Tour de France - The World's Most Important Cycling Event


The Tour de France is the most important bike race in the world. The three-week long race, which was first organized in 1903, is traditionally held in July. Although the route of the race changes slightly every year, it always contains a mixture of flat stages at the beginning and the difficult stages across the Alps and the Pyrenees. There are time trials and a finishing stage in Paris. In the past, some stages of the Tour de France have been held in neighbouring countries, like Germany, Belgium or the Netherlands.

Each of the teams that enter the Tour de France has 9 riders. Most teams have leaders, usually their best cyclists. The other members of the team support him. They help him come back to the front if he falls behind or they block off attacks by other teams.

The main goal for every team is to have one of their athletes in the yellow jersey, which always goes to the cyclist who leads in the overall competition. The times of each of the stages are added up.

route of 2014 Tour de France

Route of the 2014 Tour de France - Andrei Loas

There are other classifications that are also important. The best mountain rider wears a polka-dot jersey and the green jersey goes to the rider who is best at the in-between sprints of each leg. The best young rider wears a white jersey.

There is a mass start for most of the stages, but at least two time trials are held, in which each cyclist starts separately and rides against the clock.

The tour has a few special highlights.  One of them is the 15 km climb of the Alpe d'Huez, which is included every year. Thousands of spectators roam the small road and hardly leave riders any room to pass. Another highlight is the arrival on the Champs-Elyse in Paris.

Not all cyclists of the Tour de France make it to the finish line. Many drop out because of injuries or because their bodies cannot cope with the physical strain of a three-week tour.

Doping has been a much-discussed topic throughout the history of the Tour de France. It has brought the tour a bad reputation.  The World Anti-Doping Agency is very alert during the tour to stop athletes who violate rules and use banned substances. Lance Armstrong, winner of 7 Tour de France races, was stripped of all his titles when he admitted having taken illegal substances throughout his career.

Lance Armstrong wearing the yellow jersey in the 2005 Tour de France

Lance Armstrong wearing the yellow jersey in the 2005 Tour de France- Bjarte Hetland


Related Topics



  • add up= combine, put together
  • admit = to say that you have done something
  • alert = careful, aware, watchful
  • although = while
  • arrival = when someone comes to a place
  • attack = to move forward and become the first
  • banned = forbidden
  • block off = to stop someone from getting ahead
  • classification = ranking, position of each rider
  • contain = to have in it
  • cope with = deal with
  • cyclist = bike rider
  • drop out = stop, end the race
  • finish line = end
  • flat = level, without hills or mountains
  • goal = aim, target
  • hardly = only just
  • highlight = best part of an event
  • illegal =against the law, not allowed
  • include = consist of
  • jersey = shirt made of soft material, which athletes wear
  • lead = to be number one
  • leg = stage, day
  • mixture = combination
  • much-discussed = talked about all the time
  • overall competition = here: the total result of all days put together
  • polka-dot = round spots that form a pattern
  • reputation =name
  • roam = stand around
  • rules = laws of the sport
  • separately = on his own
  • slightly = a little bit
  • spectator = person who watches an event
  • stage=daily part of a race
  • strain = stress, worries
  • strip = lose
  • substances = here: food, medicine etc..
  • support = help
  • throughout = in all of
  • time trial = race in which each cyclist starts individually and rides as fast as he can
  • traditionally = usually, by tradition
  • violate = break