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Stage 14: So near, yet so far

13/07/2013
Winning a stage in the Tour de France is very complicated; it is the dream-come-true of every boy that wants to be a cyclist.  Very few have the conditions to do it, but many less are the ones that achieve it.  Those that have achieved it do not have any words to describe what that moment means and much less those humble racers that have lived a few days of glory in their record of accomplishments. Winning in the best race of the world is a distant hypothesis for many.
Stage 14: So near, yet so far

Today, Julien Simon has been very near to fulfilling his dream and during the last kilometres of the stage, it seemed it was at his hand’s reach.  He had the strength, he was quick, he attacked at the right time and the rest of escapers were not collaborating... until they did, unfortunately for our interests in time to catch him at less than 1000 metres from the finish.  When he had been absorbed by the others escapers it was a shock for the team that had been fighting in all and every one of the stages to raise their arms and we have never had it so close.  Internally there was a sensation of anger and pride and even more with a racer that had ended with the taste of victory on his lips on two occasions.  He arrived at one second from the yellow jersey during the third day in Corsica and today he still has not been able to write his name in the history of the race.  Nevertheless, we are proud of him and of a team that is showing to be one of the most competitive of the race and that day-by-day shows the reasons why it was invited. 

Coppi

There are many histories of racers that, like Simon, have arrived very close to winning.  Without doubt, the most recalled and probably the most dramatic was in 1989, the last time the Tour finished with a time-trial.  It was short time-trial, of 24 kilometres and the local idol, Laurent Fignon, gained 50 seconds over Greg Lemond.  Paris was hoping to celebrate the victory of its cyclist, who had it all in his hand with the public in his favour and with the sureness of having won the Giro a few months earlier.  The winner of the race in 1983 and 1984 had showed more merit that the North American to win the race.  However, Lemond managed to win the Tour de France beating Fignon in the last time-trial by 58 seconds, 8 seconds difference in the overall table.  This was a tremendous deception for Fignon and for the country and such a shock that the Parisian cyclist could not overcome as he has never fought again to be at the top of the podium in any of the great races.  There were many theories about what happened to Fignon but there was one that surprised everybody.  That same year, a study was made that simulated the mentioned time-trial.  The results of the study indicated the fact that Fignon used a standard bicycle (not a time-trial one), he did not use an aerodynamic helmet, he had long hair and neck-chains and that he used a goat horn handlebar that meant a loss of 1 minute and 30 seconds over the last 24 kilometres. The author concluded that the victory of Lemond that day was due to the position on the bicycle and the clothes he used more than other biological factors or training. 
 

CoppiThis shows that the bicycle has gained importance in the results of cycle races.  Lemond was an innovator with an extension added to the handlebar that could have been decisive that last stage of 1989. Another great and meticulous innovator was years before Cyrille Guimard with Van Impe, later Renault with its cyclists the most famous being Bernard Hinault.  In 1979, another revolution.  It was the « profile » period. Frames with oval tubes, cables hidden inside the handlebar, profiled wheels and soon after lenticular or flat ones.  We are in the era of air penetration, talking about the CX and wind tunnels.  Seconds are won every kilometre and position changed with ergonometrics.  The competition follows the movement and tests, inventors and wind tunnels appear everywhere.  In 1985 automatic pedals arrived which meant the finish of the toe piece.  Nowadays they seem evident but at their moment, they were a great revolution in the pack and on the market. 

Tomorrow we reach Mont Ventoux, where nor bicycles, nor strategies or other factors are decisive.  Only the strength of the racers.  A great atmosphere due to being the National Day of France, so the show is there surrounding the climb to the mythical top.  We will tell about it from the top. 

That is all my friends. Greeting from Lyon!
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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