The 2017 Tour de France Preview

This year, the 104th Tour de France starts on July 1 in Düs­sel­dorf, Ger­many, which is also the date of Canada’s 150th birth­day. To help cel­e­brate this aus­pi­cious oc­ca­sion, let’s start our an­nual preview of la Grande Boucle with look at some great mo­ments

Canadian Cycling Magazine - - CONTENTS - by Rob Stur­ney

The Cana­dian cy­cling magazine guide to the year’s big­gest cy­cling event

Great Cana­dian Mo­ments at the Tour 1937

Pierre Ga­chon be­comes the first Cana­dian and North Amer­i­can to race the Tour de France. On June 30, 1937, Pierre Ga­chon, a six-day racer born in France who em­i­grated to Canada, was the only non-euro­pean to start the 31st edi­tion. It was the era of na­tional teams, and some were larger than oth­ers. The Bel­gians, Ital­ians, French and Ger­mans fielded 10 rid­ers. Great Bri­tain/canada con­sisted of two Brits and Ga­chon. Alas, the Cana­dian didn’t fin­ish the first stage, a 263-km ex­pe­di­tion from Paris to Lille.

1986

Alex Stieda be­comes the first North Amer­i­can to wear the yel­low jersey. On the split Stage 2 of the 1986 edi­tion there was an 85-km road race in the late morn­ing and a 55-km team time trial in the after­noon. Alex Stieda, rid­ing for the up­start 7-Eleven team, launched a solo attack in the road race and later found com­pany in five rid­ers. Even though he fin­ished fifth, the Van­cou­ver rider amassed enough time bonuses to pluck the yel­low jersey from the shoul­ders of Thierry Marie, Sys­tème U’s pro­logue spe­cial­ist. The team time trial was a punc­ture and crash-filled dis­as­ter for 7-Eleven with Stieda un­able to hold his squad’s tail. The Cana­dian found him­self 5:10 in ar­rears of Marie, now back in yel­low, only hours af­ter hit­ting such great heights.

1988 and 1990

Steve Bauer wears the mail­lot jaune in two edi­tions. Now BMC’S di­rec­tor of VIP ser­vices, Bauer first pulled on the yel­low jersey in 1988 af­ter win­ning Stage 1. He had the leader’s jersey a to­tal of five days be­fore re­lin­quish­ing the prized gar­ment to even­tual race win­ner Pe­dro Del­gado fol­low­ing the stage to Alpe d’huez. Bauer reached his and Canada’s gen­eral clas­si­fi­ca­tion pin­na­cle in that Tour with fourth. Two years later while rid­ing for 7-Eleven, he donned the yel­low jersey for a to­tal of nine days, with the race lead shift­ing to Ro­nan Pensec af­ter a sum­mit fin­ish in the Alps. Bauer ul­ti­mately fin­ished 27th.

2013

Svein Tuft earns the lanterne rouge. There has long been a tra­di­tion in the Tour de France of cel­e­brat­ing the last rider in the gen­eral clas­si­fi­ca­tion, be­stow­ing upon him the hon­orary ti­tle of lanterne rouge, af­ter the light on a train’s ca­boose. In 2013, once Svein Tuft com­pleted his first Tour, he be­came the first North Amer­i­can to earn the lanterne rouge, com­ing last in 169th place. Two years later, Tuft was “run­ner-up” to Sébastien Cha­vanel in the un­of­fi­cial cat­e­gory. The rider from Lan­g­ley, B.C., who turned 40 in May, has been in at least one Grand Tour through­out the past five years with Orica.

2015

Ry­der Hes­jedal bat­tles for Alpe d’huez glory. While Ry­der Hes­jedal won the 2012 Giro d’italia and took two Vuelta a Es­paña stage vic­to­ries in his ca­reer, the Tour de France wasn’t al­ways kind to the Vic­to­ria rider. In­juries from a crash forced him out of the 2012 Tour. Seventh place in 2010 (later changed to fifth) was his only top-10 fin­ish in seven at­tempts. He never wore the yel­low jersey.

Hes­jedal’s great­est Tour mo­ment, how­ever, was a pitched bat­tle with Thibaut Pinot on the sto­ried slopes of Alpe d’huez in 2015. The duo was part of a four-man move that shook loose on the Croix de Fer to pur­sue a lead­ing trio. With about 7.3 km of Alpe d’huez left to climb, Pinot and Hes­jedal were the lead­ers. Hes­jedal tried to dash away from the French­man – forc­ing a gap for 200 m – but Pinot par­ried the thrust and flew solo about a kilo­me­tre later. Nairo Quin­tana was get­ting the bet­ter of Chris Froome that day in a last ditch at­tempt to pull back time. De­spite big digs by the Can­non­dale-garmin rider, Hes­jedal found the Colom­bian slip­ping past with about 2.5 km re­main­ing. Quin­tana fin­ished run­ner-up to an ex­ul­tant Pinot.

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