Tour de France 2011

This weekend sees the start of the greatest cycle race in the world, and here, I will keeping track of what is happening. Before we go any further, here are all the stages, with dates and how long they are….

Stage 1  En ligne Saturday 2 July Passage du Gois La Barre-de-Monts > Mont des Alouettes Les Herbiers 191.5 km

Stage 2  Team TT Sunday 3 July Les Essarts > Les Essarts 23 km

Stage 3  En ligne Monday 4 July Olonne-sur-Mer > Redon 198 km

Stage 4  En ligne Tuesday 5 July Lorient > Mûr-de-Bretagne 172.5 km

Stage 5  En ligne Wednesday 6 July Carhaix > Cap Fréhel 164.5 km

Stage 6  En ligne Thursday 7 July Dinan > Lisieux 226.5 km

Stage 7  En ligne Friday 8 July Le Mans > Châteauroux 218 km

Stage 8  Medium mountains Saturday 9 July Aigurande > Super-Besse Sancy 189 km

Stage 9  Medium mountains Sunday 10 July Issoire > Saint-Flour 208 km

Rest Day Monday 11 July Le Lioran Cantal

Stage 10  En ligne Tuesday 12 July Aurillac > Carmaux 158 km

Stage 11  En ligne Wednesday 13 July Blaye-les-Mines > Lavaur 167.5 km

Stage 12  High Mountains Thursday 14 July Cugnaux > Luz-Ardiden 211 km

Stage 13  High Mountains Friday 15 July Pau > Lourdes 152.5 km

Stage 14  High Mountains Saturday 16 July Saint-Gaudens > Plateau de Beille 168.5 km

Stage 15  En ligne Sunday 17 July Limoux > Montpellier 192.5 km

Rest Day Monday 18 July Département de la Drôme

Stage 16  Medium mountains Tuesday 19 July Saint-Paul-Trois-Châteaux > Gap 162.5 km

Stage 17  High Mountains Wednesday 20 July Gap > Pinerolo 179 km

Stage 18  High Mountains Thursday 21 July Pinerolo > Galibier Serre-Chevalier 200.5 km

Stage 19  High Mountains Friday 22 July Modane Valfréjus > Alpe-d’Huez 109.5 km

Stage 20 Individual time-trial Saturday 23 July Grenoble > Grenoble 42.5 km

Stage 21  En ligne Sunday 24 July Créteil > Paris Champs-Élysées 95 km

The Tour de France starts on from Saturday July 2nd and ends on Sunday July 24th 2011.  This, the 98th Tour de France will be made up of 21 stages and will cover a total distance of 3,430.5 kilometres, or 2131.6 miles. It comprises of 10 flat stages, 6 mountain stages, with 4 summit finishes, 3 medium mountain stages, and 1 individual time-trial stage (42.5 km (26.4 miles)). and 1 team time-trial stage (23 km (14.3 miles)).

What do the different color Tour de France jerseys mean?

YELLOW: The maillot jaune, the yellow jersey, is worn by the overall leader of the race so far. Each day the total amount of time taken to finish that stage is added to the cumulative time of all previous races, and the overall leader is determined. The next day, he wears the yellow throughout the stage. Whoever is awarded the yellow jersey following the final stage in Paris is the overall winner of that Tour de France.

GREEN: The green jersey, or maillot vert, is the sprinter’s jersey. At every stage, points are awarded to the first 10-25 riders that cross the finish line. The amount of sprint points awarded depends on the day’s course (a flat course produces more points than the mountain terrain) and in what place the rider finishes that day. Some stages have mini-sprints within the stage that are worth points. German Erik Zabel holds the record for winning the final green jersey in the Tour six consecutive times, between 1996 and 2001.

WHITE WITH RED POLKA DOTS: This is the King of the Mountains jersey. Points are awarded to the first rider to reach the crest of designated hills and mountains. Mountains are graded according to steepness, length, and position on the course, and points correspond to the grade.

 WHITE: This jersey is worn by the fastest overall rider under the age of 25 (as on 1st January in the year of the race).

Alberto Contador (pictured here) and Andy Schleck, the 2010 winner and runner up respectively,  will be in with a good chance this year.  Australia’s Cadel Evans and Robbie McEwen,  Italy’s Ivan Basso, Belgian Phillipe Gilbert, Switzerland’s Fabian Cancellara, Russian Denis Menchov, and Britain’s Mark Cavendish will also be up there vying for the Yellow Jersey. Expect to see one of these winning the Green Jersey competition too.

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So, the 2010/11 has now finished.

So,  the 2010/11 has now finished.  In the Championship,  it is QPR and Norwich  City that enter the promised land of the Premiership, along with Swansea City, who beat Reading in the play-off final at Wembley.

At the bottom, Preston North End, Sheffield United and Scunthorpe United were relegated to League 1.

In League 1, the two south coast teams of Brighton and Southampton were promoted to the Championship,  together with Peterborough United, who beat my own team, Huddersfield Town in the Play-off Final at Old Trafford.  At the bottom,  Dagenham & Redbridge, Bristol Rovers, Plymouth Argyle and Swindon Town were all relegated to League 2.

Plymouth Argyle were only relegated because of this ten point deduction rule for going into administration.  Had this not happened, they would have survived at the expense of Walsall.

Plymouth Argyle’s future is still not secure following administration,  and there was a discussion between the Pilgrims Supporters Trust,  Lead Administrator Brendan Guilfoyle, and acting chairman Peter Ridsdale earlier in the week.  They are still looking at various consortiums that could take control.  However, a deal to sell off Plymouth Argyle’s ground and stadium and save the club from folding could go through by the end of this week, acting chairman Peter Ridsdale said on Tuesday (28th).Bishop International Limited, an offshore company, is the preferred bidder for the ground at Home Park in a reported £5 million deal.

In League 2,  it’s congratulations to Chesterfield, Bury and Wycombe Wanderers on gaining promotion to League 1,  together with Stevenage, who, after just scraping into the play-off positions on the final day of the season-proper,  beat Torquay United in their play-off final, again at Old Trafford. 

At the bottom of League 2, the Football League bid farewell to Stockport County and Lincoln City. Stockport County having been a league club since 1905, and Lincoln City, since 1922 – with the exception of the 1987/88 season, when they were in the Conference, after they became the first team to suffer automatic relegation from the Football League. The immediately won promotion straight back,  and will be hoping to do the same this time.

Taking their places in the Football League are Crawley Town,  and AFC   Wimbledon.  What a rise it has been for the Dons, who were only formed in 2002.  This was as a result of the original Wimbledon FC’s relocation to Milton Keynes and “rebranding” as MK Dons.Wimbledon supporters opposed to this move reacted by founding their own side, AFC Wimbledon.  At the start, it entered the Premier Division of the Combined Counties League.  Since then, they’ve been promoted five times in eight seasons, culminating in their promotion to the Football League.

Rob Moore’s Motorworld: Shaun Hollamby Interview Teaser

A new feature on Rob Moore’s Motorworld is a regular chat with AMD Milltek Racing Team Boss (and previous driver) Shaun Hollamby about the previous weekend’s action in the BTCC.

In our first chat with Shaun, we talk to him about his career to date and look at last weekend’s action at Croft. Obviously, not wanting to spoil it ALL before next week’s show, we’ve given you a sneak peek into the interview with this teaser.

In this teaser, Shaun talks about whether he thinks Volkswagen will ever enter Formula One.

You can catch the full interview on Rob Moore’s Motorworld on Monday 27 June between 5-8pm.

Thoughts on BBC Sport Coverage (potential axing of)

Reports circulating the news today suggest that “one of the BBC’s major sports events could be axed in an effort to save the pennies.

I posted back in March when the previous round of BBC speculation suggested that Formula One was for the chop, and since then I’ve had some time to think what the BBC should do (in my opinion) to keep great broadcasting and save pennies.

So- here is my manifesto for cost savings.

1. Is there a need for two people to do the job one can do adequately? Cost saving doesn’t just have to be about axing things. The BBC should review their structure- is there too many people on one job (for example, is it necessary to have four website editors- could three do the job, or could that role be incorporated into the job of other employees).

2. Have a lean, mean mindset. Don’t get me wrong, but I’m a huge fan of BBC. However, ridiculous amounts are spent on some promotional events, such as here in Cornwall for the Royal Cornwall Show. Is it entirely necessary to have a huge marquee full of entertainment during the day for three days with entertainment including the odd singer, science show and magical illusion? What about a tie-up with a commercial entertainments company where they pay for some of the costs, and share the entertainments bill with the BBC? That way, less money spent for the same product. (I must stress this is not a barb at the wonderful people at Radio Cornwall, who do a great job. It’s a countrywide problem, but living in Cornwall meant its the one that relates to me)

3. Focus on events of a major sporting interest. Is there any need to have sports just on the red channel when other sports are on BBC1? For example, one of the BBC’s programme highlights is Wimbledon. But is there any need to also show tennis events such as that at Queens? Surely Wimbledon should be prioritized as the grandee event?

In addition, with the greatest respect to football supporters, is there really any need to have a Premier League preview show (“Football Focus”) and a score service with reporters at every game? No other sport has preview shows or such extensive coverage, yet BBC doesn’t have the right to show Premier League games live. Maybe a cheaper option while retaining the service is to make a preview show to be broadcast via the internet on demand, such as the BBC did for Formula One before the start of the season. Also- there is excessive build up before a FA Cup final game. I can’t remember how long it was this season but I distinctly remember in the no so distant past it was THREE HOURS buildup.

4. Streamline Management- Is it really necessary that there’s a manager for pretty much every aspect? For example, why don’t neighbouring counties share a Managing Editor for BBC Local Radio? Why does every channel need a Controller- why can’t BBC 1 and 3 share controllers, likewise BBC 2 and 4? Instead of a head for every sport, why not have the Producers (such as Mark Wilkin for Formula One) reporting to a single head of BBC Sport?

5. What provides better value for money? I call on quotas regarding the amount of work the BBC has to give to independent producers to be scrapped. They should then allow the BBC to decide for each individual programme if it is cheaper and better to have it produced in house, or externally. For example, USP content produce Five Live F1. And do an excellent job. There’s an example of what I mean.

6. Is…there…REALLY so much need for Reality TV?! BBC really should stay away from reality television. Reality TV on ITV works because the adverts and premium line phone numbers mean the show pays for itself. The BBC don’t have the luxury of adverts and really should stop stuff like “so you think you can dance” and just stick to their old warhorse “Strictly Come Dancing”.

7. Get rid of Don’t Scare the Hare. A frankly awful waste of money and TV show.

Any other ideas?

Rob Moore’s Motorworld: From the Pitlane Le Mans Special (10/06/11)

Welcome to another edition of a weekly line of podcasts relating to the goings on in the Formula One world with the Rob Moore Motorworld Team of Rob Moore and Aaron James.

In a special edition of the podcast, we preview this weekend’s Le Mans action.

Rob Moore’s Motorworld: From the Pitlane (10/06/11)

Welcome to another edition of a weekly line of podcasts relating to the goings on in the Formula One world with the Rob Moore Motorworld Team of Rob Moore and Aaron James.

This week we preview the Canadian Grand Prix, review the thrilling events of the BTCC at Oulton Park and take a look at the WTCC.

CFD Now Wirthless

This season’s Technical Director cull has continued with another scalp- Virgin and Wirth Research have parted ways, at the same time announcing that their design approach from now on won’t be all CFD. Nick Wirth joins Sam Michael (Williams) and Aldo Costa (Ferrari) in the F1 Job Centre.

This is significant- when Virgin entered Formula One they said they were going to revolutionise Formula One design with an approach that negated “wasteful windtunnels” and was cost effective and this news is effectively an admission of failure. This was evident on track- their highest grid placing this season has been on the tenth row of the grid with only the Hispania’s for company.

So- what next for Virgin? Interestingly, reports suggest that disgraced former Renault Technical Director Pat Symonds, (currently suspended from all active Formula One roles for his part in the disgraceful scam in the 2008 Singapore GP) is heading up plans for the 2012 car in his role of consultant. Some media outlets are suggesting that Aldo Costa (ex Ferrari, Minardi) would be a suitable candidate- his time at Minardi proved that he can produce decent cars on a tight budget. I would also like to tip Sam Michael’s hat into the ring- Williams would not have had an astronomical budget, and the cars he produces would certainly get Virgin into Q2 as they are currently angling for.

The same announcement about Wirth’s departure also contains another interesting anecdote- Virgin are looking for a technical base, which also surely signals an end to the ridiculous triangle currently going on where Virgin handle the commercial side, Wirth handled the Technical side, and Manor Motorsport prepared and ran the cars. One of the technical bases they have evaluated (and probably the prime candidate for the new base) is the former Arrows and Super Aguri base at Leafield.

I wonder where they will find a windtunnel to borrow. One can assume that if they get a technical partnership with McLaren as rumoured (same as Force India currently enjoy), that they would be able to access the McLaren windtunnel facility, but failing that I wonder if they’ll share the spare windtunnnel at Mercedes with Hispania.

One thing is for sure- today signals a defeat (for now) for the all CFD design approach. While Nick Wirth appeared to be a decent man to chat to in the paddock, his previous F1 design history is slightly chequered- In 1994 and 1995 he ran the backmarker Simtek team (until their mid season bankruptcy) and from 1996 to 1999 designed the post-Brawn & Byrne Benetton cars which hardly covered themselves in glory.

I will post later on my thoughts of Pat Symonds reappearing- though if you look through your computer screens you can probably see steam coming out of my ears, so you can see where this is going…..