It’s the 100th edition of the Tour de France (TDF) and for us Africans this occasion is even more momentous because we have two cyclists taking part – and one of these riders has a very real chance of winning the tour. How awesome would that be?
From humble beginnings in 1903, the TDF has become the largest annual sporting event in the world. The race is broadcast to 3.5 billion people and an average of 12 million spectators come out to support their favourite riders and heroes along the route.
This year’s tour starts on Saturday, 29 June and finishes on Sunday, 21 July. Covering a total distance of 3,479 km, there are 21 stages to be completed with just two rest days. Stage profiles include seven flat stages, five hilly stages, six mountain stages with four summit finishes, two individual time trials and one team time trial.
The first stage is from Porto to Vecchio and these two towns, as well as eight others, will be seeing and experiencing the TDF for the very first time.
There are 19 pro tour teams taking part in the event, so this only leaves three wild card entries to make up the total of 22 teams participating in the race. Those three wild card entries have been allocated to three French teams, but this doesn’t come as a surprise as this is, after all, the Tour de France. Africa’s hopes at this year’s race are pinned on Chris Froome (Team SKY) overall General Classification and Daryl Impey (Team ORICA-Green EDGE) stage wins and top 10 stage finishes.
Kenyan-born Christopher Froome is in top form this year and recently won the Tour de Romandie as well as the Critérium du Dauphiné. What is interesting to note is that the winners of the Tour de Romandie over the last two years (Cadel Evans in 2011 and Bradley Wiggins in 2012) are the same riders that have gone on to win the TDF. There’s no doubt that Chris is at the top of his game and is considered to be one of the top mountain climbers in the world – if not the best!
Check out the profile for Chris and Daryl in the blogs to follow …