The Tour de France is upon us…
The start date for the 2017 Tour de France is 1st July 2017. The greatest sporting event on the planet. Honestly, it makes other events look a little rubbish in comparison.
– The football World Cup? Bunch of overpaid posers.
– Wimbledon? More like a fashion parade and an excuse for Pimms and strawberries.
– As to the big horse racing events… more like animal cruelty. Don’t get me started about the people who go and drink, sorry watch.
OK, those statements are a little tongue in cheek, all sports are good. Seriously though, the dedication needed to compete in the Tour de France and the strategies and tactics make it such a stand out event.
What is the Tour de France?
The Tour de France is an annual three week stage cycling race primarily held in France, but also goes into other countries.
The 2017 race is starting in Düsseldorf, Germany and is the 104th event in the Tours history.
The race was first organized in 1903 to increase sales for the newspaper L’Auto. The race has been held annually since its first edition in 1903 except when it was cancelled for the two World Wars.
It’s the Tour that captures the imagination though, where winning a single stage is something every rider dreams of, never mind the whole event.
The 2017 Tour de France Route
Full route over the 21 days can be seen below:
Image source – http://www.letour.fr/le-tour/
Running from Saturday July 1st 2017 to Sunday July 23rd 2017 it covers a total distance of 3,540 kilometres.
Tour de France Stage Profiles:
- 9 flat stages
- 5 hilly stages
- 5 mountain stages including altitude finishes (La Planche des Belles Filles, Peyragudes, Izoard)
- 2 individual time-trials stages
- 2 rest days
New Sites and Stage Cities
- Düsseldorf (1st stage and start of stage 2)
- Mondorf-les-Bains (start of stage 4)
- Nuits-Saint-Georges (finish of stage 7)
- Nantua (start of stage 9), Eymet (start of stage 11)
- Laissac-Sévérac l’Église (start of stage 15)
- Romans-sur-Isère (finish of stage 16)
- La Mure (start of stage 17)
- Izoard (finish of stage 18)
- Salon-de-Provence (finish of stage 19)
Beginners Guide to the Tour de France
For the uninitiated, the Tour can be a complex bike race. It is worth understanding a few things to get the most out of it.
There are a number of jerseys that the riders are competing for, with the yellow jersey being the most important.
The Yellow Jersey is worn by the leader of the general time classification (i.e. the quickest overall time in the race).
The Green Jersey is worn by the leader of the general points classification. Points are awarded at the intermediate sprint in each mass-start stage and the finish of each stage.
Red Polka-Dot Jersey
The Red Polka-Dot Jersey is worn by the best climber in the general classification. Mountain points are awarded at the top of every categorised climb. The points for a summit finish are doubled.
The White Jersey is worn by the best young rider (age 25 or under in the current year) in the general classification.
The Combativity Award is given out at the end of each stage by a jury made up of cycling specialists. The chosen rider is seen to be the most progressive and aggressive rider over the stage. An overall winner is chosen after the last stage of Le Tour. The winner wears red-coloured race numbers in the next stage.
The Team classification is calculated by adding the times of each team’s three best riders on each stage. Riders in the team leading the classification wear yellow helmets and race numbers.
Here’s a great gallery of the Team Presentation over on Cycling Tips:
How many teams and riders are their in the Tour de France?
There are 22 teams competing in this year’s Tour de France (2017). Each team has 9 riders. So in total there are 198 professional cyclists competing over the grueling competition; however, quite a few don’t make it to the end.
For example, here is theTeam Sky lineup for the 2017 Tour:
Why does each team have 9 riders?
To answer this question you need to understand the role of the team.
For Team Sky, Chris Froome is the GC (General Classification – AKA main rider who they want to win the event) guy. The whole team revolves around him. Everything that the team does is focused solely on making sure he wins the Yellow Jersey and the Tour. Basically the other riders in the team sacrifice themselves so that the top GC rider does as best as physically possible.
Understanding this team strategy is key to understanding how the Tour de France (and other Grand Tour races) work.
With this in mind, the team will be there to provide assistance, whatever that may be, to the top rider. For example:
- providing wind protection so he saves energy
- protecting him in the bunch (big group of riders) so he has less chance of getting mixed up in a crash
- bringing him food and drink as he rides
- providing him help if he needs any. This even includes giving up their bike if his fails for some reason
Just a side note. Quite often the winner of the Tour de France does not win that many individual stages. Because there are specialists on the hills or on the flat, these riders tend to win these stages, but overall the consistent quick times of the main GC rider means they are the fastest at the end of the Tour.
Each cycling team is made up specialists who excel in a particular activity. These include climbers (specialists on hills), rouleurs (strong men) and super-domestiques (riders who work hard to keep the main man at the front but ultimately sacrifice themselves because they have used up all their energy). The latter are riders who in another team, could be the main GC guy! Sky’s pockets are so deep, they want to ensure Chris Froome gets help from the very best.
The rouleur is someone who is strong in the flats and can pull like a diesel. Christian Knees is a perfect example:
Christian Knees will proudly take to the start line of his 17th Grand Tour at the Grand Depart in his homeland. The German brings a wealth of experience to the table and will relish racing his first Tour de France since 2012 on the back of a resurgent 2017. He performed his typically strong and selfless role throughout the cobbled Classics campaign, then looked after Chris Froome on the flatter days at the Criterium du Dauphine. A hugely respected member of the squad, Knees will be a crucial part of the Team Sky lineup.
You then have someone like Sergio Henao. He is a climbing specialist to support Froome in the mountains:
Colombian climber Sergio Henao is enjoying the finest season of his career. Fresh from winning the Colombian national road championship in February the 29 year old won a thrilling edition of Paris-Nice, before enjoying a strong Ardennes campaign, co-leading the team alongside Michal Kwiatkowski. Henao is viewed as one of the fiercest competitors in the peloton, and Froome knows he can rely upon the loyal Colombian come rain or shine.
Then you have someone like Luke Rowe, who is a very popular guy and road captain (calls the shots in the thick of the action along with the Director Sportif in the car):
Amongst his many talents, Luke Rowe can also claim to be one of Chris Froome’s lucky charms – Froome has won both editions of the Tour that Rowe has raced, in 2015 and ’16. Road captain on both occasions, the popular Welshman will have a huge part to play again in 2017 after another encouraging campaign for the Classics specialist. An impressive third place finish at Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne in March was further evidence of Rowe’s development and he played a pivotal role in Sergio Henao’s Paris-Nice win, marshalling him through the race’s early crosswinds.
As you can see, the team is built entirely around Chris Froome.
Other teams will be similar, all supporting their hope to win the GC / the Tour overall.
It’s going to be an amazing three weeks. Let’s hope there is some incredible riding, amazing views, exciting stories and no big crashes.
Best Tour de France Resources
Twitter accounts worth following for the Tour de France:
Other Useful Tour de France Links
Orica Greenedge make fanastic videos each and every day during the tour and bring insight and fun to YouTube:
Nice preview of the Tour from Cycling News:
Overview of the route:
Best of 2016 TDF video – brilliant!
iCal for you to download with the stage dates:
Tour de France TV Coverage in the UK
Saturday 1 July 1400-1815 LIVE stage one on Eurosport 1
2000-2200 Stage one highlights on Eurosport 1
1400 -1800 Live stage one on ITV4
1900-2000 Stage one highlights on ITV4
Sunday 2 July 1100-1645 LIVE stage two on Eurosport 1
2000-2200 Stage two highlights on Eurosport 11100-1645 Live stage two on ITV4
1900-2000 Stage two highlights on ITV4
Monday 3 July
1115-1700 LIVE stage three on Eurosport 1
2000-2200 Stage three highlights on Eurosport 1
1100 -1645 Live stage three on ITV4
1900-2000 Stage three highlights on ITV4
Tuesday 4 July
1100-1645 LIVE stage four on Eurosport 1
2000-2200 Stage four highlights on Eurosport 1
1100 -1630 Live stage four on ITV4
1900-2000 Stage four highlights on ITV4
Wednesday 5 July
1200-1700 LIVE stage five on Eurosport 1
2000-2200 Stage five highlights on Eurosport 1
1200 -1645 Live stage five on ITV4
1900-2000 Stage five highlights on ITV4
Thursday 6 July
1100-1700 LIVE stage six on Eurosport 1
2000-2200 Stage six highlights on Eurosport 1
1100 -1700 Live stage six on ITV4
1900-2000 Stage six highlights on ITV4
Friday 7 July
1100-1700 LIVE stage seven on Eurosport 1
2000-2200 Stage seven highlights on Eurosport 1
1100 -170 Live stage seven on ITV4
1900-2000 Stage seven highlights on ITV4
Saturday 8 July
1100-1700 LIVE stage eight on Eurosport 1
2000-2200 Stage eight highlights on Eurosport 2
1100 -1630 Live stage eight on ITV4
1900-2000 Stage eight highlights on ITV4
Sunday 9 July
1030-1645 LIVE stage nine on Eurosport 1
2000-2200 Stage nine highlights on Eurosport 1
1030 -1630 Live stage nine on ITV4
1900-2000 Stage nine highlights on ITV4
Monday 10 July
1900-2000 Rest day highlights on ITV4
Tuesday 11 July
1215-1700 LIVE stage 10 on Eurosport 1
2000-2200 Stage 10 on Eurosport 1
1200 -1700 Live stage 10 on ITV4
1900-2000 Stage 10 highlights on ITV4
Wednesday 12 July
1145-1715 LIVE stage 11 on Eurosport 1
2000-2200 Stage 11 on Eurosport 1
1200 -1715 Live stage 11 on ITV4
1900-2000 Stage 11 highlights on ITV4
Thursday 13 July
0945-1630 LIVE stage 12 on Eurosport 1
2000-2200 Stage 12 on Eurosport 1
0945-1630 Live stage 12 on ITV4
1900-2000 Stage 12 highlights on ITV4
Friday 14 July
1315-1700 LIVE stage 13 on Eurosport 1
2000-2200 Stage 13 on Eurosport 11315 -1700 Live stage 13 on ITV4
1900-2000 Stage 13 highlights on ITV4
Saturday 15 July
1200-1700 LIVE stage 14 on Eurosport 1
2000-2200 Stage 14 highlights on Eurosport 1
1200 -1700 Live stage 14 on ITV4
1900-2000 Stage 14 highlights on ITV4
Sunday 16 July
1200-1715 LIVE stage 15 on Eurosport 1
2000-2200 Stage 15 highlights on Eurosport 1
1200 -1730 Live stage 15 on ITV4
1900-2000 Stage 15 highlights on ITV4
Monday 17 July
1900-2000 Rest day highlights on ITV4
Tuesday 18 July
1230-1645 LIVE stage 16 on Eurosport 1
2000-2200 Stage 16 on Eurosport 1
1230 -1645 Live stage 16 on ITV4
1900-2000 Stage 16 highlights on ITV4
Wednesday 19 July
1100-1700 LIVE stage 17 on Eurosport 1
2000-2200 Stage 17 on Eurosport 1
1100 -1700 Live stage 17 on ITV4
1900-2000 Stage 17 highlights on ITV4
Thursday 20 July
0900-1100 LIVE La Course by Le Tour on Eurosport 1
1145-1700 LIVE stage 18 on Eurosport 1
1900-2000 La Course by Le Tour on Eurosport 1
2000-2200 Stage 18 on Eurosport 1
1130 -1700 Live stage 18 on ITV4
1900-2000 Stage 18 highlights on ITV4
Friday 21 July
1115-1700 LIVE stage 19 on Eurosport 1
2000-2200 Stage 19 on Eurosport 1
1100 -1700 Live stage 19 on ITV4
1900-2000 Stage 19 highlights on ITV4
Saturday 22 July
1245-1700 LIVE stage 20 on Eurosport 1
2000-2200 Stage 20 highlights on Eurosport 1
1230 -1700 Live stage 20 on ITV4
1900-2000 Stage 20 highlights on ITV4
Sunday 23 July
1730-1845 LIVE stage 21 on Eurosport 12000-2200 Stage 21 highlights on Eurosport 1
1530 -1900 Live stage 21 on ITV4
2100-2200 Stage 21 highlights on ITV4
There are also various streams online which you can find here:
There you go, hopefully you are very excited about this years Tour de France. We certainly are. If you did not already know much about the Tour you do now (after reading this guide), so you can sit back and enjoy the strategies, tactics, and full throttle racing.