Tour de France 101 and Cyclefest 2013

The 100th edition of the Tour de France kicks off today and it’s kind of a big deal.  But just because you enjoy riding your bicycle, it doesn’t necessarily mean you know anything about the jargon, the team tactics or the special jerseys that play such a big role in the sport of cycling. I’m here to help you out.

The Tour de France is the biggest grand tour in the world and consists of 21 individual stages (races) for a total of 3,404 kilometers over the course of three weeks.

There’s a winner for each stage, as well as winner for different in-race competitions explained by the different colored jerseys.

Yellow: The maillot jaune. This is the big one; the one it’s all about. It designates the overall leader of the race so far. The yellow jersey is awarded after each stage to the rider who is the overall leader of the race so far (the racer with the lowest cumulative time) and he will wear the jersey throughout the next stage.

Green: The maillot vert, is the sprinter’s jersey. At every stage, points are awarded to the first 10-25 riders that cross the finish line. The amount of sprint points awarded depends on the day’s course and some stages have intermediate-sprints within the stage that are worth points.

Polka Dots: The Polka dot jersey (white with red polka dots) is awarded to the King of the Mountains. Points are awarded to the first rider to reach the crest of certain designated hills and mountains.

White: The maillot blanc jersey is worn by the fastest overall rider under the age of 25.

The guys wearing these jerseys are the ones to watch.


The climbs are entertaining to watch because they are brutal! It's a true strength of fitness and heart. Climbs are categorized according to their difficulty, which is determined by the climb's steepness, length and position on the course. The climbs are number 4 through 1 with 1 being the toughest. The exceptionally hard hills are categorized as "hors catégorie", which means 'beyond categorization'.

Other things to know:

General Classification (GC): The overall standings in a stage race.

Peloton:  This is a word to describe the largest group of riders, also known as ‘the pack’.

Break/breakaway:  The fewer people you take with you to the finish line, the better your chance is to win, so riders will try to break away from the main pack of riders. This frequently happens on hills. When a riders or group of riders escape the pack, it’s called a break or breakaway.

Time limit: TdF is a time-based race and there is a time limit for each stage. If a rider does not make the time limit, he will not continue onto the next stage.

Grupetto: This is the group of riders that forms at the back of the race. They ride at a pace just fast enough to finish within the day’s time limit so they can continue to race the Tour but aren’t about to win anything.

The caravan and team cars: There are lots of cars and motorcycles riding alongside the riders throughout the race. Known as the caravan this collection of vehicles belong to television, radio, and newspaper journalists; race officials; police escorts; and publicity vehicles. Each team also has their own team cars, which support riders with extra wheels and bikes, water and food.

Directeur Sportif:  A French term essentially meaning head coach. The DS is responsible for planning team strategy for each stage and the overall race.

Alpe d'Huez: The most famous (and grueling) climb in the Tour. It's the most prestigious stage for any climber to win.

Champs-Elysees: The Tour finish with the Arc de Triomphe on one end. Racers do three circuits of about 15 kilometers each.


So now you’re all set for Cyclefest 2013!

Taking place Thursday, July 18, in Seward Park, Cyclefest is the biggest Tour de France-inspired outdoor festival on the West Coast.

For one day a year, we bust out the picnic gear and throw a massive bike party! With exciting local racing, a beer garden, vendor booths, food stands, kids' activities and the rebroadcasting of the Tour de France's mountain-top finish on an outdoor big screen, this is a summer party not to be missed.

- Enjoy expanded family friendly activities from 4-7 p.m.- scavenger hunt , bike art and more!
- Exciting local racing at the Thurs Night Bike Races; 5:30-9 p.m. Race categories include Cat 1-4 men races plus a women’s race at 7:15 p.m.
-  Then at dusk (approx 9:15 p.m.) catch all the action of the world’s best bike race with Tour de France's mountain top finish Stage 18 (Gap- Alpe d’Heuz mountain top finish)  on the 20-foot-wide big screen.
-  Hear commentators extraordinaire Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen make the call on our four-speaker surround-sound system.
-  Enjoy a frothy Schooner Exact Brewery beverage (or wine) in the massive beer garden with hundreds of your fellow race fans.
-  Eat at our food booth or bring your own picnic-it’s a special night under the stars.
-  Browse at our vendor booths for cool stuff.
-  Purchase a drawing ticket for a chance to win a top-of-the-line Raleigh bicycle, RSVP passes, Ortlieb messenger bag plus other prizes and instant giveaways!