The current Mountain Classification of the Tour de France is based on a points system whereby the first one up the mountain gets the most points. This means that if less good climbers have a clear lead after the flat part before the climb they can steal points away from the real climbing specialists. This creates a misleading picture, in the opinion of the econometrists Prof. Gerard Sierksma and Bertus Talsma of the Faculty.
Alberto Contador, after Rasmussen in 2007 and Sastre in 2008, is the third winner of the University of Groningen mountain stages competition. This year, too, the fastest climber was not wearing the polka dot jersey on arrival in the Champs d’Élysées! Contador cycled the 262 km, divided into five hors catégorie, ten category 1 and four category 2 mountains, in the fastest time with an average speed of 22.92 km/h. In total, the difference in height of 16.3 km during this tour was overcome by an average climbing percentage of 6.2%.
A notable difference with last year is that the average speed on the sides of the cols for this year’s winner is nearly a kilometre per hour faster. Last year Sastre climbed at an average speed of 22.15 km/h. The fact that there were eight hors catégorie mountains to climb last year, plus that the approaches to the climbs this year were easier, will have played a role in this. The approaches to Verbier and Mont Ventoux, in particular, are virtually flat; the real climbers could thus save a lot of energy on the lower slopes of these mountains, which were not included last year.
The winner of the polka dot jersey, the Italian Franco Pellizotti, is 18th in the University of Groningen classification. In the last climb, to the top of Mont Ventoux, it was clear that although Pellizotti is a sub-topper, he’s a very clever climber. He saved energy on a number of mountains that he then used on subsequent climbing days and thus garnered enough points to win the polka dot jersey.
Mont Ventoux was climbed by Contador at a speed of 21.6 km/u. This means that he cycled one kilometre per hour faster than Gárate, who won that mountain stage. Contador could possibly have climbed faster with Andy Schleck, but as so often in this Tour team interests took precedence over individual successes.
Next year, Armstrong and Contador will no longer be in the same team and we will hopefully have fewer team orders and more fireworks on the mountain slopes.
University of Groningen Climbing Classification Tour de France 2009
Jurgen Van den Broeck
Silence - Lotto
Christian Vande Velde
Française des Jeux
Christophe Le Mével
Bbox - Bouygues
Luis León Sánchez
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