.

    The third week will be crucial: it will honour the giant, the Galibier, which was climbed for the first time one hundred years earlier, in the appropriate way. Its summit will initially be reached after a long Franco-Italian expedition, (which also includes the ascent of the Agnel and the Izoard), making it the highest finish in the Tour’s history, at an altitude of 2, 645 m. Then it will be crossed for the second time during a very short and exciting stage, punctuated by the twenty one mythical bends of l’Alpe d’Huez, which has never been climbed so late on in the race, two days before the finish in Paris. Nevertheless, the odds for the Yellow Jersey may still be open the next day in Grenoble, in a final time-trial which will hopefully be decisive, as in recent years.

    Christian PRUDHOMME
    Director of the Tour de France

  • #2
    Re: 2011 Tour de France Thread

    From VeloNews:

    The 2011 Tour de France - A review
    Posted by Neil Browne on 10/20/2010 at 7:22PM

    The 2011 Tour de France route was unveiled to a packed auditorium of racers and journalists. With it's numerous mountain top finishes and limited time trials this 98th edition is designed for the climbers.

    The combined time trial kilometers in 2011 is only 64 - not enough to put a climber out of contention (barring a complete disaster). The team time trial returns after a one-year hiatus. Talking to Garmin-Cervelo's (as the team will be called in 2011) Christian Vande Velde he is looking forward to that day. With such riders as Millar, Zabriskie and himself at the helm they are a five-star favorite. The course is completely flat and only 23 kilometers long, so the time gaps will be insignificant. However the psychological damage to those who lose will be immeasurable. The only other race against the clock is on the penultimate day - a hilly 41 kilometer test in Grenoble. The stage winner will be the rider who is truly one of the strongest in the peloton.

    The first week, as usual, is reserved for sprinters. Mark Cavendish is sure to be hunting for the yellow jersey in stage 1 and then snagging green jersey points in stage 3.

    On Bastille Day the Tour enters the Pyrénées with stage 12 - a 209 kilometer route to the summit of Luz Ardiden. This second week of the Tour includes three mountain stages and two summit finishes. While this week won't determine the final wearer of the yellow jersey, the list of potential winners will be shorter.

    The one-hundred year anniversary of the Alps' inclusion in the Tour de France is stage 16. This is fittingly where the race enters this iconic mountain range. However stage 16, with just a few minor climbs, just whets the appetite of the climbers. This brutal last week includes three mountain stages. Stage 14 has on the adgenda five climbs, which due to their brutal nature, will reduce the list of potential overall winners even more. Stage 18 and 19 are both mountain top finishes. The Queen stage is 18 with three mountain passes and finishes on the Galibier. However it is stage 19 - the Modane to the Alpe d' Huez - where fireworks are promised. The stage is only 109 kilometers long which guarantees serious attacks from the gun. The peloton cannot let a favorite gain time on this stage as the Tour is just days away from finishing. This stage, like the stage previous includes the Galibier. The final week concludes with the time trial Saturday and Sunday the traditional finishing laps on the Champs-Élysées.

    There have been a few changes to the points system for the jerseys.

    Points awarded toward the climber's jersey will be doubled on the four summit finishes with lesser points awarded on the other climbs. The reason for this change is to award a true climber the polka dot jersey. In previous years the rider who managed to get into a long break away during these mountainous stages scooped up points. It was not uncommon to see a king of the mountain jersey wearer dropped on climbs the following day, which leads people to wonder why they are wearing that jersey in the first place.

    Similarly in an effort to simplify the sprinter's jersey point system there will be one mid-stage sprint for points. The winner will receive 20 points (top 15 riders get points). The stage winner of the flat stages will receive 45 points. Like the king of the mountain, the point system awards the stage winners rather than the opportunistic break away.

    Like this year's Tour there will be no finish line time bonus.

    Race director Christian Prudhomme is predicting that the second week will thin the herd of potential favorites. In the third week Prudhomme hopes that the final winner will not quite be revealed, "The idea is to maintain suspense until the end."

    There is still over nine months before the 2011 Tour de France rolls out of Passage du Gois La Barre-de-Monts in stage 1, but it's never too early to pick favorites. Due to the mountainous nature of the course Andy Schleck is a heavy favorite. Contador, if he is racing next year, is also a candidate for the top step of the podium. Russian Denis Menchov also needs to be included. Dark horse favorites include Christian Vande Velde and Geox rider Carlos Sastre.

    Here's to hoping that the 2011 edition will produce a clear winner that doesn't need an asterisk next to their name.