TEN Australians will line up on the start line for the 2015 Tour de France which commenced on July 4 with an opening stage individual time trial in Utrecht, Netherlands.
The 102nd edition of the Tour will run from Saturday July 4 to Sunday July 26 and will feature 21 stages and cover a total distance of 3,360 kilometres. Dual national road champion Simon Gerrans
(Orica-GreenEDGE) one of six Australians to wear the famous Maillot Jaune yellow leader’s jersey will start his tenth Tour. In addition, the Victorian is the only Australian to win an individual stage at all three Grand Tours.
Reigning Australian time trial champion Richie Porte (Team Sky) will have the green and gold on display in the opening time trial in his fifth Tour start. 2015 has been a successful one for the Tasmanian with nine wins including the overall at Paris-Nice, Volta Ciclista a Catalunya and Giro del Trentino.
For Adam Hansen (Lotto Soudal), the 2015 Tour de France will be number six. It also marks the twelfth consecutive Grand Tour Hansen has started, as the Queenslander looks to complete all three Grand Tours for a fourth year in a row. Michael Matthews (OricaGreenEDGE) is one of two riders who will make their Tour de France debut, taking Australia’s tally to 52 riders having competed across the 102 editions of the Tour. Canberra’s Matthews who was forced to withdraw on the eve of the 2014 Tour following a training crash has ridden four Grand Tours in his young career, claiming a stage win each as well wearing the leader’s jersey of the Giro d’Italia and the Vuelta a Espana.
2011 Herald Sun Tour winner Nathan Haas (Cannondale-Garmin) is also making his debut, with the Canberra-native having completed the Grand Tours of Italy and Spain. The experienced Michael Rogers (Tinkoff-Saxo), a three time world champion in the time trial, will start the race for the eleventh time. The Canberran returns after winning stage 16 last year, attacking the break in the closing stages to solo to victory. Former track specialists Rohan Dennis (BMC), Zakkari Dempster (Bora Argon 18) and Luke Durbridge (OricaGreenEDGE)each return to the tour for the second time in their careers. South Australia’s Dennis first raced in 2013 as a first year professional, with Victoria’s Dempster and West Australia’s Durbridge both making their Tour debut in 2014.
Mark Renshaw (EtixxQuickStep), another rider who got his start in a velodrome makes his seventh appearance at the Tour, with the Bathurst cyclist claiming five top five finishes last year including third on stage three.
For the past decade a group of cyclists in Melbourne known at the King’s Men, have hit the road twice a week. The finish line is a local coffee shop the prize, bragging rights.
The group’s founder, Stuart “The King” Verrier, said they are “very serious cyclists who don’t take cycling too seriously”.
The King’s Men was formed around ten years ago with six cyclists, but as the popularity of the sport has grown in Melbourne so has the group, with membership now capped at 60. Mr Verrier said the group competes in good humour, except during the Tour De France.
“When the tour does come on undoubtedly the little boys come out inside of us, I know when I’m riding along I hear Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen on my shoulder commentating, telling me to go that little bit harder,” he said.