The Tour de France is the world’s largest annual sporting event, made up of 21 race stages held over 3 weeks. It is one of the three cycling Grand Tours, and is considered to be the most prestigious. The 2015 edition of the Tour de France will start in the Netherlands, and consists of 9 flat stages, 3 hill stages, 7 mountain stages with 5 altitude finishes, 1 individual time-trial stage and 1 team time-trial stage, covering a distance of 3,360 kilometres in total.
The first race was held in 1903, with 60 cyclists setting off from the village of Montgeron to tackle six stages covering 2,428 km in total. In contrast to modern races, riders raced as individuals instead of teams, and the stages were over twice the length of what they are today, with the average stage in the first race requiring riders to cycle distances of 400 km.
Out of the 60 that began the race, only 21 competitors completed all six stages. Their times from each stage were added up to determine the General Classification – Frenchman Maurice Garin (pictured right), winning the prize of 20,000 francs.
The Tour de France began to rise in popularity in the following years, and circulation of the organiser’s magazine L’Auto received a huge boost. Following races included more stages and attracted more competitors and bigger crowds. The Tour de France has taken place every year since 1903, with the exception of breaks during the first and second world war.
Bradley Wiggins became the first British rider to win the Tour de France in 2012, followed up by a second British winner, Chris Froome, in 2013.
The yellow jersey is the most known jersey in cycling history. It represents the leader of the General Classification (GC).
In order to become leader of the GC, a rider must have completed the entire race in the lowest cumulative time. This is determined by adding up the total amount of time taken for a rider to complete each stage at the end of the race; therefore it is possible for a rider to have not finished first in any stage but still be awarded the yellow jersey.
In the 2014 Tour de France, winning Italian rider Vincenzo Nibali wore the yellow jersey for the majority of the race.
The green jersey is given to rider with the highest number of points. This is calculated by totalling the amount of points a rider has accumulated overall.
Points can be gained by sprinting to cross the finish line in each stage, with the amount of points dependent on the finishing position. Points can also awarded for winning sprints at certain places along the route of a stage, often referred to as an intermediate sprint.
As well as this, time trials are opportunity for riders to gain points.
In the 2014 Tour de France, Slovakian rider Peter Sagan was able to secure the green jersey after winning the points classification for the third year in a row.
The Polka-dot jersey is awarded to the best climber in the race, often referred to as King of the Mountains.
There are numerous mountain stages in each race, which are categorised in terms of the steepness and length. Categories range from 1-4, 1 being the hardest. There is also a special outside category (Hors categorie) for mountains that are more difficult than category 1 mountains.
Points are rewarded to those who cross the finish line in the top positions, with the hardness of the stage determining the amount of points.
Points are doubled in the five summit finish stages.
The white jersey is similar to the yellow jersey in that it is given to the rider that has completed the race in the shortest amount of time, however they must be under the age of 26 years old.
The wearer of the white jersey if often referred to as best young rider.
The winner of the white jersey in the 2014 Tour de France was French rider Thibaut Pinot, aged 24.
Tour de France Jewellery Gifts
A Grand Tour calls for a celebration…why not commemorate the 102nd Tour de France with some of our beautiful cycling themed jewellery? Our road bike collection was designed to capture all of the elements of road racing in stunning sterling silver. We have included some of our favourite pieces from the collection below. If you wish to see any of the pieces in more detail, click the image.
You can customise the design of any jewellery piece to however you wish with our bespoke service, including engraving, coloured metals and gemstones.