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The Tour de France starts today, but will it prove to be a battle of champions?

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At the time of writing, if all things remain the same, today will see the start of the 107th Tour de France in Nice.

The recent Critérium du Dauphiné stage race pointed as an indicator of form for riders who wanted to take on the challenge of the Tour.

This year was exceptional and riders who had fitness, but were lacking form from months of racing gave a display unlike the war of attrition we normally see in the professional peloton.

Team Ineos, on paper, were the team to beat and were in the unique position of fielding three previous Tour de France Champions in their squad.

On the road the story was different and by the final stage they had lost Egan Bernal to pain from a previous back injury and Chris Froome and Geraint Thomas were so far off the mark that the team has now left the two former champions out of their final Tour selection.

The absence of Froome and Thomas will have a significant impact on whether the 23-year old Bernal can step up to the mark and defend his 2019 title.

On one hand, the wealth of experience of Froome’s four previous Tour wins and Thomas’s one, and the strength in depth they would have offered the team will be missed.

On the other, the pressure of having three potential candidates for the top step of the podium could well have caused friction and added pressure within the team. Froome certainly would have loved to have added a fifth Tour win to his palmarès in 2020.

Road Racing has always had a strange dynamic within teams, where the team works together for the glory of one identified individual in that team.

Often when the chinks in a team leader’s armour start to show there will be team mates keen to step up to the mark, although publicly they will tell us they are still working for the greater good of the team.

This was never more apparent in the battle between the Frenchman and 1985 Tour Champion Bernard Hinault and his young American cadet and team mate at La Vie Claire team, Greg LeMond who finished that year second overall. Hinault’s victory was due in large part to his super-domestique Lemond who paved smooth tarmac to that fifth Tour de France win for Hinault.

The 1986 Tour would be Hinault’s last and he publicly proclaimed in return for LeMond’s loyalty and support the previous year he would support the American in his quest for his first victory.

However, Hinault was famed for his ferocity and tenacity, and he was not the kind of person who was going to let a historic sixth Tour victory disappear from his grasp.

At the 1986 Tour de France there was clear tension between the La Vie Claire duo of LeMond and Hinault. The contradictions between their words and their actions on the road blew any kind of teamwork off the mountainside.


On stage 17 LeMond took control of the Yellow Jersey, but stage 18 was to be a battlefield that would go down in cycling history.

Ahead of the peloton that day lay 162km and 5 Cols, including the Galibier and a summit finish on Alpe d’Huez. Hinault was in third place overall and from the start he launched attacks, but LeMond was able to respond to each one.

Scot Tares.

By the time they reached the Alpe, 300,000 fans lined the 21 hairpin bends to the summit. The partisan crowd chanted Hinault’s name, and LeMond later admitted he was fearful of an “incident” that might prevent him from finishing.

They both crossed the line safely hand-in-hand, but with LeMond gifting Hinault the stage and the American securing the race lead, although Hinault rather ominously declared that “the race wasn’t over yet”.

It was and Hinault finished that race in second place overall and wearing the polka-dot jersey of the King of the Mountains. LeMond of course won the first of his three Tour de France victories.

Where to ride: The Formartine and Buchan Way

Details: This long distance route is a shared walking and cycle path suitable for riders of all abilities. It starts at Dyce railway Station and travels 40 miles to Fraserburgh with an option of a13 mile spoke from Maud to Peterhead.