Le Tour de France 101

The Tour de France is the holy grail of cycling, and the 2017 iteration is well and truly underway, so if you want to keep up with the hottest topic of conversation on your next group ride and sound like a pro, here are some essentials you should know.

Know the French phrases 

Over the past 114 or so years, the Tour has developed its own amalgamated lexicon. Knowing the terms and phrases used throughout the Tour is essential to show you know what you’re talking about.

Peloton – The main group of riders in a stage.

Tête de la course – Literally, ‘head of the race,’ tête de la course refers to the often small group of riders leading the stage.

Domestique – Riders who work to support the lead riders in their team.

Lanterne rouge – Coming from the literal translation, ‘red lantern,’ in reference to the red lantern that used be hung on the back of the last train carriage, this is the term given to the rider currently getting the wooden spoon, the rider in last place.

Maillot jaune – The yellow jersey, awarded to the current overall general classification (GC) leader.

Pyrenees – One of France’s most prominent mountain ranges, featuring some of the most brutal climbs to be found on the tour.

Know the jerseys 


Simon Gerrans sporting the yellow jersey in the 2013 tour. (1)

Individual jerseys signify the lead rider of each of the various categories.

The Yellow Jersey – By far the most well known category. The yellow jersey is awarded to the lead rider in the general classification, the rider with the lowest cumulative time across all stages.

The Polka Dot Jersey – The climber’s jersey. Points for this jersey are allocated in decreasing order to the first riders to reach the top of a classified climb. The rider with the most points is awarded the polka dot jersey.

The Green Jersey – The sprinters jersey. Points for this jersey are awarded to the first 15 riders to finish a stage, and additionally to the first 15 riders to cross predetermined sprint points throughout the stages.

The White Jersey – The young rider classification. This jersey awarded to the first rider in the GC under the age of 26.

Know the drama

Whether you think Peter Sagan is the victim of an overly sensitive jury or he’s a brute who should have taken up a career in boxing, either way, his run in with Mark Cavendish on Stage 4 of this year’s tour will be a talking point for weeks to come. Also, Marcel Kittel is riding, and winning, on disc brakes. Take from that what you may, but that’s another topic welcoming an interesting debate around the office.

Know some riders besides Chris Froome

Romain Bardet, Nairo Quintana, Richie Porte, and this year’s winner of the Critérium du Dauphiné, Jakob Fuglsang, are all serious competitors for this year’s yellow jersey. If you’re looking to back an underdog, Quick-Step Floors rider Dan Martin could be a surprise contender for this year’s GC.

(1) Georges Seguin (Okki)Own work



Categories: Discussions, News

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