Friday, June 28, 2013

Le Tour de France

Hi beautiful people!  I am completely excited that the Tour de France will be starting tomorrow, June 29th and will continue for three weeks.  My husband and I are huge cycling fans and love every minute of the Tour.  We follow other cycling races throughout the cycling season, but this one is our favorite.  We even traveled to Solvang in 2011 to attend the Time Trial stage of the 2011 Amgen Tour of California.  It was so awesome to stand at the start line and watch the riders head out of the starting gate for the time trial. 
At the end of the race I even got autographs from Dave Zabriski and Levi Leipheimer - two of the winners of the trials that day.

 The Leader Board for 2011 Tour of California

 American George Hincapie in the start gate....

...and he's off!
The Tour de France is a multiple stage race mostly held in France, but occasionally the race stages will visit other countries nearby. The race has been held annually since 1903 except for when it was stopped for the two World Wars and this year is the 100th year of the Tour!
They ride through beautiful country in Europe and it’s great fun to see the spectators, some of which may spend weeks along a stage route to get the best view or follow the Tour for the entire three weeks. They are crazy! Some wear goofy costumes and wild wigs. We've seen Elvis, men in Speedos that have no business wearing a Speedo, clowns, and lots of super heros. It's one big party.  We would like to go to Europe one year and see it in person - its definately on our bucket list!
The race route changes each year, but usually has at least two time trials, several strenuous mountain climbs in the Pyrenees and the Alps, and the finish on the Champs-Élysėes in Paris

The Tour is a 21 day-long stage race and each day the length of the ride is about 100 or so miles and covers about 2,200 miles total. The number of teams usually varies between 20 and 22, with nine riders on each team. Not all riders finish the race. Some crash, some don't finish the days stage in the alloted amount of time, some get sick and some just can't continue at the gruelling pace they need to ride.

Climbing in the mountains!

All of the stages are timed. After finishing the days stage,  the riders' times are added to their previous stage times. The rider with the lowest combined time is the leader of the race and gets to wear the coveted yellow jersey.  And not everyone is out to win the overall classification. Some team members are riding to set the pace and to help the team leader. Some are better at the sprints and others are best at climbing the mountains.
There are other races within the race and colored jerseys awarded for them also.
For the sprinters (green jersey), the mountains classification for the climbers (red polka-dots jersey), the young rider classification for the riders under the age of 26 (white jersey), and the team classification for the fastest teams.

The first rider to cross the stage finish line wins the stage for the day, but that doesn't always mean they receive the yellow jersey.  It's VERY complicated and confusing and I have a hard time keeping track.  My husband knows all the rules and statistics and who needs to win what in order to remain in or receive the jerseys.

2012 Tour winners left to right:
Best Young Rider: American Tejay van Garderen
Best Overall:  Britian Bradley Wiggins
Best Sprinter:  Slovakian Peter Sagan
Best King of the Mountains:  Frenchman Thomas Voeckler

The leader in the first Tour de France was awarded a yellow armband. The color yellow was chosen because the magazine that created the Tour, printed its newspapers on yellow paper. The yellow jersey was added to the race in 1919  and it has since become a symbol of the
Tour de France.

On the Champs-Élysėes in Paris.
2012 winner, Bradley Wiggins from the UK

My husband is also a HUGE cyclist. He loves his bike and rides it  In all kinds of weather. He can’t get enough and his bike is "the other woman."   I tease him that when I go on my annual Chicas weekend with the girls, his bike sleeps on my side of the bed. :o)
Chris has participated in several of his own bicycle events/fundraisers where he's ridden 60+ miles including the Bike MS Waves to Wine and Livestrong Foundation Challenge.  And in 2010 we both rode the Tour of the Unknown Coast in Northern California.  I rode and finished the 25-mile ride and Chris rode and finished the 65-mile ride through the giant Redwoods.
It was great fun!
Tour of the Unknown Coast

Livestrong Challenge - 2012

My favorite cyclist, Fabian Cancellara of Team RadioShack, will not be participating in the Tour this year. He wanted to focus on the Swiss National Time Trial race, which he won in June for a record eighth time! I will miss cheering for him this year. He is the rider to wear the most yellow jerseys and not win the general classification overall. 
 I am not sure who I will be cheering for this year.  
There are many cyclists that I follow, but he is my favorite.
Fabian Cancellara when he rode for Team SaxoBank.
He is now riding for Team Leopard-Trek.

We usually record the Tour because they are a day ahead of us in Europe, and watch a stage or two at a time when we get a chance. I have a few hand embroidery projects ready and a couple projects I can cut while I watch the Tour.
Looking foward to see who takes it in Paris!

Happy Cycling, Sewing and Quilting!

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