How to Watch the Tour de France

Individual Stage Winner

Early in the Tour, the stage winner often ends up wearing the yellow jersey for the next day. As the Tour progresses, however, the winner of each stage will not typically be the one with the best overall time, and therefore, will most likely not be the one wearing the yellow jersey.

In any case, being crowned a stage winner in the Tour de France is an extremely high honor. Individual road stage and time trial wins are worth ?8,000 EUR (~11,558 USD).

Team Classification

At the end of each stage, each rider receives a finish time, and place, for that stage. Each day, stage results are listed in addition to the overall general classification (GC). GCs are listed by both time and place. Teams are then ranked by calculating the time scores of the top three riders on each team, each day. The riders scoring points for the team classification often change day to day.

Each day, the team leading the ranks in the team classification will wear race bibs that have black numbers on a yellow background.

This year, the Tour includes a team time trial in Stage 2. Team riders will rotate through the paceline like clockwork and take turns at the front of the group. It's quite a sight to see. Team time is determined by the fifth rider across the finish line. The winning team is rewarded with ?10,000 EUR (~$14,448 USD).

Did you know that the third rider in the paceline works some 30 percent less than the lead rider due to sitting in the draft created by the two lead riders? This is one of the main reasons riders don't spend too much time at the front of the peloton.

All teams receive ?51,243 EUR (~$74, 036 USD), to cover participation expenses. Teams that finish the Tour with seven, eight or nine riders receive an additional ?1,600 EUR (~$2,312 USD) per finishing rider.

The U.S. Riders

If cheering for stage or jersey winners isn't enough, you can consider cheering for U.S. riders expected to start this year's Tour:

  • Brent Bookwalter (BMC Racing)
  • Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Cerv?lo)
  • George Hincappie (BMC Racing)
  • Levi Leipheimer (Radioshack)
  • David Zabriskie (Garmin-Cerv?lo)

Breakaways

One of the tactics seen most often during the tour is a breakaway. A small group of riders ride hard off the front of the peloton in an attempt to stay away to the end of the stage so that one of them can score a stage win. If the peloton decides not to chase after them, breakaway riders from different teams will work together until the end of the stage where cat-and-mouse antics finally determine the winner of the stage.

If breakaway riders quit working together too soon and begin the games to reach the finish line first, the peloton can catch and pass them within meters of the finish line, making their efforts for that day a waste of time and energy. On some days, even full effort by the breakaway riders all the way toward the finish line isn't enough to hold off the powerful peloton.

Many fans find themselves rooting for the breakaway underdogs.

A Fan of the Tour

If you ever have an opportunity to watch the Tour de France live, I highly recommend snatching it up. But uUntil you can find a way to watch the Tour live, be sure to watch it on television or online and cheer for your favorite individuals and teams. There's a good chance you'll learn a few things about riding that will help make you a better cyclist.

Additional Info:

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Gale Bernhardt was the USA Triathlon team coach at the 2003 Pan American Games and 2004 Athens Olympics. Her first Olympic experience was as a personal cycling coach at the 2000 Games in Sydney. She currently serves as one of the World Cup coaches for the International Triathlon Union's Sport Development Team. Thousands of athletes have had successful training and racing experiences using Gale's pre-built, easy-to-follow cycling and triathlon training plans. Let Gale and Active Trainer help you succeed.

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