We have all seen the cyclists taking part in the Tour de France – but have you ever wondered just how demanding it is and exactly what is involved?
The competitors that take part in the Tour de France are a cut above the rest and need to have fitness, strength, stamina and speed.
The Tour de France has around 3.5 million viewers and has a huge 12 million in-person spectators a year. With this event, it is common for punters to place a Sportsbet online in the cycling world.
What’s more is that it is free for people to attend.
When and where?
The Tour de France takes place every summer, usually in June and July, and follows different routes each year, predominantly through France.
How long is the Tour de France?
The Tour de France covers approximately 2,200 miles or 3,500km. The Tour de France is the equivalent of the World Cup for football teams. It also offers a huge cash prize of $500,000.
How long are the stages of the Tour de France?
The Tour de France covers a total of 21 stages. Each of the stages provides a different challenge.
- Nine flat stages
- Seven mountain stages (with five summit finishes)
- Three hilly stages
As well as those challenges, there are two individual time trials and two rest days. One stage is performed per day and is around 225km. On average, each stage should take around 5.5 hours to finish.
How many cyclists are in the Tour de France?
The Tour de France starts with 22 teams of nine and a total of 198 cyclists. Each of the stages of the Tour de France will have a winner.
The rider that has the most stages in the shortest amount of time is the overall winner.
High speed riders in the Tour de France
The Tour de France requires aggressive cycling and keeping a firm eye on the competition.
The average rider in a time trial is going about 20mph, although there have been records of average speeds of 25.2mph for an entire Tour de France race.
The fastest speed recorded in a Tour was in 2019 on a descent of the Col de Vars with 63.1mph on the clock. Tour de France cyclists will be between 22 to 24 mph on cobbles stones, which is difficult cycling terrain.
Strategy for cyclists
Attacks – an attack is where a rider, on a climb, will break away and push hard for speed. This tactic is designed to stop other riders from catching up with them.
Sprinters – the fastest of the fast, a sprint cyclist finishes a race by going as fast as possible. This move has to be an intelligent decision and use the slipstream of another cyclist to preserve energy.
Lead-out-trains – this is the step that comes before the rider makes a sprint. One cyclist in the team will start hitting very high speeds; the sprinter will follow and conserve energy ahead of the sprint. The lead cyclist creates a slipstream and reduces the wind resistance.
Breakaways – the riders don’t typically go at the speed they can through the whole race. Instead, they make strategic moves to move as a group. The main group is called a peloton – and there will be smaller groups that break away from them. Breakaways provide an opportunity for the whole team to have a winner among them. The peloton allows cyclists to move in and out of it as they need to.
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What do Tour de France riders eat?
Riders need to consume huge numbers of calories in training for the Tour de France and in the race itself.
On average, a pro cyclist in the Tour de France will burn 125,000 calories and sweat at least a litre of water.
Meals, snacks and drinks have to be planned to perfection so riders don’t lose a second to anything.
So what do they eat to keep themselves in peak physical condition?
Xavi-Florencio Cabre reports the best foods to be pasta, muesli and rice to get the best start to the day. Some days they add in an egg and also a coffee.
During the race itself, they will drink around 10 bottles of water. The idea is to drink one every thirty minutes, which is even more important when it is hot.
As they cycle, they need to eat snacks that puts little to no strain on their system. Usually, you’ll see Nutella or strawberry jam on rice cakes. On warmer days, hydration is chosen over food, so gels and more water will be consumed.
Recovery is one of the most important parts of the Tour de France and maintaining peak physical condition. Feeding the overworked muscles is paramount; rice and fruit need to be eaten within 30 minutes of finishing the race for that day.
An alarm will remind them every 20 minutes to drink so they aren’t missing the vital hydration.
One of the most important things to note is that these foods don’t change much over the entire trip. Managing food boredom or the temptation to not eat at all can and does happen.
Where can I watch the Tour de France?
Excitingly you can watch the Tour de France in more than 188 countries on TV.
If you are very invested, you can travel to the tour locations and cheer the cyclists on. If you do go, be mindful of Tour de France spectator etiquette.