The Tour de France, cycling’s most famous race and arguably the biggest challenge, opens its 110th edition on Saturday.
Over three weeks, the field will traverse approximately 3,115 miles. It won’t be fun for most cyclists. This year’s entrants (22 teams of 8 players each) will start the race in Bilbao, Spain, then head north and east through France to the Pyrenees and Alps (not to mention the Central Massif, Jura and Vosges). ). It will end on Sunday 23rd July with a traditional ride on the Champs Elysées in Paris.
Maybe you are an avid cycling fan. Maybe you’re just a regular viewer who likes great helicopter shots of the French countryside. Perhaps some of you got interested in the sport because of last year’s newly released Netflix documentary Tour de France: Unchained about racing.
Whatever your reason for racing, here’s what you need to know before the peloton comes out of the start gate this weekend.
How can I watch it?
In the United States, NBC’s streaming service, Peacock, usually launches between 6:00 and 8:00 am Eastern time, covering each stage in full. NBC and USA Network sometimes air his final two hours of each stage, followed by an encore presentation at midnight. Here are the details of NBC’s broadcast plans: here.
How do tours work?
The Tour de France consists of 21 stages over 23 days, with two rest days, and all but one stage is between 70 and 130 miles. (He has one even shorter stage, as well as an individual time trial that serves as the 16th stage.) The Tour champion is the fastest cyclist with his 21-day total time, and he’s easy to spot. . Race leaders wear iconic icons. On stage every day he wears the jaune, or yellow jersey.
The reason cycling stage racing is interesting, and why it is sometimes called Chess on Wheels, is that unlike running races, which are primarily individual time trials, cycling is a team sport that competes for strategy and tactics.
Many teams are built around one rider who believes they can win the overall title of the race, known as the overall standings. In a team like this, his seven other team members are domestics, who protect riders from the wind and other hazards, carry supplies, help out on grueling mountain stages, and chase down threatening escapees. Act as a helper. Other teams will have multiple race contenders, and it will be decided during the Tour which team has the best chances of winning.
But there are plenty of other prizes to compete for, and there are always five or more competitions running simultaneously, where you’ll battle it out for the titles of Best Sprinter, Best Climber and Best Young Rider. In addition, there is a sense of pride in winning even a stage of his day, and for many cyclists it is a career highlight.
Who are your favorites this year?
Two overwhelming contenders. Jonas Vingegard, the Danish cyclist of his Jumbovisma winning team last year, and Tadej his Pogacar, the Slovenian cyclist of his UAE his Team Emirates, who won in 2020 and his 2021. The overall storyline for this year’s race is based on the assumption that the battle that will drive most of the strategy is Vanzigard and Pogacar to battle it out to Paris.
If they perform as expected, third place on the podium will be contested by less strong riders such as Spain’s Enric Mas, France’s David Gaudu, Australia’s Jay Hindley and Ecuador’s Richard Carapaz. become.
But there are many other interesting stories.
Belgian Wout van Aert and Dutch rider Mathieu van der Poel are two of the most exciting cyclists in the world. Neither are contenders. The Tour de France favors athletes who excel in the mountains, but they don’t. However, each has the ability to win multiple stages.
I will explain step by step.
Traditionally, the race for the yellow jersey doesn’t really settle until the second or even third week of the tour. Around that time, the competitors aiming for the overall victory waited for time, conserved energy for the mountain stage, and continued to approach the leader. , can put a real distance between you and your biggest rivals.
this year’s routeHowever, the journey through the Pyrenees is pre-loaded, and the mountain stages are somewhat evenly distributed. This means that a time-buying attack can be launched almost immediately. For example, the first stage includes a 10,000-foot climb and a final steep climb called the Côte de Paique. If the yellow jersey contender is looking to join the Tour effortlessly, but his competitors don’t, he could be on his heels quickly.
Which stage could change the race?
Stage 6, from Tarbes to Cauterets Canbasque: The first big uphill finish of the Tour with three big climbs to challenge.
Stage 9, Saint-Leonard-de-Noblat to Puy-de-Dôme: Four hours of relative flatness end with an explosive 30-minute climb up the lava dome. Riders basically climb straight in the second half of the climb.
Stage 13, Chatillon-sur-Charalonne to Grand Colombier: One of the Tour’s main contenders is usually expected to win this long, grueling climb of the Grand Colombier, but French riders always try to steal the headlines on Bastille Day.
Stage 17, Saint-Gervais-Montblanc to Courchevel: The final big day in the Alps climbs over 16,000 feet. It will be difficult to get rid of the yellow jersey at the end of this stage.
Are you all done?
Absolutely not. Injury, illness, fatigue, etc. cruel reality of time There are casualties every year. 41 riders retired from last year’s Tour, two of them before the fifth stage. Danger lurks around every corner, but riders won’t need to be reminded of it this year.
Did we talk about documentaries?
Modeled after the F1 car racing series Drive to Survive, the Netflix documentary Tour de France: Unchained has a similarly dramatic focus on cycling. This eight-episode series of his, coming out this month, focuses on last year’s Tour de France. With the help of internal access to most of the teams, the series has seen the competition for the yellow jersey, the tension within the team, the tenaciously trying older riders and what it means to be a French team at France’s most famous race. explore.
One of the main storylines is the tension between Wout van Aert’s personal ambitions (3 stage wins, 4 second places) and his obligations as a member of Team Jumbo Visma to help Jonas Vinzigard win the overall race. . Van Aert is portrayed as an unfortunate participant, but he said he believes his own story was made for drama. “It’s very disturbing that the documentary contains stories that don’t exist,” he said earlier this month. “For me, this series focuses on commotion.”
Are there any Americans to watch out for?
Seven riders from the United States are expected to compete on the Tour, none of whom are expected to be team leaders or contenders for the overall victory.
Matteo Jorgenson in his Movistar and Neilson Powles in his EF Education Easypost did well on the breakaway and could be potential stage win contenders. Poules could end up in the top 10 overall, but will be expected to support team leader Richard Carapaz.