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Thursday, 30 June 2011

The countdown begins

Tomorrow night is the start of three weeks of late nights as I sit up after Mrs Secret Cyclist has gone to bed, watching the days recording of the Tour de France highlights.

The tour kicks off on Saturday but tomorrow, Eurosport is showing a Mark Cavandish special which, seeing as Cav is the Official Pro Cyclist of the Secret Cyclist blog (not that he knows, but I know), it would be wrong of me not to watch, followed by two previews, one about the General Classification contenders and another being the official introduction of the teams.

Get in there!

A brief idiots guide to the Tour de France-

It starts on the first Saturday in July and finsihes on the Sunday 3 weeks later.

The first day is usually (though not always) a prologue, a short time trial (TT) stage of around 5 to 10 kilometers.

There are 6 competitions within the race-

General Classification or GC. This rider wears the fabled Maliot Jaune or yellow jersey. It is worn by the rider who has clocked up the shortest combined time for the race as it progresses. A GC contender needs to be a good all round rider but recently,good climbers with TT ability have faired well.

The points competition (often refered to as the sprinters competition). The leader in thei competiton wears the green jersey. Points are awarded in most road stages at intermediate sprints (usually 2 per stage) where the first few riders accross the line get points in descending order. There are also points (a larger total) won at the end of a stage, which is why the likes of Cav or Thor Hushovd are seen in the jersey a lot. Sprint stage winners can gain 35 points per stage.

The King of the Mountain (KoM) who wears the polka dot jersey (white with red polka dots). This is similar in style to the points jersey but the points are won by being first to cross the line on classified climbs. There are 5 classes of climb from Cat 4 being the easiets categorised climb, getting harder (steeper and/ or longer) through Cats 3,2 and 1 and then onto Hors Categorie (HC) of out of category. These climbs are those that are so long and sustained that getting up them sometiems leaves quality climbers shattered.

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