Tour de France 2011 Recap

Posted: July 27, 2011 by larlotto85 in Sports
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The 2011 Tour de France was capped off by an emotional Cadel Evans wrapped in the Australian flag standing alone on the top step of the podium as the Champion of the Tour de France. Cadel Evans became the first Australian to win the Tour de France after an impressive three weeks of racing. Evans was the runner-up in the 2007 and the 2008 Tour but it was finally the 34-year-old Aussie’s turn to finish the Tour wearing the coveted yellow jersey. He beat out two-time (now three-time) runner-up Andy Schleck of Luxembourg, and Andy’s older brother Fränk Schleck. The Schlecks also made a first by being the first set of brothers on the podium at the end of the three-week grand tour.

Although Evans was in the top four throughout the whole Tour, he did not get the leaders jersey until the  penultimate day. Evans won the yellow jersey in the discipline that he excels at and the Schlecks tend to – quite frankly – suck at, the time trial. In the 26.2 mile circuit around the town of Grenoble Evans pulled back an impressive two and a half minutes (plus or minus a few seconds) to obtain the yellow leaders jersey.

What I find most amazing about Cadel’s win is the fact that throughout the last week of the Tour as the race went through the massive Alps there were two distinct situations where I thought that Cadel was going to come up short to the Luxembourg phenom Andy Schleck.

 1.   The first day in the Alps Andy Schleck launched an extraordinary attack 30 miles from the finish. The rest of the favorites did not respond to the attack most likely assuming that the young Luxembourger would slow down and be caught on the final climb of the day, the massive Col d’ Galibier. The Galibier rises 2892 yards above sea level which is the highest altitude the Tour de France cyclists have ever had to climb. The opposite actually happened. Schleck increased the time gap to a max of four and a half minutes over Evans and the other favorites. At this point Cadel saw that his overall Tour hopes may be dashed on the slopes of Galibier. Without asking for any help from the other favorites in the group the Aussie took to chasing the Luxembourger up the steep slopes of the Galibier eventually finishing in 3rd place by a little over two minutes on the stage. And overall Cadel Evans was only fifty-seven seconds behind Schleck.

2. The second day in the Alps the cyclists finished on the mythical Alpe d’Huez which has twenty-one hairpin turns each one named after a cyclist who won on the massive mountain. Evans’ trouble started early in the stage when the defending champion Alberto Contador attacked from about 145 miles from the finish. The only men who could keep up with Contador were Andy Schleck and Cadel Evans. The Aussie could have stayed with the other two but his bike had a malfunction and he had to drop back to a group with the other favorites. The Aussie never gave up though. For a second day Evans took to chasing Schleck and again mostly by himself. By the end of the day Cadel Evans caught Schleck losing no time to the Luxembourger putting him perfect position for the time trial in Grenoble.

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Other Winners

Besides the yellow jersey there were still the competitions for the green sprinters jersey, the polka dot climbers jersey, the white young rider jersey.

Green Jersey   (for complete explanation of the jersey competitions see Thurston’s pre-race guide)

The green jersey was won by the self-proclaimed fastest man on two wheels. Mark “Manx Missile” Cavendish. The young sprinter from the Isle of Man ( an island off of Great Britain) captured his first ever green jersey title after being very close the past two years. Cavendish won five stages in this years Tour including the last stage on the famous Champs-Èlysèes. Second to Cavendish in this competition was the Spanish national champion J.J Rojas. Rojas attempted to beat the “Manx Missile” but never came close to Cavendish in the standings. Cavendish was the first rider from Great Britain to win the green jersey.

Polka Dot Jersey 

The polka dot jersey was won by the Olympic road race champion Samuel Sanchez. Sanchez won one stage in this year’s Tour. Sanchez claimed the polka dot jersey over the overall runner-up Andy Schleck and a new climbing discovery, a Belgian named Jelle Vanendert. Sanchez put in a gutsy attack near the end of the stage up to Alpe d’Huez to steal the victory to from Andy Schleck, when it seemed like Schleck had the jersey locked down. Sanchez also finished sixth overall in this years Tour.

White Jersey 

The white jersey was won by Pierre Rolland. Rolland is a young Frenchmen who gave France its first victory in the 2011 Tour de France on the top of Alpe d’Huez. This was also the stage that Rolland took the white jersey. Rolland defended the white jersey in the time trial the next day, holding off Rein Taaramäe who is a pretty good time-trialist. Rolland went on to finish eleventh overall in the Tour.

Final Thoughts 

I saw some incredible things during the past three weeks but what will stick in my mind most about this tour is the amount of crashes that occurred (see video). Among the many that crashed out included favorites like Janez Brajkovic (Team Radioshack), Bradley Wiggins (Sky Procycling), Chris Horner (Team Radioshack), Jurgen Van den Broeck (Omega Pharma- Lotto), Alexandre Vinokourov (Pro Team Astana), and Andréas Klöden (Team Radioshack). By far the worst crash was the one that involved Johnny Hoogerland, Juan Antonio Flecha, and a media car. Spoiler alert… the car wins. The silver lining in the whole car incident is that Hoogerland and Flecha both finished the race, although they were pretty beat up by the end.

Another thing from this Tour that stuck out to me is the success of the French, which is usually uncommon. The success started with Thomas Voeckler grabbing the yellow jersey and defending it honorably for ten stages. Voeckler isn’t known for his ability to climb, but he stayed with all the top climbers in some of the toughest mountain stages the Tour had to offer. Although Voeckler fell to fourth place on the stage to Alpe d’Huez he defended his fourth position in the time trial which amazed me because he is also not known for his time trialing ability. Although Voeckler didn’t make the podium, this was a great success for France because this is the first time since 2000 that a Frenchmen finished in the top four (Christophe Moreau finish fourth in 2000). Other bright spots for France is white jersey winner and Voeckler’s teammate Pierre Rolland. Rolland proved that he can climb with the best in the world and is an average time-trialist. I think Pierre Rolland will be a contender in the Tour in the years to come. Other riders that may be promising for France is Arnold Jeannesson who proved to be a decent climber and finished fourth in the young rider competition. Another is Jèrôme Coppel who proved he has potential to be a good climber and time-trialist  and he finished third in the young rider competition. The last rider is an older rider who was a mountain bike racer before switching to road racing. His name is Jean-Christophe Pèraud. He stuck with the strong climbers of the Tour producing good results on mountain stages. He also finished sixth in the final time trial to secure a tenth place finish overall. In my opinion this is France’s best Tour de France since 1985, which was the last time a Frenchmen won the Tour.

This years Tour de France proved to be as interesting and exciting as ever. This has been one of my favorite Tours in the past couple years. There was a lot of great racing without cheating speculation around the favorites. I hope next year’s Tour is just as thrilling!

Here are the best crashes in this year’s Tour. You can, also, read what our thoughts were before the Tour and if they were false or reality here

  1. […] – Put simply the best of the 2011 Tour de France Crashes, even though Juan Antonio Flecha and Johnny Hoogerland – who flipped into a barbwire […]

  2. Max says:

    Good article

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