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Cycling Highlights this Summer

Cycling

Cycling hit some big benchmarks this summer.  Not only did cyclists compete in the 101st Tour de France preceded by a rare women’s tour but several youth cyclists participated in mixed gender cycling competitions at the 2nd Summer Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing.  Also impressive were the fifty young unicycle riders from Nanjing Yincheng Elementary School who performed at the Nanjing 2014 Opening Ceremony.  The Youth Olympic Games also held several cycling competitions.  96 men and 32 women from 32 countries participated in team cycling events.  Each team consisted of three men and one woman.  Each of the three men competed in one of the following: Cross Country, Time Trial and BMX.  Each woman competed in all three events.  Finally, each team member competed in the Road Race.  The medals were decided on the overall points won by all four riders on each team.  In the women’s road race, Brazil placed 1st, Lithuania 2nd and Italy 3rd.  In the men’s road race, Russia placed 1st, Portugal 2nd, and Brazil 3rd.  In the mixed relay, the Czech Republic placed 1st, Italy 2nd, and Ukraine 3rd.

The Grand Tour proved to be equally exciting.  The ultimate in cycling is the Grand Tour – cycling’s most prestigious three week long cycling stage races (longer than 14 days), including the Le Tour de France, Giro d’Italia, and last Vuelta a Espana.  Every year in July at least 20 teams with 9 riders each embark on this 23 day race biking over 2200 miles transversing 21 stages including flat terrains, hills, mountains, altitude finishes and one individual time-trial.  This “annual multiple stage bicycle race primarily held in France” was first organized in 1903 by L’Auto magazine, a UCI World Tour event, with classification for: points (sprinters), mountains (climbers), young rider (under 26), and team.  Seven races (1984-1989, 2014) have been preceded by a women’s race, La Course by Le Tour de France.

This year was the 101st Tour, as 10 tours were canceled during WWI and WWII.  Record winners include: Jacques Anguetil (FRA) 1957, 1961-64; Eddy Merclox (BEL) “King of the Mountain” 1969-1972, 1974; Beknard Hinault (FRA) 1978-79, 1981-82, 1985; and, Miguel Indurain (ESP) 1991-1995.  Lance Armstong’s seven consecutive wins from 1998-2005 have been retroactively stripped as well as all titles and banned for life for being implicated in a doping scheme.  However, all the top 10 winners during these years tested positive for doping.  Jan Ulrich who came in 2nd to Armstrong four times did not stake a claim to the title due to the prevalence of doping.  No one holds the title for these years.  Vincenzo Nibali (ITL) won this year with a time of 89:59:06 with Rafal Majka (POL) in Mountain and Peter Sagan (SLO) in Points.

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Author: Melanie Carbine

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