Tour de France: What you need to know

Cycle//Tour de France

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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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Giro d'Italia Big Start Could Come to Essex

Cycle//News

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The Giro d'Italia's 'Big Start' could take place in Essex in years to come, if efforts by the local council are successful.

RCS Sport, the company that runs the Giro, is hoping to mirror the Tour de France's success of moving the opening stages of the race around Europe. 

The Grand Depart of the Tour de France took place in Yorkshire in 2014, which was met with huge success with an estimated three million people coming out to see the riders in Yorkshire and between Cambridge and London. 

Belfast will host the Giro's Big Start in 2014 before moving to the Gelderland region of the Netherlands in 2016. 

Gary Sullivan, the chairman of Active Essex, told Heart: “Active Essex are now starting talks with the Giro d’Italia to see if we can get them to come here.

“We have responsibility, and we take it very seriously, to make sure we can bring those world-class sporting events to Essex."

But confirmation of the talks doesn't indicate that a deal will be done; Sullivan expects the negotiations to go on for some time: “It’s likely to be a lengthy negotiation. We think we can make a good argument for them to persuade them to come here to enjoy our hospitality and the Essex countryside, so I’m very confident.”

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British Cycling to end Sky partnership

Cycle//News

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British Cycling has announced it will end its eight-year partnership with Sky in 2016.

British Cycling chief executive Ian Drake said the decision to end the deal was taken amicably. The partnership does not affect the broadcaster's running of Team Sky. 

Drake said: “British Cycling and Sky will remain firm friends and part with great mutual affection, having achieved amazing things together. The last 10 years have been brilliant for our sport – our membership and participation in cycle sport continues to grow, we’ve encouraged over 1.7 million people to cycle regularly with even more starting all the time and we are seeing the emergence of a new generation of cycling heroes.”

Sky and British Cycling teamed up in 2008 to raise the sport's profile and can therefore be deemed a huge success. In addition to increased public participation, Great Britain won 16 gold, 11 silver and seven bronze medals at the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Drake added: “Successes for British riders at London 2012 transformed the country’s sporting expectations but winning medals was never an end in itself – we have harnessed those achievements to inspire unprecedented growth in participation.

“The job is far from finished and British Cycling has a strong culture of setting and hitting ambitious targets so we relish the challenge as we set our sights on what we want to achieve beyond Rio 2016.

“To achieve these ambitions we need to increase investment into our sport and have therefore developed a clear commercial approach to support our 2017-2025 strategy. We look forward to engaging with a wide range of partners who want to join us on this exciting journey.”

Jeremy Darroch, chief executive of the Sky group, said: “We’re immensely proud of our great partnership with the whole team at British Cycling. This is a lasting legacy and we will give everything to make the final 18 months of our relationship just as successful.

“Our long-term commitment to cycling continues and we will work with British Cycling to identify a new partner who can help bring even more success in the future.”

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Tour de France TV Schedule: Week One

Cycle//Tour de France

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Whether you're after a short and snappy time trial, or the gruelling Alpe d'Huez, you can catch every moment of the 2015 Tour de France live on ITV and Eurosport. 

If you're not lucky enough to be able to watch the whole thing live, there's plenty of highlights to keep you up-to-date with all the action Le Tour has to offer. 

The TV schedules have only been released for the first week, so we'll bring you the second week when it's revealed.

So here's the schedule: 

Stage one - Saturday 4 July

LIVE: British Eurosport – 1pm; ITV4 – 1pm

Highlights: ITV4 – 5pm, Sunday 1.25am, 12pm; British Eurosport 2 – 6pm, 9pm, Sunday 2.45am; British Eurosport – Sunday 9am, 11am.

Stage two - Sunday 5 July 

LIVE: British Eurosport – 12.15pm; ITV4 – 1pm


Highlights: ITV4 – 7pm, Monday 2.05am, 12pm; British Eurosport – 7.15pm, Monday 11am; British Eurosport 2 – Monday 2am

Stage three - Monday 6 July

LIVE: British Eurosport – 12.15pm; ITV4 – 1pm

Highlights: ITV4 – 7pm, Tuesday 1.55am, 12pm; British Eurosport – 9pm, 11.30pm, Tuesday 12pm; British Eurosport 2 – 7pm, Tuesday 2am, 6.30am, 10am

Stage four - Tuesday 7 July
LIVE: British Eurosport – 1.15pm; ITV4 – 1.30pm

Highlights: ITV4 – 7pm, Wednesday 0.55am, 1pm; British Eurosport – 9.45pm, Wednesday 12pm; British Eurosport 2 – 7pm, Wednesday 2am, 6am, 9am

Stage five - Wednesday 8 July

LIVE: British Eurosport – 1.15pm; ITV4 – 2pm

Highlights: ITV4 – 7pm; British Eurosport – 9pm, 11.30pm, Thursday 12pm; British Eurosport 2 – 7pm, Thursday 2am, 6am, 9am

Stage six - Thursday 9 July

LIVE: British Eurosport – 1.15pm; ITV4 – 2pm 

Highlights: ITV4 – 7pm; British Eurosport 2 – 7pm, Friday 2am, 6am, 9am; British Eurosport – 9pm, 11.30pm Friday 12pm

Stage seven - Friday 10 July 
LIVE: British Eurosport – 1.15pm; ITV4 – 2pm

Highlights: ITV4 – 7pm; British Eurosport – 9pm, 11.30pm, Saturday 12pm; British Eurosport 2 – 7pm, Saturday 2am, 6am

Stage eight - Saturday 11 July 

LIVE: British Eurosport – 1.15pm; ITV4 – 1.30pm

Highlights: ITV4 – 7pm; British Eurosport – 9pm, 11.40pm, Sunday 12.45pm; British Eurosport 2 – 7pm, Sunday 2.30am, 6am

Stage nine - Sunday 12 July

LIVE: ITV4 – 2pm; British Eurosport – 2pm

Highlights: ITV4 – 7pm; British Eurosport 2 – 7pm; British Eurosport – 11.30pm.

 

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Team Sky Pick Five Brits for Tour de France

Cycle//Tour de France

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Luke Rowe will make his Tour de France debut after being named as one of five Brits in the Team Sky line-up.

Following a strong spring campaign, Rowe's fellow Welshman Geraint Thomas, and Ian Stannard are retained in Team Sky's line-up. Following a controversial omission from the 2014 team, British national Champion Peter Kennaugh returns. Nicolas Roche, who was one of Froome's strongest support riders during his Dauphiné Libéré win earlier in June, is the only Frenchman. 

Australian Richie Porte returns after taking Froome's place as leader when he dropped out in the 2014 Tour de France, despite a disappointing Giro d'Italia. Czech Leopard Konig and Dutchman Wouter Poels complete the line-up. 

With Thomas rested for the Tour of Switzerland, 25-year old Luke Rowe from Cardiff, more than stepped up to the plate, riding strongly with Kennaugh and Stannard in the final stages, helping Kennaugh to the gold medal. 

Rowe is widely expected to come to the fore on stage four, the dreaded "Hell of the North" cobbles, the equivalent stage that met Froome with his demise last year. 

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