The Tour de France takes place over three weeks each July and has been running for over 100 years. The race always begins with the Grand Départ, with the starting location and route changing each year. The cycle route covers approximately 3,300 kms and as the name suggests, the cyclists tour through France on their way to the finishing line at the Champs-Elysees in Paris.
As with most cycling races, competitors enter as part of a team. The race consists of 20 to 22 teams with nine riders each. Traditionally, entry is extended to invitation only, with invitations granted only to the best of the world's professional teams.
The Tour is a stage race, each stage being a one day race, with approximately 21 stages. The time each rider takes to complete each stage is accumulated. Riders are often awarded time bonuses as well as their prize for finishing. Riders who finish in the same group are awarded the same time. Two riders are said to have finished in the same group if there is less than the length of a bike between them. A rider who crashes in the last three kilometres is given the time of the group in which he would have otherwise finished.
The ranking of riders by accumulated time is known as the General Classification. The winner is the rider with the least accumulated time after the final day.
Tour de France 2019
This year’s Tour de France starts on Saturday 6th July in Brussells, in honour of the 50th anniversary of the first Tour de France win of Eddy Merckx. This will be the second time the Grand Depart will take place in Brussels and will be the fifth Belgian Grand Depart.
The race will wind its way through North Eastern France before taking a change of direction at Belfort and heading diagonally on route to Pau in SW France, where the individual time trial will take place (stage 13). The final stages will then take a south easterly route through Limoux and Nimes and back up Eastern France with the flight from Val Thorens to Rambouillet for the final stage.
As is tradition, the race will culminate on Sunday 28th July in Paris Champs-Élysées.