How Tour de France Works

  • Tour de France is a team sport that features a total of 198 cyclists in 22 teams of nine. Over the course of 21 days, usually in July, cyclists cover a race course extending 3,500 kilometers.
  • Tour de France is split into 21 stages: Nine flat stages, three hilly stages, seven mountain stages (including five summit finishes), two individual time trials and two rest days.
  • One stage is performed every day, covers roughly 225 kilometers, and takes about five and a half hours to complete. Each stage has a winner, and the rider that completes the most stages in the shortest amount of time goes onto win the overall title.



A complete guide to understanding the Tour de France


“Le Grande Boucle”
  • Also known as “Le Grande Boucle” or “Le Tour”, Tour de France is the world’s largest annual sporting event. 
  • It’s a cycling competition that is held in France every year (sometimes neighboring countries) and takes place in 21 stages with a course that covers approximately 3,500 kilometers.
  • Cyclists from around the world gather in France to compete for the chance win the prestigious Tour de France trophy and a cash prize of €450,000 (just over $500,000).
  • This is a sport that garners 3.5 billion television viewers, and over 12 million spectators annually. It’s a thrilling sport and is completely free to attend.


  • Breakaways — Riders tend to cycle in a main group called a peloton, and have smaller groups break away to the front at almost every stage. Breakaways are a great method to use if a cyclist is not an exceptional climber or sprinter, because it gives them a chance at victory.
  • Attacks frequently occur on climbs, and involve a rider abruptly breaking away from the peloton at an extremely high speed in hopes that the other riders won’t be able to keep up with them.
  • A sprinter is a cyclist that finishes a race by suddenly accelerating to a high speed, and often uses the slipstream of an individual cyclist or a group of cyclists in order to conserve energy.
  • Lead-out Trains — This is a strategy used to setup a rider for a sprint finish. One rider on the team rides at a very high speed, and the team’s sprinter follows close behind to benefit from their slipstream. This reduces wind resistance, and enables the sprinter to achieve faster speeds without using as much energy as they normally would.


  • Grand Départ — The first stage of Tour de France.
  • Peloton — French for “group.” Peloton is the main group of cyclists who ride together for coherence.
  • Breakaway — A rider or group of riders who have broken away to lead the race.
  • Slipstreaming — Riding close behind another rider in order to benefit from almost no air resistance.
  • Bonking — Also known as “hit the wall.” This when a rider has completely run out of energy.
  • Domestique — Every team has a leader, and the remaining riders (domestiques) support the leader in whatever way they can in order for them to win stages, accumulate points and hopefully win the tour.
  • Directeur Sportif — Each team has a director, known as directeur sportif, that follows riders during the race and gives them instructions, water, helps with mechanical issues and replaces damaged bikes.
  • Flamme Rouge — French for “red flag” this is used to indicate the last kilometer of the race.
  • Lanterne Rouge — French for “red light” this is the last rider in the general classification/the tour. This is not a dishonorable term.
  • Musket Bag — A shoulder bag containing food and water that is handed to riders at feeding stations.
  • SAG Wagon — A vehicle that follows cyclists and picks them up when they can no longer ride due to injury, fatigue, biking failure, and also carries gear.


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  • The Tour de France is a multi-stage, international cycle race, taking place every year in France and surrounding areas.
  • The first tournament was created by reporter and cyclist Henri Desgrange in 1903.
  • The 107th Tour de France took place in Aug-Sept 2020, and this year, it began on June 26, to continue till July 18, 2021.
  • The race includes 21 stages and covers over 3k kilometres this year.
  • France has won this tournament 36 times, and American born Lance Armstrong won it seven times.



Here's a look at the Tour de France

The Tour de France is an annual multiple-stage race held primarily in France. It is made up of 21 stages over 23 days (two are rest days).

In 1903, the Tour de France began as a rivalry between two French sports newspapers: Le Vélo and L’Auto. A L’Auto Journalist proposed the multi-stage race as a way to sell more copies. The six-stage event over 18 days was won by Frenchman Maurice Garin and is still the biggest cycling race.



Tour de France 2021: everything you need to know

How Tour de France riders relieve themselves

In the first five to ten minutes of a race, riders pull to the side of the road, pull their shorts down just like you would underwear and do their business. During this neutral rollout, there's lots of time to catch back on to the peloton.

Once the pace picks up, it's easier to wait for a lull in the race when a big part of the peloton pulls to the side of the road. But, they also pee off the bike while riding.



Fun Facts About the Tour de France That You Can Use to Impress Your Friends