Cycle Sport Summer is out now, containing the world’s best Tour de France guide, along with the very best writing and photography of professional cycling. This month’s 196-page magazine features interviews with all the main Tour contenders, a comprehensive guide to the stages, and background to the biggest race in the world. At only £4.75, it’s a steal.
Words by Cycle Sport staff
Tuesday June 7
Our lead interview is with the Tour’s number one favourite Andy Schleck. The Leopard-Trek rider announced himself as a Grand Tour winner-in-waiting when he came an astonishing second in the 2007 Giro d’Italia. Four years later, we’re still waiting for the win. In last year’s race, he was just 39 seconds behind Alberto Contador in Paris, the same 39 seconds that he lost in the infamous ‘dropped chain’ incident.
Schleck is a contradictory character. Our writer Gregor Brown found him eager to please, the archetypal nice guy, always with a generous word to say about his rivals. But Schleck also conveyed cool confidence in his abilities – he knows he is the favourite, unless Alberto Contador can recover from the effort of winning the Giro, and in a mountainous Tour he fears nobody. He also still harbours anger at Contador riding hard to put time into him after his mechanical problem on the Port de Balès. 2011 is when Andy Schleck wants to finally confirm the promise he has shown us all in being the runner-up in three Grand Tours.
Also in the magazine…
His direct personality is not to everyone’s taste, but there is no denying that Mark Cavendish is one of the two or three most devastatingly effective sprinters the Tour has ever seen. He’s only just turned 26, but he’s already 12th in the all-time list of stage winners. More importantly, his 15 stage wins have come in the last three Tours. Only Eddy Merckx (who won 18 stages between 1970 and 1972) and Bernard Hinault (15 stages between 1979 and 1981) can match or beat that.
Lionel Birnie has spoken to Cavendish’s backroom team to explain why Cavendish had a relatively slow start to the year, but should be firing on all cylinders when the Tour starts in July. And as last year’s incredible sprint on the Champs Elysées showed, when he’s firing on all cylinders, it’s going to be difficult for his opponents to crack him.
Contador and Schleck were head and skinny shoulders ahead of the rest of the field last year, but then again, so were third-placed Denis Menchov and fourth-placed Samuel Sanchez. Alasdair Fotheringham has interviewed the Asturian rider, who was better than Menchov in the mountains, but lost out in the cobbled stage and the long time trial. Sanchez knows that winning the Tour is going to be tricky, but he is aiming for a spot on the podium, and with Contador not definitely riding, and Menchov definitely not riding, he could already be seen as the second-favourite. If Andy Schleck were to falter…
Christian Prudhomme may be the figurehead of the Tour de France, but there’s a strong case to argue that the most powerful man in race organiser ASO is Jean-François Pescheux. Pescheux is the man who makes the Tour happen – the race director. He decides the route, deals with the nuts and bolts, and is the go-between for riders, juries, the UCI, ASO and the press. We’ve interviewed Pescheux about his role and the changing face of the Tour. “It’s our job to upset the teams’ preconceptions of how the Tour de France will work out,” he says.
THE WORLD’S BEST TOUR DE FRANCE GUIDE
In the 10 moments that defined the 2010 Tour, Ellis Bacon has taken a look back at last year’s very close race. From the incident-packed first week, through the crucial battles in the Alps, then the stalemate in the Pyrenees, to the time trial and then shock positive test announcement for Contador, we’ve reminded you how one of the closest races in the Tour’s history unfolded.
You won’t find a more in-depth analysis of the favourites anywhere else. We’ve interviewed every single one of them, plus a member of their management team to find out what their relationship is with the Tour, and what they think their chances are in the race. We’ve got behind the personalities, looked at their 2011 seasons so far, and analysed their results in the Grand Tours. Our favourites for the GC: Andy Schleck, Ivan Basso, Frank Schleck, Bradley Wiggins, Robert Gesink, Samuel Sanchez and Cadel Evans, with a special feature on Alberto Contador, who many feel should not be at the race, but may still yet defend his title. And the sprinters and stage hunters: Mark Cavendish, Tyler Farrar, André Greipel, Alessandro Petacchi and Philippe Gilbert.
Our stage analysis will be the ideal companion for your coffee table during July. With expert knowledge of the route, our team of writers has dissected all 3,430 kilometres of the Tour. We explain the local culture, the route, predict what is going to happen, and even tell you what to eat. There are detailed maps for every day, plus an exclusive interview, either with a former stage winner in the finish town, or a local rider. We’ve included profiles for the mountain stages, and broken down every major climb.
There are 22 teams in the 2011 Tour and we’ve profiled all of them, looking at their seasons so far, explaining who the star riders are, and guessing what their likely impact at the Tour will be. From potential winners to pack fodder, our teams guide will help to break down the peloton into its constituent parts.
We’ve also stuck our necks on the line with our feature, How the Tour will be won in which we predict the likely tactics and outcomes as the race unfolds. Our writers share their own opinions on who the winner will be, how they’ll win the race, who’ll win the green jersey, how the uphill finishes will change the shape of the race and who is going to surprise us.
Finally, it’s easy to forget the Tour is not just a bike race. It’s a celebration of French landscape and culture. Ellis Bacon explains exactly what it’s like when the Tour comes to town with a feature about the noise, colour and atmosphere of the race.
And there’s more…
We’ve also interviewed a rider who may be a very real threat to the established contenders, Janez Brajkovic, of RadioShack. The Slovenian trounced Alberto Contador at the Critérium du Dauphiné last year, but was reduced to a team role at the Tour de France. This year, he’s aiming to peak for those three weeks in July, and woe betide anybody who underestimates him, from his ageing team-mates Andreas Klöden, Chris Horner and Levi Leiphimer, to the riders who want to win the Tour. Brajkovic can climb and time trial, and he tells Andy McGrath, “I shouldn’t have problems being top five in the Tour this year.”
Iconic Places visits one of the 2011 Tour’s most important locations, the climb of Luz Ardiden in the Pyrenees. Luz Ardiden only made its Tour debut in 1985, but it has established itself so firmly that only Alpe d’Huez has appeared more times in the race. It’s one of the most beautiful climbs in the world, which our stunning photography shows, and it’s also one of the hardest. It’s going to be a major battleground this year, the first really hard summit finish of the race, and our writer Chris Sidwells celebrates that with a look at Luz Ardiden’s history in the Tour.
Plus…All our regular features – Shop Window, with kit so blinging you’ll need sunglasses just to look at the page; Graham Watson shares his best pictures from the Giro d’Italia; Broomwagon’s Tour special; Geraint Thomas on his cycling heroes and memories of the Tour; Q&A with Tour of California winner Chris Horner, who tells us how he made enemies and alienated people at FDJ in his first year as a pro; farewell to Wouter Weylandt and Xavier Tondo; top 10 things we expect to see at the Tour, including Mark Cavendish with a face like a slapped backside and, of course, some cassoulet; plus the best photography of professional cycling, and lots lots more.
Cycle Sport Summer – the world’s best Tour de France guide, packed with interviews and features. It’s 196 pages long, for only £4.75. For the price of a pint and a bag of crisps (remember we live in London), it should see you all the way through summer. It’s in UK shops now, and will appear approximately 10 days later in the US.