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DAY 20 - The penultimate stage on Alpe d'Huez

What a great stage today was, it was nail biting watching to see whether or not Chris Froome could keep hold of the yellow jersey. It all came down to the last climb of the stage, and it seems fitting that the final places of the GC this year should be decided on the Aple d’Huez. Alpe d’Huez probably isn’t the most difficult or picturesque climb in the tour but the battles that have taken place on this mountain are what make it stand out from the rest. In 1997 Marco Pantani attacked three times and only Ullrich could match him until he cracked and Pantani soloed to win in record time up the Alpe. In 2001 Lance Armstrong faked...

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DAY 19 - Geraint Thomas, the Super-Domestique

Geraint Thomas MBE, is the Welsh Pro rider who has been described as Chris Froome's super domestic in this year's Tour de France. Along with Richie Porte they have provided Froome with incredible pace setting, protection in the mountains and managed to fend off attacks from Froome's main rivals to make sure his yellow jersey is defended. By riding so well Thomas has found himself in 4th position in the GC, and with 2 more stages in the mountains there is a distinct possibility he could find himself on the podium in Paris. At 29 Geraint isn't new to the sport, but his committed part in Team Sky this year has thrown him into the spotlight as one of the best...

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DAY 16 - The expert descenders!

One of the skills that make a top road cyclist is not only the ability to climb mountains, but also the ability to descend them. Today’s stage in the Tour de France has the longest descents of all the stages, where riders will reach speeds in excess of 70mph, as they lean into the bends trying to find the most efficient route down. Unlike climbing, one of the biggest issues with descending is that it’s virtually impossible to practice the big descents prior to the races, so the riders tend to be racing blind. On recces of the stages in the lead up weeks to the tour the riders will check out the mountain stages so as to know what...

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DAY 15 - The Voiture Balai

Since 2004 Daniel Alain has followed every stage of the Tour de France clocking up more miles than even the most ardent of superfan. Alain is an integral part of the race that no rider wants to acknowledge, and for him at least, he has the best seat in the house. “In the broom wagon we see the race differently. There are two races really. There is the race in front, the race everyone sees on TV. And then there is the race behind. So many things happen behind. We live some amazing moments.” Ref www.pelotonmagazine.com Whilst no longer a Citreon H van, the Voiture Balai was first introduced in the 1910 TDF, not really to help the struggling riders,...

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DAY 14 - Put me back on my bike!

Whilst professional cyclists have almost other-worldly bike-handling skills, crashes are an inevitable feature of their job. What we have seen from watching the Tour de France over the years is just how tough our heros can be. The classic cyclists’ injury is the broken collarbone, the result of the instinctive urge to stretch out an arm to break a fall. The tell tale sign when a cyclist has broken a collar bone is seeing them with their arm folded across their chest and supporting it with their other hand. Tony Martin’s Tour came to an abrupt end this year when he fractured his collar bone after crashing on Stage 6. Bradley Wiggins was also forced to quit the 2011 Tour for...

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