Rules to Ride by at the Tour de France

AP Photo/Frank Fife

Obviously, a race like the Tour de France has a number of rules and regulations governing its running. A lot are totally mundane, but a few are of interest to the cycling aficionado. We will explore a few of these here.

The time cut is of critical importance to all riders, especially those who are gravitationally challenged. The Tour organizers classify each stage into five different categories and determine the time cut based on the category and average speed of the stage. Riders wishing to stay in the race must finish within a certain percentage of time from the stage winner. The five categories and their cutoff percentages are:

    Category 1 - stage with no particular difficulty
  • 4 percent if the average speed of the winner is 21mph (34kmh) or less
  • Up to 12 percent if the average speed of the winner is greater than 30mph (48kmh)
    Category 2 - stage presenting medium difficulty
  • 6 percent if the average speed of the winner is 19mph (31kmh) or less
  • Up to 18 percent if the average speed of the winner is greater than 26mph (42kmh)
    Category 3 - stage presenting intense difficulty
  • 5 percent if the average speed of the winner is 15mph (26kmh) or less
  • Up to 18 percent if the average speed of the winner is greater than 24mph (38kmh)
    Category 4 - individual time trial
  • Must be within 25 percent of the winner's time
    Category 5 - team time trial
  • Fifth man crossing the line must be within 25 percent of winning team's time

More: How Watching the Tour de France Might Make You Faster

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About the Author

Bruce Hildenbrand

Bruce Hildenbrand's writings have appeared in Outside, Bicycling, Cycle Sport, VeloNews and a host of other cycling and outdoor-related magazines and websites. His assignments have taken him to such prestigious events as the Tour de France, Tour of Italy, Tour of Spain, Tour of Switzerland, Paris-Roubaix, Tour of Flanders, the World Road Championships, the World Track Championships and the World CycloCross Championships.

Bruce Hildenbrand's writings have appeared in Outside, Bicycling, Cycle Sport, VeloNews and a host of other cycling and outdoor-related magazines and websites. His assignments have taken him to such prestigious events as the Tour de France, Tour of Italy, Tour of Spain, Tour of Switzerland, Paris-Roubaix, Tour of Flanders, the World Road Championships, the World Track Championships and the World CycloCross Championships.

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