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Tony Gallopin: “I’m ready to go on the attack”

In 2014, Tony Gallopin became the first Frenchman to wear the yellow jersey in the Grande Boucle since 2011, an impressive feat for the Lotto-Belisol cyclist, who also went on to take a beautiful solo win in Oyonnax. Since then, he established himself as one of the most consistent and versatile riders of the peloton, capable of scoring impressive victories and important placings, as underlined by his showing in Paris-Nice, Amstel Gold Race, the Critérium du Dauphiné or the National Championships.

Now, after gaining confidence from all these results, the 27-year-old is ready to make another strong stance on the Tour de France, where he’ll be one of Lotto-Soudal’s leaders. But more on this and his targets for the next three weeks, in the following interview he gave to Cafe Roubaix a couple of days ago, before the start of the race.

– Tony, are you satisfied with your season so far?

Yes, I can say it was ok and I’m pretty happy with the first part of the year, as I nabbed stage victories in Etoile des Bessèges and Paris-Nice, but also had some good results in the Classics. Now that I’ve seen I can finish in the top 10 in the Classics, I really want to focus on these races in the future and finally land a big result in Milan-Sanremo or Amstel Gold Race. The most important thing is that I’ve made some really good progress in the Classics.

– What are these improvements that you are talking about?

I feel that I’m doing much better in stage races like Paris-Nice, which was obvious this Spring. I must say that I was surprised with my GC result, but on the other hand, at the end I was a little bit disappointed with my overall placing. I also felt stronger in the Classics over long distances, as my 6th place in Amstel shows. All these things are giving me huge confidence for the future.

– This year you skipped the Tour of Flanders in favor of the Ardennes. Will you follow a similar path in the future?

Yes, my focus will be on the Ardennes Classics, but I’ll also be interested in Milan-Sanremo. Anyway, this doesn’t mean I can’t try new things at some point.

– Recently, you came second at the National Championships. What were your thoughts after the race?

It was a good result and although I missed on the win, I wasn’t disappointed, because I knew I wasn’t the fastest in the sprint and it wasn’t possible for me to attack earlier. I gave my best and overall I’m content with what I got. The race has helped me find out how my legs are ahead of the Tour de France and also become more confident.

– You’re riding the Tour de France for the fifth time in your career. What do you think of the course?

The race is nice and it reminds me of the one in 2014. The last week is really difficult, but until then I’m sure I will have some chances on the Mur de Huy and Mur de Bretagne.

– And what goals do you have for the race?

To be sincere, my best result will be to win a stage and for sure I will try to take one. I will also help André Greipel in the sprints; basically, my role in the team will be more or less similar with the one I had last year, except that now, as we don’t have a GC rider, I’ll get more freedom and more opportunities to go on the attack.

A short history of the Tour de France pavé stages (past 35 years)

Year Stage First Second Third Yellow jersey before the stage Yellow jersey after the stage
1980 Liège – Lille Bernard Hinault Hennie Kuiper Ludo Delcroix Rudy Pevenage Rudy Pevenage
1980 Lille – Compiègne Jean-Louis Gauthier Gery Verlinden Bernard Bourreau Rudy Pevenage Rudy Pevenage
1983 Valenciennes – Roubaix Rudy Matthijs Kim Andersen Pascal Poisson Jean-Louis Gauthier Kim Andersen
1985 Neufchâtel-en-Bray – Roubaix Henri Manders Sean Kelly Phil Anderson Kim Andersen Kim Andersen
2004 Waterloo – Wasquehal Jean-Patrick Nazon Erik Zabel Robbie McEwen Thor Hushovd Robbie McEwen
2010 Wanze – Arenberg-Porte du Hainaut Thor Hushovd Geraint Thomas Cadel Evans Sylvain Chavanel Fabian Cancellara
2014 Ypres – Arenberg Porte du Hainaut Lars Boom Jakob Fuglsang Vincenzo Nibali Vincenzo Nibali Vincenzo Nibali

Rider of the week

It has been a tough first half of the season for Fabian Cancellara, although the start was very good, with stage victories in the Tour of Oman and Tirreno-Adriatico. Unfortunately for the Swiss powerhouse, he crashed and injured in E3 Harelbeke, missing his biggest goals of the season, the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix. Then, after coming back, things weren’t as smooth as he had hoped, the end of June finding him without a win in the three races he had been targeting: the two Tour de Suisse invididual time trials and the road race at the National Championships.

Things didn’t seem to become smooth not even once the Tour de France got underway, as he finished in third position the opening stage, a 13,8-km long individual time trial in Utrecht. But the Trek Factory Racing cyclist kept on believing that the tables will finally turn around and sensed that a first opportunity will be stage two of the race, during which heavy winds and rain were expected, as the peloton was heading towards the North Sea.

Staying all the time at the front during a stage in which the wind and rain wreaked havoc, he eventually became part of a main group that included GC contenders, sprinters and Classic specialists alike, the 34-year-old patiently waited for the last 200 meters, letting the sprinters to make their move, before responding. Then, thanks to a strong sprint (69,16 km/h) – reminiscent of the one in the 2011 World Championships, where he finished fourth – but also to a blunder made by Mark Cavendish, he came third and got himself some bonifications, which helped him climb to first in the standings.

On Monday, Fabian Cancellara will enjoy his 29th day in the yellow jersey, a record for a rider who hasn’t won the overall classification. He also ticks his sixth Tour de France in the lead, which puts him on par with André Darrigade and Eddy Merckx, with only Bernard Hinault in front of him (8 editions). Now, after adding Zeeland to the list of place where he took the most important jersey in cycling (Liège twice, London, Monaco and Rotterdam being the other), the Swiss can look with much more serenity to the second goal he has in the race: win a stage, his ninth in the Tour de France.

Ralph Denk: “We hope to bring home a stage win”

Ralph Denk

Jan Barta, Sam Bennett, Emanuel Buchmann, Zakkari Dempster, Bartosz Huzarski, Jose Mendes, Dominik Nerz, Andreas Schillinger and Paul Voss the nine cyclists selected by Bora-Argon to ride the 102nd Tour de France. The Pro Continental teams is returning to the biggest stage race in the world one year after making its debut and being among the protagonist in the general classification, where it scored a very impressive top 10.

This time, the German Pro Continental team comes with a line-up spearheaded by Sam Bennett – one of the most talented sprinters of the new generation and winner of three races this season – and Dominik Nerz, the 25-year-old who showed his GC potential by finishing twice in the top 20 at the Vuelta a España. The two of them are expected to take advantage of the many opportunity the Tour de France will provide in the next three weeks and bring Bora-Argon’s biggest victory of the year, as underlined by Ralph Denk, in the following interview he gave to Cafe Roubaix.

– Mister Denk, the team is coming back to the Tour de France after making its debut last season. How important is to have got a wild card for the second year in a row?

For us it is very important since we have a new sponsor. To present the biggest platform in cycling to a new sponsor is the best thing that can happen to a team and our project. We all know that the bar we set last year is very high. Already then we exceeded all expectations. But the riders are fit and motivated, so we hope that we are able to convince and surprise this year again.

– How was the process of selecting the riders who eventually made the cut?

Our management team tried to find a mix of cyclists to support Sam Bennett in the sprints, as well as Dominik Nerz, who is focussing on the GC. The clock was set to zero in January and every rider had enough races and chances to prove himself and qualify for the Tour squad.

– Is it safe to say that Sam Bennett is the leader of Bora-Argon for the Tour de France?

Well, actually we are going with two leaders into the race. Meaning, Sam Bennett takes the lead position in the sprint stages, while Dominik Nerz will be our leader regarding GC. I hope Sam will get his chances in the sprint stages to fight for a podium position.

– And how about the other cyclists?

Mainly, we hope that we arrive to Paris with as many riders as possible. If we are lucky enough to also bring home a stage win, our target would be reached. Basically, we would have all expectations fulfilled.

– What does it mean to have the national champion of Germany in the race? How did you receive the news of Emanuel Buchmann winning the race?

I received the news live through radiotour, as I was in the race car myself. It is a great story for German cycling and of course for our team. To go to the Tour de France with the German Champion in your team is really great. People are much more aware of us and truth is this scenario simply fits to a German team.

Alain Gallopin talks of Trek’s goals for the Tour de France

Trek Factory Racing is one of the teams to watch at this year’s Tour de France, as the squad led by Alain Gallopin and Kim Andersen is coming with a strong line-up, thanks to which it can fight on both fronts, stage wins and general classification. The US-based team has two captains for the biggest race in the world, Fabian Cancellara – who holds the record for the most days in the yellow jersey without winning the race (28) – and Bauke Mollema, who hopes to leave his mark on the overall standings in an event he previously finished twice in the top ten.

Joining them will be Julian Arredondo (best climber of the 2014 Giro d’Italia), two-time Tour of Flanders winner Stijn Devolder, Laurent Didier, Markel Irizar, Bob Jungels, Gregory Rast and Haimar Zubeldia (8th at the previous edition), making up for a strong squad, which can show itself on almost any terrain.

Just days before the start of the 102nd running – which will take place in the Dutch city of Utrecht – I’ve contacted Mister Alain Gallopin, one of Trek’s sports directors for the Tour de France, and he agreed to talk for Cafe Roubaix about the team’s goals and expectations for this event, where the team comes with high expectations.

– Mister Gallopin, how would you rate Trek’s season so far?

The start was really good, but then, after the crash of Fabian Cancellara in E3 Harelbeke and the crash of Bauke Mollema in the Vuelta al Pais Vasco, things didn’t go as we have planned in the cobbled Classics and the Ardennes Classics, respectively. Nevertheless, the spirit is good in the team and we await the start of the Tour de France with a big level of confidence.

– For this reason is the race a chance to turn the tables around?

Exactly. Our first focus is to place Bauke Mollema into the top five and then, with Fabian Cancellara, to win a stage in the first part of the race and take the yellow jersey.

– How do you see the team’s line-up for the Tour de France?

We have found a perfect mix between the climbers and the Classics riders. Looking at the parcours of the race in the first half, it was important to have some strong Classics guys to protect our GC leader and also to help Fabian Cancellara get a victory. I don’t know if Fabian will have a free role on the fourth stage or will stay with Bauke, this is yet to be decided by Kim Andersen and I, but what I can say is that it would be very important for us if he could win the cobbled stage and take the yellow jersey.

– You said that the team’s goal is to have Bauke Mollema in the top five in Paris. What are his chances of doing so?

He didn’t have a good Criterium du Dauphiné, but if you remember, last year he was very strong in the Tour de Suisse, but afterwards was tired in the last week of the Tour de France. Also, in Dauphiné he had that back problem and our plan was to have him hit top form for July, and not for the Dauphiné.

– Making his debut in the Tour de France will be Julian Arredondo. Can he go at some point for the polka dot jersey?

It remains to be seen, as we provides us with many options, but the main goal will be to try and win a stage at the Tour, especially in the second half of the race, as there are a lot of opportunities for a breakaway to succeed. He is in good shape and I’m sure will spot him on the climbs.

– Also Bob Jungels will race the Tour de France for the first time. What can we expect from him?

He can have the same focus as Fabian, and that is to try and take the jersey at some point thanks to a break. Bob is a complete rider, good on the cobbles and also on the climbs, and I’m sure he’ll help the team. Last year he didn’t finish the Vuelta, but I’m confident we’ll see him at the front as he will gain a lot of experience here.

– You’ve been to many editions of the Tour de France as a sports director. What do you think of this year’s course?

My opinion is that it’s a very interesting, it’s certainly one for the climbers, but they have to avoid all the problems that can arise in the first ten days. A complete cyclist will win, not a climber, I’m sure of that. The winner will have to show himself not only on the climbs, but also on the cobbles and in the windy stages.

– And would you say that the first half of the race is more important than the second one?

Anything is important in the Tour de France, because every little detail counts and you can lose the race anywhere. It’s a very complicated affair. But, besides these Classic-type stages, I’d say that also the summit finish of Pierre-Saint-Martin will be very interesting, as it will be provide the first real fight between the overall classification riders.

Tour de France Stats

Historical stats

– The Tour de France was created in 1903, the inaugural edition being won by Maurice Garin

– Jacques Anquetil, Bernard Hinault, Miguel Indurain and Eddy Merckx share the record for the most overall wins, five

– The nation standings is led by France (36), followed by Belgium (18) and Spain (12)

– As expected, France has the most stage wins – 684

– Peugeot is the team with the most victories in the overall classification, 9

– 60 cyclists have won the Tour de France at least once

– Eddy Merckx holds the record for the most days spent in the yellow jersey (96), as well as the one for the most stage victories (34)

– The Belgian also has the most stage wins in the yellow jersey at one edition: 7 in 1970

– Charles Pélissier, Freddy Maertens and Eddy Merckx share the record for the most stage wins at a single edition: 8

– Fabian Cancellara is the cyclist with the most yellow jerseys ever for someone who has not won the Tour

– Richard Virenque has the most polka dot jerseys: 7

– In the points classification, Germany’s Erik Zabel leads, with six victories

– Andy Schleck and Jan Ullrich are the only riders who have won the white jersey three times

– Raymond Poulidor has the most overall podiums: 8

– François Faber is the only cyclist who took five stages in a row (1909)

– George Hincapie, Stuart O’Grady and Jens Voigt hold the record for the most starts: 17

– Joop Zoetemelk is the rider with the most completed editions: 16

– Youngest ever winner of the Grande Boucle is Henri Cornet (19 years and 355 days in 1904), while the oldest one is Firmin Lambot (36 years and 131 days in 1922)

– Italy’s Fabio Battestini is the youngest ever stage winner (19 years and 133 days in 1931); Pino Cerami is the oldest one (41 years and 95 days in 1963)

– Only two cyclists from outside of Europe have won the trophy: Cadel Evans (Australia) and Greg LeMond (U.S.A.)

– 14 riders were forced to retire while leading the general classification

– Lucien Aimar, Firmon Lambot, Greg LeMond, Gastone Nencini, Oscar Pereiro and Roger Walkowiak have all won the overall standings without nabbing a stage victory

– Albert Bourlon went down into the history books as the rider with the longest winning escape – 253 kilometers, in 1947

– Up until this point, 23 nations gave a leader of the general classification

– Australia, Canada, Columbia, South Africa and the U.S.A. are the five countries from outside Europe who had a cyclist in the yellow jersey

– Bernard Hinault is the only rider who wore the yellow jersey at eight editions

– Laurent Fignon, Vincenzo Nibali and Joop Zoetemelk are the three cyclists who got to win on three summit finishes at one edition

– Smallest winning margin was recorded in 1989, when Greg LeMond defeated Laurent Fignon for just 8 seconds

– In 1903, Maurice Garin put two hours, 59 minutes and 21 seconds between him and the second places cyclist, Lucien Pothier, which stands as the biggest ever winning gap

– 11 cyclists have won the Tour de France at their debut in the race, while four riders took the GC at their last presence here

– Ottavio Bottecchia, Maurice Garin, Nicolas Frantz, Romain Maes and Philippe Thys have lead the event from the first until the last stage

– Pierre Brambilla, Laurent Fignon and Hermann Van Springel have lost the lead in the last day

– Jan Janssen, Greg LeMond and Jean Robic are the three cyclists who took the final win in the last day of the race

– Louison Bobet, Eddy Merckx, Bernard Hinault and Greg Lemond have all won the race while wearing the rainbow jersey

– Andy and Frank Schleck are the only brothers to have finished the Tour de France on the podium

– The most successful jersey number in the history is 1 (worn by 24 champions)

– The highest jersey number worn by a Tour de France winner was 171 (Pedro Delgado in 1988)

– The second running (1904) saw the shortest edition (2420 kilometers); the longest one took place in 1926 (5745 kilometers)

– The longest stage in line ever witnessed had 482 kilometers; the shortest one had 19,6 kilometers

– Lowest average speed of an edition was in 1924 – 23,972 km/h; highest average speed was recorded in 2006: 40,789 km/h

– Throughout history, only three stages were neutralised, in 1978, 1995 and 1998

– Alpe d’Huez was the host of the first ever summit finish, in 1952, when Fausto Coppi took the victory

– First visit of the peloton outside the borders of France was in 1907, to Metz, who was a German posession at that time

– Paris is the most visited city (145), followed by Bordeaux (134) and Pau (118)

– Most visited venue outside France is Liège (22)

– 1992 was the year in which the race went to the msot foreign countries: Belgium, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands and Spain

– The yellow yersey was introduced in 1919, the polka dot one in 1933, the green jersey in 1953 and the white one in 1979

– First passage of the Pyrenees was in 1910, with the Alps making their debut one year later

– Col du Galibier is the highest ever summit finish – 2645 meters, while Col du Tourmalet is the most visited climb (79 times)

2015 stats

– 22 teams will race this edition (17 World Tour, 5 Pro Continental)

– Five of these haven’t scored a World Tour win in 2015: Bora-Argon 18, Bretagne-Séché, Europcar, IAM and LottoNL-Jumbo

– MTN-Qhubeka is the only team which will make its debut in the Grande Boucle

– This 102nd running of the race has 3358,3 kilometers and five summint finishes (Pierre-Saint-Martin, Plateau de Beille, Pra-Loup, La Toussuire, Alpe d’Huez)

– With Galibier out due to landslide, Col d’Allos is now the highest point of this year’s race – 2250 meters

– The 2015 edition will be the one with the fewest individual time trial kilometers ever: 13,8

– It will be for the 21st time that the Grand Depart will take place outside of France

– Three riders who previously have won the race are now at the start: Alberto Contador, Chris Froome and Vincenzo Nibali

– The cyclists who came to Utrecht have won a combined total of 17 Grand Tours, 24 Monuments, 13 world titles and more than 230 Grand Tour stages

– Youngest rider in this years’ race is Merhawi Kudus (21 years and 184 days), while the oldest one is Matteo Tosatto (41 years and 73 days)

– 32 countries will have at least one rider in the race, with France topping the list (41)

– There will be 24 national champions in the race, MTN-Qhubeka and Movistar being the teams which are lining-up the most, three each

– Europcar is the only team with all nine cyclists coming from the same country (France)

– Matteo Tosatto is the rider with the most Grand Tour starts under his belt, 32 (including this one)

– Adam Hansen is participating in his 12th consecutive Grand Tour

– 44 cyclists will make their debut in the race this year


2015 Tour de France favorites – race days/wins

Chris Froome – 27/5

Andrew Talansky – 32/1

Joaquim Rodriguez – 33/3

Wilco Kelderman – 34/1

Vincenzo Nibali – 36/1

Nairo Quintana – 36/2

Tejay van Garderen – 36/1

Bauke Mollema – 37/0

Rui Costa – 39/2

Alejandro Valverde – 41/7

Thibaut Pinot – 42/2

Romain Bardet – 43/1

Alberto Contador – 44/4

Rider of the week

Vincenzo Nibali claimed back-to-back victories at the National Championships, thus becoming the 14th Italian rider to do it, and the first since Giovanni Visconti (2011). Just like in 2014, the Italian opened his account in the one-day race, but this time on a different parcours. If last year’s edition took place on the course of the now defunct Trofeo Melinda, this time the riders tackled the Milano-Torino route, a race revamped by RCS Sport in 2012. The 219-km long event included two climbs, the final one being the Superga hill – 5 kilometers, 9% average gradient – where all was to be decided.

Having his Astana team at the front setting the pace once the race entered its closing kilometers, the triple Grand Tour winner decided to give it a go from the penultimate ascent, thus forcing an important selection. Caught by Francesco Reda and Diego Ulissi, the “Shark of Messina” distanced his rivals on the descent, before the two of them joined him once again on Superga. At one point, Nibali looked to have been cooked as a result of his numerous attacks, but it wasn’t so, as he pushed clear with around two kilometers left and this time left everyone behind for good.

In the end, the 30-year-old Italian won with a comfortable cushion and reassessed himself as one of the top contenders for the Tour de France, with exactly one week before the start of the event. What’s even more important is that Vincenzo Nibali looked to be very slim and in an excellent condition, after a kind of disappointing Criterium du Dauphiné, where he came just 12th in the general classification. Having won the National Championships for the second time in his career and being close of hitting top form, it remains to be seen if the Sicilian will continue on an identical road with the one of last year and take another victory in cycling’s biggest race.

2015 National Championships Stats

– Lampre-Merida and MTN-Qhubeka are the teams with the most titles, 5 each; they are followed on the podium by Etixx-Quick Step, Movistar and Tinkoff-Saxo – 4, and Androni Giocattoli, Katusha, IAM, Sky and Trek – 3

– Seven pro riders have made the double (road race and individual time trial): Edvald Boasson Hagen, Tsgabu Grmay, Gert Jõeäär, Bob Jungels, Nikolay Mihaylov, Peter Sagan and Serghei Tvetcov

– FDJ is the only World Tour team without a national champion

– Same FDJ missed on the French title for the first time in four years

– Androni Giocattoli, Bora-Argon 18, CCC Sprandi Polkowice, Cofidis, Cult Energy, Europcar, MTN-Qhubeka, RusVelo, Southeast and Topsport Vlaanderen are the Pro Continental teams which have at least one national champion

– Emanuel Buchmann (Germany), Luka Pibernik (Slovenia) and Eugert Zhupa (Albania) are the neo-pros who’ve won a title

– Of all the pro national champions, ten got to take back-to-back victories

– Steven Tronet (Auber 93) became the second French champion riding for a Continental team, after Dimitri Champion (Bretagne-Schuller), in 2009

– In Great Britain, Peter Kennaugh brought Sky its 5th road race win in six attempts since the team was created

– 24 national champions will ride the Tour de France this summer

The 2015 National Champions

Country Individual time trial Road race
Albania Eugert Zhupa Redi Halilaj
Australia Richie Porte Heinrich Haussler
Austria Georg Preidler Marco Haller
Belarus Vasil Kiryienka Andrei Krasilnikau
Belgium Jurgen Van Den Broeck Preben Van Hecke
Bulgaria Nikolay Mihaylov Nikolay Mihaylov
Canada Hugo Houle Guillaume Boivin
Colombia Rigoberto Uran Robinson Chalapud
Czech Republic Jan Barta Petr Vakoč
Denmark Chris Juul Jensen Chris Anker Sørensen
Eritrea Daniel Teklehaimanot Natnael Berhane
Estonia Gert Jõeäär Gert Jõeäär
Ethiopia Tsgabu Grmay Tsgabu Grmay
France Jérôme Coppel Steven Tronet
Germany Tony Martin Emanuel Buchmann
Ireland Ryan Mullen Damien Shaw
Italy Adriano Malori Vincenzo Nibali
Kazahstan Alexey Lutsenko Oleg Zemlyakov
Latvia Gatis Smukulis Aleksejs Saramotins
Lithuania Ramunas Navardauskas Aidis Kruopis
Luxembourg Bob Jungels Bob Jungels
Namibia Gerhard Mans Dan Craven
Netherlands Wilco Kelderman Niki Terpstra
Norway Edvald Boasson Hagen Edvald Boasson Hagen
Poland Marcin Bialoblocki Tomasz Marczynski
Portugal Nelson Oliveira Rui Costa
Romania Serghei Tvetcov Serghei Tvetcov
Russia Artem Ovechkin Iuri Trofimov
Slovakia Peter Sagan Peter Sagan
Slovenia Jan Tratnik Luka Pibernik
South Africa Daryl Impey Jacques Janse van Rensburg
Spain Jonathan Castroviejo Alejandro Valverde
Sweden Gustav Larsson Alexander Gingsjö
Switzerland Silvan Dillier Danilo Wyss
United Kingdom Alex Dowsett Peter Kennaugh
U.S.A. Andrew Talansky Matthew Busche
Venezuela Yonder Godoy Juan Murillo

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