Columbian Juan Mauricio Soler Hernandez wears the polka-dotted King of the Mountains jersey during Stage 14 of the 2007 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
Basically, the faster the stage goes, the longer the cutoff time. Also, the harder the stage, the longer the cutoff time. The sprinters tend to calculate the cutoff time for the mountain stages so that they just get in under the time limit.
Every once in a while the sprinters get it wrong and the whole group faces elimination. The Tour organizers have put in a codicil to the rule book allowing them to adjust the cutoff time if more than 20 percent of the starters of a particular stage may be eliminated by missing the time cut.
Scoring the Jerseys
Points for the mountains jersey are awarded based on the difficulty of the climbs. The climbs are classified into five categories based on the height and length of the climb and the position the climb falls within the stage. A climb may be given a higher category if it occurs closer to the finish of a stage than if it falls early on in the day. Also, on the final climb of a mountain stage, the points for that climb are doubled.
Points per Category (in order of rider reaching the specific line)
- Hors (beyond) Category - 20,18,16,14,12,10,8,7,6,5
- Category 1 - 15,13,11,9,8,7,6,5
- Category 2 - 10,9,8,7,6,5
- Category 3 - 4,3,2,1
- Category 4 - 3,2,1
Regardless of the number of points a rider accumulates, he must finish the Tour to claim the jersey.
Points for the sprinter's jersey are awarded for five different categories of stages:
- Flat stages: 35,30,26,24,22,20,19,18,17,16,15,14,13,12,11,10,9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1
- Medium mountain: 25,22,20,18,16,15,14,13,12,11,10,9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1
- High mountain: 20,17,15,13,12,10,9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1
- Time trial: 15,12,10,8,6,5,4,3,2,1
- Intermediate sprints: 6,4,2
Again, regardless of the number of points a rider accumulates, he must finish the Tour to claim the jersey.
The best team ranking is calculated by adding the times of a team's top three finishers for each particular stage.
Time bonuses are awarded to the top three finishers of each stage, except for the time trials. 20, 12 and eight seconds are deducted from the top three finishers. In addition to finishing bonuses, the top three finishers in the intermediate sprints have six, four and two seconds deducted from their overall time as well.