Here’s a downloadable calendar of the Tour de France for your electronic diary or phone with brief details of each stage. There’s also a look at the TV coverage of the race if you’re planning.
The format’s been popular, perhaps there’s a big demand to schedule work and social life around the crucial days? With this in mind, each stage has a rating of one to three stars (ok, asterisks), a subjective take on the stage’s importance to the race, whether drama or likely importance for the overall classification. Many sprint stages get the one star rating and it’s nothing against sprinters but you may not need to watch the whole stage from start to finish to see the day’s sport. Similarly, maybe the Beaujolais day is better than the Grand Colombier stage that follows it for the breakaway action but we’ll see.
If you’re familiar with ical files, here’s the URL for the ics file:
Save the ics / iCal / iCalendar file and you can import it into your electronic diary. One or two clicks and it’s on your iPhone / Outlook etc. The default settings have alerts switched off but check your device to avoid nocturnal alarms.
Alternatively if you use Google then see calendar below and the +Google Calendar link on the bottom-right. Note this method can work with Android phones when the iCal file might not.
If you want more help on how to make use of this, see the inrng.com/calendar page which has the calendar for all the main men’s and women’s pro races this year and a fuller explanation of how to put a calendar into Outlook, an iPhone, your diary etc.
All stages are broadcast live from start to finish but this doesn’t mean you should watch every minute, there will be moments when I like to imagine the only viewers are locals looking to see their house on TV and mummified hospital patients in traction unable to reach the remote. It’s not for nothing that Le Monde publishes a guide du sieste for those looking to drift off to sleep on the sofa.
The organisers have designed a caffeinated course, or at least as active as things can be for three weeks, there are only two stages longer than 200km, the race visits all of France’s five mountain ranges, there are never more than two consecutive sprint stages and so on.
With the shortened stages many have similar timing, the race feels almost booked into a TV schedule between 1.00pm CEST and 5.30pm CEST although the start and finish times do vary a bit, the daily previews here will give you more detail. Some stages will be fascinating to watch in full with a raucous start as riders try to break away and a crucial finish for the stage win and the overall.
It’s still a long, slow event and that’s part of the charm. Some stages won’t be so compelling and complaining it’s boring to watch three riders invitee teams “animate” the stage by riding through-and-off for 150km before an inevitable sprint finish… that’s on you for tuning in, especially if the scenery is endless fields of wheat harvested last week and there’s no wind forecast. Perhaps check in early to see if there’s a lively start and to use the TV coverage like you might with radio, as something on in the background.
France Télévisions will be filming meaning the usual high quality images but little extra on top, they don’t add much production analysis. What’s good is that they also have two motorbikes with reporters, one in front of the peloton to go with the breakaway and one behind to note what’s happening at the back, like dropped riders and mechanicals. This domestic coverage is good but otherwise you’ll find it at home on GCN/Eurosport, NBC, SBS, ITV, J-Sports or wherever you live with your local language commentary team.
There’s also race radio via the Le Tour website (requires registration) which can be interesting to have in the background. If you want actual radio coverage, RMC probably has the most but you’ll also find bulletins on Europe 1, RTL and France Info as well as post-race discussions.