The Tour de France (French pronunciation: [tuʁ də fʁɑ̃s]) is an annual multiple stage bicycle race primarily held in France, while also occasionally making passes through nearby countries. The race was first organized in 1903 to increase paper sales for the magazineL'Auto; it is currently run by the Amaury Sport Organisation. The race has been held annually since its first edition in 1903 except for when it was stopped for the two World Wars. As the Tour gained prominence and popularity the race was lengthened and its reach began to extend around the globe. Participation expanded from a primarily French field, as riders from all over the world began to participate in the race each year. The Tour is a UCI World Tour event, which means that the teams that compete in the race are mostly UCI ProTeams, with the exception of the teams that the organizers invite.
The Tour de France, the Giro d'Italia and Vuelta a España make up cycling's prestigious, three-week-long Grand Tours; the Tour is the oldest and generally considered the most prestigious of the three. Traditionally, the race is held primarily in the month of July. While the route changes each year, the format of the race stays the same with the appearance of at least two time trials, the passage through the mountain chains of thePyrenees and the Alps, and the finish on the Champs-Élysées in Paris. The modern editions of the Tour de France consist of 21 day-long segments (stages) over a 23-day period and cover around 3,500 kilometres (2,200 mi). The race alternates between clockwise and anticlockwise circuits of France. The number of teams usually varies between 20 and 22, with nine riders in each.
All of the stages are timed to the finish; after finishing the riders' times are compounded with their previous stage times. The rider with the lowest aggregate time is the leader of the race and gets to don the coveted yellow jersey. While the general classification garners the most attention there are other contests held within the Tour: the points classification for the sprinters, the mountains classification for the climbers with general classification hopes, young rider classification for the riders under the age of 26, and theteam classification for the fastest teams.
環法自行車賽（法語：Le Tour de France）是知名的年度多階段公路自由車運動賽事，主要在法國舉辦，但也經常出入周邊國家(如英國、比利時，還有比鄰的西班牙庇里牛斯山中)。自從1903年開始以來，每年於夏季舉行，每次賽期23天，平均賽程超過3500公里(約2200英里)。完整賽程每年不一，但大都環繞法國一周。近年來，比賽結束前總是會穿越巴黎市中心的香榭麗舍大道，並且經過艾菲爾鐵塔。比賽全程分成許多段，從一個城鎮到下一個，每一段分別計時排名。所有段成績累計起來決定每一位賽手的總成績。冠軍為各段時間累計最少者。在每日賽事結束時，領先者將可穿上黃色領騎衫，最佳衝刺者將被贈與一件綠色車衣，山間賽事中之最佳騎士將會得到一件波爾卡點運動衣，其有時被稱作山顛之王(King of the Mountains)。
The beginners’ guide to the Tour de France
Don’t be surprised if you switch on the television sometime in the next three weeks and see nothing by masses of men in Spandex on bikes. You’re probably catching a glimpse of the Tour de France, which starts Saturday and runs through July 27. Don’t change the channel! Watching these athletes traverse the beautiful terrain of France, as well as England, Belgium and Spain, is far from dull.
First off, there’s the scenery. The cinematography of this event is truly breathtaking. And the race is cool too, as long as you know what to watch for. Let’s start at the beginning.
WHAT IS THE TOUR DE FRANCE?
Obviously, you know it’s a bike race. But it’s not the type that happens in a single sitting. There are 21 stages that cover 2,277 miles of terrain in four countries this year (the route changes every annually): England, Belgium, Spain and, of course, France. The stages are all a little different, but most fall into one of three categories: flat, individual time trial and mountain.
There are 198 riders spread among 22 teams. Yes, cycling is a team sport. Each team consists of nine individuals, including one leader and eightdomestiques, the French term used to describe the supporting riders. These riders will do everything they can to ensure their leader wins the race. For example, they might ride in front of the leader to create a draft the leader can ride behind, thus saving him energy. The domestiques might also head off competition by surging ahead to set a faster pace in hopes that his opponents will tire. The reward for their hard work comes when the winner traditionally splits the prize money with his team.
WHAT DO THEY RACE FOR?
Well, as noted. There’s a cash prize. This year, the overall winner is set to earn about $6oo,ooo, with an extra $30,000 per stage up for grabs to whoever can finish first on any particular day. That means, if a rider wins every stage and the entire TdF, the prize package would total around $1.23 million — though this never happens. In fact, sometimes the overall winner (known as the “general classification”) doesn’t win a single stage, but consistently finishes near the front.
Of course, pride and prestige is also on the line. This is where the different colored jerseys come into play, which can adorn the backs of several different people during the 21 stages. There are four of these jerseys.
Called the maillot jaune in French, or “Mellow Johnny” in American cycling slang, this color jersey indicates the current leader of the pack, which is measured in total time. Note: the rider wearing this jersey may not have won the most individual stages, but he has done the best cumulatively. If a rider is wearing this jersey at the end of the race, he is crowned the winner and gets the biggest cash prize.
Known as the maillot vert in French, the green jersey is worn by the rider with the highest number of sprint points, which riders earn for finishing first, second, and so on in each stage. The points awarded, however, vary depending on stage type. For example, flat stages give points to the top 25 riders. The first place finisher will get 35, while the 25th place finisher will get one. For medium mountain stages, only the Top 20 riders get points. The winner gets 25 and the 20th rider gets one. Riders can also get points in the high mountain stages, time trials and at predetermined intermediate contests sprinkled throughout the stages.
By far the coolest-looking jersey in the bunch, the white-and-red polka dot jersey, or maillot a pois rouges, as the French say, is awarded to the best climber, aka “The King of the Mountain.” Like the green jersey, this one also is awarded via a points system. Stretches of uphill climbs are designated into five categories based on difficulty. Riders who reach the top first get points, and the rider with the most climbing points at the end gets the polka dot jersey.
The maillot blanc is reserved for riders under 25 years old. It’s awarded via the same method as the yellow jersey.
WHAT’S UP WITH THAT BIG GROUP OF CYCLISTS ALL RIDING TOGETHER?
That’s called the peloton. Cyclists ride close together to save energy. The bigger the group, the larger the draft, and the closer you a riders are to the center of it the less they have to work. Of course, there are some drawbacks. If one person crashes, there’s potential that the whole group can go down.
WHAT IS WITH THE CROWD?
If you don’t watch for the feats of athleticism and strategy, you should at least watch for the spectators, who are notoriously nuts. Thousands of people line the roads hoping to catch a glimpse of the world’s most elite riders. But they also just want to party. Think of it like the world’s longest tailgate party. People dress up like weirdos, drink too much and often attempt to run along with the riders until the riders either gain speed or, more hilariously, push them away.
But it’s not all fun and games. Sometimes certain members of the crowd can get out of hand. In 2012, someone (Wile E. Coyote?) threw tacks on the road. That same year, a moron lit a few flares and ended up burning TdF winner Bradley Wiggins. Then, in what might be the grossest fan display, last year, someone sprayed Mark Cavendish with urine. Yeah. Nuts might be an understatement.