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Tour de France: W-Z

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Tour de France: W-Z
Edition Date: 
29/06/2012

W is for wipeouts...
It's easy to forget just how fast the riders are going – and when things go wrong, it usually means a broken something for someone. Last year was particularly bad: the 2011 Tour saw Bradley Wiggins break his collarbone in an early crash, but that was far from the worst incident. Farcically, during Stage 9, a French TV car cut across the line of the cyclists, clipping Juan Antonio Flecha and flinging rider Johnny Hoogerland into a barbed wire fence. Sacre bleu!

X is for X-rays...
Moving the Tour to daylight hours wasn't enough to stop cries of cheating. As recently as 2010, rumours flew around the peloton that some teams had installed tiny motors inside the frames of their bikes, to release power at a button press. Sounds ridiculous, doesn't it? Not to the organisers, who responded robustly – a selection of competitors' bikes are now X-rayed before each stage of the Tour to make sure there are no motors, machinery or tiny elves living inside.

Y is for your guide to watching...
The Tour begins with tomorrow's Prologue, and runs until Sunday July 22. There will be live coverage and highlights throughout the Tour on British Eurosport and ITV4. ITV4 will have live coverage in HD every day (usually starting at 2pm), with highlights every evening at 7pm. British Eurosport will also have HD coverage and highlights, with programmes usually starting at 1.15pm, and highlights at 6.15pm.

Z is for 'De Zwarte' and the best Tour nicknames...
De Zwarte van Brakel – roughly translated as 'the black-haired person from Brakel' – was the imaginative nickname given to Belgian cyclist Peter van Petegem, who, you guessed it, has black hair and is from the Belgian town of Brakel. Okay, so not a great start (we're down to Z – can you blame us?), but there have been some truly excellent nicknames doled out by cycle fans. We've touched on Eddie 'the Cannibal' Merckx (fleetingly, in case he was hungry), and of the current crop there's The Manx Missile (Mark Cavendish), The God of Thunder (Thor Hushovd) and the delightful Cuddles (Cadel Evans). Some riders have been nicknamed for their looks, such as Marco 'Il Pirata' Pantani, who wore a bandana, earring and eyepatch (this is true of the first two, at least). Bernard Hinault will tell you his nickname, 'The Badger', comes from his tenacity. But it's actually because he looks like a badger. Classic.

Amit Katwala @amitkatwala

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