UAE Team Emirates rider Tadej Pogacar celebrates as he crosses the line in the time-trial on Stage 20 of the Tour de Franceduring stage 20 REUTERS/Stephane Mahe
UAE Team Emirates rider Tadej Pogacar is the bookmakers' favourite to make it three in-a-row at the gruelling Tour de France which starts on Friday. Image Credit: Reuters

Copenhagen: The Tour de France, road cycling’s most prominent event, begins its gruelling trek through the Danish and French countryside, mountains and cities this week. Here’s what you need to know about this year’s race.

When is the Tour de France?

The Tour de France begins Friday and continues over 21 day-long stages and 2,068 miles, ending July 24 with the traditional ride down the Champs-lyses in Paris.

What is the Tour de France route?

The Tour de France course changes annually and often holds a few stages in countries other than France. This year’s course begins with three stages in Denmark: a time trial in Copenhagen, Roskilde to Nyborg and Vejle to Sonderborg. The event then takes a day off to cross over into France for the remainder of the race.

The race consists of two time trials, six flat stages, three hilly stages, six mountain stages and four medium-mountain stages.

How can I watch the Tour de France?

Live coverage of the Tour de France will air in the mornings, Eastern time, on USA Network. Peacock Premium, a subscription service, will stream the race in its entirety.

What is the yellow jersey?

The cyclist with the lowest aggregate time after each Tour de France stage gets to wear the yellow jersey for the next stage as leader of what’s known as the general classification, or the Tour’s main competition. Whoever is wearing the yellow jersey at the end of the final stage is the winner.

The yellow jersey officially has been employed since 1919, when the race director decided that the leader needed to be more easily identified and picked yellow to honour the newspaper that sponsored the race, L’Auto-Vlo, which was printed on yellow newsprint.

Are there other special Tour de France jerseys?

There are three other Tour de France jerseys of note.

Green jersey: Worn by the leader of the points classification, a secondary competition at the Tour de France. This colour was also chosen to honour a race sponsor, this time a lawn mower company. Cyclists receive points based on which place they finish each stage along with how they do in intermediate sprints during the flat stages of the tour. Generally, sprinters wear the green jersey.

Polka dot jersey: Worn by the leader of the mountain classification, another secondary competition in which riders receive points for being the first to reach the summits of the mountains along the course. And yes, polka dots were chosen because a sponsor sold chocolate bars in polka dot wrappers.

White jersey: Worn by the leader of the young rider classification, for cyclists 26 years and younger.

Only once has one rider won the general, points and mountain classifications in the same race: Belgium’s Eddy Merckx in 1969.

How do teams work in the Tour de France?

There are 22 teams of eight riders in this year’s Tour de France and they compete for yet another secondary competition, the team classification. After each regular stage, a team’s top three finishers have their times added together, and the team with the fastest aggregate time at that point in the race gets to wear race numbers with yellow backgrounds, instead of white. During time trials, a team is awarded the time of the fifth team member to cross the finish line (if a team has only three or four riders remaining, the time of the last rider to cross the finish line is used; if a team has fewer than three riders remaining, it is out of the team classification).

Primoz Roglic of Team Jumbo-Visma, a compatriot of Slovenian Pogacar, is expected to run the defending champion close again. Image Credit: Gulf News Archive

Who is the defending Tour de France champion?

Slovenia’s Tadej Pogacar of Team UAE Emirates has won the last two Tours. He was only 21 when he won his first title in 2020, making him the second-youngest winner in the Tour’s history. He is also the youngest cyclist two win consecutive Tours.

What does the Tour de France winner receive?

Cash prizes are awarded to the overall winner (a little more than $500,000), the points classification winner (about $26,000), the mountain classification winner (about $26,000), the young rider classification winner (about $21,000), the team classification winners (about $53,000) and the winners of each stage. Prizes also are awarded based on overall finish, with about $210,000 to second place, about $105,000 to third place and descending prizes from there. Anyone who finishes the race receives at least $1,000.

Two other prizes are awarded during the mountain stages: the Souvenir Henri Desgrange, for the rider who first reaches the summit of Col du Galibier in the Alps; and the Souvenir Jacques Goddet, for the rider who first reaches the summit of Col du Tourmalet in the Pyrenees. The winners of these two prizes receive just more than $5,000.

Who are the Tour de France favourites?

According to DraftKings sportsbook, Pogacar is the favourite to win at -165 odds (wager $165 to win $100). Slovenia’s Primoz Roglic (+330, wager $100 to win $330) and Denmark’s Jonas Vingegaard (+380) are the other top contenders.

Who are the top American Tour de France contenders?

There are seven Americans in the Tour de France, all of them extreme long shots to win: Brandon McNulty, Sepp Kuss, Matteo Jorgenson, Kevin Vermaerke, Joe Dombrowski, Neilson Powless and Quinn Simmons. Kuss (+10000) and McNulty (+25000) are the only two who were assigned odds by DraftKings.

Is there a women’s Tour de France?

Yes. This is the first year of the Tour de France Femmes, which begins July 24 in Paris as the men’s Tour de France ends. The women’s race consists of eight stages and 639 miles and ends July 31 with a mountain stage from Lure to La Planche des Belles Filles in eastern France.

- Washington Post