Cadel Evans while making history becoming the first Australian to win the Tour de France in July 2011 was reported as being ‘cautiously optimistic’ about his chances for winning in 2012. Defending both his title and the yellow jersey will take a great deal of commitment. These days Cadel lives off season in Barwon Heads, Victoria, Australia and in season at Stabio in Switzerland where there are plenty of places to test your strength on mountain roads. He won a sprint finish in Stage One of the Critérium du Dauphiné in June, 2012 in impressive style. He and the boys from BMC, the Swiss bicycle manufacturer, are well into the rhythm of competition, although he is quick to point out, it is still a long way out from completing the Tour.
The 99th Tour de France 2012 currently underway won’t reach its ultimate destination the Champs -Élysées at Paris until Sunday July 22nd. Along the way it will provide all of its participants, including Cadel Evans, with many challenges, including two mountain stages with a summit finish. This year over 3,496.9 kilometres long, the tour is a remarkable test for even the most elite of athletes. It requires persistence, endurance, skill, intelligence and sheer guts to not only compete and qualify, but also to survive the tactics, the teamwork, the unexpected changes in weather, the mountain roads, the crowds of people on the verge, the vagaries and the pile ups of the Peloton, whose riders gather in a group to save energy by slipstreaming behind other riders. Large hills are always a worry – the aerodynamic factors are much less important at the slower climbing speeds, and the power-to-weight ratio is the key determinant of speed. However the ever increasing height can split the Peloton, which is when the opportunities for some happen as it is an advantageous situation to be in for those with the strength and temerity to lead or participate in a breakaway.
Yell for Cadel became the chant of most Australians last year, even those who had never followed a tour de France before, when it was broadcast nationally that he was in with a winning chance in the closing stages of the race. It was all about empowering Australia’s national cycling icon. The boy from down under was getting used to wearing the ‘yellow jersey’. The original idea for wearing this garment was to encourage other riders to ride with passion against the winner of the individual stages. The rider to receive the bright yellow jersey following the last stage on the run into Paris, is the overall (or ultimate) winner of the Tour.
It was early in 20th century France when Géo Lefèvre, a journalist with L’Auto magazine at the time, came up with an inspired plan. His editor, Henri Desgrange, was bold enough to believe it might work and to throw his weight behind backing a some 2,500 km-long cycle race across the country, which many would have viewed as drawing a line ‘between insanity and genius’. But that didn’t stop it going ahead and on the 1 July 1903, sixty pioneers set out on their bicycles from Montgeron. After six gruelling stages (Nantes – Paris, 471 km!), only 21 arrived at the end of this first challenge for cycling enthusiasts.
People were both astonished and full of admiration and in the villages and towns all over the French countryside communities began vying for their place to be included on the Tour map. Everyone benefited and tourism and global participation meant that it became an international event of great merit. Le Tour has always moved with the times.
Like France as a whole, it benefited from the introduction of paid holidays from 1936; it has had many periods now of economic prosperity and often finds itself at the forefront of the debate on a malaise afflicting world sport as it, and its riders gain in strength from its multitude of experiences.
The BMC Racing Team that Cadel Evans belongs to was only founded in Switzerland in 2009. In 2010 Cadel Evans wore the yellow jersey at the Tour de France, but failed to keep it on the way to Paris.
Only one year later Evans celebrated his first victory following three weeks of focused racing surrounded by the team who supported him as it grew in both stature and success.
With its thrills, spills, heartache and happiness the Tour de France 2012 is set to be another milestone in the history of cycling as a sport. So yell for Cadel and be sure to empower Australia’s national cycling icon as he races to win.
Carolyn McDowall, The Culture Concept Circle 2012
Running from Saturday June 30th to Sunday July 22th 2012, the 99th Tour de France will be made up of 1 prologue and 20 stages and will cover a total distance of 3,479 kilometres.
These stages have the following profiles:
9 flat stages
4 medium mountain stages – one with a summit finish
5 mountain stages – two with a summit finish
2 individual time-trial stages
2 rest days
Distinctive aspects of the race
The 2012 Tour de France will have 25 mountain level two, level one or highest level mountain passes or summit finishes. They will be divided up geographically in the following way:
1 in the Vosges
3 in the Jura
4 in the Swiss Jura
6 in the Alps
11 in the Pyrenees
There are 9 new stage towns in 2012
Abbeville, Annonay Davézieux, Bellegarde-sur-Valserine, La Planche des Belles Filles, Peyragudes, Porrentruy, Samatan, Tomblaine, Visé