New countries dominate

Chose Schwartz

Who will win the tour: Vingegaard. A Dane. If it’s Bokar, a Slovenian, the winner is from a new cycling country, not from one of the traditional cycling countries: France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Switzerland and Italy.

For years those traditional cycling nations dominated the Tour. Spain’s Federico Bahamontes was the first to break that dominance in 1959. Nine years later, John Johnson finished second, and in 1986, American Greg LeMond finished third. Lemon’s success marked a turning point. After his victory, the Tour became the field of new countries: after 1986, the old ones won only three: Italy in 1998 (Marco Pantani) and 2014 (Vincenzo Nibali) and Luxembourg in 2010 (Andy Schleck).

The United Kingdom (Bradley Wiggins (1), Chris Froome (4), Geraint Thomas (1) and the United States lead the list of most victories in the 21st century, although the Tour leader later took all his first places from Lance Armstrong.

And traditional cycling countries? Switzerland last won in 1951. (Hugo Koblet). France (Bernard Hinault) in 1985 and Belgium (Lucien van Impe) in 1976. When Van Impe won, no American had ever ridden in a Tour. Only one debuted in 1981: Jonathan Boyer. The Belgian, bested for eighteen Tour victories, has now been waiting 47 years for Van Impe’s successor. That’s almost half a century.

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Ferdinand Woolridge

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