Welcome to your second TdF class. I’m so glad you’ve joined me again to talk all things TdF.
Now that you know what a Grand Tour is and now that you can impress your non-cycling loving friends with your new found knowledge, it’s time to move onto the race itself.
Today we’re going to talk about the teams and the various jerseys or classifications that they will be riding for.
Eighteen teams will line up on the start line in Corsica on June 29 for the first stage of the 100th edition of the TdF.
Not all of these teams, however, will be competing for the yellow jersey and not all members of these teams will be slogging their guts out for individual glory.
Road racing is essentially an individual team sport.
What? I hear you say.
Let me explain.
Teams attend Grand Tours with different goals. Teams such as Sky, Saxo-Tinkoff and BMC, to name a couple, will nominate a leader for General Classification glory. This means, they’re fighting for the yellow jersey, the overall winner after three grueling weeks of racing.
Remember when Cadel won in 2011?
Yep, this is what I’m talking about. Cadel may have won the Tour but he had eight other teammates who helped him to get there. Eight other men, elite athletes, professional bike riders who knew before they even arrived in France that they have no chance of winning. These guys know their jobs and that is to sacrifice themselves for their leader.
Kind of romantic in a bromance sort of way, isn’t it?
Sky’s Chris Froome will fancy himself as outright favourite for this year’s TdF but do not discount the likes of Alberto Contador (Saxo-Tinkoff) and of course all of Australia will be cheering for Cadel Evans (BMC).
Someone like Joaquim Rodriquez (Katusha), Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) and Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Lotto) will also go the TdF as the leaders of their respective teams.
So, where does that leave our own Orica Greenedge, I hear you ask?
Well, OGE won’t be competing for the GC this year because they don’t have a GC rider.
Now, don’t panic TdF101ers. This is quite normal in pro-cycling and they are not the only team not chasing yellow.
OGE will be focusing on stage wins and with their sprinter Matt Goss, they will be hoping for the green jersey, which is the jersey worn by the leader of the sprint classification.
Essentially, some blokes just aren’t made of climbing they’re only made for going fast, not high.
I expect to see Mark Cavendish (OPQS) take this baby home, again.
The Manx Missile is probably the fastest man on a bike although Peter Sagan (Cannondale) will be chasing him down along with Andre Greipel (Lotto) who has the nickname ‘The Gorilla’.
These boys love the flat stages. Hills are evil, hills are the things of nightmares for these men.
Watch in the last five kilometres or so in these stages as the teams of the sprinters fight to form into a train and attempt to deliver their sprinter to the line first.
Sacrifice is a key term in cycling. Just as riders sacrifice themselves for their GC contender, the sprint train will sacrifice itself for their sprinter.
Australia’s Adam Hanson will be the last rider in Lotto’s sprint train and he will ride his guts out with no other purpose than to see Greipel across the line first.
It really is a beautiful sport.
We’re almost there with the various jerseys. Just two more jerseys to go.
King of the Mountain or KOM is for the polka dot jersey. Yep, polka dots in a Grand Tour. Who would have guessed? Don’t let anyone tell you cycling is not a fashion conscious sport.
This classification is for the rider who collects the most points going over the mountains. Pretty self explanatory, this one.
The last classification is the white jersey. This is for the best youngest rider. For this year’s TdF riders born after January 1 1988 will be eligible.
So, now that we have a handle on the jerseys of the TdF, we’re ready to start talking about the various teams.
Join me tomorrow for TdF101, 2013 – Class Three: The Jerseys