Tour de France Stats Overload

The Tour de France finally gets underway in Rotterdam tomorrow. I’m a sucker for poring over lists of statistics and unearthing bits of cycling trivia. As such, here’s a rundown of a few records which may be be equalled or broken in the coming weeks as the Tour thunders through the Netherlands, Belgium, the Alps and the Pyreneés on its way to Paris.

The favourite to win the Tour de France this year is Alberto Contador. Should the Spaniard don the yellow jersey in Paris he will join Philippe Thys, Louison Bobet and Greg LeMond on three overall victories. After Eddy Merckx and Bernard Hinault, Contador will become the third youngest rider to make it to three Tour wins.

The 2009 Tour de France podium of Contador, Schleck, Arsmtrong. If the same podium repeats this year it will be the 3rd time this has happened. Hinault, Zoetemelk, Agosintho (1978-79) and Armstrong, Ullrich, Beloki (2000-01).

However should Armstrong surprise everybody and win the Tour this year, he will obviously be extending his own record to eight Tour victories. At almost 39 years old, he will also become the oldest ever winner, out ranking the previous holder Firmin Lambot who was 36 when he won the Tour in 1922. Armstrong will also be creating the largest gap between a rider’s first Tour win and last Tour win. His victories will span 11 years beating the previous record of 10 set by Gino Bartali, winner in 1938 and 1948. He will also be leaving the company of Miguel Indurain and Fausto Coppi and joining Jacques Anquetil as a rider who has won eight Grand Tours. Should the Texan manage to wear the yellow jersey at any stage during the Tour he will become the oldest ever leader of a Grand Tour breaking the previous record of Andrea Noé set in the 2007 Giro d’Italia. He will also equal Bernard Hinault’s record of having worn the yellow jersey in eight different Tours de France.

Should Ivan Basso win the Tour he will become the 8th rider to achieve a Giro/Tour double in the same year. Previous riders to achieve this feat reads as a who’s who of cycling greats, Fausto Coppi, Jacques Anquetil, Eddy Merckx, Bernard Hinault, Stephen Roche, Miguel Indurain and most recently Marco Pantani in 1998. Basso will become the oldest rider to do it since Coppi did it originally in 1952.

If Andy Schleck manages to make it one step further on the podium in three weeks time he will become the first rider from Luxembourg since Charly Gaul in 1958 to win the Tour. Remarkably for such a small nation, Luxembourgish riders have won the Tour four times. Should Andy Schleck wear the yellow jersey he will become the 10th rider from Luxembourg to do so, a list which includes his brother Frank.

Barring disaster, Andy is expected to again walk away with the White jersey as best young rider. This will be his third victory in a row in that competition equaling the record set by Jan Ullrich in 1998, and it will continue Schleck’s record of winning a jersey in every Tour he’s competed in. Remarkably, Andy Schleck will still be eligible for the White jersey at the Tour in 2011, when he could set a record of four wins. Schleck however has loftier ambitions and is aiming to win the Tour. Should he do so, he will become the 4th rider after Fignon, Ullrich and Contador to win both White and Yellow in the same year. He is yet to win a stage of the Tour de France. Should he continue this trend but also win the Tour he will become the 7th rider to win the Tour without winning a stage. However, he will become only the 2nd rider after Roger Walkowiak to win the Tour having never won a stage in any Tour. Although he will have plenty of years left to rectify that. Roman Kreuziger is likely to be Schleck’s closest rival for the White jersey. Should Kreuziger pull on the Yellow jersey at any stage in the race, he will become the first rider from Czech Republic (or Czechoslovakia) to do so.

Bernard Hinault - Winner of a record 20 Tour de France Time Trials.

There are no previous winners of the Polka Dot jersey in the race. Richard Virenque and Laurent Jalabert have both retired. Michael Rasmussen, ejected from the Tour in 2007 while wearing yellow, has returned to racing but not for a team that will ever be chosen to ride the Tour. Mauricio Soler failed to recover from an injury in time and wasn’t selected on his Caisse d’Epargne team, which means there will now be no Colombians in the race for the first time since 1983. There are in fact only 24 riders from outside of Europe taking part, and none at all from South America. Bernard Kohl, who was stripped of his title in 2008 was banned from racing and has subsequently retired. Finally there’s Franco Pelizzotti who is currently banned from racing due to suspicious values regarding his biological passport. So anyone who wins the King of the Mountains this time around will be a first time winner and will be the 5th different winner in five years.

Conversely, there are three former winners of the Green points jersey taking to the start line tomorrow, Robbie McEwen, Oscar Freire and Thor Hushovd. Mark Cavendish will have to overcome all of them, as well as Tyler Farrar and Edvald Boasson Hagen, if he is to become the first British winner of the Green jersey. Should Cavendish continue his feats of 2008 and 2009 and win four or more stages at this year’s Tour, he will become only the third man to have won at least four stages in three consecutive Tours. Eddy Merckx was the 2nd rider to achieve this after René Le Gréves did it first in the mid-thirties.

George Hincapie will be starting his 15th Tour de France (having completed all but one) drawing level with Lucien van Impe, Guy Nulens and Viatcheslav Ekimov but will still remain one shy of Joop Zoetemelk’s record of 16 (having completed all of them!). Footon-Servetto’s Fabio Felline is the youngest rider in the race and the first rider born in the 1990s to take part in the Tour (doesn’t that make us all feel very old?). Fabian Cancellara will be aiming to win his 4th prologue time trial (although technically last year’s opening time trial wasn’t a prologue) which will leave him one behind the record of five set by Bernard Hinault. Thor Hushovd will be aiming to join an elite list of riders who have won a stage in five consecutive Tours.

Finally, last but not least, Nicolas Roche will be aiming to be the first Irish stage winner since his father Stephen won a stage in 1992. Come on Nicolas! Enjoy the Tour everybody!

Nicolas Roche - Aiming to achieve Ireland's highest G.C. place at the Tour since Stephen Roche finished 13th overall in 1993.

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