Tour de France preview, part 2: The Tour in numbers
July 1, 2010 7 Comments
Cycling, and the Tour de France in particular, is all about numbers. Body weight. Power output. VO2 max. Many of these numbers are irrelevant to all but the geekiest of fans, but they are all important in their own way – although none more so than the most critical number-keeper of them all: the clock.
At the end of 21 days of gruelling racing, the winner can expect to have spent over 80 hours racing at an average speed of around 41 kph (and a maximum of at least twice that on the fastest descents). At this pace, you would run the 100 metres nearly a second faster than Usain Bolt. (Slow-coach.)
Three weeks. Two wheels. One living hell. Welcome to Le Tour. Here are a few numbers to convey a brief history of this most challenging of races.
This year’s race
97 – This year sees the 97th running of the Tour de France.
3,642 – Total race distance (in kilometres).
21 – Days of racing, consisting of one prologue and twenty stages. There are also two rest days.
23 - There are 23 high mountain passes to negotiate (category two, one and hors catégorie).
2 – Number of times the Col du Tourmalet will be climbed, as part of a route which celebrates 100 years of racing in the Pyrenees.
2,115 – In metres, the height of the Tourmalet, the highest point on this year’s course.
227.5 - In kilometres, the longest stage on this year’s route, stage six from Montargis to Gueugnon.
13.15 - In kilometres, the total length of the seven cobbled sections which will provide the peloton with a unique and potentially hazardous challenge on stage three from Wanze to Arenberg Porte du Hainaut.
History of the race
1903 – The year of the first Tour de France.
56 – Number of different riders who have won the race, 20 of whom are multiple winners.
7 - Lance Armstrong holds the record for the most wins, winning seven consecutive races from 1999 to 2005.
8 - In seconds, the narrowest margin of victory, when Greg LeMond beat Laurent Fignon in 1989.
36 - France has produced more race winners (36) than any other country, but none since Bernard Hinault‘s fifth win in 1985.
6 - Erik Zabel has the most wins in the green jersey points competition, winning six times in a row from 1996 to 2001.
34 – Five-time winner Eddy Merckx holds the record for individual stage wins, with 34.
1 – Merckx is also the only man to win the yellow, green and polka dot jerseys in the same year (1969).
4 – Total number of deaths during the race. (1910: Adolphe Helière, drowned. 1935: Francisco Cepeda, plunged down a ravine. 1967: Tom Simpson, heart failure related to amphetamines. 1995: Fabio Casartelli, crashed on a descent.)
16 – Joop Zoetemelk holds the record for most race starts, with 16 starts. He won one Tour de France, was runner-up six times and – equally impressively – finished each of his 16 races.
3 – Only three times in the race’s history has a single rider led the race from start to finish, the last occasion being in 1935.
Runners and riders
198 – The number of riders who will start the race, in 22 teams of nine.
35 – France is the most-represented country, with 35 starters. (Spain is just behind, with 32).
31 – In total, 31 countries are represented at this year’s Tour, including participants from Japan (Yukiya Arashiro), Lithuania (Ignatas Konovalovas) and New Zealand (Julian Dean).
1 – The race number which will be worn by defending champion Alberto Contador.
156 – The number of riders who finished the 2009 race (42 retirements).
10 - The winners of ten of the last eleven Tours – Armstrong (1999-2005), Contador (2007 and 2009) and Carlos Sastre (2008) – will line up on the start ramp in Rotterdam. (2006 winner Oscar Pereiro has been left out of Contador’s Astana squad.)
39 – Christophe Moreau, the oldest man in this year’s race, is nearly twice the age of Fabio Felline, who at 20 is the youngest.
Brits in the Tour
8 – Number of British riders competing in this year’s Tour, the most since 1968. (The Brits are David Millar, Jeremy Hunt, Daniel Lloyd, Charlie Wegelius, Mark Cavendish, Bradley Wiggins, Steve Cummings and Geraint Thomas.)
4 – Bradley Wiggins finished fourth in last year’s race, the joint-highest ever finish by a British rider (Robert Millar also finished fourth in 1984).
124 – Wiggins’s only other Tour finish came in 2006, when he finished a lowly 124th.
0 – Wiggins has never won a stage at the Tour.
10 – Mark Cavendish set a new record for Tour stage wins by a British rider (ten) last year, adding six victories to his four in 2008. He is among the favourites for this year’s green jersey.
4 – Four Brits have worn the yellow jersey at some stage during the Tour (although none have won): Tom Simpson (1962), Chris Boardman (1994, 1997, 1998), Sean Yates (1994) and David Millar (2000).
3 – The Tour has visited Britain three times: 1974, 1994 and 2007.
Watch out for my preview of the key riders (tomorrow) and the stages which will most likely determine the outcome of the race (Saturday), and keep reading here for regular race analysis as the Tour progresses. For the first part of my Tour preview, click on the link below: