#TDF2015: See how “Tour de France” puts #Utrecht on the map

Posted on July 4, 2015

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by Alex JS, editing by Adam MS

(7/26) British Cyclist Chris Froome Wins Tour De France

British cyclist Chris Froome rode to his second Tour de France win in just three years on Sunday, edging out his toughest rival, Colombian Nairo Quintana.

The Guardian reports: “The final stage was effectively a procession, with Froome enjoying a customary glass of champagne on his bike with around 100km to go. Froome was officially declared the winner of this year’s Tour when the riders came into Paris for the first time, before they embarked on the first of their 10 laps of the Champs-Élysées after the finish was [neutralized] due to bad weather.”

Team Sky rider Chris Froome of Britain, with the race leader's yellow jersey, celebrates his overall victory on the podium after the 109.5-km (68 mile) final 21st stage of the 102nd Tour de France.

Froome, 30, who was forced to abandon the iconic race last year after falling in treacherous conditions, held the yellow jersey on Stage 4 and again on Stage 7 onward after losing it to Tony Martin.

SB Nation writes: “His signature attack was a furious climb up La Pierre-St. Martin on Stage 10, during which he opened his lead from 12 seconds to 2:52 over Tejay Van Garderen.”

SB Nation reports:

“From that point onward, Froome was a marked man, but any attacks against him fell short. Froome himself was magnificent, of course, but so was [his] Team Sky. During the Stage 12 climb up to Plateau de Beille, Richie Porte and Geraint Thomas successfully closed gap after gap with Froome in tow, allowing Froome to then attack on his own in a show of force to his rivals, ultimately forcing a stalemate.

“The next decisive days came at the very end of the Tour in the Alps. On Stage 19, Froome was perhaps truly vulnerable for the first time, losing his lieutenants to the early climbs and being forced to fend off every offensive himself. Nibali attacked him to win the stage when Froome had a mechanical issue, and Quintana was able to wrest 30 seconds away on the general classification, but Froome was still in strong position heading into the Stage 20 climb up Alpe d’Huez, 2:38 ahead of second-place Quintana.”

The BBC notes:

“Inside the last 10km (6 miles) he had to stop to remove a paper bag that had got caught up in his gears, while moments later he rode over a discarded water bottle. If either had caused him to crash and not cross the finish line his title would have been cruelly taken away.

“However, he stayed upright and rode over the line arm-in-arm with his Team Sky team-mates several seconds behind the main bunch.”

(7/13) Ivan Basso quits Tour de France after testicular cancer diagnosis

Italian underwent scan due to pain from stage five crash

Ivan Basso will leave the Tour de France immediatelyIvan Basso has quit the Tour de France after being diagnosed with testicular cancer during the race.

The 37-year-old Italian, who is one of Alberto Contador’s team-mates, announced the news at Tinkoff-Saxo’s rest-day press conference, just a couple of hours after finding out himself.

Basso, who won the Giro d’Italia in 2006 and 2010, complained of pain after a crash on stage five and underwent a scan on Monday morning.

Contador was sitting next to Basso in the press conference and broke down in tears when the news was announced.

He later tweeted: “Hard day. @ivanbasso have discovered a serious health problem. I’m sure everything will be fine. Dee you in Paris!”

Tinkoff-Saxo sports director Steven de Jongh added: “We will try to meet Ivan in Paris with the yellow jersey.”

(7/11) Vincenzo Nibali loses time as Alexis Vuillermoz wins

Vincenzo Nibali lost another 10 seconds to his Tour de France rivals as Alexis Vuillermoz won stage eight solo and Chris Froome retained the overall lead.

Vuillermoz (Ag2r-La Mondiale) attacked with 750m remaining of the climb to the finish on the Mur de Bretagne and hung on to win by five seconds from runner-up Dan Martin (Cannondale-Garmin) and 10 seconds from third-placed Alejandro Valverde (Movistar).

Froome (Team Sky) finished in the main group of chasers in eighth place to consolidate his 11-second lead at the top of the general classification over Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo), who was fourth on the day, with Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing) remaining 13 seconds back in third.

Nibali, however, was unable to keep pace on the short but steep final climb and was dropped with just under 1km to go, which sees him fall to 1min 48sec adrift of Froome in 13th overall.

Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) and Nairo Quintana (Movistar) both finished alongside Froome in the main group to stay 36 seconds and 1min 56sec off the Briton’s race lead respectively.

Vuillermoz, who also finished third place on the Mur de Huy on stage three, said: “Third place on the Mur de Huy was obviously amazing, so today I wanted to do something special. I tried two of three times to go, and finally on that third occasion, it worked. I put my head down and pedalled for all I was worth and it’s just about now that I’m beginning to realise I have won the stage.”

(7/7) Tony Martin wins stage four and takes the yellow jersey

Tony Martin claimed the Tour de France leader’s yellow jersey for the first time on Tuesday with victory on stage four to Cambrai.

The multiple world time-trial champion began the day one second behind the incumbent Chris Froome of Team Sky, having been denied the race lead by bonus seconds on Sunday.

The German made his move three kilometres from the finish of a dramatic 223.5km route from Seraing in Belgium across the cobbles of northern France and held off a charging peloton.

The riders were wary of the cobbles, some of the sectors of which are used in the Paris-Roubaix one-day classic known as ’the Hell of the North’.

Froome did not even see a cobble as his Tour defence ended 12 months ago after three crashes in two days, but this time was guided expertly by the brilliant Geraint Thomas.

The main moment of concern came when Froome wobbled in the gutter after losing his team-mate’s wheel.

The 30-year-old was second to Thomas coming off the final cobbled sector and wanted to attack, with Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) and Nairo Quintana (Movistar) left behind.

But there was no collaboration in the select eight-man bunch, which included the defending champion Vincenzo Nibali (Astana), and Martin next made his successful move.

Froome will be content to have conceded the yellow jersey at this early stage and will hope to add to his British record 15th day in the maillot jaune later in the race.

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Overall individual time classification after stage four

1. Tony Martin (Germany / Etixx – Quick-Step) 12:40:26” 2. Chris Froome (Britain / Team Sky) +12” 3. Tejay van Garderen (U.S. / BMC Racing) +25” 4. Tony Gallopin (France / Lotto) +38” 5. Peter Sagan (Slovakia / Tinkoff – Saxo) +39” 6. Greg Van Avermaet (Belgium / BMC Racing) +40” 7. Rigoberto Uran (Colombia / Etixx – Quick-Step) +46” 8. Alberto Contador (Spain / Tinkoff – Saxo) +48” 9. Geraint Thomas (Britain / Team Sky) +1:15” 10. Zdenek Stybar (Czech Republic / Etixx – Quick-Step) +1:16”

Points classifications after stage four

1. Andre Greipel (Germany / Lotto) 84 2. Peter Sagan (Slovakia / Tinkoff – Saxo) 78 3. John Degenkolb (Germany / Giant) 60 4. Tony Martin (Germany / Etixx – Quick-Step) 55 5. Mark Cavendish (Britain / Etixx – Quick-Step) 53 6. Chris Froome (Britain / Team Sky) 40 7. Nacer Bouhanni (France / Cofidis) 37 8. Bryan Coquard (France / Europcar) 36 9. Greg Van Avermaet (Belgium / BMC Racing) 35 10. Joaquim Rodriguez (Spain / Katusha) 30

(7/6) The Tour de France fall absolutely no one was expecting

Start watching the clip below and see if you can guess what’s going to happen next:

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When there are hundreds of tightly packed cyclists rushing along a narrow road in Rotterdam accompanied by motorbikes, you wouldn’t normally expect the carnage to take place on the quiet street running parallel. But then again, you probably wouldn’t guess exactly how much some spectators value water bottles. Or the lengths they’ll go to retrieve them.

We know the Tour de France usually has some fairly dramatic crashes, but the desperate, slow-motion lunge of the man in the clip above is going to be a hard one to top.

André Greipel wins the second stage of the Tour de France (new update)

TDFnGermany’s Andre Greipel crosses the finish line ahead of Peter Sagan of Slovakia, left, and Britain’s sprinter Mark Cavendish, right Photograph: Christophe Ena/AP

(original article) All eyes will be on Utrecht this Saturday for the Tour’s Grand Départ, but there are many reasons beyond cycling to visit the city some call a mini Amsterdam

The streets of Utrecht will be a sea of yellow jerseys and red-and-white polka-dot trees this weekend as a million visitors are expected to arrive to watch the Grand Départ of the Tour de France. But cycling isn’t the only reason to visit the Netherlands’ fourth-largest city. Big plans are afoot in Utrecht. The Central Station area, with its hideous 1970s shopping centre, is being completely redeveloped. The masterplan will take until 2030 to complete, but the benefits are being felt already. There are pop-up stores and parties amid the renovations, and Tivolivredenburg, a state-of-the art concert hall, has opened next door.

The Catharinesingel canal, which was filled in during the 1970s, is being turned from a road back into a major waterway, with the first section due to open by the end of this year.

Utrecht has retained its medieval center, with narrow streets, canals and squares. The canals have a unique “wharf cellar” structure, meaning the streets are split-level – with lots of bars and restaurants at water level. Gourmet burgers are 2015’s major food trend: with wine at Firma Pickles; with beer at Beers & Barrels; or to take away at Meneer Smakers.

TDF1Frietwinkel by Dapp, meanwhile, sells nothing but organic chips. As elsewhere in Holland, Indonesian food is fantastic, especially the modern take at Blauw. Craft beer has taken off, with lots of microbreweries opening, such as Maximus, whose taproom is open from Wednesday to Sunday.

One of the must-see sights, Dom Tower – the highest church tower in the Netherlands – has a new attraction. DOMunder is an archaeological tour under ancient Dom Square. After dark, the tower is now lit up as part of Trajectum Lumen, an artistic light installation project. Fifteen of the city’s landmarks are illuminated each night; maps can be downloaded at trajectumlumen.com.

There are lots of great independent shops, including Puha – clothes and accessories; and Katoenfabriek – designer T-shirts. Boutique hotels are opening in historic buildings, such as the minimalist Mother Goose (rooms from €105) in a former mattress factory (though the building dates back to 1302), and the Eye Hotel, which opens this summer in a 17th-century former hospital and has an introductory rate of €115 a night B&B.

It’s not all about the center, though; Utrecht’s suburbs are thriving too. Sought-after Oudwijk, to the east of the center, has beautiful Wilhelmina Park and lots of new places to eat and drink, such as Boulevard, a Basque bar serving pinxtos and good wines by the glass. Lombok, a lively multicultural area in the west, has bars and cafes in former industrial buildings, plus swimming spots and even a river beach . Veilinghaven is a hip new neighborhood on the site of the old fruit and vegetable auction south-west of the city center.

Utrecht is often described as “Amsterdam-lite” – the same bikes, boats and bars, but on a much smaller scale. The Tour will help put this dynamic city on the map of weekend breaks.

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5 key stages to look out for at the Tour de France

UTRECHT, Netherlands (AP) — A look at five key stages in the Tour de France, which starts on Saturday in Utrecht.

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STAGE 1, Saturday: Individual time trial: 14 kilometres (8.6 miles) in Utrecht.

A Tour de France contender does not want to be in the position of regretting a few lost seconds on July 26.

The individual time trial gives contenders the chance to gain precious time on their rivals, pull on the yellow jersey and send out a strong statement of intent. It also gives his team the chance to take early control.

While not a favorite for the stage win itself, former Tour champion Chris Froome will be favored to gain some precious time on his main rivals, Alberto Contador, and defending champ Vincenzo Nibali.

Contenders to win the time trial include Dutch hope Tom Dumoulin — who sounds rather French — Rohan Dennis of Australia, German rider Tony Martin, and Swiss veteran Fabian Cancellara.

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STAGE 4, Tuesday: Hilly 224-kilometer (139-mile) trek from Seraing to Cambrai in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region of northern France.

It is the longest of the Tour and promises to be a tricky one. Riders have to tackle seven sectors of cobblestones over a combined distance of 13 kilometers (8 miles), and Froome may be having nightmares about it.

As the defending champ last year, the British rider crashed on the cobbles in the 5th stage and went out of the race.

While Froome struggled badly, Nibali thrilled fans with his fantastic bike handling on the treacherous stones.

Froome will need to conquer his fear of falling, otherwise Nibali could stake an early claim this year.

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STAGE 9, July 12: 28 kilometers (17 miles) from Vannes to Plumelec in the Brittany region of north-western France.

This time, the strength of unity as much as the skill of one individual is what counts in the team time trial, where Nibali, Contador, and Froome depend just as much on the strength of their teammates as their own form on the day.

Teams start at equal intervals, minutes apart. Riders take their turn at the front of the team while their teammates tuck in behind to make the most of the slipstream.

Getting the timing right of this is as crucial to a team’s chances.

Riders on each team all get given the same time as the fifth rider to cross the line, so if one rider has a bad day, he can slow down the rest and then that can in turn impact on the team’s main rider in the overall classification.

To the delight of reputed climbers such as Nibali, Contador, and Froome, the undulating and somewhat lumpy stage culminates with an uphill finish on Cote de Cadoudal.

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STAGE 12, July 16: 195 kilometers (121 miles) from Lannemezan to Plateau de Beille.

After two arduous days of climbing in the Pyrenees, some riders will be dreading this slog — which should shake up the peloton.

One of the main contenders could strike a serious blow with an audacious attack on the final climb up Plateau de Beille, a reputed Tour climb.

But before that, there are two extremely tough Category 1 climbs — the second most difficult category in the race.

The first comes approaching the halfway point on the Col de la Core, a 14-kilometer (9-mile) ascent with a 5.7 percent gradient.

The next is tougher: 13 kilometers (8 miles) with a 6 percent gradient up Port de Lers.

Then, it’s time for Plateau de Beille, known as an Hors Categorie — or HC — climb because it is beyond classification. A desperately tough ascent of 16 kilometers (10 miles) with a 7.9 percent gradient explains why.

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STAGE 20, July 25, 110.5 kilometers (68.5 miles) from Modane Valfrejus to the Alpe d’Huez, arguably the most famed of all the Tour’s reputed climbs.

After three straight days of climbing in the Alps, many riders will already be on the verge of breaking point when they reach the penultimate stage.

What awaits them could either tip them over the edge, or closer to victory.

In 2013, hundreds of thousands of frenzied fans — many of them swilling beer, or dressed in wacky fancy dress outfits — packed the 14 kilometers (9 miles) of the climb, giving the impression of large armies camped on each of the 21 tortuous bends.

The raucous and party-hardened Dutch, bedecked in their traditional orange on one turn, doused riders with water or sometimes even beer.

Barrel-chested Norwegians dressed as Vikings on another corner; Australians dangling plastic kangaroos in the faces of exhausted riders on the next.

Each turn is almost like its own story, and this bewildering cacophony of noise and color is what awaits riders again on the last real day of action before the race ends with its largely ceremonial final stage on the Champs-Elysees.

If the race is close, which organizers must dearly hope it will be, it will be settled on this famed climb: A perfect ending.

(image:AP)

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