As the weather starts to heat up in the northern hemisphere, the European cycling races are starting to hit top gear. And no race is more iconic than Le Tour de France, the most gruelling and most watched cycling race on the planet.
The 2016 Tour De France is scheduled to start on July 2 and Englishman Chris Froome is the early UBET favourite to become the first cyclist to claim back-to-back titles in the general classification (Yellow Jersey) since the great Miguel Indurain claimed 5 successive Tour victories from 1991-1995.
The Grand Depart in the 2016 Tour will be from the picturesque Mont-Saint-Michel, with the traditional finish into the streets of Paris and along the Champs-Elysees on Sunday July 24.
With Le Tour split in to 21 stages, UBET will offer markets for victory in each stage as well as other bet types across the gruelling 23 day event.
21 Stages split into -
The 2016 Tour will visit 3 neighbouring countries, taking in Spain, Switzerland and the Principality of Andorra. Riders will be competing for supremacy across 6 different categories.
The ‘maillot jaune’ is worn by the rider that is the leader of the general classification, basically the overall leader of the race. Chris Froome took the title in 2015 after wearing the yellow for nearly the majority of Le Tour. Froome first took the Yellow at the completion of stage 3, relinquishing after just 1 stage, then gaining it back at the end of stage 7 and wearing it for the remainder of the Tour.
The ‘maillot vert’ is worn by the leader of the points classification. Points are awarded every stage at an intermediate sprint point and at the finishing sprint, with the leader of this classification wearing the green jersey. Slovakia’s Peter Sagan will be out to defend his title and if he can secure the points title in 2016 will move in to outright 2nd for most point classification victories. Sagan has won the maillot vert for the past 4 successive years.
‘Maillot blanc a pois rouges’ is worn by the leading climber. At the top of every classified slope points are awarded for the leading rider, with double points awarded at summit finishes. The overall leading point scorer in this classification wears the Polka Dot Jersey. Chris Froome was able to secure the Polka Dot jersey in 2015 and became the first rider since Eddy Merckx in 1970 to win both the general classification and mountain classification in the same year. In 2013 when Froome won his 1st general classification, Nairo Quintana took the polka dot jersey.
The ‘maillot blanc’ jersey is worn by the leading rider in the general classification category that is aged 25 and under. In 2015 Nairo Quintana won the 2nd of his White Jerseys after previously winning the title in 2013. After wearing the jersey for the first time at the end of stage 10 in 2015, he kept the jersey for the remainder of the tour. Quintana joined Marco Pantani, Jan Ullrich and Andy Schleck as the only riders to have won the maillot blanc on multiple occasions and he also holds claim to being the only rider to win both the white and polka dot jerseys in the same Tour.
There may be 4 clearly identified jerseys that show who leads each of those classifications, however there are also two other highly sought after categories that the riders will be chasing.
These are identified by the numbers worn on the jerseys of the rider.
‘Le Prix de la combativite’ is a discretionary prize awarded at the end of every stage. A panel of cycling experts make the decision of the winning rider and then award an overall winner is decided at the end of the final stage of the tour. The winner of this category from the previous day can be recognised by the race number worn on his back that shows a white number on a red background, whereas all other riders will have black numbers on a white background.
‘Le classement par equips au temps’ is awarded to the best team. The times of the 3 leading riders from each team are added together, with the winner the team that has the best time from their three accumulated times. The leading team is recognised by a yellow bib or the race number showing a black number on a yellow background and the riders in that team have the opportunity to wear a yellow helmet. In 2015 the winning team was Movistar, with the last 5 Tours having been taken out by a different team each time.
Staged during the first week of the Tour, Stage 5 will be the third consecutive day where the riders will travel a distance greater than 200km in the day.
This stage may not be where the race is won or lost, but it will form a good gauge of which riders are in form and which can be considered suspect to see out the Tour as a contender.
The final 36km of this 216km stage is where the gaps may be produced, with three climbs and one large descent. The first climb is a 5.4km that starts mildly but the final 3km become savage with a double figure gradient. After a 10km descent there is a sharp climb of 4.4km before the final climb into Le Lioran with an uphill finish.
Moving into Spain and then Andorra for the finish of Stage 9 will see the first major summit finish in the 2016 Tour. This will serve as the last stage before the first rest day.
There are five climbs across the stage, with the stage effectively starting uphill as they climb from 1100m to 2000m across the first 20km of the race.
The 2015 Vuelta traversed this same section of the Spanish Pyrenes and Chris Froome was forced to abandon the Vuelta through this stage after injuring his foot in a crash and being unable to put enough pressure on to it for the climb.
Mont Chauve which translates to mean the bald mountain will be covered in colour when the Tour ascends the infamous Mont Ventoux on France’s national day of Bastille Day in 2016.
The rider that wins this stage will be right on track to take home the spoils that come with winning the Yellow Jersey and will have them well placed for the nine stages that follow.
The 2016 Tour will be the 10th time that the peloton will tackle the eerie mountain in the history of the race. The last time was in 2013, where Quintana broke free trying to open up the race and push for the Yellow Jersey. However, Christopher Froome displayed his power and dominance, chasing Quintana, taking the stage win and going on to take out the Tour.
In a crucial 48 hour window of Le Tour, the first individual time trial will follow the day after the ascent of this most brutal of climbs, where the final 16km of the day is a climb from 536m to 1912m above sea level.
July 19th will signal the second rest day of the Tour with the peloton having arrived in Switzerland. A 184km follows the rest day as Stage 17 and then Stage 18 will be the second of the two individual time trials on the Tour.
At just 17km, it seems mild enough, but with 10km of climbing, it will offer the chance for time to be made up, or time gaps to be extended.
The stage does offer ‘something for everyone’ with a fast finishing downhill section to finish.