Tour de France 2022: Frequently asked questions

The Tour de France is a beautiful, complicated affair. You've got questions? We've got answers.

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Part of the charm of the Tour de France is its complexity, but that same complexity can be hard for newer fans to navigate. We hope this FAQ page can help. The 2022 Tour de France starts in Copenhagen on July 1 and concludes in Paris on July 24. You can follow the entire race from start to finish on VeloNews, with minute-by-minute news, race reports, results, analysis, and exclusive rider interviews.

How long is the 2022 Tour de France?

This year’s Tour is 3,328 kilometers (2,068 miles). As with every year, the race consists of 21 stages over the course of three weeks. There are three rest days where there is no racing this year. There are two time trials this year, one in Copenhagen on the opening day of racing and the second on the penultimate stage of the race.

How do you win the Tour de France?

The rider with the lowest overall time after 21 stages wins. There are also stage winners each day, where the first racer across the line wins.

What was the longest Tour de France stage?

The longest Tour de France stage on record was in 1920, where the fifth stage was 482km / 300mi long! These days, stages average around 175km / 109mi. The longest stage this year is stage 6 from Binche to Longwy, which stretches out for 220.2km in length. The shortest stage is stage 1 in Copenhagen, with the winner of the first yellow jersey destined to set the fastest time in the opening 13.2km time trial.

What is a peloton?

The largest group of riders on the road, the peloton is also called the “pack” or the “bunch.” By riding in a pack a rider uses 30 percent less energy than he would riding alone. A chasing peloton often has an advantage over a smaller breakaway.

What is an echelon?

When wind batters the peloton from the side the riders split into smaller angled lineups to capitalize on each other’s draft. Echelons take on a formation much like flying geese, however an echelon’s size is determined by the width of the road. So, in crosswinds, smart riders can use echelons to distance their rivals.

What is a domestique?

A rider who sacrifices his own ambitions in order to aid his team leader. A domestique rides into the wind to shield his team leader; he also carries extra water bottles and food for the leader. If the leader has a puncture, the domestique may give up his wheel or bicycle, or wait to pace the leader back into the peloton.

What is the gruppetto?

The group of riders that forms at the back of the race during mountain stages. They ride just fast enough to make the day’s cutoff time, which is determined by a varying percentage of the winner’s time. Sprinters, sick or injured riders, or riders looking to save energy for the following day are often in the gruppetto.

What is the publicity caravan?

A rolling parade comprised of sponsor-emblazoned vehicles and floats that precedes the race by two hours, the publicity caravan drives the entire route handing out millions of trinkets and treats to the fans alongside the road.

What is the race caravan?

The long line of team vehicles, television and photographer motorcycles, and race official cars that precedes and follows the peloton. Riders will drop back to team vehicles for food, clothing, or mechanical help, and then pace themselves off of the vehicles to regain contact with the peloton.

What is the broom wagon?

The vehicle that drives behind the Tour that “sweeps up” riders who abandon during the stage.

What is hors catégorie?

The Tour de France assigns categories to its climbs based on their length, steepness, and where they fall during the stage. The easiest is Category 4, which is often a climb less than 2km long. The hardest climbs are called “Hors Catégorie,” or beyond category. Often times a climb earns this distinction due to vertical elevation gain, or because it is a summit finish.

An American in France

What’s it like to be an American cyclist living in France? Watch to get professional road cyclist Joe Dombrowski’s view.