Okay folks, this is it, the big one – La Grand Boucle, Le Tour – The Tour de France!
This is the one race everyone knows about – even non cyclists know about and follow the Tour de France, more simply called the Tour. It’s the race all riders want to ride and having a completed Tour on your CV is a mighty achievement. Live TV coverage in many countries throughout the world as well as press from mainstream media means this really is the biggest bike race in the world and the largest annual sporting event on the planet.
The A Team
Everyone here is on their A game with the best preparation, equipment and back up so to win at the Tour is very difficult and therefore very rewarding. Winning at the Tour can provide you with income for years to come so riders are all keen to arrive at the Tour with the best form possible.
2013 may be the 100th edition of the Tour but the race actually began in 1903 and with the exception of the two world wars, has run every year since. It was originally started to promote the daily sports paper L’Auto whose pages were yellow and this is why the leader’s jersey became yellow and is now the colour the race is synonymous with.
This year 198 riders in 22 teams will start the race but not last year’s winner Sir Bradley Wiggins, the first British rider to win the event, as he is recovering from injuries sustained in the Tour of Italy earlier in the season. Luckily for British fan, Wiggins’ teammate and second overall last year, Britain’s Chris Froom is the rider to beat and the favourite to take the race. Newly crowned British road race champion Mark Cavendish will be looking to add to his tally of stage wins which currently stands at a whopping 23.
Other Brits on the race are Chris Froome’s Team Sky team mates Ian Stannard and Olympic Gold medal winners Peter Kennaugh MBE and Geraint Thomas MBE. David Millar is riding for the Garmin-Sharp team and for Irish fans his team mate Dan Martin is riding with Martin’s cousin Nicolas Roche (Team Saxo-Tinkoff), son of former Tour winner Stephen.
The race itself is a huge logistical operation with roads shut for many hours before and after the race. The riders are preceded by a publicity cavalcade several kilometres long giving out sponsor’s products along the route the race takes. It’s a massive party atmosphere wherever it goes with towns along the route stopping for the day with festivals and such. Away from the stage starts and finishes, the climbs are where you will see the most spectators. One of the most iconic climbs in cycling, Alpe d’Huez is climbed twice this year and many nations are claiming a hairpin on the mountain as their own so expect to see a lot of national flags and drunken people as they will have been there for days beforehand to get a good spot.
The race is made up of 21 stages, comprising two individual time trials, one team time trial, seven flat, five hilly and six mountainous stages, with four summit finishes.
Stage 1 (Saturday, June 29) Porto-Vecchio – Bastia 213 km
Stage 2 (Sunday, June 30) Bastia – Ajaccio 156 km
Stage 3 (Monday, July 1) Ajaccio – Calvi 145.5 km
Stage 4 (Tuesday, July 2) Nice (team Time Trial) 25 km
Stage 5 (Wednesday, July 3) Cagnes-sur-mer – Marseille 228.5 km
Stage 6 (Thursday, July 4) Aix-en-Provence – Montpellier 176.5 km
Stage 7 (Friday, July 5) Montpellier – Albi 205.5 km
Stage 8 (Saturday, July 6) Castres – Ax 3 Domaines 195 km
Stage 9 (Sunday, July 7) Saint-Girons – Bagnères-de-Bigorre 168.5 km
Rest day 1 (Monday, July 8) Saint-Nazaire, Loire-Atlantique
Stage 10 (Tuesday, July 9) St-Gildas-des-Bois – Saint Malo 197 km
Stage 11 (Wednesday, July 10) Avranches – Mont-Saint-Michel 33 km
(Individual Time Trial)
Stage 12 (Thursday, July 11) Fougères – Tours 218 km
Stage 13 (Friday, July 1) Tours – Saint-Amand-Montrond 173 km
Stage 14 (Saturday, July 1) Saint-Pourçain-sur-Sioule – Lyon 191 km
Stage 15 (Sunday, July 14) Givors – Mont Ventoux 242.5 km
Rest day 2 (Monday, July 15) Vaucluse province (Avignon, Orange)
Stage 16 (Tuesday, July 16) Vaison-la-Romaine – Gap 168 km
Stage 17 (Wednesday, July 17) Embrun – Chorges (Individual Time Trial) 32 km
Stage 18 (Thursday, July 18) Gap – l’Alpe d’Huez 172.5 km
Stage 19 (Friday, July 19) Bourg d’Oisans – Le Grand Bornand 204.5 km
Stage 20 (Saturday, July 20) Annecy – Annecy-Semnoz 125 km
Stage 21 (Sunday, July 21) Versailles – Paris – Champs-Elysées 133.5 km
Classification leader jerseys
There are four jerseys for classification leaders at the Tour.
Yellow jersey (maillot jaune) – Leaders jersey
Given out each day to the general classification leader, ie the rider who has the lowest aggregate time.
Green jersey – Points (sprints) jersey
The best sprinter, the rider with the most points earned at stage finishes and at intermediate sprints.
Polka dot jersey – King of the Mountains jersey
The best climber, with points awarded at the top of each classified climb.
White jersey – Best young rider jersey
The best placed under 25 year old rider in the race.
Team classification leaders
Team classification: Yellow helmets – awarded to the team with the lowest aggregate time, taken from three best-placed riders
2012 Jersey Winners
Yellow – Bradley Wiggins (GBR) Team SKY
Green – Peter Sagan (Slovakia) Cannondale
Polka dot – Thomas Voeckler (France) Europcar
White – Tejay Van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team
Team leaders and notable riders
1 Chris Froome (GBr)
3 Peter Kennaugh (GBr)
8 Ian Stannard (GBr)
9 Geraint Thomas (GBr)
11 Peter Sagan (Svk)
21 Jurgen Van den Broeck (Bel)
24 Andre Greipel (Ger)
BMC Racing (USA)
31 Cadel Evans (Aus)
34 Philippe Gilbert (Bel)
41 Andy Schleck (Lux)
48 Jens Voigt (Ger)
51 Pierre Rolland (Fra)
59 Thomas Voeckler (Fra)
61 Janez Brajkovic (Slo)
71 Thibaut Pinot (Fra)
81 Jean-Christophe Peraud (Fra)
91 Alberto Contador (Spa)
97 Nicolas Roche (Irl)
101 Joaquim Rodriguez (Spa)
111 Igor Anton (Spa)
121 Alejandro Valverde (Spa)
131 Rein Taaramae (Est)
141 Damiano Cunego (Ita)
151 Mark Cavendish (GBr)
154 Tony Martin (Ger)
161 Lars Boom (Ned)
Team manager: Charly Wegelius
171 Ryder Hesjedal (Can)
172 Jack Bauer (NZl)
175 Dan Martin (Irl)
176 David Millar (GBr)
181 Simon Gerrans (Aus)
188 Stuart O’Grady (Aus)
191 John Degenkolb (Ger)
201 Wout Poels (Ned)
205 Johnny Hoogerland (Ned)
211 Brice Feillu (Fra)
Stay tuned for our ‘What Have We Learned So Far’ posts in the coming days.
Maybe a bit of a manufacturers league update too.