For half a century, locals, and visitors to the Detroit Lakes area had a local ski hill, Detroit Mountain, for winter fun on the slopes. Sadly, the resort fell into disrepair and shut down in 2004 and for a decade remained closed.
With no place to ski, the community formed a plan – to reopen Detroit Mountain as a year-round resort, with skiing, biking, and even hiking trails. They pulled together and formed a non-profit, Detroit Mountain Recreation Area, Inc., and began fund raising efforts to transform the idea into reality.
In 2014, after raising $8.5 million dollars in private donations, Detroit Mountain once again opened. Gone was the old lodge and in its place was a beautiful new facility. True to their vision, the resort has since offered year round activities with skiing, snowboarding, tubing, a terrain park, and cross-country ski trails, and in the summer, mountain biking with flow and downhill trails, a skills course, a Strider Adventure Zone for the little ones and hiking.
Now in its second summer season, the resort is hosting events such as the Detroit Mountain Shakedown mountain bike race. We stopped by Detroit Mountain the day before the race to learn a bit more and get a tour of the resort with General Manager, Jeff Staley.
Detroit Mountain turned to Progressive Trail Design out of Arkansas, who has built bike parks in bike-crazy locations like Park City, Utah; Aspen, Colorado; and Castle Rock, Colorado, to build their bike trails. With trails designed for all rider levels, the Detroit Mountain trails include lift accessed downhill flow trails, contour flow trails with some nice rolling terrain, and a skills course.
For the kiddos 18 months to 5 years, Detroit Mountain has a Strider Adventure Zone to get them learning balance, handling skills and the fundamentals of riding without the complication of moving pedals.
Detroit Mountain operates a comprehensive bike rental shop with standard, premium and fat tire bikes rentals available with full day, half day and twilight options.
Skiing and snowboarding
As a ski bum, I can only imagine how happy Detroit Lakes skiers were when the lifts on those brand new triple chairs began to turn in 2014.
With the capability for snowmaking on 100% of the terrain, as long as it is cold enough, Detroit Mountain can keep smiles on the faces of those skiers and boarders throughout the winter months regardless of snowfall amounts. Offering day and night skiing, the resort has skiable terrain ranging from a bunny hill to black runs, and the Scheel’s Terrain Park, with tricks, jumps, and rails. The resort has a full-service ski rental facility and offers lessons as well.
Just outside the lodge, a warming hut provides additional space for resting, eating and group events in a warm and cozy atmosphere.
Tubing and Cross Country Skiing
In addition to downhill skiing and boarding, the Landslide Tubing Park, served by a Magic Carpet, provides fun on the snow with no special skills or equipment needed.
For those preferring Nordic skiing, Detroit Mountain’s 7 km of groomed cross country ski trails wind through the beautiful Minnesota countryside. In the summer, the trails are used for hiking.
Dining & drinking
All days on the hill require a bit of après time and Detroit Mountain has just the spot with the beautiful Horses Neck Saloon where you can hop on a saddle and enjoy a beer or glass of wine with fabulous mountain views.
Should hunger pangs arise, The Mountain Café offers a variety of tasty lodge fare with plenty of indoor seating or head outside to catch some sun on the deck and dine with a slopeside view.
Detroit Mountain’s address is 29409 170th St, Detroit Lakes, MN 56501.
Detroit Mountain is about 3 miles from Detroit Lakes, approximately 49 miles from Fargo, ND and 214 miles from the Minneapolis-St Paul airport. Be sure and check road conditions before heading to the resort. Free parking is available at the resort.
While we were in Detroit Lakes, we stayed at the beautiful Best Western Premier Lodge on the Lake, which is only about 3 miles from Detroit Mountain. Located along the shores of Detroit Lake, The Lodge has an indoor pool, day spa, fitness center, complimentary breakfast, spacious fireplace lounge, and a private beach.
Disclosure & disclaimer: Special thanks to Explore Minnesota and the Detroit Lakes Chamber of Commerce for hosting us as their guests. The content & opinions expressed are entirely our own. Reviews are opinion only and Chasing Light Media accepts no responsibility for how the information is used.
The 2016 Amgen Tour of California began in San Diego, California Sunday, May 15 and wrapped up nearly 800 miles later in Sacramento on Sunday, May 22. Along the route from south to north, the riders climbed mountains, traveled the beautiful Hwy 1 along the California coastline and visited majestic Lake Tahoe.
In the end, a 23-year-old Frenchman, Julian Alaphilippe, took home the yellow jersey, something he’d had in his possession since winning the third stage of the race and taking over the race lead in Santa Barbara County.
A couple of days before the race began, a select group of riders met with the press at the San Diego Yacht Club. A beautiful setting, the San Diego Yacht Club dates back to 1886, when local boating enthusiasts formed the club, which has been located at its current location in Point Loma since 1924.
Pre-race press conferences typically include race official speeches, sponsor promotions, local celebrity cyclists and, of course, a handful of the cyclists riding the race.
It was an all-star lineup of cyclists including 2012 Tour de France winner, Sir Bradley Wiggins, Mark Cavendish, Alexander Kristoff, Julian Alaphilippe, Peter Sagan, John Degenkolb, and Taylor Phinney. Chatting under the California sun, the riders answered questions and bantered amongst themselves in the relaxed southern California atmosphere.
A day off followed the press conference, then it was time for the race to begin its journey toward the north.
San Diego stage 1 circuit
The 108 mile Stage 1 began at Mission Bay, traveled through Balboa Park and various San Diego neighborhoods, moved to the nearby hills east of the city, then returned to a finish a couple of miles from the start, near Sea World.
Seven riders quickly pulled off the front of the peloton, maintaining about a four minute lead on the peloton for the majority of the day. We spent the day in a media car in the peloton, near the breakaway group of riders.
As with most breakaways, it fell apart near the end, with 2015 Amgen Tour of California winner, Peter Sagan of Tinkoff taking the stage 1 win.
I’m very happy to be here again, to catch a first victory here, in the first stage. Thank you to all my teammates. Today was a good day. I came here the first time in 2010…it was a very nice race, very good organization, very nice hotels, food. Also, the level of the race is very good, and it’s also very good for preparation because it’s good weather. Now it’s the Giro and Tour of California. And I prefer to come here to train and prepare. And also I like California for the fans, and I’ve won a lot of stages here, and I’m very happy always to return here.”
– Peter Sagan
Stage 2: South Pasadena to Santa Clarita
Day two began in South Pasadena near Rose Bowl Stadium, the site of the finish of the 2015 race. Located only six miles from downtown Los Angeles, South Pasadena is a picturesque community in San Gabriel Valley known for its tree-lined streets and historic homes.
Leaving South Pasadena, the riders spent the day covering 92 miles that included visits to Big Tujunga and Little Tujunga Canyon in Angeles National Forest, before ending in Santa Clarita, which has hosted the most stages in the history of the race.
Remember the above statement from stage one that most breakaways fall don’t make it to the finish? Yeah, well, sometimes they do.
Ben King (Cannondale) and Evan Huffman (Rally) survived the stage 2 breakaway with King taking the win in Santa Clarita. Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) took third along with the peloton 8 seconds later.
The win also placed King in the overall race lead, taking the yellow jersey from Peter Sagan heading into stage 3.
I knew Evan was a pretty quick sprinter. He smoked me in both of the King of the Mountain sprints, so I was hesitant to let it come down to a sprint, but I couldn’t drop him on the climb, so in the end we both fully committed to make the breakaway stick to the finish, and in the end, Evan let out the sprint, and I was able to come around him in the finish.”
– Ben King
South to Central California
Stage 3: Thousand Oaks to Santa Barbara County
Julian Alaphilippe (Etixx – Quick-Step) dominated on the Queen Stage of the Amgen Tour of California, taking the win on Gibraltar Road in Santa Barbara County and the overall race lead.
The goal at the start of the day was to be in a good position in the final kilometers and I was there thanks to the hard work of my teammates, who protected me throughout the day. I felt good, left it late to attack and from then on put in a strong effort. Now I’m in yellow, which is great, and I’m prepared to take things day by day.”
– Julian Alaphilippe, Etixx – Quick-Step
The race finished for the first time on the legendary Gibraltar Road, with the final 12 kilometers ascending at an average 8% grade.
At 10 kilometers to go, the day’s break had dissolved and the peloton began to fracture. Neilson Powless (Axeon Cycling) pulled away from the main group, riding solo for several kilometers, until he was joined by Peter Stetina (Trek-Segafredo) and Lachlan Morton (Jelly Belly).
With three kilometers remaining in the race, Stetina attacked. Alaphilippe quickly bridged to Stetina from the main group, then continued on, passing him enroute to the finish and the stage 3 win.
Stetina finished the day in second place, as well as in the overall race, and now sits 19 seconds back.
George Bennett (Team LottoNL-Jumbo) was third for the day, which moved him into third place in the general classification, 31 seconds behind Alaphilippe.
I’m happy with my performance today. I didn’t know how my condition would be because I was sick in the spring classics. I want to thank the boys for their help today and the team for the possibility to train in Colorado to build up again.”
– George Bennett
Stage 4: Thousand Oaks to Santa Barbara County
Peter Sagan (Tinkoff) picked up another win at stage 4 of the Amgen Tour of California at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey County. Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing) was second and Nathan Haas (Dimension Data).
“I’m feeling pretty good after that stage. It would have better if we could have won a stage already but in the end it was a good day for us and I’m pretty happy with my form after coming back from my crash in Flanders. I think Brent and Rohan had a really good day in GC and everything went pretty well.
For me, on the uphill sections I tried to follow as if you know there is a good finish for you, you can always hang on longer. So, I tried to get over the climbs and the team did a really good job today keeping the pace pretty high. In the end, there was a little bit of gambling about how the finish would go. I’ve beaten [Peter] Sagan a few times already but this time he won so next time I will have to try and beat him again.”
– Greg Van Avermaet, BMC Racing Team
Julian Alaphilippe (Etixx – Quick-Step) retained the overall lead, now 22 seconds in front of Peter Stetina (Trek-Segafredo) and 37 seconds ahead of George Bennett (Team LottoNL-Jumbo).
Stage 5: Lodi to Lake Tahoe
Toms Skujins (Cannondale) survived the breakaway to win stage 5 of the Amgen Tour of California at Heavenly Mountain in South Lake Tahoe. Adam De Vos (Rally) was second and Xabier Zandio (Team Sky) was third.
To get into the break, you have to try at least a couple of times. I knew that the altitude was going to make people suffer, and I knew that even if it wasn’t the steepest hills that the race would be blown to bits. It was a good day for the breakaway. I was really happy I could get into the move, and of course, I was happy to take out the win.”
– Toms Skujins
No change in the top of General Classification, with Julian Alaphilippe (Etixx – Quick-Step) holding onto the overall race lead by 22 seconds over Peter Stetina (Trek Segfredo) heading into the stage 6 time trial in Folsom.
Stage 6: Folsom Individual Time Trial
Rohan Dennis (BMC Racing Team) won the stage 6 time trial in Folsom with a time of 24 minutes 16 seconds, but Julian Alaphilippe remains in yellow. Andrew Talansky (Cannondale) was second at the ITT and Taylor Phinney (BMC Racing) was third.
I was fairly confident as I crossed the line that I had set the quickest time for the rest of the race. I was in a fair bit of pain, the main thing I remember was that I had that taste of metallic in my mouth for the last four or five kilometers from the lactate so it was good to get a drink and wash that out.
The wind was definitely getting stronger and stronger throughout the day which actually played into our favor a little bit with Alaphilippe because he is a smaller rider and would have been blown around a little bit more. In the end it didn’t make too much of a difference with the stage win, that was my goal for the day as well as trying to take time out. So, it was still a good day, even if we didn’t get the yellow jersey.”
– Rohan Dennis
The ride moved Dennis into second place in the overall standings, now 16 seconds behind Alaphilippe with two stages remaining. Brent Bookwalter (BMC Racing Team) is in third 38 seconds back.
Of course I’m really happy, and a small surprise for me to stay in yellow today, because the time trial is not really my specialty.”
– Julian Alaphilippe, Etixx – Quick-Step
Stage 7: Santa Rosa to Sacramento
Alexander Kristoff (Katusha Team) took the stage 7 victory in Santa Rosa, edging out Peter Sagan (Tinkoff) and Danny Van Poppel (Team Sky).
We had to chase hard and still in the end Peter Sagan was right there with me even though he had been out there by himself all that time. Unbelievable. I was happy to be able to hold him off. I think if he had saved some energy from earlier he would have beaten me. I had wanted to see how I felt after the climbs before I put my team to work, but once we came across the last one I could tell I was OK. I was tired, but I knew everyone else was also tired. The guys all did such a good job. It’s always good to finish it off with a win and it shows I am going the right way for the Tour de France.”
– Alexander Kristoff, Katusha Team
Julian Alaphlippe (Etixx – Quick-Step) held on to his overall lead, which should send him to the race win at stage 8 in Sacramento.
Reflecting on the 2016 race, Alaphilippe recognized the importance of his time trial performance in his overall success, while pointing to his stage 3 victory on Gibraltar Road in Santa Barbara county as the highlight:
Victory is always something special. Yesterday was a good performance for me because I’m really not a specialist and I never train with my TT (time trial) bike….I know for only 20k’s (kilometers), I can do something good.”
– Julian Alaphilippe, Etixx – Quick-Step
Stage 8: Sacramento
Julian Alaphilippe (Etixx – Quick-Step) became the youngest winner of the Amgen Tour of California, winning the 2016 race in Sacramento at the age of 23.
It was stressful today, because everyone wanted to stay at the front and fought for a better position. Usually, I’m not nervous, but today things were different, as the victory was closer and closer. Thankfully, I had a powerful team around me, which was always in charge, and as soon as Tom Boonen hit the front with me safely tucked behind him, it was like being on a holiday. Now, we’ll celebrate the win, but once we will return home, I’ll be back on my bike, training and looking to further improve.”
– Julian Alaphilippe, Etixx – Quick-Step
Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data) picked up the final stage win of the race, edging out Peter Sagan (Tinkoff) and Alexander Kristoff (Katusha Team) for the win in a sprint finish.
Its been a tough week, Nathan was third the other day, but we really wanted to get this stage win. It was a windy day, so we had to take on the race. The guys rode out of their skins, Jacques rode the whole day on the front, and then everyone was just really going for it. We had to use our whole lead-out to catch the break, so in the end it was a bit a case of free styling. I was on Sagan’s wheel and know this finish really well. I’ve won here before and knew that, if was in the right position I should win here.”
– Mark Cavendish, Dimension Data
Disclaimer: The content & opinions expressed are entirely our own. We received no compensation for this article. Reviews are opinion only and Chasing Light Media accepts no responsibility for how the information is used.
The USA Pro Cycling Challenge wrapped up Sunday on the front lawn of the Capitol building in Denver Colorado. The men’s event, in its fifth edition, was joined this year by the inaugural edition of the Women’s Pro Challenge, a very welcome and complimentary addition to this ‘Tour of Colorado’.
“Long overdue” has been the mantra for women cyclists and their fans, and 2015 has proven to be a watershed year for the advancement of women’s racing around the globe. Many prominent men’s races took advantage of the obvious opportunity to provide cycling fans more bang for their cycling-crazed buck by adding women’s racing to their agendas. And recently the UCI formed a Women’s World Tour starting in 2016, further solidifying the women’s position in the professional cycling peloton.
The USA Pro Challenge followed this advancement trend and provided a stellar foundation for the women to compete on. A three-stage event; a Stage 1 time trial preceding the men’s Stage 5 time trial on Friday in Breckenridge, a 93km road stage from Loveland to Fort Collins following many of the same roads as the Stage 6 men’s race that started fifteen minutes after the women rolled out and a Stage 3 criterium in Golden after the final stage of the men’s race got underway. Needless to say, the riders took full advantage of this opportunity and delivered world-class racing in return.
Sixty-six riders representing twelve teams would take the start for the Stage 1 Time Trial in Breckenridge. The course would follow the same 13.7km route the men would contest later in the day and included the steep slopes of Moonstone Road up to an elevation of 10,088’ and the fast descent of Boreas Pass taking the riders back into town for a tricky finish.
Kristen Armstrong (Twenty 16 p/b SHO-AIR), who turned 42 in the weeks leading up to the race, would demonstrate her rich and storied pedigree turning in a performance that would edge out her teammate, Allie Dragoo (Allie Oop) by the narrowest of margins. The official time gap between Armstrong and Dragoo was 12 one-hundredths of a second giving Kristen Armstrong the first ever Women’s Leaders Yellow Jersey.
Of Dragoo, Armstrong said, “I love the challenge that was presented today. I don’t look at Allie as losing to me. I look at Allie as an amazing talent coming up on the peloton”. Allie Oop was equally cordial and respectful of her teammates’ victory and the narrow margin, “I’m not going to let it eat me alive. I rode my best. It could have been a gust of wind. It could have been something so small. You never know what could have happened. All I can do is be proud of my self, and be happy for Kristin. It was a good ride.” The podium was rounded out by Amanda Miller(Visit Dallas) 24 seconds off the pace set by Armstrong and Dragoo.
The Stage 2 start line call-ups in Loveland included Kristen Armstrong (Twenty 16 p/b SHO-AIR), the race leader in the Smash Burger Yellow Jersey, Allie Dragoo(Twenty 16 p/b SHO-AIR) sporting the Lexus Sprint Classification Leaders Green Jersey, Abigail Mickey(United Healthcare Professional) wearing the Sierra Nevada QOM Leaders Red Jersey, Chloe Dygart(Twenty 16 p/b SHO-AIR) wearing the Colorado Tourism Best Young Rider Leaders Blue Jersey, Breanne Nalder(DNA Cycling) wearing the Strava Most Courageous Rider Orange Jersey and the rest of Twenty 16 p/b SHO-AIR as the leaders of the best team competition.
The heat and the wind were the two factors on everyone’s mind as the riders signed in and were introduced by the iconic voice and personality of Dave Towles. Strong and gusty tail and cross tailwinds negated any chances that a break would form early on and the wind would follow the riders west to the canyons where the QOM points would be contested. A split would finally form on the climb of Rist Canyon and four riders would stay clear spurred on by an aggressive and fearless descent.
The group was made up of Taylor Wiles (DNA Cycling) Lauren Komanski and Kristin Armstrong (Twenty 16 p/b SHO-AIR) and Mara Abbott (Amy D Foundation). Tyler Wiles would jump clear of the group and out-sprinted them to win the Stage in front of huge and enthusiastic crowds packing the downtown finish. “I knew I was going to have to play it pretty smart since there were two Twenty16 riders,” said Wiles. “Lauren Komanski had gone again with 500 meters to go, so I stuck on her wheel. Then I went with about 400 meters to go, which was pretty early. It was a long straight drag and I knew if I could get a jump and get a little on the downhill I could hold it.”
Adding to the electric atmosphere, cycling legend Connie Carpenter-Phinney was on hand to provide colorful PA commentary as a highlight to the festivities.
The successful long-range break would shake up the GC as well as the majority of the other points classifications. Kristen Armstrong would retain Yellow now followed by Taylor Wiles and Mara Abbott. Taylor Wiles stage win would wrest the Green Jersey from Allie Dragoo and Mara Abbott would claim the right to wear the Red QOM Jersey. Abigail Mickey would rightfully claim the jersey for the Best Young Rider, previously on loan from Allie Dragoo and the Most Courageous of the day would belong to Coryn Rivera(United Healthcare Professional). Twenty 16 p/b SHO-AIR would continue as the leader of the best team competition.
Golden Colorado played host to the Stage 3 start on Sunday and the town delivered a brilliant atmosphere as has come to be expected during its tenure as a host city. The women set out on a very technical 2.4km circuit that they would race for an hour. Barring catastrophe Kristen Armstrong’s 31-second grip on Yellow seemed unlikely to be threatened. At the end of the day, she would survive and only give back two seconds to her nearest rival, Taylor Wiles.
Coryn Rivera (United Healthcare Professional) would take the stage honors with an aggressive style coming through the final corner into the finish. Tyler Wiles and Mara Abbott would round out the day’s podium. On her victory, “It was a really fast finish,” said Rivera. “I had a feeling I wanted to be first out of the last corner as I know it was going to be fast and it was off camber. I wanted to take that risk without anyone near me. I took the last corner on my own and let it all out.”
With the overall win, Kristen Armstrong takes home a new Lexus and her name will forever be etched on the race as its first ever winner. Her sentiments echoed the sentiments of many in the cycling community. “This is the beginning of the new U.S. women’s cycling,” Armstrong said. “This is hopefully going to be contagious across the nation, across the world, because this is what we deserve.” Tyler Wiles (DNA Cycling) and Mara Abbott (Amy D Foundation) rounded out the final GC podium.
The final Jersey podium was as follows:
Kristin Armstrong(Twenty16-Sho p/b Sho Air) – Smashburger Race Leader Jersey.
Coryn Rivera(United Healthcare Professional) – Lexus Sprint Points Jersey.
Mara Abbott(Amy D. Foundation) – Sierra Nevada Queen of the Mountains Jersey.
Abigail Mickey(United Healthcare Professional) – The Colorado.com Best Young Rider Jersey
Amanda Miller(Visit Dallas p/b Noise4Good) – Strava Most Courageous Rider Jersey
Viewed as a success, Sean Petty, Women’s USA Pro Challenge Race Director said. “I looked up that hill today and saw the huge crowds in Golden and tears came to my eyes.” “A lot of hard work went into this from the communities Breckenridge, Fort Collins and Golden and they exceeded all of our expectations. Our goal is to continue to grow the race and make it bigger and better every year.”
Disclaimer: The content & opinions expressed are entirely our own. Reviews are opinion only and Chasing Light Media accepts no responsibility for how the information is used.
In its first tour since being awarded 2.HC status by the UCI, which placed the race at the same level as the Tour of Qatar, Critérium International, Amgen Tour of California and USA Pro Challenge, the Tour of Utah 2015 began in the north on August 3rd in Logan, Utah.
The 2015 Tour of Utah included…
712 miles/1,145.85 kilometers – second longest course in 11 years
51,442 feet/15,679.5 meters of elevation gain – most climbing of any race in North America
7 stages – second year for full week
10 ski resorts – highest number of ski resorts passed
Extended outside Utah to the Bear Lake region of Idaho
3 new state parks along route – Bear Lake State Park, Antelope Island State Park and Wasatch Mountain State Park
2 courses unveiled for Tour of Utah Women’s Edition: Criterium Classic in Logan and Ogden
Kiel Reijnen (United Healthcare) kicked off the race, winning the first stage in Logan after a rain-soaked day of riding, edging out fellow Boulder riders, Alex Howes (Cannondale-Garmin) and Taylor Phinney (BMC Racing) at the line.
In Taylor Phinney’s first appearance since suffering serious injuries in a crash 62 weeks ago at Nationals, Phinney stepped on the podium.
Throughout the week, the race made visits to Tremonton, Ogden, Antelope Island, and Bountiful, Soldier Hollow, Heber Valley, Salt Lake City, Snowbird and Park City.
Jure Kocjan (Team Smartstop) won the bunch sprint in Ogden and picked up the stage 2 win. Robin Carpenter (Hincapie Racing Team) was second and Brent Bookwalter (BMC Racing Team) was third.
With the win, Jure Kocjan took the yellow jersey from Kiel Reijnen, then passed it on to Michael Woods following stage 3. As the race made its way around northern Utah, fans turned out to cheer their favorite team and watch the behind the scenes action.
Joe Dombrowski took over the race lead with stage 6 and held on until the finish line in Park City, winning the overall race for 2015.
Tom Danielson (Cannondale-Garmin) announced Sunday night via Twitter that he has been informed by USADA that he tested positive for a synthetic steroid in an out-of-competition test on July 9.
Danielson was in Logan, Utah to defend his title at the Tour of Utah, which he’d won for the past two years.
Danielson continued on Twitter:
“I spoke with them and my team and I will have to sit out the Tour of Utah as I wait for the B sample as well as look into all the possible ways that could have produced this result.”
“I would never ever take anything like this especially after everything I have gone through the last years. This makes absolutely no sense.”
“I will now, as I wait for the B test, have the supplements I take, tested to see if this is what caused it.”
Slipstream Sports, owners of Team Cannondale-Garmin, issued the following statement:
Tom Danielson notified Slipstream Sports that he was informed by USADA that he has returned an adverse analytical A sample using carbon isotope testing. In accordance with Slipstream Sports’ zero tolerance anti-doping policy, he has been suspended from competition, effective immediately. He awaits the results his B sample. Slipstream respects and will adhere to the process of the anti-doping authorities and will not comment further.
You see their logos on banners, barricades and race vehicles. Stages are named after them. They present gifts to the riders on podiums. Their logos are on the stage winners’ jerseys.
They are cycling race sponsors – the businesses that make pro cycling races possible.
Where marketing intersects with cycling
Marketing at cycling races is as old as cycling races themselves.
The first Tour de France in 1903 was conceived by Géo Lefèvre of the newspaper L’Auto (predecessor of today’s L’Équipe) to increase circulation after sales stagnated to which they attributed to their longtime competitor Le Vélo.
Cycling races had previously been used to promote newspaper sales but no one had tried such a long distance race. The first Tour de France started on the 1st of July in 1903 in the village of Montgeron and, as they say, the rest is history. Along the way, it’s gotten a bit more commercial. One of the most popular aspects of the current day Tour de France is the publicity tour that precedes the race each day, arriving an hour before the riders to the delight of the fans as they scramble to collect the hats, food, product samples and trinkets tossed from the parade.
A cycling race is a big – and yes, commercial – event. Bringing the event to fruition is a huge undertaking with thousands of people and months of work involved. It is not a cheap endeavor.
Enter the sponsors.
Just like publishing or television, sponsors are required to bring content to market. In this case, it just happens that the content is the race.
And, while some sponsors are happy with a logo on a barricade, others are a bit more inventive. Such was the case with Malouf, a creative company headquartered in Logan, Utah, the host city for the start of the 2015 Tour of Utah.
Sweet dreams for the Tour of Utah 2015 riders
When Jake Neeley of Malouf heard the riders at the Tour of Utah would be staying in the dorms at Utah State University, he saw an opportunity to improve the spot where these pro cyclists placed their heads during the race.
Malouf, a maker of high-quality pillows and sleep products, gave each rider of the 2015 Tour of Utah a pillow of their choice during the team presentation ceremonies prior to the race. The riders had fun with the project and seemed to thoroughly enjoy the selection process.
With a professional bike race in our back yard and a good number of employees who race locally, our interest in sponsoring the Tour of Utah came quite easily. That interest went beyond just getting our logo printed on a banner or having our name mentioned during race events; we wanted to make a more personal impact. As a creator of high-end pillows, we knew we could promote better recovery by giving each rider a pillow to use during the race and after.
As each team left the stage, I loved seeing the excitement of the riders when they learned we were giving them a pillow! We gave away over 200 pillows, but dozens of pillow filled selfies was all worth it.
If this is the fastest Tour of Utah to date, we might just have to take some credit.”
No matter which bike race we are covering, rarely a day goes by without people telling us how they wished they could do what we do. It’s true, covering pro cycling is pretty cool.
But, it’s also a lot of work. We multitask and function on little sleep to get it done – and, we honestly rarely accomplish everything we want to in a day before it’s time to move on to the next town. So, I thought I’d share what it’s like with life on the road covering the Tour de France. I chose stage 3 which began in Antwerp and ended on the Mur de Huy to provide a glimpse into our day.
First thing each morning, after attempting to remember what town we are in, is to grab the laptop, check social media, post the day’s route map, and have a look again at the technical race guide to plan the day.
Each race provides a technical race guide for the teams, support staff, and media that contains route information, time schedules, maps, parking locations, team hotels and host city information. It is frequently referred to as the “race bible.”
Following a quick shower and jamming everything back in the bags, it’s back to editing photos from the day before. We each typically shoot several hundred to a thousand images in a day, so many photos will remain unedited until after the race.
At this stop, we stayed in the same hotel as Movistar. Heading down to check out, we step off the elevator into a lobby filled with fans waiting in hopes of getting a photo or autograph from Quintana or Valverde.
Not disappointing, Valverde appears just after us and stops for photos with fans.
We head out the door and make our way behind the Movistar guys to the stage start, which is about a 10-minute walk from the hotel through the crowds.
We also frequently hear, “You get to see so many awesome places.” Yes, sort of. We see a lot of hotel rooms, whatever is along the side of the road as we head from start to finish each day and the scenery at the starts and finishes.
Unfortunately, there is rarely – make that never – anytime for sightseeing or exploring the beautiful host cities we find ourselves in each day. Some of the sights are stunning, such as the stage 3 start location in the center of Antwerpen/Antwerp/Anvers (it’s Antwerpen in Dutch-Flemish, Antwerp in English, Anvers in French) and at the finish in Huy.
Shooting the start is the most relaxed part of each day. Riders are casual as they sign in, which at the Tour de France, is actually a push of a button by each rider creating an electronic signature.
Following sign in, riders stop by the PowerBar tent for some snacks, chat with one another, and sign autographs for fans. On this morning, Tommy Voeckler also stopped by the Vittel water station and used some water from the melted ice to wash his tires.
As sign-in grows to a close, we head to the start line. Each day actually has two starts – an unofficial start, where we were near the sign-in and an official start after a parade route/neutral zone. The riders line up, and after they depart, they ride through the neutral zone and then stop again for another ceremony and the official start.
As soon as the riders set off, we grab a takeout lunch and head for the car. Next stop, Huy.
Meanwhile back in Boulder….
A 1:00 pm start in Belgium means a 5:00 am start in Colorado when Todd Hofert rolls out of bed, turns on the race and begins to write. The one disadvantage of covering a race in person is that you actually see very little of it. We have the app on our phones and in Europe, the race is streamed on the Tour website with the ability to switch between moto feeds, which is really cool.
However, in reality, the majority of our day is spent navigating the off-course itinerary and editing a few photos to put up during the race. Some days we intersect with the actual race course for some mid-stage coverage, but not on this stage as we anticipated (correctly) that the Mur de Huy would be quite crowded.
Which brings us back to Todd, who writes the stage recap as it happens throughout the race, capturing the events as they occur, which on stage 3, included some serious crashes.
Like Hansel and Gretel and their breadcrumbs, the race leaves a trail of signs for us to follow on an alternate route from the race to guide us from the start city to the finish line. In many locations, we actually drive the last part of the race route, which is quite helpful in understanding the last kilometers of the race course.
On the way through Huy a couple of guys stopped us and asked for a ride, so they piled in the back and we headed up the hill.
Press parking and the press center is normally very close to the finish line at races. We typically stop by the press center to grab water, head out to scout our locations to shoot the finish, then wait.
The riders hit the finish line, with today’s winner being Team Katusha’s Joaquim “Purito” Rodriguez. Chris Froome (Team Sky) was second and Alexis Vuillermoz (AG2R La Mondiale) was third.
Fabian Cancellara (Trek Factory Racing), who started the day in yellow, crashed mid-way through the stage and was forced to abandon the Tour. Chris Froome (Team Sky) moved into the overall race lead.
Races are carefully choreographed presentations with thousands of people handling the countless tasks that occur each day in multiple locations. Podium at the Tour de France is managed down to the last detail, with a “director” changing the stage background with the push of a button as each jersey is presented and cueing timing with signs.
After shooting podium, we head back into the press center, which at the Tour is massive. Todd’s article is usually in my inbox when I sit down and power up my computer and TravelWifi, our personal wifi. Travel Wifi is a sponsor and is what’s keeping us connected throughout the entire Tour no matter where we happen to be – in our hotel, in our car, in the press center, or out shooting on course.
Results go up, the recap article gets added, we each quickly edit & add the finish line and podium photos. Rider comments are added as they are obtained.
Time to head out for our hotel – always a slow process as the thousands of cars leave the parking areas and head through the small European streets.
Our stage 3 hotel was in Namur, about 40 km away. Planning and scheduling hotels for the entire Tour took a little over three days of work and has to be done after host cities are announced but before the actual race route is published, which takes a bit of guesswork and a lot of searching.
We arrive and the guys we gave a ride up the hill were sitting in our hotel lobby. Quelle coïncidence!
Time for wine, dinner and editing photos. We head to the bar, grab a table near a power outlet, and begin to work again.
11:00 pm – 1:00 am
Back upstairs for more work. Stage 4 is the cobble stage, so we make our plans on which sectors to cover then decide to call it a day at 1:00 am.
André Greipel (Lotto Soudal) won the Champs-Élysées bunch sprint at the final finish of the Tour de France 2015, beating Bryan Coquard (Team Europcar) and Alexander Kristoff (Team Katusha) at the line.
Movistar rounded out the final podium with Nairo Quintana (COL) coming in second and Alejandro Valverde (ESP) in third.
Chris Froome (Team Sky) arrived at the finish after the ceremonial ride to Paris to claim his final 2015 Tour de France Maillot Jaune.
Of course, I want to start off by thanking my team-mates. Without you guys I would not be standing up here. Richie, Wout, Ian, G, Pete, Luke, Nico and Leo. My utmost respect and gratitude. This is your yellow jersey as much as it is mine.
Thank you to all the support staff of Team Sky. Your endless dedication and commitment is what has got us through the tough moments of this year’s Tour de France.
The maillot jaune is special, very special. I understand its history, good and bad. I will always respect it. Never dishonour it, and I will always be proud to have won it. Thank you very much.”
– Chris Froome, Team Sky
Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo) won the points category, taking his 4th green jersey in a row.
I am very happy because this year was a very hard fight from the first stages. My role in the team was different from previous years. I’m very happy that I haven’t crashed and that I can make it here in the green jersey – it’s a special feeling for me. It has been a different Tour for me but also a very big experience to ride with Alberto Contador, he is a big champion and I’ve also had a lot of fun in this year’s Tour on the road and together with my teammates.
For sure it was a very big fight from the start and I knew that it wasn’t easy. There was less pressure on me to create individual results but I also had a different role. But the pressure overall has been high, we have been very concentrated but it has been a big experience for me. I’ve tried to win stages, but it was not easy. I think I can be satisfied, I have been very aggressive and I have the green jersey.”
– Peter Sagan, Tinkoff-Saxo
Froome also won the King of the Mountains category.
Quintana topped the Best Young Rider category, picking up the white jersey for the race.
Movistar took overall top team honors.
Tour de France 2015 Stage 21 Top 10
André Greipel (GER) #75
LOTTO-SOUDAL 02h 49′ 41″
Bryan Coquard (FRA) #122
TEAM EUROPCAR same time
Alexander Kristoff (NOR) #96
TEAM KATUSHA same time
Edvald Boasson Hagen (NOR) #211
MTN-Qhubeka same time
Arnaud Demare (FRA) #24
FDJ same time
Mark Cavendish (GBR) #112
QUICK STEP-Etixx same time
Peter Sagan (SVK) #47
TINKOFF-SAXO same time
John Degenkolb (GER) #81
TEAM GIANT-ALPECIN same time
Michael Matthews (AUS) #105
ORICA GREENEDGE same time
Ramunas Navardauskas (LTU) #168
TEAM GARMIN-CANNONDALE same time
Tour de France 2015 General Classification Final Top 10
Christopher Froome (GBR) #31
TEAM SKY 84h 46′ 14″
Nairo Quintana (COL) #51
MOVISTAR TEAM 84h 47′ 26″ +1:12
Alpe d’Huez has hosted 28 previous stage finishes in the Tour de France, more than any other summit climb. Crowds lining the twenty-one switchbacks have been estimated to be over a million in years past. Many have been camping there for several days and their anticipation has been growing by the minute. Strava Labs has posted a crowd sourced photo explorer dotting this year’s festivities along the slopes. As such, you can rest assured there will be a frenzy on the slopes of the Alpe d’Huez long before the race caravan. It will reach a fevered pitch when the riders arrive.
The stage today again crossed the Col de la Croix de Fer as it did the day before. The Croix de Fer, a late addition to Stage 20, replaced the original plan to cross the Col du Galibier, those plans scrapped due to the danger of falling rock. Stage 20 approached the Croix de Fer from the southeast rather than the northwest approach of yesterdays stage. Today’s version of the climb would be longer but not as steep.
Chris Froome, at this stage of the race, must be ready to just get it over with. He again endured rude treatment from a person who spit on him on his way up a climb. Clearly captured on video many on Twitter have been calling for his identity along with a variety of suggestions for retaliation against him. Be aware that viral Internet karma can be a bitch.
The flag dropped at 01:18 PM local time and a group of two, then four formed at 1:20 PM. Alexandre Geniez (FDJ), Ramunas Navardauskas (Cannondale-Garmin), Lars Bak (Lotto-Soudal) and Nicolas Edet (Cofidis) made up the break that stretched out to 7:20 at the base of the Col de la Croix de Fer.
The peloton arrived at the climb to the iron cross and all was tranquillo, but it didn’t last long. Ruben Plaza (Lampre-Merida) took his daily shot at bridging up and getting himself in the break. He brought Andriy Grivko (Astana) with him and not long after a group including Rafel Majka (Tinkoff-Saxo), Winner Anacona (Movistar), Warren Barguil (Giant-Alpecin) and Bartosz Huzarski (Bora) joined them.
Riders continued to jump across the gap to the chase group, it swelled to ten with the addition of Bob Jungels (Trek Factory Racing), Pierre Rolland (Europcar), Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo) and Dylan van Baarle (Cannondale).
AG2R came to the front to assist Sky with the chase looking to secure the Polka-Dot Jersey for Romain Bardet, a feat likely come up short. The tempo set by AG2R brought most of the counter-attacking group back into their fold only Majka, Plaza and Anacona managed to stay clear.
The pace set by Ag2R was relentless. The pressure reeled the Majka group back and reduced the gap to the four leaders to five minutes halfway up the climb. Richie Porte could be seen following the wheels and shoveling calories in preparing for what was sure to be a painful day in the saddle, his assignment, to protect Froome as long as possible.
Jean-Christophe Peraud buried himself for Bardet and fell out the back spent. Astana and Movistar now starting to show their colors at the front. The pace dismantled Saxo as Roman Kreuziger and Mic Rogers could be seen falling away from the pace. Sky suffering the same and just like that Chris Froome was left with only Richie Porte.
Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) launched the first GC sortie as Richie Porte tried to muster a reaction and was looking around for help that wouldn’t come. Nicolas Roche brought himself back up to his team leader, Geraint Thomas struggling unsuccessfully to do the same. The pains and pressures of protecting the Yellow Jersey were turning people inside out. And if anyone were paying attention to the front of the race, Alexandre Geniez attacked at the front 6km from the top, leaving his break-mates scattering. Stage 20 was already living up to its billing.
Nairo Quintana was the next to go and he shot up the road as Roche again popped out the back. Movistar talked all-in and they were backing it up. Quintana and Valverde joined forces their plan taking form, the Yellow Jersey group reduced to four riders, Nibali and Contador along for the ride. Porte was holding them at ten seconds but at what cost? Contador dropped off the pace and Valverde struggled to hang on to Quintana, his mission to lead Quintana down the descent.
Vincenzo Nibali was next to attack and Froome was forced to follow. Froome shut it down immediately as he would have the day prior had it not been for a mechanical, the message delivered loud and clear. Quintana and Valverde would go over the summit in fifth and sixth place with a gap of ten seconds. Froome would follow and Romain Bardet’s hope for holding the Polka Dot jersey was over. The chase regrouped on the descent as Sky exhaled and returned to the front.
With 26km to go, Alexandre Geniez had 1.40 lead over Bak and Edet, 3.10 over Pinot, Rolland, Plaza, Serpa, Hesjedal, Anacona and Navardauskas, and 4 minutes over the yellow jersey group led by five riders from Team Sky. The stage had been set as the riders approached Bourg-d’Oisans, the gap 3:48 at the 13.8km to go KOM banner. Karma would catch up to Nibali as he flatted right before the start of the climb, Astana coming to his aid en masse.
Nairo Quintana went on the attack almost immediately. Richie Porte able to cover it and Froome lifting his tempo in response. Move one covered. Quintana launched attempt number two, Sky covering but Froome struggling behind. Wout Poels sat on Quintana and Porte marshaled the duties to drag Froome back to Quintana once more.
Ryder Hesjedal now on the attack closing the gap to Alexandre Geniez up ahead dragging Pinot, the teammate of the stage leader along. Nibali was still trying to come back from his misfortune. The Yellow Jersey group was shrinking, with Sky still well represented. Robert Gesink, Mathias Frank, Romain Bardet and Bauke Mollema unable to maintain contact with the Froome group.
Alejandro Valverde rode away from the Yellow Jersey group and Sky was content to let him go. Nairo Quintana, as he had done earlier on the Croix de Fer, jumped to get across but again Sky was equal to the task. Another dig would shed Froome and Contador. Valverde accelerated again as Quintana used him as a carrot. The two teammates joined and pried open the gap as Pinot and Alexandre Geniez joined forces at the front of the race, Hesjedal burying himself to get back to them.
Quintana’s tempo burned Valverde but teammate Winner Anacona, a member of the early break, was just up the road ready to take over the work for Quintana, the gap to Froome continued to grow. Ryder Hesjedal attacked Thibaut Pinot with 7km to go but Pinot was able to cover it and attack in return. Quintana was charging hard from behind using Anacona to prepare his next assault.
Wout Poels would fade at 5km leaving just Porte to take care of Froome. Nairo Quintana refreshed from following Anacona’s wheel accelerated again opening the gap further, now up to 50 seconds.
The race started to show shades of the 1989 come-from-behind victory of Greg Lemond as Nairo Quintana continued his assault on Le Alpe d’Huez, Chris Froome mustering all the courage he could find to fend off the Columbian.
Thibaut Pinot clinging to hope for a stage victory was suffering beyond words. That suffering would pay off and the Frenchman would etch his name in the history of the famed mountain taking the stage ahead of Nairo Quintana.
In the end, Quintana would come up short of both goals of the day, 18 seconds shy of the stage win and 1:12 short of Yellow.
A bitter lesson for the young rider recognizing the 1:28 lost in Stage 2 after missing the split in the winds of Holland. Froome would ride home in fifth place, plenty of time in hand to clinch the overall victory. Chapeau.
The Tour comes to its ceremonial end tomorrow in Paris, this years edition to go down in the annals as one of the great races in history.
Mathias Frank (SUI) #181
IAM CYCLING 82h 12′ 12″+ 15:39
Romain Bardet (FRA) #82
AG2R La Mondiale 82h 12′ 33″ + 16:00
Pierre Rolland (FRA) #121
Team Europcar 82h 14′ 03″ + 17:30
Tour de France 2015 Jerseys after Stage 20
Yellow (Overall leader): Chris Froome, Team Sky
Green (Points): Peter Sagan, Tinkoff Saxo
Polka-dot (KOM): Chris Froome, Team Sky
Worn by: Romain Bardet, AG2R La Mondiale
White (Best Young Rider): Nairo Quintana, Movistar
There were so many things going through my mind going up that last climb. There were moments where I thought, ‘hold on a second I could be in danger here’. But then always having my team-mates with me and having Wout and Richie there all the way until the end. Especially after the job all the guys had done today.
– Chris Froome, Team Sky
We fought all that we could to try and gain the time we had lost on Froome, with an attacking strategy from far, far away from the finish, trying to isolate him at the Croix de Fer, yet we couldn’t open a big gap and we had to give all into the final ascent. Winner Anacona did an amazing job for me, riding strong and steady through most of Alpe d’Huez, and the whole team helped me much from the very start, but it wasn’t to be today.
I leave the race satisfied. We lost the Tour into the first week, but I’ll stay content after all good things we found during this race: I’ve got an excellent team, which always took care and supported me, and we all are happy with this. Alejandro? I’m so, so excited about his podium finish. It’s something he searched for during most of his sporting career, and he got it today. There are many people who don’t know the kind of rider he is: he wins from January to December, no matter if it’s a classic, a one-week race… and even podium finishes in three-week grand tours. It’s already a decade since he’s on top of the sport and many people don’t value enough what he does and criticized him. He’s a superb rider and a wonderful person.”
– Nairo Quintana, Movistar
Three stages remained in the 2015 Tour de France, each becoming progressively shorter in length. The 138km stage to La Toussuire today, the longest of the three and perhaps the most difficult, but falling short on the hype of its successor, the Stage 20 finale on the fabled switchbacks of Le Alpe d’Huez.
One would have thought that the general classification was pretty well defined coming into the final weekend, only disaster likely to upset the order that has been established. But if there ever were a stage for disaster, the Tour is it, as are the final days in the Alps after three weeks of surviving the world’s most difficult bike race.
The interesting fact of the day, according to InfoStrada Sports Twitter account, Peter Sagan has surpassed Sean Kelly in outright 3rd place for the most green jerseys in Tour de France history with 68. Only Erik Zabel (88) and Freddy Maertens (70) have more. Peter Sagan is only 25 years old and should move into second place behind Zabel at the end of this years Tour.
Joaquim Rodriguez picked up where he left off yesterday and attacked the first climb right out of the gate. He succeeded in gathering the ten points for the first man over the top. Along the way attacks from Valverde, Nibali, Contador, Barguil, and Mollema found Chris Froome behind the action painfully aware that this would not be an easy day in the saddle.
A group of 21 riders would establish itself on the descent and through the sprint point. The riders in the break were: Tanel Kangert (Astana), Romain Bardet (AG2R-La Mondiale), Roman Kreuziger and Michael Rogers (Tinkoff-Saxo), José Herrada and Malori (Movistar), Tony Gallopin and Tim Wellens (Lotto-Soudal), Joaquim Rodriguez and Alberto Losada (Katusha), Rigoberto Uran (Etixx), Pierre Rolland, Cyril Gautier and Romain Sicard (Europcar), Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo), Ruben Plaza (Lampre-Merida), Dylan van Baarle (Cannondale-Garmin), Nicolas Edet (Cofidis), Stef Clement and Jarlinson Pantano (IAM Cycling), Stephen Cummings (MTN-Qhubeka) and Daniel Teklehaimanot (MTN-Qhubeka) chasing to include himself in that break, the race now just 10km from the start of the Col de la Croix de Fer.
The peloton hit the Croix de Fer 2:12 behind the stage leaders being led by Lotto NL-Jumbo and the welcome sight of Laurens Ten Dam tapping out the tempo on the front. The grupetto started to form.
Pierre Rolland attacked his break-mates on the climb and back in the peloton, Astana came to the front to set up a move for Vincenzo Nibali. Astana’s pace would shed significant weight from the Yellow Jersey group. The breakaway all caught and passed with exception of Rolland and a chase of two, Ruben Plaza and Rigoberto Uran. Robert Gesink dangled off the back of the Yellow Jersey group. Geraint Thomas suffering a similar fate and Froome was left with only Wouter Poels to support him.
Alejandro Valverde launched an attack ahead of the banner marking 5km to the summit. His gap opened quickly and Wout Poels summoned what courage he had left to try and contain the move for his team leader. Robert Gesink was able to regain contact with the Yellow Jersey group and appeared to have recovered. Valverde continued to try and consolidate the gap or at least keep the pressure on the Sky led chase. The Movistar plan to go all in for the overall win was taking shape.
Chris Froome suffered a mechanical and in a show of poor sportsmanship, Vincenzo Nibali looked at him twice, recognized the race leader was stopping and immediately launched an attack. The real contenders honored the unwritten code of conduct and waited for the race leader to get back on his bike.
Pierre Rolland would lead the race over the summit followed by Nibali at 1:06 and Romain Bardet attacked the Yellow Jersey group in hopes of resting the Polka Dot jersey away from Joaquim Rodriguez who had fallen back to the peloton. Chris Froome grabbed sixth place points.
Nibali continued his pursuit of stage leader Pierre Rolland on the descent of the Croix de Fer and up the Col du Mollard. He would catch him with dirty hands shortly after they crested the climb, the Yellow Jersey group now 2:00 behind. Romain Bardet made his move off the front of that group attempting to consolidate his position in the mountain points competition.
Movistar was straight back to the front on the start of the final climb. Rolland and Nibali had 1:45 in hand on the peloton. The tempo in the select group accompanying the Yellow Jersey was high and the group began to thin out as expected. Nibali attacked Rolland with 16km left to the summit finish, Rolland was cooked.
Status quo up the climb, Chris Froome and Sky benefitting from the Nibali move, the pressure to contain it now on the shoulders of those riders such as Contador and Gesink trying to defend their 5th and 6th place GC standing, the gap between Nibs and the Yellow Jersey group of 11 riders 2:23 as they rode beneath the 10km to go banner.
Quintana attacked. Froome forced to chase with Contador and Valverde on his wheel. Froome’s pace cracked them both. Gesink, who was dropped came back and rode past Valverde and Contador, Quintana still prying open the gap to Froome. Nibali’s gap was shrinking.
Vincenzo Nibali would hang on despite the barrage from behind. His stage win and the subsequent gap moved him up the general classification into fourth place overall jumping Robert Gesink, Geraint Thomas and Alberto Contador. Nairo Quintana finished second at :44 seconds and Froome came in third :29 seconds behind Quintana. Pinot, Bardet, Valverde and Mollema would lead the remainder of contenders home.
The fatigue of defending the Yellow Jersey started to show in Team Sky leaving Chris Froome isolated and forced to defend himself. Will it be too little too late for the others? Froome will take his 2:38 margin into the penultimate stage to Alpe d’Huez tomorrow and barring a really bad day for the leader it should be enough for him to ride the Yellow into Paris on Sunday. Regardless of the order at the top of the famed Alp, expect more aggressive last ditch effort racing tomorrow.
It was a day where I had to survive. I started with bad sensations and cramps all day so I had to save energy as much as I could. I sent Majka to pull at the front and he set the pace and it calmed a bit down. Things turned out quite well. Nibali is now ahead in the GC and I congratulate him for that. It’s true he did a very good job today. In what regards me, I think it deserves more merit to have reached this point than previous victories. I had strong cramps throughout the day and I was praying to make it through. Tomorrow will be another day.”
– Alberto Contador, Tinkoff-Saxo
Tour de France 2015 Stage 19 Top 10
Vincenzo Nibali (ITA) #1
ASTANA PRO TEAM 04h 22′ 53″
Romain Bardet (FRA) #82
AG2R La Mondiale 78h 51′ 42″ + 14:08
Pierre Rolland (FRA) #121
Team Europcar 78h 55′ 01″ + 17:27
Tour de France 2015 Jerseys after Stage 19
Yellow (Overall leader): Chris Froome, Team Sky
Green (Points): Peter Sagan, Tinkoff Saxo
Polka-dot (KOM): Romain Bardet, AG2R La Mondiale
White (Best Young Rider): Nairo Quintana, Movistar
Stage 19 Date: 24 July, 2015 Start: Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne Finish: La Toussuire – Les Sybelles Distance: 138 km
Tour de France 2015 Stage 19 route
Tour de France 2015 Stage 19 route map
Tour de France 2015 Stage 19 profile
Tour de France 2015 Stage 19 climbs
15.5 km – Col du Chaussy (1 533 m) (D77-VC)15.4 km de montée à 6.3% – catégory 1
83 km – Col de la Croix de Fer (2 067 m)22.4 km de montée à 6.9% – catégory H
103 km – Col du Mollard (1 638 m)5.7 km de montée à 6.8% – catégory 2
138 km – LA TOUSSUIRE (1 705 m)18 km de montée à 6.1% – catégory 1
Following a dramatic first day in the Alps the race set out once again into the mountainous terrain of southeast France. The stage, despite passing over seven categorized climbs, lacked a summit finish giving way yet again to the strong possibility that a break could succeed. A tough stage proceeded it and two difficult stages with summit finishes follow leaving little more than table scraps for ambitious non-GC men trying to grab an elusive stage win. Today seemed ripe for such a coup.
Regardless of what happened in relation to success or failure of a breakaway, Chris Froome’s nearest rivals continued with a resolve to attack the Yellow Jersey in hopes of finding a chink in his armor. Despite these claims, short of flicking a few flies from his lanky elbows, Chris Froome has been up to the challenge. Unless the trio of Spanish speaking contenders were to cooperate with a relentless barrage of attacks against the leader, he seemed poised to continue his dominance right through the summit of Alpe d’Huez and on to his second Tour de France title in Paris on Sunday.
In addition to the Stage 16 DNS of Laurent Didier (Trek Factory Racing) another five riders would succumb to the brutality of the race with a DNF status. The most notable of course were Tejay Van Garderen (BMC) and Michal Kwiatkowski (Etixx-QuickStep). They were joined by Sam Bennet (Bora-Argon 18), Nathan Haas (Cannondale-Garmin) and Jerome Coppel (IAM Cycling). South Africa’s Louis Meintjes of MTN-Qhubeka did not start today’s stage due to illness leaving 162 riders in the race. Sébastien Chavanel (FDJ) claimed the honor of the Lanterne Rouge three hours and thirty-three minutes behind the race lead.
As has become customary the attempts to form a break were almost immediate. Pierre Rolland (Europcar) took the initiative right at the base of the days first climb, the Col Bayard, whose summit was just 6.5km into the stage. He was followed straight away by Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) and Julian Arredondo (Trek). Halfway up the climb, 16 riders would bridge to join them followed by another group of 10. 12km in and a break of 29 had established itself.
The 29 breakaway members were: Jakob Fuglsang (Astana), Romain Bardet, Jan Bakelants and Christophe Riblon (AG2R-La Mondiale), Thibaut Pinot (FDJ), Roman Kreuziger and Michael Rogers (Tinkoff-Saxo), Jonathan Castroviejo and Winner Anacona (Movistar), Damiano Caruso and Rohan Dennis (BMC), Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal), Georg Preidler (Giant), Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha), Michael Matthews and Simon Yates (Orica), Pierre Rolland, Cyril Gautier, Romain Sicard and Thomas Voeckler (Europcar), Julian Arredondo and Bob Jungels (Trek), Ruben Plaza (Lampre-Merida), Andrew Talansky, Ryder Hesjedal and Dan Martin (Cannondale-Garmin), Stef Clement (IAM), Jan Barta (Bora), Serge Pauwels (MTN-Qhubeka). The best place rider in the break on GC being Romain Bardet, 12th at 16.04. The Peloton was at 1.35 at km 14.
The result over the Cat 2 Col Bayard: Joaquim Rodriguez-5 points, Jakob Fuglsang-3 points and Thibaut Pinot-2 points. It would appear as though “Purito” was growing tired of borrowing the Polka-Dots from Chris Froome and he was out to earn them rightfully. The cat 3 Rampe du Motty was next on their plate and Rodriguez again passed first and scored two KOM points while Serge Pauwels took one. Rodriguez now within a couple of points of Froome. The gap to the peloton had grown to five minutes at the 45km mark.
Rodriguez would again claim the top spot and two points for the côte de La Mure drawing even with Froome at 61 points apiece in the mountain classification, the battle of the day thus far. A few attempts to whittle down the size of the break all failed and Joaquim Rodriguez would again claim maximum points over the top of the fourth of seven climbs, the Col de Malissol with Serge Pauwels again chasing him over in second. News came across that Mark Renshaw (Etixx – Quick Step) had abandoned, leaving Mark Cavendish without his favorite lead out man, a key ingredient for his success on the Champs-Élysées.
Yesterday at the end of the stage I came down with a migraine before the final climb, and the pain never went away overnight,” Renshaw said. “I woke up with the same pain this morning. It’s pain from really stiff muscles in my neck, and that pain from the stiffness has gone up into my head in the form of a migraine. Every hole, every bump, every rough part of the road I could feel the pain in the back of my head with this stiffness in my neck. I’ve never experienced anything like that before. Together with the team we decided for me to stop. There is no way I could keep going like this. I already knew when I woke up this morning that it’d be hard to finish the stage. The pain was so intense and never lessened.
It’s a shame that I cannot finish this Tour de France after riding with my teammates for two and a half weeks. Especially since I was getting ready for Paris on Sunday and my legs were okay. I’m really sad about it, especially since I can’t be there to help Mark Cavendish for the sprint on Sunday. But I will absolutely be there in Paris to give my full support to my teammates in any way I can, and I wish them the best of luck in these final two days in the Alps before then.”
– Mark Renshaw, Etixx – QuickStep
More of the same over the Col de la Morte. Joaquim Rodriguez-5 points, Jakob Fuglsang-3 points, Georg Preidler, 2 points, and Christophe Riblon-1 point. The intermediate sprint would precede the big test of the day, the hors categorie Col du Glandon. The result of the sprint inconsequential in terms of the points competition but there was money to be had for the winner and Thomas De Gendt would claim the prize. Ironically, news was coming forward that the leader of the points competition, Peter Sagan, was off the back of the peloton.
Thomas De Gendt’s ride to the sprint line forced a split in the break with Jakob Fuglsang, Jan Bakelants, Winner Anacona, Damiano Caruso, Joaquim Rodriguez, Thomas Voeckler, Ruben Plaza, Andrew Talansky, Dan Martin and Jan Barta with him. De Gendt’s plan, however, was not for this much company and he would press on solo. The rest of the break would regroup behind him as they sped toward the Glandon. De Gendt would be caught right at the official start of the climb. The peloton were 2:10 behind at the base of the climb, the tempo lifted and the selections started almost immediately, the original break reduced to eleven.
A steady pace by the Sky led peloton would progress up the mountain, the break increasing the gap. Warren Barguil (Giant-Alpecin) had a dig and rode off the front of the peloton. Robert Gesink and Mathias Frank joined Barguil with Richie Porte blowing off the back. Nicholas Roche, Leopold Konig and Geraint Thomas all still present in front of race leader Chris Froome.
The next attack came from Alberto Contador. Nairo Quintana looked to Froome and Sky to respond, they refused and Contador quickly jumped across to the Gesink group. 5km to the summit and the race was heating up. Romain Bardet led the break over the summit ahead of Anacona. Rodriguez popped and was struggling to hang on for the summit. He would fail to add points to his tally for the day.
Nibali launched a couple of moves against Froome followed by Quintana. Valverde popped. The Contador group suffering from the pace behind. Bardet attacked the descent and opened a gap on Anacona. Valverde raced to rejoin the Yellow Jersey group.
Romain Bardet arrived at the foot of the Lacets de Montvernier with a 41-second gap over his chasers. He was able to hold that gap status quo over the top grabbing five more points and bringing himself on par with Rodriguez, each with 68 points in the mountains classification. While Rodriguez will retain the jersey for now, his days are surely numbered.
Pierre Rolland set off in pursuit of his countryman both taking risks on the descent toward the finish. The group of the Yellow Jersey and the current top ten of the race marking each other all of the way.
Bardet offered the French and AG2R their second stage win of this years Tour holding Rolland at bay, his solo efforts successful. Winner Anacona came home third followed by Bobby Jungels and Jakob Fuglsang.
Warren Barguil, having been dropped a couple of times on the final climb was able to fight his way back to the Yellow Jersey group and lead the bunch over the line 3:02 behind Bardet whose effort moved him up into the top ten. The nine places ahead of him remaining the same as it was at the start of the day.
Two more days in the Alps and two summit finishes separate the riders from Paris. On tap tomorrow the climbs of Col du Chaussy (15.4 kilometre-long at 6.3%) – category 1, the Col de la Croix de Fer (22.4 kilometre-long at 6.9%) – category HC, Col du Mollard (5.7 kilometre-long at 6.8%) – category 2 and the summit finish at LA TOUSSUIRE (18 kilometre-long at 6.1%) – category 1. Opportunities for Quintana, Valverde, Contador, Gesink and company are now wearing thin.
This was one of the toughest days on the bike. I wanted to try things and see what could be done but at the end, we didn’t achieve anything in particular. I dropped Valverde on Glandon, this always brings confidence but the only thing I now focus on is to recover. It was a very hard stage and my attacks were more driven by the heart than the legs. I was able to observe a few things and we will now see how I recover for tomorrow.
In order for Valverde not to be on the podium, a catastrophe must take place. He has an incredible opportunity and just by doing things the right way it’s impossible for him not to reach the podium. The sport of cycling is like this and we will have to take it day by day.” Alberto Contador, Tinkoff-Saxo
Tour de France 2015 Stage 18 Top 10
Romain Bardet (FRA) #12
AG2R La Mondiale 05h 03′ 40″
Pierre Rolland (FRA) #121
TEAM EUROPCAR 05h 04′ 13″ + :33
Yellow (Overall leader): Chris Froome, Team Sky
Green (Points): Peter Sagan, Tinkoff Saxo
Polka-dot (KOM): Joaquim Rodriguez, Team Katusha
White (Best Young Rider): Nairo Quintana, Movistar
It was a hard day but I felt good and immediately went on the attack with the goal to take maximum points today. Everything went well but it was hard to control all riders in the break the entire day. In the flat part at the feed zone before the Glandon I had a bad moment. It went fast and I could not take my feed bag so on the Glandon I paid for that. It was my goal to also take those 25 points or even the stage win but it was over for me at that point. However, I won’t give up. There are two mountain stages to go and I will attack again. Fuglsang and Bardet will be motivated, too, but I will fight for it.
– Joaquim Rodriguez, Team Katusha
Stage 18 Date: 23 July, 2015 Start: Gap Finish: Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne Distance: 185 km
Tour de France 2015 Stage 18 route
Tour de France 2015 Stage 18 route map
Tour de France 2015 Stage 18 profile
Tour de France 2015 Stage 18 climbs
6.5 km – Col Bayard (1 264 m)6.3 km de montée à 7% – category 2
35.5 km – Rampe du Motty2.3 km de montée à 8.3% -category 3
60.5 km – Côte de la Mure2.7 km de montée à 7.5% -category 3
70.5 km – Col de Malissol2 km de montée à 8.7% -category 3
85 km – Col de la Morte (1 368 m)3.1 km de montée à 8.4% -category 2
147 km – Col du Glandon (1 924 m)21.7 km de montée à 5.1% -category H
176.5 km – Lacets de Montvernier (782 m)3.4 km de montée à 8.2% -category 2
A daunting and dangerous stage coming off of a rest day and heading straight into the Alps. The Stage 17 profile appears docile enough with only a pair of cat 3’s, a pair of cat 2’s and a single category 1 climb, the penultimate climb of the day, the Col d’Allos. How riders respond to the rest day always a concern particularly when there is little opportunity to spin the legs out when the race gets going again. Some respond favorably to the rest days, others do not.
Chris Froome arrived at the start enjoying a comfortable margin on GC despite coming off a stressful week of answering to critics and fending off physical assaults on himself and his teammates, including the heinous and despicable act of a spectator (I refuse to refer to them as a cycling fan) throwing urine at the race leader.
Peter Sagan with a firm grip on his goal of winning the Green Jersey for a fourth year running, only an inability to finish in Paris standing between himself and that feat.
Joachim Rodriguez continued to borrow laundry from Chris Froome as the second man in the standings for the climber competition wore the Polka Dot Jersey.
The White Jersey of the best young rider remained firmly on the shoulders of the man holding second place on GC, Nairo Quintana.
The yellow numbers and helmets of the team competition still being worn by Team Movistar.
There was one rider that did not make the start following the rest day and that was Laurent Didier (Trek Factory Racing). That left 168 riders in the race.
Nine riders were able to briefly break clear after just 3km but the peloton were quick to react and the race was back together after 3.5km. Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo) would give it another go, looking to make the break for a fourth straight day. He and Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo) were gone clear however the peloton were having none of it and they too were reeled in just 2km later. Several more attempts to form breaks were squished by the pack and riders were coming unhitched off the back. Most notably, Tejay Van Garderen (BMC) obviously suffering something from the rest day.
The race would reach the top of the first climb, the category 3 col des Lèques, Rafal Majka (Tinkoff) came across the summit first taking two points and Kristjian Durasek (Lampre) one point for second place. Van Garderen already a full minute behind the action, his Tour now in jeopardy.
Every move that had been made included a very aggressive Peter Sagan. Once again he was off the front joined again by Steven Kruijswijk along with Andrew Talansky (Cannondale-Garmin) but they would be caught. By this stage in the race it was glaringly apparent to everyone but Peter Sagan that he was not going to be allowed up the road. Van Garderen now reported by his team as suffering from headaches a full 3:52 behind the peloton, an example of just how quickly ones Tour fortunes can change.
Finally after 64km 28 riders were clear, and Sagan’s stubborn persistence had paid off. The break contained: Tanel Kangert (Astana), Jan Bakelants and Mikaël Chérel (AG2R-La Mondiale), Thibaut Pinot and Benoît Vaugrenard (FDJ), Richie Porte and Nicolas Roche (Sky), Rafal Majka and Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo), Jonathan Castroviejo, José Herrada and Gorka Izagirre (Movistar), John Degenkolb and Simon Geschke (Giant-Alpecin), Alberto Losada (Katusha), Adam Yates (Orica-GreenEdge), Rigoberto Uran (Etixx-Quick Step), Perrig Quémeneur (Europcar), Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo), Kristjian Durasek and Rafael Valls (Lampre-Merida), Andrew Talansky and Ryder Hesjedal (Cannondale-Garmin), Nicolas Edet (Cofidis), Mathias Frank (IAM Cycling), Merhawi Kudus, Serge Pauwels and Daniel Teklehaimanot (MTN Qhubeka). Serge Pauwels and Daniel Teklehaimanot both of MTN Qhubeka would go one, two over the top of the category 3 Col de Toutes Aures.
Van Garderen and the small group of riders that had fallen off the back were able to reconnect with the peloton 82km into the stage. For now, Tejay was back in the race and looking to avoid losses and get through the day.
Much to his dismay, however, Alberto Contador went on the attack on the Col de la Colle-Saint-Michel and his move would up the tempo to one that only sixteen riders were able to answer, Van Garderen not one of them. He appeared to be a man defeated and he would abandon a few minutes later. The cruel reality of a race of attrition. A Tweet by Boulder native Connie Carpenter-Phinney summed it up.
To be fighting for a podium in the Tour de France, and then the next minute you are sitting in the car, was really hard. It was hard to look my teammates in the eyes. It was hard to call my wife and explain to her what was going on. It was a lot of emotions.”
– Tejay Van Garderen, BMC Racing
The result at the summit of the Col de la Colle-Saint-Michel (cat. 2): Serge Pauwels-5 points, José Herrada-3 points, Kristjian Durasek-2 points and John Degenkolb-1 point. The break regrouped on the descent, the intermediate sprint was lightly contested in Beauvezer with Benoît Vaugrenard (FDJ) taking the first place points followed by John Degenkolb (Giant-Alpecin) and Peter Sagan content to take third. The ascent and perhaps more notably the descent of the category 1 Col d’Allos right in front of them and the peloton behind.
With opportunities for stage wins dwindling, the 28 man break was jockeying for the right moves that would prevent Peter Sagan from landing the elusive honor of the day. Simon Geschke (Giant-Alpecin) was able to open up a gap on the lower slopes of the Col d’Allos. Two riders, Kristjian Durasek (Lampre-Merida) and José Herrada (Movistar) giving chase and Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) and Rafal Majka (Tinkoff-Saxo) also trying to come across. Roche, Porte, Hesjedal, Vaugrenard, Degenkolb, Losada, Quémeneur and Edet all fell off the pace, the Sagan group in between them and the lone leader.
The peloton’s foot off the gas now well over seven minutes in arrears. Geschke’s move now looking eerily familiar to that of Ruben Plaza’s winning move into Gap two days prior. The remainder of the break less Pinot and Majka regrouped behind Geschke with a 1:45 gap.
The reigning World Champion, Michal Kwitkowski (Etixx – Quick Step) became another notable abandon and the race would explode on the descent of the col d’Allos. Riders were all over the hillside. Pinot would clip a pedal and crash on the descent. Talansky would catch and pass him. Contador would suffer a crash as well. Gesink was separated from the Yellow Jersey group in the final kilometer of the Allos and chaos ensued.
My wheel slipped and I fell. We tried to fix my bike but it wasn’t working and I took Peter’s bike. I tried to descend as well as I could but at the bottom of the climb I had to change back to one of my own bikes to minimize the losses. Cycling is like this, sometimes you do well sometimes you don’t. But right now the most important thing is to recove.”
– Alberto Contador, Tinkoff-Saxo
Simon Geschke hit the final climb of the day, the Pra Loup, with a two-minute gap on hard charging Andrew Talansky. That gap would prove to be too great to overcome and Simon Geschke claimed a big stage win for Giant-Alpecin. Andrew Talansky followed thirty-two seconds down and Rigoberto Uran at 1:01 rounded out the podium for the day.
I didn’t feel great. I joined the breakaway group together with John, which was a strong group.
After the sprint I attacked and started the final climb with an advantage. I had 1’30” for a long time, and I thought I’d just see what would happen.
I knew it was a difficult descent and I went pretty fast. On the last climb I gave it my all and was able to hold on to my advantage. I suffered incredibly but I cannot put this feeling into words.
This is a dream come true. After so many attempts it finally happened. I cannot believe it.”
– Simon Geschke, Team Giant -Alpecin
The truth is that it took a while today to get into the breakaway,” Uran said. “I lost a lot of energy to be in the front at the beginning. It wasn’t easy. I probably paid for the effort in the climb of first category, which is when Geschke went. I was also waiting to see what guys as Majka and Pinot were doing. Then in the downhill I tried to close the gap, but it was already too late.
Congrats to Geschke. Concerning me, I’m happy with my third place even if we are always out there to try and win a stage. This stage was really hard, and in the next days it will be just as tough, if not more tough. But I will try again in the next days. It won’t be easy, but we have to take the risk to get into the breakaway and see what we can do in the final days.” Rigoberto Uran, Etixx-QuickStep
Back down the Pra Loup the general classification battle was taking place as promised. In a weird show of tactics, Movistar found themselves with four riders and an isolated Chris Froome however they opted to pace the Yellow Jersey up the majority of the climb. Vincenzo Nibali was present and took advantage of some renewed form to move up the GC by finishing with this group. Matthias Frank, the best-placed rider in the days break profited handsomely from his ride moving into the top ten overall.
Movistar now has a firm grip on the final two spots of the overall podium with Nairo Quintana second to Froome at 3:10 and Alejandro Valverde moving into third at 4:09 a full 2:25 ahead of fourth placed Geraint Thomas. Contador hangs on to his fifth place overall but falling to 6:40 behind the Yellow Jersey and stands 1:01 ahead of Robert Gesink in sixth place.
I felt really well today. I recovered fine and did not struggle after the rest day. We fared pretty well, as well myself as my team-mates – with the pace we rode through the Allos climb, I didn’t realized until the end of the climb that we were only four of five at the front. That’s where I tried to attack, just like I did in the finale, though I didn’t get a gap.
We didn’t have an intention of trying to turn things around today as there are days where the mountains are more demanding, and we think we’ll be able to try harder later on. Tomorrow’s stage will be complicated; the one on Friday, finishing at La Toussuire, is a route that suits me well -full of ups and downs, with serious climbs, a hard route with long ascents-; and Alpe d’Huez is a long climb whose slopes are really good for me.
There’s still room for battle. We also entered the podium with Alejandro Valverde, who has a nice chance to snatch a place into the top-3, and kept the lead in the teams’ classification, so today’s overview must be pretty good for us.”
– Nairo Quintana, Movistar
Day one in the Alps is in the books and three days remain. What shake ups are in store for tomorrow?
Tour de France 2015 Stage 17 Top 10
Simon Geschke (GER) #86
TEAM GIANT-Alpecin 04h 12′ 17″
Andrew Talansky (USA) #161
TEAM GARMIN-CANNONDALE 04h 12′ 49″ +:32
Yellow (Overall leader): Chris Froome, Team Sky
Green (Points): Peter Sagan, Tinkoff Saxo
Polka-dot (KOM): Chris Froome, Team Sky
Worn by: Joaquim Rodriguez, Team Katusha
White (Best Young Rider): Nairo Quintana, Movistar
Stage 17 Date: 22 July, 2015 Start: Digne-les-Bains Finish: Pra-Loup Station de Montagne Distance: 161 km
Tour de France 2015 Stage 17 route
Tour de France 2015 Stage 17 route map
Tour de France 2015 Stage 17 profile
Tour de France 2015 Stage 17 climbs
40 km – Col des Lèques6 km de montée à 5.3% – category 3
67 km – Col de Toutes Aures6.1 km de montée à 3.1% -category 3
96 km – Col de la Colle-Saint-Michel (1 431 m)11 km de montée à 5.2% -category 2
139 km – Col d’Allos ( 2 250 m)14 km de montée à 5.5% -category 1
161 km – PRA LOUP (1 620 m)6.2 km de montée à 6.5% -category 2