The most anticipated Velo issue of the year is here. The Tour de France edition, with all the race analysis and tech features Velo readers have come to expect, is combined this year with a 72-page official guide to the USA Pro Challenge. This behemoth of a September issue contains everything you need to know following the world’s biggest bike race, which delivered Great Britain its first Tour de France victory in Team Sky’s Bradley Wiggins.
Velo takes you week by week through the Grand Boucle. We begin with Fabian Cancellara’s dominant prologue win, Peter Sagan’s three first-week stage victories, and Sky’s early domination up La Planche de Bes Filles, the Tour’s first mountaintop finish. After riding a race moto through this thrilling stage, managing editor Chris Case was inspired to write about the trust both Tour riders and the enormous caravan that follows them must have to emerge from the chaos alive.
But even the best planned Tour de France comes with its share of disaster. The first week of the Tour was crash-heavy, and the infamous Metz Massacre took out a few GC favorites, including Garmin’s Ryder Hesjedal. Somehow, Team Sky’s top riders managed to bypass the massacre, leading Andrew Hood to question: Is there a strategy to avoid the inevitable Tour crashes, or was Sky just lucky?
RadioShack-Nissan has been plagued with its own disasters this season, from injuries and doping controversies to in-team drama over rider payment and Tour team selection. Somehow, though, this superteam found its way to a Tour de France team GC victory despite it all — Chris Case describes the journey in his feature on RadioShack’s rollercoaster Tour.
In week two, read about the impressive stage wins of French riders Thibaud Pinot, Thomas Voeckler and Pierre Rolland, the struggles of BMC Racing’s defending champion Cadel Evans, and the tensions between Sky power duo Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome.
Caley Fretz looks into the carpet-tack sabotage of stage 14, which left more than 50 riders with flat tires and showcased Wiggins’ class in neutralizing the peloton to wait for Evans. Week two also saw Evans’ BMC teammate Tejay van Garderen ride away with the white jersey, a move that at first stirred controversy over loyalty to the defending champion but ended with proof that van Garderen was the stronger rider at this Tour.
Finally, week three saw Wiggins ride into Paris in the yellow jersey, making history for Great Britain, with British teammate Froome beside him on the podium. Sky’s Mark Cavendish also got his chance to shine, with two impressive stage wins proving his world-champion strength even while “freelancing” the Tour in support of Wiggins‘ GC aims.
Read about the polka-dot performance of Voeckler and the final Tour for legendary George Hincapie, who led the peloton into Paris for the final time. Take a minute to look over Wiggins’ colorful quotes throughout his three weeks in the sun.
In our Training section, read about the benefit of interval training and find out why Tour riders still ride their bikes on “rest days.”
Curious about the race machines that deliver Tour favorites to victory? Tech writers Nick Legan, Logan VonBokel and Caley Fretz test four Tour bikes in the VeloLab. Find out which ride our tech department likes best — is it Samuel Sanchez’s Orbea Orca, Voeckler’s C59, Lotto-Belisol’s Ridley Helium, or Sagan’s Cannondale SuperSix Evo?
Also included in the September issue is a preview of the Vuelta a Espana, Alberto Contador’s comeback grand tour and Froome’s first as a protected team leader. Ryan Newill reflects on controversial tweets during the Tour and some of the pro teams’ strict policies on social media, and Chris Case sits in with the iconic Jens Voigt to discuss crashes and media chaos.
When you’ve reached the end of Velo’s Tour coverage, flip the magazine over and treat yourself to the official USA Pro Challenge guide. Read detailed descriptions of each of the race’s seven stages and 16 teams, an in-depth analysis of seven riders to watch, a page of helpful tips for fans new to bike racing, and information on the “must-see moments” that could determine overall contenders. Racing in Colorado’s mountains presents challenges all its own: discover how the altitude will affect rider performance and find out why all pros carry a “rain bag” in their team car for the inevitable bad-weather racing day.