The most underwhelming Grand Tour winner

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Over the years there have been some incredible exploits in Grand Tours where one rider has dominated the entire race. The most overwhelming of these was probably the Tour de France debut of the greatest cyclist ever, Eddy Merckx.

In 1969, the great Belgian finished the race in the yellow jersey while also winning the green points jersey and the mountains prize. In addition, he won the combination jersey and his Faema team won the teams classification. In those days, there was no prize for the best young rider, but aged just 24, Merckx would have won that too. He won six stages that year, three time trials and three mountain stages and finished almost 18 minutes ahead of anyone else – total domination.

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Same old Spaniard, always cheating

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Alejandro Valverde won Stage Five of the Tour Down Under last week finishing first across the line at the top of Willunga Hill, just ahead of Simon Gerrans. Contrary to what Phil Liggett would have you believe, this was not the Spaniard’s first race in two years. He actually rode until May of 2010 but his ‘two-year’ suspension was back dated to January 2010. Consequently, it was his first race in 19 months.

Valverde won the stage thanks to the strength of his team. For the two laps of the circuit which brought the race over Willunga hill, there was a Movistar rider constantly at the front of the race, or thereabouts.

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The Irish exodus to Australia continues

When the Great Famine gripped Ireland in the early part of the 19th century the number of emigrants who left Irish shores numbered in their millions. Most of those who fled ended up in America, but 50,000 or so ended up even further afield, in Australia.

So began a 200 year old connection between the two countries. A connection which has been strengthened recently, again for all the wrong reasons, by many more thousands of Irish fleeing their homes, this time in search of work. The big R has hit Ireland harder than most and the construction industry has ground to a halt. This has led to many tradesmen downing tools and applying for Australian visas in the past few years.

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Froome, Cobo, Time Bonuses and the Tour de France

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In the 2011 edition of the Vuelta a Espana, Juan Jose Cobo won by a margin of just 13 seconds over runner up Chris Froome. It’s unlikely that you’ll find a report of this race anywhere which doesn’t state that Froome actually completed the 3,300km distance in a faster time than Cobo.

The Spaniard ended up winning the race because of time bonuses. He accumulated 32 seconds more in time bonuses throughout the race than Froome. Thus, the Team Sky rider actually rode the race route 19 seconds faster than Cobo.

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