Tour de France
The Tour de France is probably the worlds most famous cycle race. It’s fast, it’s furious and it’s a brilliant great way to get into bikes and cycling.
The first Tour de France was on the 1 July 1903. It takes place over 23 days and covers over 2,000 miles. Each year the race takes a different route, but the finish is always in Paris with a magnificent sprint down the Champs-Élysées.
Although named the Tour de France, the race sometimes ventures into other countries such as Belgium, Italy and Spain. In previous years, stages have been held in Britain.
For 2018 however, except for a short visit of around 15 kilometres in Spain during stage 16, the 105th Tour de France will never go out of the borders of France. The cyclists will ride through 36 “départements” (the equivalent of British counties).
Each day of the race is known as a ‘Stage’, and Stages can last up to six hours. At the end of each day the rider who crosses the finish line first is the ‘Stage Winner’ and gets to go up onto the podium.
In total, there are 21 stages over the 23 days, so the riders only get two rest days over the whole race! The lead rider gets to wear the yellow jersey, which we will explain a bit more in a moment.
- The first Tour de France race was held in 1903.
- The youngest rider ever to win the Tour de France was Henri Comet – he was only 19 years old when he won in 1904.
- The oldest person to win the Tour de France was Firmin Lambot, who was 36 years old when he won in 1922.
- It is expected that around 15 million spectators will line the route of this years tour.
In 2017 the Tour de France was won by British rider Chris Froome from Team Sky. This was the fourth time he had won the race (he also won in 2013, 2015 and 2016), and only the fifth time a Briton had ever won the Tour de France (Bradley Wiggins was the first in 2012).
So how do they work out who gets to wear the yellow jersey? When a cyclist crosses the finish line their time is recorded, and this is their time for that day (stage). At the end of each day, the cyclists have all of their stage times from the start of the race added up. The cyclist with the quickest overall time from the start is awarded the yellow jersey to wear on the next stage.Tour de France race winner.
The overall winner of the Tour de France is the rider with the quickest time for all the stages put together. It is possible for a rider who has not been in the lead, and never worn the yellow jersey, to win the overall Tour de France by cycling very fast on the last day. This has only happened twice so far – in 1947 and 1968. There are also other competitions within the Tour de France.
At the end of each stage the leaders of each competition are also given a special jersey to wear – it is good fun trying to spot all the jerseys every day.
In French this is known as the ‘maillot vert’, and is worn by the best sprinter and time trialist. At the end of each stage points are given out to the riders. More points are given out for flat stages than mountain stages, and lots of extra points can be won for winning smaller sprint races within a stage. The Green Jersey is sometimes known as the Sprinters Jersey. Points can be taken off a rider if they do something wrong.
The best climber, or the ‘King of the Mountains’ wears the polka dot jersey. It is white with red dots, and is known as ‘malliot a pois rouges’ in French. The King of the Mountains is the rider who has the most points from the mountain stages, and the steeper the mountain, the more points a rider can get. Each year the jersey design changes slightly.