The royal ball disinfected disinfected (

The deeper you dive into the bubble of the Tour de France, the more normal not only this artificial world appears to you. You also discover more and more things and habits that have been saved from the times before the pandemic into the current situation. One of these things is the Start Village, the small village with food stalls and PR booths for the sponsors. It was always popular with professional cyclists because they were able to have a crispy coffee here shortly before the start and chat with each other before they started the race. This year, the drivers’ hygiene bubble does not reach this starting village. They have to stick with their buses.

At least the village itself still exists. People with accreditation cards around their necks, mostly organizers, a few journalists and a few VIPs, are let through the gate. You have to disinfect your hands there – that’s new. Inside, the number of stands has decreased. But coffee and madeleines, water and cola, and even wine, are still available. It is poured out behind the well-known Plexiglass panes.

There are also some entertainment options to discover, even a few new ones such as the synthetic petanque field. “Here, touch it! These are plastic balls. But you can play petanque with them, ”calls out Alexis Tanguy. He is a petanque player himself, according to his own statements, French runner-up and a World Cup participant this year. In the start village of the Tour de France, which, like the riders, travels on every day, he sets up his artificial petanque area every time: an approximately two-meter-wide and ten-meter-long carpet on which you can then place the balls with swing. “The weight and diameter of the balls correspond to the competition standards,” explains Tanguy. Around 50 people have already accepted his offer that morning. “It makes people happy. It’s a nice game too, ”he says. Petanque with borrowed balls in pandemic times – is that even possible? “Of course you can. We disinfect the balls after every game. Everything is correct. And nobody is afraid, ”says Tanguy soothingly.

He is on the road all year round for the society of petanque players, promoting the original French sport on unusual synthetic surfaces on the fringes of city festivals, trade fairs and company events. And now on the tour. At the start in Nice, Monaco’s Prince Albert even got involved in a round. In the past, its ball would have come to the museum or been auctioned after the royal touch. Now it was just dusted with disinfectant – this is what animation looks like in Corona times at the Tour de France.


The man with the core competencies (

Lennard Kämna

Foto: imago images/Panoramic International

Lennard Kämna started the first morning relaxed when he was able to call himself a Tour de France stage winner. “I think the team is much more relieved than I am about this victory,” said the 24-year-old professional cyclist with a laugh and pointed to the cheerful supervisors of his team, Bora. “I came here with the aim of winning a stage. But I didn’t put such pressure on myself and wanted to look from day to day, ”he said. With the level-headed North German, that didn’t even seem like an empty phrase, but like a simple statement, straight and straight like a quay wall.

He had done his day’s work on Tuesday in a similarly straightforward manner. He went to the escape group of the day as planned. Teammate Daniel Oss supported him there all day. “His work spared my legs,” the later stage winner praised his companion. With his legs spared, he was then able to parry Giro d’Italia winner Richard Carapaz’s first appearance. Then he looked at the rival – and even hung him on the penultimate mountain.

This time he didn’t want to let it come to a sprint. That was a lesson from the 13th stage. Kämna was also in the lead, but was still over-sprinted by the Colombian Daniel Martinez. Now the flat country from the Waterkant faced an Andean inhabitant again, even a more highly decorated. “I didn’t think he’d be a Giro winner. You have to take every opponent seriously here, no matter what their name is, and you have to see how you can outrun them «, Kämna analyzed just as soberly as he had previously left his opponent.

So now he is the tour stage winner, the first German to have succeeded this year. And because it was a mountain stage, the illusions quickly shoot up that a new Jan Ullrich could be on the way here. Because Kämna has a lot of talent. “He’s good on the mountain and he’s good at time trials. You have now seen that, ”said his team boss Ralph Denk with unmistakable pride. Time trials and going up mountains quickly are the core competencies of tour riders. Does Kämna have what it takes to get onto the tour podium? “You shouldn’t always talk about what he can become, whether he could be the new Jan Ullrich. He’s already something, has won a stage on the Tour, ”said Simon Geschke with a slight anger in his voice. The Berliner was in the escape group with Kämna, was fifth of the day, and knows from personal experience what a stage win on the tour feels like and that this is actually something special.

At Kämnas Rennstall you also step on the euphoria brake. “We’ll see if he’ll be a classification driver for one-week or three-week tours. Maybe he will also be a good driver for the Ardennes classics. We will develop it step by step, ”said Boras team boss Denk.

Kämna already sees herself as a potential class driver. But he too wants to proceed with caution. “We’ll see in the next few years whether it’s enough for three weeks. Now, for the time being, I’m happy that I can also hunt for stages from escape groups, ”he said.

The man who celebrated his 24th birthday on the tour tackles his next tasks with a mixture of concentration and serenity. This attitude was not easy for him. He was considered a great talent from an early age, becoming junior world champion in time trial and U23 world champion in road racing. The first professional day came at the age of 20. The great career was mapped out. But then he was plagued by injuries and he lost his interest in cycling. »In 2018 I had a lot to do with health problems, and I walked from doctor to doctor. At some point came the moment when I said to myself that I need a break and also have to reset my head to be really fresh in order to be able to fully attack again, «he said a year ago. His former team, Sunweb, allowed Kämna to take a break from racing and to visit a sports psychologist. “That helped me,” he reported.

Now he seems to be at rest. In his new team, however, he is the joker. “After his racing career he can become a comedian,” said team colleague Max Schachmann about him. He’s a very tough attacker in the race. After the mountain points achieved on Tuesday, the mountain king’s dotted jersey is now even in his view. So there is no shortage of goals. Incidentally, Jan Ullrich never won this mountain jersey.


The devil wears a mask (

Devils also have to wear masks in corona times. Didi Senft, long-serving tour devil from the Brandenburg town of Storkow, is also on this tour of France. With less equipment than in earlier times, but he’s there, swinging his trident wildly and cheering on everyone who drives past him. Physically, jumping and screaming is a real fitness program for the shrill pensioner. “Of course I’ll stay in France for the entire tour,” he says to “nd”.

This year he did without his large sculptures, the huge, self-made bikes. “They are all already near Martigny in Switzerland, where the World Cup was supposed to take place,” he says. In Switzerland he has the prospect of a museum for his companions. “Nobody in Germany is interested in it,” he says with a wink. But now he has also lost the World Cup, the organizers had to cancel. Will he now move his companion to Imola, the replacement location for the World Cycling Championships? “No, you stay in Switzerland.”

He said he survived the lockdown quite well. “I just had a lot to do, always building something, then the museum project.” The pandemic also had a negative impact on him. »The Aso tour organizers usually get me involved in races for everyone. But they all failed in 2020, ”he reports. During the races, the tour devil known from television is supposed to create a real tour atmosphere. He likes to do that, which is why he came to Latin America, and Aso now operates worldwide. “I was supposed to be in Moscow at the beginning of September, for the everyone’s race there. But what do you want with these infection numbers? The only thing that might still take place is a race in Madrid in November, ”he says. But even there he remains skeptical. Devils can read too – and the corona numbers in Spain are anything but hopeful.

The race cancellations also hit Senft economically. The fee he receives from the Aso is elementary for him – with a monthly pension of 603 euros, as he says. “I started my pension at a little over 400 euros and have already taken part in umpteen pension increases,” he says. The angry undertone in his words does not come from the devil figure, but from the person Didi Senft. The tour then also helps to forget this misery. He now also has a small pandemic advantage: “It’s pretty much empty at the roadside this year, I have no problems finding a place, not even ten kilometers from my destination.”


Somehow come to Paris (

The Tour de France is causing mixed feelings these weeks. This even applies to the sponsors. “We had to reduce our marketing budget this year. The direct payments to the organizer ASO remained at the agreed amount, but overall we are using fewer funds, ”says Adrien Eymard, Head of Marketing at Continental’s Paris headquarters. The tire manufacturer is still very present at this year’s tour. All gates that indicate the increasingly shorter distance to the goal from the 20-kilometer mark are adorned with the company’s logo. The stage winner ceremony is also held. “So we have a good visual presence, especially in the TV broadcasts,” says Eymard.

In the advertising caravan, which this year again drives the route a few hours in front of the professional cyclists and distributes small gifts to the spectators, the company only has half the vehicles: three instead of six last year. “The distribution of gifts is also restricted,” says Eymard. That fits into the overall picture. Instead of the 160 vehicles last year, the advertising caravan now only has around 100 vehicles. Why it takes place at all with the far fewer fans on the track can almost only be explained with contracts signed very early on.

Eymard accompanies the tour every day. He always takes a position at the sponsor’s stand in the starting village and receives customers and business partners. “Here, too, there are fewer than in previous years, but we are continuing these activities.” For sponsors, the Tour de France is above all a tour to endure. You want to be there to survive the dry spell. And ideas are developed to somehow make the stay more attractive for business partners. Actually, the attraction for VIP is to be close to the cycling stars. But that’s impossible this year. At AG2R, the sponsor of the team of the same name, they came up with the idea of ​​setting up a camera in front of the team bus, in front of which team boss Vincent Lavenu sets up once a day and addresses a few words to the noble fans.

The need of the hour is to come to terms with the circumstances. And be happy about every positive aspect. “There are definitely fewer people along the way. But now more people are watching the race on TV, ”says Marketing Director Eymard. An average of 3.18 million French people now watch the Tour de France on their screens. In the first mountain stages it was even 4.6 million. And because the government has now also ordered the mountain passes to be blocked for all fans due to the dramatic rise in corona numbers, this number is likely to rise even further. Seen in this way, business is going on. As long as the Tour de France is rolling and the television is broadcasting, the advertising partners are also satisfied.

Eymard assumes that the tour will make it to Paris. “If things turn out differently, we will adapt to the circumstances,” says Adrien Eymard dryly. His company wants to fulfill the sponsorship contract with the ASO, which runs until 2022, he says. But the plans do not go any further. First of all, everyone just wants to get to Paris somehow.


Rolling through a sore land (

Not only Primoz Roglic are cheering on significantly fewer Fns on the tour due to the corona crisis.

Foto: Stephane Mahe / Pool Reuters / AP / dpa

The fans on the roadside are definitely less than usual at this Tour de France. That’s partly due to the pandemic. Many people shy away from traveling. But it is also because the tour started this year at the end of the school holidays and in the second week of the tour the classic holiday season is long over. Retirees in particular have time. Like Jacques. He is 67 years old and comes from Pau. He has put together a fan kit for Primoz Roglic. Every day he plants a banner with the name, the picture and the Slovenian flag of the tour favorite in front of his car. “I saw him train in Tignes, in the Alps. He’s just ready to win this tour, ”Jacques told“ nd ”. He travels after the tour and an idol – from Provence to the local Pyrenees to the Alps. “I’m already looking forward to Meribel, the Col de la Loze,” he says, looking ahead to the 17th stage. There, Jaques hopes, Roglic will make everything clear for the overall victory. He’s been following the tour all his life. In the pandemic season, he doesn’t want to make an exception.

Tom Mustroph, cycling author and doping expert, reports for the 19th time for “nd” from the Tour de France.

Photo: na / Jirka Grahl

Neither is Pascal. He and his wife Geraldine visit relatives in Gap. “We use the trip to go on a tour,” he says. They are well taken care of. The cool box is properly filled, the supply of beer seems inexhaustible. Pascal, Geraldine and brother-in-law Christian have brought their camping chairs with them. They form one of these otherwise so typical picnic groups on the edge of the route, which hardly exist this year. Sitting together, eating, drinking and waiting for the peloton – very few people indulge in this habit this year. Pascal’s group looks like a bunch of nostalgic people. They didn’t even put on their masks. “There is so much space here with the others,” dismisses Pascal and assures him: “When the drivers come, we’ll put them on.”

Pascal works in psychiatry. And what he tells about there makes the Tour de France a superfluous event. “Many facilities are closed due to the risk of infection. This is understandable on the one hand, and catastrophic on the other. Because those who are mentally ill have to be looked after by the families. And they are often overwhelmed by that, «he reports. That seems to be a problem across the country. On the edge of the tour you can see inscriptions that protest against the closure of hospitals and day clinics. At some stages, the protest graffiti on the walls were more numerous than the names of the professional cyclists written on the street to cheer them on. The Tour de France rolls through a sore country – at such moments this becomes particularly clear. All the more you can then treat the hospital employee Pascal to his beer on the edge of the tour route.


Tree shake in the Pyrenees (

Strong team, outstanding individual riders: Jumbo-Visma, here led by Robert Gesink, determines the tour and is the overall leader.

Photo: imago images / Sirotti

Only a week of the Tour de France is over, but the field of favorites looks disheveled as rarely at such an early stage. Some contenders have even dropped out of the classification completely. France’s favorite Thibaut Pinot, for example, lost almost 20 minutes to the competition due to the consequences of his back injury. National champion Sergio Higuita and the newly crowned winner of the Dauphiné tour, Dani Martinez, got it from the Colombian climbing group.

Black days for contenders are one of the dramas of the Tour de France. But it is astonishing that the co-captains of the strongest teams are already behind. Richard Carapaz, giro winner last year and after disregarding the old tour heroes Chris Froome and Geraint Thomas on Team Ineos as a joker alongside defending champion Egan Bernal, lost over two minutes. Tom Dumoulin, co-captain alongside Primoz Roglic at Jumbo Visma, suffered the same fate. “I didn’t feel so good. And instead of competing for tenth place in the Tour myself, I prefer to give everything for our team’s great goal of winning the Tour de France, ”said the Dutchman on Saturday and shook the field with a mighty acceleration on the Col de Peyresourde.

“Shaking the tree” was what Dumoulin’s teammate George Bennett later called this action. As prematurely ripened fruits, Spain’s hope Enric Mas, again Carapaz and also Germany’s best cyclist Emanuel Buchmann tumbled to the ground. Tree shaker Dumoulin also paid for the feat with later arrears. But his calculation was: If I’m not good enough to be able to ride in the group to the end, then at least I want to cause damage to the competition.

The former Giro winner succeeded in doing this. How smart it is that he gave his racing team an end to the two-captain option at an early stage will become clear in the third week. But now the Dutchman’s kamikaze action revived the race. “It’s cool for the tour that everything is so open. Ineos is not the dominant team. Jumbo Visma is also showing initial weaknesses. It’s good for an exciting tour, ”said Ralph Denk, boss de Bora-Rennstalls, opposite“ nd ”. He can be less satisfied with the performance of his top man Buchmann. The Ravensburger climbing talent held up bravely in view of his injuries until Saturday. “He limited the damage there. He drove smart, fought to the end. But it was also clear to us that due to his fall injuries, he would not be 100 percent at the Dauphiné. Cycling is a very predictable sport. And based on the preliminary work, we had to expect that he would be behind, «analyzed Denk. “With his Dauphiné shape and without a fall, he would certainly have ridden with the favorites and would not even have had to go to his limits,” said Denk.

But on Sunday Buchmann could no longer. Early on on the last mountain of the day, the Col de la Marie Blanque, he had to let the other favorites go. It wasn’t a tightening of the tempo that made him tear off. He just couldn’t put enough power into the pedals. Two or three minutes were quickly lost. The 27-year-old still has a kind of desperate hope. Immediately after the rest day on this Monday, a wind edge stage over 168.5 kilometers along the Atlantic coast is on the program. “It gets interesting there. You can quickly gain a lot of time or lose a lot «, said team boss Denk. “Shaking trees” can happen all by itself. And how well the BoraTeam Windkante can drive in particular was shown on Friday’s stage, which on paper seems easy. The Slovenian Tadej Pogacar and the Spaniard Mikel Landa lost time. And the Ineos team also failed to bring their Carapaz, who started as co-leader, forward.

After the performances in the Pyrenees, a Slovenian-Colombian four-way battle for the tour victory is now on the horizon. Pogacar has emerged as the strongest climber at the moment. With a determined attack on Saturday, more than half of the time lost on the windward edge was regained. On Sunday, too, he walked away from the rival, at least briefly. Only compatriot Roglic and Colombian Nairo Quintana presented themselves on the same level with him on Saturday. Neither of them seemed to have the guts or the determination to pull off the joint attempt to break away. They broke off, then Pogacar competed again and couldn’t be stopped by anyone.

So far, defending champion Bernal has kept himself completely out of the attack business. His team Ineos has so far been slowing down the defense speed. On Sunday he was at eye level again and was in the same group as the two Slovenes. Quintana slacked off a bit here, but still needs to be considered. Bernal, on the other hand, seems to be slowly reaching operating temperature. On Saturday he had to admit: “I couldn’t follow the attack. I just didn’t believe it was possible to go up that pace to the summit. So I tried to find my own pace. ”On Sunday he was right at the front with no particular effort. His strength is the third week. The shape curve of his team is also geared towards this period.

So the most exciting questions are how long Roglic and his Jumbo Visma team can keep their excellent early form – and when will Bernal’s form peak come? Pogacar and Quintana could take on their own solo roles in this fight. You have no team support, but you seem extremely strong.


The five-year plan works (

Not much would have been missing, and the Slovenian cycling wonder would have suffered a major setback on the sixth day of the Tour de France. Eight kilometers before the finish on the bare Mont Aigoual, Tadej Pogacar, the 21-year-old climbing talent from the skier and jumper nation, had to change his bike due to a defect. An inopportune moment for such damage. But Pogacar rolled himself back lightly. He was helped by the fact that the speed of Team Ineos’ mountain range is rather subdued. The once so dominant formation appears reduced to the dimensions of a narrow-gauge railway.

Ineos’ weakness is also directly related to the strength of another Slovenian: Primoz Roglic is currently the ultimate in cycling. The winner of the Vuelta 2019 won the first mountain sprint of this Tour de France on Tuesday, Pogacar landed directly behind. Roglic’s team Jumbo-Visma has replaced Ineos as the dominant team. Above all, however, Roglic himself drove into the gap opened by the absence of Chris Froome, who once dominated everything. For Froome’s successor Egan Bernal as the tour winner, the footsteps currently seem too big.

The starting point of this development can be dated fairly precisely: late summer 2015. Roglic was on vacation when he received an offer from the World Tour team Lotto-Jumbo to come to the Netherlands for a performance test. Like Sauerbier, his team boss at the time, Bogdan Fink, had offered the compatriot. “I knew he had what it takes to be a world tour. He had won the Tour of Slovenia that year, ahead of Mikel Nieve, who was then driving for Team Sky. Nieve was not taken to the Tour de France because they thought he was out of shape, ”Fink told the“ nd ”. “Sky didn’t want to sign Roglic. They had doubts whether it was really good. “

Other teams also waved them off, did not trust the former ski jumper on the way. Or maybe they thought doping was involved. Slovenian professionals were often suspected of doping. Tadej Valjavec, for example, was banned in 2011 because of suspicious values ​​in his blood passport and, after retirement, opened a sports hotel near the border with Italy, to which doping guru Michele Ferrari is said to have sent some of his clients. Rumors also wafted around Milan Erzen, who was sporting director at Fink’s Team Adria Mobil for a few years and later co-founder of the WorldTour racing team Bahrain-McLaren. So the skepticism was understandable.

The performance values ​​that Roglic, who had just arrived from a beach holiday, then delivered during the test in the Lotto-Jumbo laboratory made those present sit up and take notice. The test driver’s words also caused astonishment. “He said that he wanted to try to win the Tour de France and that he would give himself five years to do it,” Frans Maassen recently told the sports newspaper “L’Equipe”. At that time he was a trainer at Lotto, now at the successor team Jumbo-Visma.

The five-year plan seems to be working just in time. From his time in ski jumping, the former junior world champion Roglic brings with him the absolute will to win and the art of concentrating on the essentials. “He’s got the explosiveness from ski jumping. And the flexibility that he once trained himself on skis will certainly help him now with his positioning on the bike, ”said Zwone Pograjc“ nd ”. He should know, he was Roglic’s first ski jumping coach.

In developing his talent, Roglic may also be helped by the fact that he began to exploit it relatively late. “Before that, he mainly trained strength and speed. As a ski jumper, he put little emphasis on endurance; That can be an advantage, «says sports scientist Radoje Milic from Ljubljana. According to Milic, if you focus on endurance very early on, two mistakes are sometimes made: The strength aspect is neglected and too much emphasis is placed on extensive training. This in turn comes at the expense of intensity.

Milic had already examined Roglic who switched to a performance test in 2013 and was just as enthusiastic about the values ​​as Frans Maassen and Co. two years later. An even greater glow comes into the eyes of the Slovenian performance diagnostician when he is asked about Tadej Pogacar: “He had for me even better values ​​than Roglic. “

Pogacar chose the direct route and got his first professional cycling contract at an unusually young age. He benefited from the international network of old Slovenian stars. His compatriot Andrej Hauptman is responsible for his team UAE, who won bronze in the road race in 2001 during his playing days and also accompanied Roglic at the beginning. Another reason for the large number of Slovenian cycling talents – five Slovenes are currently taking part in the Tour de France – are the talent detection systems that have been rescued from socialist times. Often they lead to careers in skiing. In the meantime, cycling has emerged from a niche existence in the country, also thanks to the successes of Roglic, Pogacar and ex-junior world champion Matej Mohoric.

It is difficult to estimate how large the share of old and new doping structures is in the success. Slovenian professional cyclists were apparently also clients of the Erfurt doping doctor Mark Schmidt. In the case of Roglic and Pogacar, however, there is currently no evidence of manipulation. In this respect, depending on your mood, you can cheer, marvel or take critical note of the successes of the small country. In any case, as of now, the small climbing group from the low mountain range in Southeastern Europe is clearly ahead of the high mountain climbers from Colombia.


Tour de France: recovery in the mass sprint (

So far, André Greipel has only been the focus of team presentations.

Photo: AFP / Anne-Christine Poujoulat

At the start of the Tour de France, it seemed like the sprinters would have it easy on this Tour de France. At least the ones who came at all. The competition was manageable. Many fast drivers had not even bought the ticket for the tour. Germany’s ace Pascal Ackermann stayed at home because of his teammate Emanuel Buchmann’s podium plans and Peter Sagan’s wish to win the green jersey again. The Dutch Dylan Groenewegen and Fabio Jacobsen took each other out of the race in the horror crash in Katowice. The Colombian Fernando Gaviria and the French Arnaud Demare were also sacrificed to the classification ambitions of their respective captains Thibaut Pinot from France and Tadej Pogacar (Slovenia). The way seemed clear for oldie André Greipel to finally get his twelfth stage win in France.

But immediately the opening section – the course is quite suitable for sprinters – turned from the hoped-for triumphal stage into a hell valley for the Rostock. He fell on the streets, slippery from the rain, and suffered abrasions and a heavy blow to his knee. That had consequences. On the following days, Greipel was already happy when he made it from start to finish without falling out of the time limit. “The last few days were just uncomfortable,” he said to the “nd” afterwards. The wounds on the knee were sewn with four stitches. The knee joint itself was twisted. But Greipel doesn’t talk about the pain. In the spring he suffered a broken shoulder without complaint. Now he is slowly becoming optimistic. “Fortunately, cycling is a sport that doesn’t put as much force on the joints. In the last few days I was able to recover a bit. And we also have good physios, ”he said. Cyclists are probably the only high-performance athletes who even think about hoping for recovery while competing. The 38-year-old is certainly helped by the experience of 15 years as a professional.

On Tuesday, after the mountain arrival in Orcieres-Merlette, you saw a smile in the eyes of the veteran for the first time on this tour; You can’t see more of the frame of mind because of the mask requirement right after the finish line. “Today is the first day that I’m a normal racing driver again,” said Greipel. From day to day he hopes that it will get better and that he can throw himself into the fray again for the mass sprints, of which he won four at the 2015 Tour.

For this year’s 5th stage between Gap and Pricas on Wednesday, he was still skeptical. “The stage is not easy. There will probably be a mass sprint. But I don’t know if it’s something for a sprinter in my weight class, ”said Greipel, looking at the hilly profile of the last few kilometers.

Sprinters in his weight class, i.e. pure powerhouses, have a really difficult time this year. There are hardly any classic mass sprint stages left. The first week, for years a kind of roll-in week with flat stages on the assembly line, has changed due to the television requirements. More drama: the route planners built in more mountains for more exciting events. At the same time, the types of riders are also changing: the climbers are increasing their sprint ability, as the famous start of the Slovenian Primoz Roglic proved on Tuesday. On the other hand, the sprinters are becoming more and more mountain-proof. Caleb Ewan, for example, the new-generation Australian sprint star and winner of the third stage, is also fast on uphill straights. The points evaluation, once a playground for mass sprinters, has become more of an evaluation for all-rounders thanks to the Slovak Peter Sagan.

So Greipel did not have as many opportunities as initially hoped to get his twelfth stage win and thus get on a level with Erik Zabel. And if it doesn’t work out beforehand with the few chances, he may even have to hope until the final stage in Paris. After all, he has already won there twice.


Nobody can stop him (

Julian Alaphilippe (r.) Started an attack shortly before the finish of the 2nd stage in Nice on the mountain and could not be beaten in the sprint.

Photo: AFP / Stephane Mahe

Julian Alaphilippe has started collecting again. The Frenchman with the prominent goatee had already collected 14 yellow jerseys and the sponsor’s plush bears from the last Tour de France. On the Promenade des Anglais in Nice, a supervisor of his racing team Deceuninck Quick Step carried the 15th bear in the collection from the podium to the team bus. The bear was the only creature that had appeared unmasked shortly after the race on Nice’s waterfront. Only Monaco’s Prince Albert, who had come over quickly to the Grand Depart the day before, had refrained from wearing a mask in the VIP stand. Simply royal privileges.

Even Alaphilippe, in sporting terms a king of the French, quickly put the necessary protective textile back over his mouth and nose after his sprint victory against the surprisingly strong Swiss Marc Hirschi from the German team Sunweb and the associated takeover of the leadership jersey. Perhaps also to hide his emotions a little, because shortly before they had broken out openly in the 28-year-old. His father Jacques died in June at the age of 80. The old man was a passionate drummer, which is probably why the junior also put a few drums in the basement. Alaphilippe later said he had won the victory for his father too. He pointed to the sky where he located it and then let the tears flow. At that moment, the Tour de France became bigger than a bike race again. It became the stage for the joys and sorrows of a human being. Real life drama inscribed itself in this highly artificial spectacle.

The decision for what is now the fifth stage win on the Tour – he won two in 2019 in his yellow series, two more in 2018 as the later mountain king of the tour – the hero of the day sought in the well-known manner: On the ascent of the Col des Quatre Chemins about ten kilometers from the At the finish line in Nice, he instructed his team-mate Bob Jungels to step up the pace in the main field, which was just under 40 drivers. When the Luxembourger turned exhausted, Alaphilippe himself put all the steam on the pedals. “I set off as if the destination was up on the mountain. I had nothing to lose. I was hoping it would get to the end of the finish line, ”he said later. The start might have been fueled by the will to honor the dead father. But he also had all the ingredients of an attack of desperation. It was more than a year ago that Alaphilippe’s last win was already back. It was an unexpected lull that had been lengthened by the lockdown break.

But now the Frenchman showed that he is the old man again. Only Marc Hirschi, who surprisingly had been named captain of the day by his team despite more well-known colleagues at the start, was able to follow the pace. Admittedly, Hirschi had also carefully observed Alaphilippe and copied its acceleration with only minimal delay. The Briton Adam Yates joined them later. The ease with which it escaped the main field can be seen as evidence of the general exhaustion in the trunk peloton after the hard ride through the mountains around Nice. In the sprint of the trio, Alaphilippe could no longer be overtaken.

The stage win followed a well-known pattern: If a not too long, crisp mountain comes in the final, Alaphilippe takes on and then tries to save himself to the finish. “Everyone knows that this is how they win. And everyone else wants to win this way that day too. Julian just did it. He never ceases to amaze me, ”said team boss Patrick Lefevere, praising his employee’s masterpiece. That is actually the special quality of this victory. Every opponent in the field knows Alaphilippe’s strengths and strategies and was also able to calculate the position of the start pretty accurately.

Everyone was forewarned, but nobody could stop the French. “I drove this stage like a one-day classic,” said Alaphilippe. On the one hand, this means that he did not think about the next 19 stages of the Tour de France when using his strength. However, a work also becomes a classic because of its recognizability. Alaphilippe turned a simple tour stage into a real classic. In the next few days he has anticlassical plans. He wants to defend the yellow leadership jersey as long as possible. In 2019 he managed to do this for a surprisingly long time. It is still unclear what innovations it will deliver this year.


“We want a real tour of women” (

Tamara Danilov and her boyfriend requested a country tour for women in Nice. After all, the procedure of the podium girls was changed under their pressure.

Photo: Barbara Gstaltmayr

The start of the Tour de France has few spectators. However, Tamara Danilov came specially from Berlin. She is a bike messenger, bike enthusiast and psychology student. And she has a concern. “Girls just wanna race, too” she wrote on an empty pizza box and took it to the Grand Depart in Nice. La Course took place there on Saturday, the women’s race that the tour organizer ASO has been organizing since 2014 in conjunction with the men’s Tour de France. But the women’s race usually only lasts a day or two. This year it was already over at the beginning, the British Elizabeth Deignan pushed past last year’s winner Marianne Vos in the sprint and won.

That is not enough for Danilov. »We want a real Tour de France for women, as many stages as the men, on the same day, only with a staggered start. And with the same fans on the track and the same television presence, ”she says. World Federation President David Lappartient has announced a stage race in France, a Tour de France for women, for 2022. “You will probably do a few more stages than now, but certainly not the full program,” Danilov remains skeptical. And that’s why she protests, together with her friend Dennis, also a bicycle courier and trained bicycle mechanic.

Her latest success gave her tailwind: In May 2019, female cyclists around Danilov started a petition to abolish the podium girls. These are models who hand the winners flowers and press their lips on their cheeks. Women as staffage, as usual at trade fairs and other events of this kind. They should present their bodies and smile, that’s it. The women on the podium at the tour were even contractually prohibited from talking to the drivers. Not everyone adhered to it. There have also been marriages between professional cyclists and hostesses.

Danilov rightly considers this to be antiquated. The trigger for their commitment was the Berlin six-day race. “We were there often. And it bothered us that it was organized like an event for old sacks, with podium girls here too. We thought that didn’t fit in with such a modern and open city. We wanted to start a petition to the organizer of the six-day race first. But then we thought, why not start with the greatest race in the world? If they get rid of their podium girls, all other races will be based on them, «Danilov describes the beginnings.

The campaign found many supporters. After the 2019 tour, the group also visited the ASO in their Paris headquarters. “You told us that Christian Prudhomme was coming. But he didn’t come out of his office after all, ”says Danilov.

Nevertheless, the campaign worked. Ten days before the start of the tour, the ASO announced that in future the award ceremonies will be held by one man and one woman each. “It was a surprising success. We are very happy, «says Danilov. Until there is a Tour de France for women, she wants to keep applying pressure. Just not in Nice anymore. On Sunday she gets on her bike herself. A trip on the Mediterranean coast to Genoa is on the program.