In 2011, the rules have changed for the points system. Flat stages will have only one intermediary sprint, rather than three, with points going to the first 15 riders. The goal is to encourage sprinters to be involved in the main pack (peloton) after a small group of riders has escaped off the front (breakaway). Additionally, winning a stage now carries more weight than it has in past years.
Look for the action to heat up on the flat stages near those intermediate sprint point locations and even more excitement as the peloton charges toward the finish line at speeds around 60 kilometers per hour (37 miles per hour). Expect the final sprint to be contested at speeds between 65 and 75 kilometers per hour (40 to 47 miles per hour) for riders like Mark Cavendish.
Can you imagine your legs powering your bicycle at speeds greater than 40 miles per hour on a flat section of road?
The daily prize for the winner of the green jersey is ?6,000 EUR (roughly $8,668 USD).
The three most favored riders to wear the green jersey include Mark Cavendish (team HTC-Highroad), Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Cerv?lo) and Tom Boonen (Quick Step)
Polka Dot Jersey
The best climbers are recognized with the polka dot jersey and they will fight hard to be crowned King of the Mountain (KOM). KOM points are awarded for the finish place on key climbs within the race as well as position on hilltop finishes.
The scoring system for 2011 has also changed for the men climbing for polka dots. Finish line summit wins earn double points only for the Category 1, Category 2 and Hors Cat?gorie (beyond categorization) climbs. For reference, a Category 1 climb has an average grade of 6 percent and is roughly 20 kilometers (12.4 miles) long. Your average highway overpass is around 4 percent grade.
The daily prize for the holder of the polka dot jersey is ?6,000 EUR (roughly $8,668 USD). The best climbers have extra incentive with two special bonus prizes, primes (pronounced "preems"), of ?5,000 EUR (~$7224 USD) for the first riders to summit the Tourmalet and the Galibier.
Great climbers tend to be small and light, producing very high average power output per pound (or kilogram) of body weight. Those aiming for the yellow jersey and high GC at the end of the Tour must be good climbers.
Though the yellow, green and polka dot jerseys generally receive the most attention, there are other rider classifications to watch.
The rider under the age of 25 with the highest GC receives a white jersey at the end of each stage. Media and sport insiders often predict that this young rider will one day wear the yellow jersey.
For each stage, the winner of the white jersey receives ?6,000 EUR (~$8,668 USD) and if they finish with the white jersey, they receive ?20,000 EUR (~$28,896 USD).
Most Aggressive Rider
Each day a jury, comprised of primarily journalists, decides which rider deserves the title of "most aggressive rider". Aggressiveness is defined as bold riding, attacking at opportune moments and yet displaying fair play. You can pick this rider out of the peloton because they wear a red bib (rider number) with white numbers recognizing performance in the previous day's stage.
This rider is awarded ?2,000 EUR (~$2,890 USD) for a stage victory and the rider voted the overall most aggressive at the end of the Tour is rewarded ?20,000 EUR (~$28,896 USD).