Thursday, July 21, 2011

Viva Le Tour de France!

Le Grand Boucle has been thrilling this year. Favorites lost to crashes, young revelations and unexpected stage winners all leading us to the unsettled business among the GC favorites. I know the staff at the shop will be huddled around the computer just before opening each morning to catch the live action.

If you can't watch it live or even if you do, please join us Friday and Saturday night at the shop from 8:30pm - 10:30pm for our Tour watching parties. Friday's stage includes the iconic climb of L'Alpe d'Huez. 13.8km at an average grade of 7.9%. Ouch. Saturday's stage could be just as dramatic as the riders complete the only Individual Time Trial of this years race. With the general Classification this close going into the last weekend, might we see a race like 1989 when Greg Lemond beat Laurent Fignon by 8 seconds in the Time Trial to claim the Yellow Jersey?

If you're new to this Tour de France thing we thought we would give you the high points of the race and what to watch through the remaining stages.

Yellow Jersey (maillot jaune)- Awarded to the overall winner of the Tour de France. It is worn by the rider who leads the General Classification each day. Currently it is Thomas Voeckler, a Frenchman who carries the dreams of an entire country. The last time a Frenchmen won the race was in 1985 when Bernard Hinault won his 5th Yellow Jersey. The French have suffered seeing their race dominated by Spanish and American riders for over two decades. The drought looks to continue as the pundits don't expect Voeckler to hold onto the jersey when we hit the high mountains today and Friday. Viva la Voeckler!

Green Jersey (maillot vert) - Awarded to the overall winner of the Points category. It is worn by the rider who leads this classification each day. Points are awarded for stage wins and intermediate sprints during the race. The intermediate sprints are races within the race. Think of it as sprinting for the City Limits sign on your friendly group ride. Flatter stages are given more points to encourage racing in what might otherwise be less interesting conditions.
Many a Green Jersey leader has gone on to lose because he couldn't climb the mountains. Currently Mark Cavendish leads this classification. We'll see if he can get over the mountains under his own power or grab onto a car as his rivals have implied he does from time to time. Did you know the color green was chosen because the sponsor of this jersey when it was introduced in 1953 was a lawn mower producer? True.

Polka Dot Jersey (maillot pois) - Awarded to the overall winner of the King of the Mountains classification. It is also worn by the rider who leads this category each day. Points are awarded for crossing designated climbs during the race and extra points are awarded to a racer who wins a stage that finishes at the top of a climb. If we all raced down 360 we could award points to the first several riders to climb to the light at Westlake Drive and extra points to the top finishers at 360 and Bee Caves. Note: If you were thinking about making a run at the tour next year, the mountain stages in the Tour are slightly longer and harder than riding 360.

White Jersey (maillot blanc) - Best Young Rider. In this case under the age of 25. This jersey is awarded to the overall best placed young rider. Andy Shleck is a former winner of the White Jersey in the Tour de France. It remains to be seen if he can trade white for yellow this year.

Hope to see you Friday and Saturday night. Oh, did I mention FREE pizza and beer with exciting cycling on a warm summer night. Perfection!


1 comment:

Jake said...

Great race this year... Not as many big names providing much interest, but for cyclist it was a classic...