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Cyclingnews 2007 Reader Poll Results

Best Stage Race

France stays on top while California makes podium debut

By Gregor Brown

The Tour winds its way through the Alps
Photo ©: Cyclingnews.com
(Click for larger image)

The Tour de France once again won the honour of Cyclingnews' Best Stage Race, however this year saw an outsider claim a podium spot just behind the second-placed Giro d'Italia. The Tour of California in only its second year took third place in our polls (though some 1500 votes) behind the French and Italian giants.

The cycling community and fans worldwide were treated to another roller coaster in France this year thanks to riders testing positive for banned drugs and the overall leadership changes. In the post-Lance Armstrong era the race has ruled in the drama category thanks to unpredictable winners, while continuing to challenge the legs of the best in the game with endless climbs through the Alps and Pyrenees.

The mountain climbs are ground for some of the best riders in the world, and fans will camp for days waiting to see the contenders blast up the slopes. Any ground gained at high altitudes has to be defended on the flat stages where the stress levels are high and an incident has the possibility of eliminating a potential contender. Anyone remember the echelons on the windswept stage to Montpellier?

France kept control over Italy's three-week race, the Giro d'Italia. The race has recently been recognised as the Grand Tour for the climbing oriented. This year Danilo Di Luca dominated from Sardegna to Milano, but fans saw the rise of young champions like Luxemburger Andy Schleck and Italian Riccardo Riccò.

The Tour of California offers the right mix for riders and fans. Teams increasingly base themselves in the USA's western state for early-season training camps and then test their riders with the young stage race. In addition, thanks to the growing number of cycling fans in the USA and the state's topology, the one-week race has hit high in our charts.

Those not so lucky this year were the Vuelta a España (moving from third to sixth) and the Tour of Georgia (fourth to seventh), while Paris-Nice surged from eighth to fourth.


                                                    Votes     %ge
1 Tour de France                                     5093      53.75%
2 Giro d'Italia                                      2294      24.21%
3 Tour of California                                  612      6.46%
4 Paris - Nice                                        335      3.54%
5 Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré                        305      3.22%
6 Vuelta a España                                     236      2.49%
7 Tour de Georgia                                     158      1.67%
8 Tour Down Under                                     157      1.66%
9 Tour de Suisse                                      104      1.10%
10 Tour de l'Avenir                                    74      0.78%
11 Tour of Britain                                     56      0.59%
12 Internationale Thüringen-Rundfahrt der Frauen       52      0.55%
                                              Total: 9476