SAN DIEGO, June 28, 2013 – One of the world’s greatest athletic competitions celebrates its 100th year starting on Saturday, June 29. The Tour de France cycling race rolls out from the starting line on the island of Corsica for the first time.
Over the course of 23 days until the finish in Paris on Sunday, July 21, the world’s elite professional bike riders will cover a total distance of 3479 kilometers, or 2,160 miles. That’s the distance from Phoenix, Arizona to Tampa, Florida – but only if you also had several days of riding in the Rockies along the way.
Current champion Bradley Wiggins of Great Britain on Team Sky was a heavy favorite to repeat as the first British cyclist to win the Tour. But it’s not to be. Wiggins withdrew due to a knee injury, a great disappointment for Wiggo and his many fans. But there is a rising star of British cycling ready to step up, his teammate Chris Froome.
Froome has enjoyed a spectacular season so far. He has won four of the five races he has entered in 2013: the Criterium International which was on Corsica, the Tour of Oman, Tour of Romandie, and the recent Criterium du Dauphine.
Froome rode an extremely strong race in 2012, and at times seemed to have the potential to outride his teammate, but it was not his role on Team Sky and so he had to settle for second place.
Critical to a successful Tour is having a strong team to support you. Team Sky is without a doubt one of the strongest teams, which positions Froome for success.
Another rival will miss the tour, Giro d’Italia winner Vincenzo Nibali who was third in the 2012 Tour. He is passing on the 2013 Tour in favor of the Vuelta a Espana. Several remaining GC contenders will make Froome work hard for the yellow jersey.
Cadel Evans of Australia of Team BMC won in 2011 and came in third behind Wiggins and Froome last year. He is a good all-around cyclist, can climb and can ride a good time trial. The question is his age. At 36 he would be the oldest Tour winner in history.
Spaniard Alberto Contador hasn’t had a great season so far, coming in tenth at the Criterium du Dauphine. His last win was the 2012 Vuelta. He says he’s ready and he’ll be a contender. Contador can never be counted out. He’s perhaps the strongest climber with explosive power. If the race is still close when the Tour hits the Alps in its final few days, Contador will have a good chance to win.
Tejay van Garderen is the American best poised for a podium finish. He was fifth at the Tour last year, and he won the Tour of California in May. He is a teammate of Evans for BMC. If Evans fades, van Garderen may get BMC’s support. Another American to watch, though not likely an overall contender is 24 year old Andrew Talansky of Garmin-Sharp. He is riding his first Tour and could challenge for the best young rider’s jersey.
Other GC contenders include young Colombian rider Nairo Quintana with Movistar. Just 23, he is a powerhouse climber, slight and tough. The course suits him. He beat the Team Sky boys in 2012 on the toughest climb of the Dauphine and Sky considers him a threat. His teammate Rui Costa of Portugul won the Tour of Switzerland, a possible dark horse. Jurgen Van Den Broeck of Lotto-Belisol finished fourth last year, so he should be hungry.
Each year the race follows a different course in 20 stages, with two rest days along the way. There is no prologue this year. The Tour is not the same race from year to year, playing to different riding strengths as the flat stages combine with mountain stages, and as time-trial stages are added.
This year, the race favors riders with a strong team and plenty of stamina who possess the strength to climb after long, grueling stages. The mountain goats have plenty to be happy about. There are seven flat stages, five hilly stages, six mountain stages, two fairly short individual time-trial stages; and one team time trial.
There are two more high mountain stages this year than in 2012, an increase from four to six. Four have a summit or high altitude finish, also two more than last year, including State 18 which asks the riders to climb the grueling Alpe d’Huez twice.
Interactive map of the route: http://www.letour.fr/le-tour/2013/us/overall-route.html
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She is also a serious boxing fan covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more Ringside Seat in the Communities at The Washington Times. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego. Gayle can be reached via Google +
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