The latest edition of the world’s best cycling magazine is out now in the UK, featuring our annual in-depth Tour de France guide, plus a photo supplement, and two souvenir prints. It includes in-depth features and interviews including reigning Tour champ Cadel Evans, his runner-up Andy Schleck, Team Sky’s huge ambitions with Bradley Wiggins and Mark Cavendish, and Tour organiser Christian Prudhomme. There’s also the most erudite, incisive and analytical Tour guide available, featuring wit, snark, moments of borderline genius and, importantly, the gourmet guide to the world’s biggest race. With 212 pages, and peerless perspicacity at just £4.95, you need to buy it now, before we change our minds.

Words by Cycle Sport Staff

Wednesday June 6 2012

Our lead feature this month focuses on defending Tour champion Cadel Evans. Australian journalist Rupert Guinness spent time with Evans at home in Switzerland during the off-season and observed Evans at close quarters for a period of days. This intimate portrait of one of the most private and shy Tour winners shows a side to Evans that he rarely reveals. Evans and his wife Chiara Passerini explained the huge changes that their family went through while undergoing the process of adopting a child from Ethiopia, while he reflected on the impact winning the Tour had had on him.

Evans gets mocked or criticised for his perceived peculiarity. He can be prickly and oversensitive, and there’s no doubt he would be more comfortable without the pressure of being such a prominent athlete, but as Guinness reveals, away from the cycling bubble, he’s relaxed, very close to his family and far more comfortable in his own skin than he appears in public.

The defending champion’s form in bike races this season has been more up and down than in previous years. He won Critérium International, but was unable to successfully defend his Tirreno-Adriatico and Tour of Romandy titles, and pulled out of the Ardennes Classics. But Evans, according to Guinness, seems more settled and comfortable than ever – the change in family circumstances, with a new adopted child, both focusing his mind, and giving him perspective.

ALSO IN THE MAGAZINE

Team Sky, with their two leaders Bradley Wiggins and Mark Cavendish are starting the Tour with the ambitious plan of making a strong challenge for the yellow jersey with Wiggins, while still supporting Cavendish in the sprints. Richard Moore went to the Tour of Romandy to spend time with Sky in the only race in which both Wiggins and Cavendish both competed in the run-up to the Tour, and found the team in a co-operative, harmonious and confident mood. Cavendish contributed to the domestique duty in Wiggins’ overall win, while both riders, as well as team-mates Michael Rogers and Danny Pate, elaborated on how the team would tackle the Tour.

David Brailsford, the team principal, insisted that the challenge was a realistic one, telling us that the difficult thing wasn’t in having Wiggins and Cavendish on the team, but in selecting the seven other riders who would make up the squad. While the final selection has yet to be made, Romandy confirmed which names looked most likely to be put on the final team roster. “We have put a lot of thought into it and the first thing to ask is, do we have the right guys capable of both? Our belief is that we have. It is not so much about the sprinting capability or the GC capability [of individual riders], it is more about the nucleus of what you put in the middle. That team within a team is going to be the make-or-break thing. That’s what has been taxing our minds,” said Brailsford.

Andy Schleck has an incredible Tour de France record, having finished runner-up three times (one of which has officially been converted into a win following Alberto Contador’s positive test in 2010). But he seems to be having a lot of trouble winning the race outright, and is currently enduring the worst season of his career so far. Richard Moore writes, “Perhaps not since Greg LeMond in 1989 or Jan Ullrich in the early 2000s has a Tour de France favourite endured such a dismal spring as Andy Schleck in 2012.” Moore interviewed Schleck about his year so far, and the Luxembourg rider was adamant that he would be ready at the Tour. The critics have already written him off, but in a Tour which is more mountainous than many realise, it would be foolish to presume Schleck will not be a factor.

Ellis Bacon went to Paris to meet Tour organiser and cycling geek Christian Prudhomme. Prudhomme’s had a bit of a bad rap for designing what is perceived as a Tour which favours time triallists over climbing, but he explained at length his motivations behind the 2012 route. “People think that without Luz Ardiden, Plateau de Beille, Alpe d’Huez or the Galibier, it’s a catastrophe; that there are no mountains. Let’s wait until July and then decide whether there aren’t any mountains. You’re going to see, in fact, some of the steepest gradients in the history of the Tour,” he told us. Prudhomme also explained his twin obsessions – cycling history and facts, and finding new roads and battlegrounds for the Tour, at the same time as maintaining links with the old.

Our anonymous peloton insider, Our man in the bunch writes about his own experiences of the Tour de France. For the riders, as well as the fans, it’s the biggest, most intense race in the world. “Nobody gives an inch in other races. In the Tour, nobody gives a millimetre. Physical contact with elbows and spokes touching rear mechs is far more common than at other races. It’s no wonder there are so many crashes in the first week of the Tour – there is a lot at stake and many different agendas,” he writes.

THE BEST TOUR DE FRANCE GUIDE IN THE WORLDHere it is! The biggest, best, brightest, bolshiest and most boisterous Tour guide in the world. Our team of writers – Edward Pickering, Andy McGrath, Ellis Bacon and Felix Lowe, with additional interviews by Chris Sidwells, Gregor Brown and Matt Walsh – has analysed the Tour, its teams and its favourites to within in an inch of its life. Featuring…The favourites and personalities. We’ve identified the men most likely to shine, both in the overall standings, and for stage wins. Everything’s here: interviews with the riders and their managers, personality analysis, pop psychology, Tour form, quirks, strengths, weaknesses, style and more.

The teams. Will help you know your Rabobank from your Saxo Bank, your FDJ from your BMC and your Omega from your Orica. We’ve identified the big issue facing each team, assessed their chances of success, and pointed out the heroes and the boo-boys.

The stages. Everything you need to know about the start towns, finish towns and everything in between, including the climbs, terrain, culture, history and what to eat and drink. We’ve talked to the riders who’ve won stages in previous years, and local French riders.

Feature: 11 things about the 2011 Tour. We look back at one of the finest Tours in history.

Feature: how the Tour will be won. Cycle Sport’s deputy editor Edward Pickering has analysed the route, tactics and phases of the race. Plus, our annual reckless prediction lottery, featuring contributors Lionel Birnie, Andy McGrath and Richard Moore.

Iconic Places visits the Col du Glandon, which features in the 2012 Tour en route to the Col de la Croix de Fer. Chris Sidwells takes an in-depth look at what is probably one of the two or three hardest climbs in the Alps, and looks at its history in the race, specific challenges, and its impact on the Tour.

SPECIAL SUPPLEMENT: THE TOUR IN PICTURES

We’ve also included a 16-page photo supplement of some of the heroes, characters and landscapes of the Tour de France. If there’s a more photogenicsporting event out there, we’d like to hear about it.

Plus…All our regular features – Graham Watson shares his best pictures and memories of the Giro; Broomwagon’s alternative Tour guide; Q&A with Marcel Kittel (“I’d rather Germans were known for drinking beer and liking a good sausage than wearing lederhosen”); Giro round-up; Tour of California; top 10 mountain bikers-turned roadie; Geraint Thomas’s Giro diary; Shop Window; post-race banter, results and much much more.

That’s a 196-page magazine, including the world’s best Tour de France guide, and a 16-page photo supplement and two souvenir prints, for the criminally low price of £4.95.

Cycle Sport Summer, featuring the very best writing and photography of professional cycling, is available now in the UK, and will be on sale in the USA shortly. It is also available electronically through Zinio.