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Le Tour de France

The ride of a lifetime is back and this year the Le Tour De France  is leading on from our very own Yorkshire Dales. The 23 day tour will begin in the northern metropolis of Leeds before its celebratory finish in the heart of Paris on the Champs-Élysées.  The tumultuous journey will take the teams over difficult terrain, mountains and extreme hills are the lure for many competitors and even more so when prize money is on the line.

With so many intricacies to events and the stages, here’s a little guide to proceedings.

The Route

England has only ever featured as the starting location for the tour once before and that was London in 2007, in fact the organisers tend to choose a foreign location every other year and usually that of a mainland European country. The Yorkshire selection comes as a great honour and that can only be reflected in the attitudes of the people whose towns the race will pass through. The quintessentially British town of Harrogate will play host to the final location of the first stage and in preparation the town has gone to great lengths to jazz up the place. Over 22,000 tour themed jerseys have been knitted in order to create decorative bunting. The tour will then move on to Cambridge and finish it’s UK leg in London. Have a look at the video below for more details about the route.

 The Jerseys

The four iconic jerseys of Le Tour de France celebrate the most skilled riders on the day as well as their overall team. It has been a long tradition since the beginning of the race that prize money should be awarded to the champion competitors at each stage. The gruelling distances and tricky terrains certainly warrant an award and they come in the form of, the yellow, the green, the white and the spotty one.

The famed Yellow Jersey is the most sought after of the race, it is the general classification and is given to the leader of each stage. Prize money is a whopping  €450,000 for the overall winner. The iconic Yellow Jersey has been sponsored by LCL the French bank  since 1987 and their logo can be seen on the famous jersey throughout the competition. Each team must bring yellow jerseys in preparation for their team, just in case they capture the lead.

The Spotty Jersey is given to the rider who at the start of each stage has the most climbing points. These are determined by the difficulty of the climb and at the top of each peak, the prize money this year stands at a grand total of  €25,000 for the overall winner.

The Green Jersey is given to the leader of the points classification, the rider with the most points at the end of each stage wins the jersey and a nice sum of  €25,000

The White Jersey is awarded to the youngest rider of the general classification, they must be 25 or under and if they succeed a grand total of €20,000 is up for grabs for the overall winner

History

 The tour began in 1903 as part of a bid to increase sales of a local magazine called L’Auto and has run annually apart from the years of the World Wars. The first ever overall winner was Maurice Garin in 1903 and he won 6, 075 francs. As the race gained followers and interest increased the organisers began to lengthen the distance, originally the race followed the perimeter of France but today it’s starts often vary, this year the race is over 3,500 km long but back in 1903 it was just 2,428 km. It was said that the chief organiser in 1904 wanted to make the race so hard their would only be one man to cross the finish line. The first Yellow Jersey ever awarded was to Eugène Christophe in Grenoble, this  indicated the leader in the general classification and  the choice of colour evoked the paper on which L’Auto magazine was printed.

Tour Trivia

The Tour Devil is an iconic figure of the race, Didi Senft has been dressing as the tour devil since 1993 and springing up along the stages every since. Self named the devil as reference to ‘the devil’s last lap’ aka the hardest part of any stage, he is often found along the course offering a slice of comic relief to the harder stages. Usually dressed in his signature Devil’s costume in 2013 he donned yellow in support of the races 100th anniversary.

The Tour Caravan is as celebrated as the race with brand and sponsors hoping to drum up support for the riders and their own companies, the caravan is like a modern day parade with hundreds of ‘pimped out’ vehicles following the procession of riders. Here’s the facts for this years Tour.

A 20-km long parade
160 colourful and decorated vehicles
600 caravanists
33 brands represented
16 million gifts given away
45-minute long procession
12 members of the republican guard
4 traffic regulator motorcyclists
3 medical cars
€ 200,000 to € 500,000 investment for each advertiser

 The Tour is set to begin on Saturday the 5th of July and finish on the 27th.

Keep up with all the action and be sure to back the SKY team with British riders and last years winner Chris Froome as the man to watch.

 www.julesb.co.uk

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