It’s finally here, the 101st edition of the Tour de France, the biggest event on the cycling calendar, and it starts right on our doorstep. In case you haven’t noticed or have been too enthralled by the events going on in Brazil, there’s a major sporting event getting underway on Saturday July 5th outside the Victorian town hall in Leeds.
Widely recognised to be to toughest sporting event on the planet, the Tour de France will once again start in England where the first three stages will take place. It’s a fantastic chance to see the world’s most famous cycling race, and the cycling elite as they pit their wits against Mark Cavendish on his own turf.
The Tour in Britain
This is only the third occasion the Tour has visited us, the first being in 1994 to help celebrate the opening of the channel tunnel and then again in 2007, when London hosted the ‘Grand Depart’. This year will mark the longest run the Tour has had here in old Blighty with three stages taking place here.
Stage One – Starting in Leeds, the cyclists will make their way through the Yorkshire Dales on a 190.5km test of endurance passing through Skipton, Wensleydale, Hawes, Reeth, Leyburn, and Ripon before ending in the town of Harrogate.
Stage Two – The second stage runs for 201km starting in York and passing through Knaresborough, Silsden, Keighley, Haworth, Mytholmroyd, Hebden Bridge, Elland, Huddersfield, Honley, and Holmfirth. It then makes its way over Holme Moss into Derbyshire and the Peak District as it crosses the Langsett Moors to Bradfield before ending in Sheffield.
Stage Three – The shortest of the three stages at 155km begins in Cambridge and heads to London through Essex and Epping Forest. When it hits the capital the riders will take a route through the city passing London’s most iconic landmarks before finishing in front of Buckingham Palace giving the Queen, a bird’s eye view of the final stage in Britain.
At the time of its inception 111 years ago the race was a decidedly gentlemanly affair with riders often sharing a bottle of wine during breaks, but we can assure you that men’s suits and dress shirts were never worn on the bikes.
The Yellow Jersey (maillot jaune)
What started off as a marketing ploy, has turned into one of the most recognizable of men’s shirts in sports. The Tour was started by L’Auto, a French sports newspaper in a bid to boost sales. The pages of the newspaper were yellow so it was decided that the overall time leader’s jersey would be yellow in recognition of the race’s sponsor.
The Green Jersey (maillot vert)
This is awarded to the overall points leader and with more points being awarded on the flats and at the finish, it’s generally considered the jersey for the best sprinter. This is our very own Mark Cavendish’s specialty.
The Polka Dot Jersey (maillot à pois rouges)
The grand title of King of the Mountains is held by the winner of this jersey as it is awarded to the rider with the most points accumulated in climbing hills and mountains. The distinctive colours were chosen by a sponsor, Poulain Chocolate, in 1975 and was an attempt to draw attention to one of their products at the time.
The White Jersey (maillot blanc)
This jersey is essentially a yellow jersey for young riders that are under the age of 25 on January 1st of the race year. The first white jersey was worn in 1975.
The Rainbow Jersey
A distinctive white jersey with horizontal hoops around the midriff in the traditional colours of the UCI (Union Cycliste Internationale) which are also the same colours of the Olympic rings. This jersey is worn by the reigning world champion of a particular category or discipline when competing in a stage of that speciality.
So now you know the basics, it’s time to find yourself a vantage point somewhere along the route and cheer on the four British riders, Chris Froome, Mark Cavendish, Geraint Thomas and Simon Yates.
To celebrate the famous event starting here in England, we have released our special edition Yellow Jersey cufflinks, so you can show your support to the greatest cycling event on Earth!
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