1996 Tour de France

1996 Tour de France
Route of the 1996 Tour de France
Route of the 1996 Tour de France
Race details
Dates 29 June – 21 July
Stages 21 + Prologue
Distance 3,765 km (2,339 mi)
Winning time 95h 57' 16"
Winner  Bjarne Riis[a] (DEN) (Team Telekom)
  Second  Jan Ullrich (GER) (Team Telekom)
  Third  Richard Virenque (FRA) (Festina–Lotus)

Points  Erik Zabel[a] (GER) (Team Telekom)
Mountains  Richard Virenque (FRA) (Festina–Lotus)
  Youth  Jan Ullrich (GER) (Team Telekom)
  Combativity  Richard Virenque (FRA) (Festina–Lotus)
  Team Festina–Lotus
←  1995
1997 â†’

The 1996 Tour de France was the 83rd edition of the Tour de France, starting on 29 June and ending on 21 July, featuring 19 regular stages, 2 individual time trials, a prologue and a rest day (10 July). It was won by Danish rider Bjarne Riis.

This Tour was noted by the "fall" of favourite Miguel Indurain, ending his record run of five consecutive victories. The course included a stage through his home town Villava, however he suffered a bronchitis because of the poor weather in the first week, and was fined and penalised for accepting drinks illegally.[1] Indurain started to lose time in stage 7, and finally ended 11th failing to win a single stage or spend one day in the yellow jersey.

Stage 9 was scheduled to be a 176 kilometer ride from Val-d'IsĂšre to Sestriere. However, due to appalling weather conditions, including snow, the organisers cut the stage to just 46 km. Bjarne Riis won the stage and opened a crucial 44 second gap over Telekom teammate Jan Ullrich. Ullrich, only 22, really broke through in this Tour, and won the individual time trial of stage 20.

Over a decade after the race, several riders with Team Telekom confessed to doping offences around the period of the 1996 tour, including support riders Rolf Aldag, Udo Bölts, Christian Henn[2] and Brian Holm and team masseur Jef d'Hont has admitted in his autobiography that there was organised use of EPO in the team.[3] On 24 May 2007, Erik Zabel admitted to using EPO during the first week of the race. The winner of the Tour, Bjarne Riis, admitted on 25 May 2007 that he also used EPO during the Tour, as a result was asked by the International Cycling Union (UCI) to return the yellow jersey he received.[4] So far, runner-up Jan Ullrich, who has been under suspicion of doping as a part of the Operación Puerto doping case, has not commented on allegations that he also used EPO. Third place Richard Virenque and fourth place Laurent Dufaux were implicated in the 1998 Festina scandal.

UCI lawyer Philippe Verbiest stated in 2007 that the statute of limitations for removing Riis as winner of the Tour de France had expired, "you cannot strip him of the title but it possible not to mention it anymore ... Because of what he admitted, he is not the winner of the Tour de France. Riis did not win." At the same time tour spokesman Philippe Sudres stated that: "We consider philosophically that he can no longer claim to have won."[5] In 2007, Riis' victory was removed from the Tour de France,[6] yet in 2008 they listed Riis as winner of Tour de France 1996, albeit with a remark about his confession.[7]


The 18 teams on top of the UCI rankings at the start of 1996 automatically qualified for the Tour.[8] Four wildcards were given, for a total of 22 teams.[9]

The teams entering the race were:[9]

Qualified teams

Invited teams

Route and stages

The highest point of elevation in the race was 2,035 m (6,677 ft) at the summit of the Sestriere climb on stage 9.[b][10][11]

Stage characteristics and winners [12] [13]
Stage Date Course Distance Type Winner
P 29 June 's-Hertogenbosch (Netherlands) 9.4 km (5.8 mi) Individual time trial  Alex ZĂŒlle (SUI)
1 30 June 's-Hertogenbosch (Netherlands) 209.0 km (129.9 mi) Plain stage  FrĂ©dĂ©ric Moncassin (FRA)
2 1 July 's-Hertogenbosch (Netherlands) to Wasquehal 247.5 km (153.8 mi) Plain stage  Mario Cipollini (ITA)
3 2 July Wasquehal to Nogent-sur-Oise 195.0 km (121.2 mi) Plain stage  Erik Zabel (GER)
4 3 July Soissons to Lac de Madine 232.0 km (144.2 mi) Plain stage  Cyril Saugrain (FRA)
5 4 July Lac de Madine to Besançon 242.0 km (150.4 mi) Plain stage  Jeroen Blijlevens (NED)
6 5 July Arc-et-Senans to Aix-les-Bains 207.0 km (128.6 mi) Hilly stage  Michael Boogerd (NED)
7 6 July ChambĂ©ry to Les Arcs 200.0 km (124.3 mi) Stage with mountain(s)  Luc Leblanc (FRA)
8 7 July Bourg-Saint-Maurice to Val d'IsĂšre 30.5 km (19.0 mi) Individual time trial  Evgueni Berzin (RUS)
9 8 July Le MonĂȘtier-les-Bains to Sestriere (Italy) 46.0 km (28.6 mi) Stage with mountain(s)  Bjarne Riis (DEN)
10 9 July Turin (Italy) to Gap 208.5 km (129.6 mi) Hilly stage  Erik Zabel (GER)
10 July Gap Rest day
11 11 July Gap to Valence 202.0 km (125.5 mi) Hilly stage  JosĂ© Jaime Gonzalez (COL)
12 12 July Valence to Le Puy-en-Velay 143.5 km (89.2 mi) Hilly stage  Pascal Richard (SUI)
13 13 July Le Puy-en-Velay to Super Besse 177.0 km (110.0 mi) Hilly stage  Rolf SĂžrensen (DEN)
14 14 July Besse to Tulle 186.5 km (115.9 mi) Hilly stage  Djamolidine Abdoujaparov (UZB)
15 15 July Brive-la-Gaillarde to Villeneuve-sur-Lot 176.0 km (109.4 mi) Plain stage  Massimo Podenzana (ITA)
16 16 July Agen to Hautacam 199.0 km (123.7 mi) Stage with mountain(s)  Bjarne Riis (DEN)
17 17 July ArgelĂšs-Gazost to Pamplona (Spain) 262.0 km (162.8 mi) Stage with mountain(s)  Laurent Dufaux (SUI)
18 18 July Pamplona (Spain) to Hendaye 154.5 km (96.0 mi) Hilly stage  Bart Voskamp (NED)
19 19 July Hendaye to Bordeaux 226.5 km (140.7 mi) Plain stage  FrĂ©dĂ©ric Moncassin (FRA)
20 20 July Bordeaux to Saint-Émilion 63.5 km (39.5 mi) Individual time trial  Jan Ullrich (GER)
21 21 July Palaiseau to Paris (Champs-ÉlysĂ©es) 147.5 km (91.7 mi) Plain stage  Fabio Baldato (ITA)
Total 3,765 km (2,339 mi)[14]

Race overview

Bjarne Riis (pictured in 1989) won the general classification

The prologue was won by Alex ZĂŒlle two seconds ahead of specialist Chris Boardman as overall contenders Bjarne Riis and Miguel Indurain came in sixth and seventh respectively. Zulle held onto the yellow jersey through the first few flat stages but in stage 4 a half dozen riders not in overall contention escaped in a breakaway and stayed away finishing several minutes ahead of the main field putting Stephane Heulot in the yellow jersey for a few days.

Stage six was an intermediate stage run in terrible weather conditions and was won by Dutchman Michael Boogerd. The inclement weather caused well over a dozen riders to abandon the race including Lance Armstrong who merely thought he was sick from riding in the rainy, cold weather as most of the other riders who abandoned were, but within a few months he would be diagnosed with the cancer that nearly killed him.

As the Tour entered the Alps there was a mountain ITT in stage eight which was won by Evgeni Berzin, whom had seized the lead in the overall classification following stage seven. In the time trial he finished more than thirty seconds better than Riis and gained just over a minute on Indurain, Tony Rominger and debutant Jan Ullrich who was having an impressive start to his first Tour.

Stage nine was a mountain stage that was shortened due to foul weather and was won by Riis, who in the process took enough time to put himself into yellow. He would maintain a narrow lead over the next several stages and by the time the race reached the Pyrenees Abraham Olano was in second just under a minute behind with Berzin in third, Rominger in fourth, Riis’ teammate Ullrich in fifth and five-time defending champion Miguel Indurain struggling to stay in the top ten nearly 5:00 back.

During stage sixteen Riis made a number of false attacks, even falling back and feigning exhaustion to get a look at Indurain, Rominger, Luttenberger, Virenque, Dufaux, Leblanc and Alano to read their faces before finally launching an attack on the Hautacam. He put close to a minute into most of the elite riders and beyond that into everybody else effectively winning the Tour and putting it beyond doubt that Indurain would not win his sixth tour.

Stage seventeen was won by Laurent Dufaux who in the process moved into fourth place overall, but Riis finished in the same time. A group of eight riders dropped the rest of the field in this stage and as a result Riis distanced himself from all of his rivals with his own teammate Ullrich moving into second overall and Richard Virenque moving into third place overall.

Stage nineteen ITT was the last opportunity for major changes to be made in the general classification and the stage was won by Ullrich who finished nearly a minute ahead of second-placed Indurain who had completely dominated Individual Times Trials at the Tour De France for the previous several years. Riis had plenty of time to spare and was 1:41 ahead of his teammate Ullrich in the General Classification. Richard Virenque rounded out the podium also winning the mountains classification.

Even though rider admissions and investigations in the subsequent years showed that Tours during this time period were undoubtedly tainted by doping 1996 winner Riis, 1997 winner Ullrich and 1998 winner Pantani all officially retain their Tour victories. Pantani died just a few years after his Tour victory, as a result of mental health issues resulting from constant attacks from the press and Ullrich had some results voided later in his career, but his four 2nd place finishes to Lance Armstrong and his 1996 2nd place to Riis remain on his record.

Classification leadership and minor prizes

There were several classifications in the 1996 Tour de France.[15] The most important was the general classification, calculated by adding each cyclist's finishing times on each stage. The cyclist with the least accumulated time was the race leader, identified by the yellow jersey; the winner of this classification is considered the winner of the Tour.[16]

Additionally, there was a points classification, which awarded a green jersey. In the points classification, cyclists got points for finishing among the best in a stage finish, or in intermediate sprints. The cyclist with the most points lead the classification, and was identified with a green jersey.[17]

There was also a mountains classification. The organisation had categorised some climbs as either hors catégorie, first, second, third, or fourth-category; points for this classification were won by the first cyclists that reached the top of these climbs first, with more points available for the higher-categorised climbs. The cyclist with the most points lead the classification, and wore a white jersey with red polka dots.[18]

The fourth individual classification was the young rider classification, which was not marked by a jersey. This was decided the same way as the general classification, but only riders under 26 years were eligible.[19]

For the team classification, the times of the best three cyclists per team on each stage were added; the leading team was the team with the lowest total time.[20]

In addition, there was a combativity award given after each mass-start stage to the cyclist considered most combative. The decision was made by a jury composed of journalists who gave points. The cyclist with the most points from votes in all stages led the combativity classification.[21] Richard Virenque won this classification, and was given overall the super-combativity award.[22] The Souvenir Henri Desgrange was given in honour of Tour founder Henri Desgrange to the first rider to pass the summit of the Col d'Aubisque on stage 17.[c] This prize was won by Neil Stephens.[25]

Classification leadership by stage [26] [27]
Stage Winner General classification
A yellow jersey.
Points classification
A green jersey
Mountains classification
A white jersey with red polka dots.
Young rider classification[d] Team classification Combativity
Award Classification
P Alex ZĂŒlle Alex ZĂŒlle Alex ZĂŒlle no award Christophe Moreau ONCE no award
1 Frédéric Moncassin Jån Svorada Paolo Savoldelli Danny Nelissen Danny Nelissen
2 Mario Cipollini Danny Nelissen Rossano Brasi
3 Erik Zabel Frédéric Moncassin José Luis Rubiera Jeroen Blijlevens Marco Lietti
4 Cyril Saugrain Stéphane Heulot Frédéric Moncassin Danny Nelissen Stéphane Heulot GAN Mariano Piccoli
5 Jeroen Blijlevens Giuseppe Calcaterra
6 Michael Boogerd LĂ©on van Bon Rabobank LĂ©on van Bon
7 Luc Leblanc Evgeni Berzin Richard Virenque Jan Ullrich Mapei–GB Udo Bölts
8 Evgeni Berzin Team Telekom no award
9 Bjarne Riis Bjarne Riis Bjarne Riis
10 Erik Zabel Erik Zabel Rolf SĂžrensen
11 Chepe González Mapei–GB Laurent Brochard
12 Pascal Richard Rabobank Erik Breukink
13 Rolf Sþrensen Mapei–GB Richard Virenque
14 Djamolidine Abdoujaparov Bo Hamburger
15 Massimo Podenzana Michele Bartoli
16 Bjarne Riis Laurent Roux Richard Virenque
17 Laurent Dufaux Festina–Lotus Bjarne Riis Bjarne Riis
18 Bart Voskamp Michele Bartoli
19 Frédéric Moncassin Gilles Talmant
20 Jan Ullrich no award
21 Fabio Baldato Andrei Tchmil Richard Virenque
Final Bjarne Riis Erik Zabel Richard Virenque Jan Ullrich Festina–Lotus Richard Virenque

Final standings

A yellow jersey. Denotes the winner of the general classification A green jersey. Denotes the winner of the points classification
A white jersey with red polka dots. Denotes the winner of the mountains classification

General classification

Final general classification (1–10) [28]
Rank Rider Team Time
1  Bjarne Riis (DEN) A yellow jersey. Team Telekom 95h 57' 16"
2  Jan Ullrich (GER) Team Telekom + 1' 41"
3  Richard Virenque (FRA) A white jersey with red polka dots. Festina–Lotus + 4' 37"
4  Laurent Dufaux (SUI) Festina–Lotus + 5' 53"
5  Peter Luttenberger (AUT) Carrera Jeans–Tassoni + 7' 07"
6  Luc Leblanc (FRA) Team Polti + 10' 03"
7  Piotr Ugrumov (LAT) Roslotto–ZG Mobili + 10' 04"
8  Fernando EscartĂ­n (ESP) Kelme–Artiach + 10' 26"
9  Abraham Olano (ESP) Mapei–GB + 11' 00"
10  Toni Rominger (SUI) Mapei–GB + 11' 53"

Combativity classification

Final combativity classification (1–10) [29]
Rank Rider Team Points
1  Richard Virenque (FRA) A white jersey with red polka dots. Festina–Lotus 49
2  Bjarne Riis (DEN) A yellow jersey. Team Telekom 47
3  Michele Bartoli (ITA) MG Maglificio–Technogym 44
4  Danny Nelissen (NED) Rabobank 34
5  Laurent Roux (FRA) TVM–Farm Frites 33
6  Djamolidine Abdoujaparov  (UZB) Refin–Mobilvetta 31
7  Luc Leblanc (FRA) Team Polti 28
8  Rolf JĂ€rmann (SUI) MG Maglificio–Technogym 22
9  Neil Stephens (AUS) ONCE 21
10  Rolf SĂžrensen (DEN) Rabobank 20

See also