Old-timers: Haimar Zubeldia joins the Tour de France 40+ club

Late Trek-Segafredo replacement continues trend of veteran riders at the Tour

While the reasons for his selection are controversial – namely team-mate Andre Cardoso’s failed doping test – the late inclusion of Haimar Zubeldia to the 2017 Tour de France start list continues a remarkable trend.

The Trek-Segafredo rider turned 40 in April, and his Tour de France inclusion means this will be the sixth consecutive Tour to feature a rider over 40 in the peloton

It is all the more remarkable when you consider that between Giuseppe Cerami becoming the oldest Tour stage winner in 1963 aged 41 and Jens Voigt and Chris Horner racing the 2012 edition aged 40, only four 40+ riders started the Tour in the intervening years.

Haimar Zubeldia will continue the recent run of riders aged 40 or older at the Tour de France (Pic: Sirotti)
  • The 50s club

  • Zubeldia has a long way to go before breaking the record for oldest Tour de France rider. Henri Paret was 50 when he finished the 1904 Tour.

Raymond Poulidor was 40 when he finished third in his final Tour de France in 1976, Joaquim Agostinho finished 11th aged 41 in 1983, Viatcheslav Ekimov was 40 at his final Tour in 2006 and Inigo Cuesta was also 40 in 2009.

Since 2012, however, there has always been at least one rider over 40, helped first by Voigt’s longevity and then veteran Matteo Tosatto’s golden years – a record now extended by Zubeldia.

Let’s take a closer look at those riders to have joined the Tour’s 40+ club since 2012.

Jens Voigt (second rider on the left) and Chris Horner (fourth right) line up ahead of the 2012 Tour de France, both aged 40. To date it is the only time two 40+ riders have ridden on the same Tour team (Pic: Sirotti)

Jens Voigt (2012-2014)

Jens Voigt’s storied career included two Tour de France stage wins, in 2001 and 2006, as his penchant for attacking riding and getting in the breakaway earned him a legion of fans.

A late starter in professional cycling, Voigt was 26 when, after a four-year stint with the German army, he joined the Giant-AIS Cycling Team in 1997.

Jens Voigt attacks solo on the Champs-Elysees in 2014 – his final Tour de France stage, aged 42 (Pic: Sirotti)

He started his first Tour de France the following year, and didn’t miss a single one from then until his retirement in 2014.

There had never been two 40+ riders on the same team at the Tour de France until Voigt and Chris Horner rode together for RadioShack-Nissan-Trek in 2012, while Voigt’s final appearance in 2014 saw him equal George Hincapie and Stuart O’Grady’s joint-record of 17 starts.

Voigt had earlier attacked during the Grand Depart in Yorkshire, leading the way through the throngs of fans on Buttertubs (Pic: Alex Broadway/

He marked it in style too, by attacking solo on the first stage in Yorkshire – fighting through the crowds on Buttertubs in one of the defining images of Yorkshire’s Grand Depart.

Age at final Tour de France: 42

Chris Horner (2012, 2014)

The oldest man to ever win a Grand Tour, when he unexpectedly won the 2013 Vuelta a Espana after an enthralling battle with Vincenzo Nibali, Chris Horner also raced two Tours after turning 40.

His first, in 2012, marked the first time two 40+ riders had ridden on the same Tour team as he and Jens Voigt lined up for RadioShack-Nissan-Trek.

Chris Horner, also aged 42, also rode his final Tour de France in 2014. The 2013 Vuelta a Espana champion is the oldest ever Grand Tour winner (Pic: Sirotti)

Horner finished that race in 13th place, 19’55” behind Bradley Wiggins, helping RadioShack-Nissan-Trek to top the team classification.

And he returned for his final Tour in 2014, aged 42, having moved to Lampre-Merida following his Vuelta a Espana triumph, and finished 17th overall. It was to prove to be his final Grand Tour, as Horner was unable to defend his Vuelta a Espana crown due to low cortisol levels.

Age at final Tour de France: 42

Alessandro Petacchi (2014)

Omega Pharma-QuickStep convinced Alessandro Petacchi to come out of retirement to join Mark Cavendish’s lead-out train, affording the 48-time Grand Tour stage winner one final crack at the Tour de France.

Petacchi lined up in Leeds for the 2014 Grand Depart tasked with helping to deliver Cavendish to victory in Harrogate – though, of course, it didn’t work out like that.

Alessandro Petacchi, aged 40, battles on at the 2014 Tour de France (pic – Sirotti)

After Cavendish crashed out in the sprint finish, missing out on his first yellow jersey in the process, QuickStep’s focus switched to Mark Renshaw – with Petacchi as his final lead-out man.

The two both finished in the top ten together on stages 19 and 21 but couldn’t find the elusive sprint victory QuickStep craved.

Petacchi left Omega Pharma-QuickStep at the end of the year, but did have one last Grand Tour in him as he started the 2015 Giro d’Italia, abandoning on the penultimate stage and retiring a fortnight later.

Age at final Tour de France: 40

Matteo Tosatto (2014-2016)

Four riders aged 40+ were on the start line for the 2014 Tour de France in Leeds, though only one of them continued to race in the following years: Matteo Tosatto.

Tosatto was part of Alberto Contador’s supporting cast at Tinkoff-Saxo, offering a wealth of experience garnered from more than 40 Grand Tour appearances.

Matteo Tosatto continued to be a key domestique for Alberto Contador into his 40s, racing his final Tour de France last year aged 42 (Pic: Sirotti)

A one-time stage winner at the race, back in 2006, Tosatto was 42 when he started his final Tour de France ten years later.

The Italian veteran retired at the end of last year, after 20 seasons in the professional peloton.

Age at final Tour de France: 42

Haimar Zubeldia (2017)

Both Trek-Segafredo and Alberto Contador clearly have no qualms when it comes to riders aged over 40 years old, with Haimar Zubeldia’s inclusion for the 2017 race seeing the Spaniard ride in support of his compatriot.

Zubeldia was a team-mate of Voigt and Horner in the 2012 race, which he finished in sixth place aged 35, and his late inclusion for the 2017 edition means he has still missed only one Tour (2010) since his 2001 debut.

Haimar Zubeldia was a team-mate of Voigt and Horner’s in 2012, and will now join the 40+ club himself (Pic: Sirotti)

The veteran climber has finished in the top ten on five occasions in all, but has never won a stage, and will turn his attentions to supporting Contador in this year’s race.

He was also part of Bauke Mollema’s armoury in the 2016 race, helping the Dutchman in the mountains before a crash cost his younger team-mate a podium place.

Age at 2017 Tour de France: 40

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