My friend, Henrik Falk (from Denmark) asks:
Bill I have a question for you. My bike club "DCR Ballerup" claims to be the oldest road racing club in the world, 108 years this December. Do you or anybody know of any older road racing clubs?
Well - does anybody know?
Roger Thomas writes:
|The North Road Cycling Club, definitely a racing club, based just to the north of London in Hertfordshire in the UK, celebrated its centenary on October 23 1985, so it is now (strangely exactly yesterday as I write) 112 years old. I have a centenary programme (for its Ladies National Road Race Championship promotion in June 1985) which has two photos on the cover, one of the then current members and another of riders at the start of the Handicap 50 (50-mile time trial) on July 29 1893. The club was founded "To promote fast and long-distance riding on the Great North Road and other roads" and its first racing event, the open 24 (24-hour time trial), dates from 1886. The most important event currently organised by the club is the North Road Hardriders time trial (of around 25 miles), an early season (February) hilly time trial that is contested by the UK's best time triallists and includes among its winners world hour record holder Chris Boardman and (I think) Sean Yates. I suspect that there are a handful of other racing clubs in the UK at least as old and perhaps older than the North Road but can't name them.|
Adnan Kadir writes:
|If I am not mistaken, the St. Louis Cycling Club (here in St. Louis, Missouri, USA) is the oldest continuously running club in this country and possibly the world. It was founded in 1887. Some clubs are older, but failed and restarted with the advent and normalisation of the automobile. I suppose that they may be older, but by what standards? Incidentally, I am Danish and once rode for the Esbjerg CR in my home town of the same name. I hope this input helps.|
1. Veggerby-Madsen (Den) 69 points 2. Riis-Martinello (Den/Ita) 59 3. Piil-Braika (Den) 59 4. Risi-Betschart (Swi) 25 At 1 lap: 5. Villa-Sandstod (Ita/Den) 29
The 85th edition of the Tour de France, which will start at the Irish capital of Dublin and will finish on August 2nd in Paris, will be less mountainous than the last two editions. Even though there will be less mountains, the Tour'98 will not be an unusual one and the most important differences will be the starts, the first ones which will be in Ireland for the first time (13th time in its long history that the race starts outside of France) and with a total of 21 new starts or finishes this year.
There will be two mountain finishes, at Beille, on the 11th stage, right in the heart of the Pirenees and the other one at the Alps on the 15th stage, at the Two Alps Station, close to the Alpe d'Huez, which was excluded this year. Together with this 2 stages, there are another 3 considered "high mountain", the 10th which will climb the Pirenneic climbs of Aubisque, Tourmalet, Aspin and Peyresourde and two more at the Alps, which will come after stage 15. There will be a total of 23 climbs of second, first and beyond category, spread in 7 stages, which translates into a shortening in respect to the previous edition.
What won't change much are the individual time trials, which will cover a total of 116.7km, spread among two stages and the Prologue, that is 8km less than last year. After the Prologue, there will be a stage raced in a 5.7km circuit in Dublin and the time trial specialist will have to wait until stage 7 for their first big chance, 58km between Meyrignac & Correze. This is a strategically placed time trial, since it will be the appetizer before the mountains, while the second ITT will come on the penultimate day like it has become traditional, between Montceau les Mines & Creusot, over 53km.
A total of about 3,850km (2387 miles) spread in 21 stages and a prologue, with a dozen classified as flat, two as medium mountain and five as high mountain with two mountain top finishes and two individual time trials. In terms of the number of teams participating, it will be 20 or 21 teams of 9 riders each, while the prize money will be 12 millions French Francs, with 2.2 of them to the overall winner.
Main Mountains and Climbs in Metres
Stage 10, Pau-Luchon - 197 kms. Alto de Aubisque, 1.709 Tourmalet, 2.115 Aspin, 1.489 Peyresourde, 1.569 Stage 11, Luchon-Plateau de Beille - 170 kms. Alto de Mente, 1.349 Portet de Aspet, 1.069 Alto de la Core, 1.395 Alto de Port, 1.249 Alto de Beille (finish), 1.747 Stage 14, Valreas-Grenoble - 185 kms. Alto de Rousset, 1.238 Stage 15, Grenoble-Los Dos Alpes - 189 kms. Cruz de Hierro, 2.067 Telegraphe, 1.566 Galibier, 2.645 Los Dos Alpes (finish), 1.644 Stage 16, Vizille-Albertville - 204 kms Alto de Porte, 1.340 Alto de Cucheron, 1.140 Granier, 1.134 Gran Cucgheron, 1.188 La Madeleine, 2.000 Stage 17, Albertville-Aix Les Bains - 149 kms. Semnoz Cret De Chatillon, 1.635 Alto de Pres, 1.110 La Revard, 1.428
Stage 18, Aix les Bains-Neuchatel (Swi) - 218 kms. Alto de la Faucille, 1.280
-Going from July 11th to August 2nd from Dublin, Ireland to Paris.
-Delayed one week, so it won't coincide with the Soccer Worlds which will also be disputed in France.
-116.7 kms individual time trials
-23 mountain climbs (second, first and beyond category).
-One rest day on July 23rd in Ariege.
-Two big mobilizations (Cork -Ireland- to Roscoff, France, by air and sea and from Le Creusot to Melun, in train).
-21 localities will host starts or finishes for the first time: Dublín, Enniscorthy, Cork, Roscoff, Plouay, Chateauroux, Meyrignac, Correze, Montauban, Plateau de Beille, Tarascon Ariege, Le Cap de Agde, Frontignan, Los Dos Alpes, Vizille, Albertville, Neuchatel, La Chaux de Fonds, Autun, Montceau & Le Creusot.
-Coming out of France to Ireland and Switzerland.
-12 million French Francs in prizes (2.2 for the winner).
-Bonuses: Intermediate sprints intermedios (6,4 & 2 seconds) and finishes (20, 12 & 8 seconds).
-Official Jerseys: Yellow (Overall leader), Green (sprints) and White with Red Polka Dots (Mountain).
-20 or 21 teams with 9 riders each: the first 16 teams classified in the UCI Rankings as of January 1st are directly selected, then four on June 16, after the Giro d'Italia and Dauphine Libere. The organization has an extra invitation in case they decide on 21 teams.
Some predictions already
Manolo Saiz, the directeur sportiff of Team ONCE, said on Thursday in Paris when he found out about the Tour de France route that his favorites were (in this order): German Jan Ullrich, Swiss Alex Zulle and Spaniard Abraham Olano. Saíz said that his team would aspire to "take part of the pie" and that the route is "similar to that of other years" although he lamented that there were "too many flat stages".
The fact that the first time trial will be disputed before the first mountain stages "favors the good time trialists, like Ullrich, Olano or Zulle, who will be big players and should be able to create differences easily". To the question that if he lamented the loss of Zulle for the next Tour to Festina he said: "It is a shame in any sort of route profile, because, I insist that he is one of the 3 cyclists that can win it".
Eusebio Unzue, sport director for Team Banesto, felt that the route would favor Abraham Olano, mainly because the first time trial will come before the mountains and because there will only be two mountain top finishes. He added that somebody who might not be a great climber "may have the opportunity to regain the territory lost during ascents". Jan Ullrich is Unzue's favorite "he is the most complete rider and he has acquired the experience of already winning a Tour".
Javier Mínguez, director for new Spanish Team Vitalicio-Seguros, expressed his desire that the team will be able to participate in the Tour by obtaining one of the 4 or 5 places that the organization will fill by invitation. He said that the organization's decision to reduce the amount of teams from 22 at the 1997 edition to 20 or 21 in 1998 doesn't favor them. "But we hope to be there. If we are, it will be a success, if not, it won't be a disaster", said Mínguez. In terms of the possibility that Santi Blanco will be the team leader for Vitalicio-Seguros if they participate at the Tour, he said: "He is a young cyclist and maybe that won't be the focus that we will take". "The important thing is for him to show that he is a rider for the future. But he doesn't have to assume any responsibility. The important thing is for him to acquire experience", he added. His favorites for the podium are: Jan Ullrich, Richard Virenque and Abraham Olano.
Ullrich, the winner of the last edition said that he liked the course profile, while Richard Virenque, who was second and Fernando Escartín, from Team Kelme, expressed their disappointment since only 2 stages will finish in climbs. Escartín said: "On paper, it is a route that doesn't favor climbers" and added that he would have liked "an individual time trial in the Alps and instead of two time trials, more mountain top finishes". Escartín's favorites are Ullrich & Zulle. Virenque said that he was "a bit disappointed" and that the route doesn't satisfy him because is "not as tough as in other years".
Italian Ivan Gotti, last winner of the Giro d'Italia, showed his disappointment and said that his great objective for '98 will be the Giro again. "It is not impossible to ride two Major Stage Races, but it is tough to shine in both. I have decided to ride at the Giro d'Italia, since I won't renounce the race that I won and I can't disappoint my fans that will wait for me one year", said Gotti.
Italian Marco Pantani has classified the Tour '98 as "a disappointment for climbers". "The two ITT totalling 117km will really hurt the climbers and there won't be enough difficulties for climbers to make up the time that they lost".
German Jan Ullrich, declared that the next edition of the Tour "was very beautiful, but tougher than this year's". The german rider was happy that they will keep the two time trials: "That is something very important for me", he said. Ullrich, didn't want to make any predictions. "If my morale and physical for are good, anything is possible. Every Tour is determined by the shape ofthe rider and not by the course profile". The Tour will continue to be his main objective.