Pedal Power: Our Guide to the Tour de France
The 104th Tour de France begins in Düsseldorf in July and we’re all geared up for three weeks of cycling action and stunning French scenery.
If you’re new to the Tour it can be a confusing blur of French jargon and colourful jerseys. But never fear – whether you’re an armchair fan or lucky enough to be close to the action on a Canvas holiday – our spectators guide is here to translate.
The Tour has 21 stages taking place over three weeks, with 22 teams of nine riders. Each team has a leader, who is supported by his team mates (domestiques) in his quest to finish the race in the lowest accumulated time and win the famous Yellow jersey.
As well as the overall competition there are also several sub-contests happening, such as the sprinters and mountains classifications. This means there’s always plenty of action and intrigue to watch.
The race follows a different route each year, and is designed to challenge the riders across a variety of terrain, from the bone-rattling cobblestones of the north to the soaring mountains (and grueling climbs) of the Alps and Pyrenees. This year’s 3,517 km route starts in Düsseldorf in Germany and features five mountain stages, 10 new sites and stage cities, and finishes on the Champs-Élysées on July 23rd.
Yellow, green, white… and what’s that spotty one all about? These jerseys indicate the current leader of each classification. The jersey holder can change throughout the race based on current standings of points and times.
Yellow jersey – General
The rider with the least overall accumulated time at the end of the race wins the general classification and takes home the yellow jersey. Defending champion Chris Froome, Colombia’s Nairo Quintana and Australia’s Richie Porte are among the favourites this year.
Green jersey – Points
The Points classification is the competition for sprinters. Sprint points are awarded both at intermediate points throughout the race and at finishes. Whoever has the most points in Paris wins the coveted Green jersey.
Polka dot jersey – Mountains
Also known as the “King of the Mountains,” the polka dot jersey is awarded to the rider with the most points for mountaintop wins at intermediate points and finishes.
White jersey – Best young rider
This is given to the rider under 25 years of age with the least overall accumulated time. Past winners include Tejay van Garderen and Adam Yates.
Peloton: The main field of riders in the race. They work together by riding closely to save power and energy.
Breakaway: A rider or small group of riders who ride off the front of the peloton to form a gap between them and the main field.
Chase: A rider or group of riders who zoom off from the peloton and try to bridge the gap to the breakaway.
Domestique: This is a rider whose only job is to support their team, from getting water bottles for other team riders to working for them in the peloton.
Time trial: An individual ride where the winner is determined by the fastest time.
Lantern rouge: The rider who finishes the Tour in last place.
Watching the Tour in France
Many of our campsites are well-placed to get close to the Tour action, we’ve detailed where to stay and when to cheer on the yellow jersey!
Dole to Station des Rousses: Stage 8 – July 8th
This 187km stage features two categorised climbs and a summit finish. Stay at Camping Domaine de Chalain.
Nantua to Chambery: Stage 9 – July 9th
This 181km mountain stage takes in the climbs of Col de la Binche, Grand Colombier and Mont du Chat before the descent into Chambery. Stay at Camping la Ferme de la Serraz, Lake Annecy.
Perigueux to Bergerac: Stage 10 – July 11th
Le Tour rolls through the beautiful Dordogne in what promises to be a great stage for the sprinters. Stay at Camping les Peneyrals or Camping la Palombière.
Blagnac to Rodez: Stage 14 – July 15th
The race makes its way through the countryside of the south-west. Stay at Camping Val de Cantobre.
Montgeron to Paris Champs-Élysées: Stage 21 – July 23rd
Make Canvas favourite Camping La Croix de Vieux Pont your base and take the train into Paris for the famous finale on the Champs-Élysées.
Top tip: Don’t forget that the Tour draws huge crowds, so you’ll need to get there early to bag a great spot. Check beforehand for road closures and diversions. Take a picnic and plenty of water and sunscreen!
If you’d like to watch at a more leisurely pace, most campsites have televisions in their bars and restaurants and will no doubt be tuned in to the Tour.