Nice post Mercer and thanks!
Guess it's probably just me, but I'd like to see just the guys that have a shot at winning it all compete. Get rid of the other guys and just let the cream of the crop ride it out and see who can do it in the shortest amount of time. Sounds a lot like the "team" part of riding is "defense", and in a timed race, there really shouldn't be any "defense" in my opinion (which is still at rookie status when it comes to racing
Thanks again for the info though!
Learned some and I appreciate it.
Might as well describe some other parts of the race!
Well, it's not just the best overall time that wins stuff.
There are other prizes that riders fight for as well.
There is a "Green Jersey" given out to the best sprint rider in the Tour. During every stage, there are intermediate sprints along the way that riders can compete in to get sprinter's points. Whoever crosses the line first gets 6 points, then 4 and 2. Much of the time, these points are taken by riders in a breakaway. Sprinters often go in the breakaways to get these points.
Basically on any flat stage, there is going to be a bunch sprint at the end of the stage because breakaways rarely work. At the final finish line, there are sprinter's points given out to the top 20 finishers. The guys that can accelerate the fastest over a short distance are led out by their teammates in order to create a slipstream for them to come out of at the last possible second. Those final sprints are pretty fun to watch also!
These sprinters are not good at climbing, so they finish many hours
behind the overall leader. But, as long as they finish the Tour under the time limit, they can win the green jersey. This year, the sprinter's title was won by a man named Thor Hushovd. At the same time that Armstrong was starting to win his Tour titles, there was another guy who was winning the green jersey multiple times. His name was Erik Zabel
. I believe he won the green jersey six times in a row. That's pretty amazing that he was the best sprinter that many times.
There is also the "Polka-Dot Jersey" which you may have seen. This is given to the rider who is deemed the "King of the Mountains." There are mountain points given at the top of each of the categorized climbs during the Tour. The man who accumulates the most climbing points is given this jersey. In order to win this prize, someone has to go out by himself on a day where there are a ton of medium/large sized mountains and get all the maximum points for the climbs. He will also stay with the top overall riders and make a fast acceleration at the very top of a mountain in order to get the top points.
These guys are unbelievable climbers, but since they are generally terrible individual time trialists, they have little chance to win the Tour. Those type of guys normally win the polka-dot jersey. This year, the winner was Michael Rasmussen from Denmark. Before him, a Frenchman named Richard Virenque
won the King of the Mountains title five straight years and seven in total - the most all time.
There is also a "White Jersey" given to the best young rider in the Tour. You have to be 25 years old or younger to win it. Whoever has the best overall time out of these riders gets the white jersey. One of Lance Armstrong's teammates, Yaroslav Popovitch, won the white jersey. He could end up being the top rider for Discovery Channel if they don't bring someone else in.
So you see...it's not just the top riders that compete for prizes. There are other guys that ride to win the other awards.
In a nutshell, the race in total is a lot of fun to keep track of. If you want to casually watch the Tour, you can easily catch the best and most important parts if you watch the stages on the weekends and normally the 2nd and 3rd Tuesdays of the Tour. Those are the days when the big mountains show up and when the best fights are waged. I myself don't always watch every stage...but I'm always glued to the set when I see that there is a day with 3 or 4 huge climbs. That's when the action happens.
Last edited by Mercer Boy on Tue Jul 26, 2005 3:28 am, edited 1 time in total.