Although le Mondial (the World Cup) is dominating the sports press—Pays-Bas jusqu’au bout! Netherlands all the way!—it’s not the only major sporting event going on now. Le Tour de France a commencé!
The Tour de France started le 3 juillet, but the world has barely blinked. If you’re not a serious cycliste, it can be hard to get excited about watching a monthlong bike race, and it’s also sometimes hard to find the Tour on TV.
Voici une solution au premier problème: Suivez le Tour de France en direct. That lien (link) should show the Tour « en direct » (live). Here’s the itinéraire horaire (schedule) so you know when to tune in.
“Mais attendez!” vous dites. « But wait! » you say. « That lien is en français!” I know, guys, and I’ve suffered through watching a sport I don’t care about in a language I don’t understand.* So, voici le guide officiel du French Blog pour regarder le Tour de France!
Official Guide of the French Blog for Watching the Tour de France**
- Le peloton: The pack of riders. Riders tend to stick together to fight wind resistance, with the best or most ambitieux riders up front. The peloton is likely to contain the riders you want to watch, even if some riders charge ahead to try to win the étape. It’s not uncommon for some guy to exhaust himself biking to win one étape, never to be seen again outside the peloton. The smart money sticks with the pack until he’s ready to take over.
- L’étape: The stage; the leg of the race covered on a given day. Le Tour de France is composed of 20 étapes, of varied terrain. Each étape has a winner, who gets to start the next étape sporting…
- Le maillot jaune: The yellow jersey. Awarded to the rider who wins l’étape, to be worn in the next étape. Yellow is also the color of the Tour de France’s branding (which is why it sometimes looks like a tennis competition to me).
- Le maillot vert/blanc à points rouges/blanc/aux dossards de couleur rouge : The green/ red polka dot/ white/ red-numbered jersey.
- Le maillot vert goes to the best sprinter at any given time (points)
- b. Le maillot blanc à points rouges goes to the best climber (reaches the top of the climbs first) (grimpeur)
- c. Le maillot blanc is for the fastest rider under age 25 (as of 1 janvier 2010) (jeune), and
- d. Le maillot aux dossards rouges is for the most aggressive rider in each étape (combatif)
5. Le terrain: The terrain, which varies by étape: mountainous, hilly, cobblestoned, twisty… Cette carte (this map) should give you an idea of where the geographic difficulties lie.
But the greatest thing is, when watching the Tour de France, vous faites un tour de France! You’ll tour France by bike without paying a centime—Le Tour is a wonderful way to get a feel for le pays.
So tear yourself away from le foot (South Africa doesn’t even speak French, and Zidane’s not even in the stands anymore, which was not the only reason I was watching, but still)…
and suivez en direct le Tour de France!
*The summer I lived in Provence, my one refuge from the heat and the French was to sit in la maison of my famille d’accueil (host family) and watch le Tour with my host uncle. We drew the shades to block out the merciless sun, and I spent two hours sitting on a tile floor, watching bicycles maneuver through mountain passes while the TV rattled on about “le peloton.” It’s one of my favorite memories of France, and I’ll never stop being grateful to le Tour.
** Hichem n’est pas coupable—Hichem is not responsible for the bêtises in this Official Guide.