The UCI WorldTour Chronicle
- What happened? -
One of the most awaited moments of the UCI WorldTour gets underway this Saturday July 7th, when the Tour de France starts, for the sixth time in its history, in the westerly region of the Vendée.
The Vendée region’s first Tour de France start, in 1976, was an 8km individual time trial won by Freddy Maertens. But this time, the Tour’s 176 starters will face a rolling 201km mass start stage from Noirmoutier-en-l’Île to Fontenay-le-Comte, almost certain to end in a bunch sprint. Given Sunday’s 182.5km trek from Mouilleron-Saint-German to La Roche-sur-Yon is an almost equally flat stage, the fastmen will have a second chance for victory: it is the first time there have been two successive bunch sprint opportunities in the first two days of the Tour since 1964.
Amongst the UCI WorldTour’s top ranked racers with a solid chance of victory in the first two stages is the classifications overall leader, Peter Sagan (BORA-hansgrohe). The reigning UCI World Champion has won the Tour de France’s points classification on no less than five occasions, as well as eight stages. He will have an important chance to increase his overall lead in the UCI WorldTour ranking this weekend.
Other key challengers for the Tour’s bunch sprints include Marcel Kittel (Katusha-Alpecin) winner of five Tour de France stages last year and Mark Cavendish (Team Dimension Data), with 30 Tour stages in his career already and seeking to narrow the gap on Eddy Merckx’s all-time record total of 34.
Stage three sees the Tour de France’s general classification contenders face a 35.5km team time trial in Cholet. But until then, it’ll be the sprinters and allrounders like Peter Sagan, Cavendish and Kittel who will be in the limelight.
- What’s next? -
Tour de France Saturday July 7th - Sunday July 29th
- Focus on Ian Boswell -
At 27, Ian Boswell will finally fulfil his dream of taking part in the Tour de France this Saturday, as part of the Katusha-Alpecin squad.
Born in Bend, Oregon, he tried his hand at basketball, American football, cross-country ski-ing and running as well as cycling. After a series of solid amateur-level results in cycling in 2012 - including 5th overall in the Tour de L’Avenir, 2nd in Liège-Bastogne-Liège Espoirs and a stage win in the Tour of the Gila – he opted for professional racing in 2013.
Since then Boswell has carved out a solid reputation as a climber and stage race specialist, racing both the Vuelta a España and Giro d’Italia. After a below-expectations Tour of California this May, Boswell bounced back well in the Criterium du Dauphiné, showing strongly in two mountain breakaways.