scotts Dummies Guide to the Tour de France

Sport / July 10, 2018
by Johanna Roelich

It’s all heating up in the sporting world and we’re all over it. Alongside the biggest tournament of a footballer’s life (and definitely the biggest tournament of a fans life) we’ve had Wimbledon kick off this week and now the Tour de France is here. The Open is soon too right? We’re in our element.

There are some sports you can switch on and grasp what’s going on within a few seconds. They’ve scored more goals, he has more points, you get the idea. But the Tour de France, not so much. This is the most famous of cycling’s three grand tours and unfortunately probably the toughest to understand.

Luckily for you we’ve pulled together this guide so you can act like you know what you’re talking about down the pub with your mates. No need to thank us.

The Tour started Saturday 7th July and ends on the 29th July. That’s right, you’ve got three weeks until you’re a pro and can impress your mates or that girl you’ve been dying to take out on a date, with all this cycling knowledge. Just want a girl looks for.

22 teams, 198 riders, 21 stages, about 3500 kilometres from Germany to Paris, the Tour de France isn’t messing around. It’s the world’s largest annual sporting event and involves thousands of people who follow the riders along the route.

Each of the 21 stages is completely unique – some are flat and some feature a climb to a summit finish, some pass through tiny villages and others visit big cities. All riders are going to excel on different types of terrain.

It’s the most famous, most challenging, most controversial bike race in the world.

So, who’s the favourites to win?

We’re quite confident you’ve heard of British cyclist Chris Froome, and if you haven’t then this might be a long process for you. Froome rides for Team Sky and has been one of the all-time favourites for a number of years, alongside most successful Olympian, Tour de France winner and teammate, Sir Bradley Wiggins… You’ve definitely heard of this geezer.

Froome won the race in 2013, 2015, 2016 and 2017 and also took the mountains classification in 2015. We’re feeling confident about this one.

Behind Froome, Italian rider Vincenzo Nibali. He’s started six tours and managed to finish each one, placing no higher than 11th in a single stage but he definitely shouldn’t be ignored or underestimated. Although the above stats might throw you off, he is known as one of the greatest bike racers of the modern era and is the ideal man to challenge Froome It’s looking to be an interesting couple of weeks!

Finally, we have Nairo Quintana from Colombia. He has completed four Tours and has stood on the podium three times in Paris, though has yet to stand on the top step. Nairo is thought to be Froome’s toughest challenge this year.

The best places to catch the Tour.

Noirmoutier-en-l’Île – The Grand Départ

The tour kicked off in the island of Noirmoutier-en-l’Île.  The buzz of the Grand Départ is most definitely a reason to try and catch the Tour de France as it begins, especially when the location is so picturesque. This first stage will cover a distance of over 189km over flat land, finishing up at Fontenay-le-Comte.

Finistère – Stages 4 to 6

If you want to tie in the Tour with a coastal break, this is the place to head to, Finistère in Brittany. The route goes through the village of Locronan, which would be spot on to make as a base to view the race. Generally, though, between these two urban patches is the rugged and wild Armorique Regional Park, suited for exploring or using as your base in between race-watching.

Amiens – Stage 8

Looking for a city break? Why not check out Amiens Métropole, which is where Stage 8 of the Le Tour finishes on Saturday 14th July.  The cyclists will have to push on over 21.7 kilometres of cobbled roads starting in the 9th stage from Arras to Roubaix.

Paris – Stage 21

If you want to check out the best bits of the Tour, you can’t leave out Paris! By far the craziest stage of them all, due to sheer numbers converging in one of the most iconic cities in the world. If you’re brave enough to choose Paris as where you want to catch the Tour de France, there are just a couple of things to keep in mind: There will always be people that get there earlier than you and in this case, hundreds of thousands, also head to the Tuileries, overlooking Place de la Concorde, where you’ll get a better view of the final stages.

The Tour de France may be one of the toughest endurance events an athlete can take part in, but when it comes to collecting their prize money after three weeks in the saddle, riders are reminded of just how tough the sport really is. Let’s put it this way, Roger Federer pocketed £2.2 million for just 11 hours 37 minutes of tennis last year at Wimbledon and the winner at this year’s Tour will earn around £440,626, for cycling 3,351 kilometres over a gruelling three-week period. A man’s game.

 

Watch the best of the Tour de France 2017

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