10 tips on the Tour de France

One of the lads at work asked me for some info on the Tour de France which starts on Saturday (I'm going for a Cadel Evans win). For a relatively newbie to cycling, watching the Tour for the first time does take a bit of working out, the best bet is to watch, listen and learn; you'll soon figure it out.

If you're wanting a head start I've put together some of the 10 tips on the Tour de France.

1. Basically it’s a 3 week race, the person who gets to the penultimate stage in the fastest time overall wins (the last stage is usually reserved for celebrating en-route and the ultimate sprint stage for the likes of Mark Cavendish). 

2. It's all about winning the yellow jersey; the person who finished the race in the fastest time. To win the yellow jersey, it's not about winning stages. Mark Cavendish could win 5 stages as a sprinter but still finish 3 hours behind the winner due to being slow in the mountains.

3. Each team will have a “leader”, who will be supported by a team of “domestiques”. The aim being to shelter him in the group, get him bottles and food so he is ready for the final 10k. Not all teams will have a super strong contender for the yellow jersey and may have a different strategy.

4. Some teams have different strategies, some go for the overall yellow jersey, some will go for the polka-dot jersey for the best climber (normally Spanish teams who are good at climbing) or just for the green jersey (like Mark Cavendish’s team). Some may be there to get into the daily breakaway and get exposure for sponsors.

5. You’ve got to finish every stage to start again the next day. If you get off your bike and into the car, you’re out. Riders also need to finish within a time frame of the leader too.

6. The group (known as a peloton) rides together for much of the time, normally the leading team will commit to most of the work on the front. On the days in the mountains, a group will form called the “grupetto”, this is a slow moving group normally full of sprinters like Mark Cavendish who aren’t the best going up hill.

7. The jerseys may change hands throughout the race depending on time or points gained/lost. You could be 5 minutes ahead in the yellow jersey, but then lose 7 minutes being caught up in a crash.

– the ultimate jersey. This is the person who finishes the race with the fastest time overall. The idea for the main contenders will be to get through the first week and finish together. I could have a 2 second advantage (perhaps I was 2 seconds faster in a Time Trial or manage a little breakaway near the finish) as long as I finish alongside my rivals, I could let them win the stage by a bike length and not lose my yellow jersey.

– this is the points jersey. More known as the sprinters jersey. Stages which are flat tend to be designed for the sprinters (ie: Mark Cavendish). Throughout the day there will be “intermediate sprints” where they can pick up points and then the finish where there are big points to be won.

Polka Dot – this is the King of the Mountains jersey. Every climb has a category and points can be gained for getting to the top first. Some riders can spend all day out on their own or all in a small group picking up points before being swept up on the last climb of the day by the team leaders.

White Jersey
– this is the best young rider jersey.

8. Everyday there is a breakaway; these are mainly the younger riders or smaller teams looking for exposure. Even the big teams may put a rider in the break for exposure. If you’re not going to be affecting the final standings then you’ll be allowed to get away. Then it’s the art of the chase. Normally they are reeled in about 10-5k from the finish, although some days they stay away encouraged by an eccentric ex-pro French directeur sportif!

9. Time trials are important. Here are two individual Time Trials (one being a mountain time trial which will be interesting) and also a Team Time Trial. These are designed to mix things up a little as the leader is exposed on his own. A team leader could lose seconds if not minutes here and may have to attack in the mountains to gain time. The Team Time Trial is interesting; out of all the team 4 must finish for the counting time. It also comes early on in the race, so the team leader is depending on the legs of all his team mates. Not all the team will be as strong or as experienced so they have to work together. A main contender could be 5 minutes behind after only a few stages due to his team not performing so it’s a big one.

10. Yes the crazy guys running alongside the riders are crazy. It all adds to the tour, you don't pay a penny to watch the Tour. Part of being a rider is coping with the added stress of a guy in a mankini while you're climbing one of the toughest mountain roads in the World!

Vive le Tour!


a said...

Wow, looks great! Thanks for posting this. This post is very very helpful!

Mithu Karim said...

Outstanding guideline. I'm looking for participate in this race. Please make sure the costing.

Mark Don said...

I am interested in this program. Now I'm getting a great guideline thank you so much.

BestBikePicks said...

These tips are very handy. Thanks for sharing.