What is Tour de France – The Essence of a Historical Sports Events

Held for the first time in history 115 years ago, the bicycling competition known as Tour de France has become a worldwide phenomenon that is still happening today on a yearly basis. While some people view it as nothing more than a mere cycling marathon, the event is much more complex and filled with numerous challenges which are indivisible from the whole experience. Today, we explore the different elements which are present in this year’s Tour de France.

The Stages

When people hear Tour de France, they usually imagine a group pack of cyclists on the public road, but there is much to it. The event itself has predetermined stages that require the participants to cycle through 8 flat stages, 5 hilly stages, 6 mountain stages, 3 Altitude finishes, one individual time trial, and one team time trial. In addition to those stages, two rest days are also given to the riders for recuperation.

Who and How Many Will Participate?

A total of 176 riders will partake in the tour, divided into teams of 8 people. While in the beginning, Tour de France only had French participants, but with growing popularity, it was classified as a UCI World Tour Event, which means that professional cyclists from other countries started to take part as well. Today, some of the nationalities taking part in Tour de France are Australia, France, Denmark, Spain, Germany, Britain, Netherlands, and Italy.

Where Will the Riders Pass Through?

According to the official manifesto, the stages will be separated as follows – twelve in the Alps, four in the Massif central, and ten in the Pyrenees. While the entire tour is almost completely held on French ground, there will be some exceptions. A short visit is scheduled through Spain during stage number 16. There, cyclists will travel through a distance of 15 kilometers. An interesting fact is that the Tour hasn’t passed through Spain since 2006.

The Complete Distance and Sections

One of the most fascinating facts about Tour de France is the distance at which participants have to cover. This year, the exact measured distance is 3,351 kilometers. The average distance for the flat, hilly and mountain stages will be from 100 to 200 kilometer each. Individual and team time-trial stages will be respectively 35.5km and 31km.

  • 3,351 km
    Full distance length
  • 100-200 km
    Average distance
  • 31-35.5 km
    Trial stages
Did You Know?

Known to be as the most prestigious and famous bicycle race in the world, the Tour de France provides a lot of opportunities to sportsbook enthusiasts worldwide. Given the complexity of the race, you can expect that there will be a lot of sports markets available for this event, but before you place your first wager, there are a few things seasoned and beginner punters should be aware of.

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The Jersey – A Symbol to Follow

A little bit of trivia here is the yellow jersey. Also known as the Maillot Jaune, it is always given to the first rider to finish a stage of the race in the first place – signifying them as “the leader of the race”. Naturally, the Yellow Jersey will change ownership, should a different participant takes finishes first in another stage.

The green jersey – Maillot Vert, is given to the race’s best sprinter. The polka dot jersey is given to the race’s finest climber. A white jersey is awarded to the highest ranked rider at the age of 25 or younger. Aside from those special jerseys, every team has their own colored uniform that they wear, representing both their countries and sponsors. The current reigning champion wears a special jersey that is made of solid color, with a variety of special horizontal colored stripes.

Peloton – The Riding Group

National current road championships wear team jerseys feature their country’s colors. Once the riders are in motion, they create a visual kaleidoscope of colors called the “Peloton”. It is exactly this Peloton when combined with the naturally beautiful outdoor scenery of France, that makes Tour de France one of the most beautiful sporting events ever.

While the Peloton is indeed very aesthetically pleasing, it isn’t just for good looks. The formation and positioning of the riders play a vital role when it comes to conserving energy. Air drag is reduced, by the means of exploiting tail, fight head, crosswinds, and wind shear. The strategy of changing the shape of the Peloton is also called “drafting”, and a rider in the middle of the group can save as much as 40% of energy.

Breaking Away

A participant in the Tour cannot hope to achieve victory if he only rides in the Peloton. At some point, a team from a country will break away from the main formation, into what is called a double-paced line. Should a participant from a rivaling team tries to join their double paced line, the others will try to slow them down by shifting their positioning, and efficiently providing one of their teammates to gain further advantage and win for the team. It is very rare for a winner to accept their award without thanking their teammates, as it is their selfless effort, that allowed the winner their individual glory.

Demanding Physical Superiority

Tour de France is not for the weak or averagely prepared. Every single participant needs to be extremely fit, to be capable of handling a loss of 7000 calories per day (the average person burns around 2000) and endure a heart rate of 200 beats per minute. Among all other sports, it is here where participants need to possess the most humanly-possible amount of endurance. Even good fortune is a factor in this race, as even the slightest slip can cause a fall, severe enough to end a career. Tour de France is worthy to watch!