It’s the biggest cycling race in the world – but how well do you know it?
When and where is it taking place?
The 2014 Tour de France kicks off in Leeds tomorrow. Three stages will take place in the U.K. over the course of three days before the race continues on the mainland. The race will move to Belgium, Spain and France, making it one of the most geographically diverse races in years. It lasts a total of 23 days, including two rest days, and will finish on July 27th in Paris.
What is the distance covered?
The total distance of the cycling route is 3,656km.
Why do cyclists ride in teams?
Cycling might appear to be an individual sport with one person claiming victory, but nothing could be further from the case with the Tour. It takes a team effort for the team leader to win a Grand Tour.
22 teams will take place in the Tour de France. Each team comprises 9 riders, meaning 198 cyclists will line-up in Leeds on Saturday
Each team has a designated team leader. A team leader is the person most likely to win the Tour, or to claim stage victories. The 8 team-mates are called 'domestiques'. They are support riders who cycle for the team leader: they do the ‘donkey work’ to deliver stage victories or to protect the lead rider. The riders take turns being at the front of the tight formation called a peloton. When the rider at the front gets tired, he will drop to the back and another rider will take his place.
What about the jerseys?
Different coloured jerseys reward different types of cyclists. The best rider in each of the categories is given the right to wear that particular jersey during the Tour and jerseys are awarded individually at the end of each stage.
What do the different colours mean?
Yellow - the maillot jaune is awarded to the rider who is leading the general classification – i.e. the one that has the quickest overall time so far in the race - and is the most prestigious of all the jerseys.
Green - worn by the leader of the points classification.
Polka dot - awarded to the best climber.
White - awarded to the best placed rider aged 25 or under in the general classification.
The Tour is riddled with traditions and protocols.
One of the most gentlemanly traditions is that no one attacks the Yellow Jersey on the run to Paris on the final day.
Peloton etiquette dictates that when the Yellow Jersey stops for what commentators call a ‘comfort break’, no one overtakes him.
Riders often slow down to allow others to catch up after a crash or puncture. Attacking in the wake of such incidents is frowned upon.
How well do you know your Tour De France terminology?
Here’s a quick guide:
Peloton - this term refers to the main group of cyclists riding together during a stage. Cyclists travel together in packs for protection, mostly from the wind, as a rider uses about a third less energy by riding in another's slipstream
Domestique - the team mates who look after the team leader. A domestique will turn up the pace to try to weaken rivals or defend his leader from attack. He will fetch food and clothing from the team car and give up his bike if his leader has a mechanical problem
Drafting - drafting or slipstreaming is where riders will try and form a line directly behind one another in order to benefit from the slipstream in front and to conserve energy
Grand Depart - the first stage of the Tour
Hors-categorie - the most challenging mountain peaks where the difficulty in climbing is beyond categorization
Flamme rouge (also red kite) — the red flag hanging from an inflatable archway at the start of the final kilometre
Lanterne rouge - the rider who finishes the Tour in the longest time
And most importantly – the Prize money
Overall winner of the Tour - € 450,000 (it is a Tour tradition that the overall winner will share the pot with his team-mates)
Individual stage winners - €22,500 per stage (21 stages in total)
Green jersey winner - €25,000 for the overall winner
Polka dot jersey winner - €25,000 for the overall winner
White jersey winner - €20,000 for the overall winner