New Zealander wins Tour de France stage

12 July 2001

Credit Agricole in full flow (cyclingnews.com)

The first stage win by a New Zealander in the Tour de France came in a team time trial. Although Chris Jenner didn’t finish with the core of his Credit Agricole team, he shared in the stage win and got to stand on the podium. (In 2011 Julian Dean achieved the same thing with his Garmin-Cervélo team.)

Few New Zealand riders have completed the world’s greatest cycle race. The first was Harry Watson, who in 1928 was part of a four-man ‘down-under’ team. This was supposed to have 10 riders, but their six European teammates failed to show up – a major handicap in a tour with 15 stages of more than 380 km. Watson still managed an impressive 28th overall.

Our highest-placed Tour rider ever was Tino Tabak, who finished 18th overall in 1972. Eric McKenzie completed four Tours in the early 1980s, finishing third in one stage. Nathan Dahlberg (1988), Stephen Swart (1994, 1995), Hayden Roulston (2009), Julian Dean (2004, 2006 to 2011 inclusive), Greg Henderson (2012, 2013), Jack Bauer (2014, 2017) and Patrick Bevan and Dion Smith (2017) are the other New Zealand finishers. In 2009 New Zealand had two riders in the peloton for the first time, Dean and Roulston. The latter finished third in stage 14. 

Julian Dean gained a reputation as one of the best lead-out men in the world, helping set up his team’s fastest rider as they reached speeds of up to 80 km/hr before crossing the finishing line in frantic and dangerous sprints. In 2009 Dean joined the Garmin-Slipstream (now Garmin-Cervélo) team to assist the young American sprinter Tyler Farrar. After Farrar abandoned the 2010 Tour de France because of injury, Dean achieved two second places (stages 4 and 18) – the best individual stage results ever by a New Zealand rider at the Tour – and came third on the final stage into Paris.

In 2014 Jack Bauer came agonisingly close to winning stage 15 of the Tour from Tallard to Nimes. After breaking away with Swiss Martin Elmiger at the start of the 222-km stage, he seemed to have victory in his grasp until he was swamped by the peloton just 50 m from the finish line.

In 2017 New Zealand had four riders in the Tour for the first time: Jack Bauer, George Bennett, Patrick Bevan and Dion Smith. Bennett, a climber who rides for LottoNL-Jumbo, won the Tour of California earlier in 2017 and was placed 12th on general classification when illness forced him to withdraw from the Tour de France during the 16th stage (of 21). 

Chris Jenner retired from professional racing in 2004. Apart from his Tour stage, he won the overall Le Télégramme in 2002, two stages and the overall Tour of Wellington in 2001, and stages in the Tour de l’Ain and the Tour de l’Avenir in 1999.

Image: Credit Agricole on the podium (cyclingnews.com) 

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