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Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Tour de France Adjustments for Paris Olympics; Idaho Cyclist Considered a Top Contender

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SALT LAKE CITY — The globally renowned ​Tour de France, a pinnacle of professional cycling, kicked ‌off in Italy this past weekend. However, in a break from tradition, the race will‍ not ‍culminate in Paris for⁢ the first time since 1905 due to the impending Olympics.

Due to logistical‌ and security concerns related to the Summer Games, the race will not have its usual grand ⁣finale on the Champs-Élysées ‍in Paris. Instead, the 111th edition of the Tour⁢ will wrap up in‌ Nice on July 21,⁤ just five days before the Olympics​ begin in Paris. The ⁣21-day race, spanning ‍2,173 miles, started in Italy on June 29, marking yet⁢ another first for ⁢the event.

In another historic moment,⁣ Biniam Girmay of Eritrea became⁣ the first Black‌ cyclist to win a⁣ stage in the Tour de France.⁣ He sprinted ahead⁤ of the pack to claim victory in the 144-mile third leg from Piacenza to Turin on ⁤Monday.

Despite the Tour de France⁣ attracting tens ⁢of millions of viewers ⁤globally each year, American audiences⁢ have largely lost interest in professional cycling⁤ following Lance Armstrong’s downfall. However, this year’s unique ⁢circumstances and intriguing storylines could reignite their interest.

According ‍to NBC News, American viewership could be on the ⁢rise again, partly due to the release of “Unchained,” a Netflix‌ show by the ⁤creators of the hit “Drive⁢ to Survive” docuseries, which delves into ⁤the world of Formula 1 racing. ‍”‘Unchained’ offers an intimate look at cycling’s‍ fiercest‍ rivalries, showcasing the dedication, sacrifice, and ‍passion required to ⁤triumph in the Tour de France. Expect dramatic crashes, emotional breakdowns, and intense team conflicts,”‌ NBC reports.

Who are the American Contenders in the Tour‍ de France?

While Jonas Vingegaard ⁣of Denmark and Tadej Pogacar of⁣ Slovenia, ⁢both two-time winners of​ the last four⁣ races, are‍ expected to vie ‌for the top spot again, at least one of the three ⁤Americans in this year’s Tour‌ has a ⁤chance ‍to⁣ reach the podium.

Matteo Jorgensen, a⁢ native of Boise, ‍Idaho,‌ is being hailed as one ⁢of the top cyclists on the world tour after his victory in Paris-Nice this year, the first American to achieve this feat since 2006. He ​also claimed victory in⁤ Dwars‌ door Vlaanderen⁤ and secured second place in the Critérium du Dauphiné, just eight seconds behind Slovenian⁢ Primoz Roglič, a pre-race⁤ Tour ​de France favorite. A​ teammate of Vingegaard on Visma-Lease a ⁣Bike, ⁣Jorgensen has ⁢shown promising performances in ‌the​ Tour⁣ in 2022 and 2023.

“Matteo Jorgensen has made remarkable progress this year,” ‌said Tejay van Garderen, a⁢ former⁤ grand⁤ tour rider who is making his debut as a race⁤ commentator on NBC Sports this year. ‍”From what I’ve seen,⁢ he⁢ has the potential to secure a podium finish in the Tour‌ de​ France.”

However, Visma-Lease a Bike’s lead director sportif‌ Merijn Zeeman downplayed ‌Jorgensen’s chances of‍ winning the ​title this year, emphasizing his role in supporting⁢ Vingegaard.

“I firmly‌ believe ⁣that Matteo Jorgensen‍ will ⁣be a formidable cyclist in the future, and he ⁤will have an opportunity to win the ‌Tour de France in his career. However, he is still developing,” Zeeman⁢ told reporters⁢ last week before the race, according to Cycling News.

Despite suffering from⁤ road rash due to a⁤ crash on Stage 2, Jorgensen managed ⁢to finish with the main‌ group of cyclists. He currently ranks 13th overall after Monday’s stage, just 21 seconds behind the ​leaders.

“I ​feel surprisingly fine, ‍considering I was⁢ going ⁤at a high speed when I crashed. I expected⁣ to be more injured. But I got up and only lost⁣ some skin,”⁢ he said,⁣ as reported by Cycling News.

Jorgensen’s cycling journey began on the streets of Boise with the Boise Young Rider Development Squad, or BYRDS, according to⁢ the Idaho Statesman.

“I am incredibly proud to be from⁤ Boise and to ⁤have started my cycling career in such ‍a bike-friendly city ⁢with BYRDS,” said Jorgensen, who celebrated his 25th birthday on⁢ Monday.

As a versatile cyclist, ⁣Jorgensen is also a strong contender for the Tour’s white jersey, awarded to the ⁣best rider under the age of 26.

The other two Americans participating in‍ this year’s Tour de ​France are Neilson Powless and Sean Quinn, both members of the Education First-EasyPost team.‌ Powless ⁤is competing in his fifth ⁤Tour, while Quinn is making his debut. Powless is known for his breakaways and climbing ​skills.⁣ He led the King of the Mountain classification for ⁤half of ‍the 2023 race ‍before ultimately being ​overtaken by another cyclist.

Powless, a 26-year-old from Roseville, California, is the first tribally recognized Native North American to compete in the Tour de France. His late grandfather was a member ⁢of the Oneida tribe. Powless is ‍25% Oneida, the minimum percentage required for tribal membership, according to ⁤Outside magazine.

Quinn, a Los Angeles native, grew up watching the Tour ​with​ his parents‌ and soon found himself cycling up California’s mountains, imagining ⁣they were the Alps. He excels as a⁤ climber and⁤ is a‍ competent sprinter.

Why is Sepp Kuss Absent from the Tour?

While Jorgensen is aiming for a top-three‍ finish, Sepp Kuss, from Durango, Colorado,​ is watching his Visma-Lease a Bike​ teammates from‍ home after failing‍ to fully recover from COVID-19, which forced him ​to​ withdraw from the‍ Critérium du Dauphiné, according to Cycling News.

“I’m disappointed‍ to miss the TdF this year after struggling with COVID complications for a few weeks,”⁣ Kuss posted on Instagram last week.

Kuss has been a crucial support rider for Vingegaard in⁤ the past two Tours, helping him ‌through the challenging mountain stages and positioning him for victory. Kuss’ own major wins include the Vuelta​ a ​España in 2023, Stage 15 of the Tour de ⁤France ⁤in 2021, and the now-defunct Tour of Utah in 2018.

Who was the Last American to Win the Tour de France?

Greg ​LeMond is⁤ the‍ only American to‌ have won the‍ Tour de France, with victories in 1986, 1989, and 1990. Armstrong won a record‌ seven⁤ consecutive times from 1999 to 2005 but was stripped of his titles after an investigation into doping allegations revealed he had used performance-enhancing drugs throughout his career. Floyd Landis would have been the third American winner in 2006, but⁤ he was disqualified after testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs.

An⁤ American has not worn⁢ the race leader’s yellow jersey outright since van Garderen did so for one day in 2012, ⁢although he ‌was involved in a rare tie for the jersey after a team time ‍trial in​ 2018. His⁢ teammate was awarded the overall race lead due to ⁢higher finishes in previous stages of the⁣ race.

Kuss’ stage win⁤ in 2021 ended a 10-year drought ⁢for American victories in the Tour de France.

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Truth Media Network
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3 COMMENTS

  1. Disagree with this decision and think it is unfair to other athletes who have been training for the Paris Olympics without adjustments.

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