By Andrew Hood
For the dedicated number-crunchers in the crowd, the annual Tour de France route announcement provides ample opportunity to quantify critical elements of the big race ahead.
Although just a journalism major, European correspondent Andrew Hood took a stab at analyzing the 2010 Tour de France by the numbers:
ZERO: For the third year in a row, no time bonuses will be awarded during the 2010 Tour de France. Much to the chagrin of the sprinters, who lose almost all shot at taking the yellow jersey in the opening days of the Tour. The purists like the notion that the time in Paris is the “real” time, so are they going to give up time penalties as well?
ONE: Prologue, 8km in Rotterdam, back for the first time since 2007. The 2008 Tour started with a straight-up road stage and this year’s Tour with a longer individual time trial in Monaco. This will give the prologue specialists, like Thor Hushovd, a shot at the yellow jersey.
TWO: Rest days, on Monday, July 12, and Wednesday, July 21.
THREE: Countries: Holland, Belgium and France. No Italy this year; Alejandro Valverde will be happy about that.
FOUR: “Medium” mountain stages, routes that aren’t across the Alps or Pyrenees, but don’t finish with an uphill run, either. These transition stages are ideal for the head-bangers and the stage-hunters.
FIVE: Times Holland has hosted the Tour. This time, Rotterdam takes the “grand depart,” giving Holland the starting point for three consecutive grand tours, starting with the 2009 Vuelta a España, the 2010 Giro d’Italia in Amsterdam.
SIX: Mountain stages, three of which are summit finishes. That’s the same number of summit finishes as 2009, but that’s where the similarity ends. The climbs, in both depth and severity, on tap in 2010 are much more difficult than in 2009.
EIGHT: Number of podiums by Lance Armstrong; seven wins and third place in 2009.
NINE: Flat stages. Sprinter ace Mark Cavendish only counted eight, but even he admits he’ll have a hard time trying to equal his mark of six stage wins from 2009.
TEN: Number of times Americans have won the Tour; seven with Armstrong and three with Greg LeMond.
ELEVEN: Number of new host cities for 2010.
TWENTY: Number of stages (not counting the prologue), which is in line with what’s considered a “modern” tour.
TWENTY-THREE: Number of climbs ranked as second-, first- or hors-categorie for 2010. That number includes one in the Jura, eight in the Alps, two in the Cévennes and 12 in the Pyrénées. That number equals the number of climbs in 2005, with “only” 17 in 2008.
FIFTY-NINE: Total number of time trial kilometers, one of the lowest numbers in recent Tour history. With only the 8km prologue and the 51km individual time trial in Bordeaux in Stage 19, the chrono-men will have a long wait in between to get a chance to shine.
2,115: Number in meters of the Tourmalet summit, highest point of the 2010 Tour, the “Souvenir Henri Desgrange.”
3,596: Total of kilometers.
3.2 million: In Euros, the total prize package for the 2010 Tour, of which, 450,000 Euros goes to the winner.