The multi-week stage races have been the biggest challenge to all cyclists of the last century.
When it comes to road bicycle racing a Grand Tour is one of the three major competitions in Europe. The Tour de France, the Giro d’Italia and the Vuelta a Espana are the ruling stage races of professional cycling worldwide and are also the favorites of online sportsbooks in the EU. These prestigious events are the only stage races that are allowed to last longer than 14 days. In the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCL) World Tour the Grand Tour places have the most value in points. These three European races are also the ones that enjoy the most of the publicity focused on cycling.
The colorful jerseys
The Grand Tours are multi-week stage races. The approximately three week long events usually have two rest days when the competitors can have a day off within the race. The stages generally have a massed start since that is the best for the public. This means that all cyclist line up and start at the same time, although it is fairly dangerous it makes is easy for the inexperienced eye to understand who is leading the race. While on time trials the competitors have delayed start times causing a slight confusion in vision.
• Eddie Merckx had won 11 Grand Tours
• All Pro Teams are invited
• The races are three-weeks long
The question of which teams should be allowed to participate was always a delicate matter. For many years the organizers were obliged to invite all Pro Teams while allowed to have two wildcards. Despite these regulations in 2007 the Unibet team was not granted entry to the races due to violation of French gambling laws. All events have different classifications represented by different color jerseys. The overall champion is the winner of the general classification. One can lead more than one classification at the same time. In that case the cyclist wears the jersey of the classification ranked higher.
All three tours have their own colored jerseys with a different story behind them. The Vuelta a Espana was inspired by the other two Grand Tours. After both the Tour de France and the Giro d’Italia had succeeded in boosting the sales of the sponsor newspapers. The Italian and the French race have their general classification’s jerseys’ colors honoring the original colors of sponsor newspapers. While the color of the Vuelta jersey has changed several times since the first race. Orange had occurred more than once in the history of the race but the jersey has been red since 2010.
The ultimate winners
The highest number of Grand Tour wins belongs to the legendary Eddy Merckx. The Belgian cycling phenomenon had won the World Championship thrice, the Tour de France and the Giro d’Italia five times each and the Vuelta a Espana once. The 32 years old Alberto Contador is the one has six Grand Tour trophies. He has the most wins out of all currently active athletes and has great odds on scoring another one at this year’s Giro d’Italia. The only riders to have finished top 10 in each three during one year are Raphaël Géminiani in 1955 and Gastone Nencini in 1957.
Record breaking in 2015
Oleg Tinkov Russian businessman wants the best riders to compete head to head in all three tours. “If Quintana, Froome, Nibali and Contador all agree to ride all three Grand Tours, I’ll get Tinkoff Bank to put up EUR 1 million. They can have EUR 250,000 each as an extra incentive. I think it’s a good idea,” Tinkov told gambling news. He believes that it would be the ultimate challenge of the best. Contador is already going for the Giro-Tour double this year. However going for all three titles the same year could be a “mission impossible“.
This year Adam Hansen Australian cyclist will try to break the record for the most Grand Tour starts in a row. He has done ten of the distinguished races since the 2011 Vuelta a Espana. The current record holder is Bernardo Ruiz who had finished twelve straight three week races starting with the 1954 Giro d’Italia. Many have mistaken Spaniard Marino Lejarreta for the record holder but he “only” completed ten consecutive tours.