The Tour de France is an annual cycling race that takes place predominantly across France but also neighboring countries.
It is described as the most difficult cycling race in the world and for that reason it’s the Grand Tour event that every cyclist wants to win at some point in their career. Here is a look at what makes it so special.
21 Stages Across 23 Days
With 21 stages across a 23-day period, the Tour de France is the ultimate test of endurance. Those who take part are incredibly fit and push their bodies to the limit. The distance of the race is generally around 3,500 kilometers, although it changes every year: in 2020 it began in Nice and ended in Paris.
In order to be ready for the Tour de France, the participants must go through a tough training plan ahead of the competition. There are few rest days so their bodies have to be used to working hard when they are feeling heavy fatigue.
There are very few sporting events that last this long so those who compete have to be mindful of leaving enough in their tank to complete the race. Unless the competition is incredibly tight, the last stage tends to be a procession, with the leader even able to enjoy a glass of champagne with their teammates before they reach the Champs-Elysees.
One of the great things about the Tour de France is that every stage has a different test. The mountain stages will suit those who like the climb; other stages feature a sprint finish, while some are at a different altitude than the rest of the race.
Durability is very important to come out on top at the end of the 23 days. This is exactly what Tadej Pogacar showed in 2020 when he was victorious with a time of 87h 20’ 05”. As well as sealing the yellow jersey, he also claimed the polka dot jersey for winning the mountains classification. Pogacar is the +137.50 favorite in the cycling betting to defend his title next year. Given he is only 22 years old, he will have an excellent chance.
Although it is individual honors that are given at the end of the Tour de France, a lot of teamwork goes into a cyclist’s success. Each team will have a number-one rider and the job of their teammates is to do everything they can to help them be victorious. During 2012 and 2018 Team Sky dominated the Tour, winning five of the six races, with Geraint Thomas’ victory in 2018 being their last win.
There is no finer example of teamwork in the Tour than when there is a problem with one of the top rider’s bikes. Many of their teammates will hold back so they do not become isolated. This helps the elite rider close the ground on the peloton – the main group of riders in the race.
You will also see each team working closely together near the end of a sprint stage. The job of the team in this scenario is to set the race up for their top sprinter to be able to power home in first place.
Next year’s Tour will be the 108th edition of the race and training will already be underway for those looking to line up at the start in 2021.