Paris, 2 August 1998. Marco Pantani won the Tour de France that was notorious for the doping activities that went on there. Only 96 of the 189 riders actually reached Paris. Some of them took action themselves in protest against the French judiciary, others were ousted or arrested by the police for doping. The fuss surrounding the doping scandal overshadowed the victory of the unfortunate Pantani. In the 15th stage El Elefantino rode nine minutes ahead of the yellow jersey winner Jan Ullrich. First on the Galibier and then on the final climb of Les Deux Alpes he beat all-comers, while Ullrich suffered a defeat. The stage victory and the yellow jersey were Pantani's for the taking that day. The overall win was claimed by Pantani, who was later caught doping himself.
Marc Wauters came top in the general classification for one day during the 2001 Tour. In the second stage from Calais to Antwerp the Belgian rider brought a 16-strong breakaway to the right destination. Passing under the red rag, Wauters and Prétot broke away from the leading group. During the two-man sprint the Belgian was the first to get his wheel over the line. Thanks to a fine prologue the day before, the Soldier was also able to claim the yellow jersey. Even better, the Tour de France was scheduled to pass through Lummen for the first time a day later. This was the Belgian-Limburg village where Wauters came from. The peloton allowed him to ride in front for a while. Just a few metres from his own home, the real trooper was able to enjoy the most memorable day of his career, with plenty of encouragement from the spectators.
Morzine, July 12, 2003. In the wake of the Festina affair and the doping episode, Richard Virenque succeeded in becoming France's 'golden boy' one more. The peloton rejected him until he redeemed himself in 2003. During the seventh and longest stage of the Tour de France, the local rider struck hard. With a lead of more than two minutes over the second, he crossed the finishing line for the first stage in the Alps alone. The small group of favourites finished at four minutes. In 2003, La Grande Boucle ("The Big Loop", the French nickname for the Tour de France) celebrated its 100th anniversary. By taking the yellow jersey, Virenque transformed the event into a celebration for the French. He was wearing the yellow jersey for the second time in his career, after first donning back in 1992. The next day, however, he lost it in the stage towards Alpe d'Huez, to Lance Armstrong, who was cycling towards his fifth Tour de France triumph.
Paris, 23 July 2006. In the 2006 Tour de France, Floyd Landis cycled from a hopeless position to a final victory. Even if only for a short time, because two days after Paris he apparently tested positive in a doping test on 20 July in Morzine. That was the day of his famous monster breakaway. After having suffered a problem the day before in the stage leading to La Toussuire, the American went on the attack with a 128 kilometre ascent still ahead of him. Landis thus heroically narrowed his gap with the leader Oscar Pereiro to less than one minute. Landis clinched the yellow jersey during the time trial on the penultimate day but this success was short-lived, as Floyd Landis has entered the history books as the first Tour de France winner to lose his triumph because of doping.
Valkenburg, 5 July 2006. We are in the third stage of the Tour de France and Tom Boonen has not yet won a single one. In 2006 the Belgian was almost unbeatable in bunch sprints but not during the Tour de France. Robbie McEwen and Oscar Freire did not concede any stage wins to the Belgian. However, thanks to a reasonable prologue and close places of honour, Boonen, then world champion, managed to take the yellow jersey. For four days, he defended his jersey superbly. Until the time trial in Rennes threw a spanner in the works. Boonen ended up leaving the Tour de France early on. The stage towards Alpe d'Huez was too much for him. The Belgian cyclist suffered from respiratory and intestinal problems and was forced to drop out.
Carlos Sastre belonged to a formidable generation of major Spanish Tour racers and is one of the few who was never caught using banned substances. The Madrid inhabitant distinguished himself for the first time in the 2003 Tour de France by winning a tough Pyrenean stage. Sastre had to lead his leader, Ivan Basso, to the final victory during the 2006 Grande Boucle, but the day before the start, Basso was banished from the Tour de France because of drug-taking. Sastre quickly took over the role of the leader. He almost claimed the yellow jersey, finishing fourth in the final classification. The born climber led the CSC team once again in 2008. During the 17th stage at the foot of Alpe d'Huez, he felt that his time has come. He attacked and outstripped the favourites by two minutes. He won the stage and took the yellow jersey. This was his first and only Tour de France triumph.
Spa, 5 July 2010. The signal for the start of the second stage was given in Brussels. Sylvain Chavanel and seven other riders made a run for it early on. The Frenchman collided with a support vehicle during Liège-Bastogne-Liège in April and suffered a fracture at the base of his skull. A good two months later, a stage in the same region was the signal for him to prove himself again. Chavanel was the last to survive the early breakaway and to do a double at Spa. He won both the stage victory as well as the yellow and green jerseys. In the seventh stage, Chavanel wrought havoc once more, scoring another double. The Frenchman won a momentous stage victory and once again claimed the yellow jersey. But managed to keep it for just one day. Chavanel climbed onto the podium in 2010 in Paris to take the most combative rider prize.
Alberto Contador was considered to be one of the most excellent peloton riders. The yellow jersey and final victory fell into the Spaniard's lap after the leader, Michael Rasmussen, was ousted from the Tour de France. However, out of respect for Rasmussen, Contador refused to wear the yellow jersey at the start of the 18th stage, even though the Spaniard had yet to don the leader's jersey. When Contador returned to France two years later, the Spaniard came under heavy pressure from teammate Lance Armstrong, who was making his comeback in 2009. During the first mountain stage, the Spaniard managed to outdistance Armstrong. In the following mountain stages, El Pistolero consolidated his lead and captured the yellow jersey in the 15th stage, but did not throw in the towel after that. Contador won his second Tour de France victory, while Armstrong finished third.
Alpe d'Huez, 22 July 2011. While the stages in the Pyrenees did not produce anything spectacular, Andy Schleck attacked from afar in the alpine stage towards the Col du Galibier. The masterstroke of the younger Schleck began at the Col d'Izoard. The peloton failed to react. The Luxembourg rider achieved a maximum lead of four minutes. Finally, Cadel Evans saw the danger of this breakaway and narrowed the gap. At the end of the following day, the yellow jersey was hanging around Schleck's shoulders. The young Luxembourger claimed the jersey in Alpe d'Huez, at the very same spot where his older brother, Fränk, had lost it in 2008. However, he did not manage to get farther ahead of Evans, who followed him 57 seconds behind in the general classification. In the final time trial, the inevitable occurred: Schleck lost first place to time trial specialist Cadel Evans.
Mont des Alouettes, 2 July 2011. For the first time in years, the Tour de France did not start with a prologue, but with a finish on the Mont des Alouettes, a merciless climb. Top favourite Philippe Gilbert was set to enjoy a prosperous year in 2011 and also live up to his role as favourite in the Tour de France. In an impressive final sprint he managed to leave Fabian Cancellara behind. This triumph also earned him the yellow, the green and the polka dot jerseys. He held onto to the yellow jersey for just one day, but the green became a goal in itself. On the first day of rest he was 45 points ahead of Joaquín Rojas, but even Gilbert was not equal to the sprint bomb Mark Cavendish. Halfway through the final week, the cyclist from the Ardennes had to put his dream back on the shelf.
Cadel Evans will always be remembered as the first Australian to win the Grande Boucle. His efforts were rewarded in 2011 in Paris, with the highest award: the yellow jersey. Evans had been close to achieving this honour several times in previous years. He finished second in 2007, but in 2008 the tough Australian was top favourite. He took the first yellow jersey of his career that year thanks to a slight one second lead over Fränk Schleck. Evans finally finished in second place. The Australian won the yellow jersey again in 2010, but this time he had to give it up again on the day after the day of rest. He finally hit the jackpot in 2011! He won the fourth stage in Mûr-de-Bretagne. In the runup to the final time trial, the last hurdle before reaching Paris, he succeeded in becoming third overall, 57 seconds behind the number one, Andy Schleck. Outstripping his opponents, Andy and Fränk Schleck, Evan was able to cycle to Paris wearing the yellow jersey.
Paris, 22 July 2012. This is the year Bradley Wiggins made cycling history by becoming the first Briton to win the Tour de France. When the Tour caravan reached the Vosges, the British Sky team felt that its time had come and scored a double. Chris Froome won the seventh stage, which finished at La Planche des Belles Filles. Wiggins, on the other hand, appeared on the podium to claim the yellow jersey, which he never lost. With more than 100 time trial kilometres, the 2012 Tour de France was in Wiggins' pocket. Both in the time trial to Besançon and in the race against the clock to Chartres, the charismatic British rider dashed towards the stage victory. The anticipated duel between Wiggins and Cadel Evans, the winner of the 2011 Tour de France, never took place.
Ajaccio, 30 June 2013. Up amongst the hills on the French island of Corsica, an exciting event took place during the second stage. With seven kilometres still to go to the finishing line, Sylvain Chavanel launched an attack, followed by the likes of Bakelants, Gorka Izagirre, Fuglsang and Flecha. Upon sighting the red rag the formidable Bakelants broke away. He just managed to stay out of the grip of the sprinting peloton and went on to win the fascinating stage with a second lead over Peter Sagan. The Belgian took the leader's jersey from Marcel Kittel, achieving an impressive first professional victory. Early in 2013, Bakelants had to have a knee operation. His victory is all the more impressive as it was only his 18th day of racing that year.
The Tour de France got underway in 2014 with a three-day race on English soil. This was the signal for Mark Cavendish to surge ahead, but the British rider took too many risks, falls and had to bow out, unintentionally paving the way for Marcel Kittel, who kicked off his Tour de France with a sprint victory and the yellow jersey in a repeat of his performance the previous year. None other than Britain's Princess Kate presented Kittel with the yellow jersey. The German sprint bomb not only started like the year before, he also ended with the same result: four wins to his credit.
Mulhouse, 13 July 2014. Two Tonys ended up celebrating after the ninth stage arriving at Mulhouse. Tony Martin completed an impressive 50 km solo. A member of the large chasers' group, Tony Gallopin took the leader's jersey. As a Frenchman, Gallopin was allowed to wear the yellow jersey on 14 July, the French national holiday. Apart from the enjoyable side, the stage also involved some suffering because the tough mountain stage to La Planche des Belles Filles was on the bill of fare. Gallopin was scheduled to ride for the Lotto team leader Jurgen Van den Broeck as a result of which he lost the yellow jersey.
Yorkshire, 6 July 2014. Stage two of the Tour de France and Vincenzo Nibali was already standing on the podium in yellow. The Italian had just launched an attack descending during the first stage of the climb, thereby claiming the stage victory. Nibali abandoned his beloved Giro d'Italia in 2014 to focus completely on his first Tour de France victory. This turned out to be a wise decision. During the rain-drenched fifth stage, a kind of mini Paris-Roubaix race, the Tour lost one of its key favourites. Chris Froome dropped out before the first cobblestone section. Nibali, on the other hand, outstripped his competitors to finish ahead. The Planche des Belles Filles, the first mountain stage, traditionally a major Tour obstacle, was a piece of cake for Nibali. Alberto Contador bailed out, while Nibali dashed ahead to victory. The Italian rider also captured stage victories in the Alps and the Pyrenees. The Shark of Messina finally won the Tour de France streets ahead.
Zeeland, 5 July 2015. After a gruelling stage in echelon formation, a small group made a sprint for first place. Much to his own surprise, Fabian Cancellara raced into third place after André Greipel and Peter Sagan. During the prologue on day one he had to hand the victory over to Rohan Dennis, but a third place was enough to take the yellow jersey from the Australian. A day later Cancellara fell and dropped out of the Tour de France with two broken vertebrae, the same two he had broken three months earlier. The yellow jersey was about the only bright spot for him in 2015, which turned out to be a bad year for the Swiss cyclist.
Cambrai, 7 July 2015. The Tour de France programme featured the dreaded cobblestone stage between Seraing and Cambrai but the hoped-for spectacular experience failed to materialise, partly because of the dry weather. Several cobblestone specialists, such as Sep Vanmarcke and Zdenek Stybar, were trying to make their mark. However, it was time trial expert Tony Martin who rode away from a large group with three kilometres to go, a most welcome development. Panzerwagen, as he was nicknamed, had a puncture on the last cobblestone section and as a result, won the stage victory on the bike of his teammate Matteo Trentin! He took the yellow leader's jersey from Chris Froome. This was a special victory for the German, because he did not win it in a time trial and German television decided to resume live broadcasts of the Tour de France in 2015. Unfortunately for Tony Martin, he fell in the sixth stage and broke his collarbone.
The Tour de France kicked off for the sixth time in the Netherlands back in 2015. After Amsterdam (1954), Scheveningen (1973), Leiden (1978), 's Hertogenbosch (1996) and Rotterdam (2010) it was Utrecht's turn this time. To mark the start of the Tour, the St. Catherine's Convent Museum (a museum of religious art in Utrecht) hosted an exhibition entitled 'The Holy Jersey'. The ASO gifted them this official Tour shirt at the opening. The museum later donated this garment to KOERS, which had loaned several items in support of the initiative.
That Peter Sagan was a phenomenon was well and truly demonstrated during the Tour de France. In 2012 he returned home from his Tour debut with three stage wins and the green jersey to his credit. The three-time world champion has since matched Erik Zabel's record by entering Paris six times sporting the green jersey. The Slovak cyclist was entitled to put on the yellow jersey for the first time in 2016, keeping it for three days. Sagan took the yellow jersey in 2018 as well. He also won three more stages, to make a total of eleven so far.
British sprint bomb Mark Cavendish had already clocked up 26 stage victories in the Tour de France before the start of the 2016 competition. He still had to clinch a yellow jersey and this he managed to do after the first stage of the 2016 Tour. The event started that year with a flat stage, which suited Cavendish down to the ground. The British rider did not disappoint, winning the first stage and claiming his first yellow jersey in the Tour, although he had to return it one day later. Unlike his string of stage victories, the number of yellow-wearing days was negligible.
Peyragudes, 13 July 2017. Fabio Aru was scheduled to try to win the Giro d'Italia in his home country in 2017 but was prevented from doing so owing to a training accident sustained just before the start. The Italian then thought he would take a stab at winning the Tour de France. In France, he put one over all the favourites during the fifth stage of La Planche des Belles Filles. Just over two kilometres from the summit, Aru launched a decisive attack and claimed a victory. He competed in the yellow jersey during stages 12 and 13 but then had to hand it over to the top favourite Chris Froome. Aru then somehow contribed to fall off the podium and end up in fifth place in the final classification.
Cholet, 9 July 2018. For the first time since 2015, a team time trial was featured on the Tour de France's menu. An exciting stage for Belgium, as two of the country's cyclists had a chance to claim the yellow jersey: Philippe Gilbert, with the Quick Step team, and Greg Van Avermaet, with BMC. In the end, the latter and his team won, in a matter of seconds, after 35 kilometres of cycling against the clock. Van Avermaet therefore claimed the yellow jersey and had no intention of giving it up without a fight. During the cobblestone stage towards Roubaix, the Belgian in the yellow jersey finished second. After the day of rest, he was still sporting the yellow jersey, but the Alps were now in sight. Although this was not Van Avermaet's terrain, he defended his jersey tooth and nail and joined the early breakaway. The favourites kept their heads down, allowing Van Avermaet to keep his jersey one more day, against all the odds.
Trained as a track rider, Welshman Geraint Thomas had been riding for Team Sky - now Ineos - since 2010. On the road, he first distinguished himself as a classic rider, claiming a victory in the E3 Harelbeke (2015). Thomas had been successfully focusing on stage races for about five years. After the overall win in Paris-Nice (2016), the big breakthrough came in 2018. Geraint Thomas won the Tour de France as well as the Dauphiné Liberé. He turned out to be stronger than leader Chris Froome, who had to make do with third place. After Wiggo and Froome a third rider from Team Sky's stable was therefore proclaimed the winner.
Fontenay-le-Comte, 7 July 2018. Fernando Gaviria won the first bunch sprint of the 2017 Tour de France. Peter Sagan and Marcel Kittel cut their teeth during their encounter with the young Colombian. Gaviria was also entitled to pull on the the yellow jersey. It had been 15 years since a Colombian had worn yellow: this honour was granted to Hugo Peña in 2004. Gaviria repeated this feat during the fourth stage, to triumph yet again. Although he then lost the yellow jersey, the Colombian performed superbly during this first Tour debut.