If you want a simple and accessible online Tour de France guide, here it is. There’s a concise preview of every stage, with my quick take on the day added.
In addition, before 8.00 am on the morning of every stage you’ll find a dedicated preview for the day ahead. This daily analysis will be as freshly baked as a baguette, updated to reflect current news, race strategies and detailed information on the route with the kind of precision normally reserved for a team briefing as well as trivia on the route, riders and race.
Admin Note: note this is a blog post but a permanent page with all this information will be updated with the start list and rider abandons during the race. You’ll find this at inrng.com/tour or use the navigation bar at the top of the screen for easy access. Bookmark inrng.com/tour and not this page.
There will also be other previews online next week to look at the contenders for the race.
|Stage 1 |
|Stage 2 |
|Stage 3 |
|Stage 4 |
|Stage 5 |
|Stage 6 |
|Stage 7 |
|Stage 8 |
|Stage 9 |
|Stage 10 |
|Stage 11 |
|Stage 12 |
|Stage 13 |
|Stage 14 |
|Stage 15 |
|Stage 16 |
|Stage 17 |
|Stage 18 |
|Stage 19 |
The old formula is gone. The 2013 route has a mix of sprints and climbs to start the first week before a quick visit to the Pyrenees. After flying north the second week that looks more predictable with flat stages for sprinters and only the Mont-St-Michel time trial to spice things up even if a flat time trial rarely makes for live drama. The more the race heads south the better the racing should get with a lively finish in Lyon and then the giant Ventoux stage.
The final week is more vital than ever. The time trial is hard and then come a trio of Alpine stages. Each of the final three stages has its unique style. Alpe d’Huez climbed twice is like ordering the same dish in a restaurant twice because you like it that much, it’s good but traditional. The stage to Grand Bornand is the Queen Stage where a long range attack could pay big whilst the final Alpine stage to the Semnoz mountain above Annecy is, after three weeks, a short and sharp effort. All this before the magic of the Champs Elysées at sunset.
Stage 1 – Saturday 29 June *
A grand départ indeed with 213km run along the east coast of Corsica instead of a prologue. Grander still the French airforce’s acrobatic Patrouille de France will perform an aerial fly-by. With few obstacles this looks like a certain sprint finish and, in race without time bonuses, a once in a career chance for sprinters to take the coveted yellow jersey. The island has long had a violent undertone with revolutionaries, Napoleon and today it’s Europe’s crime capital. This is not to knock the place, rather a bike race is the perfect illustration with speed and beauty but also contest and the potential for violence and injury. The whole stage will be live on TV where viewers should be treated to stunning scenery along the Corsican coast.
Stage 2 – Sunday 30 June *
In the past the first week of the Tour meant sprint finishes but here’s a mountain stage, right? Well the Tour’s official site says this could even expose team leaders in trouble but the main climb is a prime road across the island, steady and the kind where some sprinters can hang on or get back during the descent. But the roads twist and turn, a move that goes away will be hard to bring back in the last 50km as there the bendy descents make it hard to chase.
Stage 3 – Monday 1 July *
Harder than it looks, the race is either up or down all day until a things calm down for the last climb and the approach to Calvi. A breakaway is possible if some heavy-hitters work at it but some fastmen and their teams will hope for a bunch sprint. Crashes are an even bigger danger as the race speeds along small roads.
Stage 4 – Tuesday 2 July
A team time trial to shake-up the overall classification. It’s flat, heading out along the sea front then up the Var valley before turning back and, for much of the route, using the same outbound road. This will suit the big teams bringing raw power on top of team spirit. The finish is on the Promenade des Anglais, allowing easy headlines should Team Sky win.
Stage 5 – Wednesday 3 July
After a start only a Rolex-throw away from Philippe Maire’s bike shop the race speeds across Provence. The profile makes this route look more hilly than it is. We should get a bunch sprint. Expect big crowds by the road and a warm welcome in Marseille.
Stage 6 – Thursday 4 July
A day for the sprinters as the bunch speeds past a thousand campsites and picnicking fans. Meanwhile the riders are working hard as the coastal roads here are often windy so the GC riders will need to vigilant in case the crosswinds start to split the bunch.
Stage 7 – Friday 5 July
Some climbing and altitude but the day will be overshadowed by the following stage in the Pyrenees. This is day for a breakaway but the sprinters won’t give up, especially as the likes of Peter Sagan will look to score on terrain like this. This might not be a decisive stage but it is scenic and a fine route to ride whilst the finish town of Albi with its red brick and art museums its worth a visit.
Stage 8 – Saturday 6 July
The first real mountain stage of the Tour and the first summit finish. The stage is a tease, designed to give us a glimpse of rider form but without setting the overall classification for the next two weeks. The Port de Pailhères is a tough climb, some 15km at 8% but with regular sections at 10% or more. We can expect a break to go but only after a long fight at the start because the HC-rated climb offers the mountains jersey. The GC contenders get their showdown on the climb to Ax, a relatively short summit finish with irregular ramps that will chop out any wooden legs.
Stage 9 – Sunday 7 July *
The stage resembles one of those tasting menus in a restaurant where they bring a succession of the chef’s specialities. Instead of the previous stage’s two course menu, here a series of pure Pyrenean climbs are served up here and indigestion is guaranteed. The finish might be far from the final climb but that’s the point as the organisers want a mountain stage that open to all rather than a GC showdown. There’s no high altitude, instead the repetition of the climbs will do damage, a team could struggle to control the race because each climb could use up a couple of riders. This could make a frenetic stage.
Stage 10 – Tuesday 9 July
After the rest day the race has flown north to begin a second week which, on paper, promises to be dull with the exception of Wednesday’s time trial, at least until the weekend. For Stage 10, what the profile lacks in promise will be made up by big crowds as the race crosses Brittany, one of the hotbeds of French cycling where almost every village has a bike race. The route heads north all day except for the last 20km when the race reaches the coast and turns west. A sea breeze could liven up the race but sprint finish looks certain.
Stage 11 – Wednesday 10 July
The first individual time trial of the Tour, the relative short distance will limit the time gaps amongst the riders but the weather could play its part. The route takes an anti-clockwise loop passing the coast and if the route is near-flat, the wind could help prise apart the riders as they take the tidal causeway out the Mont St Michel island and back, one of France’s top tourist spots.
Stage 12 – Thursday 11 July
The race goes to Tours, famous in cycling for the Paris-Tours race but unlike the single day race there are no last minute steep hills thrown in to break up the bunch, nor the majestic finish on the Avenue de Grammont. Instead the race finishes away from the town centre. A sprint finish looks likely but watch out for local riders Jérémy Roy and Sylvain Chavanel who might want to put on a show.
Stage 13 – Friday 12 July
Another day, another boring route. Since the race has flown to Brittany it must pedal its way towards the Alps and this stage takes the riders across unremarkable terrain in central France. If you had to skip a stage this would be it… but the race could always bring a surprise. That bump on the profile after Bruère-Allichamps? It’s uphill but only a small spike and should not trouble the sprinters.
Stage 14 – Saturday 13 July
A more exciting day in prospect as the race starts in a wine-making town and heads through the Beaujolais to the Mont du Lyonnais before an urban finish in Lyon, France’s third largest city. A succession of climbs line the route and if none are hard the repetition can ruin the chances of the sprinters, imagine a one day classic inserted mid-way into the race. It’s the kind of day Peter Sagan would appreciate and the final climbs should add to the suspense.
Stage 15 – Sunday 14 July
The longest stage of the Tour, this route heads south in parallel to the Rhone river but stays away from the valley, taking a series of lumpy roads on a 14 July procession for France’s national holiday. Distance matters because riders will have to manage their effort all day before the ominous Mont Ventoux looms into the sight. It’s not even marked on the route above but they’ll tackle the small Col de la Madeleine with 28km to go, enough to start thinning the bunch before scaling the mighty Ventoux with its steep slopes, lunar clichés and a predicted crowd of 500,000.
Stage 16 – Tuesday 16 July
With the rest day done the Tour starts one of the hardest third weeks in memory. Here the race heads into the Alps on a day designed for a breakaway but the final climb of the Col de Manse is hard and the descent is even harder. Famous for Joseba Beloki’s hip smash and Lance Armstrong’s cyclo-cross, more recently we saw Andy Schleck dropped on the wet descent in 2011 and incidents like this will inspire some into risk-taking and others into caution.
Stage 17 – Wednesday 17 July
The profile doesn’t do the stage justice, this is a very technical time trial with twisting climbs and descents so hard they’ll test bike handling skills of riders and the driving prowess of the manager in the following car. It’s all set above the Lac de Serre-Ponçon which is a popular windsurfing spot in the Alps meaning if the breeze is up this could be even harder for the riders.
Stage 18 – Thursday 18 July *
This has the double-ascension of Alpe d’Huez but there’s nothing repetitive about the route. It stars with the Col de Manse and then crosses the scenic Valbonnais to tackle the easier side of the Col d’Ornon. Some have said doing Alpe d’Huez twice is too hard but often the Alpe is approached via the mighty Galiber which stands a kilometre taller than the Alpe so that argument’s less certain but either way this is a very hard day especially as big crowds will roar the riders up the first ascent of the Alpe. The Sarenne is a tricky climb, one of those optical illusions where the road doesn’t look as if it’s rising yet the rider struggles. A very technical descent has some riders scared but by now the climbing should have thinned out the bunch before the final climb up the Alpe in front of a delirious crowd.
Stage 19 – Friday 19 July *
The Queen Stage of the Tour de France? Certainly this is the one with the greatest count of vertical metres. It starts with the tough Glandon and then the race half-pipes the Maurienne valley to scale the Madeleine which is several metres short of its 2,000m label. The Tamié is not famous but it’s hard and on a narrow road, the same for the Epine which is as thorny as its name suggests, a narrow road that is consistently steep. Then it’s on to the Croix Fry with its switchbacks. Whoever crosses the final climb of the day could hope win if they’ve got 30 seconds because the descent to Grand Bornand is fast.
Stage 20 – Saturday 20 July *
The final Alpine stage promises to go out with a bang as the short distance should provide explosive racing. The early Cotes and Cols are on small roads and the fight to get in a breakaway will be hectic. Mont Revard is a big old climb that starts steep but levels out and it’s followed by a fast descent. But the section of lumpy roads that follows is probably enough to ensure long range efforts can be reeled in. These lead to Quintal where the final climb of the Tour begins. The Semnoz is described as “the lung of Annecy” – as if the Alpine town needed fresh air – but it’s more likely to leave riders breathless. The road starts climbing before the village of Quintal but the gradient gets serious after the village. A tough final climb, the plan is to have a final GC showdown on this climb. Too much to hope for? Probably but the roads are hard enough for force a selection.
Stage 21 – Sunday 21 July
Ah Paris! The final stage might be familiar but this year everything changes. A start inside the Palace of Versailles sees the race cross the Chevreuse valley, popular with local cyclos before reaching Paris for a finish with a difference. The race will use the entire length of the Champs Elysées, circling the Jardin des Tuileries at one end and the Arc de Triomphe at the other for a full lap. If this isn’t spectacular enough it will be held as the sunsets and the Patrouille de France airforce will serenade the race. If Paris is in summer then there will surely never have been a stage finish as grand as this.
Yellow: the most famous one, the maillot jaune, it is awarded to the rider with the shortest overall time for all the stages added together. As such, they have covered the course faster than anyone else. First awarded in 1919, it is yellow because the race was organised by the L’Auto newspaper which was printed on yellow paper. Today it is sponsored by LCL, a bank.
Green: the points jersey, which tends to reward the sprinters. Points are awarded at the finish line and at one intermediate point in the stage and the rider with the most points wears the jersey. It is sponsored by PMU, the state-owned betting company.
- For the “flat” stages (aka coefficient 1) 45,35,30,26,22,20,18,16,14,12,10,8,6,4,2 points for the first 15 riders
- For the “hilly” stages (coefficient 2 and 3) 30,25,22,19,17,15,13,11,9, 7,6,5,4,3,2 points for the first 15 riders
- For the “high mountain” (coefficient 4 and 5): 20,17,15,13,11,10,9,8,7, 6,5,4,3,2,1 points for the first 10 riders
- For the individual time trial stages : 20,17,15,13,11,10,9,8,7,6, 5,4,3,2,1 for the first 15 riders.
- For each intermediate sprint, the first 15 riders to finish will receive 20,17,15,13,11,10,9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1 points respectively.
Polka dot: also known as the “King of the Mountains” jersey, points are awarded at the top of categorised climbs and mountain passes, with these graded from the easier 4th category to the hors catégorie climbs which are so hard they are off the scale. In reality these gradings are subjective, there is no algebraic formula. Again the rider with the most points wears the jersey. It is sponsored by Carrefour, a supermarket.
- Hors Catégorie passes: 25,20,16,14,12,10,8,6,4,2 points respectively for first 10 riders to finish
- Category 1 climbs: 10,8,6,4,2,1 points
- Category 2: 5,3,2,1 points respectively
- Category 3: 2, 1 points
- Category 4: 1 point
- Points are doubled for the final climb on a stage with a summit finish (Stages 8, 15, 18, 20).
White: for the best young rider, this is awarded on the same basis as the yellow jersey, except the rider must be born after 1 January 1988, ie aged 25 or under. It is sponsored by Skoda, a car manufacturer.
Obviously a rider can’t wear two jerseys at once, they’d get too hot. So if a rider leads several classifications, they take the most prestigious jersey for themselves and the number two ranked rider in the other competition gets to wear the other jersey. For example if a rider has both the yellow jersey and the mountains jersey they’ll wear yellow whilst whoever is second in the mountains jersey will sport the polka dot jersey.
There’s also a daily “most combative” prize awarded every day to the rider who has attacked the most or tried the hardest. A subjective prize, it is awarded by a jury instead of using points. The rider gets to wear a red race number the next day.
Stage Coefficients: as mentioned for the points jersey, each stage is awarded a “coefficient” or rating which has an impact on the points available. These ratings are also used to determine the time cut-off or délai for riders finishing within a percentage of the stage winner’s time. Those outside the délai are normally ejected from the race.
- Each day on a normal stage there’s €8,000 for the winner, €4,000 for second place and a decreasing scale down to a modest €200 for 20th place.
- For the final overall classification in Paris, first place brings in €450,000 and the Sèvres porcelain trophy, awarded “in the name of the Presidency of the French Republic“.
- The full breakdown is €450,000 for first place, €200,000 for second place, €100,000 for third place and then €70,000, €50,000, €23,000, €11,500, €7,600, €4,500, €3,800, €3,000, €2,700, €2,500, €2,100, €2,000, €1,500, €1,300, €1,200, €1,000, €950, €900, €850, €750, €700 until € 650 for 25th place.
- Then 26th to 30th place collects €600
- 31st to 40th place gets €550
- 41st to 50th place gets €500
- 51st to 90th place gets €450
- every other rider to finish collects €400
There are other pots of money available in the race:
- €350 a day to whoever wears the yellow jersey, €300 for the other jersey holders
- €25,000 for the final winner of the green and polka dot jerseys
- €20,000 for the final winner of the white jersey
- There’s also money for the first three in the intermediate sprint and for getting mountain points too
- The highest point in the race sees a prize when on Stage 8 the Henri Desgrange prize is awarded at the top of the Col de de Pailhères and is worth €5,000
- The “most combative” prize is awarded and worth €2,000 each day, the “Super combative” prize is awarded in Paris and the winner collects €20,000
- There’s also a team prize with €2,800 awarded each day to the leading team on the overall, as calculated by the best three riders overall and €50,000 for the final winners in Paris. Note the team prize is calculated by adding the time of the best three riders each day rather than the best three on GC. For example if a team has riders A, B and C make the winning break one day then their times for the stage are taken and added together. If riders X, Y and Z on the same team go up the road the next day, their times are taken. So it’s the times of a team’s best three riders each day as opposed to the best three riders overall
- In addition, every team that starts gets paid €51,243 to cover expenses. And should a squad make it to Paris with seven or more riders they stand to collect an additional €1,600 bonus for each rider the have left.
In summary that’s €2,022,900 in prizes, €1,127,346 in expenses and €264,000 in bonus payments for teams that make it to Paris with at least 7 riders: a total payout of €3,412,546.
The unmissable stages
Sometimes anything can happen during the Tour de France but there are some stages that matter more than others. If you need to plan ahead and book space in your diary, here are some suggestions for the stages to watch. This year’s edition seems to have more stages than usual thanks to the varied route.
Stage 1 – Saturday 29 June: a once in a lifetime chance for sprinters to wear the yellow jersey means a high pressure finish. Hopefully it stays the right side of exciting, providing suspense and action without spills and damage.
Stage 8 – Saturday 6 July: the first mountain stage of the Tour should give some early clues as to the overall classification.
Stage 9 – Sunday 7 July: a lively day in the Pyrenees with a series of climbs.
Stage 11 – Wednesday 10 July: the first individual time trial of the race will see the flat course reshape the overall classification. Don’t tune in for the TV drama, watch for the time gaps.
Stage 15 – Sunday 14 July: Mont Ventoux. The longest day in the race ends with one of the hardest climbs in France.
Stage 17 – Wednesday 17 July: the mountainous time trial will define the overall overall classification for the remaining trio of Alpine stages
Stage 18 – Thursday 18 July: Alpe d’Huez twice, it’ll be worth watching for the crowds alone.
Stage 19 – Friday 19 July: the big day in the Alps where distance, vertical metres and a tough final climb will force a selection
Stage 20 – Saturday 20 July: the last chance. The yellow jersey could still change but if not places in the top-10 and a stage win is up for grabs.
Stage 21 – Sunday 21 July: the Champs Elysées at sunset.
Eight stages will be screened in full, from start to finish. These are marked with an asterisk above.
- Saturday 29 June – Stage 1: Porto Vecchio > Bastia
- Sunday 30 June – Stage 2: Bastia > Ajaccio
- Monday 1 July – Stage 3: Ajaccio > Calvi
- Tuesday 2 July – Stage 4: Nice > Nice TTT
- Sunday 7 July – Stage 9: St Girons > Bagnères de Bigorre
- Thursday 18 July – Stage 18: Gap > Alpe d’Huez
- Friday 19 July – Stage 19: Bourg d’Oisans > Grand Bornand
- Saturday 20 July – Stage 20: Annecy > Semnoz
The race will be broadcast on a variety of channels around the world. There is no free stream on the internet but you will legitimate feeds from some local broadcasters and links to pirate streams are available from the likes of cyclingfans.com and steephill.tv.
You can download the stages in your organiser, phone, computer: inrng2013tour.ics.
I’ve produced the calendar but over to you to incorporate it with whatever software you might use. Normally on a desktop or laptop computer the best way is to right-click on the file link above and save the .ics file. Then import the file to your electronic diary. With an iPhone just click on the link and select “Open in Calendar” when prompted and should get incorporated into your diary.
If you use MacOS/iOS, you don’t need to download the iCal file. Just copy the URL to the iCal file then Calendar.app hit cmd+alt+S (or File > New Calendar Subscription) whilst in Calendar.app, paste in the link and… voila! It will update across all your iDevices. You can use the same method to add the dates on your iPhone/iPad, just select add calendar in Calendar.app and paste in the URL.
One or two clicks and it’s on your phone / Outlook etc calendar.