Tour de France
One of the world’s most famous and gruelling cycling championship for men, it began in 1903. Journalist Géo Lefèvre of the L’Auto magazine mooted the idea, which was supported by his editor, Henri Desgrange. There were 60 participants at the start of the race. After the six-stage ride came to an end, there were 21 participants left in the fray. The winner was Maurice Garin. The race survived the great wars and other calamities and became increasingly popular. Today it is not only a championship race but also a big tourist attraction.
The 2015 championship, the 102nd edition, began on July 4 from Utrecht in the Netherlands, will pass through Belgium before entering France, and conclude on July 26 at the Champs Élysées, Paris. Participants will cross 3,360km in all. There will be 22 teams and 198 riders are expected to compete. Defending champion - Vincenzo Nibali of team Astana. Wearing a helmet is compulsory. www.letour.com/
The Grand Depart
The fourth largest city of the Netherlands, Utrecht, hosted what is known as the Grand Depart – flagging off the Tour de France competition. Home to the country’s largest university and the birth place of footballer Marco van Basten, Utrecht is a city where the bicycle is the most popular form of transport. This is the sixth time that The Grand Depart, has taken place in the Netherlands.
The competition will be held across 21 stages. There are 37 stage cities, marking the start or ending of a stage. The participants will cross nine flat areas, three hilly stages, and seven stages through mountains (e.g. the Pyrenees, the Massif Central, the Alps), including five summit finishes. There will be one individual time trial and one team trial. Besides, the riders will have to ride through water, cobbled streets, tackle cross winds, etc., which often influences the results of even the best riders. There will only be two rest days in between.
The viewers often have their eyes glued on participants wearing four special jerseys, a convenient way to distinguish the probable winner of the race.
Yellow jersey: The most coveted one, it is worn by the leader of the general time classification.
Green jersey: Awarded to the leader of the points classification
Polka dot jersey: Awarded to the rider with the most points at the end of a mountain climb.
White jersey: Awarded to the best young rider in general individual time classification
Besides, there are prizes for the most aggressive rider, the team classification
The Grand Tour
In the world of professional bicycle racing, the Grand Tour consists of the three championships – Tour de France, Giro d'Italia and Vuelta a España. The Giro d'Italia, held in May, was won by Alberto Contador, his second. The Vuelta a España will he held from August 22 – September 13, 2015 across Spain and Andorra.