Women’s Pro Cycling: La Course by Le Tour de France

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La Course by Le Tour de France

The upcoming La Course by Le Tour de France race is going to shine a spotlight on women’s pro cycling, as top women’s teams will be competing on the same finishing circuit in Paris just hours before the final stage of the men’s Tour de France, including the famous finish on the Champs Elysees. While this 90km race is not the same as having a full 3 week Grand Tour, holding it on the same day and location as the final stage of the men’s race means that it will get coverage for an elite women’s race unlike anything that’s happened before. We are excited to watch a great race and see an emphasis on women’s pro cycling – especially the Optum Pro Cycling presented by Kelly Benefit Strategies team racing on their Diamondback bikes!

Equal pay for equal pain

A few weeks ago we got the opportunity to see some of these pro cyclists in action at the Philly Cycling Classic, one of the toughest one day races on the women’s cycling calendar. The slogan of the race was “equal pay for equal pain”, as the men’s and women’s races featured equal prize money. The race was a fantastic showcase for women’s cycling, with a closely fought competition only settled on the last climb of the Manayunk Wall, when Evelyn Stevens pulled out victory in a ferocious sprint.

Q+A session with top female pros at the Philly Cycling Classic

Q+A session with top female pros at the Philly Cycling Classic

Importance of sponsoring women’s pro cycling

One of the most interesting parts of the weekend was the chance to hear directly from the pros at a question and answer session before the race. Before the cyclists spoke, Karen Bliss, Vice President of Marketing for Fuji, talked about how important it was for Fuji to sponsor riders and teams – for product development, brand recognition, and authority in the cycling world. Fuji puts a special focus on supporting and developing women’s teams because they see the potential for growth – Karen is an accomplished former professional rider herself, a seven-time national champion on the road and track, and sits on the UCI women’s cycling commission. Also speaking was Lisa Nutter, the wife of the Mayor of Philadelphia – she is an avid cyclist and a huge advocate for cycling in Philadelphia. Mrs. Sutter got back into cycling in her 40s, and now seriously competes on the track and the road – she was a big influence on the “equal pay for equal pain” idea.

 Can we compete with the men? We’d like to find out!

As the pros got the chance to answer questions, it became clear that they are just as dedicated, motivated and competitive as the male pros, but their opportunities for exposure and financial success were not the same. Alison Powers, the current US national road, criterium and time trial champion, spoke about there needed to be a change of mindset for cycling fans, promoters, and her fellow female pros – they needed to create an expectation for better treatment and improved exposure. This would lead to better teams, races, and opportunities to grow the sport. Her fellow pros train as much as the men, 8-20 hours a week, but they don’t train for the same distance since the UCI limits their races to 140km. When asked if female pros could compete in a men’s race, Powers and other replied that if they did train for the same distance as the men, they could probably hang in the race – maybe not to the end, but they’d like the chance to find out!

So the biggest difference between the men and women pro riders was in the opportunities they had to succeed. When asked if they also worked full time in addition to their racing, almost every pro in attendance raised her hand to say that they had to work another job – this might be expected at a lower level men’s team, but these were some of the top women’s teams in the world. That’s why the opportunity to showcase their talent at a showcase as big as La Course by Le Tour de France is such a big deal. We hope that it opens some doors, and some eyes, for just how entertaining women’s pro cycling can be.

What do you think would improve the acceptance of women’s pro cycling?

Ridley In Yellow

Tony Gallopin's custom painted Ridley Helium SL celebrates his wearing of the Yellow Leaders Jersey

Tony Gallopin’s custom painted Ridley Helium SL celebrates his wearing of the Yellow Leaders Jersey

On behalf of Performance Bicycle, we’d like to congratulate Tony Gallopin and the entire Lotto-Belisol team for capturing the Yellow Jersey at the Tour de France yesterday. After a hard day of riding, Gallopin was able to take the overall lead of the race from Vincenzo Nibali (Astana). Few professional riders will ever have the honor to earn the Yellow leader’s jersey at The Tour, and Gallopin definitely earned it with an amazing ride that saw him finish over 8 minutes ahead of most of the other riders.

It’s a huge accomplishment, and a career-defining moment for Gallopin.

To honor the occasion, Ridley painted up a special bike for Tony. Joachim Aerts, founder and CEO of Ridley, came into the office late on Sunday to personally select, prep, and paint a Ridley Helium SL in Ridley‘s new “retro” paint scheme.. They worked fast, and managed to hand-deliver the bike to the team to be built up for the start of the next stage of the race today (Monday, 14 July).

Check out his new bike below.

Shop for Bikes of the Tour

Shop for Bikes of the Tour

Want to learn more? Check out our articles below.

2014 Tour de France Guide

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What It Is:

The Tour de France is considered the most prestigious bike race in the world. Over 100 years old, the race has been held every year, except during the World Wars. It is also considered to be the most difficult sporting event in the world. Even if you’re not particularly into racing or sports, it’s worth it to watch at least a few stages of The Tour every year (see below) to see the spectacle. There are few things in sports that can match the excitement of two riders battling it out on a high mountain pass or the drama of watching a lone rider try to hang on for a solo win. Despite past issues with doping and scandals, the sport has taken huge steps to clean up its act in recent years, and many say that the sport is now cleaner– and more exciting– than it ever has been in the past.

When:

The Tour de France will start on July 5th, 2014, and ends on July 27th, 2014.

Where:

The Tour will start in Leeds, England. After a few days of racing in the UK, the race will move to France. The final stage will be held in Paris with the traditional finish on the Champs-Elysees.

How Long:

The Tour de France is a 21 day race—with each day of racing called a “stage”. There are two rest days. The stages are divided between “flat” stages, “mountain stages”, and one day with a time trial.

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The high mountain climbs are some of the most exciting parts of the race to watch

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Must Watch Stages:

Stage 1: Saturday, July 5. Watch as The Tour gets off to its start in Leeds, England. All the drama will be focused on Mark Cavendish, who will hope to win the opening stage and wear the yellow jersey for a day on home turf.

Stage 5: Wednesday, July 9. Paris-Roubaix it ain’t, but this stage will feature cobbled roads on the Tour de France for the first time since 2010. Given the difficulty of riding on cobbles, this could be where early favorites get into serious trouble. Expect drama, crashes, and some epic heartbreak. This could be the stage that makes (or unmakes) the race.

Stage 10: Monday, July 14. This is going to be one of the toughest days of mountains that the Tour has seen in quite a while. The route will tackle two Category 3 climbs on the way to the La Planche des Belles Filles—a series of seven Category 1 &2 climbs that average around 8%. There is a chance that the race could be effectively decided on these climbs for both the GC and KOM battles.

Stage 14: Saturday, July 19. This one is going to hurt. As The Tour turns towards the French Alps, the climbs only get worse. This stage will feature the famous hors categorie Col du Izoard climb. After getting up the Col du Lautaret—a 34km long climb, the riders must then tackle the Izoard (19km, average grade 6%). Anyone having a bad day here will be out of the running for the win.

Stage 18: Thursday, July 24. This stage is relatively short, so expect to see some high speed racing in the Pyrenees Mountains, including the infamous Col du Tourmalet—the legendary climb that should see an epic battle between Froome and Contador, as well as anyone else brave enough to try and hang with them.  4° stage Lorient  Mûr-de-Bretagne

Want to look as good as the pro’s?

How It Works:

There are 5 prizes up for grabs in the Tour de France. The overall win, the points prize, the king of the mountains prize, the best young rider, and winning individual stages.

  • General Classification (GC, Yellow Jersey): This is the overall win for the race. The GC winner is the rider with the fastest overall time. The current winner of the race will wear a yellow jersey, which may change hands several times during the race.
  • Points (aka Sprinters Jersey): This is the award for the fastest sprinter in the race. The current points leader wears a green jersey. Unlike the GC contest, the points contest is awarded based on points. Each stage will feature an intermediate sprint in the middle, and a final sprint at the end. Points are awarded for the order in which riders cross.
  • King of the Mountains (aka KOM, Polka Dot Jersey): This goes to the fastest climber in the race. The current KOM leader wears a white and red polka dot jersey. Like the points jersey, the KOM award is based on points. Points are awarded based on the order in which riders make it up categorized climbs (mountains classified as: 5 (easiest), 4, 3, 2, 1, hors categorie (hardest), with the most points awarded for hors categorie finishes).
  • Young Rider: This award goes to the fastest rider under the age of twenty-five. The current leader wears a white jersey. The white jersey is awarded to the under-25 rider with the fastest time.
  • Stage Wins: Many teams will choose to forgo racing for the GC win and instead choose to win individual stages of the race. This is often seen as more prestigious than winning the green, polka dot, or white jersey. Teams may choose to adopt the strategy of “stage hunting” if they have no rider capable of genuinely challenging for the GC win, or to get more attention for the team and their sponsors.
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Netapp-Endura (who ride Fuji bikes) are making their Tour de France debut, and are hoping to do something big to mark the occasion

Find great deals on pro-level components

Riders To Watch

GC Contenders:

Chris Froome (Kenya; 2013 winner)—Team Sky

Alberto Contador (Spain; sort-of kind-of former winner?)—Tinkoff-Saxo

Vincenzo Nibali (Italy)– Astana

Alejandro Valverde (Spain)—Movistar

Outside Contenders:

Tejay Van Garderen (USA)—BMC

Andrew Talanksy (USA)—Garmin Sharp

Romain Bardet (France)—AG2r-La Mondiale

Rui Costa (Portugal; current World Champion)—Lampre-Merida

Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Belgium)—Lotto-Belisol

Points:

Peter Sagan (Slovakia;  2012, 2013 points winner)—Cannondale

Mark Canvendish (UK; 2011 points winner)—Omega-Pharma-Quick Step

Marcel Kittel (Germany)—Giant-

Shimano Andre Greipel (Germany)—Lotto-Belisol

KOM:

Joachim Rodriguez (Spain)—Katusha

Pierre Rolland (France)—Europcar

Mikel Nieve (Spain)—Team Sky

Christophe Riblon (France)—AG2r-La Mondiale

Young Rider:

Andrew Talanksy (USA)—Garmin Sharp

Romain Bardet (France)—AG2r-La Mondiale

Michal Kwiatkowski (Poland)—Omega-Pharma-Quick Step

Tejay Van Garderen (USA; 2012 young rider winner) —BMC

Lotto Belisol Skoda team car

Riders are supported by team cars, who supply everything from drinks and snacks to spare wheels,new bikes, and mechanical help

Shop our selection of pro-level bikes

Teams:

The Tour de France will be contested by 22 teams. Each team will usually consist of a GC rider—usually the best all-around rider on the team—who will in theory try to win the entire Tour, though really only a few riders are capable of doing this. He is supported by eight “domestiques”, who will allow the GC rider to draft off of them, keep him away from dangerous riders, get him water and food, and even surrender their bikes or wheels if needed. Teams may also feature sprinters, climbers, rolleurs, and other types of riders who may try to contest for individual stage wins in the sprints or the mountains, if their team decides they no longer need to support their GC rider on that day. The teams for the 2014 Tour de France are:

  • AG2r-La Mondiale (France)            Leader: Romain Bardet (France)
  • Astana (Kazakhstan)                            Leader: Vincenzo Nibali (Italy)
  • Belkin Cycling (Netherlands)        Leader: Bauke Mollema (Netherlands)
  • BMC Racing (USA)                                  Leader: Tejay Van Garderen (USA)
  • Cannondale (Italy)                                Leader: Peter Sagan (Slovakia)
  • FDJ.FR (France)                                       Leader: Thibau Pinot (France)
  • Garmin Sharp (USA)                             Leader: Andrew Talansky (USA)
  • IAM Cycling (Switzerland)              Leader: Sylvan Chavanel (France)
  • Katusha (Russian Federation)      Leader: Joachim Rodriguez (Spain)
  • Lampre-Merida (Italy)                       Leader: Rui Costa (Portugal)
  • Lotto-Belisol (Belgium)                     Leader: Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Belgium)
  • Movistar Team (Spain)                       Leader: Alejandro Valverde (Spain)
  • Omega-Pharma-Quick Step (Netherlands) Leader: Mark Cavendish (UK)
  • Orica Greenedge (Australia)           Leader: Simon Gerrans (Australia)
  • Team Sky (United Kingdom)          Leader: Chris Froome (Kenya)
  • Giant Shimano (Netherlands)       Leader: Marcel Kittel (Germany)
  • Europcar (France)                                 Leader: Pierre Rolland (France)
  • Tinkoff-Saxo (Russian Federation) Leader: Alberto Contador (Spain)
  • Trek Factory Racing (USA)             Leader: Fabian Cancellara (Switzerland)
  • Cofidis (France)                                      Leader: Rein Taaramäe (Latvia)
  • Bretagne Seche Environment (France) Leader: Brice Feillu (France)
  • Netapp-Endura (Germany)            Leader: Leopold Koenig (Czech Republic)

 

Keep an eye out for this legendary fan...

Keep an eye out for this legendary fan…

Find the Right Fuji For You

If you were looking for the oldest bike brands, it might surprise you to know that Fuji would be among them. Fuji Bicycles has been helping riders conquer their mountains since 1899, and to this day they’ve continued to develop some of the most cutting-edge bikes on the market. The Fuji stable of products is enormous, with everything from high-end road bikes, to race-winning mountain bikes, cruisers, comfort bikes and everything in between. A blog article that dealt with all of it would probably be more like a text book, so for the moment we’ll just stick with their road bikes. Fuji makes some of the best road bikes out there, but with so many to choose from it can be difficult to figure out which model is the right one for you.

Never fear, we took a look at the whole Fuji road bike line-up, and broke it down for you to help you think about what kind of rider you are, and decide which bike is for you.

Fuji Carbon Fiber Bikes

Fuji Altamira 1.1

The Altamira

Best for: riders who push themselves and their equipment hard, and demand the very best

This is Fuji’s flagship road model, and is designed with the racer or serious enthusiast in mind. In 2011 Juan Cobo won the Vuelta a Espana aboard an Altamira, and for the last two years the German-based NetApp team has been riding them in races from the Tour of California to Paris-Roubaix.

Every model of the Altamira features a full carbon fiber frame and fork, making this a lightweight, stiff and fast bike. The Altamira was created for long, fast days in the saddle, and can climb with the best of them. The geometry is more aggressive than the Gran Fondo, but doesn’t sacrifice comfort in the name of speed. Make no mistake though, this is a pure, unadulterated race bike.

  • Altamira SL: Pro-level specialized climbing bike shaves every possible gram with SRAM Red and carbon tubular wheels
  • Altamira 1.1: Pro-level bike pulls out all the stops in the name of speed with Dura-Ace 9070 Di2 and aero carbon fiber clincher wheels
  • Altamira 1.3: Pro-level bike is designed to win races with a Dura-Ace 9000 drive train
  • Altamira 2.1: delivers cutting-edge performance with Shimano Ultegra Di2 drive train
  • Altamira 2.3: take any town-line sprint with Shimano Ultegra drivetrain
  • Altamira 2.5: features Shimano 105 for riders ready to graduate to a new level of riding

Fuji SST 1.3 C

The SST

Best for: the rider who has an unabashed need for speed

The Fuji SST first debuted under the riders of the Footon team (to see the notorious team kits, click here…if you dare) during the Tour de France. The swoopy, graceful carbon fiber frames looked fast and aggressive, and indeed they proved to be.

The SST is Fuji’s straight up speed machine. The arched tubes and compressed geometry are a sprinters delight, and will best serve criterium racers and enthusiasts who like to go fast. These are not bikes that will keep you comfortable during an 8 hour day in the saddle, but with the Fuji SST, the town line sprint or the top of the podium are yours for the taking.

  • SST 1.3: Pro-level bike delivers all-out sprinting performance with Ultegra Di2 drive train
  • SST 2.0 LE: take the top of the podium with Ultegra mechanical drivetrain
  • SST 2.3:  features Shimano 105 for those looking to get lots of speed at an exceptional value
  • SST 3.0 LE: get ready to move on to competitive riding with this Shimano 105 equipped bike


Fuji Gran Fondo 1.1 C

The Gran Fondo

Best for: the rider who likes to go fast, and demands performance, but doesn’t mind sacrificing some speed to be more comfortable

There are some who say that comfort and performance aren’t good bed fellows, but those people obviously haven’t seen the Fuji Gran Fondo. These bikes use the same blends of carbon fiber found in the Altamira and the SST, but with a geometry that won’t push your body to the limits. For sure, these bikes don’t have an aggressive race geometry, but when you’re spending 6-8 hours in the saddle during a Gran Fondo this is a bike that’s nice and forgiving on the back.

  • Gran Fondo 1.1 C: features 11-speed Dura-Ace 9000 for the serious Gran Fondo rider
  • Gran Fondo 1.0: features 10-speed Dura-Ace 7900 for those who demand the best
  • Gran Fondo 1.3 C: take your ride to the cutting-edge with Ultegra Di2
  • Gran Fondo 1.5 C: features mechanical Ultegra for those who desire high-end performance but prefer mechanical shifting
  • Gran Fondo 2.0: cutting edge Ultegra Di2 and a beautiful Italian-themed paint job
  • Gran Fondo 3.0 LE: for the rider looking for a great new road bike that won’t break the bank
This geometry chart compares the Altamira with the Gran Fondo

This geometry chart compares the Altamira with the Gran Fondo


Fuji Aluminum Road Bikes

Fuji Roubaix 1.0 LE

 The Roubaix

Best for: the rider who wants to go fast on a budget without sacrificing performance

The Fuji Roubaix got its start in life as a specialized frame built to take pros through the murderous Spring Classics of Paris-Roubaix and the Ronde van Vlaanderen. The hellish cobblestone roads of those races have long sent pro-racers begging to their sponsors for a new kind of frame, and Fuji responded with the Roubaix—an aluminum bike that was built with enough compliance and high-tech features to tame the horrific roads of the northern Classics.

Times have changed though, and so has this venerable aluminum bike. While many riders have moved on to carbon fiber, the Fuji Roubaix continues to be one of the longest and best selling bikes in the world thanks to its impressive mix of comfort, performance and handling. The Roubaix is the perfect bike for the beginning racer, someone looking for a first road bike, or even the veteran racer who needs a durable yet fast bike for crit racing.

  • Roubaix SL: this race bike is equipped with a carbon fork and Shimano Ultegra mechanical shifting
  • Roubaix 1.0 LE: features a fast, durable alloy frame and dependable Shimano 105 shifting
  • Roubaix LE: equipped with Shimano 105 shifting for optimized performance
  • Roubaix 1.5 C: Shimano Tiagra 10-speed shifting and a pressfit bottom bracket for a high-end feel and dependable performance
  • Roubaix 2.0 LE: features Shimano Tiagra 10-speed shifting
  • Roubaix 3.0 LE: road bike with Shimano Sora 9-speed shifting is perfect for the beginning road cyclist

Fuji Sportif 1.1 C

The Sportif

Best for: the rider who wants to stay fit and have some fun on the road

The Fuji Sportif was created to answer the needs of the everyday road cyclist. Traditionally, Sportifs are non-competitive organized rides that don’t recognize winners, but celebrate the joys of the road. In America we now know these rides as gran fondos, but the tradition is an old one, and it demands a certain kind of bike. A bike just like the Fuji Sportif.

If you’re eager to discover the joys of the road, but don’t have much interest in racing, then the Fuji Sportif is for you. These bikes are built with the same high quality standards as the Roubaix, but with a more relaxed fit and geometry to suit riders who believe road rides are more about the journey than the suffering. Think of the Sportif as an aluminum version of the Fuji Grand Fondo. If you want it to go fast, it will, but this bike is more about staying fit and having fun.

  • Sportif 1.1 C: road bike with Shimano Tiagra 10-speed shifting is ideal for the long distance rider
  • Sportif 1.3 C: Shimano Sora equipped bike is great for someone looking to stay fit
  • Sportif 1.7 C: Shimano components make this a great value for a first road bike
This geometry charts shows the difference between the Roubaix and the Sportif

This geometry charts shows the difference between the Roubaix and the Sportif


For more information and an in-depth model comparison, check out these videos from our The Performance Bicycle Learning Center.

Say Hello To The New Louis Garneau

A couple of months ago, when the Performance Bicycle Group Ride of Excellence was assembling after work, we all noticed Jeff and Chuck wearing a previously unseen kit. It looked lightweight, comfortable and definitely had a pro fit. They were all decked out in the new Louis Garneau Course kit, ready to take it for its first test spin. We all agreed that it looked great and that the test would probably be more effective if we each had our own set of Course jerseys and bibs to test out.

Feeling cool in the Louis Garneau Course kit

Sadly, this was not to be, so over the next 40 or so miles, the rest of us sweated it out, jerseys were unzipped, and baselayers were cursed while Chuck and Jeff still looked cool as cucumbers. After the ride, they both agreed that it was by far one of the most comfortable kits they’d ever worn. The chamois was incredibly comfortable, the shorts offered amazing compression and stayed in place, and the jersey offered, as Chuck would later say, “absolutely incredible breathability”. Indeed, the new Course jerseys are almost transparent, they’re so thin. Chuck later tried riding on a 90 degree day in the Louis Garneau Course jersey with a baselayer on, and still found it to be comfortable and cool.

A few days later we got a glimpse of the new Course Aero Helmet, which graced the heads of Tommy V and the Europcar crew at the Tour de France, and the new Course shoes, which feature an all-new fit, razor thin carbon soles and new BOA-style lacing system.

Pierre Rolland’s Course helmet looked great in polka dot

If you’d like to know more about the Course helmet, here’s a video from our Learning Center.

These were just the first glances we had of Louis Garneau’s new 2014 line up, and everything we’ve seen since has lived up to the incredibly high standard set by the Course line. Every jersey, every pair of shorts, every helmet and every pair of shoes has been redesigned for a new, sleeker fit, updated graphics, and all-new ergonomics that improve the fit, breathability, and weight of their gear.

The crowd went wild when they saw how great Thomas Voeckler looked while wearing Louis Garneau Course shoes, bibs, jersey, and helmet.

If you’re looking for a kit that delivers a next-to-skin fit and pro-level performance without the bleeding edge advancements, then check out the Louis Garneau Elite series. The Elite jersey and shorts have the competitive and fast enthusiast rider in mind. For most of us here at Performance, there is at least one of these kits in the quiver. They’re excellent for longer rides, fast group rides, racing and everything in between. The next-to-skin fit is super comfy, and the incredible chamois pad keeps you comfortable all day long.

Louis Garneau Elite jersey

The Louis Garneau Performance line was designed for the enthusiast rider. A more relaxed fit keeps things comfy for those long, wandering rides or for the rider who prefers not to feel like they’ll need turpentine to remove their jersey after a ride. But don’t let that fool you. This writer has more than a few miles laid down with the Performance jersey and bibs, and has found that they are excellent for high mileage days. The jersey is highly breathable, while the bibs offer plenty of support with a great pad that’ll keep you from squirming in the saddle. The updated graphics help take this kit to a new level of finish that always looks great.

Louis Garneau Performance jersey

The folks up in Quebec have been busy, and it’s paid off big time. To browse our full collection of Louis Garneau clothing, helmets, and accessories, click here.

If you’d like to learn more about the Louis Garneau brand, Mr. Garneau himself reflects on thirty years in the cycling business below.

Wordless Wednesday

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Wordless Wednesday

Flashback Friday: 1982 Tour de France

Since Performance Bicycle was founded in 1982, we thought that today was a perfect time to look back at the Tour de France in 1982. With 6 time trials on the schedule, Bernard Hinault was the odds-on favorite to take his 4th Tour de France title (he had won in 1978, 1979 and 1981), as he had already won the 1982 Giro d’Italia. Other cyclists of note in the race were Gerrie Knetemann, Joop Zoetemelk, Johan van der Velde, Sean Kelly, and a very young Phil Anderson.

Bernard Hinault

The race began, as expected, with an Hinault victory in the opening time trial in Basel, Switzerland. But after 2 road stages, Australian Phil Anderson sprinted to victory and the yellow jersey in Stage 2 and wore the leader’s jersey for the next 9 days (only the second time that the yellow jersey was not worn by a European).

Phil Anderson

Just to keep things interesting early in the race, the organizers through in a stage that passed over the cobblestones in northern France, documented in this short movie from French television:

As expected, Hinault took back the lead after the first time trial, even though he didn’t win the stage. After marking his opponents in the  Pyrenees, Hinault won the short individual time trial of Stage 14 to expand his lead. In the Alps, Hinault again kept an eye on his closest competitors, after a short delay due to a farmers’s strike on Stage 16:

Greve des coureurs, 1982. Presse Sports – L’Équipe

 The final time trial win by Hinault made his coronation as Tour winner a formality, but Hinault wasn’t called the Badger for no reason. He responded to criticism that the 1982 Tour was “boring” by attacking the entire peloton for victory on the final stage on the Champs-Elysees in Paris, while in the yellow jersey!

 

You could be our Stage Winner!

The 2012 Tour de France features 22 teams and 198 riders in cycling’s biggest race. The pros will battle it out over 2,173 miles of steep mountain passes, quaint country villages and hectic sprint finishes. Only a lucky few will get the chance to win a coveted stage of this year’s race. It’s a life-changing experience for the pros – from that point on, they can say that they won a stage of cycling’s most famous race.

So we thought it’s time to share the acclaim. You probably won’t be lining up to contest the prologue in Liege, Belgium or the next 20 stages across France – but you could be selected as a Performance Bike Stage Winner! We’re going to randomly select one lucky participant as our Stage Winner after every stage of the Tour. Each winner will be highlighted with his or her photo on the Performance Bike Facebook page after the Grand Depart in Liege on Saturday, June 30 all the way to the triumphant finish on the Champs-Elysees on July 22. Our Stage Winner will receive the never ending fame that comes with being a Performance Bike Stage Winner – plus a $30 Performance Gift Card to commemorate our 30th Anniversary!

How do you become our next Stage Winner? Just head out for a ride and have someone take a picture of you riding your bike. Show us your climbing prowess, your suffer face, your victory salute or your sprint finish. Or just a shot of you cruising down the bike path with your kids or hitting the local mountain bike trails – we’re not as demanding as the pros and we don’t have to comply with UCI rules!

Tweet your photo to @performance_inc with the #stagewinner hashtag or post it to our Stage Winner page on Facebook to enter. We’ll pick a new winner every day of the Tour (even on rest days, just because it sounds like fun to “win” the rest day). You can only win one stage in our contest, but share as many photos as you like. We’ll be posting our pics too – we hope you’ll join us in our race to become a #stagewinner at the same time as the pros race in France!

Giro d’Italia Highlights: Final Weekend

The 2012 Giro d’Italia is over, and what a final weekend it was! Ryder Hesjedal became the first Canadian to ever win a Grand Tour, while also snagging the first overall Grand Tour win for Team Garmin-Barracuda. It was such an exciting final weekend that we had to corral the highlights here on our blog, just so we could enjoy the battle for the Maglia Rosa one more time.

First up was Stage 20, which included an ascent of the fearsome Mortirolo before a finishing climb up the punishing, and legendary, Stelvio. Aided by his trusty lieutenant Christian Vande Velde, Hesjedal powered a select group of GC favorites most of the way up the Stelvio in pursuit of the surprising Thomas De Gendt – who threatened to gain almost five minutes on the chasing pack of GC men. Hesjedal closed the gap to De Gendt in the final kilometers, but a cagey Joaquim Rodriguez sprinted away near the finish to gain a precious few seconds in his quest to keep the Maglia Rosa.

On the Giro’s final day, Hesjedal lined up for the final time trial 31 seconds down on Rodriguez – but in a display reminiscent of Greg LeMond beating Laurent Fignon in the final time trial of the 1989 Tour de France, Hesjedal powered his way through the time trial to best Rodriguez by a scant 16 seconds in the final tally.

What a race and what a finale to the season’s first Grand Tour – there was drama, a great storyline, and the always impressive Italian scenery. Here’s hoping that the competition for this summer’s Tour de France will be just as exciting!

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