The Week That Was...
Ian comments on the happenings in the world of cycling.
Last week, at a presentation in
, the ASO officially released the 2006 Tour de France route. The one major shake-up was the exclusion of the Team Time Trial stage, an event won for the past three years by the American US Postal/Discovery Channel squad.
The Team Time Trial stage has proven to be the launching pad for Lance Armstrong?s victory against his closest rivals in recent years. Favouring the more complete ?super? teams, this stage would often see some of the specialist climbers in serious trouble after just a handful of days on the race.
While there were some surprises for those in attendance at the route announcement, it was without doubt the open criticism of former winner, Lance Armstrong, which caught out many. In a joint mission statement, Amaury Sport Organisations's deputy managing director Jean-Marie LeBlanc and director of cycling Christian Prudhomme, said, " On the 24th of July we turned the page on a long, very long chapter in the history of the Tour de France. And one month later, current events made it clear to us that it was just as well that this was so. "
"Does this justify closing the entire book and erasing all the emotions that, for so many years, the Tour and its champions have provided us with??
"Taken as a whole, judged on its lifelong worth - like an artist or a poet - and in particular on its future productions, we want to believe that the Tour de France deserves a better fate. The dream that it embodies, the values that it is capable of generating mean that it has a duty to be able to hold its head up in pride ."
It is quite remarkable how short a memory those within the ASO must have. While nobody likes doping allegations surrounding their events, a certain American has done more for that race in terms of taking it to a new level of worldwide public interest, which the ASO were never able to do on their own. Their immediate acceptance of the current allegations speaks volumes for the management within the Tour de France and ASO.
The stages for the 2006 Tour de France are:
Prologue - July 1: Strasbourg ITT, 7 km
Stage 1 - July 2: Strasbourg - Strasbourg, 183 km
Stage 2 - July 3: Obernai - Esch-sur-Alzette (Luxembourg), 223 km
Stage 3 - July 4: Esch-sur-Alzette - Valkenburg (Netherlands), 216 km
Stage 4 - July 5: Huy (Belgium) - Saint-Quentin, 215 km
Stage 5 - July 6: Beauvais - Caen, 219 km
Stage 6 - July 7: Lisieux - Vitr?, 184 km
Stage 7 - July 8: Saint-Gr?goire - Rennes ITT, 52 km
Stage 8 - July 9: Saint-M?en-le-Grand - Lorient, 177 km
Rest Day - July 10: Bordeaux
Stage 9 - July 11: Bordeaux - Dax, 170 km
Stage 10 - July 12: Cambo-les-Bains - Pau, 193 km
Stage 11 - July 13: Tarbes - Val d'Aran/Pla-de-Beret (Spain), 208 km
Stage 12 - July 14: Luchon