The Tour de France for stats geeks

Alberto Contador is aiming to win his fourth Tour de France. Should he be successful he will leave the company of Philippe Thys, Louison Bobet and Greg LeMond and be in a category of his own just behind Jacques Anquetil, Eddy Merckx, Bernard Hinault and Miguel Indurain,  who all have five. It would also be Contador’s seventh Grand Tour victory which would see him move up to fourth on the list of all time winners, level with Indurain, Fausto Coppi and Lance Armstrong.

However, even if Contador makes it to seven Grand Tour wins, the CAS hearing in August could see him stripped of two Tours de France and a Giro d’Italia landing him right back down at four wins.

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How the big contenders have prepared for the Tour

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It’s that time of year again when all the Tour de France contenders are done with their race preparation and we’re just left waiting for the big event to start. Once again, Andy Schleck and Alberto Contador will be the overwhelming favourites for overall victory.

Andy Schleck has been beaten into second place by Alberto Contador in the last two Tours de France. Although the margin of victory in last year’s Tour (39″) was more than six times less than Contador’s winning margin in 2009 (4’11”). But if the Spaniard does this to Schleck again it will be the first time that one rider has beaten another into second place three times in a row.

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Philip Lavery – Geared up and talented

The four Irish riders on the An Post team with team managers Kurt Bogaerts and Sean Kelly. (L-R: McLoughlin, Cassidy, Bennett, Lavery )

Philip Lavery is a 20-year old Irish cyclist currently riding for the An Post-Sean Kelly team. For a number of years now he has been talked about as a future star of Irish cycling. Having seen success in domestic races such as the Tour of the North and the Tour of Ulster, he was given the opportunity to ride as a stagiaire for the An Post-Sean Kelly team towards the end of last season. He impressed sufficiently to be offered a contract for this year.

Lavery has been riding plenty of the Belgian semi-classics this year but could not take part in the An Post Rás due to illness. He has refocused and is now gearing up for the Irish national championships road race which take place next Sunday. I had a chance to talk to him earlier this week:

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Is the Dauphiné the gateway to Tour success?

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Due to its position on the cycling calendar, the Critérium du Dauphiné is perennially used as a preparation race for the Tour de France. This has been the case going all the way back to the seventies when Eddy Merckx, Luis Ocana, Bernard Thevenet and Bernard Hinault all won the week-long race before going on to take victory in the Tour de France a month later.

Last year, the Dauphiné Libéré newspaper ceded organisation of the race to ASO, the company who also take care of the Tour de France. This change has seen the race embrace its moniker as a Tour preparation race even further by including a carbon copy of the final time trial of this year’s Tour de France.

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L’affaire Roche et Gadret

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John Gadret and Nicolas Roche don’t get on. There have been diplomatic comments coming from both of them in the past few days. Gadret has said he would be willing to work for Roche at the Tour and Roche has congratulated Gadret on his stage win in the Giro. But it still seems to me like they don’t get on.

Gadret performed beyond all expectations in the Giro to finish fourth. This is the best performance by a Frenchman in the Giro since Laurent Jalabert also managed fourth in the 1999 edition. It has been decided for some time, after last year’s results in both the Tour and the Vuelta, that Roche would be the leader once again for the Tour de France. But Gadret’s recent fourth place seems to have thrown a spanner in the works.

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