Wondering what to watch for in this year's Tour de France? From top contenders to the most challenging stages, we've outlined all the information you need to get up to speed before the start of the 2016 edition of Le Tour.
The 2016 Tour de France will be the 103rd edition in the race's history. This spectacle will consist of 21 stages over 23 days, and riders will complete a total of 2,186 miles by the time they reach the finish line on the Champs-Elysees in Paris. Below are some of the highlights of this year's route:
- The race will begin on July 2 in Mont-Saint-Michel and end at Utah Beach--one of the sites of the 1944 D-Day landings.
- The course will feature two tough individual time trials July 15 and 21, with the former falling a day after the legendary climb up Mt. Ventoux.
- There will be three stages this year that take place outside of France, including brief stints in Spain, Andorra and Switzerland.
- While there's only one intermediate stage, the sprinters will have plenty of chances to shine with a total of nine flat stages that offer fast run-ins to the finish.
- Though the Tour will feature a whopping nine mountain stages this year, the four summit finishes on July 10, 14, 17 and 22 will shake things up in the race for the yellow jersey.
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A big part of what makes the Tour de France an exciting sporting spectacle is the race within the race. Here's a look at the four jerseys up for grabs on the road:
- The yellow jersey: The maillot jaune, as it's called in France, was first awarded to the leader of the overall classification in 1919. Yellow represents the pages of newspaper L'Auto, the race's first organizer. The rider with the lowest overall aggregate time dons the yellow jersey after each stage.
- The green jersey: Reserved for the top sprinter, riders compete for the green jersey based on a point system. Competitors with the best finishing position at intermediate sprints during the stage and at the finish line receive the most points. There are more points available for the green jersey on the flatter stages, which is why the sprinters usually shine in this particular competition.
- The polka dot jersey: One of the most easily distinguishable jerseys, the maillot a poi rouges is awarded to the King of the Mountains--or the top climber of the Tour. Like the yellow and green jerseys, the polka dot jersey is also based on points. Riders who crest the summit of each categorized climb (Hors categorie and category 1 to 4 climbs) first receive the most points. The harder the climb, the more points a rider receives. And competitors who win a stage that finishes at the summit of a climb collect double the number of points.
- The white jersey: The young rider's jersey, the maillot blanc goes to the top-ranked rider in the overall classification under the age of 26. If the leader of the race (yellow jersey) also qualifies for the white jersey, the next highest placed rider under 26 dons the white jersey.