Mother Nature played havoc on the women’s peloton last Sunday (July 26) at the second La Course by Le Tour de France. With the eyes of the entire cycling world focused on Paris’s stunning Champs-Élysées ahead of the Tour de France concluding Stage 21, the skies opened up turning the iconic cobbled streets comprising the 7km circuit into a virtual ice rink. Although it hadn’t rained on the Champs-Élysées for the men’s Tour finish in more than a decade, the women’s affair was crash-marred yet it didn’t dampen the fighting spirit of the turbo-charged world-class athletes participating in the sporting spectacle in front of thousands of spectators lining the course, including Amgen Tour of California executives Kristin Klein and Ryan Ung.
Now that we’ve had a few days to peel ourselves off the couch and away from the wall-to-wall coverage on NBC Sports Network and VeloNews, we’re left with reflections of the 2015 edition of cycling’s grandest tour, Le Tour de France. And because this California-based Insider views all things through Oakley’s with a California tint, let’s take a look from an Amgen Tour of California perspective.
All eyes are focused on Europe as two of cycling’s grandest tours get started this weekend. A day after the international women’s peloton sets off on the 26th Giro Rosa from Slovenia on Friday (July 3) for ten days of world-class competition, the men will have their Grand Depart from Utrecht, The Netherlands on Saturday (July 4) at the Tour de France. A handful of Amgen Tour of California protagonists are expected to play major roles in this year’s edition of the Grand Boucle, which has been riding since 1903.
Post-Amgen Tour of California, the buildup to the Tour de France continues. There was plenty of exciting international racing action this past week with a bevy of Golden State standouts standing out in the pro peloton.
Our annual armchair travels through magnificent France concluded Sunday with the crowing of Vincenzo Nibali as champion of the 101st edition of the Tour de France. As the biggest race in cycling is now history, it left me with plenty to ponder after watching 21 stages and sometimes more than five hours of NBC Sports Network television coverage per day over 23 days. Here are 21 thoughts that sprouted at random.
It’s been a wild and wooly 101st Tour de France thus far. When the 21-stage, 3,664-km race departed Leeds on July 5, no one would have imagined that defending champion Chris Froome (Team Sky) and pre-race favorite Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) would crash out in the first two weeks. No one would have predicted that Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma Quick-Step), winner of 25 Tour de France stages as well as a pair of 2014 Amgen Tour of California stages, would crash out on opening day on his native UK soil. During the first 15 stages of the grandest tour of them all, the riders have been rained on almost daily causing some of the chaos while leaving a number of riders with bouts of bronchitis, including 2013 Amgen Tour of California winner Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing), who has already hit the pavement on four occasions during his first Tour as team leader. Perhaps the only predictable thing that has held up thus far is Peter Sagan’s (Cannondale) unassailable grip on the green sprint points jersey.