Everything you need to know about the Tour de France

The Tour de France has begun today in Yorkshire and we are here to fill you in on the world’s biggest cycling event.

Everything you need to know about the Tour de France

The Tour de France has begun today in Yorkshire and we are here to fill you in on the world’s biggest cycling event.

The world’s most famous bike race takes place over the next three weeks ending as it always does on the Champs Elysees. It covers 21 stages in 23 days and the riders will cycle 3,664 km in total.

‘Le Tour’ frequently holds stages outside France and this year begins with three days in England before moving across the tunnel. The race this year will pass through four countries in all, visiting Belgium and Spain in addition to England and France.

Yorkshire has enthusiastically welcomed ‘Le Tour’ and crowds of up to six million are expected to come out over the three days and watch the race pass by on the way to Buckingham Palace.

Interest is helped by the fact that the defending champion is British national Chris Froome, who races with Team Sky.

Cycling may look like an individual sport but all racers are part of teams of nine, with 22 teams in total in the race.

The team leader wears the number one jersey for his team and is the rider the team are working to put in a winning position.

The other eight team-mates are referred to as domestiques and it is their job to support their team leader.

Support activities include cycling ahead of the team leader to provide a slipstream and help him conserve energy. Team members may also be required to set a punishing pace and wear themselves out in order to put pressure on other teams.

Sheep painted to match three jerseys of the Tour De France

The ‘maillot jaune' or yellow jersey is probably the item most associated with the Tour de France. This iconic item is worn whoever is currently leading the event - on the lowest overall time.

Bradley Wiggins in the yellow jersey in 2012

However it is only one of the jerseys awarded to riders during the competition.

The green jersey is awarded to the most consistent finisher during the tour, generally the strongest sprinter.

Mark Cavendish wearing green in 2011

The polka dot jersey goes to the ‘King of the Mountains’, the rider who performs best during the gruelling hill stages.

There is also a white jersey which is awarded to the best cyclist under-25 at the event.

For the most part racers will cycle together in one large group known as the peloton. They cycle in this way to conserve energy with riders taking it in turns to lead the pack.

When a rider or group of riders split off and go ahead of the main peloton this is a break.

Within the race there a number of different challenges. In time trials cyclists are racing against the clock for a set distance.

Climbs are hill cycles spread throughout the event. They are divided into four categories from one to four with one being the most difficult.

So settle back for three weeks of racing as the Tour De France moves from its warm welcome in Yorkshire to the conclusion on the streets of Paris.

The peloton on the Champs Elysees at the end of last year’s Tour

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