From the London 2012 Olympic games, to the historic 100th edition of the Tour de France (won by Chris Froome), there has been a lot to talk about in the world of sports over the last 10 years. From tears to triumphs, euphoria to heartbreak, it has been a decade of world beaters and world firsts, and here at Sports Tours International, we have been right at the forefront of it all. So, on the precipice of a new decade, and with more seeming possible, than ever before; here’s our rundown of 10 moments that defined the decade for Sports Tours International!
The Berlin Marathon has always been a groundbreaking race. In recent years, it has also become well known, for its record breaking course. 11 world records (8 in the men’s race, 3 in the women’s) have been set there in the race’s 46 year history, and 4 of those coming in the last 10 years alone. However, it is the 2011 edition of the race, that stands out most sharply for us.
The eagerly anticipated event was to be a showdown between four time Berlin Marathon Champion, World Record holder, and all round marathon legend Haile Gebrselassie and defending champion, and sub 1 hour half marathon runner Patrick Makau Musyoki. This edition of the race also marked Gebreselassie’s first race back, after announcing his retirement in 2010.
The race set off at a blistering pace, reaching the halfway point in just 61:44. Makau was the first runner to make a definitive move, breaking away from the pack at around the 26 km mark. He adopted a zigzagging tactic, in the hopes of putting off his closest rivals, and indeed Gebreselassie , who had followed his break, came to an abrupt halt, before dropping out of the race entirely shortly offer.
Makau then pushed on with the race unchallenged, and claimed a convincing victory, 4 minutes ahead of the rest of the field, in 2:03:38, some 21 seconds quicker than the previous world record.
This impressive record stood for 2 years before, in 2013, fellow kenyan Wilson Kipsang, took the victory at Berlin, in a time of 2:03:23. In 2018, Eliud Kipchoge lowered the record yet further, to an astonishing 2:01:39 .
By the 99th edition, and 109th year, of the legendary Tour de France, any hopes of a British rider taking victory in the worlds biggest bike race, felt all but out of reach. That was until the dream partnership of track cycling hero, and road cycling legend Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome, came to the head of an all star Team Sky lineup.
Team Sky dominated throughout the tour and, at the end of stage 7, Wiggins claimed the Yellow Jersey, becoming only the 5th British rider in history to do so. Heroic efforts by Froome in the mountains (resulting in his nickname super- domestique) and impressive performances by Wiggins in the time trials (2 victories and a second place), lead to a Team Sky and (GB) 1, 2 on the General Classification, with Bradley Wiggins taking Britain’s first ever TOUR de France victory. Also of Team Sky, Isle Of Man and Team GB cycling hero Mark Cavendish, claimed 3 stages in the 2012 Tour de France, including the prestigious Sprint finish on the Champs- Élysées (his fourth consecutive victory on this stage), to round off what had been, without a doubt, the most successful Tour de France, for British riders, ever.
2012 marked the first of, no less than 6 victories, by British riders at the Tour de France (Wiggins, Froome x4, and Thomas, all of Team Sky), during the past decade. It will undoubtedly be considered a golden age for British road cycling, and here at Sports Tours International, we feel honoured to have shared it with you.
The 2016 edition of the 6 Days of Ghent track competition saw Cavendish and Wiggins riding together once again. Only this time on the track. Specifically the famous Kuipke velodrome, which is notable for measuring in at just 166.66 m, and for the steep side banks which surround the track. The event, held in November, marked Wiggins’ final professional cycling appearance, before he announced his retirement on 28th December 2016. Wiggins attacked with partner Mark Cavendish, to lap the field, on the final Madison of the Gent Six Day in Belgium to take overall victory at the event.
In 1977 Miki Gorman won her second consecutive New York City Marathon. A relative late comer to running, her victory, aged 42, made her the only woman in history to win both New York and Boston twice. Her victory also made her the most recent American to take victory on home soil at New York.
That was, until 2017. In 2017 Shalane Flanagan of Boulder Colorado became the surprise winner of the world’s biggest marathon. Flanagan had suffered a fracture in her lower back, early in the year, which had forced her to withdraw from the Boston Marathon. On top of this, she was up against, three time champion, and firm favourite Mary Keitany. However Flanagan made a break from the favourites at around 35 km and surged in pace towards the finish. Her average pace of 3:11.4/km, in the final 7 km was faster than the women’s-only marathon world record pace of 3:14.8/km, and saw her claim the first US victory for 40 years, in a time of 2:26:53.
The 2017 New York City marathon was also notable for the presence of Kathrine Switzer, who had, in 1967, become the first woman to finish a marathon as a registered runner, when an “oversight” in the entry screening process, allowed her to gain a place on the Boston Marathon, despite women not being allowed to enter until 1972. The oversight did not go unnoticed however, and photographs of race official Jock Semple attempting to forcibly remove her from the race, made headlines the following day.
Switzer went on to win the 1974 edition of the New York City Marathon, and in 2017 returned there, for the first time since. In 2017 the Boston Marathon also announced that they would be retiring bib number 261, in honor of Switzer.
It is hard to think that, 3 time Kona runner up, Lucy Charles- Barclay was, just three short years ago, somewhat unknown in the world of Long Distance Triathlon. However, after finishing first in the 18 – 24 age cat, at both the 70.3 and the IRONMAN World Championships in 2015, the world started to notice the youngster from Hertfordshire, England. It was then, in 2017, Charles- Barclay’s first full season as a professional athlete, that she took the Long Distance world by storm, claiming the top spot, at the notoriously challenging Club La Santa Ironman Lanzarote.
The longest standing IRONMAN race, outside of North America, the Club La Santa IRONMAN Lanzarote has long had a reputation for being amongst the hardest courses in the world. Rough water conditions, long, tough climbs, blistering heat, and unrelenting wind, make it an IRONMAN course not for the faint hearted. Put into the mix the tough competition that flocks to the Canary’s fiercest race, such as 13 time IRONMAN Champion Lucy Gossage, it is little wonder that Charles – Barclays’ first professional win caught a few eyes.
Since then Charles- Barclays career has only gone from strength to strength, claiming 2 Challenge Championships, 2 IRONMAN African Championships, and taking the title at the sought after Challenge Roth. She is 3 time Kona runner up, and 2018 IRONMAN 70.3 World Championships runner up.
Lucy Charles – Barclay trains frequently at Club La Santa itself and, having seen her incredible work ethic and racing prowess in action, we are sure that her career will continue to go from strength to strength from here.
The 101st edition of the Giro d’Italia, with a historic start in Jerusalem (the first time any Grand Tour had ventured outside of Europe, in honor of Italian cycling hero Gino Bartali) and an all star starting roster, including Chris Froome, defending champion Tom Dumoulin, Fabio Aru, Miguel Ángel López, Thibaut Pinot, Simon Yates and Esteban Chaves, was an incredible event for a number of reasons. In fact we could include the entire tour on this list. However, keeping with the spirit of things, we have picked the stage that stands out to us the most vividly, and that is …. stage 19.
Stage 19, was, for those of you who don’t remember, the penultimate mountain stage on the tour, from Venaria Reale to Bardonecchia, including the climb of the notorious Monte Jafferau. Going into the Queen stage, Froome was placed in 4th in the general classification, with some 3 and a half minutes separating him from GC leader Simon Yates (Team Mitchelton-Scott). Then, with 80 km to go … Chris Froome attacks! After the long, and technical, descent of the Finestre, described by some as ‘bordering on the downright reckless’ but others as ‘his most astonishing feat’ of the day, Froome powered on, solo, winning the stage in unprecedented style and finishing over 3 minutes ahead of the rest of the peloton.
Froome went on to hold his position in pink to the end of the tour; making him,not only the first British winner on the Giro d’Italia, but also, the first Brit to hold the titles in all 3 of the grand tours simultaneously.
In 2018 Welshman Geraint Thomas made history, becoming the third Brit in history, but also in the incredible 2010 – 2019 decade, to win the Tour de France. ‘G’ also holds the accolade of being the first British born man to take the GC in the Tour, and also, in 2018, became the first Brit to claim victory atop the legendary Alpe d’Huez.
It was this particular day, in perfect conditions, and with a buzz in the air that only this famous climb can inspire, that sticks out in our minds most vividly. Our tour had crossed the line just a little earlier, the weather was beautiful, and spirits were high. G was already wearing yellow, but we knew all too well that this stage can make champions, and break hearts; here anything can happen.
With less than 3 km to go, there were still 5 men in contention Bardet, Dumoulin, Froome, Thomas and Mikel Landa; it was anybody’s game. Into the final mile, it was clear that this stage was going to come down to a sprint finish; then, with less than 700m to go, Landa attacked, and Thomas went with him! By the final 200m Thomas was in the lead, and sprinting hard to the line. Our perfect day on the Tour de France ended with the yellow jersey coming in first (another first time occurance on Alpe d’Huez), and ‘G’ taking an exhilarating and historic victory – does it get any better than that?
La Course by Le Tour de France, is a professional, elite women’s road cycling race, held annually in France. This prestigious race currently features on UCI Women’s WorldTour (since 2016) and is always hotly contested. In 2018 La Course was a one day event, designed to coincide with stage 10 of the 2018 Tour de France. The course ran from Duingt, on the shores of Lake Annecy, to Le Grand Bornand. Covering a distance of 118 km, the route promised a mouth watering day of bicycle racing.
The gruelling, 16.3 km long, Col de la Colombière, was the main test of the day, which left riders with 15 km to go to the finish. After almost 3 and a half hours of fierce riding; the race culminated in a one on one sprint finish between two dutch riders; ‘Queen of the Classics’ Anna van der Breggen and defending champion and ITT World Champion, Annemiek van Vleuten. With Van der Breggen in the lead, the race came down to a final, nail biting sprint finish, in which van Vleuten was able to clinch victory by mere fractions of a second to defend her title. It was an absolutely amazing finish line battle, and, for us, 100% the women’s cycling moment of the decade.
The 2019 edition of the Amstel Gold Race featured a stacked field, with some of the pre race favourites being Mathieu van der Poel, who was making his debut appearance at the Amstel Gold Race, and Julian Alaphilippe; both of whom had already enjoyed a successful early season. Van der Poel had won the Dwars door Vlaanderen and the Brabantse Pijl while Alaphilippe had claimed victory at both the Strade Bianche and Milan–San Remo. However, this was unlikely to be a two horse race, with other contenders being Michael Matthews, Peter Sagan, Alejandro Valverde and Jakob Fuglsang. On top of all of this, former winners Philippe Gilbert and Michał Kwiatkowski were also staking a claim to the race in 2019.
After the final climb (Cauberg); it was Alaphilippe and Fuglsang that were leading, with 30 seconds over their closest chasers, and almost a minute over the group behind. Once within 3 km of the finish, these leading 2 stopped working together, in a bit to save energy for the final sprint. In the final kilometre, however the chasers reeled them back in. First Kwiatkowski, and soon after, the chase group, with Van der Poel leading the way.
The race then, was all going to come down to a final sprint. Ultimately it was van der Poel, who came from nowhere, to win an absolutely blistering sprint finish, and claiming his fifth win of an incredible 2019 season.
In 2017, in Monza, Italy, Kenyan marathon legend, Eliud Kipchoge attempted the seemingly impossible. He made a bid to become the first man in history to run a sub 2 hour marathon. His first attempt however, was not to be (he clocked an, albeit impressive, 2:00:25).
After his, world record breaking, and spectacular performance at the 2019 BMW Berlin Marathon however,Kipchoge announced that ,in partnership with INEOS, and sportswear giants Nike, he would again attempt the impossible.
Prater, in Vienna, Austria was the venue of this second attempt. The, specially designed, route consisted of an almost completely flat 5.97 mile loop,to be run 4.4 times (producing a 26.2 mile course). The entire route featured, just less than, 8 feet of climbs.
Saturday morning, on 12th October 2019, the attempt got underway at 08:15. The weather forecast was ideal for optimum running conditions, dry with temperatures ranging from 9 to 12 degrees Celsius throughout the morning. With the help of 41 world class pacers Kipchoge achieved the unachievable; running faultless splits (fastest 5 k – 14:10, fastest – 14:14), he crossed the line in a groundbreaking 1:59:40.
Now the question that remains on everybody’s mind is, can Kipchoge replicate his sub 2 hour time on an official course? – Perhaps on the streets of Berlin in 2020?
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