Third stage victory for the team in this year’s Tour de France. Jelle Vanendert wins the toughest Pyrenees stage in 2011 alone. Therefore as well as André Greipel’s birthday we’ve got one more big reason to celebrate this evening.
In this article I’d like to give you a deeper insight into what you might not always notice when watching the event on television.
The Tour de France is the most important event of the year for a cycling pro. Alongside winning the world championship road race a stage victory at the Tour de France is something of major prestige for any pro rider, to say nothing of the overall victory. That is for sure the pinnacle of any rider’s career.
The high profile of the Tour de France has above all changed the way teams prepare for this race over the last few years. The race favourites all check out the stages well in advance and also ride the key stages themselves in order to get an impression of what the climbs and descents are like, as well as the approaches to the mountains. Jurgen Van Den Broeck also did this together with Herman Frison. Our Sporting Director also prepared a hand-written sheet as a supplement to the road book, where the precise details of the individual mountain stages are listed. Philippe Gilbert and other riders then study exactly how particular climbs are in detail.
Together with all this preparation on the evening before the stage and again before the start of the stage we take a look inside our road book. This book includes all the stages and shows us the route profile on a map, altitude profile, approaches to the finish and danger spots in the last 5 kilometres and a route plan with times and average speeds. In addition, the road book contains information about the length of the neutralised section of the stage, the length of the individual mountain sections, the average gradient of the climbs and where the feed stations are located on route.
As you all can see, there’s a lot of preparation that goes into each stage and we pay a great deal of attention to all these variables and there are one or two who have even experienced it all on the bike.