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Tour de France
This is what they want to win

Tour De France. Twenty-one days of cycling about 3500km (2175mi) through France, with stages on flat terrain, in the hills and in the mountains, often totaling an average race speed of about 40 kph for the entire distance. In this race, everyone has an agenda. Whether it is to win a stage for themselves, or helping someone win either the general classification, or one of the secondary classifications (points classification, mountains classification, youth competition, team classification), and you can easily expect everyone to be at the top of their form when they're in this race. It's currently considered the biggest race in the sport, and is one of the three grand tours (Vuelta a España and Giro d'Italia are the two others).

The race was started in 1903, and has been held every year since then, except for the World War One and World War II periods, with a total of 99 races being held at the moment of writing.

Tour De France is a well known race all over the world, with winners from 13 countries and three continents. Like the sport in general, Tour De France is home to controversies about doping and corruption, to a point where a YMMV can even be placed next to the name of certain winners. The most winning rider in Tour De France history was Lance Armstrong, with seven victories between 1999 and 2005. As of the 22nd October 2012, Armstrong has been stripped of his titles because of doping. Now the most winning riders are Jacques Anquetil, Bernard Hinault, Eddy Merckx and Miguel Induraín.

Aside from controversies, there are also lots of unwritten rules in the race that one would be expected to follow. For example, if a general classification contender, or more of there, are dropped due to an accident, the race is effectively neutralized until said contender is back up. Note that this rule does not apply if there's a GC threat in a breakaway ahead, or on some early sprinter stages where the GC-lead is theoretically up for grabs, or sprinter teams have an interest of winning the stage, as they have their own classification to look out for.

Despite this being a French event, no French rider has actually won the race since Bernard Hinault won in 1985, and no French rider has been on the podium since Richard Virenque finished second in 1997. Follwing nations have a winner of Tour De France (in order of first victory): France, Luxemburg, Belgium, Italy, Switzerland, Spain, Netherlands, USA, Ireland, Denmark, Germany, Australia, United Kingdom.

There are a few internal competitions in the race, which are following:
  • General classification: This classification is the one that determines if one wins the race. The fastest rider, using time as a measurement instead of stage placement, wins the general classification. The GC-leader is identified by wearing a yellow jersey.
  • Points classification: This is sometimes referred to as the sprinter classification. The rider with most points, which are obtained by winning stages and bonus sprints, wins. Stage results are the tiebreaker, should two riders end up with the same amount of points. While sometimes called the sprinter competition, it isn't always won by an actual sprinter. The leader of this competition is identified by a green jersey, unless the same rider leads this as well as the GC, in which case it's given to the man in second place of this competition
  • Mountains classification: Also called "king of the mountains" classification, this competition works like the points classification, except that this one is about coming over tops of mountains. A stage finish on the highest mountains, categorized 1 and HC(Hors Categorié - beyond category) , doubles the usual points for winning such a mountain sprint elsewhere on the stage - a change which was made to keep the top riders able to take this jersey, instead of an unknown breakaway rider who'd fizzle out late on a stage. The leading rider of this competition wears a white jersey with red dots, also called the polka-dot jersey. The two competitions above rank higher than this one in order of which jersey to wear
  • Youth classification: This competition is essentially the general classification for riders who are 25 years old or below. Note that by 25 years, it means turning 25 in the same year as the year of the race. The leader of this classification wears a white jersey. The three competitions above rank higher in the jersey order.
  • Team classification: This competition functions like the GC, but instead of taking a rider's individual time, the time of the three first riders of a team (of nine) are noted and added together as the team's time on a stage. The leading team in this classification has their back numbers on a yellow background, as opposed to the regular white background. As of 2012, they are allowed, but not obliged, to wear yellow helmets for easy identification.
  • Combativity award: This is an award given by a jury after each stage, as well as by the end of the race. It's given to the best fighter of the race, and the criteria are a bit unclear for how to actually win this. The most combative rider from the previous day has white numbers on a red background, to be easily identified. Essentially the Determinator award.

The order in which the jersey's are worn are: Yellow, green, polka-dot, white. If a rider leads both the general classification and the points classification, the rider will wear the yellow jersey, the second best in the points classification will wear green. In 2013, a rule change was implemented, so that a jersey of a competition a rider actually leads takes priority over a competition a rider doesn't lead. An example could be given by a rider leading both the general classification and the mountains competition, second rider in the mountain competition leads the youth classification, so third rider in mountains wears the polka-dot jersey. The red number stands ahead of the yellow one, but the number (both for leading team, and for combativity) can go with any jersey.

Most winning riders in the different competitions of the race are following:

  • General classification (5 times): Jacques Anquetil (France) - 1957, 1961-1964
    • Eddy Merckx (Belgium) - 1969-1972, 1974
    • Bernard Hinault (France)note  - 1978-1979, 1981-1982, 1985
    • Miguel Induraín. (Spain) - 1991-1995
  • Points classification (6 times): Erik Zabel (Germany) - 1996-2001
  • Mountains classification (7 times): Richard Virenque (France) - 1994-1997, 1999, 2003-2004
  • Youth classification (3 times): Jan Ullrich (Germany) - 1996-1998
    • Andy Schleck (Luxemburg) - 2008-2010.
  • Team classification: Belgium (for national teams, back when that was the standard) - 10 times - 1931, 1935-1936, 1938-1939, 1948, 1950, 1956, 1958-1959 (note that in 39, 48 and 50, Belgium had more than one team)...
    • Mercier (for sponsored teams, which is the standard now) - 5 times - 1972, 1975, 1978, 1980, 1982. note 
  • Combativity award (4 times): Eddy Merckx - 1969-1970, 1974-1975

The most recent winners of the different competitions are listed here:

     2013 competition winners 
  • General classification: Chris Froome (Great Britain, Sky)
  • Points classification: Peter Sagan (Slovakia, Cannondale)
  • Mountains classification: Nairo Quintana (Colombia, Movistar)
  • Youth classification: Nairo Quintana (Colombia, Movistar)
  • Team classification: Saxo-Tinkoff
  • Combativity award: Christophe Riblon (France, AG2R La Mondiale)

     2014 competition leaders 
  • General classification: Vincenzo Nibali (Italy, Astana)
  • Points classification: Peter Sagan (Slovakia, Cannondale)
  • Mountains classification: Cyril Lemoine (France, Cofidis)
  • Youth classification: Peter Sagan (Slovakia, Cannondale)note 
  • Team classification: Astana Pro Team


After 100 editions, it does have some tropes in it:
  • Anti-Doping Is Useless: Riders being thrown out for doping is commonplace. Action is never taken against people higher up the system than said riders.
  • Bastard Understudy: While naming an athlete as a villain doesn't quite hold up, the history of the race has several examples of this
  • Boring, but Practical: US Postal's and Team Sky's strategy, where they keep the race under total control in order to have their captain win. There's a good counter to this strategy though.
  • Cheaters Never Prosper: Usually subverted with a lot of known dopers having won or been placed highly, but sometimes played straight, when people are thrown out or removed from the records.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: Jens Voigt in a bad mood does these rather often.
  • Combat Pragmatist: The unwritten rules are unwritten. Someone following this trope doesn't follow these.
  • Crippling Overspecialization: Pure climbers usually never win, unless they build up a big enough lead before the time trial(s).
    • Last pure climber to win the race was Andy Schleck in 2010. He only won after Contador was disqualified.
    • Rasmussen would probably have won in 07, if it hadn't been for the general corruption in the sport, and even then, he still finished 10th on the time trial.
    • Pantani got a win without any prior disqualifications in 1998.
    • A major reason that Peter Sagan has won the points classification in 2012-2013 is that while his sprinting ability is very good (to the point he is able to keep up with—and even beat—the top sprinters of the world consistently), he is also able to do very well on mid-mountain stages that pure sprinters generally only race to complete. Case in point: In the 2013 Tour, Sagan came in second in stages 2 and 3 (both mid-mountain) and won stage 7 (a "flat" stage that probably would have been categorized better as "undulating" or "mid-mountain") with none of the top sprinters (Cavendish, Greipel, Kittel) even coming close to him. The upshot? Sagan won the points classification by 97 points over Mark Cavendish, his nearest competitor (to give perspective, a flat stage win gains 45 points; Sagan needed only to finish the final stage to win the points classification!)
    • All that said, "pure" sprinter/climber/time-trialist is a relative term; in order to complete the race, a rider must have some skill at all types of stages; a rider who falls too far behind the leader on any particular stage will be disqualified (unless, as in 2006 on stage 13, this happens to over 20% of the field), meaning that a super-sprinter who does super-poor on mountain stages won't be useful (and thus will fall squarely under this trope).
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Not entirely "battle", but sometimes a rider just tears the entire GC apart, or a sprinter wins every stage possible for them.
  • Curse: No French rider has won since 1985, and no French rider has been in the top 3 since 1997.
  • Determinator: There's an award for biggest determinator every year. Aside from the award, TdF could have it's own subpage on the matter.
  • Down To The Last Time Trial: Several versions of the race have ended like this, most notably in 1989 where the final stage was a 24,5 km time trial. Laurent Fignon had a 50 second lead on Greg LeMond, but the American beat the Frenchman by 58 seconds, taking home the race by the smallest margin in race history. 1989 was the last year to end the race on a time trial, leading to a format where the last stage will be a sprinter duel, usually without any general classification contenders doing anything.
    • 2011 had Cadel Evans take over the jersey on the final time trial from Andy Schleck
    • 2003 and 2008 had two riders being very close in the general classification, and while the leader held on to his jersey, it wasn't decided whether he'd win before the time trial. Both these years had the non-leaders (Ullrich and Evans) at a favourable standpoint, compared to the leaders: Ullrich had beaten Armstrong badly on the first time trial in 03 (and wasn't that much behind compared to the American), while Evans was just a plain better time trialist than Sastre.
  • Epic Fail: While Pereiro's win was impressive, having the pack finish outside the time limit on the stage that helped Pereiro win was an epic fail on behalf of every team that had a GC-contender in 2006, except for CSC who had Voigt placed in said breakaway.
    • The Orica-GreenEdge bus on the first stage of the 2013 race, which crashed into the finish line, and got stuck, with the riders arriving in 15 minutes. It was extracted with five minutes to spare.
  • Epic Race: The epic race in cycling. The other two grand tours, Giro d'Italia and Vuelta a España, also count, but TdF is the biggest.
    • NBC Sports Network lampshades this as part of their "Epic Cycle" coverage that features other prominent cycling events such as the Tour of California and various criterium events.
  • Every Year They Fizzle Out: Several riders have high expectations following them into the race, which they're never able to live up to.
  • He's Back: Happens quite often, with riders coming back from either bans or injuries.
  • Iconic Logo: The yellow jersey.
  • Kick the Son of a Bitch: UCI and ASO did not want Rasmussen to win in 2007. He was doping, there was just no proof.
  • Let's Fight Like Gentlemen: There are some gentleman rules, which everyone are expected to follow.
  • Made of Iron: Examples abound. A well-known example is Johnny Hoogerland's painful crash in 2011 after being sideswiped by a car and falling into a barbed-wire fence—and finishing not only the stage, but the entire race.
  • Major Injury Underreaction: As common in cycling as Minor Injury Overreaction is in football.
  • Non-Indicative Name: The team competition can be this. A team with strong riders and an every man for himself mentality can win this competition. Radioshack-Nissan did in 2012.
  • Not the Fall That Kills You: Dutch cyclist Wim van Est, attempting to defend his yellow jersey in 1951, lost control of his bike and fell into a 70-meter-deep ravine. He survived the fall with no serious injuries, thanks to the trees he fell into. He got back onto the course and finished the stage, though he abandoned the Tour shortly thereafter at the insistence of his team. But not before having won two other stages.
  • Overshadowed by Awesome: Happened several times for unlucky riders.
  • Retcon: Lance Armstrong's victories have been officially wiped from the records after discovery of his doping. No official winners have been appointed in his place.
    • Some of the other winners, like Floyd Landis in 2006, and Alberto Contador in 2010, have been stripped of their wins due to doping violations; in these cases the victories have defaulted to the highest remaining cyclist (Óscar Pereiro in 2006, Andy Schleck in 2010). The Tour organizers excluded Bjarne Riis' 1996 win from the official records after confessing to doping, but the Union Cycliste Internationale invoked statute of limitationnote , and the Tour organizers now list him as winner on their official page, with a note that said he has confessed to doping. Only excluding Riis would be a major Double Standard, as he's hardly the only confessed or proven doper on the list of winners.
  • Scenery Porn: Expect the television coverage to feature a lot of helicopter shots whenever the Tour visits somewhere scenic. The 2014 Tour starts in Yorkshire in England: rumour has it that the Yorkshire tourist board started their pitch to the Tour organisers by giving them a helicopter tour and saying "Look at this!"
    • During eventless parts of certain stages, some commentators talk about the history of the scenic places the peloton races through.
  • Shrouded in Myth: Yet again, TdF could have it's own subpage on the matter.
  • The Ace: Eddy Merckx at the top of his career. Armstrong during his best days. The major difference between the riders mentioned is the periods in which they were riding.
  • Trope Co. Trope of the Week: Most teams in the competition are named after their main sponsor(s). The only one exception in recent years is Astana, which is sponsored by the Kazakhstan government and some big Kazakh companies.
  • Up to Eleven: The Alpe d'Huez is a famous climb, used in many Tour de France races as a stage finish. How do you top it? How about climbing that mountain, descending down the other side, riding around the mountain, and climbing it a second time? That's exactly what they did in the 2013 race.
  • Wearing a Flag on Your Head: This being the biggest cycling race in the world, expect to see several national champions, especially since most European and northern American national championships are held close to this race.
  • World of Badass: It takes a badass to even complete this race.
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