Tour de France: What you need to know

Cycle//Tour de France


If you're one of the many thousands to have taken up cycling over the past 12 months, this might be your first Tour de France as a viewer.

So to make your viewing that much easier, we've got everything you need to know about the world's greatest cycle race right here. 

The Tour de France will see 22 teams ride more than 3,300km over 21 stages over 23 days. Each team has nine riders, one of which is the leader. 

This type of road racing is like no other sport, because the team competes for the leader's individual success. Although some teams may be strong enough for other riders to fight for stage wins, they won't attack unless their leader is safe. 

Yellow jersey: The iconic yellow jersey is worn by the overall leader of the general classification. You may also hear it referred to as the Maillot Jaune ("yellow jersey" in French). 

Green jersey: Also known as the 'Sprint jersey'. It is worn by the rider with the most sprint points. Stages feature sprint sections, where points are awarded to the first 15 riders. 

Polka dot jersey: Also known as the 'King of the Mountain', it is worn by the rider with the most mountain points. Certain stages feature categorised climbs where points are awarded to the first riders to the top, depending on the difficulty of the climb. Much like the green jersey, whoever has the most points wears the jersey. 

White jersey: The white jersey is worn by the fastest rider under the age of 26. 

Leaders: Each team leader isn't necessarily competing for the yellow jersey and the overall win. Some riders compete for other jerseys. For instance, Mark Cavendish, who leads Etixx-Quick Step, competes for the Green jersey, but he often finishes low on the overall standings.

Rouleur - A good all-round cyclist. A jack of all trades, a master of none. 

Puncheur - A rider who specialises who rolling hill stages with short, but steep climbs. 

Domestique - French for "servant", this type of riders' sole purpose is to work for the benefit of the leader. 

Peloton - The peloton is the main group of riders. While some riders will attack in small groups, the majority of the near 200 riders stay as part of one big group to conserve energy. 

Flat stages - Flat stages are, you guessed it, largely flat. They usually only include one, sometimes a few more, small category climbs. These stages are usually won by sprinters. There are nine flat stages this year.

Hilly stages - These stages feature rolling hills with short, small category climbs. This type of stage is usually best suited to all-rounders or puncheurs. Puncheurs are particularly effective if the stage finishes on a climb. There are three hilly stages on the 2015 route.

Mountain stages - The mountains are usually where yellow jersey is won and lost. The rider who can best navigate the two, one and HC climbs usually comes out on top... of the mountain and the overall standings! Aside from time trials, mountain stages are the shortest There are seven mountain stages and five summit finishes this year. 

Individual time trial - Each rider goes out on his own own, trying to complete the stage in the fastest time possible. Because of the faster pace of time trials, these stages are over much shorter distances. This year's individual time trial is 13.8km.

Team time trial - A team rides together in a relay format. They try to complete the stage in the fastest possible time. The time of the last rider to cross the finish line is the time given to the whole team, so each rider needs to conserve enough energy to keep up with the team. Team time trials are a little longer than their individual counterparts; this year's is 28km. 

Grand depart - The start of le Tour, which increasingly takes place in foreign countries. Last year, Yorkshire hosted the Grand Depart with two stages before the final UK stage held between Cambridge and London. The 2015 Grand Depart takes place in Utrecht in the Netherlands. 

Hors Categorie (HC) - Each mountain climb is categorised between 4, the easiest, and 1, the hardest. However, the hardest climbs are "hors categorie" - meaning they are too difficult to categorise. 

Flamme rouge - The red flag that indicates there is 1km left of the race. 

Chapeau - A term meaning "hat". It is a term of respect to other riders', when said, a rider is doughing his cap to another rider on their performance. 

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