tour de france bike tour, beaux voyages logo image
Cycling News
Scroll down to read these articles from the web site of L'Equipe.  Translated by Walt
Cycling News Home Page

Divorce ICU- Grand Tours- 12/09/05
Death of Charly Gaul- 12/06/05
Tour of Italy- Ivan Basso will start- 12/04/05
BOONEN, a Fresh Wind- 11/30/05
Green Light for AG2R- 11/28/05

Divorce ICU - Grand Tours- 12/09/05

The organizers of the Three Grand Tours (Italy, France, Spain) officially announced their
breakaway from the ICU Pro Tour, at a press conference on Friday morning in Paris.

“By maintaining in 2006 the agreements that were in effect in 2005, that is to say the
status quo, does not mean that this transitory situation was destined to permit an overall
agreement with the Pro Tour, which the ICU today stated has been denied”, declared
Patrice Clerc, president of ASO, the organizer for the Tour de France.

In order to motivate team leaders to enter their squads in all three events, each team will
receive an additional payment of 100,000 euros for doing so.  And the Three Grand
Tours trophy, which was in place during the middle of the 1980’s, has been reestablished
with a budget of 2 million euros, of which 600,000 will go to the winning team.  The
organizers of the Three Grand Tours are now waiting, with serenity it would seem, for the
reactions of the Irish president of the ICU, Pat McQuaid.  “I find it hard to believe that the
ICU could oppose a trophy which rewards and gives additional resources to teams”,
Patrice Clerc maliciously pointed out.  But everyone is weighing the effects of a rupture.  
“We want a system that works in order that there are always riders and  races.  As for the
eventual risk of a boycott, that is a word I have not yet heard”, pointed out the head of the
Vuelta (Tour of Spain), Victor Cordero.

“Today we only responded to the ICU.  This is not a reform, we have only responded with
urgency to a situation we did not create”, continued Patrice Clerc.  “We are not taking the
initiative, and we remain on the world calendar”.

Death of  Charly Gaul- 12/06/05

The former Luxemburg champion Charly Gaul, who would have been 73 years old on
Thursday, has died from a pulmonary embolism Tuesday morning in a Luxemburg
hospital.  The former champion, named athlete of the century in Luxemburg in 1990, was
hospitalized after a fall in his home at Itzig.

His principle claim to fame was his success in the Tour de France in 1958, assured by a
victory in a time trial which took place on the Mont Ventoux.  In the Grand Boucle (Tour de
France) he had a victory in the overall classification in 1958, two times was best climber
(1955 and 1956) and won ten stages in his 10 years of participation in the Tour.  After a
long retirement, which earned him the reputation of being a hermit, the greatest champion
ever from Luxemburg came back to cycling.  His exploits in the high mountain stages gave
him the nickname of “archangel of the mountains”.  

With a deceptively fragile appearance (1.73m and 64 kg), Charly Gaul was transcendent
in bad weather conditions.  It was under torrential rains in the Alps that he carved his
success in the Grand Boucle of 1958 when a pure climber won for the first time in the
history of the Tour.

Professional from 1953 to 1965, the man from Luxemburg had equally excellent results in
the Tour of Italy.  He twice won the general classification (1956 and 1959) and won eleven
stages overall.  He just missed a victory in 1957 when he had the imprudence to stop and
satisfy a natural need and thus was vulnerable to an attack by Louison Bobet.

In the Giro of 1956, two years after having finished third in the World Championships at
Solingen, he reversed the situation on an apocalyptic day in a snow storm on the Monte
Bondone, above Trente, passing from eleventh to first place.  

He had a particular affection for the Italian climber Marco Pantani, who passed away in
February of 2004 and who was the only person whom Gaul recognized as someone else
who could win the big titles as a pure climber.

Tour of Italy- Ivan Basso will start- 12/04/05

The Italian Ivan Basso (CSC) has changed his mind and will participate in the next Tour of
Italy which begins on May 8, 2006, in the small town of Seraing in Belgium.

Basso, who had earlier renounced the Giro in order to better prepare himself for the Tour
de France, changed his position.  “The course of the Giro pleases me, and this year I
already succeeded in doing something important in the race, and next year I want to finish
the job” commented Basso, during a training session with his team in Jutland on the
Danish peninsula.

During the 2005 Giro, Basso, who had taken the pink leader’s jersey in the Dolomites, was
forced to cede it to Paolo Savoldelli, the future winner, because he became ill on the climb
of the Stelvio.

BOONEN, A Fresh Wind- 11/30/05

The American Lance Armstrong leaves the World Golden Bike title awarded by Velo
Magazine to the young Belgian Tom Boonen.  World Champion, winner of several
prestigious classics, the protégé of Patrick Lefevere on the Quick Step team took off in
the year 2005.  After holding on to his title of world mountain bike champion, Julien
Absalon did the same thing- with difficulty- in winning the French Golden Bicycle.

World Golden Bike Winner: Tom Boonen (BEL) One won the Tour de France, the
other the final classification in the Pro Tour.  But neither Lance Armstrong nor Danilo Di
Luca were able to beat out Tom Boonen in the jury vote of journalists who were brought
together by Velo Magazine.  The American and the Italian- from two countries who have
taken the last seven titles- were in fact frankly outdistanced by the winner, who was listed
first on twelve out of the nineteen ballots by the writers.  The young rider from Quick Step
is the first Belgian winner since Johan Museeuw in 1996.  Angered by the press after his
seventh consecutive victory in the Grand Boucle (Tour de France), Armstrong finished
second for his final season, 19 points behind (84 for Boonen, 65 for the Texan).  On the
third step of the podium, Di Luca, first during the Tour du Pays Basque, in the Amstel
Gold Race and the Flèche Wallonne in 2005, had 35 points.  Another point of interest,
sad, but not a great surprise: no Frenchman was in the Top 5 in any of the different
classifications voted on by the journalists.  The names most often mentioned behind the
top three were those of the Kazakh Alexandre Vinokourov (winner of Liège-Bastogne-
Liège) and the Italians Ivan Basso (second in the Tour de France) and Alessandro
Petacchi (winner of Milan-San Remo and four stages in the Tour de France).  Finally, a
Norwegian journalist gave one small point to the Spaniard Roberto Heras.

French Golden Bike Award : Julien Absalon 
Laurent Jalabert still awaits a successor.  Honored in 2002, “Jaja” is the last French rider
to have placed in the classifications.  Before him, one has to go all the way back to 1997
and Laurent Brochard.  The French Golden Bike award was given to Julien Absalon for
the second consecutive year.  In 2004 his victory in the Olympic mountain bike
classification assured his substantial victory (102.5 points vs. 86.5 for Thomas Voekler).  
This was not the case this year, where David Moncoutie (stage winner of the Tour de
France on July 14) only followed him by six points (98 to 92, with 12 first place votes to
10).  Third on the World Road Race Championships, Anthony Geslin, was also mentioned
by a number of journalists, which was a surprise, although Julien Absalon thought he
would place higher.

World Golden Bike Winners
2005. Tom Boonen (BEL)
2004. Lance Armstrong (USA)
2003. Lance Armstrong (USA)
2002. Mario Cipollini (ITA)
2001. Lance Armstrong (USA)
2000. Lance Armstrong (USA)
1999. Lance Armstrong (USA)
1998. Marco Pantani (ITA)
1997. Jan Ullrich (ALL)
1996. Johan Museeuw (BEL)

French Golden Bike Winners
2005. Julien Absalon
2004. Julien Absalon
2003. Laurent Gané
2002. Laurent Jalabert
2001. Arnaud Tournant
2000. Felicia Ballanger
1999. Laurent Gané
1998. Florian Rousseau
1997. Laurent Brochard
1996. Florian Rousseau

Green Light for AG2R- 11/28/05

The French team AG2R has been admitted into the Pro Tour for a period of four years.  
The news was revealed by the sporting director Vincent Lavenu after the licensing
commission of this organization met on Monday in Bern and gave it’s green light to the
insurance company to replace the Italian squad Fassa Bortolo.

This admission now makes France the country with the most Pro Tour teams with five
among the elite group of 20.  With a budget of 7.3 million euros, AG2R has been in the
peleton since 2001, but it was based on the foundations of former teams Chazal and

“One of my good qualities is to never doubt.  My persistence has paid off.  Last year we
were not able to obtain the license, but we continued to build upon a strong structure.  
This is a great payback”, explained Vincent Lavenu.

The manager expressed his happiness without any spirit of vengeance, but rather
headlining the numerous trump cards of the team.  “One cannot underestimate the
sporting pluses we have without which we could not have been selected”, explained Yvon
Breton.  “But we should mention our investment in young riders, and above all, our fight
for ethics, which is valuable for the bike as well as in life.”
France Pro Cycling Trips | Normandy Bike Tour | Dordogne Bike Tour | Dordogne Culinary Tour | Rhone Valley Wine Tour | Alsace Hiking Tour |
Loire Bike Tour | Provence Bike Tour | New! Paris Sightseeing Tours