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Tour de France: The best counterreloj stages in its history

Tour de France: The best counterreloj stages in its history

Since its inclusion in the Tour of France of 1934, the individual fight against the clock has marked a good part of the editions of the race, distinguishing many of its champions, from Coppi to Induráin, through Anquetil, Merckx or Hinault. Its history, with British roots and a clear origin in the mythical proof of the Grand Prix of the Nations, tells us about the specific weight that the counterrelojes have had in the Tour de France, which has found in them some of the most memorable episodes of its centenary career. The counterreloj has historically been the most decisive specialty of the Tour de France together with The great mountain, erecting in the ideal counterweight so that the most rolling cyclists can counteract time losses in the ports, and even opt for the balance in their favor in relation to climbers. It is a modality that, despite losing some weight in the last editions of the big laps, continues to be essential when designing the routes, whether an individual counterreloj (CRI), or a counterreloj by teams (CRE). The Individual counterreloj It is the most widespread modality throughout the editions of the Tour and, as its name indicates, the sublimation of the individual struggle, being one of the best ways to measure the forces of each one, if not the one that most: the Cyclists take the exit of one by one, separated by intervals of time that are predetermined depending on the distance to travel-more kilometers, more time between the output of the runners-, and in reverse order to which the general classification marks. Thus, the leader of the race will be the last to take the exit, the second of the classification will be the penultimate, and so on. When the absence of references with other corridors prevailed, the organization expressly establishes that when one reaches another - or bends it, according to the cycling jargon - the surrounding cyclist cannot take the wheel and must circulate in parallel so as not to benefit from its rebuild.
Throughout its history the tour has been implementing sub-modalities of counterreloj, such as the chrono-screwed, shorter and with end in Mountain Port
The time spent by each corridor in the counterreloj will accumulate in the general classification in the same way as in the line stages, although that approach varies in the team modality, where the registration of each squad is not marked by the first cyclist to enter into Goal, but the third, the fourth, or to the fifth corridor, depending on the number of members allowed by the organization in each race. As a general rule, it will always be sought that the team's time marks an intermediate cyclist, which in the case of races with nine -runner teams would be the fifth. This seeks to prevail the collective performance above the benefits of the specialist that each squad can have. Throughout its history, the Tour of France has been implementing what we could call as sub-modalities within the individual counterreloj. One of them would be the chrono -scallop, that is, a counterreloj that includes an end in port and that, as a rule, has a smaller mileage than a conventional flat counterreloj. Another compressed counterreloj format would be the prologue or short counter stage, of no more than ten kilometers, which usually develops in an urban layout and serves as the beginning of the Tour of France or any return in stages. In this variant, and unlike conventional counterrelojes, there is no control and the possibility of re -enacting to the competition is offered to the corridor the next day in case it is not able to complete the route through a fall or any other circumstance. In that case, the organization gives the cyclist the time of the last classified of the prologue. This model to give the departure flag to the Tour de France began to be used in the 1969 edition, with a 10.4 -kilometer prologue through the streets of Roubaix, in which the German Rudi Altig was imposed, although in the Two previous tours had already begun with a short time trial, although as second sectors of the first two stages, disputed respectively in Angers (1967) and Vittel (1968). The data helps us to get a little more in the history of a modality that has often decided the Tour of France.

A British invention

Counterreloj There are those who place the origins of the counterreloj in the Britain of the late Victorian era, in full development of the industrial revolution, as a modality that did not arise from the brilliant idea of ​​a racing organizer, but rather as a measure of road safety. In those early years of the twentieth century, the bicycle copied the British streets as a means of clean and cheap transport, and its enormous popularity resulted in the organization of a large number of local races, often spontaneous, which constituted a real problem of coexistence in the streets and, therefore, a headache for the authorities, given the large number of cyclists who met. That they left one in one and their times were computed individually was the solution to a conflict that, seen from our days, is still too valid. The time trial jumped the Channel of La Mancha towards France from the hand of a great competition that today no longer exists: the Grand Prix of the Nations. The par excellence of the modality was born in 1932 and since that year it was considered as the informal of the informal counterreloj world, always with tours of more than one hundred kilometers.
The first time trial of the Tour was played in 1934 and the following year a tour was planned with up to 6 stages against the stopwatch that derived from technological problems to control cyclists
The French Maurice Achambaud and Raymond Louviot were their first winners and the reception was outstanding by fans. That success convinced the great employer, Henri Desgrange, of the convenience of introducing the time trial in the Tour of France, which happened in the 1934 edition. On July 27 of that year the first chrono was scheduled in the history of the Great Boucle, as second sector of the 21st stage. It was a tour between La Roche Sur Yon and Nantes, in which the 39 surviving corridors took the exit at two -minute intervals, preceded by the hymns of their respective countries. Antonin Magne, who later proclaimed himself champion of the Tour de France two days later, was the first winner, investing a time of 2:32:05 hours in the ninety kilometers of travel. It was no accident that the French champion then won the Grand Prix of the Nations three times. However, the beginnings of the individual specialty in the Tour de France were not a path of roses. The satisfactory premiere of 1934 encouraged Desgrange to program no less than six counterrelojes the following year, and then the problems came: the impossibility of controlling cyclists in the long paths of those years , without surveillance, they took advantage of auxiliary cars to go faster. The first counterreloj of 1935, played as second sector of the fifth stage, with 58 kilometers between Geneva and Évian-Le-Bains, was a real nonsense: Maurice Achambaud was the best in the middle of the race, with more than two minutes of advantage over Antonin Magne and almost four in relation to the Italian Raffele Di Paco, but for the capital's surprise of all ended behind his two rivals. Desgrange had to intervene: the Tour imposed a dozen penalties and it was decided that three of the five remaining counterrelojes were by teams, a more controllable modality for the logistics of those years. Although in 1936 310 kilometers of counterreloj were distributed in five stages, the Tour of France reduced that number in the following editions, until the technological advances ended with the problems and the counterreloj was erected in the reliable test that was distinguishing many champions of the Tour de France.

Coppi and Anquetil, legend specialists

Jacques Anquetil The modern era of the time trial began after World War II, when an advanced corridor broke into the Tour of France, with innate conditions as a roller, as he had demonstrated in 1942 with his record of the time: Fausto Coppi. Il Campionissimo He spectacularly won the two counterrelojes of his triumphal tour of 1949: in the seventh stage, 92 kilometers between Les Sables D’Olonne and La Rochelle, he strongly defeated two specialists such as Ferdi Kübler and Rick Van Steenbergen; And on the eve of his yellow entrance in Paris, he swept into the counterreloj of 137 kilometers of Nancy, leaving the second, Gino Bartali, more than seven minutes. Coppi would also decorate his second tour of 1952 winning, again in Nancy, the first time trial. With almost half an hour of advantage in the general, he did not need to force in the second and last, which dominated his compatriot Fiorenzo Magni in Vichy.
Jacques Anquetil won four consecutive tours imposing himself on nine of the ten counterrelojes that played from 1961 to 1964
A few years later, Jacques Anquetil, the time trial par excellence, capable of cementing his five triumphs in the Tour of France with an extraordinary management of the specialty. In his first 1957 victory he already made full, leading the triumph of France in the counterreloj by teams of fall and winning the two individuals, in Barcelona and Libourne. In his triumphal period of the four consecutive France tours, from 1961 to 1964, Anquetil won nine of the ten counterrelojes he played. He only had to bow before the great exhibition of Federico Martín Bahamontes in the chrono -scalled to Superbagnères, in 1962. Those exceptional conditions led the Normando to beat the record of the time of Fausto Coppi in 1956, rolling at 46,159 km/h, and to win nine Sometimes the Grand Prix of the Nations, the greatest record in the history of the race. Other great champions of the Tour de France, such as Eddy Merckx and Bernard Hinault, dominated the counterrelojes practically at will, with a bouquet of individual victories that was the basis of their bulky number of stages won: 34 in the case of the Belgian and 28 in 28 in that of the Frenchman. At this point, it should be stopped in some of the most memorable episodes that the specialty has left us. Next we have selected some of the best counterreloj stages in the history of the Tour de France.

The Bagamontes flight at Dôme Puy

Bahamontes Perhaps the most memorable chronoscalada of the Tour de France was the one signed by Federico Martín Bahamontes in the Puy de Dôme, to cement his victory in the 1959 general. The Toledo eagle He beat all the greats of the time on the ramps of the central massif volcano, which were then the hardest as a percentage of how many had been scheduled in the race. Bahamontes, convinced by Fausto Coppi that he could win the Tour if he forgot to bet everything at the Mountain Grand Prix, arrived at the 15th stage of that July 10 relatively close to the leadership: seven minutes from the yellow jersey of the Belgian Jos Hoeveners. And that the first mountain block in the Pyrenees, softer than normal, had not allowed him to mark the usual differences. All the elements allied in the exhibition of the Toledo: their excellent state of form, the final stretch of the Puy de Dôme, almost five kilometers without lowering from 11%, ideal for their characteristics, and improvements introduced on their bicycle that consisted of some Wheels with eight radios less than normal, which made them lighter. The cocktail was explosive: Bahamontes folded Roger Rivière, even before reaching the hardest part, and above sprayed the best time of Charly Gaul, which he beat for 1:26 minutes. Beyond the Luxembourg, the only climber at his height, Bahamontes made a pickle: 3:00 minutes to Henry Anglade, 3:37 to Roger Rivière, 3:41 to Jacques Anquetil, 3:59 to Jean Brankart ... marked 36:15 minutes in the thirteen kilometers of climbing. When the stage ended, the Toledo jumped to the second position, half a minute from yellow. Days later, in alliance with Charly Gaul, he finished dynamiting the Tour of France with an anthological getaway on the way to Grenoble, and was crowned in the Park of the Princes of Paris.

The Greg Lemond revolution

Perhaps the most shocking counterreloj in the history of the Tour de France was played on July 23, 1989 between Versailles and Paris. That day, in the last stage of that edition, Laurent Fignon was leader of the tour with 50 seconds of advantage over Greg Lemond, after a great duel in which both runners had exchanged the yellow jersey up to four times. The Frenchman, champion in 1983 and 1984, had in his hand the possibility of winning for the third time in the streets of his native Paris, with the endorsement of being a specialist. But Lemond ended up rushing unlikely. The Californian, who reappeared in that edition after his 1987 hunting accident, had asked the organization to permission before using a triathlete handlebar, an accessory only used before in velodrome tests, especially in the attempts of the record of the record of The time, and that allowed a greater capacity to penetrate the air. Lemond combined the novelty with an aerodynamic helmet and mounted a lenticular wheel, while Fignon came out without a helmet, push to the wind, and with a conventional bicycle. The result was amazing: Lemond traced the 50 seconds of disadvantage at just 24.5 kilometers and won the Tour de France for eight seconds, the shortest difference in the history of the race. Its benefits were amazing: it recovered Fignon 2.4 seconds per kilometer and rolled at 54,545 km/h, the fastest average in history until that moment. When the Thierry Marie registration, the great short -up specialist of the time, pulverized for 33 seconds. Fignon, despite making an acceptable chrono, Claudicó and never had the option of winning his third tour. Lemond's feat was a revolution in the specialty. If four years earlier, many copied the lenticular wheel and the tilt box that took Francesco Moser to beat the time record in Mexico, the triathlete handlebar and the aerodynamic helmet became from that Parisian afternoon in essential elements for The specialists against the clock.

Luxembourg and Bergerac, Miguel Induráin's peak works

[Captation id = "Attachment_2708" Align = "Alignnone" Width = "900"]Miguel Induráin Image: Eric Houdas, Creative Commons license.[/caption]   Miguel Induráin He has gone down as the great counterrelojista of the Tour de France, with permission from Jacques Anquetil. The five consecutive France Tours of the Great Navarro cyclist were based on ten victories in the specialty, although they were later seasoned with spectacular performances in the mountain, where curiously he did not win in his victorious period from 1991 to 1995, but in the Tours of 1989 and 1990. Almost all Spanish performances in the individual struggle were anthological, but there are two that were especially spectacular: that of Luxembourg in 1992 and that of Bergerac in 1994, the two with a devastating effect on their rivals in the mood, differences of time aside. Statistically, 1992 was the most triumphal year of Miguel Induráin in the Tour, with three stage victories, the three against the clock: the prologue of San Sebastián won, ahead of Álex Zülle and Thierry Marie, and won Gianni Bugno In the last Blois counter. But nothing like what happened in this July 13, on the 65 kilometers of layout in Luxembourg, a journey of slides, with some cobbled sections and a changing wind that came to blow against. Induráin seemed to levitate all that, maintaining a linear rhythm, without ups and downs, moving as an automaton and to great cadence the huge 54x12 development with which he took nine meters of advance for each pedal. He did it perfectly coupled to his bicycle with rear lenticular wheel, with which he rolled as if there were no orographic difficulties. Halfway, I already took two minutes from advantage to Armand de las Cuevas, a great specialist, his partner in Banesto. Shortly after, Laurent Fignon bent, who had left six minutes before. Actually that day could have folded the entire squad because the exit intervals were three minutes and that was the advantage that Induráin put the second, Armand de las Cuevas. The data were stratospheric: Induráin covered the 65 kilometers at an average of 49 km/h, unheard of that distance, and reached tips of more than 60 per hour. The differences in goal, from the caves apart, were extraordinary: 3:41 minutes to Gianni Bugno, 3:47 to Zenon Jaskula, 4:04 to Greg Lemond, 4:06 to Pascal Lino - who endured the yellow jersey for a minute -, 4:10 A Stephen Roche, 4:29 to Alex Zülle and 4:52 to Perico Delgado. The Navarro placed second in the general and five days later assaulted the yellow jersey in Sestriere.
Induráin won the nickname Bergerac tyrant After folding Armstrong in the counterreloj, putting Rominger two minutes, more than four to Armand de las Cuevas and more than five to Chris Boardman and Bjarne Riis
His other masterpiece took place in the 1994 Tour of France, in the ninth stage between Périgux and Bergerac, a time trial just a kilometer shorter than that of Luxembourg. That July 11 Induráin raised its average to 50,539 km/h on a land perhaps more bearable than that of Luxembourg, but under a suffocating heat, with temperatures touching 40 degrees. He moved one more tooth of a dish than in Luxembourg, for a combination of 55x12 that turned with picos of up to 120 pedaling per minute. It was the day that Induráin doubled as a rocket to Lance Armstrong, after recovering the American two minutes of disadvantage of the departure interval, and that was the difference that charged the second classified, Toni Rominger. The Swiss, that this year was his great rival, saw how Navarro dressed in yellow so as not to release him until Paris. Beyond Rominger, Induráin marked abysmal differences: he put 4:22 minutes from the caves, 4:45 to Thierry Marie, 5:27 to Chris Boardman, 5:33 to Bjarne Rijs and 5:45 to Abraham Olano, between Other illustrious victims. That day he won the nickname of Bergerac tyrant.

Rohan Dennis's 55,446 km/h in Utrecht

[Captation Id = "Attachment_6983" Align = "Alignnone" Width = "744"]Counterreloj road cycling Image: Paolo Candelo / UNSPLASH[/caption] The first stage of the 2015 Tour of France, a counterreloj of 13.8 kilometers played in Utrecht, went down in history as the fastest of the Tour of France. Rohan Dennis pulverized the average speed record that Greg Lemond had established in his memorable feat of 1989 through the streets of Paris: if the American then flew to 54,545 km/h over 24.5 kilometers, the 25 -year -old Australian young man did it to 55,446 km/h, to beat the speed record in a prologue that Chris Boardman had established in the 1994 tour, when the British rolled through the streets of Lille at 55,152 km/h. That chrono of Utrecht had the best specialists of the time. None could with Dennis: the German Toni Martin was second, five seconds; the Swiss Fabian Cancellara, six; Dutch Tom Dumoulin, eight ... The level was such that not even the great dominator of the tour and great favorite of that edition, Chris Froome, was able to enter in the top ten. The extraordinary average speed that Rohan Dennis rolled in Utrecht was the largest in history at the individual level, but remained far from the 57,841 km/h brand used by other Australians, those of the Orica team, to establish the record of the Faster non -individual stage of the Tour of France: the counterreloj by teams of 25 kilometers held in Nice in the 2013 Tour. The Orica beat two equally extraordinary rivals: the Omega Pharma-Quick Step, which entered a second; and the Sky of Chris Froome, who did three.
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