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Tour de France: Everything You Need To Know

Friday 4th July 2014

The Tour de France rolls into the UK this weekend as the first three stages of the world's biggest bike race are held in Britain.

cycling buckingham

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With the race starting in Yorkshire, millions of Britons will discover why Le Tour is the most popular spectator event in the world.

If you're new to watching cycling, here is everything you need to know about the Tour De France.

Everything You Need To Know About The Tour De France

Le Tour consists of 21 stages, each one a race in themselves. The winner is the cyclist who finishes all the stages in the quickest time, but it is a huge honour to win any stage.

Types Of Stage
- Sprinters' stage: A long, flat route, in which everyone arrives at the finishing line at the same time and the fastest will sprint to decide the stage winner.
- Mountain stage: Going up huge mountains leaves huge gaps between the riders, so the strongest climber will triumph.
- Time trial: The cyclists ride individually at two-minute interviews against the clock.

The winner will be the cyclist who can succeed across all three types of stage.

Britain's Mark Cavendish is one of the strongest sprinters in the race and has 25 stage victories to his name. But he will never be in contention to win the Tour, as he loses huge chunks of time on the mountain and time trial stages.

The Jerseys
- Yellow jersey: The famous jersey is worn by the race leader, otherwise known as the leader of the General Classification (GC).
- Green jersey: Worn by the best sprinter. Riders get points at the end of each stage (and at designated sprint points in the middle).
- Polka dot jersey: This fetching red and white polka dot outfit is worn by the King Of The Mountains, the cyclist who is best at riding up the steep inclines. The first riders over each hill get points.
- White jersey: The best young rider in the GC.


General Classification
The name for the full Tour de France overall competition for the yellow jersey.

The large group of riders bunched together as they ride along.

Hors categorie
All the mountains are categorised on how hard they are to cycle up, from Cat 4 for the small hills up to Cat 1 for the big mountains. But some mountains are so big they are 'Without Category' - the Hors Categorie or HC mountains.

Flamme rouge
The red flag over the road to show one KM to go.

Also known as the grupetto, this is a group of struggling riders coasting home behind the main peleton.

The team masseur and nutritional expert, who helps the riders physically ready for the race. 

Directeur sportif
Even the British team bosses are referred to as the Directeur Sportif.

If you hear the phrase 'Chapeau', literally meaning 'hat', a rider is doffing his cap to a rider who performed well.

Each team has a leader, who is trying to win one of the jerseys, while each of the other members of the team have a specific role. The domestiques are there to make the race as easy as possible for the leader, protecting him on the road and bringing him food and drink.