The Most Dramatic Stages in the History of the Tour de France
Rarely does the Tour de France pass without raising several talking points as well as throwing up numerous dramatic and controversial moments. Each stage tends to produce a fascinating story, with the 2017 staging no exception. Two-time champion Peter Sagan managed to clinch stage three despite his right shoe unclipping when positioned prominently. Luckily, the Slovak managed to quickly rectify the issue and regain his composure to take the stage narrowly ahead of Richie Porte. Moments like this add to the excitement and unpredictability of the annual event and there have been several dramatic moments throughout the history of the race.
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Stage 17 of the 1992 tour was particularly farcical, with team directors Peter Post and Jan Raas at loggerheads. The pair’s relationship had significantly soured since they went their separate ways nine years prior. Their respective riders were each given instructions to slow down the pace towards the end of the 189km stretch with the intention to hinder their rivals’ chance of success. As a result, neither Frans Maassen nor Marc Sargeant were able to regain sufficient pace to get past eventual winner Jean-Claude Colotti, who grabbed his first major win as a result of the confusing game-play. The baffling tactics were witnessed by cycling fans who were left baffled by the decision, whilst the authorities later warned both Post and Raas about bringing the sport into disrepute.
Stage five of the 2011 Tour de France was won by Mark Cavendish, who took advantage of a frantic finish to clinch his record-equalling 16th victory ahead of Phillipe Gilbert and Jose Joaquin Rojas. Team Sky’s Geraint Thomas, who is likely to feature prominently in the online betting for the 2018 event, finished in fifth. This particular stage was littered with crashes and retirements, including Janez Brajkovic, who slipped on a white line on the roadside and was unable to continue. Alberto Contador and Bradley Wiggins were also thrown from their bikes but luckily were both able to finish the stage. Nikki Sorensen’s handlebars became entangled in a photographer’s motorbike as yet more drama enveloped this dramatic stage.
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In 1989, the Tour de France saw an epic battle between Greg LeMond and Laurent Fignon. There were just eight seconds between the pair at the end of an absorbing event, with LeMond making up enough time on his rival despite trailing by 50 seconds going into the final stage. Fignon, who was feeling under the weather during the last few days, believed he’d done enough to fend off LeMond and duly collapsed shortly after the race concluded. Somehow, the American had made up a remarkable 58 seconds during the last 24.5km and snatched it from his rival. It remains the closest-ever finish on the tour.
The early stages of the 1994 tour saw the inexperienced Chris Boardman go head to head with Spaniard Miguel Indurain. The Brit powered his way around the prologue course in blistering fashion, clocking up a record-breaking speed of 55.152 kph. It was a dream debut for Boardman, with onlookers aghast at the speed displayed by the newcomer, who left the seasoned Indurain 15 seconds behind. He was handed his first ever maillot jeune and although he was unable to maintain those speed figures throughout the remainder of the tour, he will always be remembered for the impact he made in the prologue.