Tour de France Reflections

By Sofia Silva De Almeida || Copy Editor

For many fans of cycling, Tour de France is the main competition to watch. This year, the competition began on the 26th of June and will last until the 18th of July. After two major competitions, Giro D’Itália in Italy and Tour de Suisse in Switzerland, athletes were expected to perform well in the mountains and plains of France. What seemed like a peaceful and easy tournament right before the Olympics turned out to be stressful, with many cyclists getting hurt in the first stage of the competition.

A woman held a sign that said “Go Grandma and Grandpa” in French and German that poked out into the road which led to an accident that made dozens of athletes fall after Tony Martin first hit the banner and fell. Although the person has been identified and will likely face two years in prison along with a harsh fine if convicted, the cyclists injured in the first stage of Tour de France had a rough start and many were forced to withdraw from the competition. According to the Canadian Cycling Magazine, Cyril Lemoine and Ignatas Konovalovas suffered the most serious injuries. The first had four broken ribs, a moderate pneumothorax, and a head wound, and the last a head trauma.

Mathieu van der Poel, who had the chance of wearing the yellow jersey (or in French, the Maillot Jaune) six times, also dropped out of the Tour because of the Olympics. He had the goal of being the first one in the general classification because of his grandfather, who even though finished on the podium of eight out of 14 Tours he participated in never got the chance to wear it. Although Raymond Poulidor never got the chance to witness Van der Poel winning the yellow jersey, it was for sure the most emotional victory in the Tour so far. Even though in the last stages the athlete lost the first position in the general classification to Tadej Pogacar, he did not disappoint during his brief passage in the 2021 Tour de France.

Another (un)expected triumph was Tadej Pogacar winning the yellow jersey in stage 8. The winner of the 2020 Tour de France has been wearing it since July 3rd and until now it does not seem like he is ready to give it up. With a bonus of 4 minutes from Guillaume Martin, Pogacar is expected to secure the yellow jersey for a long time. However, with seven more stages to go, everything can happen so it is not possible to predict the next winner of Tour de France, although the Slovenian cyclist has a very big shot. He is also the first one in the white jersey classification, although Jonas Vingegaard is the one wearing it. The white jersey (or, in French, the maillot blanc) is given to the athlete with the best general classification position who is 25 years old or younger. In 2020, Pogacar won both the white and yellow jerseys and also the polka dot one, given to the leader of the Mountains Classification.

Mark Cavendish also made History in this year’s tournament. After winning stage 13, he equaled Eddy Merckx’s record for the most stage wins in Tour de France. With 34 wins since 2008, Cavendish is one of the athletes many did not see as a winner in 2021’s Tour de France. During five years the cyclist from the Isle of Mann did not win a stage in Tour de France and even hinted he would retire in 2020. As he said himself he thought he would never come back to Tour de France and thanked his team for believing in him when many did not. Currently, he is the one wearing the green jersey (maillot vert) because of being the leader of the points classification.

With seven more stages to go, 2021’s Tour de France is the competition cycling fans should watch out for before the Olympics, with many unexpected victories, challenges and withdraws happening in the first 14 stages. It has definitely been a very emotional journey not only for the athletes but also for their fans, who cannot wait to see their favorite cyclists wearing a yellow jersey or winning a stage.

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