The Tour de France honoured less cyclists with the yellow jersey this year than it could have had it used bonus seconds. Peter Sagan and sprinters Mark Cavendish and André Greipel may have had their chance to lead the race for the first time in their careers. Instead, Fabian Cancellara carried it from his prologue win until the first mountain stage, where Bradley Wiggins took over.

“For me, it’s good. I am a lucky man,” Cancellara said. “Those are the rules. Maybe I take a big profit from it, but this is the decision of the race organisers.”

Race director, Christian Prudhomme eliminated the seconds in 2009 in order to produce a true overall winner after three weeks. Prior to that, the Tour offered 6-, 4-, and 2-second bonuses at the intermediate sprints and 20-, 12-, and 8-second bonuses at the finish.

Sprinters Erik Zabel, Mario Cipollini and Stuart O’Grady used to eat up bonuses and enjoy time in the jersey. In 2008, seven different riders wore the yellow jersey. This year, it looks likely only two will wear the top.

“There is a place for them [bonus seconds], particularly in the first week in the flatter stages,” Sky’s sports director, Sean Yates told Cycling Weekly. “It just adds more excitement. Fabian won the prologue by 20 seconds and no one has a chance in hell to take it. It’d just add a few more variations.”

Yates wore the yellow jersey in 1994, but it was due to his escape gaining enough time over previous leader Flavio Vanzella.

He said he would be in favour of a system similar the Giro d’Italia implemented this year, where the organiser awarded bonus seconds on all stages but the five key mountain stages and the time trials.

Time bonuses helped decide the overall Vuelta a España last year. Juan José Cobo won the race by 13 seconds on Chris Froome. Had he not picked up 32 seconds in bonuses, Froome may have won the race by 19 seconds.

Given the choice, Yates said that having no bonuses is better than awarding them for every stage.

“Ultimately,” he added, “I want the best rider to win the race. Let’s just do it like the Giro.”

Liquigas-Cannondale looks set to enjoy one of its biggest Tour de France performances. It won three stages with Sagan. Vincenzo Nibali may also finish on the final podium in third and Sagan may take the final green jersey in Paris.

Roberto Amadio, Liquigas-Cannondale general manager, said that he didn’t want to get greedy and think what could’ve been with Sagan.

“For the final GC, I think it’s correct not to have them,” Amadio told Cycling Weekly. “For sure. To do it halfway, some stages no, some stages yes, for me, this isn’t good. You either have them or you don’t.”

Tour de France 2012: Latest news



Rest day review (July 17)



Defending Tour champ Evans has work to do in Pyrenees



Sprinters’ teams unwilling to work on stage 15



Evans suffers multiple punctures after Tour tack attack



Froome not winning this year’s Tour is ‘very great sacrifice’



Frank Schleck criticises ‘boring’ Tour de France



Wiggins: Cycling’s new boss?



Wiggins still Sky’s main man as Tour heads towards Pyrenees



Millar’s Tour win comes after ‘second chance’



Tour de France 2012: Teams, riders, start list



Tour 2012: Who will win?



Tour de France 2012 provisional start list



Tour de France 2012 team list

Tour de France 2012: Stage reports



Stage 15: Fedrigo wins, day off for peloton



Stage 14: Sanchez solos to Foix victory to save Rabobank’s Tour



Stage 13: Greipel survives climb and crosswinds to win third Tour stage



Stage 12: Millar wins Tour stage nine years from his last



Stage 11: Wiggins strengthens Tour lead as Evans slips back



Stage 10: Voeckler wins and saves his Tour



Stage nine: Wiggins destroys opposition in Besancon TT



Stage eight: Pinot solos to Tour win as Wiggins fights off attacks



Stage seven: Wiggins takes yellow as Froome wins stage



Stage six: Sagan wins third Tour stage



Stage five: Greipel wins again as Cavendish fades



Stage four: Greipel wins stage after Cavendish crashes



Stage three: Sagan runs away with it in Boulogne



Stage two: Cavendish takes 21st Tour stage victory



Stage one: Sagan wins at first attempt



Prologue: Cancellara wins, Wiggins second

Tour de France 2012: Comment, analysis, blogs



Analysis: What we learned at La Planche des Belles Filles



Analysis: How much time could Wiggins gain in Tour’s time trials



CW’s Tour de France podcasts



Blog: Tour presentation – chasing dreams and autographs



Comment: Cavendish the climber

Tour de France 2012: Photo galleries



Stage 15 by Graham Watson



Stage 14 by Graham Watson



Stage 13 by Graham Watson



Stage 12 by Graham Watson



Stage 11 by Graham Watson



Stage 10 by Graham Watson



Stage nine by Graham Watson



Stage eight by Graham Watson



Stage seven by Graham Watson



Stage six by Graham Watson



Stage five by Graham Watson



Stage four by Graham Watson



Stage three by Graham Watson



Stage two by Andy Jones



Stage two by Graham Watson



Stage one by Graham Watson



Prologue photo gallery by Andy Jones



Prologue photo gallery by Roo Rowler



Prologue photo gallery by Graham Watson



Tour de France 2012: Team presentation



Sky and Rabobank Tour de France recce

Tour de France 2012: Live text coverage



Stage 10 live coverage



Stage nine live coverage



Stage six live coverage



Stage five live coverage



Stage four live coverage



Stage three live coverage



Cycling Weekly’s live text coverage schedule

Tour de France 2012: TV schedule

ITV4 live schedule

British Eurosport live schedule

Tour de France 2012: Related links



Brits in the Tours: From Robinson to Cavendish



Brief history of the Tour de France



Tour de France 2011: Cycling Weekly’s coverage index



1989: The Greatest Tour de France ever

 

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  • Jolly Tom

    Having explained green, polka dot, red numbers and the importance of stage wins. Please don’t make me explain to potential cycling fans that the fastest overall cyclist doesn’t win a prize!

    A stage win on the Tour de France goes down as a major achievement for a professional cyclist. It’s easily motivation enough. Millar’s stage 12 had me on the edge of my seat. No change to the GC that day.

  • geoff reed

    I could write a book about this! But basically the Tour is a stage race decided on time and should not be influenced by position in individual stages. If people want a fairground sideshow then watch penalty shootouts! I no longer watch football for this reason.

  • Don Danberry

    I was glad to see time bonuses go and wouldn’t want to see them reintroduced; I’m happy with things as they stand.

    And, pedantic grammar check: FEWER cyclists!

  • Tourmaniac

    Is it really the best rider or is it a team leader with the best team? If Bradley Wiggins were on a team that had lost 4 or 5 riders, where would he be? I hate to see the Tour basically decided once the leader gets up by a couple of minutes with more to be gained in time trials. I’ve been watching the Tour for 20 years and it seems to get less exciting each year (unless you’re a big fan of wrecks) with the result often determined early. The teams chasing the leader don’t seem to want to work together to put pressure on the yellow jersey and his entourage. Maybe the Pyrenees will shake things up but I’m not optimistic. At least make the winner work up a sweat.

  • Herbie

    What are the time bonuses for – to increase the level of excitement and animate the first few stages, where small differences split the peloton after the prologue, and a time bonus can mean the difference between 10th and 1st, between nothing and the yellow jersey, or where points are concerned, the green jersey.

    As the first few stages of this Tour were animated enough, I didn’t feel it lacked the time bonuses. In other races maybe they are needed, but the Tour de France is motivation enough. They certainly shouldn’t have time bonuses later than the first week, and haven’t really missed them at all this Tour.

  • JD

    It should be time on the road, not position on the road. Time bonuses let an Cobo beat the superior Froome in last year’s Vuelta, a perfect example of how they can distort the podium.

    OK, so Cancellara gets to hog the Yellow jersey longer than he should but he’s also a great rider, yes?