1. The Race
The Tour de France takes place over 21 days called “stages”. During the first three weeks of July, about 150 superheroes will cycle 3,344km. They’ll climb some seriously high mountain peaks, wind amid green valleys, and pass through lots of cute villages and famous towns.
2. The Yellow Jersey
The maillot jeune is the most coveted jersey in the sport of cycling. At the end of each stage, the cyclist who currently leads the race overall is presented with a yellow jersey. To win this jersey in Paris is the ultimate cycling glory.
3. 2015 Potential Yellow Jersey Winners
This year’s odds-on favourite is Kenyan-born Chris Froome who won the Tour in 2013 but crashed out in the fifth stage last year. Two-time winner Spaniard Alberto Contador also retired after crashing in 2014, so they are both looking to make up for lost opportunities. Last year’s winner, Italy’s Vincenzo Nibali, will attempt to defend his title, but Columbian Nairo Quintana may well trump all three of them after his amazing win in the 2014 Giro d’Italia (Tour of Italy).
4. The Green Jersey
The maillot vert is awarded to the best sprinter. Sprinters have amazing speed at the end of a flat stage, when they can zoom out of the peloton (the large pack of cyclists) at the last moment. Riders are awarded green jersey points for gaining a place at the finish line of each stage, and at the “intermediate sprint” during the stage. The rider with the most points at the end of the Tour wins the green jersey competition.
Slovakian Peter Sagan has pulled on the green jersey in Paris for the past three years and is hot favourite to win it again in 2015. German Marcel Kittel, Norwegian Alexander Kristoff and Britain’s Mark Cavendish are also in with a chance.
Rather than racing for their country, cyclists race for teams named after their major sponsors. Some teams, such as the Australian Orica GreenEDGE team, draw the majority of their riders from a particular country, while others are a very mixed bunch.
The Team Leader is usually the team member with the best chance of winning the yellow jersey. Other team members are picked to support the leader on mountain climbs, chase down breakaway groups, or as sprinters vying for the green jersey and stage wins.