? Saturday, July 5, is Philippe Gilbert?s 26th birthday. Happy birthday Philippe! What better way could there be to celebrate his birthday than for the Française des Jeux man to win the opening stage in Plumelec?
Erik Zabel will be 38 on Monday and Garmin?s Martijn Maaskant is 25 on the day the race reaches Paris.
? The riders who will be celebrating a birthday during the Tour are:
7th ? Erik Zabel (Milram), 38 ? Saint-Malo ? Nantes
8th ? Paolo Tiralongo (Lampre), 31 ? Cholet time trial
11th ? Juan Oroz (Euskaltel-Euskadi), 28 ? Brioude ? Aurillac
15th ? Alan Perez (Euskaltel-Euskadi), 26 ? Pau rest day
15th ? Sébastien Rosseler (Quick Step), 27
17th ? Leif Hoste (Silence-Lotto), 31 ? Lavalanet ? Narbonne
21st ? Stefan Schumacher (Gerolsteiner), 27 ? Cuneo rest day
26th ? Christophe Laurent (Garmin-Chipotle), 31 ? Cérilly ? St Amand Montrond
27th ? Martijn Maaskant (Garmin-Chipotle), 25 ? Etampes ? Paris
STAGE WINNERS AND JERSEY WEARERS
There are no previous Tour de France champions in this year?s field but there 13 riders who have experience of wearing the yellow jersey in the past.
They are: Robbie McEwen, Fabian Cancellara, Stuart O?Grady, Jens Voigt, Oscar Pereiro, George Hincapie, Thor Hushovd, Cyril Dessel, Christophe Moreau, Thomas Voeckler, Erik Zabel, Rubens Bertogliati and David Millar.
There are 34 former Tour de France stage winners in this year?s race (as long as you count Cadel Evans and Kim Kirchen, who were awarded victories after Alexandre Vinokourov tested positive last year).
Former Tour stage winners in this year?s race (including prologues)
12 stage wins: Robbie McEwen, Erik Zabel
5 stage wins: Thor Hushovd
3 stage wins: Fabian Cancellara, Oscar Freire, David Millar
2 stage wins: Stuart O?Grady, Jens Voigt, Filippo Pozzato, David Moncoutié
1 stage win: Cadel Evans, Yaroslav Popovych, Carlos Sastre, Frank Schleck, Alejandro Valverde, Jose Luis Garcia Acosta, Oscar Pereiro, Kim Kirchen, George Hincapie, Juan Mauricio Soler, Felix Cardenas, Baden Cooke, Robert Hunter, Gert Steegmans, Matteo Tosatto, Christophe Moreau, Jimmy Casper, Denis Menchov, Juan Antonio Flecha, Pieter Weening, Pierrick Fedrigo, Sandy Casar, Rubens Bertogliati, Magnus Backstedt
OLDEST AND YOUNGEST
? The oldest rider in the field is Stéphane Goubert of Ag2r-La Mondiale. He?s 38 years and 3 months.
? The youngest rider is Gerald Ciolek, who is 21 years and nine months.
SPECIAL GUEST STAR
? David Le Lay is riding for Agritubel as a guest. He usually rides for Breton team Bretagne Amor Lux but is on loan to Agritubel for the Tour. He?s a Breton rider who has been signed up because of the Tour?s start in Brittany.
TOUR BY NATIONALITY
Twenty teams of nine riders means a field of 180. There are 27 nationalities represented (note, we are counting Kenyan-born Chris Froome as British because he is now racing on a British licence).
Czech Republic 1
Great Britain 3
New Zealand 1
South Africa 2
The most eclectic teams are Columbia and Garmin-Chipotle who each have riders from eight different nationalities. Euskaltel-Euskadi, who only sign Basque riders, are made up of nine Spaniards. Gerolsteiner have eight Germans, Agritubel and Française des Jeux each have eight Frenchmen and Lampre have eight Italians.
These are the reigning national champions who are in this year?s Tour de France. Interesting to note neither Italian champion, Filippo Simeoni (road ? rides for Ceramica Flaminia) nor Marco Pinotti (time trial, not selected by Columbia) are not in the race.
Nicki Sorensen ? Denmark (CSC)
Nicolas Vogondy ? France (Agritubel)
Fabian Wegmann ? Germany (Gerolsteiner)
Frank Schleck ? Luxembourg (CSC)
Julian Dean ? New Zealand (Garmin-Chipotle)
Alejandro Valverde ? Spain (Caisse d?Epargne)
Adam Hansen ? Australia (Team Columbia)
Sylvain Chavanel ? France (Cofidis)
David Millar ? Great Britain (Garmin-Chipotle)
Luis Leon Sanchez ? Spain (Caisse d?Epargne)
Fabian Cancellara ? Switzerland (CSC)
NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCK
There are 48 riders making their Tour de France debut this year.
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Sports journalist Lionel Birnie has written professionally for Sunday Times, Procycling and of course Cycling Weekly. He is also an author, publisher, and co-founder of The Cycling Podcast. His first experience covering the Tour de France came in 1999, and he has presented The Cycling Podcast with Richard Moore and Daniel Friebe since 2013. He founded Peloton Publishing in 2010 and has ghostwritten and published the autobiography of Sean Kelly, as well as a number of other sports icons.
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