Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Tour de France
- This article is about the cycle race. See Tour de France (disambiguation) for other meanings.
|Tour de France|
|Local name:||Tour de France|
|Region:||France and adjacent countries|
|Type:||Stage Race (Grand Tour)|
|Number of Editions:||91 (2004)|
|First Winner:||Maurice Garin, (France)|
|Most Wins:||Lance Armstrong, (United States), 6 times|
|Latest Winner:||Lance Armstrong, (United States), 2004|
|Most Yellow Jerseys:||Eddy Merckx|
The (Le) Tour de France (French for Tour of France), also simply known as Le Tour, is an epic long distance cycling competition for professionals held over three weeks in July in and around France. It has been held annually since 1903, only interrupted by World War I and World War II, and is now one of the world's largest sporting events.
History and general description
The race was founded as a publicity event for the newspaper L'Auto (ancestor of the present l'Équipe) by its editor, Henri Desgrange, to rival the Paris-Brest et retour (now known as Paris-Brest-Paris, or PBP) ride sponsored by Le Petit Journal and Bordeaux-Paris sponsored by Le Vélo. The tour is a "stage race", divided into a number of stages, each stage being a race held over one day. Although the number of stages has varied in the past, recently the tour has consisted of around 20 stages, with a total length of between 3,000 and 4,000 km.
Most stages take place in France though it is very common to have a few stages in nearby countries, such as Italy, Spain, Switzerland, Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany, but also non-neighbouring countries such as the Republic of Ireland, United Kingdom and the Netherlands. The three weeks usually includes two rest days, which are sometimes used to transport the riders long distances between stages.
In recent years, the first stage is preceded by a short individual time trial (1 to 15 km), called the prologue. The traditional finish is in Paris on the Champs-Élysées. In between, various stages occur, including a number of mountain stages, individual time trials and a team time trial. The remaining stages are held over relatively flat terrain. With the variety of stages, sprinters may win stages, but the overall winner is almost always a master of the mountain stages and time trials.
The itinerary of the race changes each year; however, some of the visited places, especially mountains and passes, recur almost annually and are famous on their own. The most famous mountains are those in the hors-categorie (peaks where the difficulty in climbing is beyond categorization), including the Col du Tourmalet, Mont Ventoux, Col du Galibier, the Hautacam and Alpe d'Huez. Although the tour is often won in the mountain stages, the length and variety of terrain ensures that only an all-round rider could possibly win the race.
Other major stage races include the Giro d'Italia (Tour of Italy) and the Vuelta a España (Tour of Spain). The Giro d'Italia, Tour de France and World Cycling Championship comprise the Triple Crown of Cycling.
There are several prizes to be had, and generally a coloured jersey is associated with each prize. The current holder of the prize is entitled to wear the jersey when they are racing. If a single rider is entitled to wear more than one jersey (for example, both overall leader and king of the mountains), he wears the most prestigious one with the second place holder in the category wearing the other.
The maillot jaune (yellow jersey), worn by the overall time leader, is most prized. It is awarded by calculating the total combined race time up to that point for each rider. The rider with the lowest total time is considered the leader, and at the end of the event is declared the overall winner of the Tour. The colour was originally a reference to the newspaper which sponsored the race, which had yellow pages.
The maillot vert (green jersey) is awarded for sprint points. At the end of each stage, points for this jersey are gained by the riders who finish first, second, etc. The number of points and the number of cyclists rewarded depends on the type of stage - many for a flat stage, slightly fewer for an intermediate stage, fewer still for a mountainous stage, and the least for time trials. There are also a few points for the riders who are first at some intermediate points, usually about 2 to 3 per stage. At those intermediate points (as well as at the finish) there are also bonus seconds for the yellow jersey, but those are so few that they rarely if ever have an influence on the final standings. They do however play a role in the first week, before the mountain stages, as the overall standings are usually less well separated. The German rider Erik Zabel has won the most green jerseys with six consecutive wins from 1996 through 2001. See also: Cycling sprinter
The "King of the Mountains" wears a white jersey with red dots (maillot à pois rouge), referred to as the "polka dot jersey". At the top of each climb in the Tour, there are points for the riders who are first over the top. The climbs are divided into categories from 1 (most difficult) to 4 (least difficult) based on their difficulty, measured as a function of their steepness and length. A fifth category, called Hors categorie (outside category) is formed by mountains even more difficult than those of the first category. In 2004, the scoring system was changed such that the first rider over a fourth category climb was awarded 3 points while the first to complete a hors category climb would win 20 points. Further points over a fourth category climb are only for the top three places while on a hors category climb the top ten riders are rewarded. Additionally beginning in 2004, points scored on the final climb of the day were doubled if said climb was at least a second category climb. Although the best climber was first recognised in 1933, the distinctive jersey was not introduced until 1975. The colours were decided by the then sponsor, Poulain Chocolate, to match a popular product. Two riders have won the "King of the Mountains" six times: Federico Bahamontes (Spain) in 1954, 1958, 1959, 1962, 1963, 1964; and Lucien Van Impe (Belgium) in 1971, 1972, 1975, 1977, 1981, 1983; while Richard Virenque (France) won his record-breaking seventh title in 2004 (1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1999, 2003, 2004). See also: Climbing specialist (cycling)
Two lesser classifications are that for the white jersey, which is like the yellow jersey, but only open for young riders (those who are less than 25 years old on January 1 of the year the Tour is ridden), and that for the red number, which goes to the most combative rider. Each day, a group of judges awards points to riders who made particularly attacking moves that day. The rider with most points in total gets a white-on-red (instead of a black-on-white) identification number. Since 2004 the number is not white-on-red anymore but white-on-blue.
Finally, there is a team classification. For this classification, the time of the first three riders from each team is added after each stage. The Tour currently has 21 teams of 9 riders each (when starting), each sponsored by one or more companies - although at some stages of its history, the teams have been divided instead by nationality. The team classification is not associated with a particular jersey design.
Historically, there was a red jersey for the standings in non-stage-finish sprints: points were awarded to the first three riders to pass two or three intermediate points during the stage. These sprints also scored points towards the green jersey and bonus seconds towards the overall classification, as well as cash prizes offered by the residents of the area where the sprint took place. The sprints remain, with all these additional effects, the most significant now being the points for the green jersey. The red jersey was abolished in approximately 1990.
There also used to be a combination jersey, scored on a points system based on standings for the yellow, green, red, and polka-dot jerseys. The jersey design was a patchwork, with areas resembling each individual jersey design. This was abolished in the same year as the red jersey.
The rider leading a classification at the end of a stage is entitled to wear the corresponding jersey during the next stage. Jerseys are awarded in a ceremony immediately following the stage, actually before trailing riders have finished the stage.
Where a single rider leads in the competition for more than one jersey, they wear the most prestigious jersey to which they are entitled, and the second-placed rider in each of the other classifications becomes entitled to wear the corresponding jersey. For example, in the first week it is common for the overall classification (yellow jersey) and points (sprint) competition (green jersey) to be led by the same rider. In this case the leading rider will wear the yellow jersey and the rider placed second in the points competition will wear the green jersey.
A rider who leads a classification for a stage of the Tour gets three copies of the coloured jersey. The jersey bears their team logo, and the copy that they are awarded immediately after the stage end must have the logo attached in a matter of minutes, so this is done by a rapid process that can be done in the field but which yields an inferior jersey. Overnight, a high-quality jersey is printed to be worn the next day. They also get a high-quality jersey to keep as a souvenir: the ones that are worn get dirty and are sometimes damaged by the day's cycling.
Where a rider takes over the overall lead during a stage, by getting sufficiently far ahead of the yellow jersey wearer such that they would win the yellow jersey if the stage were to end immediately, they may be referred to as being "the yellow jersey on the road". No jerseys are exchanged due to this.
Usage outside the Tour
The Tour's jersey colours have been adopted by other cycling stage races, and have thus come to have meaning within cycling generally, rather than solely in the context of the Tour. For example, the Tour of Britain has yellow, green, and polka-dot jerseys with the same meaning as in the Tour de France. The Giro d'Italia notably differs in awarding the overall leader a pink jersey, having been organized and sponsored by Gazzetta dello Sport , an Italian sports daily newspaper with pink pages.
Types of stage
In an ordinary stage, all riders start simultaneously and share the road. Riders are permitted to touch and to shelter behind each other. Riding in each others' slipstreams is crucial to race tactics: a lone rider has little chance of outracing a small group of riders who can take turns in the strenuous position at the front of the group. The majority of riders form a single large group, the "peloton", with attacking groups ahead of it and the occasional struggling rider dropping behind. In mountainous stages the peloton is likely to become fragmented, but in flat stages a split is rare.
Where a group of riders reach the finish line together, they do not race each other for a few seconds of improvement to their finishing time. There is a rule that if one rider finishes less than one second behind another then he is credited with the same finishing time as the first. This operates transitively, so when the peloton finishes together every rider in it gets the time of the rider at the front of the peloton, even though the peloton takes tens of seconds, and possibly even a couple of minutes, to cross the finish line. There are sprints at the finish line, but they are for the honour of the stage win, for time bonuses and for points for the green jersey, not for overall time. After the first twenty finishers, when there are no more sprint points available, no one competes to cross the line earlier. This avoids what would otherwise be hideously dangerous mass sprints. Time bonuses are awarded at some intermediate sprints and stage finishes, but only to the first three riders who reach the specified point. These bonuses generally are a maximum of 20 seconds.
Riders who crash within the last kilometre of the stage are credited with the finishing time of the group that they were with when they crashed, if that is better than the time in which they actually finish. This avoids sprinters being penalised for accidents that don't accurately reflect their performance on the stage as a whole given that crashes in the final kilometre can be huge pileups that are hard to avoid for a rider farther back in the peloton. A crashed sprinter inside the final kilometre won't win the sprint, but avoids being penalised in the overall classification. The final kilometre is indicated in the race course by a red triangular pennant - known as the flamme rouge - raised above the road1.
Ordinary stages can be further classified as "sprinters' stages" or "climbers' stages". The former tend to be raced on relatively flat terrain, which makes it difficult for small groups or individual cyclists to break away from the peloton -- there are no big hills to slow it down. So more often than not, the entire peloton approaches the finish line en masse. Some teams are organized around a single specialized sprinter (Mario Cipollini, Alessandro Petacchi, Erik Zabel, and Robbie McEwen are currently among the most respected), and in the final kilometers of a sprint stage, these teams jockey for position at the front of the peloton. In the final few hundred meters, a succession of riders "lead out" their sprinter, riding very hard while he stays in their slipstream. Just before the line -- 200 meters away is about the maximum -- the sprinter launches himself around his final lead-out man in an all-out effort for the line. Top speeds can be in excess of 72 km/h (about 45 mph). Sprint stages rarely result in big time differences between riders (see above), so contenders for the General Classification (overall victory; riders like Armstrong, Indurain, etc.) tend to stay near the back of the peloton, away from the crashes that frequently occur when the sprinters jostle for position.
Mountain stages, on the other hand, often do cause big "splits" in the finishing times, especially when the stage actually ends at the top of a mountain. (If the stage ends at the bottom of a mountain that has just been climbed, riders have the chance to descend aggressively and catch up to anyone who may have beaten them to the summit.) For this reason, the mountain stages are considered the deciding factor in most Tours, and are often attended by hundreds of thousands of spectators.
Mountains cause big splits in finishing times due to the simple laws of physics. Lighter riders generate more power per kilogram than heavier riders; thus, the sprinters and the roleurs (all-around good cyclists), who tend to be a bit bigger, suffer on the climbs and lose lots of time -- 40 minutes over a long stage is not unheard-of. Generally, these riders form a group known as the "bus" or "autobus" and ride at a steady pace to the finish. Their only goal is to cross the line within a certain limit -- usually the stage winner's time plus 15% -- or else they'll be disqualified from the race (at the discretion of the officials; on rare occasions a lead breakaway becomes so large that the entire peloton falls that far back and would normally be allowed to remain in the tour to avoid having only a small field still in competition).
Meanwhile, the lighter climbers hurl themselves up the slopes at a much higher speed. Usually, the General Classification riders (Armstrong and Ullrich have been the main ones since 1997) try to stay near the front group, and they also try to keep a few teammates with them. These teammates are there to drive the pace -- and hopefully "drop" the opposition riders -- and to provide moral support to their leader. Typically, the leader will attack very hard when there are only a few kilometers to go, trying to put time into his main rivals. Gaps of two and even three minutes can be created over just a few kilometers by hard attacks. (Note that in the Tour, most mountain stages include at least three, and sometimes as many as six or seven, major climbs. Total distance climbed -- the vertical gain, not the length of road that went uphill -- can approach 4 kilometers, or 2.5 miles.)
Lastly, a handful of stages each year are known as being "good for a breakaway" -- when one or a few riders attacks the peloton and beats it to the finish line. Typically these stages are somewhere between flat and mountainous -- rolling hills are ideal -- though Tyler Hamilton succeeded in breaking away over some large mountains in the 2003 Tour, in one of the greatest individual performances of all time. Breakaway stages are where the roleurs, the hard-working, all-around riders who make up the majority of most teams, get their chance to grab a moment in the spotlight. (The climbers will want to save their energy for the mountains, and the sprinters aren't built for hills.)
Individual time trial
In an individual time trial each rider rides individually. Normally, riders leave in reverse order of their standing in the general classification, in between intervals of one or two minutes, although longer intervals often occur on longer trials. The highest-placed riders, starting last, may start at intervals of three minutes or more, and these are merely guidelines which are adjusted as seen appropriate.
The first stage of the tour is often a time trial, known as a prologue which determines who will wear the yellow jersey for the first stage and serves to avoid all the riders being bunched together in the overall classification. (For the first week, most riders will be recording the same stage times, due to the bunch rule discussed above.). This initial time trial is normally about 7km long, sometimes in a foreign country such as Belgium or Ireland. Here, riders start in reverse order of race number, meaning the weakest rider on the lowest ranked team will be first off, with the final rider being the defending champion, wearing Number 1. The purpose of the prologue is to decide who gets to wear yellow on the opening day, and provide a large and prestigious spectacle for one lucky city.
Because the time trial is a test of individual skill, riders are not supposed to interact during the stage. If a rider catches up with one in front, which does happen despite the staggered starts, they are forbidden to ride as a group. They must avoid each other's slipstreams, hence their starting at different times.
There are usually three or four individual time trials during the Tour. One of these may be a team time trial, where each team rides as a unit and all riders are allocated the time of the fifth rider across the line. This prevents a team leader who is far stronger than his teammates from riding by himself and setting a pace that would give his weaker teammates an unfair boost in the general classification. Traditionally, each team receives the exact time it records in that stage. However, in the 2004 Tour, the only team that received its actual time was the winning team; the trailing teams received set time penalties based on their placings in that stage. This was widely viewed as an attempt by the Tour organizers to prevent Armstrong's team from gaining too much time.
Traditionally the final time trial has been the penultimate stage, and effectively determines the winner before the final ordinary stage which is not ridden competitively. On a few occasions, the race organisers made the final stage into Paris a time trial. The most recent occasion on which this was done, in 1989, yielded the closest ever finish in Tour history, when Greg LeMond beat Laurent Fignon by eight seconds overall. Fignon wore the yellow jersey for the final stage, with a narrow lead of 50 seconds, and was beaten by LeMond's superior time trial performance.
See also: Time trialist
Team time trial
Often in the first week of the Tour there is a team time trial. This resembles an individual time trial, but with entire teams competing together. The team rides as a group, rotating their riding order, but must not interact with another team. Each member of the team is credited with the time of the fifth team member to cross the finish line; this is the middle member of a nine-person team. However, if a rider is dropped from the team's main group on the parcourse, finishing separately in sixth position or later, then the dropped rider will get his actual time, not that of the fifth rider. This means there are often difficult decisions to make regarding hanging back for a team leader, and chaos can often ensue if ground rules have not been made by the team's manager. In 2004, the Tour de France adopted the rule that the amount of time lost in a team time trial would be limited. This meant that a team that fininshed 6 minutes behind the winner might lose only 3 minutes in the classification. This modifcation was made to "level the playing field" due to domincance by some teams like US Postal and Telekom.
The final stage now always finishes at the Champs-Elysées, which, being cobbled, is an unpleasant surface to cycle on. This stage is not usually competitive, the leader having a sufficiently large margin to be unchallengeable. There have been exceptions, however. In 1987, with Stephen Roche leading Pedro Delgado by only 40 seconds after the final time trial, Delgado broke away from the peloton on the Champs-Elysées, threatening to snatch victory at the last minute. (In fact he was caught, he and Roche both finished in the peloton, and Roche thereby won the Tour.)
In recent years, with closer finishes, the Tour organisers have experimented with holding the final time trial as the final, rather than as the penultimate, stage. Most famously, the final stage of the 1989 Tour saw Greg LeMond overtake Laurent Fignon's overall lead by just 8 seconds, the closest winning margin in the Tour's history. It is likely that this arrangement will be repeated in future.
The particularly tough climb of Alpe d'Huez is a favourite, providing a stage finish in most Tours. In 2004, in another experiment, the mountain time trial ended at Alpe d'Huez. This seems less likely to be repeated, following complaints from the riders. Another famous mountain stage is the climb of the Mont Ventoux, often claimed to be the hardest climb in the Tour due to the harsh conditions there. The tour usually features only one of these two climbs in a year.
To host a stage start or finish brings prestige, and a lot of business, to a town. Whereas formerly each stage would start at the preceding stage's finish line, making a continuous course for the race, nowadays each stage starts some distance from the previous day's finish, to allow more towns to share in the glory. Sometimes the Tour will jump very long distances between stages, requiring a rest day to allow riders to be transported.
The prologue and first stage of the Tour are particularly prestigious to host. Usually one town will host the prologue (which is too short to go between towns) and also the start of stage 1. The Tour alternates between starting inside and outside France; frequently the first couple of stages are in a neighbouring country.
Terms used in the Tour de France include:
- attack - an attempt by one or more riders to quickly pull ahead
- breakaway - a group of riders who have escaped the peloton
- cadence - the rate at which a cyclist pedals (in revolutions per minute)
- caravan - the team cars following behind the peloton in support of their racers
- domestique - a rider whose primary role is to support the team leader, as opposed to winning individual honors
- drop - to leave a rider behind
- etape - a race stage
- hors categorie - a climb that is "beyond categorization"
- lanterne rouge - meaning "red lantern", the name for the overall last-place rider
- maillot jaune - the yellow jersey, worn by the overall first-place rider
- parcourse - the race route
- patron - the winner of the race from the year before
- peloton - the large main group of riders
- régional de l'etape - a cyclist who lives in the area of the day's stage
List of overall winners
Note: Hyperlinked tour numbers point to more information on that particular tour. For previous tours this includes detailed results. For the upcoming tour, a route description is given.
|91||2004||Lance Armstrong||United States|
|90||2003||Lance Armstrong||United States|
|89||2002||Lance Armstrong||United States|
|88||2001||Lance Armstrong||United States|
|87||2000||Lance Armstrong||United States|
|86||1999||Lance Armstrong||United States|
|77||1990||Greg LeMond||United States|
|76||1989||Greg LeMond||United States|
|74||1987||Stephen Roche||Republic of Ireland|
|73||1986||Greg LeMond||United States|
|63||1976||Lucien Van Impe||Belgium|
|23||1929||Maurice De Waele||Belgium|
Lance Armstrong (United States) holds the record as the only rider to have won the Tour six times (consecutively 1999-2004). Four other riders have managed to win the Tour five times:
- Jacques Anquetil (France) in 1957, 1961, 1962, 1963 and 1964;
- Eddy Merckx (Belgium) in 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972 and 1974;
- Bernard Hinault (France) in 1978, 1979, 1981, 1982 and 1985;
- Miguel Induráin (Spain) in 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994 and 1995 (the first to do so in five consecutive years).
In terms of nationality, riders from France have won most Tours (36), followed by Belgium (18), Italy and the United States (9 each), Spain (8), Luxembourg (4), Switzerland and the Netherlands (2 each) and Ireland, Denmark and Germany (1 each).
- 1995, July 18, 15th stage: Italian racer Fabio Casartelli crashed at approximately 88km/h during descent of the Col de Portet d'Aspet. Casartelli, who was not wearing a helmet, received massive trauma to the top of his head from a concrete block and died on the scene.
- 1967: English rider Tom Simpson dies of heart failure on the ascent of Mont Ventoux. Amphetamines are found in Simpson's jersey and bloodstream. This death prompted tour officials to begin a program of drug testing.
- 1935: Spaniard Francesco Cepeda dies after plunging down a ravine on the Col du Galibier.
Offsite tour deaths link -- http://www.torelli.com/kom/casartelli.htm
Early tour riders have been said to have consumed alcohol and used ether among other substances as a means of dulling the agonizing pain of competing in endurance cycling. As time went by, riders began using substances as a means of increasing performance rather than dulling the senses, and organizing bodies such as the Tour and the International Cycling Union (UCI), as well as government bodies, enacted policies to combat this practice.
The 1998 Tour de France was perhaps the most scandal-ridden Tour in recent memory. On July 8, 1998, a major scandal erupted when French Customs arrested Willy Voet, the health assistant of the Festina cycling team, whose lead competitor was Richard Virenque, for the possession of illegal quantities of prescription drugs and narcotics, including erythropoietin (EPO), growth hormones, testosterone and amphetamines. He later revealed many common practices of the cycling world in his book, Massacre à la Chaîne.
The UCI decided to act in order to "clean up" the image of cycling. On July 23, 1998, French police forces acting on search warrants raided several teams in their hotels and found significant quantities of doping products in the hotel and cars of the TVM team. In response the riders started a "sit-down strike" and refused to ride, thereby putting millions of dollars of endorsements and advertizing revenue in jeopardy. The Spanish teams quit the Tour in a show of solidarity led by the ONCE team. In the end the "Tour of Shame" continued after the UCI backed down and promised to limit the heavy-handed actions, although several teams were forced to withdraw from the race.
Richard Virenque denied doping himself and said that if he had been doped, it was not willfully, a stance which led him to be ridiculed. In 2000, he and the management of the Festina team were tried. During the trial, he confessed to doping himself. While Virenque was not sentenced (but had penalties imposed on him by sports authority), the management of Festina, the aides, and some pharmacists were found guilty and handed down fines and suspended jail sentences.
Just before the 2003 tour, Jesus Manzano, a Spanish rider, told a Madrid sports newspaper that he had been forced by his team, Kelme, to take banned substances during 2002's Centennial Tour in Spain. He also went into considerable technical detail about how riders avoid detection. His "reward" was to be banned from the 2004 Tour.
In 2004 time trial World Champion David Millar was banned from the Tour because he was taken in for questioning by French police following up their discovery of banned drugs at the offices of Cofidis, his team. Millar is one of eight Cofidis members currently under investigation, implicated by the testimony of fellow rider Philippe Gaumont, who has told investigators and the press that doping with steroids, human growth hormones, EPO, and amphetamines is systematic on his team. Millar later admitted to doping, and has since offered his help in identifying the ways riders avoid testing positive in drug tests.
A continued controversy also surrounds Lance Armstrong. In 2002 Filippo Simeoni told investigators about Dr. Michele Ferrari, a now-notorious sports physician who was being tried in the Italian province of Bologna for sporting fraud. Simeoni stated that Ferrari had developed a program for EPO use that would remain undetected. Armstrong had admitted to using Ferrari's services just before Simeoni's disclosure, leading to questions about Armstrong using EPO, although Simeoni said nothing of the sort. In response Armstrong stated that Simeoni was a complusive liar , eventually leading to Simeoni suing him for defamation. On the 18th stage of the 2004 Tour, Armstrong broke free of the peloton and chased down a "break" that Simeoni was part of, agreeing to return to the pack only if Simeoni did as well. Simeoni agreed, and after the peloton caught up, Armstrong made "zipping the lips" gestures that many have interpreted as a threat to Simeoni to "shut up". Simeoni appears to be being ostracized by the riders on the tour, and it is unlikely he will ride professionally again.
Note that during his entire post-cancer career, Armstrong has been subject to blood testing after nearly every stage he has raced in the Tour, according to his autobiography, It's Not About the Bike. He once tested positive for minute traces of a banned substance, however it was explained that he had a medical prescription for saddle sore relief cream which had introduced those substances into his body chemistry, and he had cleared his use of the cream in advance with UCI and Tour organizers.
Professional cycling in general has a reputation for being one of the most doped sports. In particular there is continued controversy over the use of EPO, a "blood booster" that offers increased cardiovascular endurance. Some claim that EPO use is almost universal. The UCI has done little to address these problems, taking a sort of "don't ask, don't tell" attitude, and running only a small and semi-voluntary drug testing program that is considered trivial to beat. The UCI appears to be too afraid to lose popular Tour riders, and would rather operate under continued controversy than lower participation. This fear is surfacing in other sports, as Major League Baseball and track and field have been dogged by steroid controversies as well in recent years.
In 2004 the UCI introduced a somewhat more rigorous testing program, taking urine samples a few times during the race. However the samples were not tested for EPO, as the test was not ready for use and wouldn't be until after the race completed. Although they intend to test the samples once the new test is ready, it is not clear what actions will be taken if the tests come back positive.
Note 1: The red pennant may not always be exactly one kilometre from the finish; it is roughly 1000 metres from the finish, sometimes before where a crash may be likely, and/or where the erection of a large, tent-like inflatable arch is easiest.
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