Tour de France Rules

Tour de France rules cover just about every aspect of the competition, including the language used to interpret them. The Tour de France, called simply "Le Tour" in France, is first and foremost a French race. The rules are published in both French and English, but the language that prevails should there be any subtleties in interpretation is French. Thus, many competitors are fluent in French regardless of their nationality. This is especially true of major non-French Tour de France winners like Lance Armstrong from the United States who is fluent in that romance language.

Tour de France Rules
Tour de France Rules

The official version of the Tour de France rules runs to 40 pages. Basic rules include the mandatory wearing of helmets by all riders during all portions of all stages, the uniformity of team outfits, where rider numbers are located, and the exact measurements for the Tour de France bikes. The most important, and perhaps most complicated, of the rules involve the different stages. There are generally 21 stages, with flat, mountainous, and medium altitude stages predominating. There is also a Prologue and individual time trial. The Prologue is technically an individual time trial, as its purpose is to determine who wears the yellow leader jersey for the first stage of the official race. There is a winner for each stage, including Overall leader (yellow jersey), Points leader (green jersey), Mountain leader (red and white polka dot jersey), and Youth (under age 26) leader (white jersey). Technically it is possible for one rider to win all four in each stage, although that has never happened. There is prize money for each stage, with a total tour purse of 3,000,000 euros (more than 4,000,000 US dollars).

The Tour de France route changes each year, but has always finished in the French capital of Paris. Since 1975, the finish has been a triumphant procession along the city's celebrated Champs Elysees. Originally, the course was entirely within France, roughly following the country's perimeter. Over the years, the route gradually changed to include segments in adjacent countries—Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Monaco, Spain, and Andorra. There have been starts and Prologues in England (London) and the Netherlands (Rotterdam). The only part of European France that has never seen a segment of the Tour de France is the island of Corsica. The distance covered by the Tour de France route has ranged from 1,509 miles (2,428 kilometers) to 3,570 miles (5,745 kilometers), with the average being 2,200 miles (3,500 kilometers). Occasionally, the route is not contiguous and all riders connect via plane or train.

Top image: A.S.O.

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