Monday, July 12, 2010

Tour de France crash course

By book's end, your child knows the basic rules of the race and its stages, has an understanding of terms such as "drafting" (the strategy of riding closely behind other cyclists to reduce drag), and appreciates the role of teams in supporting their fastest riders.

He's also learned fun facts, including the reason why a French rider usually wins the stage of the race that coincides with Bastille Day, and how grueling the 2,235-mile ride can be as it climbs through treacherous terrain and spills into countrysides.

For example, he learns that at the end of a tour, racers sometimes have to breathe as hard as if they were still pedaling to get enough oxygen back in their bodies or that they can lose the equivalent of 15 cups of water from their bodies each day.


Each July hundreds of thousands of fans head to France to watch its great annual bike race. But unless they’ve planned carefully, they’ll arrive to find full hotels, blocked routes, overpriced food, chaotic roads, and endless frustration as they try to get close to the race they’ve come to see.

Graham Watson’s Tour de France Travel Guide provides the ultimate insider’s access from one of the Tour’s most experienced old hands. In his 31 years of following and photographing the race, Watson has mastered the Tour’s daily challenges—where to eat, where to sleep, how to get around, how to see and photograph the race, and most of all, how to enjoy the greatest show on two wheels.


Jersey colours:

  • The yellow jersey is worn by the individual race leader.
  • The green jersey represents the race's best sprinter (through a points system*).
  • The polka dot jersey designates the race's finest climber.
  • The white jersey is worn by the highest-ranked rider in the overall competition age 25 or younger.

* At the end of each stage, points are earned by the riders who finish first, second, etc. Points are higher for flat stages, as sprints are more likely, and less for mountain stages, where climbers usually win. In the current rules, there are five types of stages: flat stages, intermediates stages, mountain stages, individual time trial stages and team time trial stages. The number of points awarded at the end of each stage are:

Flat stages
35, 30, 26, 24, 22, 20, 19, 18, 17, 16, 15, 14, 13, 12, 11, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2 and 1 points are awarded to the first 25 riders across the finish line.

Intermediate stages
25, 22, 20, 18, 16, 15, 14, 13, 12, 11, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 points are awarded to the first 20 riders across the finish line.

High-mountain stages
20, 17, 15, 13, 12, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 points are awarded to the first 15 riders across the finish line.

15, 12, 10, 8, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 points are awarded to the top 10 finishers of the stage.


The only rider to win the yellow, green, and polka-dot jersey in the same race, Eddy Merckx, is also considered one of the best cyclists ever. He won the Tour de France five times, won all the classics except Paris-Tours,[2] won the Giro d'Italia five times and the Vuelta a España, won the world championship as an amateur and a professional, and broke the world hour record.


Watch live here: (about a 1/4 way down the page, tabs in blue)


What's been going on so far:

Meh, a few bicycle tire fights:

According to Barredo, Costa elbowed him in the stomach as he passed with about 20 km left in the stage, nearly throwing him off his bike. After the two crossed the finish line, Barredo removed the front wheel of his bicycle and charged Costa. The two exchanged blows before being pulled apart.

The two were fined 400 Swiss francs each. Why? I don't know. Neither is Swiss. The race isn't in Switzerland.


This year's race: here.

Now some basic information about the race, from the official website:

-This is the 97th Tour.
-From Saturday July 3rd to Sunday July 25th 2010,
-there will be 1 prologue and 20 stages covering 3,642 kilometres. (2,262 miles)

Other stage details:
These stages have the following profiles:

* 1 prologue,
* 9 flat stages,
* 6 mountain stages and 3 summit finishes,
* 4 medium mountain stages,
* 1 individual time-trial stage (52 km).


Oh, and Lance Armstrong is pretty much out...

Lance's three crashes in the eighth stage on Sunday, perhaps the worst day of his Tour de France career, dropped him 13 minutes, 26 seconds behind leader Cadel Evans. That's the equivalent of a 25-run lead in baseball.

"My tour is finished," Mr. Armstrong said Sunday.

Armstrong’s Twitter page shortly after the finish – “When it rains it pours I guess. Today was not my day needless to say. Quite banged but gonna hang in here and enjoy my last 2 weeks.”

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